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if there is one that underscores faith, hope and charity, then Mark Richt deserves membership in all of those, too.

For the College Football Hall of Fame, it was an easy vote for him to gain admission even though the official induction ceremony took place in a place known as “Sin City,” an anathema to the moral fiber which is as central to the makeup of the second winningest coach in UGA history as his nervous system.

As a quarterback and as a coach, he knew what his mission was—to win games and championships. He was as serious as the next guy when it came to competition. He wanted to do his opponent in but never crossing the line when it came to rules and ethics.

While I am not sure about what was going on with Michigan, as of late, regarding the sign stealing episode, I am confident that if an assistant coach had come to Coach Richt with a fool proof plan of skullduggery that would have enhanced victory, he would have refused to allow the practice to move forward. Victory, for him, must be based on honor and fair play.

I have so many fond memories of the time spent with him. Lunches in his office where we talked football. He was always eager to learn about Georgia history. The lore that I had recorded from conversations with some of the outstanding coaches in the business such as Bud Wilkinson, Duffy Daughterty, Bo Schembechler, John McKay, and others seem to intrigue him. I remember Bulldog club trips where he signed autographs with the patience of Job, but politely asking a loyal fan who was on the way to inebriation to set his beer out of view of the camera for the photo op the fan had requested. That was not the image he wanted of himself and as a representative of the University of Georgia.

He received an unusual number of requests during his time as head coach including people wanting him to pray for friends who were in need or were in a state of hopelessness; to speak to this church group with which he had no connection; every charity wanted him and his altruistic message; there were requests to offer encouragement to someone on his death bed.

Never would I suggest other coaches have not been asked for similar requests, pleas and exhortations, but I doubt that as many of them played the role as a Good Samaritan or functioned with the missionary zeal and commitment that Mark Richt did. He is a good man whose integrity, fair play and goodwill set him apart.

He deserves the highest of praise for his ability to win football games and to try to make the world a better place.

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