ATHENS, Ga. -- Mark Richt responded at length on Wednesday morning's SEC coaches media teleconference to fallout over Tuesday's announced suspensions for three tailbacks, defending the "integrity" of the institution and expressing confidence in the future of tailback Isaiah Crowell among other comments.
Here's a rundown of what Richt to say ...
On the suspensions and who is next at tailback ...
"No, that's a new one. After 11 years you'd figured you'd covered most everything, but there's always something new.
"Brandon Harton is a young man who is certainly the leading candidate right now. And then there is Kyle Karempelis. I'm not sure I spell his name right this minute. He's a freshman. I like him. He's a tough kid. He's got some good running skills.
"In camp, Harton did a very nice job last spring. Before the spring game, he was kind of the story of the spring. ... I felt like he could really help us. He's going to get the opportunity to do that along with Kyle.
"But we may have to use (Brandon) Boykin and little more and (Branden) Smith a little bit more and maybe go some no-back sets. We've got enough tight ends I think we can use some sets with a couple of tight ends and no backs. We'll have some ways to still try to move the football."
What has been so promblematic for tailbacks at UGA?
"Well, they've got to learn how to things what I can the Georgia way. These young men that we have right now that are suspended, I don't think there's any question that they're going to learn from it and be better men for it. I like the way they've handled everything to this point. If they continue on the rest of the week, I think it's going to turn out to be a very positive thing. And that's what you want when you have an issue that you need to discipline. I've always felt like the goal is that you have to have an element of punishment, something that will sting, something that will make somebody think twice about doing it, other guys that are watching. You have educate them, but you have to love them still. They're still part of this family, and we want them to understand we're supporting them through it. If the attitude's right and they're ready to learn from it and become better for it, it can be a very positive thing. And everything I've seen to this point has been pointing to that very thing, so I'm pleased with how they're handling it.
"The other thing is you've got to challenge the rest of your team to pick it up, pick up the slack if there is any slack, whether it's the young guys that will get this experience to play running back for the University of Georgia, where they thought it probably wasn't very likely. All of a sudden, they're getting an opportunity to do their thing. That's something they've probably dreamed of, which is a great thing."
Suprised that current tailbacks being tripped up by off-the-field problems like previous ones who're gone?
"Was I surprised we came up with this situation? Yeah. But I'm not surprised that young men make mistakes. We all know no one is perfect. We know that guys tend to use bad judgment at times, and when they do, that's when we come in and help them out."
Are you worried in particular about Crowell's off-the-field decision making?
"I think Isaiah's going to do great. I really do."
Why do you say that?
"Because I saw how he has handled this mistake to this point, and I really feel confident he's going to end up being stronger for it. I really do."
Response to criticism of people feeling like Georgia put the discipline off until after the Florida game?
"My response is that we've always had the utmost integrity in everything we do. We have policies in place in our Athletic Association that we follow to the T. That's the case here. It's been the case since I've been here at Georgia. So we all know we do our business the way it should be done, and we do it with integrity.
"People who make comments who don't know probably shouldn't, quite frankly, because they don't know. I'd be able to prove 100 percent that they're wrong, but I'm not going to spend the time doing that.
"But the bottom-line is we have rules and we follow them to the T with the utmost integrity in how we go about our business. That's how we've tried to build this program since the day I got here, and we're not going to change for any reason."