Richt talks about referees, dialogue with SEC

semerson@macon.comNovember 19, 2013 

Georgia head coach Mark Richt leaves the field after the Bulldogs’ 43-38 loss to Auburn at Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

ROBIN TRIMARCHI — rtrimarchi@ledger-enquirer.com

ATHENS - Georgia head coach Mark Richt was still talking three days later about getting flagged against Auburn, and officiating in general.

At one point, Richt was asked about referee Penn Wagers, who flagged him for an unsportsmanlike penalty in the second quarter. Wagers has officiated some other Georgia games that have featured some controversy, so Richt was asked if he had a strained relationship with Wagers.

"Nah. No, I don't," Richt said, starting to smile. "I thought it was funny."

You two seem to have butted heads a lot, a reporter pointed out.

"I don't even know when we have," Richt said. "I should know all the guys better than I do. I probably should be sending them stuff in the offseason. I'm talking about birthday cards and stuff like that."

Richt then recounted the story he told on his show Monday night, about drawing the penalty on Saturday. After arguing with Wagers, he realized the referee was about to pull his flag, so Richt turned to walk away, only to see another official right there. So he went up to that official and said: "I think you guys are the best SEC officials that we have."

But what about before that? Richt was asked if what he said to initially draw Wagers' ire warranted a flag?

Again, Richt smiled.

"I don't even remember what I said, I'll be quite frank," Richt said.

Actually, some audio on the Internet showed that Richt said: "That was crap."

"That might've (it)," Richt said, still smiling.

Shouldn't it require more than that to draw a flag?

"I don't know. I'm glad that's the worse I did," Richt said. "I've done worser in the past. ... I think they'll let you say your piece and get out of there. But I probably said my piece too long."

Richt was upset about the officials ruling that Auburn retained possession on a fumble. The Georgia sideline felt Josh Harvey-Clemons had possession. The officials disagreed, ruling that Harvey-Clemons and the Auburn player had simultaneous possession, in which case it goes to the offense.

One of the other debatable calls in the Auburn game was the final play, when Auburn's Dee Ford hit Aaron Murray just after he threw it. Richt called it a "hard hit," and one that could have been a targeting call.

But Murray disagreed.

"I don't think so," Murray said. "I went back and watched it, because people kept asking me if that was targeting. So I went back and watched the film and he pretty much hit me right in the chest."

Richt speaks regularly with Steve Shaw, the SEC coordinator of officials, who will tell Richt if a call was blown or not.

"He'll say, 'We blew it,' or 'This was a good call.' It's not like every single time he agrees with what happened out there," Richt said. "So I think it makes us feel better to at least hear: Well that should've been called, or that one probably shouldn't have been called. We use it to maybe feel a little bit better about those things. But they also use it to maybe teach their guys to be a little bit better in the future."

But Richt isn't in favor of making those rulings public, the way other conferences and the NFL do.

"That job - I mean what a hard job to officiate a game like that," Richt said. "Because there are so many things that happen that could get called or not called. Things happen super fast. I don't think it should be public, quite frankly. I think the way we do it is the right way to do it. ... I don't think it's healthy to have more of a public conversation."

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