Stunningly, Mark Richt’s time at the University of Miami has come to an end.
Days after the Hurricanes put up a hapless showing in a 35-3 Pinstripe Bowl loss to Wisconsin, Richt announced his retirement from coaching.
“The decision came after a great deal of thought, discussions with my family, and prayer. This was my decision,” Richt said in a statement.
Miami athletic director Blake James told Yahoo Sports’ Pete Thamel that he was stunned.
Just spoke to Miami AD Blake James. He said he’s “in shock” over Mark Richt’s decision to step down at Miami.
— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) December 30, 2018
It’s an unbelievable turn of events after Richt, 58, went 19-7 in his first two seasons in Coral Gables after being fired at the end of a 15-year run at Georgia. The Hurricanes went 9-4 in his first year and started the 2017 season 10-0, rising all the way to No. 2 in the rankings. However, they dropped their last three games, starting with an inexplicable loss at Pitt before being blown out by Clemson in the ACC title game and getting beat up by Wisconsin in the Orange Bowl.
In its last 16 games, starting with the Pitt loss, Miami is 7-9 overall with a 3-9 mark against Power Five teams in that span.
“The University of Miami has been a part of my life for more than three decades,” said Richt, who played football for the Hurricanes. “It shaped me as a young man and provided me with the coaching opportunity of a lifetime. My love for The U is simply great. My true desire is for our football program to return to greatness, and while terribly difficult, I feel that stepping down is in the best interests of the program.”
The Pinstripe Bowl loss showcased Miami’s glaring weaknesses
Thursday’s loss to Wisconsin gave Miami a 7-6 record for the season and put its glaring weaknesses — namely quarterback play — on display. Miami turned it over five times and picked up only six first downs. Richt played two quarterbacks, senior Malik Rosier and redshirt freshman N’Kosi Perry. They combined to complete 6-of-17 passes for 48 yards, zero touchdowns and four interceptions.
Miami was great in 2017 because of its ability to force turnovers. The five Pinstripe Bowl turnovers meant the Hurricanes ended the 2018 season minus-one in turnover margin.
Sure, Wisconsin’s defense played part in the dismal performance, but it was a blunt example of what has plagued Richt’s team all year. On the year, Perry and Rosier combined for 2,096 yards, 19 touchdowns and 10 interceptions while completing just 52.4 percent of their passes. Rosier, the 2017 starter, began the year as QB1, but his inconsistencies caused the staff to insert Perry, a four-star 2017 recruit, into the lineup. He had his moments, but could not maintain the starting role the rest of the way.
Richt’s 28-year-old son Jon has coached Miami’s quarterbacks for the past three seasons.
Richt spent 15 years at Georgia
Richt retires with a career 171-64 record in college football. He was 145-51 in 15 years as Georgia’s head coach. He parted ways with the Bulldogs after Georgia posted a 9-3 season in 2015. The Bulldogs went on to hire Kirby Smart.
Georgia won 10 or more games nine times in Richt’s tenure. But four of those seasons happened from 2002-05 and Richt had six 10-win seasons in his first eight seasons with the school. His last best team at Georgia was a 2012 team that made it to the SEC title game.
Before he landed the Georgia job in 2001, Richt spent nearly 15 years as an assistant under Bobby Bowden at Florida State. Bowden hired Richt as a graduate assistant in 1985, a few years after his playing days at Miami ended. From there, he moved up to the role of quarterbacks coach before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 1994. Richt called plays when the Seminoles won the national title in 1999.
Richt is tied for 40th all-time among FBS coaches in wins with Wallace Wade, the man whose name is on Duke’s stadium. He was fourth among active coaches in wins and is now the third member of that top four to announce his retirement at the end of 2018. Bill Snyder, who was second to Nick Saban, retired at the end of the season and Urban Meyer’s final game at Ohio State will be Tuesday’s Rose Bowl against Washington.
More from Yahoo Sports:
• Nunes ends Cyborg’s reign with brutal KO
• NFL player suffers gruesome injury while dancing
• Thamel: Houston is proving to be a complete mess
• Can Alabama can be stopped? It’s possible