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UGA’s Richt Won’t Change How He Handles Discipline Issues

Kicking off the annual spring handshakes and fundraising “UGA Days” tour in Augusta last night, Mark Richt let it be known that he’s not going to change the way he disciplines his team… even though a number of players are facing suspensions for Georgia’s first few games:

“Did anybody here go through college?  Did anybody maybe do something stupid, and not have the whole world know?  I know I did…

I don’t know if any person ever went through life without messing up.  When a mistake is made, there needs to be a consequence, there needs to be a discipline, there needs to be a learning experience from it.  I’m not gonna change the way I discipline.  Some people may think it’s soft.  A lot of people think you might be losing control of your program because you have a lot of suspensions from the season.  But the reality is that’s how you keep control of your team, by disciplining your team.  If you notice, we’re not going to have any partiality between the kids that walk on or are starting.”

A shot at Florida after last week’s piece on admitted player of favorites, Urban Meyer?  Perhaps.

The coach continued:

“I don’t like disciplining a starter.  I don’t like disciplining a walk-on.  But when they get out of line you want the punishment to stick.  And the punishment that sticks the most is playing time.  That’s what I’ve learned over the years.  And then you’ve gotta educated them.  You’ve gotta have them understand why what they did is wrong, and how it hurts them.”

Richt went on to explain how several former Bulldog players have benefited from discipline and from second chances in the past.

Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph — who provides a full transcript of all the coach’s comments — correctly points out that many of the current suspensions faced by UGA players stem from the school’s strong drug policy and that there’s not much wiggle room for Richt on that front in the first place.

Fair enough, but that doesn’t change the fact that if I were a parent looking for a coach to a) treat my son like his own, b) get him ready for the pro game, and c) win a whole lotta games that my son and I could both enjoy… Richt would be pretty darn high on the list of guys I’d hope to have visiting the ol’ living room.

Things usually end poorly for coaches.  It’s rare that a guy stays at the same school for 20+ years and then walks away on his own terms with the majority of the fanbase begging him to stick around a while longer.  Sooner or later, things will probably end badly for Richt at Georgia, too.

But when the history of UGA football is someday written, here’s betting the Richt era will be one that’s looked back on with much fondness and pride.  Perhaps more fondness than some Georgia fans currently realize.


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