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Blog: Bulldog talk from Atlanta: Penn State transfers, nine-game SEC schedule, hoops update and more

ATLANTA–Some news and notes from the `UGA Day’ event Monday night at the Cobb Galleria Centre, where talk of Penn State even trickled into coach Mark Richt‚Äôs talk to the crowd.

–Host Chuck Dowdle brought up the subject early.

“A lot of colleges around the country certainly will be interested in some of those players,” Richt said, “and we’re one of those teams. It’s pretty well-documented that we’re under our 85 number right now. We’ll try to get in touch with some of these young men and see what their interest is.”

Two current PennState players, defensive end Deion Barnes from Philadelphia and linebacker Khairi Fortt from Stamford, Conn, considered Georgia out of high school. Both took official visits toAthens, according to Rivals.com.

Two PennState commitments—defensive end Garrett Sickels from Red Bank (N.J.) Regional and tight end Adam Breneman from Cedar Cliff (Pa.)—were offered scholarships by Georgia.

After the event, Richt admitted Georgia coaches had already looked at Penn State‚Äôs two-deep roster during their annual ‚Äúhideaway meeting,” Monday.

‚ÄúWe took a little bit of time out of what we were going to do to talk about that a little bit and decide what we might want to do,” he said. “It may not be anybody. I don‚Äôt know what‚Äôs going to happen, but we‚Äôre at least going to explore.‚Äù

Richt again cautioned that Georgia may not land any of the Nittany Lion players.

“I don’t want everybody to sit there and think we’re trying to load up a bunch of them,” Richt said. “It could be zero. It could be one or two. I don’t know what it could be. We’ll just see if it’s a fit, see if anybody’s interested and go from there.”

–Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said he will wait to learn more how the strength of schedule will fit into determining the new four-team playoff in 2014. SEC athletic directors will meet next month in Orlando. ‚ÄúIs the SEC going to stay at eight games?‚Äù he said. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of things to talk about. I don‚Äôt think anything‚Äôs off the table.‚Äù

Alabama’s Nick Saban and Tennessee’s Derek Dooley are backing going to a nine-game SEC schedule.

Richt isn’t jumping on that bandwagon.

“Nine conference games makes sense if you’re in-state rival is within league play,” Richt said. “If you have a Georgia that has Georgia Tech, a South Carolina that has Clemson or a Florida that has Florida State and you have nine conference games and then have that on top of it, you’re talking about 10 blistering games plus an SEC championship and one day a semifinal and one day a national championship game. I don’t think we’re going to have an issue with strength of schedule with eight conference games. Now time may change that in my opinion, but I think right now playing eight conference games plus playing a Georgia Tech is going to be plenty strong enough.”

–One fan told Richt that Alabama kicked away from LSU‚Äôs Tyran Mathieu, aka ‚ÄúThe Honey Badger.‚Äù He asked why Georgia didn‚Äôt do the same in the SEC championship game.

“Wow. Why did we do that?” Richt said. “That was a bad thing. Bad decisions obviously.”

–Richt said that changes made to the strength staff have been ‚Äúone of the most exciting things that have happened at Georgia,‚Äù this offseason.

“We didn’t let guys go,” he said. “Guys got opportunity.”

He said Justin Lovett, hired as an assistant from the Denver Broncos, has added mixed martial arts, boxing and yoga to the workouts. Richt said he showed a recruit around the football facility on a recent weekend and saw 35 current players doing MMA training with Lovett.

–Basketball coach Mark Fox has held five of 10 practices with his players before the team heads to Italy on Aug. 3.

“It’s hard to have five practices when you have five days in between,” said Fox, who has been on the road recruiting. “We’re going to have a lot of competition for playing time. I’ll tell you that. “

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has moved over to his natural shooting guard position.

Center Donte’ Williams has put on 13 pounds. Not sure if the current 6-9 and 220 pounds listed is still accurate. John Florveus has added 18 more pounds, Fox said.

“John Florveus has been the most dominant in the paint,” Fox said.

Fox had this to say on discipline for Williams after his possession of marijuana arrest:

‚ÄúI‚Äôll have a lot on Donte’ next week,‚Äù Fox said. ‚ÄúI‚Äôd like to save that conversation for then if I could.‚Äù

Williams will still be going on the Italy trip.

So will Marcus Thornton, but he won’t play after his offseason knee surgery.

Fox reiterated that he would like to redshirt freshman forward Houston Kessler.

Freshmen Charles Mann, Kenny Gaines and Brandon Morris are “going to be guys that can compete immediately for playing time,” and Fox saidGeorgiawill be deeper and more athletic.

–McGarity was short and sweet on the much-talked about player suspensions that have not been announced. ‚ÄúCheck the ball coach on that,‚Äù McGarity told reporters.

Richt has yet to announce any beyond Sanders’ Commings’ two game-suspension.

-A guesstimate on the crowd at the Cobb Galleria was about 400, which seemed to be about the smallest in recent memory.

Dowdle offered a quip that rang familiar from maybe a spring tour stop. He introduced Richt by saying that he “does not own a motorcycle.” Guess the Falcons fans in the crowd always can enjoy another Bobby Petrino joke.

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@JeffSchultzAJC @SethEmerson @BizWriterKristi Less than 3 weeks until basketball opener. Not that we are counting down.

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