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Mark Richt makes a classy gesture that’ll put a lump in your throat

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Or, maybe even a tear or two in your eye.

To be honest, there are a lot of really crappy things that go on in the game of college football.  From the BcS to agent/pimps to the BcS to shady coaches to the BcS to arrests/suspensions/NCAA violations to the BcS, there’s enough negativity going on to cause even the most fervent fan to question why the hell they follow this great game so religiously.  Conversely, there’s also a lot of good that comes out of the game, but doesn’t get nearly the attention it probably deserves.

No, not probably; it doesn’t.  So, at least for one post, we’ll rectify the inequity.

For all of the criticism Mark Richt, the head coach, has received in recent years, you’d have to look long and hard to find anyone to say a bad word about Mark Richt, the man.  Just a couple of weeks ago, the Georgia coach did something that only goes to further solidify the latter.

On Jan. 15, 17-year-old Valdosta High School football player James Eunice drowned while duck hunting near his Georgia home, and his body wasn’t recovered for 17 days.

Prior to his death, Eunice had spoken to Richt about walking on with the Bulldogs after graduating this year.  Unfortunately, Eunice was never able to achieve his dream while he was alive.  In death, however, he reached what he’d hoped would be his football destiny.

During Eunice’s funeral last Saturday, Jay Rome and Malcolm Mitchell, who played football with Eunice at Valdosta High and have signed letters of intent to play for Georgia, came to the podium with a box. A letter that Richt had written to the Eunice family was read to the mourners in attendance.

At the end of the letter, Richt wrote, “Oh yeah, James made the team.”

Then Rome and Mitchell took an official Georgia jersey out of the box. On the jersey were Eunice’s last name and the No. 23 he had worn at Valdosta.

James Eunice had become a member of the Georgia football team.


Richt’s gesture obviously touched the two recruits who had signed Letters of Intent before their friend’s and teammate’s funeral.

I’m going to play for an incredible man,” Rome told the Valdosta Daily Times. “Coach Richt is just incredible. He’s the best. Just to know that he had that in his heart, just to do that for James and his family, means a lot to me, and I know it means a lot to the family.”

“It made me proud to be a Bulldog,” Mitchell added.

During what was no doubt a very emotional and heartwrenching time for dozens of people, it was an incredibly classy, honorable, noble gesture on Richt’s part, one that he probably would’ve preferred to remain out of the public light.

The thing is, Richt would never attach labels such as “classy” or “honorable” or “noble” to what he did for that family.  He’d just say it was the right thing to do.

Indeed, it was.  As is recognizing and applauding Richt for the gesture.

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21 Responses to “Mark Richt makes a classy gesture that’ll put a lump in your throat”
  1. gamustangdude says: Feb 11, 2011 6:28 PM

    Great Story, Hopefully this will reach as many people as possible. Richt is an outstanding Coach of my favorite DAWGS! (It was that Bobo I wanted to run out of town). Again, GREAT STORY!

  2. rolltide510 says: Feb 11, 2011 6:37 PM

    I’ll never understand why a coach who is obviously such a great guy has half his team arrested for violent thuggery every year.

  3. lbijake says: Feb 11, 2011 6:51 PM

    Outstanding coach, outstanding man. Best thing is his desire to keep it quiet. Hope the dawgs rule this year.

  4. boyfromoldflorida says: Feb 11, 2011 7:01 PM

    Richt then ordered the entire team to swarm the wake.

  5. southernpatriots says: Feb 11, 2011 7:45 PM

    As we were glad to declare in a previous blog, Coach Richt is a gentleman and man of integrity. All the players for Georgia see the example and know the rules, they eventually get to know the man as well. This story brought tears to our eyes. We are passing it along even as gamustangdude desires to our friends and family who are Georgia alums and fans and to all others. Football fan or not all need to hear of this real life story. John Taylor said it well, so much negative happens sometimes, causing even “the most fervent fan to question why the h… they follow this great game so religiously.” We have all thought this many times over the past years. But there is so much good. The good far outweighs the bad. Thank you Coach Richt. We hope to play you on 12-03-11 (SEC championship game), until then may you and your team go undefeated and may ours (LSU) do the same!

  6. cdngatorfan says: Feb 11, 2011 8:02 PM

    Yes I am am a gator fan and with that comes a rivalry with the DAWGS. This kind of act however, goes above and beyond all that. Good job Coach Richt, you are a class act as both a coach and more importantly a human being.
    Well Done.

  7. jsarge99 says: Feb 11, 2011 8:57 PM

    That’s a good story, I think you guys need a like button.

  8. Deb says: Feb 11, 2011 11:38 PM

    Sad story, but a touching gesture for the family by Coach Richt.

  9. isscheidt says: Feb 12, 2011 9:09 AM

    This story was mentioned on Sports Center this morning. Glad to see Mark Richt getting recognized for the amazing things he does off the field. Proud to be a student at a university with such an incredible and humble man as the head football coach.

  10. southernpatriots says: Feb 12, 2011 9:50 AM

    isscheidt: You have a right to be proud. We hear of so many negative things about college football that even we long time fans (of more than 50 years!) with relatives and friends in Athens, Auburn, Knoxville, and other SEC university locations, get discouraged sometimes and wonder should we continue to be fans. What Coach Richt has done to establish and enforce rules and discipline for his team and now this most humble and magnanimous actions should receive recognition. We emailed the story to ESPN, along with Fox Sports, CSS, and several hundred friends and colleagues around America. You should be proud! Keep going and get a great education!

  11. polegojim says: Feb 12, 2011 2:50 PM

    Well done Coach Richt.

    It’s especially impressive when someone touches lives at a time when no action is actually required and no duty to perform exists.

    That’s a ‘life lesson’ that every young man on that team should emulate and pass on….and us too.

  12. igottz5onit says: Feb 12, 2011 3:05 PM

    It’s amazing that such a classy coach leads a team with a notoriously classless fanbase.

  13. gamustangdude says: Feb 12, 2011 8:37 PM

    igottz5onit says:
    Feb 12, 2011 3:05 PM
    It’s amazing that such a classy coach leads a team with a notoriously classless fanbase.


    This coming from a guy who uses a screen name from a song dedicated to smoking weed.

    Is that you Snoop?

  14. sabola2u says: Feb 12, 2011 10:41 PM

    Mark Richt is a stand up guy, not to mention a living example. You know a christian! I am a huge Bulldog fan and I am proud to say our coach is a good Christian man. Something so many others seemed to be ashamed of or afraid of I suppose. He doesn’t need to freak out or act crazy to get attention. All he has to do is be a great example to anyone that is looking.

  15. southernpatriots says: Feb 13, 2011 7:55 AM

    sabola2u: You said it well! It is remarkable that even when such a humble and wonderful action by a SEC coach of Georgia is done, not for the media or for attention, but because he is a man of character and compassion, that some fans of other teams find it a time to snipe. We are long time fans of LSU and we completely support Coach Richt and what he did, joining with the Georgia fans. one Bama fan and one FL fan?–come on you can do better. Don’t add to the ugly which is already in the college football scene, but in this case and in cases like it, let us rejoice! We hope Fox Sports, CSS, ABC, CBS, etc. will follow the example of Sports Center and speak about this matter. They could sure use this story to counter some of the negative reporting they have been doing about college athletics and athletes.

  16. eymboxer says: Feb 13, 2011 3:07 PM

    Guys this truly an amazing gesture..James was my nephew…aGREAT christan kid with a lot going for him..This was totally unexpected and was a great tribute by a grreat man to my brother and his wife. I’m not a diehard Georgia fan…but this was a class act……..great job coach……….love ya and miss ya James

  17. lasseter1113 says: Feb 13, 2011 3:45 PM

    Great story but it’s more likely Georgia will be playing Alabama than LSU!!!

  18. southernpatriots says: Feb 13, 2011 6:27 PM

    lasseter1113: Glad you are a fan of Bama or Georgia, and that is not at all more possible than LSU-Florida, LSU-SC, Bama-Georgia, or AR-FL. There are so many possibilities that makes the SEC the most exciting football (and athletic!) conference in all the nation. It should be exciting, but remember that probably LSU will be in the mix, no matter who else may be there. Last year with an abysmal offense (12o plus in the nation) LSU was able to beat AL, almost beat UA, beat T A & M. This year with a much improved offense, new QB and OC and another nation leading defense, it is likely it will be LSU in the West. But that is what contests are all about! We’ll see! Have a great year!

  19. southernpatriots says: Feb 18, 2011 3:09 AM

    If we had waited for Coach Richt to tell this story, we would still be waiting because he did not want it known. That is humility. There are other eye witness reports we have received from friends and family members of other things Coach Richt has done for player’s family members and for a little boy who was a fan of the team. We will respect Coach Richt’s desire for privacy, but we believe some others, reporters, etc. will bring out these other wonderful things he has done and continues to do.

  20. vitaspes says: Nov 13, 2014 1:53 PM

    This is a nice gesture but many coaches do similar things. This example is not that big of a deal with respect to Coach Richt. What is a big deal is that Coach Richt does this type of thing consistently and genuinely but he also makes the difficult “tough love” decisions genuinely and consistently. Not many coaches do that.

  21. robintham says: Nov 13, 2014 6:39 PM

    Not only did he do this, when my son Tyler Whaley was diagnosed with a relapse of Leukemia ALL, at 19, his HS classmate Kris Durham got Mark Richt to sign a football and send it to Tyler at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Tyler was a huge UGA fan. When we received it, it was one the last smiles I got to see from my son. I have always been a UGA fan, but now it goes a little deeper! Tyler passed away on 12/12/07. I will always be greatful!

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