Georgia coach Mark Richt and other UGA coaches will be in Tifton on April 24.
ALBANY — Georgia football coach Mark Richt won’t be coming to Albany this year, breaking a streak of 35 years and a connection between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Good Life City that was started almost four decades ago when former coach Vince Dooley became the head coach at UGA.
“People have been calling wanting to know what’s going on,’’ said Dee Matthews, the former president of the Albany Bulldog Club. “We have always had the head coach come to Albany. This is the first time in 35 years we haven’t had the football coach at Georgia come to Albany.’’
There has been a change in the way the Bulldogs schedule Richt’s visits, Matthews said.
“They dissolved the Bulldog Clubs not just here but everywhere, and now the UGA Alumni Association has taken over (the scheduled visits the head coach makes around the state),’’ Matthews said.
Instead of coming to Albany, Richt is scheduled to come to Tifton on April 24, ending a long tradition.
“When Dan McGill started the Bulldog Clubs 35 years ago, Vince Dooley had just become the head football coach, and Vince made trips around the state and came to Albany every year,’’ Matthews said. “When Vince Dooley became the athletic director, he wanted the head coach to go to all the media centers around the state, and it was great for places like Macon, Columbus and Albany because we would bring in everyone in the surrounding communities. Albany would always have 350 to 400 people at the meetings. Coach Richt loved to come to Albany.
“Now they’ve changed all that.’’
Matthews said as a Bulldogs fan that she still planned on being at the meeting in Tifton.
“We were terribly disappointed and surprised,’’ she said of learning Albany wasn’t on Richt’s agenda this year. “They didn’t notify us. I guess they had figured it had been in Albany too long and wanted to move it to Tifton. Of course, it will be a success because Mark (Richt) will be there.’’
Richt, who holds a 118-40 record in 12 seasons as the Bulldogs’ coach, will be one of the featured guests at UGA Day at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center, where the event will be held from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
“UGA Day is exciting,” said Joe West, assistant dean on the Tifton Campus. “It’s a huge opportunity for us as the University of Georgia to be hosting one of our own. There are a lot of loyal Bulldogs here. What I’d like to do is make sure they come back. To do that, we’re going to have to have the best turnout of anywhere in the state of Georgia.”
Joining Richt will be UGA Associate Provost and Director of the Honors Program David Williams. Chuck Dowdle, who hosts a weekly television show with Richt during the season and is also the sideline reporter for Bulldogs football, will serve as host. The UGA Alumni Association and the UGA Athletic Association will coordinate the event, which will feature a buffet dinner and the third-winningest coach in the history of the Georgia football program.
“(Richt’s) an outstanding football coach. He’s an outstanding person. I think he brings a good message,” West said. “For him to be here in Tifton, for us to be the venue to provide that support, it’s a point of pride for us, for sure.”
Tifton will be the fifth stop on a tour that spans four states and 12 venues. Richt and Co. stopped in in Columbus earlier this week to begin the tour, and it end July 29 in Gwinnett County.
Online registration is available with tickets costing $20 in advance. On-site registration is $30, and children 6-and-under are free.
For more information, contact Frances Beusse at (404) 814-8820.