- Associated Press - Thursday, December 3, 2015

Former Georgia coach Mark Richt will not coach the Bulldogs in their bowl game as originally planned.

Georgia announced Thursday that assistant head coach Bryan McClendon will serve as interim head coach in the bowl game. McClendon is the team’s wide receivers coach.

Georgia officials say they were informed by Richt on Thursday he will not stay with the team for its bowl game. Miami will introduce its new coach on Friday; Richt has reached an agreement to coach the Hurricanes.

With McClendon taking the interim head coach role, Georgia said offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt and other assistants will retain their current responsibilities.

“I’ve asked Bryan to assume all administrative duties of the head coach,” said Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity. “This will be the least disruptive option for our players and staff as they begin preparations for our bowl game.”

McClendon, a former wide receiver at Georgia, was the Bulldogs’ running backs coach for six years before taking control of the wide receivers this year.

An Atlanta native, McClendon is the son of former Georgia and Chicago Bears running back Willie McClendon, the 1978 Southeastern Conference player of the year.

Georgia has not confirmed reports that Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart is the school’s choice to replace Richt. Georgia was not expected to have its first formal contact with Smart until after No. 2 Alabama plays No. 18 Florida in Saturday’s SEC championship game in Atlanta.

If Alabama beats Florida, Smart likely would remain with the Crimson Tide through the College Football Playoff.

Richt was excited about coaching Georgia in its bowl game before he found his new job at Miami, his alma mater, so quickly.

Richt’s face brightened when he spoke Monday about having one more game with his Georgia players.

“Oh man, I was very thankful for the opportunity, are you kidding me?” Richt said at the news conference. “To coach one more time with these guys and finish the season? I was all for that. If it wasn’t offered to me I would have asked for it. I’m very excited about that.”

Some projections have Georgia and Miami playing in a bowl game. That would make for extra drama with Richt’s former players facing his new team.

Richt finished his 15th and final season at Georgia with a 9-3 record. Georgia closed the regular season with four straight wins, including last week’s win over Georgia Tech, but it was not enough to save Richt’s job.

Richt’s record at Georgia was 145-51 with two SEC championships in 15 seasons.

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