Georgia football coach Mark Richt shares his parenting philosophies

Dad Days of Summer: While Momania’s Theresa Walsh Giarrusso takes a vacation, local dad and sportswriter Andy Johnston will be filling in. You can e-mail him at

Mark Richt is entering his 11th season as the football coach at the University of Georgia. He and his wife Katharyn were married in 1987 and had two boys – Jon, 21, and David, 16 – before adopting Zack, 15, and Anya, 14, from the Ukraine in 1999. He took some time to talk to me about his philosophies on several aspects of parenting.

Part 1

On parenting:

Andy and his son Ty.

Andy and his son Ty.

First of all, it’s crucial, at least for me personally, that myself and my wife are connected to the Lord. That’s No. 1. A relationship with God is first and foremost. If that’s right, we’ve got a chance. And No. 2, have a great relationship with your wife. If the parents are stable in their relationship and if we are in agreement with how we’re going to go about our business, that’s very, very important. Children need security. Children need not to be confused, so if the parents love each other and if they have that great relationship and if they communicate well, they’re not going to confuse the child with what the boundaries are. I think boundaries are huge.

On discipline:

Children need boundaries. Boundaries give children security and give them an idea of what’s expected. If something is bad one day, it needs to be bad the next day. And if something is good one day, it needs to be good the next day. If they do something and mom gets mad and dad thinks it’s funny, you have problems. You’ve got to be very consistent in their boundaries and follow through with anything you say you might do. If mom and dad agree that this is the deal, and if they obey, they’re in good shape. If they don’t, there’s going to be a consequence.  I think the consequence needs to be laid out beforehand and I think it needs to be where both parents are in agreement. And again, be very consistent in that.

On preparing to have kids:

A guy we thought was a good resource was John Rosemond. We also did a Bible study called, “Growing Kids God’s Way.” Those two things helped us a lot. Then again, more than half the battle is having a good gameplan. It’s got to be clearly defined and you’ve got to stick to it. There won’t be a lot of confusion for these guys.

On single parents:

I know there are a lot of single parent homes out there, so that makes it a lot tougher for someone to be mother, father, breadwinner. That’s very difficult, and my heart goes out to anybody who’s fighting that battle. I applaud them for doing that. If you have help raising your child, even if that person is not your husband – it could be your sister, brother, grandmother, your mother, whoever – whoever is in charge of rearing that child and disciplining that child, you have to be on the same page with whoever that might be, just as you would be with your husband and your wife.

Coming Wednesday: Part 2

By Andy Johnston, for the Momania blog

43 comments Add your comment


July 12th, 2011
2:03 am

Enter your comments here
FIRST! Mark Richt is a NUMBER 1 Class Act man! I hope he is the football coach at UGA until his retirement!


July 12th, 2011
8:21 am

What does being a football coach have to do with parenting? Nothing.

When is Theresa coming back?


July 12th, 2011
8:28 am


If you drive through Athens really slow at night with your windows down, they will toss a diploma in your car.


July 12th, 2011
8:53 am

Being a football coach has nothing to do with being a parent – BUT why can’t a person be good at both? I actually admire Richt more for the way he conducts his family life than for what he does on the football field. If you know anything about him you know that he is very devoted to his family and puts them first. He seems to be a really good guy.


July 12th, 2011
9:01 am

I think this is an awesome start of an interview. Thank you for bringing dads in tomthe picture of the parent discussion. Much appreciated.

Black and White Smiley Faces ☺☻

July 12th, 2011
9:24 am

When is Theresa coming back?

Nominated for FAIL comment of the day.


July 12th, 2011
10:00 am

Good Dads make good families. Thanks Andy for sharing this.

Yeah for consequences…not many kids have them in today’s world!

To me, being a parent, has a lot to do with giving advice about children.

I have never been to a UGA football game as football is not my thing. BUT I am all about having a game plan. KUDOS to all parents who do. If more parents would:

BEGIN WITH THE END IN MIND things might be different.

When I was teaching and met with parents of difficult students, often there was no convincing them that their precious child was having any problems. What I really wanted to say was, ” I will have your child for one year…he will be related to you forever….good luck!” Of course, I could not say it!

As parents, what is the ultimate goal for you and your child? How will you meet that goal?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 12th, 2011
10:54 am

“If you have help raising your child, even if that person is not your husband – it could be your sister, brother, grandmother, your mother, whoever”

why do I doubt the definition of “whoever” includes a homosexual partner?


July 12th, 2011
10:56 am

Regardless of what you may think of the University of Georgia and Mark Richt, specifically, he IS a class act. I simply cannot understand how such a class act keeps recruiting such idiot thugs for the football team. But I digress . . .

On the UGA sports blog here on the AJC, there was an interesting article about Mark Richt and the sale of his lake house at Hartwell, which he had put on the market for $1.9 million. He didn’t do it during the football season, for fear that people would misinterpret it as a “I’m giving up and getting the hell out of Dodge” move. Instead, this is why he decided to sell:

“Within the last year, I read this book, “The Hole in Our Gospel,” written by Richard Stearns. He’s the president of World Vision, U.S. I think people understand who World Vision is but, basically, they help the poor. Through their organization, you can help children, you can help build wells, you can buy them donkeys, whatever people need. World Vision helps people across the world. Well, anyway, there was a lot of statistical data in there about the amount of people that live on a dollar a day around this world. Billions of people. So I’m reading this book and it really affected me. It helped me realize that what we have is way more than we need and that our ability to give is hindered by this property. I guess that’s the best way to tell you. We just wanted to be in a better position to give and bless people that don’t have anything. We felt like this was one way to be able to do that.”

I think Richt has hit the nail on the head: Kids need boundaries and security, and without them, they flounder in uncertainty.


July 12th, 2011
1:36 pm

Ralph, that joke is older than dirt. Besides, as Lewis Grizzard used to say…it’s not true. You have to stop first.

Dirty Harry

July 12th, 2011
1:54 pm


Because you’re an idiot.

Joel K Jones, Shelby, NC

July 12th, 2011
2:06 pm

I am a Ga. football fan, and I would like to see them do better. However, the Coach is the leader nad has the last call on what is done on the field. I admire Coach Richt for not only his love offamily, but also for God. As far as the recruitring, most of that is done by his underlings, and sometimes there might not be enough investigation into the possible strengths and weaknesses of those they recruit.


July 12th, 2011
2:12 pm

im happy for coach richt and how he fits his religious beliefs into his life . however , i have a problem with organized religion;alot of these outgoing church members are the biggest crooks in our society …. they will lie, chat, steal and then hide behind the bible …. i think coach richt is a genuine person ….
i have many business dealings with so called bible thumpers and when they start quoting scriptures ….. i
run…………. i run ………………………


July 12th, 2011
2:19 pm


Think about it. There are just as many hypocrites in the business world as there are in church.

How many employees have you seen that don’t earn their pay?

That’s a hypocrite.

Hines W.

July 12th, 2011
2:50 pm

Even though I do not ever play for him, Mark Richt taught me everything I no.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 12th, 2011
3:06 pm

@dirty harry….witty retort there!


July 12th, 2011
3:10 pm

Marriage is most successful when both people have God in their relationship. Kids are most successful when the parents love for eachother is the cornerstone of the family. Do this in that order and you will come across great things. Good luck to all.

Win with Richt!


July 12th, 2011
3:10 pm

Course now it doesn’t really hurt when you don’t ever have to worry about finances, does it?

Loran, Whatayagot

July 12th, 2011
3:11 pm

Actually, college coaching has everything to do with being a father. Kids leave home for college either leaving a father behind or seeking a father. Coaches are surrogate fathers and if they do their jobs right (not like Jim Tressel) they can help a young man grow into a productive citizen, much more important than an all-conference designation. All-Americans can be thugs and jerks without proper parenting.

Andy Johnston

July 12th, 2011
3:14 pm

Folks, remember to stay on topic and play nice.

DB and Motherjane — excellent posts.

My reasons for this interview were to use Mark Richt as an example of a guy who is as busy as anybody can possibly be and he still puts his faith and family before his occupation. Thanks for reading.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 12th, 2011
3:21 pm

@andy…what was the topic? You posted a guy’s thoughts without any direction as to what you wanted commentary on. To me, that meant all his comments were up for discussion.

Andy Johnston

July 12th, 2011
3:26 pm

Tiger — Not necessarily talking to you. Your point was certainly valid and worthy of discussion.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 12th, 2011
3:29 pm

@andy…oh…ok. ;-)


July 12th, 2011
3:36 pm

Ralph – that’s so 1976 – please.

Good advice for any parent — whether it comes from a football coach, minister, professional parenting institute – hope the nation will see there is a lot more to this guy than wins and losses – character and trying to do the right thing is more important – his football family is learning those lessons, too!

Jackets '10

July 12th, 2011
3:41 pm

I think this was a good piece revealing a side of someone that most people don’t see all the time. Refreshing if you ask me.


July 12th, 2011
3:44 pm

@jw…funny… I went to college in 1978 and earlier today I was thinking that ( based on what my own kids both had to do to get into UGA) I probably would not be able to get in today. With the courses I took in HS, my GPA and my ACT score. I was not on the same level as the kids who get accepted to UGA now. I know I am not on the same level as both of my kids. If I had to take their classes, it would all be over in one semester! Perhaps one month!


July 12th, 2011
4:05 pm

I was scanning the comments without looking at the names, and BINGO–I found someone who said what I believe–think long-term rather than today or tomorrow. Then, I scrolled to the left, and it was MJG! YOu can’t get anywhere unless you have a firm idea of where you are headed. If you just “want to get the kids out of the house,” well, it is likely that that is what you will accomplish. If you think every day that what you are aiming for is kids who like sports, you probably won’t hide them in an unlit closet all day. If you want kids who are good citizens, able to think about the needs of others….you don’t spend your time doing selfish things, even little things like parking in a no parking zone. If you want your kids to be law abiding, you don’t fill up the kiddie pool repeatedly while under a no-watering ban during a period of extreme drought.


July 12th, 2011
4:17 pm

As a single, child-free woman who longs to change BOTH of those things (smile), I love hearing from men on what a family should look like. That is why I appreciate this interview. I get lots of good information from the ladies on this blog; that’s why I read it every day. The dads, too, of course. But I don’t know this coach from Adam’s house shoes and the fact that he is so open with his views on family, especially the importance on a relationship with God as a basis for a good family life, blesses me. It confirms some of the things I’ve thought of for my “future family” – consistency, the importance of the parents’ relationship – and kind of makes me feel like, even though I’m nowhere near that “future” I at least know in theory some things. My childhood was chaotic so I can’t lean on my own experience as a child on how a family is supposed to look so I have to get my information wherever I can get it. I’m old enough to know, though, when some stuff doesn’t make any sense and won’t work for me.

Also – Andy, I think you’re doing a great job! I really like your topics. :-)


July 12th, 2011
4:23 pm

Andy…..potential future topic: This morning on GMA, they talked about “Push presents,” gifts that men give their wives for pushing out a baby. I would love to know what dads (men) think about this (or anyone else for that matter). Did you give your wife one? My husband thought I was crazy when I mentioned it to him 6 years ago when our daughter was born. I can’t remember if Theresa has covered this in previous blogs. Just a suggestion ; )


July 12th, 2011
4:44 pm

Kathy, I think it was mentioned on here a while back.

Of course, I had no idea what this was and could not fathom it. I did not even get any help around the house, after my firstborn and was vacuuming our house a week after a C section. I remember existing on jello and broth ( in the hospital after surgery), while everyone came and took my husband out for steak and seafood in Corpus Christi TX. When we went home, just me, hubby and the baby. My Mom came for my daughter but I was more than ready to send her back home. Less drama.

Anyone see the piece about the 16 pound baby born in Texas? Makes my son look small at 10 pounds 8 ounces, although he was born in Texas too!

Craig Spinks

July 12th, 2011
4:45 pm

Mark Richt is, first, a good man; second, a good husband, third, a good father, and fourth, a good worker-football coach.

I’m proud that a person of his character and skills is the head football coach at my alma mater.

College football, specifically, and our nation, generally, would be much better off if more men prioritized their lives thusly.


July 12th, 2011
5:15 pm

What is the deal with writing everything that has nothing to do with football when dealing with Mark Richt. We get this self serving trip to the jungles of Honduras where Richt is practically seen prying the hungry jaws of a giant anaconda off of little Pocolito’s head and now we’re getting parenting advice from him? WTF?? Over the last three seasons Richt has been a total disaster as a head coach, but by goodness, we’re gonna see all of these articles and platitudes about what a “good man” he is. Enough is enough…Either start doing your ****ing job by winning football games or get the hell out of town! What a manipulative worm!!!


July 12th, 2011
5:28 pm

It would be really great to hear from Richt on what hs’s going to do to become a real coach. The goodbye tour starts soon.


July 12th, 2011
5:48 pm

mcdaviddawg, your an idiot, this is about Mark the man, something you are not. I have a son who coached under Mark and I can tell you Mark made quite an impression on him on how to handle life. Sorry that your father didnt do the same for you. In life football is just a game son, when you grow up maybe just maybe you will figure it out!


July 12th, 2011
5:56 pm

And Producer your just plain stupid!

Andy Johnston

July 12th, 2011
6:14 pm

Denise — Thanks for the kind words.

Kathy — Thanks for the idea. I’ll look into it. I love this kind of feedback.

Editor's Note

July 12th, 2011
6:33 pm


Mark Richt is entering his 11th AND FINAL season as the football coach at the University of Georgia.


July 12th, 2011
11:33 pm

I’m proud to have Coach Richt represent the University of Georgia, especially compared to the slimeballs that coach other national programs. It’s hard for some people to separate football from real life but anyone who puts forth the effort to understand the difference between the two can truly appreciate what a good man he is. I’m always interested in hearing from someone who actually cares about being a good parent.

I especially like his comments about consistency and the importance of parents presenting a united front. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of his interview.

[...] Part 2 (Read Part 1 here) [...]


July 13th, 2011
11:05 am

Kathy, Theresa covered this on a blog when her younger daughter was born. I had never heard of such a thing.

[...] Andy Johnston talks with the head Bulldog about parenting in a two-part blog you can check out here and [...]

[...] Andy Johnston talks with the head Bulldog about parenting in a two-part blog you can check out here and [...]


July 14th, 2011
11:42 am

I think CMR is a class act, I admire how he handles himself on and off the field and the way he puts his family and faith first. GO DAWGS!!!