Sunday, November 29, 2015

Farewell, Coach

November 29, 2015


Dear Coach Richt, 


I grew up a die hard Georgia fan in the heart of Florida during the Spurrier years. Under those circumstances, unless your blood runs true red, it can turn orange or even garnet faster than Herschel could run. 


My friends still laugh about our den, which was our dedicated “Georgia” room. Though we were a conservative Christian family, “GIVE ‘EM HELL GEORGIA” could be clearly seen on a sign on the wall. And we meant it. Georgia is at the very heart of my family. 



No matter who the coach has been or what the record was each season, I have always been and always will be a Georgia fan. Even now as I am raising my children in Tuscaloosa, AL, the home of the Crimson Tide, my affections never waver. If anything, they have taken deeper roots and more purposeful meaning. 



I was in church this morning when my phone started blowing up with the news of your departure. I’ll admit I was more than distracted. I was sorrowful. Heavy hearted even. I realized this morning, as my friend Catherine so eloquently stated, that I might be a bigger Mark Richt fan than I am a Georgia fan. I did not think that was possible, but that is how I feel today.


I kept thinking about your words after the game last night, about how you think the Lord is in charge of everything and how you are fine with everything He has in store for you. I know you meant it. 


While I watched another coach being interviewed from his vacation home, my heart smiled as I remembered how you donated yours to be used for ministry. And when a friend was adopting several years ago, I shared the story of you and Katharyn and the two children you adopted into your family from Ukraine. It ministered to her. 


I also met a mother of one of your former players not long ago. An organization you started, the Oliver Tree Foundation, helped him get on his feet after a professional football career did not work out for him. It changed the course of his life. 


After a disheartening play, when you told your player that you loved him no matter what and that you were serious, I believed you. I know he did, too, because you rarely get empty words from a man who is filled with something so good and true. 


Today, when I see my newsfeed peppered with the news at Georgia, every “G” in my mind stands for “Good and faithful servant.” I know I am not ultimately the audience you aim to please, nor are the news media, the fans, the administration, or even your team. Thank you for that. 


You have an audience of One. 


And if I had to guess, He is pleased with you, too. Ultimately He is pleased because when He looks on you, He sees the righteousness of Jesus. But I believe He is also pleased because you did not take the opportunity He gave you lightly. You used your talents. 


Even under weighty scrutiny over the past few years, you have not faltered in your character or in your witness. 


Coach Richt, you are the real deal. 


YOU are a damn good Dawg. 


I have had some things happen over these past several years that I would never have chosen for myself. They did not feel like God’s best for me. They did not feel like they were working together for my good, as the Scriptures promise. They were shocking, painful, disappointing, and devastating things. 

This feels like one of those things for the Bulldog nation. On some level, it may feel that way for you. But we do know that “in all things God works together for the good of those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). 


My cousin Paige said she thinks Georgia got it wrong, and I tend to agree. I'm glad God never gets it wrong. 


You were called to Georgia for a great purpose, with a great vision, and I am so thankful you were. I’m thankful that in some way, through a TV screen in Tuscaloosa, I felt like I was part of your vision, too. 


Oh, and you also won a whole bunch. The Bulldog Nation thanks you. 


Thank you for not settling for just trophies, but instead for making men from boys. Thank you that in your pursuit of winning, you pursued higher things, eternal things, the right things.


Thank you for making me the proudest I’ve ever been to be a Georgia Bulldog. 


Well done, Good and faithful servant. Well done.


Farewell, Coach. 


Mary Grace Lyon

A grateful fan

University of Georgia, Class of 2000


43 comments:

  1. So well written! This brought tears to my eyes!

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting. It's still bringing tears to my eyes. So sad about it.

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    2. Yes beautifully written! God Bless you and God Bless Coach Richt. Fought tears reading.

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  2. So well written! This brought tears to my eyes!

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  3. Preach!! My heart has been so heavy since I heard the news earlier today. Coach Richt is a damn good dawg and it's definitely the end of an era. He will be dearly missed.

    Lindsay @ lindsayssweetworld.blogspot.com

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    1. The end of an era for sure. We may or may not win more games in the future, but we will never have s bigger winner as a coach.

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    2. You just said it all - "we'll never have a bigger winner as a coach." That sums it up.

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  4. That is spot on and thanks for sharing.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. Sad time for the Dawg Nation.

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  5. Hope Coach sees this... what a truly fine human being..., Georgia, what are you thinking? Ray Tanner, I pray you are ON THE PHONE!

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  6. Beautifully written, every word was true and meaningful. I could not have said any of it better. I have a saddened spirit, georgia did get it wrong, coach richt is an amazing man. I will miss him greatly.

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    1. Even days later, I can't shake the heaviness. God must have bigger plans! We were so fortunate to have had him.

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  7. Beautifully written, every word was true and meaningful. I could not have said any of it better. I have a saddened spirit, georgia did get it wrong, coach richt is an amazing man. I will miss him greatly.

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  8. God needs CMR in other places. Great read. DGD! ��

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    1. Yes! He has a higher calling for him now. Thanks for commenting.

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  9. We are Tech fans and over the last few years as UGA fans have railed against CMR we have said "We will take him"!! We will gladly get ride of PJ who yells, uses profanity and swears at our boys and doesn't win and take CMR who build boys into men and consistently wins any day!! Would the Bulldog Nation be satisfied with a Jimbo Fisher who allowed their quarterback to rape and steal, stand on tables and do lude and crude gestures, but win a national championship and a heisman with him......would that make them happy? I hope not!!! from what I am reading online, most of the haters are quiet and can't believe CMR is gone and the faithful are outraged. I hope he sees your article and others!!

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    1. Thank you, I hope he sees it too. Seems to me like the haters were a vocal minority-- most everyone is outraged.

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  10. Wow this is such a thoughtful and profound tribute to Coach! You put in words what many were thinking! For that thank you Mary Grace Lyon!

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    1. Thank you for reading, Marie. I appreciate the compliment.

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  11. Wow this is such a thoughtful and profound tribute to Coach! You put in words what many were thinking! For that thank you Mary Grace Lyon!

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  12. Wonderful commentary about a wonderful man!

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    1. It's easy to write good things about an incredible person. Thanks for reading.

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  13. Thank you for sharing! As I have tears streaming down my face, I know God's will is being done. I pray for Richt, his family, and the entire DAWG nation! There will never be another like him!

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    1. No there will not. I agree- we were blessed to have him.

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  14. Beautiful! And yes, there will never be another Coach Richt.

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    1. Thank you, Mary. And I agree, he is a one in a billion.

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  15. This is great, as a Hog fan, I've always admired coach Richt for the way he handles himself and his team on and off the field. The different movies he portrays himself in speak to his character! Georgia got rid of a good one, I'll miss watching him coach, great man of character and God!!

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    1. I guess we may have to like Miami a little now...thanks for commenting!

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  16. Excellent read, I had just returned home from church when I saw the news. The consensus at church was that CMR would be back but CBS would be gone. I feel sad but at the same time I am happy that UGA was represented by this man for 15 years. God bless Mark Richt and all of his family.

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    1. God will bless him for sure-- I'm happy for him returning to his alma mater... But man, liking Miami may prove to be difficult 😃 Thanks for your comment.

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  17. I made a comment earlier to a friend .. The news just came out that Kirby Smart is coming home to UGA..I told my friend they can replace our Coach but they will NEVER replace Marc Richt...Thanks for your letter and I guess I'm just a big ol baby cause it made me tear up too...

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    1. I think Kirby will do well, but we always miss our coach!! Thanks for commenting.

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  18. I made a comment earlier to a friend .. The news just came out that Kirby Smart is coming home to UGA..I told my friend they can replace our Coach but they will NEVER replace Marc Richt...Thanks for your letter and I guess I'm just a big ol baby cause it made me tear up too...

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  19. God must have even greater things in store for this fine man who follows Christ so consistently. . .Mark Richt has lots of brothers and sisters up here in Rocky Top, too. We will miss competing with the likes of this good man. . .

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    1. Thanks for commenting~~secretly I'm glad he didn't stay in the SEC...I didn't think I could cheer against him. I guess I will have to start liking Miami a little bit.

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  20. I'm not a Georgia fan, but I could not agree more with your words. We have watched a similar man coach our boys to men at Clemson and I could not be more proud of men like Mark Richt and Dabo Swinney who aren't afraid to put God first and prepare their players for life, then football. Well done.

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  21. Mary Grace,

    Someone shared your post in a Georgia group I am in on Facebook. So at 6AM this morning I read it and with tears in my eyes I started my day.

    Thank you for so eloquently putting into words what so many of us feel about Coach Richt and why we are so sad he is no longer our coach.

    As I have reflected these last few weeks , I can not help but think God has another purpose for his life and ministry to the young men who cross his path. Maybe those kids down south need him more..

    I have watched this humble and honorable man walk the sidelines at Athens for 15 years and it will be a huge void not to see him there again next year. I will always be a DAWG fan for life but I will follow CMR journey for the rest of my life. He represents all that is good in this world and we were blessed to have him for 15years..however , he is not gone but moved on to the next part of his journey.

    My favorite quote of all time speaks to what I feel CMR has done and will continue to do at Miami..

    "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail. " The trail he left in Athens is long and wide with all the lives he has touched.

    Thank you for writing such a wonderful letter to Coach Richt #DGD #GoDAWGS.. and #GOCANES.

    Tammy Pyrdum

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  22. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for commenting--

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