ATHENS — Mark Richt emerged from a staff meeting a bit before noon on Thursday and was quickly caught up with the news. He was firing defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. Or at least that’s what was being said on social media, and media outlets were trying to check it out.
“I’m like, Where is this coming from?” Richt said two days later, recounting his reaction. “That makes zero sense.”
In the olden days Richt might have just let it go without saying anything, and let everyone figure out by the silence that Pruitt was still on the job. But in the age of instant news and social media Richt knew he had to put the fire out.
“When you have players in class going, What’s going on?” Richt said. “I mean something happened that morning. I don’t know who got this misinformation. And it’s really a shame that that kind of stuff is flying around. But I felt like yeah, I needed to do something.”
Rather than release a statement through a team spokesman, Richt went to his phone or his computer – he didn’t say which – and got on Twitter.
“There’s close to 200,000 on that,” Richt said, meaning his followers. “I figured fairly quick the word would get out. I think it was … I just counted to one-and-a-half and it started exploding, everybody re-tweeting it. So the word got out fast. That’s what I was hoping would happen.”
That Pruitt story was erroneous, but it came in the aftermath of stories in media outlets, including AJC/DawgNation, that have said there is dysfunction on the coaching staff, with the fiery Pruitt at the center.
Richt was asked Saturday if the “internal dynamics” in the football offices had been portrayed accurately.
“Oh I don’t think so,” he said. “All I know is that every man has got a responsibility. He’s handling his job. And he is encouraging everybody else’s responsibility. And that’s the way it needs to be. That’s the way it’s been. I just really feel like it’s a great picture – at least for a week, at least for a week – handling things the way it should be. And I’m talking about everybody, not just staff. I’m just talking about what it takes to put together a gameplan and practice it, hold everybody together, and not allow young people who are so tied into social media to just go off in the wrong direction mentally.”
Pruitt did not meet the media after Saturday’s game, though he typically doesn’t unless his defense performs badly. And it didn’t on Saturday, holding Kentucky to just one field goal, which came after Georgia’s offense turned it over at the 20.
It was also a pretty good day for Georgia’s offense, whose coordinator Brian Schottenheimer has been under fire from fans and the media.
Schottenheimer was also asked whether the talk of discord on the staff was overblown.
“It really is,” Schottenheimer said. “We all have a job to do. Certainly when you’re struggling a little bit you don’t always agree with everybody’s opinion. But absolutely. We’re working. And this win will help. We’re excited about that.”