Mark Richt

Mark Richt-May-21-08-CoachesTour2008

I am a follower of Jesus. This is the testimony of Mark Richt, head football coach at UGA – and a fellow believer.

It bears sharing:

After playing quarterback at Boca Raton High School in Florida, I signed a football scholarship with the University of Miami. In 1978 I arrived on campus with my own agenda. I really believed that I would be the starting quarterback for the Miami Hurricanes my freshman season. I planned on being an All-American my sophomore year, winning the Heisman Trophy as a junior and then leaving early for a very successful career in the NFL.

Shortly after arriving on campus all of my plans were quickly interrupted by another freshman quarterback named Jim Kelly. I did not get to start as a freshman and going into our second season fall practice Kelly was named as the starting quarterback. I realized then that none of what I had planned for my career would become reality. Instead of growing and working harder, I allowed circumstances to dictate my behavior.

During the summer before my junior year, one of my teammates went on a retreat. He and I had spent our college careers aimlessly pursuing the party scene and upon his return I immediately witnessed a change in his life. He began to talk to me about GOD and how he had received CHRIST into his life. He would open the Bible and share scripture with me. He was excited about his new life and had an authentic passion for telling others about it. I was very drawn to his new found faith and really considered the Christian life. As I thought about the cost of following CHRIST, three barriers came up. 1) I thought that in order to become a Christian, I had to be perfect. 2) I thought that GOD would want me to give up football and send me someplace that I didn't want to go. 3) My girlfriend and other friends were due to return from summer break and I did not want to give up anything that had to do with my current relationships.

As I struggled with these thoughts, it wasn't long before I was back to doing what I wanted to do. During our senior year Jim Kelly went down with an injury, and I was given the opportunity to start. Because of some self-centered decisions that I had made, I was disciplined and the opportunity of finishing my career as the starting quarterback for the University of Miami Hurricanes was gone.

 After graduating from University of Miami in 1983 I worked out in hopes that I would be drafted by an NFL team. I never got drafted. I did receive the opportunity to tryout with the Denver Broncos, but soon after arriving in camp another quarterback named John Elway arrived. Less than a week later I was cut. I moved back to south Florida and worked several odd jobs. I was very depressed and had no peace in my life. I thought that the only way that my life would matter or any chance that I had to be happy was to play football in the NFL. That next year I received the opportunity to tryout with the Miami Dolphins, but soon after arriving in camp another quarterback named Dan Marino arrived. Less than a week later I was cut.

I realized then that the plans that I had made for my life were shattered. As I was preparing to leave the premises, I was approached by an athletic trainer that worked for the Dolphins organization. He asked me what I was planning to do now and asked if I ever considered a career in coaching. During my short stay in Miami I scored very well on the QB tests and having been around Kelly, Elway and Marino I had a pretty good grasp on what a great quarterback looked like. After some time had passed I got a call from Florida State Head Coach Bobby Bowden. He offered me a graduate assistant position working with the quarterbacks at FSU. I jumped at the chance and in 1985 I moved to Tallahassee Florida.

I was into my second season at Florida State University and thought that I was doing fairly well, until one fateful day in September. We had an off weekend and one of our players was shot and killed while attending a party. This tragedy was terrible and heartbreaking for our team. The next day Coach Bowden called a team meeting. No one was allowed in the room but players and me. Being a graduate assistant I was in there to take roll. Coach Bowden addressed the incident and towards the end of his message he began to talk about spiritual matters. He pointed to the empty chair that was assigned to the fallen player, and talked about death and his faith. He asked every one of us in the room to look at the chair and then he asked, "If that was you do you know where you would spend eternity?"

He communicated the GOSPEL to us that day. Coach Bowden explained that GOD loved us and that HE had sent His one and only SON to die for our sins. He assured us that if a person receives CHRIST that he will live for eternity in a real place called Heaven. At the end of that meeting he told the players that if they had any questions or anything on their hearts, to please come and speak to him. I was a broken young coach, so the next day I went to see him. He took me through the GOSPEL and explained what it meant to be a Christian. I remembered back to my college days, sitting with my roommate and hearing of GOD'S love for me. It was time. My life had not turned out like I planned; I understood how self-centered and prideful I was. I saw my sin revealed and the reality of GOD'S love for me.

Coach Bowden led me in a prayer that day, and I received GOD'S mercy, forgiveness and peace through what CHRIST had done for me. I understood that my life would never reach the point where I would be good enough to earn GOD'S love. It is a free gift. I left Coach Bowden's office a new man. I found peace and meaning for my life. I married my beautiful wife Katharyn in 1987. We had our son Jon in 1990 and David in 1994. We began to address the topic of adoption with our Sunday school class at church and in 1999 we welcomed Zach and Anya home. During these years I had the wonderful opportunity of coaching at Florida State and working for Coach Bowden. I love Coach Bowden and am eternally grateful to him for giving me my first job in coaching and most importantly leading me to the LORD.

In December of 2000, University President Michael Adams and then Athletic Director Coach Vince Dooley came to Tallahassee and interviewed me for the position of Head Coach of the UGA Bulldogs. After many hours of prayer, Coach Dooley called me and I accepted the position. We moved to Athens in January of 2001 and have truly been blessed. We have a great church, an outstanding school for the children and a wonderful staff. Throughout all of life I try to live according to COLOSSIANS 3:23 – "And whatever you do, do heartily, as to the LORD and not to men."
I am so thankful to now live my life with peace.

Download Mark Richt's Hearing His Voice Printout