Mark Richt told Sports Spectrum that he knew he first wanted to be a coach “when I couldn’t play anymore.”
That simple, yet practical, revelation, led Richt on a journey that would eventually lead him to the University of Georgia, where he has carved out a pretty nice career at one of the SEC’s elite football programs.
Since taking the Georgia head coaching position in 2001, he has compiled a 117-40 overall record and a 67-29 mark in the SEC, the nation’s toughest college football conference, while also winning six SEC Eastern Division titles and 2 SEC Championships.
This season, he led the Bulldogs to an 11-1 regular season record and a 7-1 mark in the SEC Eastern Division, which they won in a tie-breaker over Florida to set up the SEC Championship game against Alabama.
And even though the Bulldogs narrowly lost (32-28), it didn’t put a damper on one of Richt’s best seasons at Georgia and is why Richt is Sport Spectrum’s Coach of the Year.
It wasn’t only the accomplishments that set Richt apart this season, but it’s his view of his responsibility to the football players at Georgia that make him worthy of the award.
“I’ve learned that the relationships with these young players that you’re involved with are as important, and even more important, at times than the wins and losses,” Richt told Sports Spectrum’s “Conversations” podcast.
Richt also said that his faith is so intertwined in his everyday life that it’s impossible to divide the two when leading men and helping shape their lives.
“I think everybody has a belief system,” he said. “Everybody believes in something, and so whatever you believe in, whatever you have faith in, shapes you, period. What kind of a husband you are, what kind of father, what kind of a coach, whatever it is you do, I think it shapes how you live your life. I can’t say I can separate my vocational life from my spiritual life. I don’t think that’s possible for me.”
One reason it’s impossible for Richt to separate that, is the Scripture that has guided and helped him balance his personal life and coaching career.
“Colossians 3:23 says: ‘Whatever you do, do your work heartily unto the Lord, rather than men.’ So I think that’s what you do. Whatever you do, you do your work heartily and you do the best you can and unto the Lord, rather than just doing it for your boss or for man. I think that this kind of carries over not only at work but home as well.”
Which is why Richt continues to strive for excellence on and off the field.
COACH RICHT’S FAVORITES
Favorite Bible Verse?
“Colossians 3:23 that I mentioned a little bit ago is one that’s kinda meant to me a lot of the years, there’s no doubt about that. Jeremiah 17, verses 7 and 8, are pretty powerful for me as well: ‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.’”
Favorite Bible character (other than Jesus)?
“Moses was a pretty interesting guy. I could relate in some way when Moses was asked by God to free his people from Egypt and Moses was like, ‘Well, who am I to do this?’ And God said, ‘I will certainly be with you.’ I was able to relate to that a little bit when I first took this head (coaching) job at Georgia or even when I first became the offensive coordinator at East Carolina. I mean, there are jobs that are just bigger than you are able to handle. ‘God, why me? I’m just not really capable.’ And He’s like, you know, ‘I will be with you.’ That gives you comfort.”
Favorite QB growing up?
“Joe Namath. Without a doubt.”
Do you have a favorite in the NFL now?
“Well I’d have to say Matt Stafford. He’s our guy, he’s a Georgia boy. Absolutely.”
Any hobbies outside of football?
“Bowling. That’s my game. Used to be racquetball but I can’t move around much anymore. Bowling is the last competitive thing that I could do physically and have the shot at still being pretty good.”
To listen to Sports Spectrum’s complete Conversations podcast with Mark Richt, go to:www.sportsspectrum.com/articles/tag/georgia-football/program.
By Brett Honeycutt
Brett Honeycutt is the managing editor at Sports Spectrum magazine.