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Gator Report

Antonya English

Mark Richt's explanation and apology - one last time

24

July

HOOVER, Ala. - Georgia coach Mark Richt apologized, once again on Thursday, for the end zone celebration after scoring its first touchdown against the Gators in a 42-30 victory last season that drew the ire of fans and, even some coaches.

Richt said he didn't intend for the incident to be played out as it was, and reminded reporters at SEC Media Days that he called Meyer the next day and apologized.

Here's is the full transcript of Richt's explanation of the event:

"Yeah, I'm going to tell you what happened.  We played Tennessee.  We got no fire.  We got to have fire. I knew I needed to get better at that.  I'm not talking to the team or coaches or anything.  I'm deciding I'm going to get all exuberant, and maybe I can rally the troops against Vanderbilt. We're losing 10-0 at halftime.  I don't see a whole lot more emotion in that game.  We win by the skin of our teeth. We have an open date before Florida.  Then I announce to the team, Man, we are going to have to have more enthusiasm and energy or we're not gonna win.  I said, Even if we got to fake it, we're gonna have more energy. Then I said, As a matter of fact, after the first score against Florida, I want you guys to celebrate so hard that the referees throw the flag.

Now, I'm thinking in my mind, my little pea brain, 11 guys in the game, score a touchdown, 11 guys jump up and down and celebrate until the official throws the flag.  That's my intention of what I had said.  I actually did it a couple years when I was offensive coordinator at Florida State.  I never had the authority to have a whole team do something like that. I was just kind of going back to finding a way to get guys
jacked up. Well, anyway, we got two weeks before the game. We're preparing for that game. I got guys scoring a touchdown against a scout team, spiking the ball.  I got a guy scoring against the scout team and dunking it over the goalpost. I have a guy scoring against the scout team and pretending he's throwing the ball in the stands.  I'm watching this thing as it's going on thinking, That's not the way it's gonna happen.

Right before we left the hotel to go play Florida, I said, Man, I want a little housekeeping before this
game.  I says, Number one, I am going to stay true to my word and let you celebrate after the score.  But I don't   want some individual to do a little dance or throw the ball in the stands.  I said, The reality is the defense is  probably going to set that score up. I said, You're gonna have teammates probably blocking for you.  You have 50 guys back home on that scout team that prepared you to get in the end zone.  So it's not an individual celebration. I want it to be a team celebration.

Again, I'm still thinking 11 guys celebrating. Well, somebody in the crowd thought I meant everybody.  The other thing I said in that housekeeping thing, I said, First of all, if we don't score a touchdown in the first  half, we're not celebrating anything.  I said, I don't want to celebrate when we're down 31-7 or 31-6.

So, anyway, we go to the game.  Sure enough, defense gets a turnover. Offensive line blocks them down the field. We score the touchdown. Then, bang, guys start leaving the sideline. I was in shock as much as anybody else. My initial reaction is, Oh, heck, you know, what's going on (smiling)? Then I'll say this:  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. Now, I didn't even think that it could probably have turned into a melee.  The other thing I didn't think about was that thing was under review.  If that thing wasn't a score, it would have been third and 30, you know? That would have been ugly. But, again, I had no intention for our team to clear the bench.

Now, I called Urban, I called Coach Meyer on Sunday.  I told him what I told you. I said, I was a coach
desperate to try to get some enthusiasm, and I was willing to take a 15 yard penalty. Now, in hindsight, I asked the team to do an unsportsmanlike act, because it's called unsportsmanlike conduct, excessive celebration. 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.

That's as truthful as I can tell you what happened.

[Last modified: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 12:30pm]

    

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