McGarity Supportive of Richt

AUBURN – Mark Richt spoke with one arm draped on the podium, the other by his side.

Sitting about 10 feet away, watching Richt the entire time during a postgame news conference, was his boss Greg McGarity.

Saturday saw Georgia going into the center of the biggest story in college football, with Auburn and quarterback Cameron Newton. But Georgia made a bit of its own off-field news, before and after a 49-31 loss at No. 2 Auburn.

Earlier in the day McGarity, the Georgia athletics director, all but assured the media that Richt would return in 2011. Then Richt's news conference ended with the Georgia head coach being asked about a report that Colorado was interested in him for its job.

Richt laughed when he got the Colorado question, then answered curtly:

"Georgia's my home," he said, smiling.

McGarity claimed to have not even seen the report in the Denver Post saying the Buffaloes wanted to speak to Richt. (The Buffaloes on Monday fired Dan Hawkins, whose last win proved to be over Georgia in October.)

McGarity was hired in August and almost immediately had to deal with questions about Richt's future, especially after a 1-4 start. But as the season has gone on, McGarity's comments have become more supportive, and on Saturday he went further than he has when asked about Richt's future.

When asked if he thought Richt would be back, McGarity answered, "Sure I do, absolutely."

"I'd say, based on the first 10 games, [there's] no question about that," McGarity said. "I know we're 5-5, but you go back and you look at all the dynamics involved — how close the games were. It's not like we're dealing with situations here of lop-sided losses, of being non-competitive.

"There are some games we wish we could have won by taking care of the ball a little better or making certain tackles or interceptions. You go back and play that through your mind, and if you dwell on it too long, it'll just eat you up. You just got to focus on getting better every day and do what you can do to be the best you can be."

Richt is signed through 2013, and has a hefty buyout. But he also has a 95-33 record at Georgia, including two SEC championships, and a third appearance in the SEC title game.

That's been off the table for awhile now for the Bulldogs, who will need to beat Georgia Tech in 13 days just to be bowl-eligible. Georgia last missed a bowl in 1996.

As McGarity indicated, it has been a year of close losses, and that didn't change Saturday. Auburn pulled away in the fourth quarter, but Georgia led for most of the first half, and was tied for much of the third quarter.

Afterwards, Richt was asked to reflect on what has gone wrong this season.

"When you look at it, there were, I think, a few plays, a few key plays, in the games that we lost, not so much today, where if they went the other way we win," Richt said. "We didn't win the close games for an assortment of reasons. I've said it for years, the teams that can win the close ones will be the champions. And we didn't win a close game yet."

But Richt also seemed to realize that another loss, and a losing record so far, would not be pleasing to a lot of fans.

"We're not getting the desired results," Richt said. "And football is a bottom-line game. And bottom line we're 5-6 right now."

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