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.