Sugar Bowl News and Notes

NEW ORLEANS — Coach Mark Richt's new eight-year, $12 million contract agreement with Georgia has not yet been drafted into a formal contract, and other Sugar Bowl tidbits.

One area which may still lack a strict definition is the precise amount of the buyout a team would have to pay Georgia in order to lure Richt from Athens before the  end of the 2010 season.

When the agreement was announced Thursday, the original indication was the buyout was $1.5 million — the amount Richt is to earn in total compensation each of the next eight years.

The buyout could be worth $3 million or even more if a team wants to hire Richt when he has two or more years remaining on the new deal. Apparently, the contract will stipulate the buyout becomes more and more costly earlier in the life of the deal.

The bottom line is the agreement is a mutual pledge of a planned long-term relationship between Richt and Georgia.

Richt said Friday the inclusion of a buyout clause did not deter his interest in agreeing to a new long-term deal.

"No, I didn't have any problem with a buyout clause,'' Richt said. "I have no intention of leaving Georgia unless Georgia wants me to leave.  "I don't believe there is a better place in the United States of America. I know there are schools that are comparable, but I don't think there is one better.''

Late curfew — with rules: Richt is allowing his players a late curfew early in their stay in New Orleans. Richt wouldn't disclose the exact curfew, however.

"I've decided not to announce it to the media, in case there is somebody straggling (past the curfew),'' Richt said with a laugh.

Added Richt: "It's plenty late to enjoy the sights.''

As is the custom at most bowls, practices are held in the mornings, in part to encourage players to police themselves and not stay out too late. Richt said he will see how his players practice for a day or two before changing the curfew.

"I pretty much set them at a time I think is fair to them,'' Richt said. "I want them to get a few hours sleep. We do practice in the morning.''

At the first team meeting here, a member of the New Orleans Police Department spoke to players about areas to avoid and potential schemes to avoid.  

Richt said players were told "Don't get into conversations. Don't get into the games they like to play, like ‘Hey, come look at this.' ''  Richt also informed players that casinos are off-limits.

Practice report: Because Georgia is practicing at the Superdome, there was no tackling in Friday's full-contact practice. "I was a little concerned about being on that turf,'' Richt said.  

Most Georgia players are practicing in the same black turf shoes that were purchased for the Southeastern Conference championship game at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Lingering ailments: When Georgia ended its week of two-a-day practices in Athens before its Christmas break, a few players — including linebacker Boss Bailey, receiver Reggie Brown and running back Tony Milton — were slowed by ankle sprains.  

Of those, only Bailey was not at full speed in Friday's practice at the Superdome. Also, backup tight end Robert Brannon was held out of contact due to a shoulder injury.

Dixson attending funeral: The only player not with the team is freshman defensive lineman Dale Dixson, who has been held out as a redshirt this year. Dixson, from Garland, Texas, has remained  home to attend his grandfather's funeral.   Dixson likely will join the team by Sunday.  

Bowl bites: Georgia did not have any player lose his eligibility with the release of fall semester grades. "You always have a couple of concerns,'' Richt said.  Richt planned to take his staff and families out to eat at Emerill's Friday night.  Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said he is preparing star receiver Anquan Boldin to play quarterback, if needed, behind sophomore Fabian Walker, who is making his first start. Walker, from Americus, Ga., moved up after Chris Rix missed two final exams and was declared ineligible.

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