Mark Richt is the class of college athletics. If anyone wonders why a football coach that starts a season 0-2 should never be on the hot seat, look no further than the guy that wears the headset on the Georgia sideline.

In the midst of a season marred by Tattoogate, Hurricane Nevin and the horrific events at Penn State, a story in the Atlanta Journal Constitution exposed Richt for the great human being he is. At the same time, it exposed the NCAA once again for its complete lack of integrity and moral compass.

Richt violated NCAA bylaw, which regulates supplemental pay for staff members, by taking money out of his own pocket to pay assistants, former assistants and non-coach staff members more than $50,000 for various reasons. Those reasons included bonuses and raises the university didn’t pay, he felt should have been. The University of Georgia did not feel his actions were violations. Neither do I. Shame on the NCAA for even having rules that would frown on coaches taking care of their own.

So Ohio State University loses a few scholarships and a bowl game next year because Tressel, Pryor, et al don’t do the right thing. The U, self bans a bowl game. Wrist slaps for major infractions and the Penn State tragedy continues to unfold disgusting fact after disgusting fact.

Through it all, the guy from Boca, FL who once backed up Jim Kelly at the University of Miami before they were The U, continues to do the right thing. In this season of giving, can anyone think of a more generous head football coach? I can’t. As the NCAA investigated his acts of kindness, I could see him politely telling the investigator, “I appreciate you being here, but respectfully, I am comfortable with my actions, I would do them again and if I violated any rules, then the rules need to be changed.” I would have been the first guy to shake his hand and say, “Thanks Coach for representing yourself and UGA with the utmost dignity.”

The University of Georgia did start 0-2. Then went on a 10-game win streak before they ran into the number one team in the country in the SEC Championship Game, LSU and that sent the Bulldogs to the Outback Bowl on January 1. Les Miles may have won Coach of the Year and rightly so. Mark Richt didn’t win a coaching award this year.

He won something much greater. He won respect.

Respect in winning. Respect in losing. Respect as a football coach. Respect as a man. Sing it Aretha!

Originally written and published for

courtesy of

by Bruce Silverman