Former Players React to Richt Hire

Read on to see what former Hurricane greats Vinny Testaverde and Jonathan Vilma are saying about the hiring of Mark Richt.

Former QB Vincent Testaverde

Opening Statement…
“It’s been a long process but at the end of the day we feel like we have the right coach. It’s amazing how the timing of what has taken place with Mark leaving Georgia has benefited the University of Miami.”

On what kind of input he had in the process…
“Well as a former player myself, we had our say. We listened to the board and the committee, and they listened to us and we all had some say in what was going to take place. When we went through the list on Mark Richt, it was hard to pass him up.”

On if he called Mark Richt personally or if there was much contact over the last few days…
“Not really, not much. Once we knew he was available and once he interviewed I put in a call to him to say hello, but prior to that I did not have any contact with him.

On his thoughts about Georgia parting ways with Mark Richt…
“It’s hard to believe that. All I can say is that their loss is our gain. Selfishly, I am glad they did it. The reasons why they did it I don’t know, and frankly at this point, it really doesn’t matter and I don’t care. “

On the biggest challenges facing Mark Richt moving forward…
“Everyone wants the program to be back to the way it was when we were winning national championships, and that alone is hard to do on a yearly basis. For Mark to come in and change the culture back to a winning culture is a big task. We haven’t won a national championship in fifteen years, I believe. We haven’t had a double-digit win season in probably seven or eight or nine or even ten years. So it’s a big undertaking, but Mark has the experience, has the knowledge, he has the energy, he has the respect to be able to accomplish what we know and a lot of people think he’ll be able to do it.”

On if expectations at Miami are different than expectations at Georgia…
“You have to look at our past history, where we were at our darkest times to where we are today- but still have a little ways to go yet. I think Mark is going to clean the rest of what we need cleaned up for us and get that done. Asides from that, I can tell you that as a parent of a son who is currently on the football team, I think Mark is going to be a great role model, a great person and a great teacher for my son. So as a parent, I feel great that he’s here. Because I know him a little bit from when we played here together at Miami. I followed his career and a lot of people that know him, that have coached with him and played for him, they have nothing but good things to say.

On what he remembers about Mark Richt after coming to Miami…
“I don’t think he’s changed that much. I’ll give you a specific reason. When I was a freshman Mark was a senior, Jim Kelly was the starting quarterback so every day out at practice Jim would be running the offense and Mark and I and the other quarterbacks would stand behind the huddle to watch. As we watched the plays unfold and going through practice, I would sit there and ask Mark questions and he would be patient enough to sit there, like he was a coach, and explain everything to me as a young freshman who didn’t know anything about football yet. On a daily basis he would do that. Thinking back now, the writing was on the wall for him that he was going to be a great head coach because he was doing it back then. But I didn’t know if he thought I was a pain in the neck asking questions all day, but he never showed it. He always gave me the attention to feel comfortable enough to ask him every day.

On if he had to separate Mark Richt’s candidacy as a football coach from the person he knows personally…
“Yes, absolutely. For me it was different being in that room because [number] one, when Mark’s name came up, it was, ‘OK, he’s a former teammate of mine.’ Another scenario is that I am a parent of a player on the football team. And then I am being asked to evaluate the coaches that are presented in front of us and give my opinions - through the experience that I’ve had over the years with being around great coaches, being around not-so-great coaches. I say that, but it gives me a gauge on what a great coach looks like and what a mediocre coach would look like. So I felt like I was comfortable in being able to express that to our committee.”

On the debate among search committee members…
“I don’t want to get too into the process too much. But basically it was everybody gives their opinions and really I think at the end of the day, Blake James is the one that made the call. He was more interested in what we thought and had to say based on our opinions and experiences over the years. I think the more information that he had on each candidate the better, and easier the decision he would be able to make.”

Former LB Jonathan Vilma

On if he thinks everyone will rally around a coach like Mark Richt ...
“I think so. He is an alum. He understands what it means to be a part of the university. He understands the culture; he helped build the culture. I wouldn’t see any reason why the alumni wouldn’t welcome him. He is ready to embrace them as we are ready to embrace him as a coach.”

On winning as a coach at the University of Miami…
“I don’t think it’s that hard to win here. When he came back in the 70s, it was almost the same culture then, where we were looking for toughness. We were looking for discipline. We were looking for more talent to help us get to that next level. It only took about three to four years before [Howard] Schnellenberger got it done. You look at what we have now, the guys went 4-1, hopefully 5-1 under Larry Scott, an interim coach, so we have the talent and we need to continue to cultivate that talent and develop that talent. I don’t think we are that far off.”

On having stability and moving the program forward…
“We expect that because of what he’s done at Georgia and at Florida State. Everywhere he has been, he’s been successful. We expect to have nothing but success again moving forward but it’s not guaranteed. We know that. As he mentioned, guys are going to have to work. Guys are going to have to get in the trenches and really consciously make an effort to get back to our winning ways.


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