THE TEN AT 10:
1. Some Georgia fans might have thought it odd – or downright wrong – for J.J. Green to want to transfer to Georgia Tech and for the Bulldogs to allow him to do it. But UGA has a very liberal policy when it comes to allowing its student-athletes the freedom of choice — and Tech is moving that way.
Athletic directors Greg McGarity and Mike Bobinski spent quite a bit of time on the phone this week conferring about their schools’ respective transfer policies in light of Green’s decision.
“Mike and I have been in communication and, moving forward, we’re in agreement there should not be any reasons to not grant the wishes of any student-athlete who might want to transfer between our institutions as long as there has been no tampering,” McGarity said. “As long there’s been nothing done to recruit a current student-athlete, as long as it’s on the up-and-up – which is the case as I understand it with J.J.
“What’s the downside? The only downside is that student-athlete may come back and have a great game against you. But if they’re not happy at the University of Georgia, they should be happy somewhere else.”
2. Some Georgia fans might wonder why its team would be so willing to let Green head to The Flats when Tech was so unwilling to let the Bulldogs even talk to basketball player Robert Carter.
Carter, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward from Snellville, reportedly was interested in talking to UGA when he decided to leave Tech a year ago. The Bulldogs had been one of Carter’s finalists where he was being recruited out of Shiloh High School.
But the Yellow Jackets refused to give coach Mark Fox permission to correspond with Carter when he made that request after last season. Carter ended up transferring to Maryland, where he is being redshirted this season.
“First of all, you’d need to ask Robert Carter if he would have considered Georgia,” McGarity said. “I don’t know if he had any interest. But at that time, we did not receive permission to contact him and that was the issue.”
Bobinski and McGarity have revisited that scenario in light of Green’s developments. They’re both in New York this week attending National Football Foundation awards banquet and an athletic director’s summit.
“He’s in agreement,” McGarity said. “We’ve mostly just been exchanging texts since I became aware of J.J.’s desire to transfer to Tech. I reached out to Mike and wanted to make sure this was going to be a reciprocal agreement we have between institutions and he was in agreement with that.”
3. The reality is if a student-athlete wants to go somewhere bad enough, there is an appeals process that can facilitate that. Carter, for instance, could have applied for a waiver and had his case heard by a faculty committee convened by the institution if he wanted to go to Georgia bad enough.
“A faculty committee is going to be pro-student in almost every case,” McGarity said. “Unless that student has been in trouble or had grade issues or something like that, or if we knew a coach from another institution had encouraged the transfer, those are all extenuating reasons you might not. But that was not the case here and that’s why Mark (Richt) offered an unconditional release.”
Of course, that’s the way student-athletes and college administrators look at it. Football fans view it entirely differently — especially when the move comes less than two weeks after losing to said rival.
4. Traditionally, there hasn’t been that much transfer movement between the two rivals when it comes to athletes in non-Olympic sports. Most of it has been of the Georgia to Tech variety.
Tech quarterback John Dewberry famously started his career at Georgia and came back to beat the Bulldogs in Athens in 1984. More recently, center Dan Miller signed with Georgia out of Loganville but then asked for – and was granted – a release after the Bulldogs dismissed coach Dennis Felton. Miller ended up being a four-year letterman for the Jackets and scored more than 1,000 points in his career.
“The most important thing is the happiness of a young person,” McGarity said. “If people have a problem with that, then I’m sorry.”
5. Speaking of McGarity, there was a lot of reaction – both positive and negative – to his recent comments that he would evaluate the job Richt did this year after the bowl game. Judging from the comments I heard and received, some viewed that as McGarity putting Richt on notice. Others were outraged that a man that will be going for his eighth season of 10 or more wins in 14 would be subjected to such scrutiny.
The truth is, it’s simply the annual process McGarity employs for all of Georgia’s coaches in every sport. And the review can work both ways for the coaches, both positively and negatively.
For instance, it has recently come to light that, because of rampant pay increases for football coaches across the league, Richt has fallen in the pecking order when it comes to SEC coaches’ salaries. Depending on what the final numbers reveal when new contracts are finalized, it appears that Richt’s $3.2 million base compensation will drop from sixth in the league to somewhere among the bottom three or four.
First, it’s important to recognize the reasons for that. Several of the league’s traditional lower-tier coaches are receiving significant boosts. Mississippi’s Hugh Freeze reportedly is being bumped by $1 million a year to $4 in his new contract deal and Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (currently $3 million) is in discussions for a similar increase. Both will play in “access” bowls this season and Freeze (if not Mullen as well) was contacted about the Florida opening.
Tennessee’s Butch Jones got a raise after a 6-6 season. He was approached by Michigan about its coaching vacancy. Even Kentucky’s Mark Stoops received a midseason raise and accepted a new $26 million deal. That was after a 5-1 start (never mind what the Wildcats did after that).
In every case except Stoops, there was either job interest from other programs or significant season accomplishments made. That’s not the case with Georgia this season. However, is not to say the Bulldogs won’t make an adjustment with regard to Richt after the season.
“The only thing I’ll say is, we’ll wait to the season is over, until the bowl is over, and look at the season in its entirety,” McGarity said. “I don’t think anybody should read anything into that other than that’s just what we do. What others are doing doesn’t change our method of operation.
“Once the season is over, we’ll review like we do with every coach. We’ll review it in its entirety. Other institutions had their reasons to do certain things at certain times.”
6. With the regular season behind them, Georgia’s football coaches hit the recruiting trail hard when the open period began on Dec. 1. And they’re not just working on 2015 prospects.
Word is the Bulldogs are working hard to keep several of their draft-eligible underclassmen on board for the 2015 season. Georgia has several players that would appear to be in position to have to make some kind of decision on whether or not to consider the NFL draft.
First and foremost among them is ooutside linebacker Leonard Floyd. Though he is only a sophomore, the 6-foot-4, 220 athlete was redshirted as he attended prep school and therefore meets the requirement of being three years removed from high school to be considered for the draft. Some mock drafts have projected Floyd as a potential first-round selection, though his actual NFL rating is not available for public consumption.
Fellow outside linebacker Jordan Jenkins and wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, both juniors, are also reportedly highly-regarded by NFL scouts and may have decisions to make. They’ll all apply to the NFL Player Association’s advisory board for a draft grade.
UGA also supplies these players with resources to make an informed decision. The Bulldogs contract with Cornerstone Sports Consulting and former NFL executive Joe Mendes to counsel student-athletes about their professional prospects.
7. Freshman Nick Chubb was named SEC freshman of the year as well as first-team all-conference by The Associated Press. Chubb was one of nine Bulldogs to receive mention in polling of writers around the league.
Chubb, a 5-foot-10, 228-pound tailback from Cedartown, not only was tabbed the best freshman in the league, he was also named a first-team, All-SEC running back. Chubb took over as the Bulldogs’ starter after Todd Gurley was suspended for breaking NCAA rules before the season’s sixth game. Chubb proceeded become the first freshman in UGA history to rush for 100 or more yards in seven consecutive games. He finished the regular season with 1,281 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Senior linebacker Amarlo Herrera, who finished second in the league with 112 tackles, was the only other Bulldogs to receive first-team All-SEC distinction. Seventy-one of Herrera’s stops were solo and he led the team with 10 tackles for loss.
Four Georgia players made second team: Senior center David Andrews, sophomore guard Greg Pyke, senior linebacker Ramik Wilson and senior cornerback Damian Swann. Earning honorable mention were junior offensive tackle John Theus, sophomore safety Quincy Mauger and Floyd.
8. Expect the Georgia football team to have a new strength and conditioning director in place by the early in the new year.
That was the word from Richt, who was asked recently about the search to replace Joe Tereshinski Jr. Tereshinski, 61, was forced out shortly after the regular season ended.
“We’re in the process of interviewing some folks and talking about what might be the best for us,” Richt said. “Coach Tereshinski did a great job. He’s always been a great Bulldog and will continue to be one. We appreciate all his efforts and the rest of the strength staff. But we’re going to be making a new move in that direction and we’re excited about where we land with it.”
Asked what the Bulldogs were looking for in the new coach, Richt said: “The bottom line here is we believe in playing a physical brand of football on both sides of the ball. We want to be able to play physical. There’s certain teams that you play that will be teams that will pound the ball or have a physical style of play. We certainly have a physical style of play on offense, with also the ability to throw the ball as good as anybody. We’re very balanced in what we do. So it’s going to be important there.
“But there are some teams that spread and go fast. So we want to be able to be physical, but recover quickly and go be physical again. And so that’ll be a big part of what we’re doing, is to train our team to be able to handle anything that could possibly come up in a ballgame, as far as the physical part of it as well as the mental part that comes with it. It gets developed in your off-season program.”
9. Georgia’s gymanstics team will hold its annual Sneak Peek intrasquad meet Sunday at 2 p.m. at Stegeman Coliseum. The 2015 team will showcase its latest routines with the top competitors on each event. Following the competition, there will be a pizza party for kids in the Suzanne Yoculan Gymnastics Center lounge.
Coach Danna Durante returns most of last year’s team that finish fifth nationally, which was the Gym Dogs best finish since the 2009 national championship season.
10. This & that: Senior David Andrews is one of six finalists for the Rimington Award, which goes to the nation’s top center. … Junior guard Kenny Gaines is supposed to undergo an MRI today on his right shoulder. Initial reports were that the Bulldogs’ third-leading scorer suffered a severe sprain when he had to leave the Colorado game with 12 minutes to play this past Sunday. The Bulldogs (5-3) are off until Dec. 22 when they play host to Seton Hall. … McGarity said he is still interviewing candidates for Georgia’s women’s soccer vacancy.