Richt lines up tough schedule for Georgia

HOOVER, Ala. — Give Georgia coach Mark Richt credit. While so many Southeastern Conference schools are being needled for their soft nonconference schedules, Richt and the Bulldogs might've overdone it

Georgia's nonconference slate includes games against three schools from other Bowl Championship Series conferences: Oklahoma State (Sept. 5), Arizona State (Sept. 26) and Georgia Tech (Nov. 28).

It means the Bulldogs will play a team from the Big 12, Pac-10 and Atlantic Coast Conference this season. It also leaves the Bulldogs with just one chance to catch their breath: A home game against Tennessee Tech on Nov. 7.

"To have three BCS conference opponents out of the four nonconference games is pretty heavy duty," Richt said Thursday on the second day of the SEC Media Days. "We might have bit off more than we should have. ... I doubt that happens again anytime soon."

The slate should be even more challenging because the Bulldogs are breaking in a new quarterback. Senior Joe Cox will step into the lineup after watching Matthew Stafford lead the offense for three seasons.

Cox's first game will be on the road at Oklahoma State, which will likely be ranked in the top 15 in preseason polls. After a home game against South Carolina, the Bulldogs are back on the road to play Arkansas on Sept. 19.

"That will be a learning experience," Cox said of Georgia's opener at OSU. "We're playing a top 10 opponent and it's going to be a big challenge for us. But we're doing everything we can to prepare for that moment."

Saban The Actor

Like it or not, Nick Saban will soon be heading to a movie theater near you.

The Alabama coach recently filmed a cameo in the film version of Michael Lewis' bestselling book, The Blind Side, about former Ole Miss offensive tackle Michael Oher.

In the film, Saban plays himself, except there is a catch: He's wearing an LSU shirt and portraying himself during his days when he coached the Tigers. But that might not go over well with Alabama fans.

"I'm hopeful (that) all of our fans will understand that the movie is an historical event," said Saban, who was LSU's coach when he recruited Oher.

Saban said he spent two days on the set for The Blind Side, which stars Sandra Bullock. Saban admitted that director John Lee Hancock gave him the freedom to change his lines because the ones written for him didn't sound natural.

"(Hancock) said, ‘Say it however you wanted it,'" Saban said. "That made it easier."

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt will also make a cameo in the film, playing himself during his time at Arkansas.

Popular Coach

Players attending SEC Media Days have been asked which coach — other than their current one — they would like to play for in the league.

It's no surprise what Arkansas' D.J. Williams and Malcolm Sheppard said Wednesday afternoon: Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt.

But they're not the only ones who have picked Nutt this week. Georgia quarterback Joe Cox said he would choose Nutt, too.

"I think he just seems like one of those guys who can get his team ready to do anything," Cox said. "They'll do anything for him. That's always a fun type of guy to play for when you have a guy that's intense and you're ready to do whatever he tells you to do. I think he's one of those guys."

Meyer No Fan of Rumors

Florida coach Urban Meyer has spent the past few months shooting down the rumor that he plans to someday leave for Notre Dame, which he has called his "dream job."

Not surprisingly, Meyer said he gets annoyed at the constant speculation about him leaving Florida to accept another coaching job.

"Well, it's disturbing. I'd lie to you if I said it wasn't," Meyer said. "I care about my family. I care about our football players, our staff and recruiting. If it affects that, then it bothers me."

Richt on Petrino

Richt has never coached against a Bobby Petrino-led team. He and the Bulldogs will get their chance this season, but Richt didn't need an up-close assessment to compliment Arkansas' coach on Thursday.

"He knows what he's doing," Richt said. "He absolutely is a great quarterback developer and he has a scheme that will allow the quarterback to have a chance to be great."

Richt said it's no coincidence that Louisville was successful when Petrino coached there and has struggled since. He also believes the Razorbacks could be in store for a solid season in Petrino's second year.

"That makes me a little concerned," Richt said. "He's had a whole year to go through all the debugging of things, and now everybody is on the same page and ready to roll."

What's the Secret?

Nutt holds something from the 2008 season that no one else does: The game plan that beat Florida.

The Rebels' 31-30 win over the Gators in Gainesville, Fla., was a popular topic Thursday. Nutt was asked what it takes to beat Florida, which is the runaway favorite to win the SEC once again in 2009.

"Limit those big plays, win the turnover margin," Nutt said. "That gives you a chance to win the game. Those are the two biggest factors."

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