CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — Mark Richt is going back to where his college career began.
The former Miami quarterback has reached a tentative agreement to be the Hurricanes' next head coach, pending the completion of contract talks, a person with knowledge of the negotiations told The Associated Press. The person spoke Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been signed and the university has not announced the hiring publicly.
"Excited about 2016 with Coach Richt," Miami running back Mark Walton wrote on Twitter.
Richt spent the last 15 seasons as the head coach at Georgia, averaging nearly 10 wins a season and leading the Bulldogs to a pair of Southeastern Conference championships. He is a South Florida native and played for Howard Schnellenberger at Miami, graduating in 1982 when the Hurricanes were just becoming the program that would win five national championships in a 19-season span.
It's now his job — or, technically, soon will be his job — to get the Hurricanes back to that elite level. Richt takes over a Miami program that hasn't won more than nine games in a season since 2003, and hasn't won a bowl game since 2006.
There's much for Miami to handle in the next couple days, including getting financial parameters with Richt done as well as a budget for a staff. Players had not gotten any official word as of Wednesday evening, largely because the school still did not have a signed deal in hand. Plus, recruiting season is in full swing, and Richt would have to be cleared by Miami's compliance office before he can represent the institution.
Also unclear: If Richt, as had been expected, will coach Georgia in its bowl game.
Top Miami staff and other coaches had not been informed of the hire Wednesday night, largely because of the incomplete details. Asked if she was excited about what may transpire in the coming days, Miami women's basketball coach Katie Meier said "I hope to be" after her team beat Illinois to move to 8-0 on the season.
Miami has had some of the remaining members of former coach Al Golden's staff on the road recruiting this week, and some were at the home of top quarterback recruit Jack Allison when they were informed of Richt's decision to move forward with Miami. It's yet to be decided how many, if any, current members of Miami's staff or the assistants who worked with Richt at Georgia will be with him in 2016.
But Richt tipped his hand earlier this week, at his final Georgia news conference, that if he coached again he'd want to resume playcalling.
"If and when I do coach again, I'm looking forward to coaching again in terms of being more hands-on," Richt said at his farewell news conference from Georgia, where he won 145 games. "I miss coaching quarterbacks, I miss calling plays, I miss that part of it. Whether it's in the role of head coach, coordinator, quarterbacks coach, whatever it is."
He'll have a big-time quarterback to work with at Miami, where sophomore Brad Kaaya is already among the school's all-time leaders in plenty of categories.
Richt was mentioned as a potential fit for Miami almost as soon as the Hurricanes fired Golden in October, with five games left on this year's regular-season schedule and one day after the Hurricanes endured the worst loss in school history — a 58-0 defeat to Clemson.
The Hurricanes finished the regular season 4-1 under interim coach Larry Scott, who is still slated to coach Miami's bowl game. The Hurricanes are not expected to learn their postseason destination before Sunday, but the Pinstripe Bowl is a top choice of Miami's players.
"We need to finish this strong for coach Scott," Miami offensive lineman Hunter Knighton said Wednesday. "And we want to be the team that wins a bowl game again."
When it became known that Richt and Georgia were parting ways, speculation immediately centered on him being Miami's front-runner even though other candidates were in the mix. Many fans campaigned for months with hope that Miami would hire Butch Davis, who left the school in 2000 and went 52-59 in his subsequent stops with the Cleveland Browns and North Carolina.
Other names were mentioned, including Mississippi State's Dan Mullen and former Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. Among some trustees not directly involved in the search process, Scott had some support as well.
But in the end, it was Richt — who earlier this week suggested that he might not coach again.
Miami didn't need long to change his mind.