After complimenting Smart and the Bulldogs on this past Saturday’s 27-20 road win at Auburn – “I know how hard it is to go to Auburn and beat them guys” – Richt made sure to point out the merit of Smart’s accomplishment to win 86 of his first 101 games as Georgia’s coach.
Richt, who is second on the Bulldogs’ list of head coaches with 145 victories, will be inducted into the National Football Foundation Hall of Fame in December.
“That’s better than 85% by my math,” Richt said of Smart’s 86 wins. “Two national championships. They’re putting me in the Hall of Fame in December. You’re already in; they just haven’t announced it yet.”
That was one of a few zingers Richt offered during a five-minute presentation before Smart broke down next Saturday’s game against No. 22 Kentucky. The best was when Richt joked about Georgia’s football players being able to be involved in the fund-raising event. One player will be bowling along with four-person teams on each of the 32 lanes.
Infamously, Richt lost two of his top players – A.J. Green and Todd Gurley -- to four-game NCAA suspensions during his tenure due to infractions that no longer would be considered against the rules in the age of Name, Image and Likeness (NIL).
After explaining to Smart that each of the players would be awarded a championship belt at end of the competition, Richt quipped: “Back in my day, they would’ve gotten thrown in NCAA jail.
Then, he added, “If I had to go back and do that again, it’d be lie and deny.”
That, too, brought hard laughter from those in the room, Smart chief among them.
“Very true!” Smart agreed, snickering
Funny though Richt can be, he is dealing with some very serious situations inside his household. He has been very open and outspoken about his own health struggles since his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2021. But on Monday, he revealed that his granddaughter is also confronting major medical issues.
Jadyn Richt, the 9 year-old daughter of Jon and Anna Richt, was recently diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s is an inflammatory bowel diseason (IBD) that causes swelling of tissues in the digestive tract, most commonly in the small intestine. There is no cure and it can be very debilitating.
That’s why Richt brought Jadyn with him Monday.
“We want to find a cure for both Parkinson’s and Crohn’s,” Richt said. “So, that’s why we’re here together to announce the Chick-fil-A Dawg Bowl 2023.”
As for the fundraising event itself, Richt has long been known as a bowling enthusiast. Fittingly, then, his fundraiser will take place at Showtime Bowl on Macon Highway in Athens. The private event will begin at 6:30 p.m. but will be streamed on DawgNation.com. Four-man teams will occupy all 32 lanes and with one football player as a celebrity guest. Like a scramble in golf, the team with the best aggregate score will win.
Donations are being raised on a special website and more than $500,000 already has been raised. The goal is to reach at least $750,000, but Smart interrupted to say, “We’ve gotta go more than a million.” UGA has established a website for those interested in donating.
Ultimately, the money will go to UGA’s Johnny Isakson Center for Neurological Disease Research, which specializes in Parkinson’s research and the connection to gut inflammation diseases like Crohn’s Disease.
Richt wrapped up his remarks by inviting “Water Girl” – which is what he called his wife when she shared the sideline with the Bulldogs – to come up and show off the championship belts that will be distributed at his tournament. It was upside down upon initial display.
“Honey, you’ve got it upside down,” Richt said to more laughter. “Anyway, there’s going to be five of these things. Dawg Bowl 2023: To be the best, you’ve gotta beat the best.”
Richt remained to hear Smart’s rundown on Kentucky.