Here, fans expect nothing short of championships and the football cathedrals they visit on Saturdays, are second only to the holy cathedrals they visit on Sunday.
Head coaches are held under extreme scrutiny as they are constantly walking in the shadows of the past that will never be forgotten.
This sort of pressure can place a coach in a difficult dilemma to find a balance between the college that treats them like rock stars, and the family that that calls them husband and father.
For University of Georgia head coach Mark Richt, it’s the life he’s lived for nearly three decades.
“It is a busy and demanding life for sure, but the first thing I have to do is love my wife and let our children know we are a team,” said Richt in an exclusive interview with Daddyhood.net. “I’m blessed that my wife was able to stay home with the children throughout my career.”
Richt, along with his wife Kathryn have four children including two they adopted from Ukraine in 1999. With the constant requirements that come from being a father added to the responsibilities of running a national power-house football program, a need of balance and consistency is the thing that Richt says helps the most.
The Richt household has created a schedule that includes breakfast as a family every day, even during football season, and attending church on Sunday mornings. Coaching at the same university for the last 14 years has permitted Richt to create a life that includes the campus as an extension of his home life. One that allows him the ability to step out for family time without lessening his time as a coach.
“There have been a lot of times I would bolt out of the office and go by the school and either have lunch with one of my kids, or knock on the classroom door and have them come to the door and give them a hug before they get back to their work,” said Richt.
Richt explains the necessity of maintaining a family that encompasses his football position started while coaching under Bobby Bowden at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla.
“Coach Bowden would allow a schedule that freed us up to be fathers and husbands. To be with our families in the morning. I’d take my kids to school on my way in to work, we’d have team meals every Sunday night where the coaches could bring their families and eat together with the players. I’m thankful that I was able to coach in that environment.”
That influence stayed with Richt when he left Florida State to become the head football coach at Georgia in 2001. Transitioning from offensive coordinator to head coach meant that Richt was now responsible for more than just the playbook on the field. The head coach can play a very important role in the lives of all the young men on a college team.
Coaching thousands of players throughout his career, Richt and his coaches are acutely aware of the bond they share with the players.
“We have a lot of influence with our players. They probably look at what we do just as much as what we say. So you want to be a good example of a husband and a father and model that in front of them, and allow them to learn just by observing,” said Richt.
Richt added that he strongly feels that the same expectations should be had with the players who come through his locker rooms as the children that share his living room when it comes to getting an education and how to succeed and achieve the goals youths set for themselves.
“I’m just as happy when a former player signs a new NFL contract as when he gets a degree and gets that new job,” said Richt. “Having these men get married and start a family and go down the right path in life is its own type of success that I enjoy seeing.”
The dedication to family led Richt to get involved with All Pro Dad, a program through Family First that assists men in learning how to improve on being a father and a husband. Along with Former NFL coach Tony Dungy, Richt helps organize football related events centered on strengthening the bond between fathers and their children.
Involvement with the fatherhood organization has allowed Richt to witness firsthand how the events allow men to see the things they do well in addition to those they “might not do as well as you should.”
Along with Jeff Foxworthy, Dungy and Richt are co-hosting a new live event for All Pro Dad on August 23 in Atlanta. The event will allow fathers from across the Southeast to share some laughs and walk away with some specific things they can do to become better fathers.
“If they’re there, they care,” said Richt when talking about those who will attend the event. “I want to remind these guys of the importance of being a good dad and a good husband. We want to create a community of men that can lean on each other, not just for one event but throughout.”