Originally created 09/08/01

Richt faces legend



ATHENS, Ga. - Lou Holtz has 342 games as a college coach, and Mark Richt has one. Holtz has won 225 games; Richt has won one.

The 40-year-old Richt coached with a legend as an assistant under Bobby Bowden. Tonight at Sanford Stadium, Richt will coach against one, when his Georgia Bulldogs play host to Holtz's South Carolina Gamecocks (7:45, ESPN).

Richt said he'll gain valuable experience from going against a man who won a national title at Notre Dame and who is the only coach in NCAA history to have guided six different teams to bowl games.

He just prays it won't be a bad experience.

"Hopefully, it won't be too harsh of a lesson," said Richt, who led the No. 25 Bulldogs to a 45-17 win last week in their opener against Arkansas State.

Richt is new to this head-coaching thing, but it's not as if he honed his skills at No Name U. There's no doubt Richt knows how it's done after helping Bowden win two national titles at Florida State.

Under Bowden, Richt helped craft and direct one of the more innovative, productive and consistent offenses in the history of modern college football.

Richt's next step is proving he can do it by himself - without Bowden.

Richt probably won't get much sympathy from his colleagues, mainly because he inherits a program that amassed plenty of talent and victories during Jim Donnan's five-year tenure.

The Bulldogs have won four straight bowl games, and Donnan's 35-13 record in his last four years would have given a lot of other coaches lifetime contracts. Donnan was fired in December.

"This is not a program that's in shambles," said Holtz, a man who knows shambles. His team entered last season having lost 21 straight games but finished it with an 8-4 record.

The No. 21 Gamecocks (1-0), who upset the Bulldogs 21-10 in 2000, were picked to finish third in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division this season.

"It's very difficult to find a new coach in a situation that's inherited a team that's won four straight bowl games and been in the top 25 four years in a row," Holtz said.

Richt will be on the field with a coaching master tonight, just as he was at Florida State. Only this time, he won't be able to ask for advice.

"I know there's a lot of things that I should be doing that I'm not, but I'm just ignorant of it," Richt said. "And then, when somebody whips your tail, you realize, 'Boy, I should have done this or that.'

"Most people learn that way."

Reach Larry Williams at (706) 823-3645 or larrywill7@yahoo.com.