The longest-tenured coach in the SEC is Les Miles, who is entering his 12th year at LSU.
For several years, it was Mark Richt.
Richt had been at Georgia 15 years (tied with Missouri’s Gary Pinkel; Steve Spurrier spent 11 years at South Carolina) when he was let go last December. Though Richt has quickly settled in at Miami, comments from a couple of his peers at this week’s SEC Media Days show he hasn’t been forgotten in that part of the country.
Auburn’s Gus Malzahn, who dropped his last two to UGA (and whose program was 2-8 in its last 10), was asked if he was “glad to see [Richt] go somewhere else.”
“First of all, Mark Richt is one of the better coaches in all of college football, I think,” Malzahn said. “And he’s one of the true professionals in all of college football. I think he’s a great example for young guys getting into that profession of what — how you’re supposed to act, how you’re supposed to, you know, go about your business. So, I’ll say that first. And it was an honor for me to coach against Coach Richt.”
New UGA coach Kirby Smart was asked if it was a challenge to get players to buy into his program, because “a lot of them still have loyalty” to Richt.
“First I would like to say Coach Richt is a good friend of mine,” Smart said. “I respect Coach Richt and worked for him for a year and respect the man he is and respect what it stands for. I don’t think it’s a competition between Coach Richt and I to win over this team. I think you earn that by the way you behave and the way you perform. Every kid I’ve been around as a football player, they want their coaches to make them better as men and as players.
“If they see value in you as a coach that you can create value in them as a player and a person, they respect that. And it’s not a competition between he and I or me to win the team over. That’s never what it has been about. I’ve got a lot of respect for Coach Richt. He’s reached out to me and we’ve had communication. I think he’s going to do a great job at University of Miami. Our team has moved forward. Our team is focused on this season and not looking in the rearview mirror.”
Richt might say the same.