Miami football coach Mark Richt retires, says move was ‘my decision’
CORAL GABLES, Fla. — Three days after the Hurricanes’ disastrous 35-3 loss to Wisconsin in the Pinstripe Bowl and a little more than three years after taking over as the coach at his alma mater, Miami’s Mark Richt issued a stunning announcement early Sunday afternoon saying he was retiring from coaching.
“Dear Hurricane Family,” the statement began. “A few hours ago, I informed UM Director of Athletics Blake James that it is time for me to retire from coaching so I am stepping down as the Head Coach of UM Football. The decision came after a great deal of thought, discussions with my family, and prayer. This was my decision.
“The University of Miami has been a part of my life for more than three decades. It shaped me as a young man and provided me with the coaching opportunity of a lifetime. My love for The U is simply great. My true desire is for our football program to return to greatness, and while terribly difficult, I feel that stepping down is in the best interests of the program.
“I want to express my sincere appreciation to the entire Hurricane Family for welcoming me back home and for supporting the outstanding young men in our program. I only wish that we could have achieved greater things in return. I also want to thank President (Julio) Frenk and Blake for their incredible support, as well as the outstanding men and women in UM Athletics. Most importantly, I want to thank the incredible coaches, staff, and their families who gave their all to The U each and every day, and our student-athletes, who wore The U jersey with pride and who worked hard towards their degree.
“Katharyn and I will be cheering on the Canes in the years to come and The U will never leave our hearts.”
Richt’s tenure at Miami — which began after former coach Al Golden was fired in 2015 — was marked by relative success in his first two years, but this season, the Hurricanes struggled and ultimately, finished with a 7-6 record that was well below expectations for a team that was ranked No. 8 in the preseason AP Top 25.
In his three years at Miami, Richt posted a 26-13 record. In his first season, he led the Hurricanes to their first bowl win in a decade — a 31-14 victory over West Virginia in the 2016 Russell Athletic Bowl.
The Hurricanes then opened 2017 with 10 straight wins, rose as high as No. 2 in the College Football Playoff rankings and won their first Coastal Division title. But not long after, things began to sour.
Miami ended 2017 with three straight losses to Pittsburgh in its regular-season finale. It was beaten 38-3 by Clemson in the ACC Championship and in the Orange Bowl, was edged by Wisconsin 34-24.
Still, many believed that with Richt’s guidance, a plethora of returning talent and a top-10 2018 recruiting class, the Hurricanes would again be a force this season. Miami started the year with its highest preseason ranking since 2004 and was picked to repeat as Coastal Division champion.
Instead, the Hurricanes stumbled in their opener against LSU and endured a midseason four-game losing streak that knocked them out of the rankings and ended their championship hopes.
Miami endured quarterback questions all season before the Hurricanes Malik Rosier and N’Kosi Perry combined to throw four interceptions in the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin. The Hurricanes’ offense was one of college football’s worst this year, Miami averaging 358.8 yards, a number that ranks 105th among 130 FBS programs.
Richt, who has served as Miami’s primary play-caller and coached the Hurricanes quarterbacks along with his son Jon, took plenty of criticism from fans and former players during the Hurricanes’ struggles, which were only magnified in this most recent loss to the Badgers.
In Thursday’s game, the Hurricanes managed just six first downs and 48 passing yards. They finished with 169 total yards and were just 3-of-11 on third-down conversions, prompting Richt to be uncharacteristically somber during his post-game comments.
“I’ll just say this. Things got to get fixed,” Richt responded Thursday when asked if it was time for him to consider bringing in someone to help him fix the Hurricanes offense. “That will be the number one priority.”
After Thursday’s loss, James took the unusual step of taking to social media to say he felt the performance was “unacceptable to all of us who love The U” and that “We will compete for ACC and national championships and I know that Coach Richt is alongside me in that commitment to excellence.”
Three days later, though, Richt made the decision to walk away from Miami.