DESTIN, Fla.—The SEC spring meetings are underway here at the Hilton Sandestin Beach.
So far I’d say the most eventful thing that has happened is that Georgia football coach Mark Richt killed my digital audio recorder.
As far as I can tell, it wasn’t due to anything I wrote.
Richt took his seat at a table lined with reporters this morning. I set my recorder in front of him. He asked for a cup of water. Then he accidentally knocked it over, dousing my recorder and a couple of others. I think.
My recorder is fried. Luckily, I had a handy backup that I used instead.
I told Richt afterwards that he had put an end to a recorder that I may have had since way back in the Bulldogs’ 2005 SEC championship season.
“I did? Just now with the water. Well, tell me what I owe you,” Richt said.
We did not hash out a deal.
“I’m sorry about that,” Richt said finding some humor in the moment. “You did see the table though? There was two tables that were pushed together.”
So let’s blame this on the person that set up the room.
The damage this time was more painful than the coffee I had spilled on me in the deli a few years ago by the wife of Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Stansbury. She was very apologetic.
Richt spoke a good bit about oversigning. Here are excerpts:
On if he would be able to live only signing 25:
I’m just going to listen to what everybody has to say before I decide. Sometimes you think you know the right answer and then you hear somebody else’s opinion or at least their rationale. One time we were talking about the early signing date and all that kind of stuff. I felt one way going into the meeting and I felt a little differently after hearing everybody’s thoughts on it. I really don’t know what I think on it right now.
On if 28 signees seem like a good number:
Just same answer. I’d like to hear what everybody else has to say about it before I can really make a good decision on that.
On the characterization that it’s Richt vs. Saban and Nutt on philosophies on oversigning:
I was asked my opinion on the oversigning thing. I think everybody should should have a right to manage their numbers. I think every university should be able to do that. I think oversigning is OK, in my opinion, if you sign over the number. Let’s say you have space for 15 by signing date and you sign 20. Well, if five of those guys know that there’s no room at the end that they are willing to grayshirt, they’re willing to come in January. The kid knows, the high school coach knows, everybody involved in recruiting if they know that there’s a chance that there’s no space for you. If everybody knows that on the front end, then I don’t see anything wrong with it ethically. The rule may say you can’t do that but I personally think that if everybody knows that on the front end, that’s fine. We all know from the signing date to when they enroll in school, there’s attrition. Historically there’s enough attrition and usually there’s enough attrition to make room for any kind of oversigning. If those five guys know on the front end that hey there’s room for you when everybody else comes in, come in with your class. If there’s not room, you know on the front end, you’ll come 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 kids who thought they were coming in with everybody else and then all of a sudden you spring the news, hey there’s no room I’m sorry. We’ve got to come back in January, I don’t think that’s right. I never said anybody did that. I wasn’t accusing anybody of anything. I was just saying that if everybody knows on the front end what’s going on, I don’t see a problem with it. Some kids just want to come to Georgia. They’re like hey, I just want to take that chance of being grayshirted. If there’s room, I come in with my class. If there’s a guy that you know that you signed will not qualify, then you know you might have signed what looks like one over or however many over that you may have available. If you know 100 percent that kid’s not going to qualify and he’s going to go to junior college I don’t see a problem with that. That’s a lot of what’s been going on. If there is that kid that gets shocked or a group of 25 guys in the summer, but there’s only room for 20 and then at the end of the summer then you decide which five have to come to school in January then I don’t think that’s right if it’s a shock to them. If they know on the front end then I don’t see a problem with it. If someone wants to spin it another way, they can spin it another way, but I’ve never accused anybody of anything.
On whether you push a kid out and if kids know if it’s a one year deal:
I think they all know it’s a one-year renewable deal. I think if a guy in your mind just isn’t good enough, I don’t think we should personally be pushing a guy out the door because we didn’t think he was good enough. Guys develop and get better. If a kid is looking around to and he’s saying my chance of playing here is not very good, I want to go somewhere where I can play and you can’t keep a kid from doing that. If a kid or a parent comes and says `Coach, what’s my chance of playing here,’ and you say well right now I don’t know how good my chance is, but it’s up to you. If a kid’s injured and he can’t play anymore, he can’t play anymore. If he ends up being a medical DQ and you can still keep him on scholarship and you can help him get his degree and keep him in your program and have him help you coach or do something in strength or whatever to keep him where he’s part of the family still, he doesn’t feel like an outcast out there. We had a kid named Albert Hollis years ago who had tore…the first spring I was here, he’s running around the right end and his knee dislocates. He probably will never play another snap at Georgia again. You can medically DQ him at that moment and take care of his school, but this guys got nerve damage, he’s got drop foot, he’s got some rehab ahead of him. I had to sit there and make a decision, what’s in the best interest of this kid. In my opinion the best interest in this kid was to keep him active in the 85. Once you DQ him, you can’t unDQ him two years later. He’s got at least a two year rehab. We felt like his best chance with rehab where he could walk again as normal as possible. He needed to have that carrot out in front of him where he might be able to play again one day. It did take about two or three years of rehab. DQed him last year when he knew he couldn’t anymore. You’ve got to do what’s in the best interest in the kid in these situations and you’ve got to do what’s in the best interest in your program too, but you’ve got to do it in a way—there’s a right way of doing those things I think. Ever tell a kid they might want to look elsewhere for lack of playing time? We have exit meetings after every spring and we tell them where they are on the depth chart. We tell them what they have got to do to move up on the depth chart. If a kid is sizing the thing up and is saying I don’t know if I’m going to play then there’s constant rumors about kids thinking about transferring. If at the end of the spring he got beat out by another guy, a lot of times they’re thinking maybe they should be the starter or second string instead of third. Sometimes they start spinning it that hey maybe I need to go somewhere else. That happens at every program in America at all different levels of football. Meyer on recruiting issues 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. We try to talk to the recruits about Georgia. We do ask our recruits. I do talk to recruits and this is not a new practice it’s been that way ever since I’ve been at Georgia. I always take with a grain of salt that if another school is talking about their own school, listen to what they have to say. But if another school is talking about another school, you’ve got to take that with a grain of salt. We really try to talk about the reason why Georgia’s a great place for whoever we’re recruiting.
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer