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Richt excited to be ranked No. 2.


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By Marc Weiszer | marc.weiszer@onlineathens.com | Story updated at 11:50 PM on Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Georgia didn't get a chance to play in the BCS title game, but ended up with the No. 2 ranking behind champion LSU in the final Associated Press poll released Tuesday morning.

It's the highest final poll ranking for Georgia since it finished No. 1 in its national title season of 1980.

"I'm going to remember that we're No. 2 for the longest and I'm sure Bulldogs fans will also," said Georgia coach Mark Richt, speaking from a coaches' convention in Anaheim, Calif. "We're excited to be ranked so high. This is the one poll that really does matter the most."

The Bulldogs finished 11-2 after its 41-10 rout of Hawaii in the Jan. 1 Sugar Bowl, rising two spots in the final poll and finishing ahead of No. 3 Southern California, No. 4 Missouri and No. 5 Ohio State, which lost to LSU in the BCS title game 38-24 in New Orleans Monday night.

The Trojans, also 11-2, were No. 2 in the USA Today coaches' poll and Georgia was third.

"We didn't finish No. 1 but to finish No. 2 in the AP and No. 3 in the coaches' poll is a tremendous honor just from a personal standpoint as a head coach," said Richt, whose 2002 team finished ranked third.

In the AP poll, Georgia received three of 65 first-place votes from Scott Wolf of the Los Angeles Daily News, Adam Van Brimmer of the Savannah Morning News and Pete DiPrimio of the Fort Wayne (Ind.) News.

The LSU-Georgia 1-2 finish made the SEC the first league since the Big 8 in 1971 to have the top two teams in the final AP poll.

"It's a season where we got a taste of just how close we might be to getting that ultimate goal," Richt said. "Everybody is going to be really working hard towards that end."

Georgia already is garnering consideration for a high ranking next season.

SI.com's Stewart Mandel lists Georgia No. 1 in his early top 10 for 2008 and ESPN's Rece Davis also picked Georgia No. 1.

Richt doesn't expect any of his underclassmen to leave for the NFL Draft, further bolstering the Bulldogs' 2008 title run.

Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, defensive tackle Jeff Owens and fullback Brannan Southerland submitted paperwork to an NFL advisory committee.

They will be joined by five players that entered school this week: center Ben Jones, linebacker Akeem Hebron, receiver Tavares King and running backs Dontavius Jackson and Richard Samuel.

"We recruited Richard as a back from the very beginning," Richt said of the Cartersville native. "We do feel like he could play linebacker and I'm not going to say he will never end up at another spot, but we signed him with the intention of him playing tailback."

Richt thinks eight team-playoff would protect season, bowls

Richt spoke briefly with university president Michael Adams at a function during Sugar Bowl week in New Orleans about the eight-team playoff proposal that Adams unveiled on Tuesday.

Richt feels the plus-one format being considered by the BCS would be a step in the right direction and thinks most coaches would be in favor of an eight-team playoff.

"I personally think eight would be the limit," Richt said. "I've always wanted to protect the bowl system and protect our regular season. If you could have a playoff that would have a small enough number of teams, you could keep your regular season, you could keep your bowl system and still come a little bit closer to what would be a true national champion."

Richt thinks two SEC teams would probably be among the eight teams most years.

This and that

After Jefferson County lineman A.J. Harmon announced Saturday he was changing his commitment to Georgia, Richt said he does not expect any other additions to this year's recruiting class. "We're in very good shape right now and very pleased with how it has gone," Richt said. "I'd say if there is change, it would be very little." ... Starting left tackle Trinton Sturdivant was off crutches this week after suffering what's described as a mild knee sprain in the Sugar Bowl, Richt said. ... Tailback Knowshon Moreno was named this week to the Football Writers Association of America Freshman All-America Team.

Published in the Athens Banner-Herald on 010908

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