ATHENS, Ga. -- For now, the USA Today Sports Coaches Poll still matters in college football, and Georgia coach Mark Richt plans to keep participating despite recent discussions about how voting creates a conflict of interest.
“All I know is what I do. I do my best,” Richt said Friday. “Do I watch all those games? I can’t watch all those games. I watch highlights, and I’ll read some linescores, and I do make my vote. I do vote. I do try to vote in a way where if everybody saw it, I could make some sense of it.”
USC coach Lane Kiffin recently created headlines for telling reporters he would not pick his Trojans first in the poll despite having done exactly that. Kiffin withdrew as a voter in the wake of the controversy.
Later, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that expecting coaches to cast a well-researched ballot is “a fallacy.”
Richt -- whose Bulldogs are ranked sixth in the preseason coaches poll -- said it is particularly difficult to decide how to position teams in the early rankings and that he favors waiting until a few weeks into the season before releasing the first poll.
“Early in the year it’s just hard. It’s hard to really get a pretty good gauge,” he said. “But I think I would agree with not having a poll until about Game 5 or something. I think that would make sense.”
The Bulldogs will learn where they rank in the Associated Press preseason poll when it is released Saturday, which Richt said “will be fun to see.”
Bullish on Andrews: Asked to name a pleasant surprise thus far in August, Richt first named sophomore center David Andrews and then credited the 17 new freshmen for competing well enough to possibly contribute this fall.
“David Andrews has had a good camp. To me he’s solidified that job, I think,” Richt said. “I think the freshmen in general have done a nice job of competing. I’m not saying they’re all going to start and all that kind of thing, but they’ve competed well and they seem to really care about their role on the special teams, as well.”
Andrews entered preseason camp as the starter, and his having solidified his grasp on the position means Georgia won’t have to shift either Chris Burnette or Dallas Lee from guard to play center. That is the ideal situation for the Bulldogs, Richt said.
“We went into camp hoping that he would be the guy, I would say. ... I think it’s the best combination for Georgia for him to be the center, and I thought he did a good job,” Richt said.
Waiting on Houston: Richt said there is no news on Kolton Houston’s NCAA ineligibility but figures Georgia will announce it as soon as he learns he can play if his status were to change.
Georgia released information regarding the offensive lineman’s status on the first day of preseason camp, detailing how a steroid treatment from before he enrolled at Georgia has still not left his system to the point that he can meet NCAA drug-free eligibility standards.
Houston sat out the 2010 and 2011 seasons and still can’t play until he meets the NCAA standard -- but Georgia’s staff remains hopeful that it could happen sometime this fall, and Houston continues to practice with the Bulldogs’ reserve offensive linemen.
“We’re still trying to rep him enough to keep him ready -- as ready as we can without taking away from guys that we know are eligible to play, so it’s kind of a touchy deal,” Richt said. “He’s getting a lot of work with the two unit, so that’s good.”
Scouting Buffalo: To this point, the Bulldogs have focused almost exclusively on their assignments in their base schemes and various offensive and defensive alignments.
“We went over a couple things, but I think we’re really going to start doing that in upcoming weeks,” receiver/cornerback Malcolm Mitchell said. “We’re still trying to make sure everybody knows what they’re supposed to be doing right now so when we start gameplanning, everybody’s ready.”
Richt said the Bulldogs will begin their preparation for the Sept. 1 opener against Buffalo with scout-team work in Saturday’s morning’s practice.
“We’ll start with some scout work tomorrow, so we’ll be working on some gameplan stuff tomorrow,” he said.