Mark Richt or bust went bust: Virginia on to the next
Great news: Mark Richt was reportedly in Charlottesville on Wednesday to interview for the Virginia football coaching job. Bad news: multiple reports have Richt being announced tomorrow or Friday as the new coach at Miami.
OK, so obvs, this is all so much conjecture that it’s hard to figure out where to start from the analytical standpoint, but here goes.
Richt was interested: This is assuming that the reports that Richt was in Charlottesville to interview for the job are true. (And sometimes in these kinds of situations, that’s assuming a lot.)
UVA was interested: See above. Assuming a lot, but if he was here, you have to then assume he was the top target. Otherwise, why fly him in?
Did Miami outbid UVA? Hard to imagine that right off. Al Golden was paid $2.54 million in 2015, according to an analysis from USA Today. Virginia paid Mike London $3.20 million this year. Richt made $4.12 million at Georgia this year. If you’re Miami or Virginia, you’ve got to know what he was paid at UGA, and that he’s not going to come cheap. Another USA Today analysis has UVA as the third wealthiest athletics program in the ACC, behind Florida State and UNC. So again …
Why, then? Richt is a Miami alum. That’s one possible reason he goes back, maybe the biggest reason. The ‘Canes went 8-4 this year, and Golden had recruited well, whereas Virginia is coming off its fourth straight losing season, and London’s recruiting prowess was overstated. UVA has more money, better facilities, but it’s a bigger rebuilding job.
Why not? Richt just got fired from a place that doesn’t take 9-3 seasons lightly. He’s trading it in for a place that just fired a coach whose team ended up going 8-4. He comes to Virginia and goes 6-6 next year, and he gets a statue erected in front of the stadium.
Fallout: If he did interview, and if he does end up at Miami, the stakes are raised for Craig Littlepage. Not only did you miss on the top free agent head coach, but you lost him to a division rival. You let your fan base get its hopes up, and if you end up getting football’s equivalent of Tony Bennett, i.e. a coach who could very well in a few years build the program back to where it was 20 years ago, and you have to ask them to come out to watch his bad team play a lackluster schedule in the meantime, good luck selling tickets the next couple of years.
Even if he didn’t interview, same song.
Not going to get away with a Justin Fuente-level hire at this stage. And no, please, God, don’t make the new guy keep Tenuta.
The Mark Richt Watch has come to an end. The Dan Mullen Watch hereby commences. If this turns into the Danny Rocco Watch, last one to leave turn out the lights.
– Column by Chris Graham