Bulldogs Blog

SEC notes: Petrino, playoffs and more

ATHENS - The contretemps in Arkansas, a college football playoff and the addition of new teams were major topics on Tuesday's post-spring SEC teleconference.

But we won't bury the lead, as we still cover Georgia, so let's start there.


Richt reiterated that the team escaped the spring without any major injuries, and everyone should be healthy when summer workouts begin in June.

"It might be the first time in my 12 years at Georgia we don't have somebody in the crosshairs," Richt said.

Asked about the offensive line, Richt said there was "no question we made a lot of progress up front." He said that early in the spring they were rotating a lot of centers in, but the bottom line was they weren't blocking very well in practice and scrimmages.

"As the spring went on, we got a little more settled in the top five," Richt said. "Right now if we were to start today, David Andrews would be our center, Chris Burnette and Dallas Lee would be our guards, Kolton Houston and Kenarious Gates would be our tackles. We have other guys fighting for spots, and we have freshmen who can come in and fight for a position as well."

Renewal at Texas A&M

Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin is a first-year coach, so he's turning over the offense, defense and special teams. Sumlin is bringing his pass-happy offense from Houston, and also turning the defense into a 3-4.

"Our fans are extremely excited. I know our players are. Our students are. I think you can tell by season-ticket sales. Our place is sold out for every game," Sumlin said. "There's a big buzz here, our first home game will be against Florida. That's down the road for us as a football team, but everywhere I go there's nothing but excitement and anticipation for next season."

Sumlin was asked if LSU could replace Texas as the team's biggest rival now. Sumlin said every game could be important, but granted because of proximity it could be a natural rival.

"There's no doubt from our fans' standpoint, just because of the proximity of the two schools, there's going to be a rivalry. And based on the history. We haven't played in awhile. Both teams' fans are looking forward to that game."

Alabama's Nick Saban was asked if the former Big 12 schools, having been spread-offense oriented, will have to adjust to the SEC, and vice versa.

"We've played against that style in our league before. We've got several teams that are no-huddle, hurry-up. So it's not anything that's gonna be very different," Saban said. "And I'm sure those teams have played against good defenses in their league."

Petrino and Arkansas

Many coaches were asked about Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith. The phrase "unfortunate situation" was used plenty about Petrino, while as you would expect Smith was, if not praised, called a proper choice for the sake of continuity. Florida's Will Muschamp kind of summed it up:

"With the team they have coming back, you don't want to go through a bunch of changes going into fall camp. And the continuity should help them," he said.

Saban also said he felt that keeping the Arkansas staff intact would help.

"I certainly do feel they're going to be one of the most difficult teams to play in our division," Saban said.

Richt also said he thought hiring Smith made sense.

"If you grab a coordinator and say: You're gonna be the head coach now, it hurts his ability to be a good coordinator," Richt said.

But Muschamp also came the closest to coming down on Petrino for his behavior:

"We always tell our guys the choices and decisions you make are who you are," he said.

Saban was also asked about that part of it.

"Our profession is great because we have a chance to affect the lives of young people. I think setting a good example is a part of that," Saban said.

Max Garcia

Here's what Muschamp had to say about Max Garcia, the offensive tackle who left Maryland considered Georgia before committing to Florida over the weekend:

"Adding Max is a guy that's played before, a good football player and an outstanding student," Muschamp said. "Very pleased to add him to our offensive line."

Spurrier's grand idea

South Carolina's Spurrier was asked about his proposal to have division winners determined by division winners, rather than overall conference record. Spurrier repeated that he thinks it's a good idea, and means the division winners won't be "decided by the schedule."

"I think the athletic directors and even the presidents are gonna discuss it a little bit," Spurrier said.

(A little bit, and that's it.)

Spurrier did sound optimistic about his team.

"We've got a lot of good players," he said. "We should have a pretty good team."

Playoffs? Playoffs?!

Tennessee's Derek Dooley said he's been in favor of a plus-one playoff "since I was a child."

"I can remember when my dad was pushing for that 20 years ago," Dooley said. "I think now that the mood is right we can get it moving more in that direction."

Alabama's Nick Saban said having the bowl system "intact as much as possible is probably healthy for college football." He also favored having the bowls on Jan. 1, then having a championship after that.

Asked about the Big Ten-Pac 12 proposal to hold semifinals on campus sites, Saban said he understood it because of fan travel. But he said he didn't have an opinion on it.

Vanderbilt's James Franklin was asked if he had a preference for a college football playoff.

"You know, with a lot of those things, I have my own work to do," he said.


Vanderbilt's progress

Franklin was asked if he had to fight to improve the culture around the program, considering they got such positive press after going 6-7.

"It couldn't be more positive right now in terms of in the community, in the SEC. I'm out recruiting, and high school coaches are very complimentary of what we're doing here," Franklin said. "Our kids are not satisfied. We had a first good building-block season which showedus headed in the right direction. But we still have a long ways to go as a program to show that we've arrived."

Volunteer staff overhaul

Dooley, asked about the massive staff turnover, compared it to a "correction" that a business undergoes.

"Some, it wasn't a good fit," Dooley said. "Some, theyjust maybe had a different opportunity they wanted to pursue. And I think some, not an unwillingness to work through the tough times that we experienced."