Return trip: Miami’s Mark Richt heading back to Tallahassee for first time since 2000
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Mark Richt has a unique perspective of Miami-Florida State rivalry as a former player and coach.
Still, despite all that the Miami head coach has seen in this series, Saturday will be his first trip back to Doak Campbell Stadium in 17 years.
Richt, who was a Florida State assistant coach for 15 years, credits a lot of his development to the time he spent under Bobby Bowden. Richt said he still tries to model a lot of the things that he does after what Bowden did.
“I just learned a lot of football from Coach Bowden but I learned probably a lot more about life. His priorities were things that meant a lot to me,” Richt said during this week’s Atlantic Coast Conference teleconference. “He took a chance on a 24-year-old kid that coached quarterbacks for him. I don’t even know that I shouldn’t be coaching QBs that early in my career.
“He let me grow as a coach. For him to have faith and confidence in me to do that was huge.”
Richt, who played at Miami, was a Florida State graduate and volunteer assistant from 1985 to ’88. He went to East Carolina for a year as offensive coordinator before returning to FSU as the full-time quarterbacks coach in 1990.
Four seasons later, Richt was named the offensive coordinator. He was the quarterbacks coach for two Heisman Trophy winners — Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke — as well as being on the staff of two national championship teams (1993, ’99) and part of a 51-game home unbeaten streak before heading to Georgia in 2001.
But a trip down memory lane will not be the most important thing to Richt this weekend. His priority will be to have the 13th-ranked Hurricanes (3-0, 1-0 ACC) snap a seven-game losing streak to the Seminoles (1-2, 1-1).
Miami wide receiver Braxton Berrios has one word to describe the losing streak, including losing the last three by a total of 10 points — inexcusable.
“Especially the ways we’ve lost and how close most of the games have been,” Berrios said. “At least when I was here, we’ve lead in every single fourth quarter.”
The game has come down to a single point eight times in 61 meetings. Richt has been involved in four of them along with some of the other crazier finishes, including three where Florida State had game-tying or winning field goal attempts go wide right in the final minute.
Last season, Richt’s first back at Miami, the Hurricanes jumped out to a 13-0 lead only to see Florida State rally. The Hurricanes scored with 1:38 remaining and it appeared as if the game was headed to overtime until DeMarcus Walker blocked Michael Badgley’s extra-point attempt to give FSU a 20-19 win.
“We have bragging rights. It’s always great when we can say we’ve beat them the past couple years,” Florida State safety Derwin James said.
Richt wants to change that, along with a few other things. Not only would a win help show that Miami could contend for an ACC title, but it would give the rivalry more attention on a national scale.
“I think that it’s still a very, very important and passionate game for the players and the coaches and the fans,” he said. “I think on a national basis, it’s not quite as exciting as it used to be because, you know, we obviously had not beaten Florida State in a long, long time. I’ve been here a year of it, and our players have been here, one, two, or three years of it, so it’s time to make this a true rivalry.
“If we can keep winning and playing the kind of games of football that people respect, and then, you know, win our share of these, then it’s going to be fun again, for everybody.”