Poo-Pa to the Podium

HOOVER, Ala.— At age 54, Mark Richt became a grandfather last week.

While he didn’t promise to remain Georgia’s football coach until he was a great grandfather, Richt on Thursday at SEC Media Days made it sound like he’s not planning on going anywhere anytime soon.

“Some people come to me and say, `Coach whenever you retire, we think you’re going to go off and do mission work and stuff like that,” Richt said. “I say, `There’s not a greater mission than college athletics than being the head coach of the University of Georgia. There’s so many young men that we get to touch their lives and the people they influence. It’s a mission in itself really. Katharyn and I were talking the other day. There is no greater mission than what we’re doing right now.”

Mark and Katharyn Richt became grandparents on July 9 when Jadyn Elise Richt was born to Jon Richt and his wife Anna.

Since Jon moved from Nashville and is a volunteer quality control assistant on his father’s staff, the newborn is living in the home of his grandparents.

“Since he’s not making a whole lot of money, we’ve got him in the house right now, got them all there,” Richt said. “I knew if they were in Nashville I wouldn’t see the grandbaby much and I wasn’t going to see my wife much because I knew she’d be there a lot.”

Richt would like his granddaughter to call him “Poo-Pa.”

Why? “I don’t know I just like that,” he said. “And everybody hated it. So I think that’s probably why I said that.”

Of course, that’s not set in stone.

“My name’s going to be whatever Jadyn calls me,” Richt said.

Richt looks at more than punitive aspect of UGA drug policy

Georgia fans certainly notice when one of its players gets sacked with a drug-related suspension under the school’s stringent drug policy.

Richt was asked about a competitive disadvantage that might create.

“We’re not worried about that part of it,” he said. “We don’t want our guys to do drugs, OK? I don’t want my son to do drugs. We’ve got policies that are stronger maybe than some when it comes to the punitive part of it. That’s kind of what everybody talks about . Georgia ends up suspending their guys a little bit sooner in the policy, which I’ve got no problems with.”

Safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was twice suspended for violations of Georgia's drug policy before he was dismissed this offseason.

Richt said Georgia also educates and offers counseling in an effort to help players.

He hopes it helps them for later in life when they be married or have kids and risk losing a job because of “something that never got nipped in the bud while they were in their college days.”

Don’t forget Wilson

The three players representing each team at SEC Media Days go to their separate corners of the big ballroom at the Hyatt Regency Birmingham and hold court for about 20 minutes.

Heisman Trophy candidate Todd Gurley drew an expected large contingent Thursday who wanted to talk to the playmaking running back.

Receiver Chris Conley, fresh off his Star Wars fan film that has generated plenty of buzz on the Internet, was a magnet for those who wanted to talk about that or NCAA reform since Conley is a leader nationally for student-athlete issues.

Linebacker Ramik Wilson was OK being the other guy even if he was the SEC’s leading tackler last season.

“They’re talking more,” Wilson said. “That’s fine.”

Gurley told reporters Wilson gets his tackles in practice because he “cheats sometimes,” because he knows the offensive plays.

Said Wilson: “They run the ball away from me and I go get them.”

Sanders making early impression

Georgia needs all the help it can get in the secondary.

Here’s a name to watch: freshman safety Dominick Sanders.

“He looks like the real deal out there,” Wilson said.

Both Gurley and Wilson mentioned the Tucker High product when separately when talking about newcomers who have impressed.

“He covers ground quick,” Wilson said. “He goes up and makes turnovers and that’s what we need. He’s going to push for somebody’s spot.”

Gurley also mentioned receiver/returner Isaiah McKenzie, receiver Rico Johnson and tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Wilson brought up defensive backs Shattle Fenteng and Malkom Parrish.

This and that

Georgia should see Tray Matthews again in 2015 after the safety transferred to Auburn following his dismissal after an offseason in which he was arrested for double-cashing tuition checks and was disruptive in class. Said Richt: “Obviously whether we’re playing Auburn or Tennessee or Florida, we want to win that game. I’m not too concerned about who’s over there, did he play for us, all that kind of thing. It doesn’t come into my mind.” Richt said “life’s too short,” and he wants any player dismissed to get a fresh start and realize their dreams.

Gurley was named one of 53 on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list for nation’s top running back. …Richt on moving on without quarterback Aaron Murray. “We wish him well,” Richt said. “We wish his brother (Josh) well on the Bachelorette, by the way”

The SEC said it had a record of 1,267 credentialed for the four-day event.

Gurley was named one of 53 on the preseason Doak Walker Award watch list for nation’s top running back.

Richt on moving on without quarterback Aaron Murray. “We wish him well,” Richt said. “We wish his brother (Josh) well on the Bachelorette, by the way.”

The SEC said it had a record of 1,267 credentialed for the four-day event.


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