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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Richt slams what he calls 'winning at all costs in college football'

GREENVILLE, S.C. – You could tell this crowd of Georgia fans was a bit out for blood. And Mark Richt, without naming any fellow coaches, was willing to jump on it.

It was a meeting of Bulldog faithful in upstate South Carolina on Wednesday evening. These haven’t been good times for their football program, and at previous meetings Richt had taken strong questioning from fans about his own performance.

But the mood of this crowd turned early, during a question-and-answer session, when a fan asked Richt and men’s basketball coach Mark Fox what they would do to prevent Georgia “from becoming an Ohio State.”

It was Fox’s turn at the microphone. But moderator Chuck Dowdle stepped in and said Ohio State’s main problem was they “have a head coach who’s not truthful.”

Then he said pointed at Richt and Fox and said Georgia didn’t have that problem.

Fox, who just completed his second year in the SEC and probably doesn’t want to make too many waves, answered by saying people forget that the NCAA rulebook is thick and changes every year. Then he spoke about educating players to “think and not act, and not act and then alibi.”

He finally threw the crowd a bit of meat:

“I have yet to visit a tattoo parlor in Athens, and don’t plan to,” he said, to laughter.

Dowdle didn’t make Richt answer the question. But when it came his turn to take questions, a fan jumped in with an even more pointed question, closer to home:

What would Georgia do about the practice of over-signing – as in bringing in more recruits than they have room for, and then eventually running them off.

Richt and the Georgia administration have said before they dislike the practice and won’t do it. A few other coaches in the league have defended it, and the issue will certainly be on the front-burner this summer.

But Richt, in his customary polite way, began by bringing any crowd members unaware of the issue up to speed.

“Some coaches …” he began, before a voice from the crowd interrupted.

“Nick Saban!” a fan yelled out.

“Well I won’t say,” Richt said.

You can only bring in the number of players you have room form Richt explained, and that means 25. (He didn’t get into the rule that you could apply early enrollees to last year's total, as Georgia did this year with Christian LeMay and Chris Conley.)

Then the coach explained the practice that he doesn’t like, the distinction between over-signing and grayshirting:

“If you bring them in in the summer, and you work them and you let your strength staff work with them, and you kind of decide which ones you like the best, and you tell five of them, ‘Hey we know we signed you, and we expected you to be able to come in, we don’t have space for you, we’re really sorry about that but we don’t have space for you – you’re gonna have to leave and come back in January.'

“I think that’s an awful thing to do, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. And it’s nothing that we’ve done since I’ve been at Georgia.”

This was met by a loud round of applause.

“Not that we haven’t grayshirted, or talked to guys about grayshirting,” Richt added. “If you tell five of those guys ‘Hey we’ve got 20 spaces. I can sign 25. There’s a good chance that by school starts there’ll be room for you, because of the attrition that happens every year everywhere you go. If there’s space for you, you come in with your class. If there’s not space for you, are you willing to come in in January? …

"If you tell them on the front end and they know that, everyone understands that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And that’s how we go about it if we’re going to talk to a guy about grayshirting.”

Richt said Georgia usually has at least one player that grayshirts in every class. The public doesn’t even know about it, he added.

“These other coaches have been over-signing, trying to grayshirt, trying to make sure they never come up short of that 85 (scholarship limit) number. But in doing so have they done it in an ethical way, which is what you’re asking. And I’d say not. That’s why the NCAA is trying to change its rules.”

As the meeting wound down, Richt weighed in on what he sees as the general breaking down of ethics in the profession.

“There’s been a bit too much of the winning at all costs in college football,” he said. “And I hope the tide turns in the other direction.”

This was also met with a loud round of applause.

These Georgia fans didn’t have much to feel good about on the field. But they left the meeting sure that their coaches and school were at least making them proud off the field.


Pop Culturist said...

Count me in the camp that's ok with Grayshirting, as long as its known up front by the player. If they are presented with the option prior to signing and elect to do it, I'm ok with it. Sounds like that's what Richt does.

The Bulldog Tour came to Charlotte on Thursday night, and there was nothing but support for Richt from the crowd. It was a great event, and you definitely left thinking that we're in pretty good shape.

Unknown said...

I want us to better than last year but I wouldn't want nick satin to be the coach to do it.

Gary said...

Yea Yea applaud all you want but at the end of the day you guys want those W's and he doesn't get them he ass is grass. Ethics my behind, I sure bet UGA fans wouldn't mind being lik UA

kc said...

@ Gary:
You couldn't be any more wrong.

We'll win. And we'll do it with honor and integrity.

Jake Ivey said...

Not so, Gary. The sentiment among all the Georgia people I know is they want to be ethical, and don't want to cheat.

Richt has used the rules as they were meant to be used. He has respected the intent of the rules when he uses the grayshirt option, which is to be totally up front with the player and his parents, and it has always worked out for the best for everyone concerned.

Others exploit the rules to their advantage, and to the disadvantage of players they run off.

Most Dawgs are proud to have a coach whose ethics and standards are respected by everyone around the country. They wouldn't trade Richt for Saban. Personally, I'm proud to be associated with a fanbase who feels that way.

Yeah, we want to win, and we will win. We just want to do it the right way, and that's been going on at Georgia for many decades ... another point of pride.

Joeski said...

The people who would point to Richt's refusal to be unethical as a reason we are 'falling behind' frankly are exactly what's wrong with the fanbase, with college football, and with the world today.

I would much rather have to endure a few bad seasons every 10 years or so for the ability to be competitive the rest of the time, doing it the right way.

Joe Borden said...

Doesn't the coach fielding college football's Dream Team have better things to do than worry about Alabama?

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I'm glad Richt is the Coach.

Michael said...

Joe Borden, you don't read so good. Richt didn't focus on Alabama at all.

Scott said...

In the end, everyone has 85 scholarships to field a time. And thus far, the best Richt has done is 2nd place and played an undermanned Hawaii team to get there. Since that Hawaii game it has been down hill.

In the end, losing is still losing whether it is done ethically or not. And I am tired of losing!!!!!!!

BulldogBen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BulldogBen said...

There is so much asked of college coaches these days. They're expected to be mentors, guidance counselors, leaders, politicians, father figures, grade monitors, etc.

The bottom line though is that they are paid to coach football and win games. It's a cold, cutthroat business.

I would love to win with integrity and be able to shove other fanbases noses in it with "we did it cleanly" but, and I don't think I'm alone here, I think most fanbases are willing to overlook minor indiscretions in exchange for a title.

Iveyleaguer, those are some mighty rosey glasses you're looking back on the past with. The history of UGA football is far from squeaky clean over the past 40-50 years. I'm proud of UGA but we should be far from self-righteous.

Jake Ivey said...

BulldogBen ... Yeah, there's been exceptions, we aren't squeaky clean for decades. I think we have been under Richt.

Under Dooley, times were much different, ditto under Butts. We aren't talking perfection here ... but broadly speaking Georgia has always been near the top in wanting to do things the right way, and lead the way to many changes that helped clean up CF ...

Joeski said...

Overlook 'minor' indiscretions? Okay. Say we do that, and it still doesn't work. (I've seen plenty of schools have sanctions levied against them for cheating who didn't win a thing... Alabama under DuBose for example.) Do we escalate to major indiscretions in the pursuit of the national title? And what's going to happen when the NCAA ends up investigating and stripping the title?

All you're left with is a ruined reputation.

@Scott: I'm sorry you're tired of losing. I am as well. Sadly, however, 119 DI Universities ultimately are going to 'lose' every year if your definition of winning is winning championships; furthermore, our team happens to start off at a substantial disadvantage because we compete in the toughest league in the nation against teams that regularly field the most talented athletes. You're just going to have to accept that or pull for another team.

I'm going to assume that you guys that are even suggesting 'bending' the rules are young, because you seem to feel you're entitled to cheer for a winning team. I'm sorry, but you're not entitled to anything in life-- not even winning if you bend the rules. So you may as well do things the right way, because that way you can at least take pride in virtue.

If winning is the only thing that matters to you, perhaps you should consider pulling for a different team. May I suggest Auburn as a good fit for your sense of "ethics"? (We'll just leave aside the fact that everyone in the country who doesn't say 'WDE' believes they cheated.)

Before any of you respond, I want you to think about this for a while: To what extent are you willing to bend your beliefs for your personal gain? When would you be unable to look at yourself in the mirror anymore?

Bulldawg said...


Are you ok?

Where did you go?

No posts since Sunday?

We've got our softball and baseball teams competing as well as others.

Some news please?

I am going through withdrawals buddy!

Seth Emerson said...


I'm about to post something right now. But at this time of year there might be a few days of silence as I take some time off. I spent this past weekend out of town, for instance. But don't worry, there won't be long gaps.

Bulldawg said...

Thanks Seth - you rock!

I guess it is a good thing I find your blog so entertaining.

Brandon said...

Alabama and Saban have always been up front with what can and will happen with recruits TO recruits. That's why they come there, and why they don't leave crying.

Take your complaints to Arkansas.