Georgia football coach Mark Richt given extension through 2016 season

photo Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt (AP Photo/ Butch Dill)
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Football coaches in the Bowl Subdivision who have led their programs for the most consecutive number of years, and the season each is entering:Virginia Tech's Frank Beamer 26thTroy's Larry Blakeney 22ndTexas' Mack Brown 15thOklahoma's Bob Stoops 14thIowa's Kirk Ferentz 14thGeorgia's Mark Richt 12thTCU's Gary Patterson 12thMissouri's Gary Pinkel 12thWake Forest's Jim Grobe 12th

Georgia football coach Mark Richt has a new contract extension and another cornerback in trouble.

Richt is receiving three more years to his existing contract, which gives him a five-year total that runs through the 2016 season. The dean of Southeastern Conference football coaches has an 11-year mark of 106-38 that includes four SEC East titles and league championships in 2002 and '05.

He also has led the Bulldogs to 10 wins in 11 tries against state rival Georgia Tech.

"I'm excited about the new contract," Richt said Monday at a news conference. "I've never really changed my stance on how I feel about Georgia from the first day I got the opportunity to be here. My goal and my wife Katharyn's goal was to build our life in Athens, raise our children here and finish my coaching career here."

Richt's current salary is $2.81 million annually. Financial details of the new contract are still being finalized.

"The extension is a statement that we are excited to have Mark as our coach and that he is excited about being at Georgia in the years to come," Bulldogs athletic director Greg McGarity said.

McGarity also is finalizing finances for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, who makes $750,000 a year and is receiving a two-year extension. Grantham's new deal will run through the 2014 season.

Monday's news conference was scheduled so Richt could address spring practice, which begins next Tuesday, and his contract extension. The primary topic, however, was senior cornerback Branden Smith, who was arrested and charged with misdemeanor marijuana possession early Monday morning on Highway 431 in Abbeville, Ala.

Smith, 22, posted Sunday on Twitter that he was headed to Panama City Beach, Fla., for spring break.

"Branden unfortunately got himself in some trouble," Richt said. "We're still gathering information, and in due time we'll let you know what's going to happen with that."

Smith started seven games last season and is the second Bulldogs cornerback to get arrested this year. Fellow senior Sanders Commings was arrested in January for domestic violence/simple battery after he struck a former girlfriend in downtown Athens.

Commings has been suspended for Georgia's opening games against Buffalo and Missouri.

Two backup cornerbacks, Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders, were dismissed from the team in early February after reportedly stealing from a teammate. Another reserve, Jordan Love, announced within a week of the Outback Bowl loss to Michigan State that he was transferring.

Georgia's cornerback chaos could result in sooner playing time for former Ridgeland High standout Devin Bowman, who redshirted last season, and Richt said Malcolm Mitchell's role at cornerback was going to be prominent even before Smith's arrest. As a freshman, Mitchell led the Bulldogs during the regular season with 614 receiving yards despite missing three games with a pulled hamstring.

"This spring he's going to work almost exclusively on defense," Richt said. "He may come over and run a route once in a while, but the goal for him is to become as proficient a cornerback as he can possibly be."

Richt added that Mitchell may have to play cornerback the first two games and then work his way back to receiver once Commings returns from suspension.

Balancing act

The plan remains for quarterback Hutson Mason, the top backup to Aaron Murray the past two years, to redshirt this season. Yet Richt said Mason must be ready should Murray get injured before the season or in its early stages.

Christian LeMay, who redshirted as a freshman last fall, and early enrollee Faton Bauta will be competing for the second-team spot if Mason isn't needed.

"Hutson needs to continue to compete and study the position," Richt said. "I do not want Hutson to get into an 'I'm going to redshirt mode.'"

Odds and ends

Richt said sophomore tailback Isaiah Crowell is "definitely growing up and getting there." ... John Thomas, who spent the past 20 years at Penn State, and Sherman Armstrong have been added to the strength staff.

Contact David Paschall at or 423-757-6524.

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