When Richt handed over play-calling duties to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo after the 2006 season, he envisioned his schedule would open up a little. Then, he went and filled up most of that free time by scheduling individual meetings with all 126 Bulldogs, from senior starters to freshman walk-ons.
“It’s really kept me pretty busy,” he said with a chuckle “I might have overextended again.”
From 8:30 to 10:15 a.m. Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Monday, Richt is spending 15 minutes at a time with his players, asking them about their lives on and off the field.
“That’s really how I ended up getting Mitchell Pittman in the (Mississippi) game,” Richt said.
Richt, who is a month into his meetings, had his meeting with Pittman recently.
“He was saying there is nothing negative he could think of, she just said, ‘I sure would love to play just one play before I left here.’ Then, in the game, when we had an opportunity. It just crossed my mind in the right time.”
The No. 12 Bulldogs (4-1, 2-1 SEC) take on Tennessee (2-2, 0-1) Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn. The game will be televised by CBS.
Richt always has had a good relationship with his players, senior offensive linemen Chester Adams said, but the relationship with even his most notable players was superficial at best due to the time constraints of all his responsibilities as head coach and play-caller.
“You are going breakneck speed, and you just don’t have time to sit there and chat with somebody,” Richt said. “I think most of (the players) appreciate (the meetings). I’m sure some of them are like, ‘What are we doing this for coach?’”
In the afternoons, Richt gets back to the Xs and Os of coaching, breaking down game film and coming up with ideas. When he thinks of something, he’ll pass it along to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, usually in the form of a note.
“I just kind of write down a few thoughts and hand them to Mike and say, ‘Use them if youwant, if you don’t it won’t hurt my feelings,’” Richt said. “It’s always nice to have an idea here and there because you get dry after a while.”
Richt tries very hard not to stifle Bobo or dictate the game plan, he said.
“I don’t want (Bobo) to be another Coach Richt in the way he thinks; I want to see what he’ll come up with given the freedom to do it,” Richt said. “Football is changing. It’s evolving at all times. That’s part of the reason I felt like it was important to turn it over to Mike because I didn’t have time just to stay on top of every single thing.”
Richt even makes occasional suggestions to defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, which Martinez likes, he said.
“I’ll say there are certain things that you do that I think will give people trouble, but I’ve never been real specific to say I want you doing this and I want you doing it now.”
The main difference on game days is the night before, Richt said.
“I am less anxious than I was when I had to call the game,” he said.
During the game, Richt is more aware of the totality of the action than he was in the past, Martinez said.
“He was always asking me what went wrong, what was going on,” Martinez said. “Now he knows what’s going on with everything. It’s really good on game day just from the standpoint of seeing what’s going on on defense, seeing what’s going on on offense.”