Mark Richt and Georgia Football: A Great Story About a Great Man

John SmithCorrespondent IIFebruary 14, 2011

ATHENS, GA - NOVEMBER 27:  Head coach Mark Richt and Hairy, mascot of the Georgia Bulldogs, celebrate their 42-34 win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets at Sanford Stadium on November 27, 2010 in Athens, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Say what you want to about Mark Richt and his coaching ability, but the fact remains that there isn't a better man running a college football program in the SEC than Richt.

Richt is a man of faith and is very open about that. For that, I commend him. However, in this piece I will show a different side of him that isn't being reported or talked about in the mainstream media.

It's not about a player getting arrested and Richt punishing him. It has nothing to do with X's and O's or winning football games.

What this story shows is how a man won in the game of life.

Here is the story of James Eunice.

A couple weeks ago, a 17-year-old student, James Eunice, drowned while duck hunting.

Eunice had a dream of becoming a Georgia Bulldog. He wasn't offered a scholarship, but he was accepted to the University of Georgia. Eunice had dreams of becoming a walk-on for the Georgia Bulldogs.

Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell, members of the Bulldogs' 2011 recruiting class, played football with Eunice and were on hand at his funeral.

Both Rome and Mitchell spoke at the funeral, and at the end they read a letter from Mark Richt.

The heartfelt letter concluded with the line, "Oh yeah, James made the team."

At that time, a Georgia jersey with Eunice's No. 23 was revealed, and the crowd stood and applauded.

If that doesn't make you tear up, then I don't know what will.

In a day and age when college football players and coaches are violating rules, getting arrested and screwing up, it is nice to hear a story about this great deed.

If you think that acts like this go unnoticed by top football recruits, you are mistaken.

"I'm going to play for an incredible man," said Rome.

Mitchell, another member of the 2011 class, said, "It made me proud to be a Bulldog."

I will add to those quotes and proudly say that I am glad to be a fan, student and supporter of this University of Georgia football program.

The wins have lacked in the last couple years, but Mark Richt is a winner off the field.

We may not have bragging rights, but I don't care. We have something a lot more important.

Eventually, this program will get turned around, and sooner rather than later.

But one thing is for sure: There isn't a better man running a college football program than Mark Richt.

There might be, but I don't know where to start.

-Special thanks to Bill King of the AJC for bringing this story to light.