Freedom means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. To some, it's surfing the back of tuk-tuk through the crowded streets of Bangkok. To others, it's a steady job and a nuclear family; a reliable platform to build upon. But if you want to what know pure, uncut freedom truly looks like—if you want gaze upon righteous emancipation from the shackles of society and perhaps even imagine it for yourself—then feast your eyes on former Georgia and Miami ball coach Mark Richt, who is currently living la vida loca in the tropics with a bucket of cheese balls while the rest of his peers bust their butts in dank, dark film rooms getting ready for State. LOSERS!
We're happy for Richt. Beaches are OK. Cheese balls are even better. Our generation isn't going to get retire. Yadda yadda. You've heard it all before. We want to believe he is at peace. That he's satisfied with his career and happy with his decision to "retire" under immense organizational pressure back in December. But we know ball coaches. We know that it never leaves you no matter how many times you leave it, which is why Richt and his giant vat of orange-fingered goodness smacks not of happiness but desperation.
This isn't a declaration of independence. It's a deranged cry for help from a man whose brain has turned to cream of mushroom soup without football. Who took that photo, a concerned passerby or his loving wife? Is that the Florida Keys or Pensacola? WHAT THE HELL IS HE DOING WITH A BUCKET OF CHEESE BALLS ON A BEACH? "Just think I could be grading film right now!!" Richt says, practically giving himself away.
We've seen this beat 1,000 times before, from Urban "Family Man" Meyer to Les "Movie Star" Miles. Just as the night is darkest before the dawn, the hatred of football is most performative just before the return to it. Maybe Richt doesn't take the plunge right away. Maybe he waits out that Middle Missouri State offer and opts for an expanded roll at the ACC Network, but that itch will grow and grow, and sooner or later he's going to have to scratch it.