ATHENS — Mark Richt’s demeanor indicated he knew the press conference would be dominated by one topic. He never directly acknowledged it. He didn’t change the subject either, and never insisted the media move on to something else.
Georgia’s embattled head football coach also, it seemed, had at least one thing he wanted to say. He decided it was time after the second question Tuesday, whether there would be changes to coaching responsibilities on offense.
“No. No. Here’s the deal everybody. You all can pay attention to this,” Richt said, looking up and around the room. “We’re Georgia. We’re a team. We work together. We’re gonna fight. We’re gonna fight together. We’ll do the things we think we need to do to get better as we go. But the Georgia people can count on us fighting our tails off and doing it in a way that everybody would be proud of in our young men, to get better. So that’s where we’re at right now.”
The heat on Richt and his program has reached a new level this week, thanks to another embarrassing loss to Florida, which dropped the Bulldogs to 5-3, out of contention for the East. So Richt’s standard Tuesday press conference was dominated by questions about his program and his future.
Richt was asked if he’s had any conversations with UGA’s administration about what’s going on with the program or his situation.
“No,” Richt said, shaking his head and leaving it at that.
The follow-up: At any point has he thought of taking over play-calling from offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer?
“No,” Richt said again, adding after a few moments: “We’ll be fine.”
Since Saturday’s 27-3 loss to Florida, national and local writers have called for Georgia and Richt to part ways after 15 years. One of those writers, from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, was the one who asked the two questions that produced the short (but not confrontational) answers of “no.”
Richt was also asked if he’d addressed the talk with his players. The answer to that was also no, or at least that was the indication, but Richt acknowledged that his players would hear it.
“We call it noise. We say ignore the noise. When they’re bragging about you or when they’re saying not so nice things about you. Just focus on what’s being said in this room. By our coaches and by your teammates,” Richt said. “I can’t control what people write. And I can’t control what people read. But I can control certain things, and that’s what I’m focusing on and what our staff is focusing on.”
Richt, as he does every Tuesday press conference of game week, spent the first part going over Kentucky’s depth chart. That was about the last Kentucky was mentioned.
The first question: How does Richt rationalize this season, which started out with Georgia ranked No. 9 nationally and the heavy favorite to win the SEC East?
“Well it’s not over yet, for number one,” Richt said. “We didn’t make it to the Eastern Division championship, I can say that. It’s been up and down. But we’re battling.”
Richt did manage a smile late in the press conference, when he was asked how much the program has ended up missing Mike Bobo, the former offensive coordinator now at Colorado State.
“There’s been plenty of times when we struggled while Mike was here too. I don’t think everybody remembers that,” Richt said, smiling. “When you leave, everyone loves you. But I’ve always had a lot of faith in Mike the whole way through, you all know that. It’s been well-documented. And I’ve got a lot of faith in Schotty too.”