It hasn't been the easiest of offseasons for Georgia's Mark Richt, what with the flurry of off field arrests, suspensions, dismissals, and now his team being anointed the SEC East favorite by the media at this week's SEC media days.
"I hope the media's right this time," Richt quipped at the media days podium.
But Richt said he was just as optimistic as ever for the 2012 season, thanks primarily to so many players' decisions to return to Athens instead of heading to the NFL.
"I know we had a group of draft eligible players at the end of last season that tested the water for the NFL Draft. 10 of them did that," he said. "One of them who didn't do that was (linebacker) Jarvis Jones, who was draft eligible, probably could have been the highest pick on the team last year. He jumped right out immediately and said 'I'm coming back, I've got things to improve on as a player and a person.' He said he wanted to do great things at Georgia with his teammates.
"I think that was the catalyst for some other guys to decide to stay as well. 9 out of 10 guys did stay. That bodes well for the leadership of this team ... I think it was very, very exciting for Georgia the day all those guys decided to stay."
Here's the rest of the highlights of Richt's appearance in Hoover, minus his comments on Malcolm Mitchell, which Matt Hinton already covered for the Eye on CFB here.
On giving up nonconference road games: "A few years back when the extra game was added, we had the philosophy of adding another BCS opponent outside of the southeastern region. It sounded like a good idea at the time. But after living it out a little bit, went to Arizona State, Oklahoma State, those are long road trips. It takes a lot out of you just to prepare for a team like that, then it also takes it out of you on the traveling part of it. All of a sudden you're flying home in the middle of the night, your guys are trying to find a place on the floor on the plane to sleep. You get behind the eight ball that way."
On the four team playoff: "I think the four team playoff is going to be outstanding. I'm not sure who's going to decide who the top four teams are, but hopefully we'll get a chance to have one and maybe two teams play out of our league if the season's just right.
"One of the reasons why I like it is it doesn't destroy the bowl system the way it is. Some people may not like it the way it is, but I think the bowl system is outstanding. I think our regular season games are huge. I'm talking about the entire BCS. I'm not talking about just the Southeastern Conference.
"I think if you get a 16 team playoff and beyond that ... I just hate to see a day where we might play Florida, and whether you win or lose, you still go to the playoffs, no one thinks it's that big of a deal. It is a big deal every game we play. I don't want college football to lose that. I think it's the right amount and I think it's a good step. It might be the only step, as far as I'm concerned."
On whether the University of Georgia's drug policies are too harsh: "I think every university has the right to decide what's in the best interest of their student athletes. We at Georgia have got our policies there for a reason. We don't want guys to get into that type of thing.
"When a guy makes a mistake, you want to stick him. You want to hopefully have a discipline that would teach a lesson and be painful enough to where they wouldn't want to do it in the future. When the teammates are watching, hopefully it would help them not want to make the same type of mistake.
"I don't think there will ever come a time in college football where everybody has a uniform policy in those issues. But I do think we're doing the right thing for Georgia."
On any updates to the suspensions of Alec Ogletree, Bacarri Rambo, Sanders Commings and Branden Smith, and why so many Bulldogs seem to get in trouble:"I'm not going to update anything other than we know that Sanders Commings has a two game suspension. Anything else we'll let you know sooner or later, but not at this moment.
"To answer the second part of (the) question, people are human. People make mistakes. When they do, you discipline it. Some people have policies, as you mentioned earlier, that bring certain things to light, and some people don't. So the bottom line is, I love every guy on our team. Part of love is to be able to help teach them right from wrong. When they make mistakes, you need to discipline them in such a way that hopefully they'll become better men down the road.
"That's what we do at Georgia. To say that issues aren't happening around the country isn't really realistic."
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