A win-win: Georgia, Miami succeeding after coaching change
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Miami coach Mark Richt’s departure from Georgia two years ago was called a lot of things: a stepping down, a parting of the ways, a mutual decision, and a firing.
The semantics are irrelevant now.
No. 8 Miami has the nation’s second-longest current winning streak at 10 games. No. 3 Georgia has won eight straight, the third-longest streak among FBS schools entering this weekend. The Hurricanes and Bulldogs are among the last eight unbeaten teams in the nation, and both have a real shot of reaching their conference title games in December.
So whatever happened between Richt and Georgia, it seems to be working wonders — for Richt, Georgia, Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart and Miami.
“Hopefully it is a win-win for both schools,” said Richt, the former Hurricanes quarterback who spent 15 years with the Bulldogs before taking over at his alma mater in December 2015. “I know I’m very happy here and I’m sure everybody’s happy with the job Kirby’s doing.”
Miami (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) is enjoying its longest winning streak in more than a decade, one the Hurricanes will try to continue at home Saturday against Syracuse. Georgia (7-0, 4-0 Southeastern Conference) has a bye this week and has matched its best start since 2005.
“Coach Richt is a great coach and I respect everything he’s done for me,” said Georgia linebacker Devin Bellamy, who has played for both Richt and Smart. “He just knows how to get guys going. He teaches discipline and technique, the same thing we’re teaching over here. He brought it to Miami and has those guys playing great football. I can’t say anything bad about him.”
These days, there’s nothing bad to say about Richt or Smart.
They are fully aware of what the other is doing, and how the other is succeeding. Richt said he went home and watched some of Georgia’s romp over Missouri last weekend, while Smart said he watched a bit of Miami-Georgia Tech — in part because the Bulldogs and the Yellow Jackets have their annual rivalry game later this season.
If there were bad feelings between Richt and Georgia two years ago, they didn’t puncture the Richt-Smart relationship. They’ve been relatively close for more than a decade and still speak with great respect for one another.
“I think Coach Richt has a rejuvenated energy and he’s done a good job down there,” Smart said. “They’re playing really hard and recruiting well. He’s always done a tremendous job.”
Since coming to Miami, Richt has never spoken negatively about how his tenure at Georgia ended. He interrupted a live television interview after Miami’s last-second win over Georgia Tech last week to congratulate and greet Yellow Jackets’ back J.J. Green — who scored two touchdowns against Miami, and who played for Richt at Georgia before transferring.
He’s even mentioned how Georgia-Miami games might be possible down the road.
“I’m happy for Georgia,” Richt said. “I’m happy for all the kids that I recruited, and I’m happy for all the guys I didn’t recruit. You know, Georgia is a great place. It has a special place in the hearts of myself and my wife, and I’m all for them having a lot of success.”
AP Sports Writer Charles Odum in Athens, Georgia contributed to this report.