A little more than two weeks.
That’s all that’s left between now and Georgia’s season-opener against Clemson on Aug. 29. It’s a fast approaching date, with two-a-days concluding Wednesday and fall camp drawing to a close at the end of this week.
Coach Mark Richt took the team to the Ramsey Center pool on Tuesday, leaving only one preseason tradition left to check off — the annual ‘State of the Dawgs’ address to the Athens Rotary Club.
Richt addressed a packed crowd Wednesday afternoon at the downtown Holiday Inn. He gave the usual dish on the Bulldogs, highlighting his new defensive staff and pointing to a couple promising freshmen.
Talk of newcomers like linebacker Lorenzo Carter, last year’s top high school player in the state, always perk optimism among the faithful.
The coach, entering his 14th season in charge, then opened the floor for questions.
“If you ask about injuries, I won’t answer it,” he said, a playful nod to a much-discussed new policy not to discuss with beat reporters the welfare of his players.
The NCAA and compensation for players — it was bound to come up. And of course it did.
Richt said he’s in favor of paying student-athletes cost of attendance, “somewhere around $2,000 a semester of spending money that would help them along the way.”
He also threw out the idea of student-athlete-only dorms, but said smaller NCAA schools voted down proposals like that in the past because not every athletic program can afford what schools in larger conferences do.
With a recent NCAA vote granting the five largest conferences power to make their own rules, Richt says changes are on the way.
“I think it’s going to be a lot of positives for the student athlete,” Richt said. “Everybody is saying that’s the driving force, or at least one of the big driving forces of being able to do that.”
Richt did offer the admin perspective, too. He estimated upwards of $250,000 per year is spent on each student-athlete in his football program.
“We’re spending a lot on books, tuition, obviously, but we’re spending on their housing, their travel, on the training, coaching and nutrition and stuff, the medical,” he said. “There are a lot of resources being poured into these young men.”
With the conversation continually churning regarding the revenue college athletes generate compared to what they receive in return, Richt says money isn’t the only thing at stake.
“I will say this, the value of their degree and value of their education and the value of the experience that they go through, you can’t put a price tag on it,” Richt said. “I don’t think we’re mistreating anybody. I think we’re doing a great job of taking care of our guys. We expect the best from them, and we want to give them our best as well.”