In his first five seasons as the head football coach at Georgia, Mark Richt led the Bulldogs to two SEC championships (2002 and ’05) and to another SEC title game appearance in 2003. His team also tied for the SEC Eastern Division title in 2007.
Richt guided the Dogs to a 10-3 mark in 2008, when they finished ranked in the top 10. It was the sixth time in seven years, Georgia won at least 10 games in a season and finished ranked in the top 10.
Georgia went 8-5 in 2009 and suffered its first losing season under Richt last year, when it went 6-7, losing to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl.
He was in Columbus on Thursday night to speak to local fans at the Columbus Convention & Trade Center. Before that, he spoke with Ledger-Enquirer sports editor Kevin Price.
There are a number of local players at Georgia now. How did Jarvis Jones do during spring practice?
Jarvis did great. Jarvis is lining up as our starting Sam linebacker right now. He is a guy who can cover a tight end well. He can play the run well. He can rush the passer, and he just has great ability. He is a good team guy. We just love him being there.
How has Bruce Figgins adapted to the switch from tight end to fullback?
First of all, we lost (Shaun) Chapas and (Fred) Munzenmaier, so we were like, ‘Who the heck is going to play fullback?’ We also have some pretty good tight ends, so we figured if we moved Bruce to fullback and trained him there, it would make him more valuable to our team and to the NFL down the road. A lot of NFL teams will take their tight end and teach him fullback-type things because of the size of the roster. Another thing it does is it allows us to hide some of our intentions as far as how we line up in any given personnel group. Bruce has taken to it well, and I think it is going to expand his playing time.
How does Isaiah Crowell fit into your plans at the running back position?
Isaiah is a very talented guy. We all know that. We are very thrilled he chose Georgia. Now he has got to go compete for playing time. Right now, the job is wide open. We don’t have anyone who is a solid No. 1, so he is going to get his opportunity -- just as we promised him -- to show what he can do. We have 29 practices before the first game, and we’ll see if he can move himself up the depth chart.
One of the rule changes for the upcoming season has to do with how the celebration rule will be enforced. What will people notice about this rule change?
Hopefully, they won’t notice it with us because we don’t want anybody to celebrate prior to crossing the goal line. In the past, if someone was celebrating on their way to a touchdown or doing whatever they were doing, that would be considered unsportsmanlike . It was always treated as a dead-ball foul, and the touchdown would still count. Now, if someone acts up before they cross that goal line -- if they are on the 3-yard line, for example, the flag will be thrown at that point and the ball will go back from 15 yards from that spot and the touchdown will be negated. That could change things in a big way. And with the emotional aspect of college football, someone is going to do that.