Richt apologizes to SEC, Florida for Bulldogs' celebration
ATLANTA -- Georgia coach Mark Richt apologized Monday for his team's raucous celebration after its first touchdown against Florida, a display that he encouraged in hopes of firing his team up.
The motivational tactic seemed to work -- the No. 10 Bulldogs went on to a 42-30 victory, only their third win against the Gators (No. 20 BCS, No. 18 AP) in the last 18 years.
But Richt apologized to Southeastern Conference commissioner Mike Slive by telephone and in a letter for his actions leading up to Saturday's game.
Some 70 players stormed the field after Knowshon Moreno's touchdown run, leading to numerous penalty flags. Richt didn't mind a bit, admitting afterward he told his team he would give them extra running if they didn't get called for excessive celebration.
"As a follow-up to our telephone discussion earlier today, I do want to apologize in writing for what transpired after the first score of the Georgia/Florida game this past Saturday when our entire team left the bench area to celebrate the score." Richt wrote.
"I apologize that I put everyone in that situation and specifically apologize to you, the Southeastern Conference, and the University of Florida. You can be assured I will not ask our team to do this type of thing again."
Richt, normally one of college football's most reserved coaches, repeated earlier statements that he was trying to fire up a team that he felt needed to play with more passion.
"Two weeks ago when our preparation began for the Florida game, I told the team that we have got to have more energy and enthusiasm in this ball game or we are going to get whipped pretty good," Richt wrote in his letter to Slive. "I said, as a matter of fact, when we score our first touchdown, I expect you guys to celebrate to the point where the official will throw a flag for excessive celebration. I admit this was inappropriate."
Charles Bloom, associate commissioner of the SEC, said Slive received the letter and "accepts his apology." The league plans no disciplinary action against Richt, Bloom added.
Richt said he thought only those players already on the field would celebrate. Instead, virtually the entire team charged into the end zone.
"On the day of the game I re-emphasized to the team that this was not going to be an individual celebration, but a team celebration," Richt wrote. "Again, I was expecting the 11 players on the field to be doing the celebrating, not for the bench to clear as it did.
"I understand that the entire team running on the field created the potential for an altercation and that excessive celebration is not in compliance with the Southeastern Conference sportsmanship policies and expected standards. My only intention was to create enthusiasm."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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