Bulldogs Beat

Pruitt says UGA needs and will get an indoor practice facility

ATHENS - The Georgia football team didn't hold a full practice on Tuesday, thanks to the weather, and Jeremy Pruitt wasn't happy about it. He wasn't happy that it had to happen, and he said he wasn't happy that he knew rival schools would be using it against the Bulldogs on the recruiting trail.

So Georgia's first-year defensive coordinator, who has been reluctant to meet with the media, did so on Tuesday. Pruitt said he wanted recruits to know that UGA is in the process of getting an indoor practice facility, and that "this team is the last one" that would have to deal without having one.

"I've been on the other side when you recruit against Georgia, and when you don't practice you don't get better, so that hurts player development," Pruitt said. "The reason I came up here (to meet the media) is because we're fixing to take care of that. And this is gonna be the last football team at Georgia that's gonna have days where they don't get better because of not having an indoor facility. Because I know our folks upstairs are gonna get it done."

That appears to be the case eventually, but athletics director Greg McGarity said having an indoor facility ready for next season was "impossible." The UGA athletic board has to approve the project, and all that it did in September was approve a design study. The two proposed locations are on the existing Butts-Mehre football facility, or near the soccer complex, which is nearly off-campus.

"We're moving as quickly as possible," McGarity said Tuesday night. "But it's impossible to be ready by 2015. There's just so much to do."

UGA hired an architect for the project last week. The next step is to update the athletics board in February on the project, perhaps on the location and the size, and the "general aspects" of it. McGarity said he couldn't put a date on the earliest possible time a new facility would open.

"We're in the very first stages," McGarity said. "But we're working as quickly as we can."

Pruitt said a rival team's recruiting pitch against Georgia would have the lack of an indoor facility as a main talking point. That's because it said something larger about UGA's commitment to football.

"I know our competitors are not gonna say anything bad about the coaching staff here. They're not gonna say anything bad about the people here, because it's a great place," Pruitt said. "But what they're gonna say - and that they've always said is - how important is football to Georgia if they don't have an indoor practice facility? Well they won't be able to say that anymore."

It was pointed out to Pruitt that until this year he had been one of those rival coaches recruiting against Georgia. Had he used it in recruiting?

"I wondered that," he said. "I mean what are you gonna say about coach (Mark) Richt? He's one of the finest men out there. A good football coach, check his track record. Coach (Mike) Bobo, what he's done here. It's hard to say anything."

Pruitt was asked if, in general, the football program gets what it needs from the administration.

"Well I've not been here long enough to know that," Pruitt said, hired this past January. "But I wouldn't have come here if I didn't think that."

Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo has been at the school for more than a decade. He said he was "excited at the possibility" of getting an indoor facility.

"November and December in bowl practice around here, sometimes they're brutal," Bobo said. "The big picture, the offseason, the summer pass (practice) the kids do, there's a lot of things that could enhance their ability to perform better on Saturday, and become better athletes on the field. And I definitely think it's gonna help us."

Pruitt wanted to make it clear that he wasn't being "negative," that he wasn't pressuring UGA's administration. He said his message was aimed at recruits, because he had already seen media reports about Georgia not being able to hold a full practice on Tuesday, and figured rival teams would use it against them.

"This is gonna be the last team (that doesn't have an indoor facility), because those guys upstairs, they're serious," Pruitt said. "They're trying to figure out the fastest way they can get us one. And soon as they can figure out how it can be done they're gonna be doing it. And I want the recruits to know that they're not gonna suffer because of it."

Georgia didn't practice outside on Tuesday because of the cold and what Pruitt said were 20 mph winds. The Bulldogs could have tried because it wasn't raining, but it wouldn't have been very productive, according to Pruitt.

Not that the indoor practice was that productive either. The facility is about 15 yards wide and 20 yards long, making it very cramped. Pruitt compared it to his living room.

"You know how you used to play football in the living room? You knew not to run it over there to the coffee table where it had pointed edges," Pruitt said.

Alabama, where Pruitt coached for six years before going to FSU, had an indoor practice facility, and it was used even in good weather. During fall camp, Pruitt recalled, they would go inside every Thursday just to escape the heat.

Pruitt said his understanding that the Bulldogs ran into practice problems because of the weather the week of the 2004 and 2011 SEC championship games.

Mike Ekeler, the team's inside linebackers coach, just came from another school that doesn't have an indoor practice facility: Southern California. But the weather is so nice every day there that one isn't necessary, and there wasn't a day last year, according to Ekeler, when they could have used one.

But Georgia could have on Tuesday.

"We need one. I mean it's crazy, it's amazing we don't have one," Ekeler said. "It's absolutely crazy. It's absurd. But that's not my (decision). But I'm sure that will happen, surely."