He's been on the job at Miami for eight months. And in that time, he's gone through his first recruiting period, his first session of spring football and his first off-season conditioning program.
Thursday, Mark Richt marked another first in his transition to life at Miami and in the Atlantic Coast Conference when he made his debut as Hurricanes coach at the ACC's annual Football Kickoff event.And it was clear, even after hours of interviews, the veteran coach is still rejuvenated by the fresh start he's gotten at his alma mater and in South Florida, where he's been received warmly by a fan base eager to see the Hurricanes return to prominence.
"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," Richt said. "It's been great to have former teammates come out and support me, former players, different football alums come on our campus and spend time with our players. ...
"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've got to get ready to play some games."
For Richt, whose Hurricanes are scheduled to open fall camp Aug. 4, part of preparing for those games has involved regaining confidence in his play-calling abilities.
In the latter part of his 15-year career at Georgia, Richt relinquished those duties to his offensive coordinators, Mike Bobo and Brian Schottenheimer. But at his introductory press conference after being hired by Miami in December, Richt said it was his intention to resume calling plays and coaching quarterbacks, a task that may prove plenty exciting considering his starter is the talented Brad Kaaya.
Thursday, Richt detailed how much those changes, too, have refocused him -- even if Kaaya joked that his new coach was a little rusty with his playcalling during those first workouts in the spring.
"He's in every meeting, he watches every rep. Every throw that any quarterback had this past spring, he watched it," said Kaaya, who passed for 3,238 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2015 and is already generating buzz as a potential top pick in next year's NFL draft. "He's calling the plays and you can tell that he enjoys it. He definitely missed it. He was a little rusty at first because he hadn't called plays in so long, but it's natural for him. He's done it 20-plus years and I'm looking forward to it. I think me and him see eye-to-eye and speak the same football language."
Added Richt, "Calling plays and game-planning and scheming has really energized me. I think it's important for the staff to see me compete. I think it's important for the players to see me compete. ... I think the players see my competitive juices may be different."
Richt also reiterated Thursday that he understands there are lofty expectations for his program, expectations he knows well as a former Miami quarterback.
The Hurricanes, who have been in the ACC since 2004, have never won even a divisional title within the conference. The past three years have brought their own set of disappointments. Miami closed the 2013 season with losses in four of its last six games. In 2014, the Hurricanes were 6-7. And last season, though they finished 8-5, the 'Canes suffered a 58-0 drubbing by Clemson that was the worst loss in school history.
A day later, Miami fired coach Al Golden.
In November, Richt and Georgia parted ways. Days later, Richt was in familiar territory in Coral Gables, albeit in a new, unexpected role. Now, he says, it's time to really get to work and help the Hurricanes turn things around.
"Everybody's hungry for success," he said Thursday. "There's always some fans [who feel] it's national championship or bust. But I think there's a lot of them that just want to see us get after people and play Miami football. A couple games in recent memory have been tough to swallow for some people."
This article was written by Christy Cabrera Chirinos from Sun Sentinel and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.