Exclusive: Richt says all assistants staying

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt will not fire any of his assistant coaches, he told Dawg Post Reporter Josh Kendall in an exclusive interview Tuesday.

"I want everybody to stay," Richt said.

He also contradicted an AJC.com report that said senior quarterback Joe Tereshinski might start on Nov. 25 against Georgia Tech because that game is the Bulldogs' senior day.

Tereshinski will not start, and there is no plan to play him any differently than in any other game, Richt said.

"Senior Day means a lot around here, but so does winning," he said. "I hadn't really thought about that dynamic, getting so-and-so in the game."

Although the Bulldogs turned around the tone of their season on Saturday by upsetting Auburn 37-15, the question of staff changes was broached after a span of four losses in five games. Defensive coordinator Willie Martinez was the most notable target of fans' ire despite the fact that his defense is ranked second in the Southeastern Conference this season.

However, when asked if all nine of his on-field assistants will be staying another year unless one of them leaves on his own, he replied, "Yes."

In fact, Richt credits the makeup of his staff with helping the Bulldogs (7-4, 4-4 SEC) survive their rough patch and rebound with the victory at Auburn.

"If you're letting guys go every year, then it's tough for those guys to stay unified if they're thinking, ‘Well, coach may cut me loose, I better get out of here before the ax falls,'" he said. "It's hard to stay loyal if you don't feel like there's loyalty from the top."

Richt himself wonders why so much heat has fallen on his assistants.

"You're probab ly looking at the second-best run in Georgia football (in the last four years)and a great majority of these coaches have been here through the whole thing," he said. "If something as simple as keeping from turning the ball over means we win two or three more games, does that mean every guy here has done a horrible job or this guy here has done a horrible job? I just don't see it that way."

The only assistant coach fired by Richt was Tony Pierce who was let go in the middle of the 2002 season for off-field reasons, but Richt isn't afraid to make a move, he said.

"Everybody has to be accountable," he said. "Everybody has a job to do, we can't become complacent. I'm not going to say I will never let an assistant go, but I'm not going to do it to relieve pressure from me. If I believed it was the best thing to do for the program, I would do it, but I'm not going to do it to relieve pressure or to satisfy somebody's appetite. I won't do that."

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