This seems to be a week for second-hand knocks on UGA’s football coaches.
First we had the much overblown report that Nash Nance, a quarterback whose main claim to a scholarship at the University of Tennessee appeared to be that he was the best friend of highly recruited receiver Da’Rick Rogers, told the Knoxville News-Sentinel that Rogers reneged on his commitment to Georgia because “the [UT] coaches are a lot more professional. He had a lot of bad dealings with Georgia coaches.”
Nash didn’t provide any specifics on those so-called bad dealings, but the natural suspicion among many in the Bulldog Nation is that what’s at the heart of Nash’s blast is that the UGA coaches wouldn’t guarantee to Rogers that they’d give his buddy a scholarship as well.
Whatever. Sounds like mean-spirited post-recruiting sour grapes.
But on top of having his professionalism questioned by a kid who UGA snubbed, Mark Richt has also gotten some blowback from a source reportedly close to former Georgia safety Makiri Pugh, who decided after spring practice to leave UGA apparently because he didn’t think he was going to get much playing time.
Pugh plans to transfer to Colorado, his high school position coach has told The Athens Banner-Herald. That in itself isn’t all that interesting since he’ll have to sit out a year and so won’t be playing against his former teammates. And Pugh is free to go to whatever school will have him since Richt gave him an unconditional release, as is his custom with transfers.
But John Kranish, one of Pugh’s former coaches at Independence High School in Charlotte, told the ABH that Pugh was “very disappointed” in Georgia because he says that some of the other Division I schools that Pugh contacted did not get a return call from Richt or former Georgia defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, now on the staff at Oklahoma. Kranish says North Carolina State and some other ACC schools wanted to talk to UGA about the circumstances behind Pugh leaving.
What Martinez does or does not do is, fortunately, no longer our concern. But Kranish’s implication is that Richt didn’t care enough about Pugh as a player to help place him at another school.
First of all, let’s acknowledge there’s always the possibility that the picture Kranish paints is incomplete or even completely inaccurate. This is another second-hand account, with nothing directly from the player involved.
But assuming that calls to Butts-Mehre about Pugh did indeed go unanswered, what can we take from this?
Richt could have put restrictions on where Pugh transferred, as some other coaches do, but he didn’t. Beyond that, does he really owe Pugh anything? The head coach of a major school is a pretty busy guy. Should he be expected to spend time trying to place a guy who has bailed on his program?
And there’s another way of looking at the situation, as the Senator touched on in Get the Picture: Perhaps this falls in the “if you don’t have anything good to say about someone, don’t say anything at all” department.
It could be that Richt decided Pugh’s chances of landing at a decent program would be improved by him not honestly discussing the reasons the player wasn’t getting much time on the field at Georgia.
So we have a disgruntled player from another school who didn’t get recruited by Richt and a disgruntled former player who mostly rode the bench bad-mouthing the UGA staff.
Stack that up against the nine years of evidence that Richt is probably the nicest and most caring guy in the SEC coaching ranks and the beaucoup testimonials from the many players who’ve stuck with his program and thrived, and I don’t think anyone in Athens needs to lose a wink of sleep over this “bad” publicity.