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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SEC Notes: Anonymity Restored in Coaches' Poll

Mark Richt said he doesn't particularly enjoy being questioned about his vote in the USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll, but he can always defend his selections.

Whether the rest of his coaching brethren can do the same thing, however, will remain a mystery beginning in 2010.

The American Football Coaches Association decided Wednesday that starting in 2010, the final ballots of individual coaches will be kept anonymous, keeping fans from finding out which coaches may have submitted questionable votes at season's end.

The issue is of particular importance because the coaches' poll is a key component in the BCS rankings, which determine the teams that will compete for the national championship, and coaches could potential bump one team up or another down to suit their own interests.
While the public won't have the chance to judge, Richt said coaches have been assured that the administrators of the poll will continue to monitor ballots closely for outliers, so he's not particularly concerned about the consequences of anonymity.

"It's not that big a deal to me either way," Richt said. "There's some built-in accountability, and that's all we need, whether it's public display of the vote or someone watching it to make sure it doesn't get way out of whack."


The number of graduate assistants allowed on the field for practices and games was a prime topic of debate when football coaches met with theSEC's athletics directors Wednesday.

The NCAA currently allows teams to employ just two graduate assistants as on-field coaches, which makes it particularly difficult to run scrimmages during practice sessions,Richt said. Teams already employ two additional grad assistants in capacities often deemed "quality control," but those assistants are not allowed field access.

"We just want to take those guys who already exist and allow them to be on the field," Richt said. "It's not going to cost any more money or anything like that."

Any changes will need to be ratified nationally, Richt said.

More specific to the SEC, however, is a rule that forbids coaches from attending coaching clinics in which they aren't speaking. Other conferences, including theACC , do not employ a similar rule, giving SEC coaches a distinct disadvantage on the recruiting trail compared to some of their in-state rivals.

"You don't want your competition in recruiting to be able to spend time with coaches when we can't," Richt said, "so we're trying to free it up to if you have an in-state clinic, you should be able to go."


One topic of debate among the SEC's basketball coaches was the scheduling of a tougher non-conference slate among the league's schools. With just three SEC teams making the NCAA tournament last season – and only one advancing beyond the first round – the issue of adding to the league's overall strength of schedule was at the forefront.

That's not an issue for Georgia, head coach Mark Fox said, since the Bulldogs already have several tough out-of-conference games lined up, including road dates with Missouri and Virginia Tech and a neutral-court game against Illinois. The bigger issue is finding teams that want to come to Athens.

"We have some teeth in our schedule," Fox said. "The concern for us right now is just securing home games."

Fox said Georgia is nearing agreements with several teams for the 2009-10 season, and contracts should be signed by the end of the week. Still, several open dates remain.

"We have made some progress, but we're not done by any means," Fox said. "But we've made a significant dent in it."

While simply finishing a schedule remains a daunting task now, down the road Fox would like to see Georgia play a number of big-name opponents once he feels his roster has enough talent to handle it.

"We want to play a high level schedule," Fox said. "Once we can establish the quality of our team, we'll play an extremely difficult schedule, but it's a process."


Georgia forward Trey Thompkins was one of 17 players selected to attend the USA Under-19 National Team trials next month in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will compete for one of 12 roster spots on the U.S. national team.

As a freshman, Thompkins averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.

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