Fired Coach Richt Shows How to Handle a Press Conference

ATHENS UNITED STATES: October 19 2014. An early fall morning sees the sun rise over a beloved stadium in football country
ATHENS UNITED STATES: October 19 2014. An early fall morning sees the sun rise over a beloved stadium in football country

Normally my Monday morning activities would not include watching a streaming press conference on my iPad. Usually my to-do list demands that I complete projects already underway or start new ones. Today was different though. As a Speech Coach, I wanted to see how Mark Richt responded to questions during his press conference one day after the University of Georgia fired him as head football coach, ending his days in Sanford Stadium, pictured above.

Brief background: Richt came to Georgia fifteen years ago after a long apprenticeship under Florida State’s Bobby Bowden. Richt’s first few years at the helm satisfied fans, university officials, and donors, as he won games against respected opponents and occasional conference championships.

However, Georgia’s football fortunes waned. Though Richt’s won-loss percentage was superb, his teams could not defeat highly ranked opponents consistently, or even make respectable showings. So yesterday Athletic Director Greg McGarity and President Jere Morehead thanked Richt for his service, commended his character, and terminated his coaching career at Georgia. Additionally, they scheduled a press conference for 10:00 a.m. today.

Next time my clients ask my advice about what to say and how to behave in a press conference, I will describe Mark Richt’s superlative performance–specifically these five points:

ONE: He expressed no bitterness.
The knee-jerk reaction of someone who has been told very publicly that their work was not productive enough would be to lash out with anger. Yet Richt’s first comments centered around thanking the university for the support that fans, students, the band, the cheerleaders, and his players gave him from the outset. He added: “Gosh, even being chosen for this position was amazing enough.”

TWO: He restated his mission.
Asked “What has been the accomplishment you’re proudest of?”
he did not describe a big victory, a bowl appearance, or a championship. He answered: “My biggest accomplishment has been helping boys turn into men, so they will become good citizens, husbands, and fathers.”

THREE: He offered no excuses.
Fired coaches do that sometimes. “The media reps were out to get me.” “We lost our best player to injury early in the season.” “We were just three plays away from winning our division.” Avoiding excuses, Richt accepted total responsibility for the team’s decline.

FOUR: His nonverbal messages mirrored his positive words.
Coach Richt appeared calm, poised, totally in control of his emotions. Viewers could not detect sorrow or resentment. Occasionally, he smiled and even chuckled. He kept eye contact with questioners and even with McGarity, the man who instigated Richt’s dismissal.

FIVE: He ignored political correctness while defining his future.
Political correctness would have prompted him to make safe or bland statements. Quite the opposite happened. Richt talked about his deep personal religious faith, saying unashamedly that divine help and guidance would help him select the best choice for his life and career.

NOTE: While all five of these points might not match what you will need to do and say during a pressure-packed press conference, Coach Mark Richt’s demeanor, statements, and responses will help you perform admirably when you face the media during a career crisis.


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Former College Athlete Redefines “Rich Life”


Beau Henderson learned how to compete at the highest athletic level when he played defensive end for the University of Georgia Bulldogs for four seasons, following a stellar high school football career.

Now he is still competing, in one of the toughest professions around, especially in this economy. Beau serves as Senior Financial Advisor with Fiduciary Capital.

Beau and I met when he enlisted me as his Speech Coach. As his opportunities to speak to groups of prospects and clients increased, he wanted to become a powerful, persuasive, and poised speaker, so he could share his message with maximum impact.

Shortly after we started his presentation skills training, I learned that Beau’s concept of success goes well beyond the stereotype that some people have of financial planners. Not satisfied with enabling his clients to add dollars to their portfolios, he wants them to understand–and experience–a fresh concept of “Rich Life.” In his words:

“A RichLife doesn’t just happen. Whether it’s building long-term financial success, achieving better health, spending more time with your kids, seeing the world—or more likely a combination of all these things and more—whatever your vision of a meaningful life is, you have to seek it, plan for it and maintain it. This is where you start.”

Having served more than 2,000 clients already, Beau has formed the habit of asking them, “What is important to you?” He learns what clients want out of life, and helps them achieve their dreams.

Over the past dozen years, I have provided Speech Coaching for executives at Gillette, Procter & Gamble, Duracell, Aivant, Worldwide, Inc., and Checkmate Cash Advance, among others. Every professional person I coach teaches me plenty about imagination, goals, creativity, drive, and other keys to success.

Among my Speech Coaching clients, Beau Henderson stands tall, not just as a towering former football star, but as a financial leader who is eager to help others discover riches that far exceed their bank balances.

I encourage you to visit Beau’s Web site:

Also, I invite you to check this description of my Speech Coaching program:

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