ATLANTA (AP) — Miami coach Mark Richt says he wishes nothing but the best for Georgia.
Six months after Georgia fired him, Richt was in downtown Atlanta raising money Thursday night for the Hurricanes. He praised his former school prior to speaking to a group of 200 or so Miami supporters.
“I want Georgia to have great success,” Richt said. “I love the players there, first of all, but I love Georgia. Georgia was great to me. I know Georgia is going to do well. There’s too many good things going on there.”
Richt was unemployed only a few days before returning to Miami, his alma mater. In 15 seasons with the Bulldogs, he went 145-51, winning two Southeastern Conference titles, but none since 2005.
The Bulldogs fell short every year, so it wasn’t surprising that Richt’s time was up. But the awkward phase with old friends didn’t last long before people realized he’s as happy as ever.
“When something like that happens, people are like, ‘You’re in the tank,’ ” Richt said. “They feel like they’ve got to come help you. Then they came and they realized that I really do live in paradise, they didn’t feel so bad for me. So it really was good, but I’ve been feeling good for a while.”
Wearing a green Miami golf shirt, Richt stood to take pictures with a long line of fans before going to the podium. The Hurricane Club’s fundraising effort seeks to raise $10.2 million this year, recruit 500 new members and increase membership to 8,300.
His next stops will be in Chicago and New York.
“I’m mostly about just doing things right,” Richt said. “I’m not going to do things a whole lot different than I did at Georgia. I want everybody to graduate. I want everybody to grow into a good father and husband. I want everybody to become the best player they can possibly be.”
Richt added that he and his replacement, Kirby Smart, have a longtime mutual respect. Smart, the former Alabama defensive coordinator, worked under Richt as running backs coach in 2005.
“Kirby’s a great coach, a great recruiter,” Richt said. “I think he’s an outstanding person. I got to know him on a personal level and I know he’s a good guy.”
Richt and Smart exchanged some Twitter love earlier this month. Richt tweeted that he was back in Athens as wife Katharyn was receiving her degree in nursing.
Smart congratulated them both, but neither coach is looking now to add a Georgia-Miami game to future schedules.
“Hopefully in a playoff game or a bowl game that’s significant,” Richt said. “Right now I’ve got enough scheduled out for a while now.”
Thursday’s event was exclusively for Miami supporters. There were no Georgia fans in sight.
“People around here still say it’s hard to get used to you wearing that U,” Richt said. “But I’m used to it. It’s been five months for me. I’m very comfortable at my alma mater. And, for me, home is where my wife is.”