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Post On the practice facility power play

Wednesday November 19, 2014

Yesterday’s extreme cold pushed the Georgia football team indoors to the multi-purpose facility added as part of the most recent Butts-Mehre expansion. That facility has a turf surface but only about 20 yards of space, making it useful only for walk-throughs. It was not intended to be an indoor practice facility (IPF.)

Several coaches, most vocally Jeremy Pruitt, used the occasion to put pressure on the administration to complete a proper indoor practice facility.

“This is gonna be the last football team at Georgia that’s gonna have days where they don’t get better because of not having an indoor facility. Because I know our folks upstairs are gonna get it done,” Pruitt said.

Pruitt explained that he had used the lack of a facility against Georgia in recruiting, and other coaches would continue to do so. “I’ve been on the other side when you recruit against Georgia, and when you don’t practice you don’t get better, so that hurts player development.” Studies have shown that these facilities don’t get used as much as you’d think, but as the stakes start to get much higher in terms of the rivalry game and a possible postseason, every day counts.

It’s rare to see a coach challenge the administration like this, particularly a coordinator. Even linebackers coach Mike Ekeler said, “It’s amazing we don’t have one.” I doubt Pruitt was going rogue though – Mark Richt might not like to air laundry in public like that, but Pruitt is more than happy to speak for the staff.

We know that the wheels are turning – the athletic department approved $400,000 just a couple of months ago for a location study. According to Seth Emerson, “UGA hired an architect for the project last week.” The next step is an update for the board in February. That’s not exactly a glacial pace in the academic world, but it’s also not something on the fast track to be completed in time for next season.

(N.B. the location study isn’t a minor thing. So much hangs on the site selection for this facility. There are tradeoffs between cost, scope, and utility for a facility built near Butts-Mehre versus one out on the Milledge property.)

Pruitt’s challenge and short timetable naturally prompted a response from Greg McGarity. “We’re moving as quickly as possible, but it’s impossible to be ready by 2015. There’s just so much to do.” That seems reasonable – even if the board settles the location, scope, and cost issues and approves the project on the spot in February, it’s not very likely that a project of any size or usefulness could be built in the six months remaining before the season.

At any rate, the project is moving forward and it will happen – perhaps not at Pruitt’s preferred pace, but it won’t be long either. Pruitt’s message was intended much more for recruits than McGarity anyway. It’s no coincidence that the staff is being very public about the coming facility after a chilly weekend on which Georgia hosted one of the most star-studded collection of prospects to visit Sanford Stadium. They’re responding to the messaging that’s being put out by other schools and feedback they’ve received from prospects.

Apparently Georgia’s response is being received loud and clear:

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