Added Harrick: "I've got a great group of young guys and it's my job and I'm going to do it the very best I can. Yeah, I want to be the coach. It's why I came here. We've got a nice program and I don't want anything to spoil it.''
With Wednesday's firing of Harrick Jr., there is reason to believe Georgia officials will find more evidence the program already has been spoiled. Former player Tony Cole accused the Harricks of providing academic and financial benefits that, if proved, would leave Georgia in violation of NCAA rules.
Harrick Jr. was suspended with pay almost immediately and was fired less than a week after Cole's charges were made public on ESPN. The speed of those moves have Georgia players and staffers on edge.
"I was surprised,'' said guard Fred Gibson Thursday, adding that players don't know what to expect next. "You really don't know,'' Gibson said. "Anything can happen at any time.''
Harrick said he won't attempt to replace his son this season. "I think he'll be fine,'' Harrick said. "He's a very strong, very talented young guy. He'll move on and do some great things.''
Georgia (18-8 overall, 10-5 Southeastern Conference) closes its regular season at South Carolina Sunday at noon. The 25th-ranked Bulldogs have matched their SEC win total of last year, when they tied for first place in the Eastern Division, and they have clinched the No. 3 seed in the SEC tournament next week in New Orleans.
The Bulldogs overcame the controversy to beat No. 3 Florida 82-81 Tuesday night. Many members of the team came to Harrick's house Wednesday, when there was no practice, after hearing that Harrick Jr. had been fired.
Asked if the controversy had been a distraction, Gibson said: "We won; we beat Florida, the number three team in the nation. That should tell you something.''
Harrick greeted reporters Thursday by saying "Our team comes first and we're gonna concentrate on our basketball team'' and adding he wanted to "Forget the past and think about the future. This team has an excellent future, and I want to keep it that way.''
Added Harrick: "They're great, great guys. I'm enthusiastic about our team and our year. This is a great, great time for our team and I'm not going to let anything deter my enthusiasm for this team.''