When you've had a thirty-two year coaching career like Miami head coach Mark Richt has, you are bound to make connections at various schools, and Clemson is no different. For Richt, however, the connections begin during his playing days for the Hurricanes. As a back up quarterback, Richt's Canes never got to play Clemson, however he was a teammate of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, who's infamous nephew, Chad, began his college career at Clemson.
After Richt's playing days, he took a graduate assistant job with rival Florida State, where he would work for legendary head coach Bobby Bowden, father to former Clemson coach Tommy Bowden. Rich stayed in Tallahassee for three years before a year long stint at East Carolina as the Pirates' offensive coordinator in 1989. The following year he returned to Florida State to become the Seminoles' quarterbacks coach. His offensive coordinator for the next three years? None other than Brad Scott, who finished his career with a twelve year stint in Tigertown, and is the father to current Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott. Richt's wife Katharyn even baby sat young Jeff in Tallahassee. When Brad left after the 1993 season to become head coach for South Carolina, Richt was promoted to offensive coordinator. He held that position for six seasons before leaving to become head coach at Georgia in 2001. As an assistant at Florida State, Richt faced Clemson ten times and the Noles won all ten meetings. Ironically, the Tigers did defeat Florida State in 1989, the year Richt spent at ECU.
In Athens, Richt compiled a 3-1 record against Clemson, with the lone Tiger victory coming in Death Valley in 2013 when the #8 Tigers knocked off knocked off the #5 Bulldogs 38-35. Through both Bobby and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Richt became friends with Tommy Bowden. After an impressive performance at Bowden's summer camp, the Tigers offered Mark Richt's son Jon a scholarship. Jon, a pro style quarterback from Athen's Prince Avenue Christian Academy, accepted the offer and signed with Clemson's 2008 recruiting class, which was ranked #2 in the nation and had the likes of Daquan Bowers, Andre Ellington, Kyle Parker, and Dwayne Allen, amongst others. Richt was redshirted for the 2008 season, and announced his intent to transfer during the following spring practice. He transferred to Mars Hill College, a Division Two program in North Carolina, and finished his career there. In 2014 Jon took a job under Mark as a quality control coach for Georgia. The following season he left to be an offensive assistant for the Buffalo Bills. Bills' head coach Rex Ryan's son Seth was a junior wide receiver and holder at Clemson that season. Jon currently serves as Mark's quarterback coach at Miami.
Saturday will be the first time Mark Richt has faced Clemson as head coach of the Miami Hurricanes, yet Clemson was instrumental in getting him that job. In 2015, Clemson's 58-0 shellacking of Miami was the final straw that led to the firing of then head coach Al Golden. After Richt was let go from Georgia during the following offseason, he was hired by his alma mater. Richt has gone 20-5 at Miami and has the Canes playing in their first ACC Championship Game. Since Miami joined the ACC in 2004, the Tigers and Canes have squared off five times, and Clemson holds a 3-2 edge over Miami. Three of those games have gone to overtime. With this entertaining series, and the familiarity of Mark Richt, this Saturday's game should bring a lot of excitement.