Richt discusses confrontation with referee

semerson@macon.comNovember 19, 2013 

Georgia Auburn Football

Georgia head coach Mark Richt yells instructions to his team during the first half of the Auburn game.

DAVE MARTIN — AP

ATHENS - Mark Richt sensed he was about to get flagged, so he decided to get a shot in, and then the flag game.

At least that's the Georgia head coach's version of what happened last Saturday, when he received what he said is the only unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of his career.

Richt and the Georgia bench were upset that referee Penn Wagers and his crew ruled that Auburn had recovered a fumble. The play happened right in front of Georgia's sideline, and Richt felt Josh Harvey-Clemons had control of the ball. Wagers ruled differently.

That caused Richt and Wagers to exchange some words. Wagers started to walk away, then turned back, according to television replays. Speaking on his radio show Monday night, Richt said he could tell Wagers was about to throw a flag on him. So he wheeled around, away from Wagers, only to find another official right there.

"So I got as close to his face as I could and said: You guys are the best officials in the Southeastern Conference," Richt said, laughing as he recounted it. "Then Penn threw the flag. So I think if he had heard what I said he might not have thrown it. But I think he thought I was continuing on with my opinion of what had happened."

Richt was reminded that Wagers was also the referee in the Florida-Georgia game in 2007.

"Was he?" Richt said, and the crowd assembled for the radio show could be heard laughing. "I don't know what to say."

Richt was in less good humor about the non-call at the end of the game by Wagers and his crew: On the final play of the game, Richt felt a targeting call could have been called against Auburn's Dee Ford on Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray.

"Absolutely it could have. It didn't obviously," Richt said. "You know what, it's amazing, every time you send the film in what they thought of it after the fact, it's really difficult for us to know what is and what isn't a targeting."

The confrontation with Wagers was a lively subject on Richt's radio show, prodded by multiple callers and host Scott Howard.

"I'm not allowed to say much about officiating. I guess the flag was an indication of how I'd been feeling about things for awhile," Richt said. "And I'll say this too: If we're really, really honest, and we're totally unbiased, when you watch film there's some things that we do that probably should've been holding called against us. Or should've been, this that or the other. I guarantee you, as many slices of film we're showing the officials about what we think should have been in our favor, there's just as many that should've been against us. It just feels like it's been a little bit more against us this year then normal."

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