Georgia coach Mark Richt got Day Four of SEC Media Days rolling today. Here are the big takeaways from his session:
* Richt opened by pointing out that he's attending his 14th Media Days event... which is a helluva run for the SEC. His opening statement focused on his optimism regarding this year's teams.
* On losing Aaron Murray, Richt admitted "when you lose a guy like that it can be tough." But he also pointed out that Hutson Mason has been around the program and "in the same system" for five years. The players and coaches knew he was going to be the guy, so that should help in the transition.
* Richt feels that new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt -- who is also coaching Georgia's defensive backs -- will help offset the departures in UGA's secondary this offseason. "Anything that gets called in the game is going to be something (the new players) can execute.
* UGA's coach said the fans, players and coaches "will be off the chain" when Clemson arrives in Athens for the season's first game.
* Asked if the league is wide open this season, Richt responded: "I think the league is wide open every year just because there's so many good teams." He pointed out the quick turnarounds for Missouri and Auburn as examples of this.
* Richt said that he had "three or four" conversations with Mason about transferring over the years. "He stayed because he loves Georgia and loves his teammates." He also knew, according to the coach, that he would be surrounded by a tremendous team in his fifth year.
* Asked about his longevity at Georgia, Richt said that he's had opportunities to leave Athens. "You have to choose to stay... When I accepted the job, my goal was that this would be the last stop for me because there's no better place than Athens, Georgia. There's no better program than the University of Georgia in my mind."
* Richt said he's not worried about his school having a more strict drug policy than most other SEC programs. "We're not worried about that. I don't want our guys to do drugs, OK?" He also pointed out that there's more to UGA's policy than just the punitive side. In addition to a suspension and drug education, "We love 'em." Richt said he'd rather players learn lessons about the dangers of drugs while in college than once they're out of school as adults.
* On the injuries that hit his offense hard last season, the Dawgs' coach said: "The pain of the injury is not even close to the pain of not being able to play anymore." In an effort to curtail injuries, this year's Georgia squad will be a "leaner team" having focused more offseason work on flexibility and "quick bursts."
* Prompted, Richt said he feels an eighth official -- which the SEC will experiment with in some games this fall -- could lead to additional penalties, but he says he's in favor of getting everyone in position -- defenders and officials -- before an up-tempo team can snap the ball. If eight officials help on that front, he's OK with possible added penalties.
* Richt's thought on the new College Football Playoff selection process? "I'm gonna try to win as many games as possible so they don't have any choice but to put us there."
* Picked for second place in the SEC East, Georgia's coach said, "I really don't care where we're picked... I think in the end it's going to be Georgia (on top)."
* Even the nice guy, Richt said he's not worried about ex-Dawg safety Tray Matthews heading to Auburn. "I have never hindered a transfer from going where he wants to go... Life's too short." He also said that he hopes his ex-players can turn things around and have good careers wherever they go.
* Finally, the dean of SEC coaches said that he supports the current push for bigger scholarships and better healthcare for student-athletes. "Anything we can do to bless these guys for what they do for us, I'm all in."
* For the 14th year running, Richt remains "the coach you'd most like to have as a neighbor." Does he ever put a foot wrong when it comes to soundbites?