COLLEGE FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Bulldogs return from spring break, hit practice field

Mark Richt was glad to have his team back on the practice field Thursday and away from the lures of spring break.

Mark Richt was glad to have his team back on the practice field Thursday and away from the lures of spring break.

ATHENS — The Georgia football team returned to the practice fields Thursday afternoon in frigid conditions for its second practice session of the week.

“Spring practice is always about getting back to the basics in square one,” said center David Andrews. “We’re competing everyday. We still have a lot to work on, but everyone is competing and playing fast. We’re all looking forward to Saturday.”

Georgia has seven practices remaining before the annual G-Day spring game arrives on Saturday, April 6. Georgia will also practice two more times after the spring game.

Thursday was also Georgia’s Pro Day. Seventeen former Georgia players spent much of the morning working out in front of NFL staffs.

“If you looked at how hard they all worked [in their drills] and how smooth they looked, you could tell there are going to be a bunch of Bulldogs out of this class making it in the (NFL),” said head coach Mark Richt.

Richt said that he hopes Georgia will have more than 10 players drafted in April’s NFL Draft. The most Georgia players ever taken in a single NFL Draft stands at eight.

On Saturday morning, Georgia will hold its first scrimmage of the spring at Sanford Stadium.

Saturday’s scrimmage is closed to the public. The annual G-Day game will be held on April 6.

ALABAMA VS. WISCONSIN TO OPEN 2015: National powerhouse football programs Alabama and Wisconsin are scheduled to open the 2015 season at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The game will be played on Sept. 5, 2015, and comes on the heels of the Crimson Tide dominating Michigan in the 2012 opener.

“As a league, we decided that we needed to upgrade our non-conference schedule,” UW Athletic Director Barry Alvarez said in a statement. “We understand that strength of schedule will be a factor in determining which teams earn the right to participate in the new four-team playoff system, and we want to be in that mix. There’s no better way to do that than by playing the defending national champions.

“We are thrilled to have the opportunity to play a storied program like Alabama in a terrific venue like Cowboys Stadium. It will be a great experience for our program, our players and our fans.”

The programs met in 1928 at Camp Randall Stadium, a 15-0 Wisconsin win that stands as the only game between the two storied teams.

Wisconsin has not played a Southeastern Conference opponent since 2007 and hasn’t opened against an SEC team in more than four decades.

NCAA holds off on making big-time recruiting rule changes

The NCAA backed off this week on implementing two proposed rule changes in recruiting that led to protests from coaches and college administrators around the country.

The NCAA Board of Governors suspended part of a deregulation package it had approved in January. In response to the outcry, it decided against allowing staff members other than coaches to recruit and also nixed the plan to lift the limits on the amount of printed material sent to recruits.

A third proposal to allow unlimited texts, phone calls and social media messages to recruits from coaches wasn’t suspended but will be subject to the NCAA override process before implementation.

The fear among some coaches was that schools with the means to do so would hire more staffers who were not considered coaches to help in recruiting.

“We are committed to the reform effort. We will move forward with these concepts with collaboration from all interested parties,” NCAA president Mark Emmert said. “Suspending these proposals for continued review will provide our coaches, administrators and student-athletes the additional opportunity to have their voices heard.”

There’s still a chance the two suspended rules could go into effect, but each would require modification before the rules committee would present them again to the Board of Directors.

The changes were part of a broader process initiated by the NCAA to streamline regulations. The intent was to eliminate what it considered smaller matters in order to give the NCAA and school compliance officials more time to focus on enforcement.

The Big Ten was one of the leading opponents of the relaxed recruiting rules since the announcement in January.

The NCAA said it responded “to extensive membership feedback that despite the benefits of the proposals, the new rules could have a negative impact on prospects and their families, college coaches and administrators.”