The Business of Running a Football Team

Miami Business School Dean John Quelch, left, and UM President Julio Frenk, right, show gratitude to Coach Mark Richt on delivering the school's Distinguished Leaders Lecture.
By Robert C. Jones Jr.

Miami Business School Dean John Quelch, left, and UM President Julio Frenk, right, show gratitude to Coach Mark Richt on delivering the school's Distinguished Leaders Lecture.

The Business of Running a Football Team

By Robert C. Jones Jr.
Head Coach Mark Richt speaks at the Miami Business School’s Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series

Even with the long work hours that came with being the head football coach at the University of Georgia, Mark Richt always found time to eat breakfast with his children, drive them to school, and help them with their homework. 

Richt learned the importance of such morale-boosting moments from the legendary Bobby Bowden at Florida State, where he served as an assistant coach for 15 seasons. “For him it was God, family, and football—in that order. And that really resonated with me,” Richt said.

Today, as the University of Miami’s head football coach, Richt instills that philosophy in his coaching staff, boosting their morale through such activities as planned outings for their families and devotionals where they reveal something about themselves. It is just one of the rules that make up his coach’s mission statement, a set of principles he has adopted to keep the Miami football program running smoothly.

Richt shared that mission statement on Wednesday, telling about 200 people attending the Miami Business School’s Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series that he wants his coaches to serve as “great examples of what we’re trying to teach our players.”

“We’re held to a higher standard,” said Richt, speaking at Storer Auditorim. “If all I cared about was winning football games, I might cheat to recruit a kid. But our goal is to make decisions based on the best interests of the team.”

Richt, who earned a finance degree from UM and played quarterback for the iconic Head Coach Howard Schnellenberger, said there is no compromising when it comes to following his set of principles. “There’s been a lot of change in football,” he said. But when it comes to the business of running a football team, “there are guiding principles you don’t budge on.”

All of his coaches must handle their responsibilities with excellence, dedicate themselves to helping student-athletes reach their full potential, and assist them in developing their bodies, minds, and spirits to the fullest.

Richt looks for competency in coaches when he hires them, and sits down with every assistant to define their roles. “I don’t have to tell Manny Diaz how to coach defense. Philosophically, we’re on the same page in a lot of areas,” Richt said of his defensive coordinator, who coached one of the best units in the ACC last season.

He wants his players and coaches to celebrate when “good things happen.”

“I don’t think we celebrate enough [in the world]. We’re always trying to get to the bottom line,” Richt said. “If something good happens, celebrate.”

And there’s no better way to celebrate a turnover in football, Richt said, than by rewarding his players with the Turnover Chain, the flashy, oversized gold chain with the U logo happily donned by every Miami player who intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble last season. The chain, which made quite a few appearances in 2017 after Miami defenders forced 30 turnovers, even inspired a hit rap song by local artist Solo D.

Richt, who led the Hurricanes to a 10-win season, ACC Coastal Division title, and Orange Bowl berth in 2017, said above all “he loves his players” and wants to help them become better men.

“Most of them are thinking about the dream of playing in the NFL,” Richt said, noting that most collegiate football players never make it to the next level. “When it’s over, they ask, ‘What do I do now?’ ” And that is why Richt and his wife, Katharyn, started the U Network, an initiative to help connect former players with potential employers.

Bruce Irwin, founder and CEO of American Family Care, which pioneered the concept of non-emergency room urgent care, will be the next speaker in the Distinguished Leaders Lecture Series at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 3.

 

 


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