ATHENS — For those of you who are into such minutiae, following are some of more intricate details regarding Mark Richt’s new five-year contract. That is followed by a Q&A with Richt from his teleconference call Thursday night with reporters and some left-over comments from athletic director Greg McGarity.
Obviously the primary media focus was on the lowered buyouts of the new agreement, both for Georgia and for Richt. Richt’s $2 million minimum penalty for leaving was waived and Georgia’s per-season payout for dismissing Richt was cut 66 percent after the 2013 season.
But McGarity was positively defiant that this was not some kind of omen that a parting of ways is imminent (as Georgia’s competitor’s will surely claim). He insisted it is his general philosophy that an established coach who has been successful at a high level should not be “anchored” by a hefty buyout.
Here’s a glimpse into McGarity’s thinking on that:
“I do think that someone who is in the first part of their contract, if they’re a brand new coach at an institution, I do believe in being high on both sides – a high buyout and high liquidated damages – because you’re trying to establish a program. There’s a lot of money invested into getting people on campus, relocating, things of that nature. And I do think if you go past a decade, perhaps those anchors can be removed. Basically you have a working environment where you’re kind of free to do what you want to do. I’ve always felt that was important and I don’t think money should be an anchor to keep someone from doing something or keep them from making a decision that they want to make.
“I’ve always felt that way, especially when you’ve been established at an institution for a long time. I just feel like there should not be a financial anchor. But there has been nothing that has been any kind of indication or anything that Mark is going to do that. I just think it’s a basic philosophy, just a management philosophy. If somebody doesn’t want to be there, why should they work at an institution feeling like they can’t leave because there’s such a big financial penalty they can’t afford it?”
To balance that, McGarity doesn’t believe the institution should be as financially burdened in the case it decided to make a change. But, again, McGarity said the contract adjustments should not be perceived as a precursor for imminent change.
“There’s no question Mark Richt wants to be at the University of Georgia; I can guarantee you that. He and I are in a good place here. . . . I know a lot of people will focus on that. But what you need to know is he and I are in a great place. This is a very positive deal. It’s something we all feel good about moving forward. And I don’t want anybody to read anything into that other than it’s all good on both sides of the ledger here.”
Richt, separately of McGarity, concurred that the buyout adjustments were initiated by McGarity due to his managerial philosophies. You probably read at least part of Richt’s comments on that subject. Here they are in full:
“It’s Greg’s philosophy on the contract. It was not something that I was asking for; it was something that he had suggested. And I said, ‘that’d be fine.’ I think the bottom line for me is, gosh, I think I’ve been here long enough for everybody to understand – and if anybody was at my first press conference when I took the job at Georgia they heard this — Georgia is my home; Georgia is where I want to be; Georgia is the only job I want, the only job I’ve ever wanted as a head coach. That’s just the way it’s been from the very beginning and that hasn’t changed. My mom, my dad, my mother, my two sisters, they all live in Athens. This is my home and this is where I want to be. So that hasn’t changed one bit.”
OK, enough of that. Here are some of the contract details:
Winning SEC Championship Game: $200,000
Playing in Tier 1, non-BCS bowl: $100,000
Playing in Tier 2, non-BCS bowl: $75,000
Playing in Tier 3, non-BCS bowl: $50,000
Playing in BCS bowl: $200,000
Playing in BCS Championship: $300,000
Winning BCS Championship: $500,000
Top 5 finish in AP or Coaches’ poll: $100,000
Now here’s everything Richt had to say about these developments late Thursday night:
On contract finally being completed . . .
“It has been [a long time] but I’m glad it’s done. I’m very happy with it.”
On beginning discussions after SEC Championship game last December . . .
“If you had asked me when we started I couldn’t have told you. But I’m sure that’s when it was. We’ve been talking about it. I think it started out mostly with number of years. Then it went into, I don’t even remember what all it went into. But that’s when it all started, and we agreed on a lot of the stuff when it came to number of years and buyout and all that kind of stuff. Those are the bigger items for most contracts. And then, when you change a contract enough, there are enough things, everybody’s got to have peace with it, I guess, and it just took a while to do that. I don’t think everybody was working at breakneck speed on it the whole time through, either. It was a situation where I was very comfortable and confident that Georgia wanted me to continue here and Georgia was very comfortable and confident that I wanted to be at Georgia. So it didn’t feel like it was a high priority where we had to get it done right now type of thing. I think both parties were very confident that we wanted to continue this relationship. So it wasn’t happening at a speed that would make you think somebody was worried one way or another.”
On performance incentives being doubled . . .
“That, again, is something that Greg believes in philosophically, as far as giving big incentives for a high level of achievement. The higher the achievement, the more you want to be able to reward that. So, again, that was something that Greg wanted to do and I was perfectly fine with that as well.”
On whether similar bonuses will be made available to assistant coaches . . .
“We’re working on that. Greg and I have talked about that. I think Greg feels the same way about the assistant coaches. I’m not exactly sure how it will end up but he has a desire to do something similar to that for the assistant coaches as well.”
On what his main points were in contract negotiations . . .
“You know what? I really wasn’t too concerned about anything other than it’s a good, solid, strong document. The one that I had, the one that we’d worked on in years past, I’d had lawyers look at it and basically assure me that it was a good, sound, solid document, that I understood everything that was in it and how it could affect me. It wasn’t so much cookie-cutter, but it was a contract I had a comfort level with. We didn’t quite tear up the old contract and start from scratch, but there was enough changes in it that I wanted to really understand what everything meant and make sure it was a good solid document that I have peace with. That just took a little bit of time.
“But if Georgia wants to extend my contract, I’m excited about that. I don’t want to have to ask for an extension; I don’t want to ask for a raise; I don’t want to ask for whatever. If Georgia wants me to stay, that’s where I want to be. If Georgia wants to give me a raise, then I’m fired up about that. If Georgia wants to double my incentives for excellence, I’m fine with that, too, you know. I feel like a very blessed man to be at Georgia and to have an opportunity to continue to coach these young men and work with the staff together and with the athletic administration and the educational administration and President Adams and all that. I’m just thankful and proud to be a Bulldog.”
On what he’s been doing . . .
“We had a camp today, a 7-on-7 camp. So we’re talking about some of the guys that were there and also talking about some of the guys that are going to be there [Friday]. So I just broke out of that meeting. And we do have a team meeting tonight, coming up any minute.
“I’m really looking forward to this season as well, I can say that. Tonight’s the night where the majority the team is back for summer school, so it’s an exciting time of year to have everybody back over here and putting in the work that it’s going to take to have an excellent season.”
On how, if at all, he might celebrate the new contract . . .
“As soon as Coach Fox figures out the date and the time, we are going to have a celbratory meal at the waffle house. That was something we decided on a long time ago. In fact, I think the entire basketball staff is in on this one. I think [Fox] said something along the lines of “whenever you sign your contract, you owe me a meal at the Waffle House,” and I said, “You’re on.” I don’t know how many months ago that was but I don’t think he’s forgotten it and neither have I. So one of these days soon we’ll be at the Waffle House.”
– Chip Towers, The UGA Blog