University of Georgia

Richt, Fox preach the good news for Georgia fans

Mark Richt sat in the low-slung wooden beach chairs on the sand at the Walnut Creek Shooting Preserve and talked with the media for about 20 minutes before a long picture session with fans and the beginning of Macon UGA Day festivities.

And perhaps the most notable thing he said was worth referencing because it was in the “no news is good news” category.

“I think every guy who’s injured or had an injury (will be cleared by June),” Richt said, noting former Dodge County standout Leonard Floyd among the group. “I can’t think of one guy that has a limitation.”

If that holds, then the Bulldogs will be a seriously healthy collection when they gather in a few months for preseason camp.

Richt and men’s basketball head coach Mark Fox addressed the 300 or so on a pleasant spring evening of barbecue and Georgia-related music and highlights, and both were able to spend it talking of pretty much all positive stuff from last season and what’s ahead.

Except for those who want to know who Georgia’s quarterback will be.

New women’s basketball head coach Joni Crenshaw was introduced, as well, on the penultimate stop on the summer tour, the coaches taking off until the July 27 gathering in Atlanta at the College Football Hall of Fame.

The next stop of note is the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Florida, starting Tuesday. Richt expects cost of attendance to be a dominant topic.

“That’s my main theme,” Richt said. “I hope there can be a resolution in regard to some equity. From a recruiting standpoint, that’s my biggest concern.”

Schools have shown markedly different values in the same cost of attendance standards, which becomes a recruiting advantage in how much aid a player gets.

“I would like to think that league-wide, we might be able to do some things, possibly,” Richt said. “But I really don’t know that for sure. As far as nationwide, it would probably take a little longer to get something like that done would be my guess.

“But I’d have to think that coaches all around the nation are really concerned about it now.”

Richt had to answer the requisite question during his time on stage about the quarterback situation, and he had pretty much the same answer: won’t know until somebody wins the job.

The running back corps, led by Nick Chubb, should be at full strength when preseason begins, and Richt likes what he hopes will be season-long depth at the position.

A fan asked if Sony Michel would get more carries this season.

“Before Sony got hurt, we were actually putting him in the game before we put Chubb in the game,” Richt said. “That’s how good we thought Sony Michel was, is. Sony’s a heck of a back, too.”

Fox had a similarly positive health report on basketball players Kenny Gaines (foot) and Juwan Parker (Achilles), that their rehabilitation from injuries was on schedule and should be ready this summer.

It was an odd health season for his team, which had everything from “tonsillitis to a concussion, another concussion, another concussion, a broken wrist, a broken face, a torn Achilles, a broken wrist,” said Fox of a partial list of injuries the Bulldogs overcame to reach the NCAA tournament. “They kept buying in.”

His sport is starting to address a variety of rule changes passed last week, ranging from a shorter shot clock to fewer timeouts. He didn’t think either of those would have the impact some believe.

“I do think that the five-second closely-guarded could be something that can be utilized, if you have the right player, to your advantage,” Fox said. “A guy like Charles (Mann) with his size (6-foot-5, 215 pounds), that could be something that we might be able to take advantage of.”

The men’s team is having a quiet start to the summer, as well, and it’s off to a positive start with the news that it was one of three from Georgia that was cited by the NCAA for its outstanding APR report. Fox’s team had a 990.

“The kids deserve all the credit for it,” said Fox, who has agreed to a contract extension and raise that is expected to be approved Thursday by Georgia’s athletics association board of directors, the Athens Banner-Herald reported Wednesday night. “And our academic people. There’s a lot of support behind them.”

He told the crowd that fan support last season was a huge difference in the Bulldogs cracking the 20-win mark for the second consecutive season, a program first, and making the NCAA tournament again.

“When we fill it like we did this year it makes a huge difference for our team,” he said of Stegeman Coliseum. “We beat a lot of teams at home. We beat the (Florida) Gators because of our fan base. Our fans were just terrific.”

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