published Friday, July 23rd, 2010

Georgia’s coach says he’s learned to expect issues

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    Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)

HOOVER, Ala. — Mark Richt gained a wealth of football knowledge during his many years as a Florida State assistant coach under Bobby Bowden.

When Richt left nearly a decade ago to become Georgia’s head coach, Bowden provided an off-the-field warning.

“He said, ‘Are you sure you want to be a coach? It’s a pretty gut-wrenching job,’” Richt said Thursday. “He said there will probably be about one crisis per week on average.”

The Bulldogs have been right on pace in recent months, as seven players have been arrested since the G-Day game in April, including four who are no longer in the program. Athletic director Damon Evans was forced to resign earlier this month due to a DUI arrest that included embarrassing details, and the university announced Wednesday that the NCAA has requested an on-campus inquiry.

Before taking the podium at SEC media days, Richt addressed a small group of reporters and admitted he’s enjoyed the summer despite the setbacks.

“I know there are always going to be things that happen,” he said. “There are always going to be issues when you are dealing with young people, and they’re even more when you’re dealing with 125 of them. There is always going to be something going on. That’s just part of the job.

“It’s just like a ballgame. You know there is going to be adversity.”

Richt did not answer questions concerning the NCAA’s latest inquiry into whether college players received improper benefits from agents by attending a Memorial Day weekend party in Miami Beach. The NCAA already is looking into Alabama and South Carolina for similar reasons, and junior receiver A.J. Green has been the lone Bulldogs player in question.

Green said Thursday that he has never been to Miami and that he’s not worried about the inquiry.

“You have to keep your eyes open and just be careful about what you take or what you do,” he said, “because if you’re a high-profile athlete, they’re just looking for something to get you on. You’ve just got to keep your nose clean and stuff like that.”

Said Richt: “I’m sure that they’re gathering information, and we’ll see what they gather.”

Richt was accompanied by Green, senior fullback Shaun Chapas and junior punter Drew Butler, who led the nation in average last season and won the Ray Guy Award. Asked why he didn’t bring a defensive player to discuss new coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme, Richt said, “I blew it. I just blew it. Hopefully the defense, if they are mad, will take it out on our opponents.”

Agent talk was prevalent for a second straight day, though it did not dominate. Richt believes there is no easy solution to the problem and said he had concerns during his years at FSU.

There was levity, as Chapas joined television reporters at one point and asked a seated Richt to name his favorite fullback in the SEC. Richt responded with Bulldogs backup Fred Munzenmaier.

Chapas had just two carries for 2 yards during the regular season last year but wound up attending more media days events than former roommate Matthew Stafford, who quarterbacked the Bulldogs from 2006 to ’08 and was the No. 1 pick in the ’09 draft.

“He’s also a college dropout, and I got my degree,” Chapas said. “I’ve got that on him, too, and I try to remind him of that constantly.”

Odds and ends

Georgia has moved back its first day of preseason practice to Aug. 2, but the Bulldogs still will be the first SEC team to get under way. ... Green on being paired with Alabama’s Julio Jones as the preseason All-SEC receivers: “It’s been like that since high school. It’s the same old thing.” ... Richt assisted in selecting Evans as AD but doesn’t believe he’ll have input this time since the search likely will take place throughout football season.

about David Paschall...

David Paschall is a sports writer for the Times Free Press. He started at the Chattanooga Free Press in 1990 and was part of the Times Free Press when the paper started in 1999. David covers University of Georgia football, as well as SEC football recruiting, SEC basketball, Chattanooga Lookouts baseball and other sports stories. He is a Chattanooga native and graduate of the Baylor School and Auburn University. David has received numerous honors for ...

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