Marc Richt: Can A Christian Be A Successful Coach In Big Time College Football?

With the highly anticipated kick-off to the 2015 college football season just days away.  Fans of the University of Georgia are wondering can the Bulldogs win the national championship.

Much of the preseason speculation has centered on head coach Marc Richt.  As a professed Christian many have openly questioned if his religious beliefs have cost the team victories.

Since coming to Athens in 2001 Coach Richt has won two SEC championships, graduated a high number of his players and has earned the acclaim of his fellow coaches being named as the coach that his fellow coaches would most want their sons to play for.

However, it has been nearly a decade since Richt’s last SEC championship.  Entering this season fans are restless because the failure of the coach to capture the relatively weak SEC East which Georgia was picked to win in each of the past two seasons.

The end of the 2014 campaign brought added misery as the Dawgs lost the final two regular season games including the annual match-up with instate rival Georgia Tech.

Despite these setbacks the university showed faith in Coach Richt rewarding him with a contract extension worth nearly 4 million dollars per year.

But many nervous fans do not share the university’s faith in the coach.  This is a typical fan reaction to the contract extension on sports talk radio

“Mark Richt’s a great person, He represents the University of Georgia with class. He is a good Christian man who conducts himself more like a pastor than a football coach.”

“However, it’s about winning football games, and I can’t recall the last time a pastor won a national championship.  If I want a pastor, I will go to church.  On the football field we need a coach not a pastor. “

The caller echoes the view that many have of Coach Richt.  Does a Christian has what it takes to be a successful coach in bigtime college football?

The caller also echoes a view that many have about Christians.  That our faith has made us weak, that our faith renders us unable to make the tough call, that our faith will make us incapable of being successful in a secular world.

As Christians we live and work in a world dominated and controlled by secular influences.

While this world offers many wondrous, interesting and marvelous things including football.

We who have chosen to live by faith, attempting to live our lives in a God fearing way must understand that the secular world is not set up for our success.

Jesus clearly outlines the Christian’s prospects for success in John 15:18-21

If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own.

As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.

Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.

They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me.     

If success is measured by the standards of the secular world then the Christian has no chance for success.

The measurement of success for Christians and frankly for everyone else in this secular world are the standards set by God.

Coach Ritch summed it up best when asked how he would define himself, by the standard of winning the national championship:

“…my identity is not in being a national championship football coach. My identity is in Christ.”

“Do I want to win one? Yes. Is that going to define me as a person? No.’”

For when it comes to success Coach Richt and all of us should take our measure from Psalm 1:1-3

 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

While faith is not a prerequisite for winning football games. But there’s not much evidence that it prevents winning, either.

Therefore, I am confident that one day Coach Richt will win the national title.  And when it happens, I am equally as confident that he will give all the honor, glory and credit to the greatest coach of all; God the father almighty.

 

Some source material for this post came from:

The paradox of UGA football coach Mark Richt by Nikhil Swaminathan

 

 

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