Mark Richt recalls hiring process of Craig Kuligowski

Posted by: Chris Vannini on Monday August 15, 2016

Mark Richt wanted to hire defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski before he even had a defensive coordinator in place at Miami.

Kuligowski had been at Missouri since 2001 and with Gary Pinkel since 1992. A phone call from Pinkel quickly sprung Richt into action.

“I just knew him through Coach Pinkel. Gary Pinkel and I have gotten to know each other through the head coaching thing,” Richt said Monday. “(Pinkel) actually gave me a call and said, ‘It looks like Kool might not get retained. You oughta talk to him.’ I called him within five minutes. I would have offered him the job on the spot, but I told him I needed to get my D coordinator in line first and he’s my first choice.

Less than 24 hours later, I’m like, I’m stupid if I wait, because I guarantee everybody else is going to pursue this guy as well. So I called him back and offered him the job.”

At Missouri, Kuligowski produced a 1st- or 2nd-All-Conference lineman for 10 straight years, four first-round picks since 2009 and two straight SEC defensive players of the year in 2013 and 2014.

Richt ended up hiring Manny Diaz as defensive coordinator, and Richt loves how they’ve worked together so far.

They take over a Miami defense that was No. 115 in rushing D (5.26 ypc) and No. 106 in tackles for loss (5.08 per game). Missouri was top 10 in both last year. Richt wants to get Miami back to its Cover 2 days, and it all starts up front.

“I think (Kuligowski) one of the best in the business, if not the best,” Richt said. “If I had a D coordinator that didn’t want him, I figured I don’t have the right D coordinator. Any D coordinator would be super excited about Coach Kool being a part of it.”

Chris Vannini is in his fifth year with and serves as its managing editor. He has previously written for the Detroit Free Press, The Oakland Press, The State News,, 247Sports and SB Nation.  A graduate of Michigan State University, Chris now lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Be sure to follow @coachingsearch and send emails to