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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Over-signing not a simple issue, but about 'integrity,' says Richt

MACON - Mark Richt clearly wasn’t comfortable being the main voice against over-signing. It may have drawn praise from fans and media, but it put the Georgia head coach on the opposite side from most of his peers in the SEC.

So two weeks ago at the league meetings in Destin, Richt tempered his rhetoric on the issue, and supposedly voted with the 11 other coaches to keep the limit at 28 signees per class. The SEC presidents over-ruled them and whittled the limit down to 25.

The controversy may have receded, but Richt still has some thoughts. That said, he was hesitant again about imparting them on Tuesday, as he met the media at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

Richt had been ruminating about larger issues in athletics, when he was finally asked about over-signing. The coach began by treading lightly.

“Lemme just say this. I don’t know if I should say this,” Richt said, looking over at Claude Felton, UGA’s associate athletics director for communications. “I shouldn’t say this. Keep my mouth shut.”

Then, clearly out of consideration for the media, Richt spoke anyway.

“Over-signing, I’ll just say this. You guys can figure it out: Eighty-five on scholarship. If 15 guys leave, how many do you have room for? Eighty-five you have on scholarship, and that’s the limit right? It’s not a trick question. If 15 guys leave, how much room do you have.”

Fifteen, a reporter finally answered.

“Thank you for being brave enough to answer that,” Richt said, smiling. “OK. How many are allowed to sign?”


“Is 25 more than 15?” Richt said. “So I don’t know if you catch my drift of what I’m trying to say.”

Is his drift that the rule should be more like the Big Ten, which ties it’s signing limits to the 85 overall scholarship limit, and not per class?

“No, I’m not saying the rule – all I’m saying is you can still over-sign at 25,” Richt said. “If you only have room for 15 and you sign 25 you still sign more than you’ve got.”

Then he got to his main point.

“The question is everybody’s integrity. That’s the question. Are we all gonna do things in the right way,” Richt said. “And I think everybody’s trying to. It’s not an easy thing to manage, it really is not. Because on signing day, if you sign right to the 85 number, by the time August rolls around, you might only have 79. You know what I’m saying? Because of the attrition that happens from the signing date to August. And that’s what everyone’s trying to figure out: How can we start the season at 85 and not over-sign.

“So it’s not as simple as maybe everyone wants to make it.”

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