ATHENS -- Georgia football coach Mark Richt decided to make a staff change after all -- although not in a major role and not with new blood.
Joe Tereshisnki II, who has been with the staff since 1982, was announced as the new director of the strength program. He replaces Dave Van Halanger, who will become an administrative assistant to Richt.
Tereshinski, the second of three generations to play for the Bulldogs, had been the strength and conditioning assistant and video coordinator.
Van Halanger had been in charge of the strength program since Richt became Georgia’s head coach in 2001.
“Dave has made immeasurable contributions to our football program and been a major factor in our 96 victories over the last 10 years,” Richt said in a written statement.
The changes are set to take effect Jan. 1, presumably after the team plays in its bowl game. All indications are that it will be the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31, against the winner of Saturday’s Conference USA championship game between Central Florida and Southern Methodist.
David Pollack, who was an All-America linebacker at Georgia in 2004, said Georgia players will notice an immediate change in the weight room.
“I don’t think there’s anyone that pushed me harder than Coach T,” Pollack said. “The talk before every lift will be different. Coach Van Halanger, he’s a great leader, a great movitator, a great human being, a great guy you could always go to -- such a force for good. Everything about him was a great human being, a great man.
“With Coach T, his personality is more assertive, more fiery. He’s more in-your-face. He’ll yell and scream at you; he doesn’t have a problem with that. He’s more confrontational.”
John Kasay Sr., who was the strength coach under Vince Dooley, also could come back to the program as an assistant strength coach, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Kasay could not be reached for comment.
Georgia (6-6) appeared to lose the physical battle in several losses this season. The Bulldogs are ranked 10th in the SEC in rushing offense and seventh in rushing defense.
Van Halanger became the brunt of criticism from fans. But when word of his job change came Thursday, he received support from several former and current players.
Kelin Johnson wished Van Halanger well on Twitter: “Thank you for all you have done for me and my fellow teammates!”
Darryl Gamble, a senior linebacker, also chimed in on Twitter: “Heard some crazy news (Thursday) that really didn’t make a lot of sense but I’m not the guy making decisions. Gonna miss ya Coach Van.”