Rewind: Mark Richt on fatherhood and those issues in secondary

Georgia coach Mark Richt signs autographs for a couple of fans backstage at the All Pro Dad Live event at Greater Atlanta Christian School this past Saturday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)

Georgia coach Mark Richt signs autographs for a couple of fans backstage at the All Pro Dad Live event at Greater Atlanta Christian School this past Saturday. (AJC photo by Chip Towers)


1. I went to Norcross on Saturday to catch coach Mark Richt and his friends in the first All Pro Dad Live event at the Long Forum on the Greater Atlanta Christian School campus.

It was a very impactful event with some very impressive speakers, including former NFL coach Tony Dungy, Fox News anchor Bret Baier, NFL executives Mark Dominick and Troy Vincent and former star athletes Charlie Ward and Danny Wuerffel, among others. Of course, comedian Jeff Foxworthy also was there and he brought down the house as usual. Foxworthy was equal parts hilarious and profound in talking about the importance of fathers being active and involved in every aspect of their children’s lives.

But Richt held his own speaking to the crowd of a few thousand men. It’s always interesting to watch Richt speak on a platform other than football. It was a non-secular event and he is generally less guarded and speaks more authoritatively and assuredly in such environments. He’s clearly not worried about how what he might say will be interpreted.

The most telling portion of Richt’s 15-minute segment was him sharing about how he arranges the team’s teaching and meeting schedule so that the coaches can spend as much time as possible with their kids. He schedules the morning meetings late enough so his assistants can have breakfast daily with their children and take them to school. In the evenings, wives and children come to the football complex twice a week for team dinners. On the other days, Richt excuses the coaches to go home to eat and tuck in their kids at night, then they return for 9 p.m. meetings and game-planning.

“It makes for some late nights, and sometimes we don’t get back home until 1 or 1:30 (a.m.) or later, but it’s worth it for these kids to see their dads at night,” Richt said.

2. Richt did talk some football. After his turn on the podium, Richt spoke to a group of VIPs at a milk-shake social in another area of the building and briefly answered questions about the team before hustling back to Athens.

Richt made it clear that the secondary remains the area of most concern heading into Saturday’s opener against Clemson. In fact, Richt said that during this past Saturday morning’s closed practice defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt “fired” two defensive backs off the varsity and sent them down to the scout team while promoting two others up from the scout squad.

“We still don’t know who’s gonna play and that’s an issue,” Richt said. “We’ve still got a long ways to go.”

Last time we saw them on the field, the Bulldogs had redshirt freshman walkon Aaron Davis at free safety, true freshman Dominick Sanders at Star and junior college transfer Shattle Fenteng at boundary cornerback (along with mainstays Corey Moore and Damian Swann). But freshmen Rico Johnson and Malkom Parrish were subbed in quickly, as were sophomore J.J. Green and junior Sheldon Dawson. Junior Devin Bowman, freshman Shaq Jones, junior Kennar Johnson, and redshirt freshmen Tramel Terry and Reggie Wilkerson were among those working on the scout team.

3. I woke up Sunday morning to the news that Dan Magill had passed away. The reaction to his death and the stories that have been published in its wake has been powerful and profound. Here’s a link to my tribute to Magill and one from Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart.

My first encounter with Coach Magill was in 1985 when he nominated for a national award a story I wrote for The Red & Black on roommates George Bezecney and Mikael Pernfors playing each other for the NCAA singles title. I was quite proud of the Allison Danzig Award for tennis journalism I won and I got to go to New York City to accept it. But I also know today that the nominator had more to do with me receiving that award than it was the work of the author.

Former Bulldog and Auburn football coach Pat Dye echoed that sentiment in his remarks Sunday about the passing of Magill: “I’ll tell you how strong he was: He took an average student like me and promoted me where I was named Academic All-America!  That’s something.”

That was Coach Magill, always lifting up others. He will be sorely missed.

4. The Georgia soccer team played its home opener Sunday afternoon and defeated UNC Greensboro 3-0 in front of 2,054 fans at the UGA Soccer Stadium. The Bulldogs got the game-winner from sophomore Marion Crowder in her first game back following off-season ACL surgery.

The Bulldogs are now 1-0-1. They played Ole Miss to a 1-1 tie this past Friday in what was the first live sporting event televised on the new SEC Network. Georgia is off to California to play Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton on Friday and Sunday, respectively.

5. Seven former UGA golfers advanced through the first round of the FedExCup playoffs this past weekend.  After The Barclays tournament, No. 5 Bubba Watson, No. 17 Chris Kirk, No. 18 Brendon Todd, No. 25 Harris English, No. 27 Brian Harman, No. 50 Erik Compton and No. 62 Russell Henley remained among the top 100 players. Kevin Kisner (104) was eliminated.

I’ll leave you with this classic from Magill, reading from his book, Bull Doggerrel, his account of his prayer given at a breakfast in Jacksonville the morning of the 1980 Georgia-Florida game:

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