SEC Media Days: Georgia coach finds his fire

HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia Coach Mark Richt is regarded as one of the nice guys in college football. He's God-fearing, doesn't swear, and is generally viewed in stark contrast to the Type A personalities that dominate the sport's landscape.

But that doesn't mean Richt is a softy.

”I hear it all the time, "Mark Richt, he's a true gentleman of the game; he never gets excited,'“ Richt said during Thursday's Southeastern Conference football Media Days activities. ”"He's just kind of calm and stoic.' My family members are just texting me saying, "We know better.' Not that I'm not a gentleman. But I get riled up; I get fired up.“

Richt showed some of that chutzpah last year when he ordered his team to storm the field and celebrate in the end zone after its first touchdown against Florida, a move that resulted in numerous penalty flags. Richt admitted afterward that he told his team that they would have to do extra running if they weren't whistled for excessive celebration. The ploy seemed to work, as Georgia went on to a 42-30 win. Richt said on Thursday that while he was just trying to inject some energy into his team, he won't resort to those types of tactics in the future.

”When I saw the exuberance, when I saw the energy, when I saw the passion and the fire get unleashed that had been dormant in this football team, I got excited; I was fired up,“ Richt said. ”But in hindsight, I shouldn't have done it. I won't do anything like that again. It could have easily turned into a big, stupid brawl and everything else.“

Hogs still on Nutt's mind

New Mississippi Coach Houston Nutt didn't try to pretend that his return trip to Arkansas on Oct. 25 was no big deal.

Nutt resigned at Arkansas after 10 years, a tenure that was marred by controversy and fan discontent his final couple of seasons. Nutt signed on at Mississippi just hours after leaving Arkansas.

”You can't help but think about it,“ he said. ”You grew up in Arkansas. You thought at one time you'd be there for life. I had 10 great years of experience there working with some great people. We won three (SEC West) titles. So we had some great days, great times there. You can't help but think what it's gonna be like coming in from the visitor side.

”But quickly my mind goes back to Memphis (Mississippi's season-opening opponent).“

Saban respondsto Miles' jab

LSU Coach Les Miles made waves earlier this week when speaking to a group of Tigers supporters in New Orleans.

According to the Times-Picayune, Miles was talking about his team's 41-34 win over Alabama last year when he made the following statement: ”Don't make too much of that game; as it seems like a lot of teams from Louisiana beat that team.“

Alabama lost at home to Louisiana-Monroe last fall. Alabama Coach Nick Saban, whom Miles replaced at LSU, was surprisingly diplomatic when asked about the comment on Thursday.

”Well, he told the truth,“ Saban said. ”He told it like it was.

”Private Ryan told Tom Hanks on the bridge after 12 guys got killed getting him out of there, Tom Hanks says, "Earn this.' We need to earn the respect. That's what we'll work to do. That's what we're trying to do.“

Rules changes

SEC supervisor of officials Rogers Redding discussed the rules changes that will take place in 2008.

The 25-second clock that's used when the ball is marked for play will go to 40 seconds. The referee will not declare the ball ready for play; it will be ready for play when the umpire places the ball on the ground and steps away.

Also, when a player goes out of bounds, the clock will start when the ball is ready for play instead of starting on the snap.

The 5-yard face-mask penalty has also been scrapped. There will be no penalties for grabbing and releasing a face mask, but there will still be a 15-yard penalty for twisting, turning or pulling a face mask.

The instant replay rules have also been tweaked. Field goal attempts can now be reviewed to see if a kick actually was good. The officials also can review plays after the ball carrier has been ruled down. In the past, if the player was ruled down, the play could not be reviewed.

Coaches will continue to have one review challenge per game, but if the first challenge is successful, the coach retains it and may use it again during a game.