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Mark Richt tackles ‘winning at all costs’ issue in college football

Mark Richt AP

And, given the slew of NCAA run-ins at multiple big (and not-so-big) programs over the past year, there’s certainly a lot of it in the sport.

At fan Q&A last week, Georgia coach Mark Richt addressed the controversial issues of grayshirting and oversigning — two very common practices in the SEC that have been a part of the “win at all costs” mentality in college football.

Then again, last time I checked, the SEC has won the past five BCS National Championships.

While oversigning has become a frustrating, hot-button issue for certain college presidents (and NBC bloggers alike), several coaches within the SEC have practiced it ritualistically.

Richt, when asked about oversigning, said he feels he’s an anomaly.

“If you bring them [recruits] in in the summer, and you work them and you let your strength staff work with them, and you kind of decide which ones you like the best, and you tell five of them, ‘Hey we know we signed you, and we expected you to be able to come in, we don’t have space for you, we’re really sorry about that but we don’t have space for you – you’re gonna have to leave and come back in January.’

“I think that’s an awful thing to do, I think that’s the wrong thing to do. And it’s nothing that we’ve done since I’ve been at Georgia.”

The NCAA limit per signing class is 25, but that does not include early enrollees. For the record, Georgia has signed more than the allotted 25 players three times over the past decade (Rivals.com).

But while Richt insists he’s never ousted a kid in Athens simply because there wasn’t enough space, he did mention he’s endorsed another common, and certainly polarizing, practice: grayshirting.

“Not that we haven’t grayshirted, or talked to guys about grayshirting,” Richt said. “If you tell five of those guys ‘Hey we’ve got 20 spaces. I can sign 25. There’s a good chance that by school starts there’ll be room for you, because of the attrition that happens every year everywhere you go. If there’s space for you, you come in with your class. If there’s not space for you, are you willing to come in in January?’

“If you tell them on the front end and they know that, everyone understands that, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. And that’s how we go about it if we’re going to talk to a guy about grayshirting.”

Richt is one of the classiest guys in college football, no doubt. His team has struggled recently on the field and his players have had their fair share of the off-the-field issues, but there’s still something to be said for trying to go about things the right way.

And barring some Tressel-like scandal, it appears Richt, whether he has a job after next year or not, is content to at least try and win without the cost of throwing a select group of his kids under the proverbial bus.

“There’s been a bit too much of the winning at all costs in college football,” Richt said. “And I hope the tide turns in the other direction.”

Admirable, to be sure.

But, unfortunately, as long as billions of dollars in television deals, booster donations and coaching (and player?) salaries are poured into the sport, it won’t.
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17 Responses to “Mark Richt tackles ‘winning at all costs’ issue in college football”
  1. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 6:48 PM

    “Tressel-Like Scandal.”
    I like that. It has a genuine sound to it.

  2. lbijake says: May 15, 2011 8:09 PM

    “Tressel-Like Scandal.”

    Is this term destined to become part of the American idiom such as Watergate and Deep Throat. Yhe Vest must be so proud.

  3. iamtalkingsolistenandlearn says: May 15, 2011 10:15 PM

    It’s the new slang for shady unsavory characters.
    Like a con artist is a Tressel.
    The gold digging skank is a Tressel.

    Or the victim of a shady dealing ” got Tresseled”

    Polygraph tests will now be called Tressel Tests

  4. overratedgators says: May 15, 2011 10:37 PM

    “Tressel-Like” doesn’t roll off the editorial tongue. I think it’s those double “L”s.

    “Tresselian”? “Tresselific”?

    Oooo! Wait …

    “Tressticular”.

    Bam.

  5. thompgk says: May 15, 2011 11:47 PM

    Thats pretty unbelievable coming from him. Really.

    I mean, he is the king of the 1st half suspensions for the dozens of arrests he gets every year.

  6. Ben Kercheval says: May 16, 2011 6:50 AM

    My vote is for Tresticular.

  7. blitzburghgator says: May 16, 2011 10:01 AM

    I’m a Gator, but Richt is right.

    Grey-shirting is fine if you tell a kid up front he might have to wait until the following January to go on scholarship, and he still wants to sign with you.

    Not being upfront, or even worse, finding a reason to get rid of one kid to fit another in (reffered to as “Saban-ing”)….are both disgraceful tactics, and coaches should be punished for that nonsense.

  8. blitzburghgator says: May 16, 2011 10:04 AM

    And before the grammar cops arrive…. “referring”

  9. burntorangehorn says: May 16, 2011 10:06 AM

    I agree with Richt on grayshirting. It’s not as good as being able to give a scholarship to every player the coach wants, but it does mean a kid who really wants to play for a university, and trusts the coach enough for a handshake, will eventually get that scholarship–if he works hard.

    I also agree with him on oversigning, and that’s why I do not respect coaches who do it or fans who ignore it.

  10. Deb says: May 16, 2011 11:00 AM

    Saban signed 22 to Richt’s 25 this year, blitzburghgator. Do we have a tally on how many Urban usually signed?

  11. blitz4848 says: May 16, 2011 11:13 AM

    @Deb

    This statement was made April 20th and is a University of Florida policy! The Gators also DO NOT sign academically ineligible players and then place them in JUCOs!!!!!

    University of Florida President Bernie Machen is an outspoken leader against this practice and will bring it to the floor at SEC meeting and try to get it outlawed in the SEC……

    Muschamp also addressed the oversigning and grayshirting of athletes that has become a recent subject of concern in some areas.

    “I think there is some gray area involved with all of it,” he said.”Now, you’re able to sign players back (previous year) as long as you’re under your 85 (scholarship) total. So does that count against the 28 you signed in February? Right now it doesn’t.

    “Again, at Florida, we don’t grayshirt. That’s not something that we do; it’s not a policy of ours. We don’t place students; that’s not a policy of ours. That’s not something that I’m going to cross that bridge on right now because it’s not something that we do or is part of what we’re going to do.”

    http://www.gatorsports.com/article/20110420/ARTICLES/110429960/1136/GATORS01?Title=SEC-call-Muschamp-says-he-s-looking-for-leaders

  12. Deb says: May 16, 2011 12:22 PM

    @blitz4848 …

    Darlin’, you didn’t need to do so much research to reply to a comment blitzburghgator had coming.

    And Urban didn’t need to grayshirt anyone to JUCO when he was sending soooo many to the local jail.

  13. blitz4848 says: May 16, 2011 12:29 PM

    @Deb

    None stayed in jail more than a few hours as we have good lawyers. That didn’t affect the roster count at all.

    If it were Saban if they weren’t on the 2 deep he would have had them released in grey shirts!

  14. frug says: May 16, 2011 12:39 PM

    Why not just institute a rule requiring a player to be accepted by the university before he can be given a scholorship? Seems like an easy way to reduce the oversigning/grey shirting problem.

  15. Deb says: May 16, 2011 1:21 PM

    @blitz …

    If it were Saban … but it wasn’t because the one place Bama couldn’t compete with Urban was on arrest rates ;)

    Seriously, though, I’m not wild about the practice, but I think the reason it doesn’t bother me as much as it does some of the more pious commenters is the same reason I didn’t wig out when Simon Cowell slammed contestants on American Idol: That’s life in the business.

    Music, acting, journalism, professional sports are tough worlds. If you want to make your living that way, you’d better be able to handle cold, hard realities like people taking the best you have to give and shredding it while you watch. Colleges are now recruiting kids in puberty. If you go pro, you have to be prepared to compete every day of your life from Pop Warner through retirement. Why would getting onto a college team be any different? Nothing is a given.

    Some of those kids won’t make it because they don’t have the work ethic, the temperament, the physical stamina, the academic potential, they get hurt, or whatever. Coaches can’t just bring in the requisite number of bodies and assume they’re all winners. Their jobs are on the line, too.
    If they’re not good enough to fight for their places, they’re not good enough. College football is a multi-billion-dollar sport, not a charity. Sorry.

  16. overratedgators says: May 16, 2011 4:32 PM

    @Ben:

    It’s official then. Outbreaks of ethical lapses by college coaching staff shall henceforth be referred to as “Tresticular Cancer”.

  17. waynefontes says: May 18, 2011 6:55 AM

    If there’s anyone who doesn’t believe in “winning at all costs” over the last two years, it’s Mark Richt.

    At least he’s still better than Ray Goof and Jim Donnan.

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