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Booster club season is generally a time of handshakes and smiles, when coaches go out and give pep talks to the fan base at different areas across their state. Jeremy gave us a glimpse at a Gator club event with Urban Meyer in a blog posting yesterday.
But several coaches have made headlines this year with comments they have made at these meetings, lighting up message boards and the blogosphere.
The latest coach to mouth off: Georgia’s Mark Richt, who apparently has a problem with the game between his Bulldogs and the Florida Gators being played in Jacksonville. This seems to be a topic that comes up every year, and it did already this past March, when the Atlanta Sports Council inquired about moving the game to Atlanta. Georgia AD Damon Evans said at the time there were no talks about moving the game.
It seems Richt is unhappy about that. At a booster club meeting in Columbus, Ga., last week, Richt was asked whether the Georgia-Florida game should be played in Georgia sometimes. His response:
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. But when people ask me the question, ‘Do you really think [Jacksonville] is a neutral site?’ I say, ‘No, it’s not neutral.’ When you play in the state of Florida every year –- we fly, they drive; it’s hotter for us, it’s cooler for them. It’s played in a stadium that [used to be called] the Gator Bowl. But what the heck? If nothing else, we’ll make Jacksonville pay more to keep it there. . . . I wouldn’t feel bad having a ‘neutral site’ game in Georgia – in the Georgia Dome.”
His comments follow several others from coaches in the last few months:
FSU coach Bobby Bowden said at his final Bowden Tour stop in West Palm Beach that the NCAA was “stepping out of bounds” with its ruling that could potentially take away 14 of his victories because of a cheating scandal.
Though it didn’t happen at a booster club function, Tennessee coach Lane Kiffin made his cheating allegations against Meyer to fans at a signing day breakfast celebration.
It is understandable that coaches want to fire up their base with rhetoric aimed against big rivals. But at least for Meyer and Richt, these quotes seem uncharacteristic of them. Richt is obviously entitled to his opinion, but his comments somewhat contradict those of Evans. Saying: “I don’t know what’s going to happen is misleading,” considering Evans said the game wasn’t moving, unless Richt knows more than the rest of us.
Meyer’s comments also seemed out of place, especially with over 700 fans there cheering hard for him and what he has accomplished at UF. Winning two national titles in three years should be enough. No need to start picking battles with comments that were made six months earlier following a loss that had all of Gator Nation upset.
Who knew that booster club meetings had the potential to be such newsmakers?
Time for you to weigh in: Are these the types of comments fans want to hear at booster club meetings?
(Photo from 2007, courtesy of AP)