UPDATED WITH COMMENTS FROM COACH MARK RICHT . . .
ATHENS — I’ve been fielding a lot of questions lately about Georgia coach Mark Richt and his contract extension. Or, more specifically, why isn’t it done yet?
There are a lot of conspiracy theorists out there who are convinced the negotiations have become contentious and/or there might be some sort of hangup. I talked to Athletic Director Greg McGarity Thursday morning and he assures me there’s nothing amiss.
“No,” he said emphatically. “I was gone for 10 days. I was out of the country. So it’s just been a timing thing. Mark was gone for a while, too. He’s had some stuff going on. It’s just been a matter of us not being here. It’ll speed up here over the next 10 or 14 days. But there’s nothing to be concerned about.”
Richt reiterated that sentiment during a conference call with reporters Thursday afternoon.
“It’s going to happen in due time,” Richt said. “I don’t have any anxiety about it at all. There’s some different language in there. When you re-write a contract there’s just things in there that everybody’s got to feel comfortable with. So we’re just ironing out all those things. It’s more just crossing your t’s and dotting your i’s type of stuff. Greg and I are together on our discussions and everything’s going extremely well.”
McGarity confirmed that he and Richt have already agreed in principle on a new deal, which is expected to add at least three years on his current contract. That would extend his agreement with the Bulldogs through the 2016 season.
“I’ve always said that he’d be able to tell this freshman class that he’d be here for their time in the program,” McGarity hinted.
McGarity said he and UGA President Michael Adams briefed the athletic board on the negotiations during executive session of the last meeting on Feb. 5.
“There’s nothing new since then,” he said. “We just haven’t had the time to sit down and go over everything point by point. We’ll do that the next seven to 10 days.”
McGarity would not say if the new contract would include a raise. Including longevity bonuses, Richt earns about $3 million annually from Georgia.
“We’re going to be fair to everybody, but I’m not ready to talk about that,” McGarity said.
STRENGTH AND CONDITIONING UPDATE
It has been widely reported on fan websites that Georgia has settled on Sherman Armstrong as one of its strength and conditioning hires. While those reports are premature, McGarity confirmed that the speed specialist from Tampa is a strong candidate.
“Sherman is a candidate; we’ve got a lot of people who are candidates for it,” McGarity said of Armstrong, who currently runs V.A.S.T. Training in Tampa. “I can confirm that he was here last week interviewing. He had a great, great visit here. Everybody was very impressed. So, absolutely, he’s in the hunt. But we have not formally offered a job to anybody right now.”
Georgia has lost three members of its strength and conditioning staff since the end of last season. John Kasay retired, Keith Gray took a job with the Philadelphia Eagles and Thomas Brown accepted a job as a running backs coach at UT-Chattanooga. That leaves the Bulldogs with three full-time staffers — director Joe Tereshiniski and assistants Rex Bradberry and Tony Gilbert.
NCAA rules that go into effect this fall have capped the limit at five for strength and conditioning staffs. So Georgia’s in the market for two full-time hires. It appears now that one of those will used on a speed specialist.
“The bottom line is we brought Sherman in for that purpose, for us to go into that direction,” McGarity said.
Asked what the timeline is on completing the strength and conditioning staff, McGarity said, “A-S-A-P.”