Mark Richt heard the question frequently at ACC Kickoff: Is his move to television a one-year sabbatical from coaching?
After a career that began in 1985 as a Florida State graduate assistant, Richt says that being a part of the new ACC Network is his new career.
“This to me is a career change,” Richt said. “That’s how I look at it.”
The 59-year-old Richt stepped down as Miami’s head coach after three up-and-down seasons at his alma mater. The grind of being a college head coach had weighed on him and it was time for a break.
But Richt has also found an opportunity to stay close to the game with the ACC Network, providing studio analysis of the league’s teams.
Richt spoke to the media last week in Charlotte, N.C., about his move to television, a change of scenery in Destin and his thoughts on FSU as well as the ACC in 2019.
Did you think that going into broadcasting was something that would interest you?
Richt: I think everybody in every job, I’m sure all of you all would possibly say, ‘Could I do something besides this?’ So it’s crossed my mind to possibly do it. … I could see myself doing what I’m doing. Whether it’s a studio analyst or color. I could see that I might enjoy that. And I think I’m going to enjoy that.
Why are you moving from South Florida to Destin?
Richt: I needed to downsize for sure. We debated going to Georgia, we debated going staying in Florida or even six months apiece. State of Florida you have state income tax that is different than Georgia. I promised my wife the beach sooner or later. And now we’re on the beach. We’re in the state. When you look out the window, all you see is the beach. It’s less than 100 yards
How has life changed? How has the transition to television gone?
Richt: It’s unbelievably different. When you coach, it’s truly 365 days a year. Normally, for six months, it’s at least 16-hour days. Every day of the week, Saturday, Sunday, it doesn’t matter. The offseason is much less of an offseason than before. The pace of life for me, people talk about going from 0 to 60. I was going from 60 to 0. I was watching the Game Show Channel a bunch. I’d look at the clock and go, ‘It’s only 11.’ It took a while to get used to doing nothing. But I got used to it.
Is the gap between Clemson and everyone else cavernous?
Richt: I think it’s healthy. If a team is really excellent and they are winning the way Clemson is, the goal is to beat Clemson. How do we beat Clemson? Well, we better recruit better. We better feed our players better. We ought to develop better. We got to hire a certain type of staff. We have to make sure our nutrition in line. All of the little things that it takes to be great, if you haven’t been doing that, we better do it. I think it’s just going to raise the level of play in the league because people are going to put their resources where they need to to get into the fight.
How far is Florida State away from being back?
Richt: You don’t know how far a program is from turning it right back around. I know Florida State has recruited pretty good for a while. The cupboard is not dry by any stretch. Sometimes it just takes a little minute to get everybody on the same page. I wouldn’t be shocked to see a big difference in the results in one season. Is it ready to go knock down Clemson’s door? I don’t know. But let’s face it – it only takes one game. You only have to be better that one day. And everybody has that opportunity. So we’ll see. I wouldn’t be shocked to see Florida State have a good year.
What do you know about Kendal Briles’ offense?
Richt: I’ve read about them. I’ve read the numbers and they’re pretty spectacular. So we’ll see what happens. He’ll have some good skill guys to work with.
What excites you about the ACC Network role?
Richt: I’m just hoping I can educate people on some things maybe they don’t think about when they start having an opinion on why this happened or why that happened. Hopefully I can tell a few stories and maybe also talk a little bit about what a head coach goes through when he makes certain decisions. Hopefully that will be helpful.
What do you make of the ACC Coastal race this year?
Richt: I think you always have to put Miami in the mix. If I had to pick I would pick them. I like Virginia, to be honest with you. I really like that quarterback. He’s a special player. Everybody’s got a shot. I wouldn’t be surprised for Virginia to rise up and be that seventh team in seven years to win it.
Will it be fun for you to take a deep dive on one league each week?
Richt: I think the hardest part of the year will be the beginning, because it’s new to me but also because it’s all speculation. There’s such a broad spectrum of what you could be studying right now. When you start playing games, you start seeing results, you start seeing guys emerge. … Once the season begins to roll, things become a lot clearer for everybody, including myself.