CORAL GABLES — Some in SEC country saw Mark Richt‘s move to Miami as an escape from Florida. The Gators beat his Georgia squad 10 of 15 times when Richt was the Bulldogs’ coach.
Richt will get his next shot at the Rowdy Reptiles in 2019, when the two programs clash that September in Orlando. Aside from that, Richt was asked, would he want to play Florida every year?
“I’d be more than happy, yeah,” he said Friday. “Oh yeah. I’d be all for it.”
As reported over the last few months, Miami and Florida will open 2019 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, the stadium formerly known as the Citrus Bowl.
The programs, who played yearly from 1944-87, have not since 2013. UM AD Blake James has consistently said he wants to play UF on a regular basis, while his Gators counterpart, Jeremy Foley, has been less enthusiastic. James in 2014 said UF “made it clear” it isn’t interested in a resurrection of the yearly series (more on that here).
Richt was speaking on the second day of his on-campus football camp for local high school prospects, an event that drew several local 7-on-7 teams (the American Heritages of Delray and Plantation; Santaluces, Coral Gables, Miami-Killian among them) and a bunch of quality linemen, who participated in their own camp. UM’s coaching staff (and several players) watched them show their stuff.
Those who stood out in 7-on-7 work included defensive backs Patrick Surtain Jr. and Marco Wilson of Plantation-American Heritage, and Gilbert Frierson of Coral Gables. Surtain (whose ex-Dolphin father now coaches Heritage) and Wilson (son of ex-Cane Chad and brother of current Gator Quincy) are UM targets in the current class, while Frierson is a long-limbed Hurricanes commit for 2018.
Elsewhere, Richt was asked if he liked the ACC’s reported consideration of an additional conference game, bumping the regular-season slate from eight ACC games to nine (the idea being, as the writer David Teel lays out here, that a potential ESPN-run ACC TV network would want more “inventory”). Richt said he preferred the flexibility of eight league games, as he had in the SEC.
“If we play Florida every year, like Miami used to, then you’ve got eight and then Florida, then you’ve got to decide what you’re going to do after that,” he said, I think eight is good, I think it gives us flexibility. But I won’t be making the final decision on that one.”
Speaking before Thursday’s camp, Richt addressed the status of suspended running back Mark Walton, confirming that he is still a member of the team and working out, though he did not detail any additional punishment.
He also spoke about his reasons for pledging $1 million toward Miami’s yet-to-be-announced indoor practice facility.
“Probably, first is we need it,” he said. “Second would probably be it’s my alma mater. That’s probably tied for first. Just being here, living it out and knowing why it’s so important. I’m serious about getting it done. We must get it done. We’re gonna get it done.
“And the other thing is, I want people to understand I’m all in. I’m Miami, that’s it for me. I’m not going anywhere else. This is where I want to finish my coaching career and I want it to be great. … I think it helps other donors to see my commitment. I think it helps recruits see my commitment. It helps our current and former players, alums, say, ‘Hey, this guy is serious about trying to make this place the best it could possibly be.”