It’s been a long time since the University of Miami football program had a day like this. The school officially announced former Hurricane Mark Richt as the new head coach of the UM football team at a press conference Friday morning, although it was more of a celebratory homecoming than a formal introduction. Whether it was Richt, Director of Athletics Blake James or UM President Julio Frenk speaking, there was one consistent message: it’s great to be a Miami Hurricane once again.
“This is our home. We love it. My goal is to finish my coaching career at the U,” said Richt, who proceeded to throw up the U with his hands.
“Today is a great day for the University of Miami, as we welcome home one of our own,” James said of Richt, who played for the Hurricanes from 1978 to 1982. “We’re building champions at the U, and today, we are a great deal closer to our goal.”
“We have found who we consider the best head coach to lead our Hurricanes football program,” Frenk said. “Football is not part of what we do here. It is part of who we are.”
Richt, who was fired on Sunday after 15 seasons at the University of Georgia, met with players before the press conference, and according to sophomore quarterback and team leader Brad Kaaya, the team is thrilled about the new head coach.
“All the guys responded very well to him,” Kaaya said. “It’s the best possible candidate we could’ve gotten. I think it’s the best possible scenario for me and for my teammates as well.”
Other players voiced their approval on Twitter.
“The U is in good hands with Coach Richt,” redshirt senior safety Dallas Crawford tweeted.
The U is in good hands with Coach Richt
— dallas crawford (@GoLive_25) December 4, 2015
“That man is Live!!! OH IT’S LIT,” sophomore receiver Braxton Berrios tweeted.
That man is Live!!!! OH IT’S LIT — Braxton Berrios (@HNYNUT_BERRIOS) December 4, 2015
“Mood after that meeting! Let’s get it! 2016,” freshman defensive lineman Scott Patchan tweeted with a picture of a joyous Cam Newton to describe his mood.
Mood after that meeting! Let’s get it! 2016! pic.twitter.com/Zldt6OMfEp
— Scott Patchan (@scott_patchan) December 4, 2015
Aside from celebrating his new position, Richt also answered some questions about what the future holds for the Hurricanes. “Hiring a staff is probably the greatest and most important decision that I’ll make,” Richt said. “I’m going to be deliberate. I’m going to take my time. I’d rather be right than fast.”
The new head coach is excited to have the “one of the most fertile recruiting areas in America” in his backyard. “We absolutely want to recruit Miami. We want to recruit this state, this local area,” Richt said. He also did not rule out recruiting Georgia commits to coming to Miami. The Bulldogs currently have the No. 5 recruiting class for 2016 according to Rivals.com.
Richt considered stepping away from coaching for a year after his recent dismissal from Georgia, but he knew “this job wouldn’t be open next year. So I better do it.” Miami zeroed in on Richt as soon as he was fired Sunday, but the school actually contacted Richt shortly after Al Golden was fired on Oct. 25. Richt also said he heard from the school multiple times the last 15 years, but he was firmly committed to Georgia.
“We looked at it as who best fit our criteria. Mark Richt came up as the one that best fit for us,” said former Cane Jonathan Vilma, who was a part of the school’s head coach search committee.
Richt left Georgia with a career record of 145-51 and two SEC championships. In 15 seasons, his team finished in the AP Top Ten rankings seven times.