The Richt guy
Georgia tabs FSU offensive coordinator as coach
Updated: Tuesday December 26, 2000 4:23 PM
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) -- Georgia, which fired Jim Donnan despite four straight bowl appearances, picked Florida State offensive coordinator Mark Richt as its new head coach Tuesday.
Richt, who is accepting his first head coaching job, was introduced at a news conference accompanied by his wife and four children - all wearing recently purchased red-and-black outfits.
A 1982 graduate of Miami, Richt has been on Bobby Bowden's staff at Florida State for 15 seasons, with a one-year break in 1989 when he served as East Carolina's offensive coordinator.
"I've been slow and particular about wanting to leave," Richt said. "I knew if I left, it would have to be a place where I could spend the rest of my life.
"It's not only a perfect place to raise a family, it's a place where you can win at the highest level."
Richt, 40, has been the Seminoles' offensive coordinator for seven years, directing some of the nation's highest scoring teams. He also has spent 14 years as quarterback coach, sending five players to the NFL and working with Heisman Trophy winners Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke.
Richt will continue to be the Seminoles' offensive coordinator through the Orange Bowl - a national championship matchup against Oklahoma. He indicated he will try to do some recruiting for Georgia at night by telephone while in Miami.
"It's been a great pleasure having him on our staff," Bowden said in a written statement. "He and his family have been role models for our players and fans. We will miss them very much, but wish them well at Georgia."
Georgia athletic director Vince Dooley and university president Michael Adams conducted the search. They chose Richt after also interviewing two NFL assistant coaches: Green Bay Packers receivers coach Ray Sherman and Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
Dooley also talked with Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower.
"He's been a vital part of the most successful program in the country over the last 10 to 12 years," Dooley said.
Richt will have a tough act to follow. Donnan was fired despite a 40-19 record, which included a 37-14 victory over Virginia in the Oahu Bowl on Sunday.
Georgia (8-4) notched four consecutive bowl victories for the first time in school history. For the first time since the early 1980s, the Bulldogs had eight or more wins four seasons in a row.
Pointing to that record, Donnan criticized the school for ousting him.
"I think that's going to hurt Georgia in the long run," he said after the Oahu Bowl. "I never dreamed this would happen, but it happened. I'm not going to slit my throat over it. ... But I'm not sure what it says about Georgia."
At the very least, it says the next coach had better take care of business against the Bulldogs' rivals. Donnan's 6-14 record against Florida, Tennessee, Auburn and Georgia Tech was a sore spot for Georgia fans.
Donnan also took some parting shots at Adams, believing he was responsible for his firing. Dooley admitted that he wanted to give Donnan another season.
"I don't feel any vindication," Donnan said. "I've been humiliated publicly by one man, who didn't even discuss the problems he had with me. As far as fund-raising, I had to be one of the best they've had here. I think I'm respected as a coach nationally."
Richt also was reported to be one of the top candidates for the Virginia job, though athletics director Terry Holland denied that he made an offer.
Richt interviewed twice with Georgia. Dooley refused to confirm or deny any reports but said Sunday he was "very confident we'll make the Jan. 1 deadline" to name a new coach.
Just a week ago Dooley expressed concern about having a coach in place by the first on-campus recruiting weekend, Jan. 12-14.
Georgia receiver Terrence Edwards, MVP of the Oahu Bowl, said the Bulldogs will embrace their new coach.
"Coach Donnan is like a father to me, but I signed with the
University of Georgia and that's who I play for," Edwards said.
"Whatever the new coach wants me to do, I'll do it."