Josh Kendall

If USC can get a coach like Mark Richt, hang onto him for a long time

Mark Richt will coach Georgia in its bowl game.
Mark Richt will coach Georgia in its bowl game. AP

Let’s imagine a world where Nick Saban never existed.

OK, maybe that’s too harsh, wiping a person from the planet even it’s only as a mental exercise. So, let’s imagine a world where Saban succeeded as Miami Dolphins head coach.

How much different are the lives of Mark Richt and Les Miles in that scenario? How much differently would we view Richt and Miles in that scenario?

Richt is out of work today and Miles almost was out of work essentially because they are not Nick Saban.

Richt averaged 9.6 wins in 15 seasons at Georgia and did it with dignity, which is harder every day in collegiate athletics. He won two SEC championships. Miles has 111 wins in 11 seasons at LSU. He’s won two SEC titles AND a national championship, and until about 10 p.m. on Saturday night it seems, his bosses were itching to give him a pink slip.

Richt’s and Miles’ resumés are not just accomplished, they are gaudy. These are types of guys who will be described as “legends” by their fan bases in 20 years, but they’re not Saban.

They haven’t won four national championships or five SEC titles, though. Nobody who’s around these days has other than Saban, but a lot of athletics directors (and maybe more importantly athletics boosters) seem to believe if they can just fire the no-good lout of a coach they currently have, they can find the next Saban with no problem.

“If you don’t win a championship, it kind of gets miserable around here,” Richt said in a news conference the day after his employers informed him of a “mutual agreement” for them to part ways.

Richt also essentially started posting resumés at that Monday news conference. After covering the first eight years of Richt’s tenure as Georgia’s head coach, I had always assumed his next job would be in mission work, but he sounded Monday more like a guy who was on a mission to stick it in Georgia’s eye.

“I’ll listen to anyone who has interest in me,” Richt said.

That doesn’t mean Richt is coming to South Carolina (or that Ray Tanner should or will even call Richt). Richt played quarterback at Miami, and the Hurricanes have an opening.

Heck, he might decide he wants to be the offensive coordinator at Prince Avenue, a local Christian school and his children’s alma mater. Former South Carolina head coach and defensive coordinator Richard Bell has been Prince Avenue’s defensive coordinator since 2010, so the Wolverines could end up with an all-SEC alumni staff eventually.

The point of all this is not that the Gamecocks should run out and try to hire Mark Richt, but that if whoever the Gamecocks do hire ever puts together the kind of run that Richt has in Athens, South Carolina should hang onto that guy for as long as it can.