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Richt closes book on 2010, looks to 2011

ATHENS, Ga. – Mark Richt’s end-of-season press gatherings have typically taken place in small groups or by teleconference.

Mark Richt's news conference Wednesday lasted for nearly 34 minutes. (Photo by UGA Sports Communications)

That wasn’t the case Wednesday morning.

When Richt walked into a large team meeting room at the Butts-Mehre Building, he was greeted by television cameras, and a surprising number of dignitaries in attendance, such as UGA athletics director Greg McGarity, previous interim AD Frank Crumley, senior associate AD Carla Williams, compliance director Eric Baumgartner and other various athletics officials.

“Last season certainly was not anywhere close to what we expected or what we expect here,” Richt said. “It was certainly well below the standard of what Georgia football is all about. I understand that as much as anybody. I’m not happy with the way things went, but I do think in the process of going through what we went through, we’ll be better for it in 2011.”

Despite the odd setting, there were no bombs dropped during Richt’s press conference, which lasted nearly 34 minutes but contained little new news.

Richt reaffirmed his commitment to the 2011 season – his 11th with the Bulldogs -- and announced no staff changes beyond the previous announced strength and conditioning swap.

“We’re not looking to blow anything up,” Richt said. “In my opinion, we are very close. How many teams have what would be considered a down season one year and then the next year they’re right there?”

There will be additional strength and conditioning hires, like former player Thomas Brown and perhaps former player Verron Haynes. And UGA does plan to add staff members to focus on nutrition, Richt said.

But perhaps the biggest change noted by Richt on Wednesday had to do with his own time. Without going into specifics, Richt made vague references to McGarity personally taking over certain aspects that had previously occupied his time.

That, in turn, would allow Richt more time in the football part of his role.

“I’m not saying I’m taking over as the coordinator or anything like that,” Richt said. “Mike Bobo is the coordinator. Mike Bobo is the quarterback coach, and Coach (Stacy) Searels is the run-game coordinator, and they’ve done a great job -- not a good job, a great job. So I have all the faith and confidence in those guys. The point I’m making is I’m going to have the ability to have the time that it takes to truly study the game of football and the trends and what’s going on.

“A high percentage of my time is going to be able to be used for that, which is exciting for me. When I started coaching, I started coaching because I loved the competition and I loved the strategy.”

Here’s an additional sampling of what Richt had to say …

On what he wants to see in 2011 …
“One of the biggest things I’m going to be looking for is the effort of this football team and this program in this offseason. We all know there’s a lot of schemes out there, but you better do what you do well, and you better do it full-speed, and a way that when you look at that film, you’re proud of it. If want to know, as a head coach, what my No. 1 point of emphasis to be watching for, it’s going to be that. … This team will have passion, but you develop passion in your offseason. You develop passion in your spring ball. You develop passion in how you go about your business. That’s what we’re going to be creating, starting now.”

On the 2011 season opener …
“Why do you open the season with Boise State? My answer to that is because we need to play a Boise State. Boise State is considered one of the finest programs in the United States of America. We have a high, high respect for them, and so does the college football world. We need to play a game like that, in my opinion, to kick off this season. It’s already been a source of excitement for me and the coaching staff and the players and a source of motivation for our offseason program. … We’re going to find out in a hurry what we’re about.”

On recent strength and conditioning changes …
“I’ve got full faith in Joe Tereshinski to head up that program. Coach T, as everybody calls him, is a no-nonsense guy who’s going to make sure everybody gets the job done. I like his approach. I like his approach to the work, to accountability and just his demeanor in general. Our guys are going to be better because of it. … Your offseason is a big part of your program. You can use all kind of terms, but there’s new leadership in the strength room. So it’s going to be different, and what I believe is going to be a very positive thing for Georgia.”

On juniors considering leaving for the NFL draft …
“I’ve definitely been talking to our juniors. There’s been no one who told me that they’ve made a decision one way or the other. I don’t know who’s going to come back, who’s not going to come back. All I know is whoever is going to be here is going to be 100 percent motivated.”

Richt also basically didn't comment when asked about the status linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who was facing a charge in Maryland that has since been resolved. Said Richt: “We’ll talk about Marcus in a couple of days.”

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