This was quite a different postseason wrap-up news conference for Georgia coach Mark Richt this morning.
It’s the first I can remember ever being anything more than a teleconference.
This one was in the team meeting room with athletic director Greg McGarity and other senior staff members in the audience, including Frank Crumley and Carla Williams.
There was nothing earth shattering.
No coaches were fired or had their roles changed after the Bulldogs went 6-7, their first losing season in 14 years.
“We’re not looking to blow anything up,” Richt said. “In my opinion, we are very close. We are very close.”
Richt said he’s “not making any plans,” to take over as playcaller.
The biggest news was Richt talking about how “things are being put in place that are going to help free me up to spend more time doing the things that I love the most, which is study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.”
First-year athletic director Greg McGarity has helped facilitate that.
“I’m just spending less time messing around with things that Greg wants to be able to help take off my plate from an administrative point of view,” Richt said.
Richt said that director of player development John Eason, who handles practice schedules and works with academics, will take an even greater role with the academic side at the school. He said that former strength coach Dave Van Halanger will also help lighten the load for Richt.
Eason is a former Georgia receivers coach.
“By no means will I not be involved in academics, but a lot of the legwork that needed to be done in that area he’s going to be fully responsible for and that’s going to help,” Richt said.
Van Halanger will play a role in a “mentor program” to help players transition from high school to college and from college to the work force. He will also oversee a team “unity council.”
In other items of interest:
–Richt on Georgia underclassmen considering NFL draft: “There’s been no one that has told me they have made a decision,” Richt said.
“I think A.J. Green probably can’t help his draft status a whole lot. I think it’s pretty obvious. I think if A.J. were to stay it would be for other reasons and other reasons besides money. …Every other guy …can from what I’m seeing and what I’m hearing and information I’m gathering and information they’re gathering, every one of those can improve from strictly a business-point of view, everyone can improve their draft status by staying.”
–Richt said linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who faced a second-degree assault charge in Maryland until the case was resolved to the victim’s satisfaction: “We’ll talk about Marcus in a couple of days.”
-More on wanting to study football: “A couple of years ago I was realizing the job as far as the time that it takes to be a coordinator and a play-caller and all those things. You’ve got to study. You can’t just do it without having the time it takes to put in. I’m going to have time now.”
–On what that means to offense: “I’m not saying I’m taking over as coordinator or anything like that. Mike Bobo is the coordinator. Mike Bobo is the quarterbacks coach. Coach Searels is the run game coordinator and they’ve done a great job. Not a good job, a great job. I have all the faith in confidence in those guys. The point I’m making is I’m going to have the ability to have the time that it takes to truly study the game of football and the trends and what’s going on. A higher percentage of my time is going to be used for that, which is exciting to me because when I started coaching, I started coaching because I love the competition and I love the strategy.
–Richt will still keep the focus on making his players better men and getting their degrees.
“I’ve got a box full of rings—championship rings, conference championship rings, national championship rings, coached Heisman Trophy winners, had been coach of the year, blah, blah, blah, but at the end did we really do right by these men?,” Richt said. “I’m still about that. That’s not going to change about me, but I do love the game, I do love the competition and I do love the strategy of it. I’m just excited that I’m going to feel more freed up to do those kind of things.”
–Richt on improvements in nutrition coming.
“I think it’s this week, Greg, where we have a nutritionist coming in, to look over our entire program and kind of guide us in which way we should go and give us some ideas and suggestions to make it better. We’re going to have people on staff that are going to be dedicated solely to that.”
–Richt on working for McGarity: “I’m very excited about the fact that Greg McGarity is here, quite frankly. I’ve alluded to it from time to time, but in some ways I feel like a first-year head coach. Usually when you come in as the first-year head coach, the administration is coming to you and saying `Coach, what do you need? What do you need to win?’ You wouldn’t think going into your 11th year, you’d have that kind of feeling that that’s what’s going on, but instead of me being the new guy, Mr. McGarity is the new guy. As he’s come in, we’ve had many conversations about what do we need to get done to make this program the very best in the United States of America? That revives me, that rejuvenates me, that excites me in a big way.”
–On opening with Boise State and South Carolina: “We’re going to find out in a hurry what we’re about. That motivates me, that excites me.”
– On players feeling entitled: “I don’t think anybody feels that way now. If there was an issue with that, I don’t think there’s one guy on this team that feels they’re entitled to anything but hard work and an opportunity to compete for a job and a chance to compete for an Eastern Division title. I don’t think anybody’s taking anything for granted.”
–On if he feels a sense of urgency this month compared to past Januarys: “I have a greater sense of excitement. I really do. I have a greater sense of excitement than I’ve had in a long time. …I feel as close to a first-year head coach as you can feel like.”
–On if the team is lacking passion: “This team will have a passion. OK? But you develop passion in your offseason, you develop passion in your spring ball, you develop passion in how you go about your business and that’s what we’re going to be creating starting now.”
–Please follow me at Twitter.com/marcweiszer