Q&A WITH MARK RICHT
As there will be a whole new round of discussions and interviews at the SEC Meetings today, I figured I’d just share pretty much all of what Georgia coach Mark Richt said on the record yesterday as it’ll be rendered mostly moot after lunch. I’ll also provide a Q&A of the media’s session with UGA basketball coach Mark Fox a little later. Here’s what all Richt had to say:
Q: So where do you stand on the over-signing issue and the roster management proposals?
Richt: “I’m just going to listen to what everybody else has to say before I decide. Sometimes you think you know the right answer and then you hear someone elses’s opinion or rationale and you may feel differently. It’s like when we were talking about an early signing date a few years ago. I thought one way going into the meeting and I came out of the meeting feeling differently after hearing everyone’s thoughts on it. So I really don’t know what I think right now.
Q: Does 28 seem like a good number?
Richt: “Same answer. I’d like to hear what everybody else says about it before I canreally make a good decision on that.”
Q: Rightly or wrongly, fairly or unfairly, it has been characterized that you’re pitted against Coach Saban and Coach Nutt and some others regarding your philosophies on signing players. Is that accurate?
Richt: “I was asked my opinion on the oversigning thing. First of all, I think everybody should have a right to manage their numbers. I think every university should he able to do that. I think over-signing is OK, in my opinion, if you sign over the number.
“Let’s say you have space for 15 on signing day and you sign 20. Well, if five of those guys know up front if there’s no room in the end and they’re willing to grayshirt and willing to come in the next January in the end, if the kid knows, the mom and dad knows, the high school coach knows, everybody involved in the recruiting process knows, if they know there’s a chance there’s no space for you, if everybody knows that on the front end, then I don’t see anything wrong with it ethically. I personally think if everybody knows it on the front end, that’s fine.
“We all know from signing date until they enroll in school, there’s usually attrition historically and usually there’s enough attrition to make room for any over-signing. If those five guys know they can come in if there’s room when everybody else comes in, come in with your class. If there’s not, you’ll come in in January. I don’t see anything wrong with that.
“What I’ve said is, if you sign five over and you get to that moment of truth and you have to tell two or three kids who thought they were coming in with everybody else and then all of the sudden you spring on them that there’s no room for them, they ave to come back in January, I don’t think that’s right. But I never said anybody did that. I wasn’t accusing anybody of anything. I was just saying if everybody knows on the front end I don’t have a problem with it.”
Q: Where do you stand on grayshirting?
Richt: “Some kids just want to come to Georgia. Some of them are willing to take that chance of being grayshirted. But if there’s room they come in their class. If there’s a guy that you sign that you know will not qualify, then you know you might have signed one over or however many over that you had available. But you know 100 percent that guys’s not going to qualify and he’s going to go to junior college, I don’t see a problem with that. So that’s a lot of what’s been going on.
“But if there is a kid that gets shocked, or there’s group of 25 guys there in the summer and there’s only room for 20, at the end of the summer you decide which five have to come to school in January, I don’t think that’s right. Is that what the legislation is going to come ouot with, I don’t know. That’s all I’ve said about it. If somebody wants to spin it another way, that’s fine. But I’ve never accused anybody of anything.”
Q: Football scholarships are renewable on an annual basis. Why not just not renew players that aren’t contrinuting late in their careers?
Richt: “hey all know it’s a one-year renewable deal. But if a guy in your mind isn’t good enough, I personally don’t think you should be pushing the guy out the door because we didn’t think he was good enough. Guys develop and get better. . . . You’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of the kid. You’ve got to do what’s in the best interest of your program, but there’s a right way of doing those things, I think.”
Q: With what happened recently to Jim Tressell at Ohio State and at other places in the last year, is there an integrity problem in college football?
Richt: “I can only speak to the way we do it. We try like mad to do it with integrity; we try to go by the rules.”
Q: Is negative recruiting prevalent in the league?
A: “We try to talk to the recruits about Georgia. I always take it with a grain of salt if another school is talking about somebody else’s school. We really try to just talk about the reasons why Georgia is a great place for whoever we’re recruiting. We try not to tell a kid about another school. We stay away from that. I’m not going to say people don’t ever pull out depth charts and look at situations at a position ot something like Other than that we don’t get into telling anybody what’s going on at another school.”
Q: Is it possible to win big any more without pushing the limits on rules?
A: “Again, everybody’s human. Everybody’s going to make mistakes. The rule book is sometimes very specific and sometimes it’s kind of vague. So it’s hard to sit there and never have any kind of secondary violation or anything like that. I don’t think that’s possible. But from a gut-level, philosophical point of view, do I think you can win and do things right and do things within the rules? Yeah.”
Q: Do you think there’s growing pressure on coaches to break rules in order to win big?
Richt: It’s up to them to decide if there’s pressure to do that. I’ll do something else for a living if I have to do that to succeed and win. I had the same conviction when I was being interviewed by Coach Dooley and President Adams. I asked them the question: Do you think you can recruit in this league 100 percent above board and win. Their answer was yes. And I said, ‘Good, because that’s the way we’re going to go about our business.’
Q: The last five national champions have come from the SEC. Do you think that’s puts more pressure on the coaches who have not won a BCS title?
Richt: “I think everybody wants to win. I think the only thing we can truly control is whether or not you win the SEC. We can control winning the SEC East, we can control winning the SEC. A national champion, you can’t control that. In 2002 we were 13-1 and were a pretty good football team. But Ohio State and Miami were undefeated and we weren’t able to get in. Even if we were undefeated that year, I’m not sure we would’ve gotten into the game. That happened to Coach Tuberville when he was at Auburn; they were undefeated and didn’t get to play for the national championship.
“So you can only do what you can do. But every year, if you’re a competitor, you want to win the league. The bottom line for me is, I’m going to go about my business the best I possibly can, do the very best I can and hopefully the results are what I want and what everybody else wants in the Bulldog Nation and that’s to win the Southeastern Conference and hopefully have a chance to win the national championship.”