“Georgia’s our home, period,” Mark Richt said. “That’s just the way it is. I’ve said it since the day I got here, unless Georgia want us to leave, this is where we’re going to be.”
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Georgia fans have worried since Richt led the Bulldogs to the 2002 SEC title that Florida State, where he coached for 14 seasons, or Miami, where he played in the early ‘80s, could one day lure him away. With Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden nearing retirement and Hurricanes coach Larry Coker on the hot seat, those fears have been magnified. However, if those schools or any other reach out to Richt, he will decline to enter into any discussion, he said Monday.
Last week, the executive committee of Georgia’s Athletic Association board of directors unanimously approved a three-year contract extension for Richt, which will carry him through the end of the 2013 season and will pay him at least $2 million and as much as $2.4 each year. Monday was the first time he has spoken publicly about his new deal except for a statement released by the school the day it was approved.
“Yeah, it’s a little overwhelming. It’s definitely humbling,” he said. “My goal (when he got the job) was to try to do things right, treat people right, help young men grow and hope it was going to be good enough. Just try not to mess the darn thing up. So far, we’ve had success and been blessed, and we’re thankful for it.”
Richt, who is now one of four SEC coaches making at least $2 million annually, is 52-13 in five seasons and has led Georgia to two SEC titles in the last four years. He has steadfastly maintained that Georgia is where he wants to coach, but Monday was the first time he has said he will not even listen to another offer.
“I understand that sometimes coaches say things and then all of a sudden change their minds, but I’ve tried to do things honorably and tried to tell the truth and tried not to sugarcoat anything,” he said. “When we, my wife and I, were in Tallahassee, we only wanted to move never or once. So far, it’s been that way. We hope to never have to move again.”
He hopes the significant buyout clause in his new deal puts fans and high school recruits at ease about his intentions. Although the final buyout language hasn’t been completed, Richt would be expected to pay more than $10 million if he voided the deal next year. His buyout, and the school’s guaranteed money to him, decrease each year of the deal.
“I have not ever spoken to anybody and don’t plan on it, but sometimes that contract just gives everybody faith that coach is telling the truth,” he said.
Richt’s new deal was announced last Thursday, which made it too late to be of much help with this year’s recruiting class, he said. National Signing Day is Wednesday, and the Bulldogs are expected to bring in a class ranked in the nation’s top five.
“It’ll be more important for next year’s class,” Richt said. “You’re in the first year of an eight-year contract rather than the fourth year of an eight-year contract. There is a huge difference in those two things.”
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