I’m around Georgia Southern’s program a lot, so I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea about what kinds of questions the coaches and players are used to hearing and what kinds of things to focus on in an interview.
It’s different when you’re at a function like the 2010 Peach State Pigskin Preview, which was held Tuesday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon. Every head college football coach in the state of Georgia is there, and you never know what types of questions they’re sick of hearing and even sicker of answering.
That’s why I try to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth, and try to let the other members of the media ask all the questions that the coaches they don’t know are tired of answering.
Like when Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is asked about why the SEC appears to be a higher-profile league than the ACC.
"I don’t know," said Johnson as he looked over the auditorium full of reporters. "I guess the ACC will raise its profile nationally when you guys decide to raise it."
Or the real gem, when Johnson is asked about new wrinkles he’s going to add to his triple-option offense to avoid letting the competition figure it out. After 13 years of national championships, Bowl victories and his recent ACC title, folks still seem to want to know when he’ll get with the times.
"Nope, same old stuff," he said. "I’m sure everybody’ll catch up this year."
After the press conference, Johnson explained, again, that his version of the option is just another offense.
"There’s no figuring it out," he said. "It’s either you play better than the other team or you don’t. It all comes down to execution. There’s no magic wand you can wave to figure it out. I get a chuckle out of it."
Then there’s Georgia coach Mark Richt, who’s been fielding questions about his redshirt-freshman quarterback and the switch to a three-man front on defense since the 2009 season ended.
"We’ve got to learn what to do on defense, we’ve got a young quarterback who’s got to get settled in pretty quick and have a healthy respect for the ball," Richt said. "I hope that our punter Drew Butler and our kicker Blair Walsh get better. If they do, that’ll be a great thing for us."
Then there was the question of whether or not, after the 2009 season the Bulldogs had, this season is going to be "crucial."
"Here’s what I think," Richt said. "I think every year’s crucial. I think every year is a season that is very meaningful to everybody. This year’s no different in that regard."
And, as if every football coach isn’t asked this one enough (yeah, I’m guilty of this one): What are your expectations?
"As we all know," he said, "winning’s more fun than losing, so we want to have a lot of fun this year."
On the other side of the coin are Georgia Southern’s Jeff Monken and Georgia State’s Bill Curry.
In Monken’s case, he’s only been a head coach for half of a year. He’s been too busy getting used to the life of the head man to worry about repetitive questions.
"As an assistant, there’s times you can just turn it off. You can shut work off all together and be on vacation," said Monken, who flew from a family vacation in New York to Macon and back Tuesday, just for the event. "It’s one of the things that goes along with being the head coach, and I want to be the head coach, and this is a great event."
Curry, who has been around the block in the coaching ranks, never seems to tire of answering questions about building the Panthers’ program – which will play its first-ever game on September 2 against Shorter College – because it’s new and different.
"It’s not like any situation I’ve ever been a part of before," Curry said, "but it’s also the most fascinating challenge that we have ever faced as coaches. We really look forward to that and we work on it every day."
A new outlook for a football coach sure makes things easier when it’s your job to ask questions – even if they’ve already been asked a million times.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.