Richt, McGarity say SEC Network will help on recruiting trail

ATLANTA — Mark Richt said the SEC Network, which will launch in August 2014, will draw as much interest from fans and viewers as the Southeastern Conference’s championship football games do.

“It’s just like our championship games,” the Georgia football coach said of the SEC Network. “Our championship games get sold out before we even know who’s gonna play in the darn thing.”

Richt said the network will offer fans who can’t attend Georgia’s football games in Sanford Stadium a chance to keep up with the program on a daily basis, not just game coverage but also week-to-week features.

“It’s going to appeal to people of all ages, including the people we’re going to be recruiting,” Richt said. “My guess is there will be content there that will showcase our players, showcase our facilities and showcase our coaching staff and what we’ve done in recent past and what we want to do in the future. It can only help us.”

Greg McGarity said Georgia and the other SEC schools may not see any revenue from the network deal “right off the bat” simply due to start-up costs. SEC commissioner Mike Slive did not reveal any financial details about the deal with ESPN, and McGarity said he hasn’t seen any revenue projections.

“The potential is there and I think that’s what we’re banking on,” Georgia’s athletic director said. “Everyone’s banking on that we both win. There’s a risk, there’s a gamble, but we know that ESPN is so data driven in their numbers, their figures that we think we will do well in the future.”

Swimming and diving coach Jack Bauerle, who was one of three Georgia head coaches who attended the announcement at the Hyatt Regency, said the exposure will show his “world-class athletes” that they are appreciated.

“The competitiveness of the football and the basketball certainly spills down to everybody,” said Bauerle, whose women’s team won the NCAA title this season. “It’ll be good for them to hear all this. I think they fly a little bit under the radar, even though they’re world-class athletes. … Hopefully, it becomes a motivational force for them to swim faster.”

Georgia women’s basketball coach Andy Landers said the network will allow recruits to watch his team more often and give him a one-up on programs from other conferences.

“With this thing, you’re gonna be able to say, ‘Hey, watch us today, watch us tonight, watch us next week,’” Landers said. “We’re constantly gonna be able to have the ability to be in prospective student-athletes’ homes year round. TV is probably the strongest thing you can have going for you.”

Not only will coaches benefit from an exposure standpoint, but the network will could also be used to help sway parents of recruits.

“I think from the parents standpoint, especially those that are not in the state of Georgia, they’re gonna be able to see their children play,” McGarity said. “We don’t know what it looks like right now, but the opportunity is there. I think it’s a win for everyone. Our students will like it, our fans will love it. Our coaches will like it because it’s a tremendous recruiting tool.”

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