ATHENS - Mark Richt was much more expansive after Saturday's practice than he was two days ago. He didn't announce any suspensions, but he never asked for pure football questions and spoke at length about discipline.
- Safety Marc Deas has also decided to transfer, joining defensive end Derrick Lott in departing the program halfway through spring practice.
"Both kids love Georgia. We loved them. They just didn't think it was gonna happen for them in the time frame they were here," Richt said. "So they decided to go where they feel like they'll have a better chance of playing. ... I think they're great kids, and I wish them well."
Asked a follow-up, Richt stated flatly that neither player was facing any discipline. This was all about playing time, the coach maintained.
"I'm just telling you straight up that was (it)," Richt said. "They felt like their chances of playing weren't gonna be good. We had some discussions. I had the same questions you all had."
- This further dwindles the amount of scholarship players, which Richt said "definitely" is a concern.
"You need as full of a boat as you can have," Richt said. "You want to make sure you've got enough guys out there to do all your special teams work and everything. But that's part of the reason why we're making sure everybody's getting reps. We're making sure everybody, from the starters on offense and defense, down to the scout team, everybody's getting work."
So does he ever think back to signing day and wish they'd loaded up more?
"That's the thing about recruiting and when you have to decide what your number is. When you try to hit that number on the money you don't know what kind of attrition you're gonna have. If you knew, if signing day was after - which it can't be - but if signing day was after the spring semester, it'd be easier to know. It'd be easier to know for sure."
- Richt went into a long defense of the team's discipline policies, without expressly getting into the drug suspensions.
"At Georgia we got rules, we got policies, that we feel are in the best interests of our players," he said. "When it comes to going to class, when it comes to going to tutors, going to study hall and how you behave. Everything we do and every rule we got is for the benefit of these guys. And for the team. A lot of the discipline that we give does involve playing time. I think that's the one thing that guys covet the most. So when you're disciplining guys and you take playing time away, I'm hoping that that's something that sticks enough where it will change that individual's behavior for the future.
"So we've got these rules and we have them set out for the betterment of the player and the team. And we're willing to carry it out even when it hurts. And what happens sometimes is when you discipline guys, especially if you take playing time, it becomes a public issue. The thing that I say is there's a very high accountability for our guys, for everyone. From the starters to the scout-teamers. We're not gonna treat a starter any different than a walk-on or a scout team guy, when it comes to discipline."
Richt also said he would rather that his players "learn lessons from 18 to 22" rather than down the road, even if it affects playing time.
"It does hurt. But the point I"m making is there's expectations we have. If they do right they get rewarded. If they don't do right they get disciplined," Richt said. "We're taking care of business when it comes to discipline here."
- There's been plenty of debate about a uniform standard for testing and discipline in the NCAA and SEC. Richt was asked if he'd like to see that.
"Well it's an interesting question. I don't know if that would ever happen," he said. "I think every institution is going to make a decision on what they feel is in the best interest of their student-athletes. I mean I don't know what policies are public or what policies are not, that you all can get a hold of and read and what-not ... It'd be interesting to see that happen but I just don't know if it would happen."