DULUTH — Mark Richt rose from his chair Monday night next to host Chuck Dowdle to make his point clear about how he feels about Georgia’s stringent drug policy.
The Bulldogs football coach had been asked a question at the final “UGA Day” offseason speaking tour about how long it would be before the SEC “levels the playing field” with team punishments for positive drug tests.
“Here’s the deal with me,” Richt said inside the grand ballroom of the Gwinnett Center. “I’ll stand up, I’ll stump a little bit.”
The coach who played last year without defensive starters Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree for four games after they ran afoul of Georgia’s policy for the second time and will be missing safety Josh Harvey-Clemons for the opener this year against Clemson spoke on the topic for several minutes.
“I don’t want our guys to smoke marijuana,” Richt said. “I don’t want our guys to do anything illegal. I don’t want our guys to do anything that they shouldn’t be doing. So when you have policies that have a lot of teeth to it, the No. 1 things guys want is what? They want playing time. If I take that away from them, that might teach a lesson a little bit better than not. You know what I’m saying?”
Georgia pushed for a uniform drug policy league-wide at the Southeastern Conference spring meetings, but it did not gain support.
“I’m not going to apologize for it,” Richt said of the policy. “I’d love it everybody had the same level playing ground. That would be great. I don’t think we should go towards them to get a level playing field. I’d rather them come to us.”
Richt got a round of applause from the crowd of about 400 when he was done with the topic.
He addressed the fans on the eve of players reporting to preseason camp.
They officially get together tonight and practice for the first time on Thursday.
“It’s here, you know?” Richt said before speaking to the audience. “This is it. (Today) the players come in. We have dinner and we have some compliance meetings.”