“Happy to Have You Back”: University of Miami Welcomes Mark Richt as New Football Coach

The University of Miami officially welcomed Mark Richt as the team's new head coach Friday morning, Tweeting to the former Canes QB, "Happy to have you back, Coach."

UM introduced Richt as the team's new football coach in a press conference at 10 a.m Friday morning. Richt, throwing up the "U" told members of the media that his goal is to finish his coaching career at his alma mater.

"I'm excited to be home," Richt said. "This is home."

A person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Richt and the Hurricanes had agreed in principle on a deal to bring him back to his alma mater.

Richt spent the last 15 years at Georgia, winning two Southeastern Conference titles during his tenure and reaching the 10-victory mark in nine of those seasons. When he and the Bulldogs  - who went 9-3 in this regular season but only tied for second in the SEC East - parted ways this week, Miami moved quickly to get the 55-year-old Richt back to the place where his college career began as a quarterback from 1979 through his graduation in 1982.

Addressing the media Friday, Richt said he was considering sitting out for a year, but that the prospect of coming to Miami and being in a recruiting hotbed sold him.

Several Hurricane greats were on hand for Friday's announcement. Former NFL quarterback and Heisman trophy winner Vinny Testaverde was in attendance, as were Jon Vilma and current Miami QB Brad Kaaya among others. 

Georgia announced that Richt will not coach the Bulldogs in their upcoming bowl game. Richt was planning to make that his Georgia finale, but the school said he decided otherwise and told his now-former Bulldog players of his decision Thursday.

That move might prevent some serious awkwardness. It's possible that Georgia and Miami might meet in a bowl game, though neither team is likely to learn its postseason fate before Sunday.

With 145 wins, Richt is proven and that makes him an anomaly for an incoming Miami coach. He comes to Miami with five more wins than the last 10 Hurricane head coaches had combined when they took over, a list that includes Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson, Dennis Erickson and Larry Coker.

Each of those four went on to win national titles in Coral Gables, and now Richt will be asked to contend for the same. He takes over a Miami program that hasn't won a national championship since 2001, last topped nine wins in 2003, and hasn't won a bowl game since 2006.

Miami officials were spending the early part of Thursday finalizing plans for the introductory news conference.

It seems likely that Richt will be costing the Hurricanes far more than their last coach. Richt was making about $4 million at Georgia. Former Hurricanes coach Al Golden made just over $2.5 million in 2014, according to tax records. As a private institution, Miami is not required to publicly release contract information but must disclose the compensation of officers and other top earners on federal forms filed annually.

Golden was fired in October, one day after Miami lost 58-0 to Clemson for the worst loss in the 90-yard history of Hurricane football. Interim coach Larry Scott went 4-1 to close the regular season and is expected to coach Miami in its bowl game, with that site and opponent set to be finalized Sunday.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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