Mark Richt seems genuinely content at Miami. Even more so, it appears if he has a newfound energy that may have faded during his time at Georgia. Last week, Richt spoke to reporters during the ACC Media Kickoff in Charlotte, N.C.
Below is part of the conversation between the first-year Hurricanes coach and reporters on hand.
How does it feel to be back in the ACC, and specifically, at Miami?
RICHT: "It's an honor to be here. It's an honor to be a part of the league again. I did have an opportunity to coach in the Atlantic Coast Conference as a quarterback's coach and offensive coordinator at Florida State, when Florida State first joined the league.It was a great experience. I thought it was a tremendous group of schools and group of people. I'm thankful to be back. I'm really looking forward to the changes that have happened. More teams. I think the league is much deeper and tougher top to bottom than when I remember leaving it. Being back at my alma mater is huge for me. It's kind of a good spot to finish my career. I have no intention of doing anything but finishing my coaching career at Miami. It's been great to have former teammates to come and support me, former players, different football alum to come on our campus and spend time with our players and even in our camp setting.
"It's been a little overwhelming the outpouring of support. It's energizing. I hear we're breaking records in terms of season tickets, things of that nature. There's been a great positive buzz. But now we got to get ready to play some games. I really enjoy the young men on this team. I remember first getting here in December. It was a little bit unique. Miami was still in bowl practice. I was there kind of as an observer. I didn't want to come in and try to change a system or anything like that, try to tell anybody how to have a recruiting weekend or whatever."
Miami was last in rushing last year. Your teams at Georgia ran the ball effectively. What has to be done to make the Hurricanes more productive running the ball?
RICHT: "You have to have a certain type of personnel to get the job done. First of all, I think it does start up front. You got to have guys that know what they're doing, that will stick their hat on somebody and get after it, just fight. Coach Searels, our offensive line coach is a guy I have all the faith and confidence in, from a scheme point of view, fundamentals point of view, get after them point of view. I think we're in good shape there.
"You've got to have everybody else blocking. You need a fullback that can block in the system that I'm going to want to run. We'll do a lot of on-back runs, but there will be two-back runs as well. You have to develop a fullback or two. Tight end has to block, wide receiver has to block. You have practice in such a way to develop a physical attitude. Obviously you have to have backs that can do it. I say backs in plural because I think if you have one guy, you try to hammer one guy, it's going to be tough on him. It's not healthy for him. We like to have two and maybe three guys that can carry the load, which I think we do at this point.
"It's a mentality. It's a scheme. It's ability. A lot of it is the ability of your quarterback to get us in the best play possible. Last thing on that. A lot of teams will call the cadence and the quarterback will look to the sideline, the coach will kind of tell him what he wants him to do. I like to teach the quarterbacks to know what to do. Brad will be orchestrating what's going on up front the entire ballgame."
You get to go back to Georgia Tech. Georgia fans know that to be some good old-fashioned hate. How do you feel that game will be back for you being at Georgia and seeing Paul Johnson?
RICHT: "I don't think I'll not be able to not have memories from the last 15 years, every other year going in and out of there. A lot of ballgames played in that place. It's a great venue. But we'll be wearing orange and green this time. That will be exciting, too. It's going to be the first time around for me in this league, playing the coastal division, of course crossing over with Florida State and NC State. I'm looking forward to it. But there's a lot of unknowns for me. I have a little bit of an idea what to expect with Georgia Tech, like you said. Been playing against them for the last 15 years. But it will be fun. It's a great place to play a game."
What would it mean to you and to the program at this time to finally get over the hump and beat Florida State?
RICHT: "Anytime you beat Florida State it's a good day, if you're a Miami fan, no doubt about that. I don't even know who are the rival teams that have been developed over time in the league, over the last 10 years. I really don't know how our players feel about all the teams that we play. I know that's the one, if you said to our fans, Which game would you want the most, asked our players, coaches, whatever, most of them would probably say that game. The reality is our goal is to win the coastal division. You can win that game and lose the coastal, you can lose that game and win the coastal. Our job is to win that game and get back to the ACC championship game. Every single conference game is very important."
You have familiarity with your entire offensive staff, for the most part. Can you discuss the cohesiveness, the building of the family-oriented nature?
RICHT: "It's exciting. Thomas Brown, our offensive coordinator, runningbacks coach, I recruited him out of high school at Georgia, coached him. He coached with me at Georgia. Todd Hartley coached with me at Georgia for some time. Stacey Searels coached with me at Georgia. My son John, I've been sort of coaching his whole life to some degree. Ron Dugans, I recruited him while I was at Florida State and coached him while I was a coordinator at Florida State.
"I know Ronnie really understood what we're going to do, how we're going to do it. He actually lived it out. He played the position that he's coaching. Thomas Brown did, as well. They know me, too. They know what they're getting into. They know how I like to do things. They believe in that. When you have everybody working together, you're not always going to agree on everything, but when you truly do care about each other, you know if you do your job well, you bless everybody around you, or if you don't do your job well, you're hurting the team, it's important.
"I told the coaches this. I said, I am coaching QBs again, I'm calling plays, I'm getting in the middle of this offense again. I don't have time to baby-sit anybody. If I have to motivate you, it's just like if I have to motivate a quarterback, I'm going to find another one. If I got to motivate a staff member to do his job well, I'm going to find another one. Not to be mean or anything, but everybody has to take care of their business.
"I think I've done a really good job of hiring guys that are that type of people."