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What about Mark Richt? Perhaps, with football still being the regional sport that it is, fans at UCLA, Pullman, Washington, Ames, Iowa, or Provo, Utah—even Clemson, South Carolina, which is only 79 miles from the UGA campus—really don’t know much about this former Bulldog head coach. If he is not the most popular former head coach in college football, he has to be one of the top few. He is a protégé of a universally popular coach, Bobby Bowden for whom Richt worked at Florida State and would rank high in any coaching popularity poll.
To begin with, Richt is genuinely a nice guy. He opens the car door for women, he says a blessing before each meal whether he is by himself or with 200 at a luncheon or dinner. He never dog cussed his players. He gave players a second chance. He never embarrassed the University of Georgia.
There have been a couple of prominent Bulldogs of the Jewish faith who have eagerly supported him out of respect even though their religious philosophies would be considered extreme opposites. Richt even had a nice rapport with a Muslim member of his team, Musa Smith.
With his boyish good looks and a perpetual smile, Richt is someone whom fans and friends of the Bulldogs feel comfortable in shaking his hand or giving him a friendly hug.
The following salient facts bring into focus why this man has been so popular as Georgia’s former football coach. To begin with, he was a winner. In addition to becoming Georgia’s second winningest coach (after Vince Dooley), with 145 victories, he won two Southeastern Conference titles during his 15 seasons as the Bulldogs’ boss.
Richt, as you likely know, has written a book, Make the Call. The subtitle poignantly defines the essence of the book’s message: “Game-day wisdom for life’s defining moments.”
The publisher, B& H Publishing Group out of Nashville, Tenn., printed 25,000 copies initially and his book is now headed to a second printing. If you know anything about book publishing that is simply remarkable. Those are John Grisham-like numbers.
Often, when a professional team wins a Super Bowl or a World Series, for example, the star of the team might co-author a book for a national publishing house. I have been told that the print run in those situations often would be like 10,000. If that is accurate, you get the drift of how popular Mark Richt is with the Georgia constituency and others.
There are many pedestrian authors who claim to be “best-selling authors.” Mark Richt today is certainly a best-selling author He is also one who would never boast about it.