UGA Football

Mark Richt, Greg McGarity Meet with the Media

Mark Richt - Greg McGarity
(Photo: Steven Colquitt/UGA)

Mark Richt, who was fired as the UGA head football coach yesterday, and Greg McGarity met with the media Tuesday morning in Athens.

Richt, who will coach the Bulldogs’ bowl game, took questions from the media on his dismissal. McGarity also took questions but didn’t elaborate much. He did state that UGA will hire a search firm and that the job is “wide open.”

Below is the full text of the press conference via UGA:

Opening Statement…

Mark Richt: “Thank you everybody for being here. I wrote some notes, I don’t think I’ll need them but I’ll take a peek if I need to. The first thing I want to do is thank the Bulldog Nation in general. I want to thank Coach Vince Dooley and Michael Adams for hiring me. Thank (J. Reid Parker Director of Athletics) Greg McGarity and (President) Jere W. Morehead for letting me stick around a while. I want to especially thank all the current players and former players that I’ve had the opportunity to coach here at Georgia. All the staff members that have worked so hard along side me to make Georgia an even better place than it already is. The Redcoats, the cheerleaders, the students. All the Dawg Walks, all the memories have been just phenomenal for myself and for my family. Georgia has been our home and Athens has been a true blessing to me and my family. I’m just very thankful for all the time that I’ve been able to spend here. I’m doing great. With that, I’ll let Greg (McGarity) say what he wants to say, and then (media) can let it rip.”

Greg McGarity: “First of all, we want to thank Mark, Katharyn and all their family for dedicating the past 15 years to the University of Georgia and to the Athens community. Days like yesterday are the most difficult in our profession, especially when dealing with someone who has the character of Mark Richt. And we sincerely appreciate Mark’s professionalism at all times. We’re looking forward to having the opportunity to work alongside Mark and Katharyn in the future at the University of Georgia.”

On Richt’s future…

Mark Richt: “I’ve been given an opportunity to stick around. It has not been defined totally, but in some way shape or form to continue to bless the players, number one, and the university in general and the athletic association just any way that I can be helpful. I’ve been offered an opportunity to do that. My plan right now, quite frankly, is to get prepared for this bowl game. I’m really looking forward to coaching these boys one more time. In the meantime, since I’m not on the road recruiting right now, I’ll have an opportunity to look at a lot of options. I think there are going to be a lot of options to weigh. I’m blessed in that way and thankful about that. I’m just not ready to say what I want to do yet, but it’s very attractive to have the thought of being able to stay in Athens and in some way shape or form and continue to be someone who can help these young people.”

On if Richt plans to coach again…

Mark Richt: “I’ll say this — if and when I do coach again, I’m looking forward to coaching again in terms of being more hands-on. I miss coaching quarterbacks, I miss calling plays, I miss that part of it. Whether it’s in the role of head coach, coordinator, quarterbacks coach, whatever it is. If in fact I choose to do that I’d be really excited about coaching QBs again and getting in the middle of coaching offensive strategy. Not that I wasn’t in it, but I wasn’t calling it. And I think I’d be more apt to do that again.”

On when the decision to make a change was made…

Greg McGarity: “Coming home from the Georgia Tech game, Mark and I spoke later that evening and agreed to meet the next morning. I wanted to wait until the season was over, basically that was the time for that. You always prepare. That’s the job of an athletic director whether it be football, basketball, whatever sport. You never know when a coach is going to come in and say they’re done. I recall experiences at my former institution where that happened. I knew I didn’t want that to happen again. Lessons learned there. Saturday after the Tech game, it was a very quiet ride home for me to dig down deep and make sure that’s what my gut told me to do.”

On the timeline of Richt’s resignation…

Mark Richt: “It’s part of the business. It’s not all that shocking to think that it could happen. My focus was always on moving forward and recruiting and bringing in the best class we could bring in and continue to build a future team that would be able to win a championship. But it didn’t work out that way. I guess it’s a lot like how I manage things in the middle of a game. If things don’t always go exactly the way you want, and you know they don’t always go the way you want. You can spend a lot of time to figure out what happened and who did what or you can figure out where you’re at in terms of what do we do next to win. Instead of trying to find a kid that made a mistake or trying to find the coach that did something he shouldn’t have done, or maybe he’s responsible for something, you want to chew somebody’s rear end. My focus has always been on where are we and what do we have to do to win. I feel like the same way right now. I see where I am, Georgia sees where they are, and everybody’s going to do what they think is in the best interest to have success in the future, so that’s how I look at it.”

On what went behind the final decision to make a change…

Greg McGarity: “That remains to be between Mark and myself. We had a good, mature, adult conversation on Sunday morning, an hour, hour-and-a-half or so. Those things will remain between Mark and myself.”

On Jeremy Pruitt’s future at Georgia…

Greg McGarity: “I’d rather us focus on Mark today. We can talk about the other things later, but today is all about Mark and the decision that was made yesterday. I’d prefer to defer those to a later date.”

On what happens with Richt’s contract…

Greg McGarity: “Even though it hadn’t been executed, a deal’s a deal. A handshake, to me, is a signed agreement. The contract that our board approved at the previous board meeting is in full effect and will certainly be honored. There are no issues there even though it’s not executed, and that’s the way it’s always been. A handshake means something here.”

On what will determine Richt’s future…

Mark Richt: “Even these next two weeks, they were all earmarked for recruiting. Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. To the dead period, I was going to be on the road every single day for 14 days. Now that I’m not recruiting, there’s nothing on my calendar. Even that bit of time will allow me to decompress a little bit and just prayerfully consider what’s next. There may be more opportunities that come in the next few hours, the next 24, 48 hours, that type of thing. I’m going to listen to anyone that has interest in me coaching or not, in any area or any arena that’s a possibility. Since 1986 I’ve always really tried to walk daily with the Lord and try to figure out what He really wants me to do, and I try to be really obedient to that. I was reading Matthew about a couple weeks ago, and when Christ, prior to before he got crucified, he was praying. And when he was praying he was sweating blood. And he said ‘Lord, take this cup from me. Please take this cup from me.’ He prayed that three times. Every time after he prayed that, he said ‘Not my will, Lord, but thy will be done.’ That’s kind of been my thoughts over the last couple of weeks, just ‘Lord, your will be done.’ Whatever your will is, that’s what I’ll do. I just don’t know what that looks like yet.”

On why Richt is coaching the bowl game…

Mark Richt: “I was very thankful for the opportunity, are you kidding me? I get to coach one more time with these guys and finish the season. If it wasn’t offered to me I would’ve asked for it. I’m very excited about that.”

On candidates to replace Richt and the coaching search…

Greg McGarity: “Really briefly, it’ll start immediately. Again, this is about Mark today. I really hardly won’t have anything to say about the new search. I think that’s not appropriate right now. In due time, I’m sure a new head coach will be announced.”

Mark Richt: “I spoke with the team last night to just help them understand that things like this happen, it’s part of the business. I encouraged them, number one, to behave and to know that we’re going to keep everyone accountable to behave and hold them everything we’ve always held them accountable to academically and socially and all those things. But to also realize that they’re basically making a first impression for their new head coach starting yesterday. I even told them about the time that I took the job at Georgia while I was still at Florida State. I was trying to do both jobs at the same time, trying to coach the bowl game at Florida State. We were playing in the national championship.  In the morning I was trying to do Florida State and the afternoon I was trying to do Georgia. That little Nokia phone would ring every so often and every other time it was about some kid not behaving like he should. So I was like ‘Oh here we go. Before I even get on campus, I’ve got to deal with that.’ But I told them it’s really important to do the right thing and make a good first impression before you even meet whoever it is and then be supportive of whoever that is. I understand that the faster everybody buys in, the better off it’s going to be. The last thing I asked them was to finish this bowl season great. We’ve got a bunch of seniors that are shooting for their 40th win as a class. That’s kind of hard to do. I know it means a lot to those guys. Those are the things that I talked to them about.”

On the trip to see Jacob Eason after the win over Auburn…

Mark Richt: “It was definitely my decision to make that trip. Talking about Jacob Eason and actually two other guys that signed financial aid papers, which allowed free access to him. The message was basically going there to enjoy each other’s company, number one. Number two was getting ready to play some ball for the Dawgs.  It was just a matter of knowing that he’s a very important part of the recruiting class, your quarterback is. When you have a quarterback like that commit early, you ask him to lead already. You’re not here yet, but you can lead by helping build your class. I think he’s done a great job with that. I think there’s a lot of guys that have been very excited about the possibility to come to Georgia in this particular class. They know each other, they love each other, they’ve bonded with each other. If you’re curious of the message I’m giving those guys, and I talked to Jacob last night as a matter of fact, I said ‘be patient. See who the next guy is. You might get really excited about that and the rest of the guys might get really excited about that. I’m not saying don’t check out other options and all that kind of stuff to be proactive. Don’t jump the gun. You chose Georgia for a reason and it was more than just me or Coach (Brian) Schottenheimer.’ I encouraged all those guys to do the same, because they’re a great group of guys and there’s a chance for them to come in and be one of the best classes in the United States of America. I said it might be a blessing to be on the front end of a coach other than Year 16. It may be a blessing to you. That’s what I told him last night.”

On a message to fans who are upset with the decision…

Mark Richt: “You could tell everybody that I’m going to be fine. My wife and I will be fine. We’re empty nesters. We’re still madly in love. We’ll probably get to do some things we just haven’t been able to do in the past. I’ve been coaching for 33 years straight, and that’s a long grind. It can wear a man out a little bit, especially sitting in the head coach’s chair. We’re very excited about our future. It very well may be that we stay in Athens. We may stay in Athens for good. I don’t know what’ll happen yet. It’s a very strong draw for us, it’s a very attractive option for us. I would just say to the fans too, as soon as a new guy gets named there’s going to be electricity around here. There’s going to be a lot of excitement and a lot of momentum. Support him and support his staff, and obviously support the players. Georgia football is going to be around a whole heck of a lot longer than I’m going to be alive, and it’s been around for over 100 years. I just appreciate everybody and how they’ve treated me and my family.”

On the team’s reaction to the news…

Mark Richt: “It’s not like we had open dialogue. You have a group of 125 guys in the room. I just told them what happened. I also told them that I’ll be around another month. We don’t need to get all crazy and emotional tonight. I told them the things that I mentioned before. It’s just like when we went through that stretch in October when things weren’t going well. You’ve got a group of people, men, coaches, players, everybody having a lot of emotion. A lot of different emotions. I told them, I said ‘You all know how you feel right now. I don’t know how everybody feels but everybody knows how they feel individually. So what we’re going to do today is talk about how we need to act because you may feel a certain way but you need to act another way. You may feel a certain way about how the season was going but we need to act a certain way to keep things going straight and handle adversity the right way.’  The same thing basically was true last evening. There’s a lot of emotion, a lot of things that are going on. But let’s talk about how we need to act in this situation to do the right thing and to help them prepare for the rest of their careers here and their futures after that. After that last game I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different. I’m sure it’ll be a lot more emotional for me personally.”

On what he thought led to the change at coach…

Mark Richt: “I think that 15 years is a long time. I think that the expectations have been built to the point where if you don’t win a championship it’s kind of miserable around here. When we don’t make it to Atlanta I’m miserable too. I respect our fans, I love our fans. I respect the media, I love a couple of people in the media (laughs). I really, I love everybody, quite frankly. I know everybody’s got a job to do. Our sport is a very passionate sport, and it’s a very public sport. The jobs that we do, everybody seems to have an opinion on it. You can’t have all the excitement and the cheering and all that without the other. If things don’t go the way people want them to go, I can understand them being disappointed. I can understand them thinking there’s a better way and that kind of thing. I respect that. It got to the point where there wasn’t enough confidence that my leadership could get it done. That’s the prerogative of the people in charge, and I understand that.”

On cause for the change…

Greg McGarity: “Again, I don’t want to get into details of a conversation that Mark and I had. That’s between us. There were a lot of things we talked about, and I’ll just leave it at that.”

On how he feels about the change…

Mark Richt: “Like I said a minute ago, 33 years straight is a long time. It’s a very busy life, there’s not many breaks in the action. People have said the days are long but the seasons go fast. They really do. Before you know it, your life has flashed before your eyes. When you sit in the head coach’s chair, it might be times 10. You think you know, but you don’t know until you get there. Over time it can wear you down a little bit. The weight of a lot of the responsibility that I’ve had for a long time is gone. It’s not totally gone, I have a responsibility between now and the bowl. There’s certain things that I’m really not responsible for, for example the recruiting. I was about to go 14 days straight. What happens in recruiting is you’ve got nine guys out there, and they’re just waiting to grab you. Somebody’s going to pick you up at 5 a.m. and keep you until 3 in the afternoon. Another guy’s going to grab  you and wear you out until midnight. You get to the hotel maybe at 1 and at 5 a.m. you’re ready to go for the next guy to grab you. I’m being fascecious to a certain degree but you just go and go and go and go. That’s just one aspect of it. The responsibility for the student-athletes, all the academic responsibilities. All the decision that have to be made in strength and conditioning and that sort of thing. It’s just such a huge job that a lot of the weight that is with that job is not there right now. The other thing is, as I’ve said before, I really want God’s will for me. I’m really at peace that it was part of his plan. I’m really just excited about what’s coming down the road, and I want to continue to try to be as obedient as I can be to the Lord, and I’ll see what he has in mind for Katharyn and I.  We’re both at peace. We’ve know we’ve both been blessed abundantly to be at the University of Georgia. Let’s face it. Fifteen years at a major institution, an SEC school, just to get the job to begin with is kind of a miracle. We’re thankful. We’re blessed.”

On the backlash following the decision…

Greg McGarity: “I expected it. Decisions of this nature are very difficult. Our fans are passionate. Mark has tremendous support. Obviously with the way Mark connects with people, sure. I’ve been the recipient of emails on both sides. It goes with the territory, I understand it. I wish I could respond to all of them, but that may take some time. I understand it just goes with the territory of being in a leadership position.”

On use of a search firm…

Greg McGarity: “I’ll retain the services of a search firm in some capacity. The job is wide open.”

On a bowl preference and remembrance of the Mark Richt era…

Mark Richt: “I don’t have a preference. There’s a lot of great bowls out there. Greg and I were talking briefly about that on the way over here. I think the bowls are just starting to crank up and try to find out who’s going to go where and all that. I’m just thankful we’re going to a bowl, really. It’s a great experience. I’m glad we get the chance to play one more game. I’m glad I get the chance to be with the guys here for another month or so. I really would love for our seniors to get that 40th (win). It’s a benchmark that not a lot of guys get a chance to have. Part of that is that we play 12 games now. It’s not like in Coach Dooley’s day, when they won 40 in his day that was pretty exceptional.

How do I want Mark Richt to be remembered? Just that he loved Georgia and he did it the right way. He did it hopefully in such a way that it was well pleasing to the Lord.”

On Richt’s proudest accomplishment and something he could do over at Georgia…

Mark Richt: “Proudest accomplishment, I think just watching guys leave here ready to be a man. And when I say that I mean guys leave here ready to be a good husband and a good father and a good citizen of our country and hopefully a leader. I think we’re void of some leadership in certain areas around our communities. I think  that’s what excites me the most, to think that I had a part to play in that.

I think the only thing, I really miss hands-on coaching. The coaching of the quarterbacks, the calling of the games, the plays. I miss that. When I turned it over to Mike Bobo, he was more than ready to do it. He did an unbelievably good job, in my opinion. At the time I guess the combination of the weight of the job and feeling like if all you do is coach quarterbacks and call plays, you can spend your whole offseason just coaching ball. You can spend your offseason going to visit people and get new ideas and all that kind of thing. I found as a head coach there just wasn’t time to do that. There was always this to do and that to do and this to do and that to do. In season, people don’t always expect a lot from me in regard to speaking engagements or be there for this or that or the other. As soon as the season ends, everybody’s like ‘Coach is free, he’s not doing anything. Let’s see if we can get him to help us out here and there.’ I enjoy doing a lot of those things. But you don’t really have the time, in my opinion, that you need to do it.

If I had to do it again, I wouldn’t say so much as going backwards as much going forwards, if I do decide to coach again that especially as a head coach and trying to do these things, which I would want to do, I have to make sure there’s enough support around me to do certain things. Also let people on the front end, I’m going to be coaching in the offseason too.  I’m going to be preparing for the season and just get the expectations to where everybody understands where I’m at on the front end.

When I first came here, I had never been a head coach. I didn’t know anything. Well, I knew a little bit, looking at Coach Dooley over there.  There’s a lot of things I didn’t know. I didn’t know the Georgia culture. I didn’t know a lot of things. I’ve learned a lot. I learned a lot. As far as a regret, not even so much a regret, but I miss the hands-on coaching part.”

On the recruiting plan as the head coaching search continues…

Greg McGarity: “I’m not sure who’s on the road. That’s sort of a moving target here. Our coaches, at least some will be on the road. We talked a little bit about that briefly. I really don’t know the exact details of who’s seeing who or who’s out right now.”

On if this hire will define McGarity’s legacy as athletic director…

Greg McGarity: “I think every hire does. That’s the role and the responsibility of athletic directors and other positions across the country. It’s part of our job. We are judged upon the success, particularly in football, due to the level of interest and the revenue it does generate for our programs. I know that. I’m accountable for everything here. I understand that, and I accept the responsibility.”

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Karlyn Powell

    Nov 30, 2015 at 1:38 pm

    What a true man of God! A true witness of faith for all of us!! I love the Dawgs and am thankful to have had Mark Richt as our head coach!! Praying Gods blessings on him and his family. Goooo Dawgs!!!

  2. pat

    Nov 30, 2015 at 8:53 pm

    The Lord has blessed you and your family, such a good role model of Christian example

  3. lemondrop89 Alice W.

    Dec 1, 2015 at 6:39 pm

    God has surely blessed Ga. & Dawg Nation to have had you and your Christian example to lead our boys in their College & football experiences. May he continue to bless and lead you and Kathryn in all your immediate and future endevours. Bulldawg Nation loves you, Mark Richt…

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