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Q&A: Miami coach Mark Richt

Upon entering a Midwest alumni function recently, Mark Richt was greeted at the door by a couple of former Miami classmates. They showed him an old picture on a phone, saying, “We knew you when,” before the night of laughing, reminiscing, and questioning-and-answering commenced.

“I can say I played at Miami,” the former Hurricanes backup quarterback told a ballroom, “because I did play about five games.”

In between the humorous exchanges, Richt was rather candid. Amidst talk of a future indoor facility, Richt said: “You’ve got to swing the same size bat. … We’re not quite there yet. We’re going to get there.”

Of “The U’s” infamous swagger, Richt said he doesn’t want his players to confuse dancing with swag, or a first down as swag, adding: “If [the great Miami teams] weren’t winning championships, it wouldn’t have been swag.”

Richt heard from an SEC graduate in the crowd who admired the way the coach went about his business in that league, but the new Canes coach was quick to say he didn't want to turn Miami into Georgia, or into something other than Miami.

As he eases back into his old stomping grounds in Coral Gables, Richt chatted with ESPN.com for a few minutes about his transition.

The first people when you walked in there had gone to school with you and were showing you pictures from way back. What was the story behind there?

Mark Richt: Just fellow students. That’s all. Just getting reacquainted.

Nothing as incriminating as the jeans video?

MR: No, that was pretty ... I had forgotten all about that. I though it was hilarious.

What was your reaction? How did that come to your attention a few weeks ago?

MR: Well one of my former teammates, Clem Barbarino, my roommate, he was an offensive guard during the day. We’ve kept up all these years. He shot it to me. But I guess the FIU professor was a student there as well, I think he was a diver or something. They had an open audition, and so a lot of us did it and that was the end of it. I think that commercial was like in Italy or something, right? I don’t think it’s ever — I don’t ever remember — when I texted my buddy Clem back, I said: “I’ve got to get my agent on that, I don’t think I got paid for that.” But yeah, it was kind of funny to see.

I don’t want to say second wind, because you were coaching last year, but being at your alma mater, talking to classmates and things like that, what have these past five months been like?

MR: It’s been great. It’s been awesome really. Like you said, running into people you hadn’t seen in years. Some you remember, some you don’t, you know? The ones in there I remembered. But it’s, I don’t know, it’s refreshing. And people are hungry. And these players that we got — one of the greatest things is just the current players and how well they’ve responded to trying to get things done.

What has it been like working with your son Jon in such a big capacity?

MR: It’s pretty awesome. He actually was a quality control coach two years ago at Georgia as a volunteer, which was nice. But to have not only him and his wife, Anna, but also our only granddaughter, Jadyn, is pretty special as well.

It’s never too early for mock drafts, and as you’ve seen, your guy Brad Kaaya is near the top of all of them for next year. You’ve had only 15 practices with him, but what have you seen from him so far that’s going to allow him to live up to that hype?

MR: Well, he’s 6-4. He’s a very, very accurate passer. Very smart. Tough. He’s very tough mentally. Coachable. Teachable. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him. I think he’s enjoying it, too.

Your other son, David, a musician, is at Belmont?

MR: David is at Belmont. Anya is gonna start at Tallahassee Community College. Zach is in Orlando finishing up high school, so everybody is running around.

How’s the music coming along?

MR: Very good. I think he’s going perform at the K-Love Fan Awards concert in early June. It's going to be a wonderful opportunity.