ATLANTA -- Mark Richt will turn 52 in February. His mentor, Bobby Bowden, was three decades older by the time he retired.
Richt smiled Friday when asked how long he envisions being Georgia’s head coach.
“I don’t know if I’ll give the Bobby Bowden answer or not. But what Coach Bowden used to say, as long as I’m healthy, as long as Georgia wants me,” Richt said. “That’s kind of how I feel. I don’t know; life can change things. But when I came to Georgia, my goal was for Georgia to be the last stop for me.”
The overriding story of Georgia’s football season had been the future of Richt and his staff. While it started out bleak, as the Bulldogs kept winning, 10 in a row, it has seemed to become a foregone conclusion that he had indeed saved his job.
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The first question he was asked at Friday’s news conference was whether any part of him wanted to send a message to his detractors. Richt laughed and just said several times that he was “thankful” for how the season has turned out.
“We’ve had a lot of really special times with this team this year, and I’ve enjoyed it maybe as much as any season that I’ve coached,” Richt said.
Richt is wrapping up his 11th season as a head coach, all at Georgia, and carries a 106-36 record into Saturday’s game. This is his seventh 10-win season.
LSU head coach Les Miles has weathered his own criticisms through the years.
“How much better are you gonna get than Mark Richt? That’s a great coach,” Miles said.
Richt supports rematch
Not surprisingly, Richt was voicing support for two fellow conference foes to meet up in the BCS championship game.
Even if Georgia were to knock off LSU, Richt feels LSU should get a rematch with Alabama in New Orleans.
“If you go by how the BCS is set up. If you look at all the one-loss team, if in fact they became a one-loss team, just look at who they played,” Richt said. “Absolutely I would think they would be a shoo-in to play.”
Richt added that those who didn’t like the first Alabama-LSU game, which finished with a 9-6 LSU win, “don’t understand football, to me. Some people might want more offensive fireworks. But you talk about drama and every play meaning something, and great defense, great players, great coaches. It was a heck of a ballgame.”
Four years ago, Georgia was in a somewhat similar position, in contention for the BCS championship game without winning the SEC East. Asked about that year, Richt said he didn’t agree then that Georgia needed to win the SEC to be in the BCS title game, so he doesn’t agree now that either Alabama or LSU has to win the SEC.
Defensive end DeAngelo Tyson and tailback Richard Samuel, both dealing with ankle injuries, each made the trip for the game. But Richt didn’t sound optimistic about either playing.
“If they do play, they’ll be gutting it out,” he said.
It also doesn’t seem likely that guard Dallas Lee will play. The sophomore had been ahead of schedule after fracturing his fibula in October, but he was limping noticeably on the field during Friday’s walk-through.