ATHENS, Ga. – UGA athletics director Greg McGarity said he reached out to Fran Tarkenton the same day that the former Bulldogs and NFL Hall of Fame quarterback was highly critical of Mark Richt and the state of UGA's program during a recent radio interview.
(Photo by UGA Sports Communications)
McGarity told Atlanta’s 790-AM on Thursday morning that he had a “nice conversation” with Tarkenton, and that it originated after McGarity got wind of Tarkenton’s statements earlier that day (on 680-AM in Atlanta).
“I had been tipped off on 'Can you believe what Fran Tarkenton said?'” McGarity said, “And I said, 'No, but I'll find out. I'll call him and find out what was said. … I basically apologized to him for not reaching out earlier, which I probably should have done to a number of individuals but just did not do it. I think he got to know me a little bit better. I got to know him better, and I was able to talk to him.
“I won't get into details of what we talked about, but I thought it was a healthy conversation."
Tarkenton’s statements about the Bulldogs and Richt received a great deal attention because of the vitriol following an uninspired 10-6 loss to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl.
Among Tarkenton's statements ...
“We have got the top receiver in football. We have got a great freshman quarterback. We have two field goals against a team we outweigh 35 pounds on the line. We finally fired the strength and conditioning coach. Today the strength and conditioning coach is as important as the offensive and defensive coordinator. Every scout, all of the (NFL) combine people that train, workout all of these college athletes have told me for the last five or six years, ‘The Georgia football players are not in anywhere near the condition that the rest of the players from all of the other schools.’ They didn’t say they ranked second or third. They say they ranked dead last. Why couldn’t this coach recognize that before now?”
Tarkenton goes on about Richt: "Where Mark Richt says, ‘I have been freed from administrative duties to spend more time on football.’ Then I quote him, he said, ‘the moves give him more time to study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting-edge.’ What has he been doing for nine years? I have never heard any college, high school, professional coach has ever said that I was not able to spend enough time on football. I had other issues. ... It sounds like 'I am not taking responsibility.'"
Tarkenton then added: “I think Greg McGarity has got to look at this awfully hard, I think the signs are that we have a program that is in big trouble.”
Fran Tarkenton played for Georgia from 1958-60 before beginning a lengthy NFL career.
“Everybody is entitled to their own opinion,” McGarity said. “It's disappointing that it would come from one of your own. And basically, that's about all I care to say about that.”