CFB AM: Mark Richt's heartfelt effort in response to former Dawg's death
JUL 14, 2014 9:00a ET
The worst part about Paul Oliver’s death last September for Georgia coach Mark Richt and the former Bulldogs who played with him was the loss of a teammate and friend, but a close second was the helpless feeling of believing they should have done more.
Oliver, who played at UGA from 2004-06 and had a brief stint in the NFL, was 29 years old and suffering from CTE when he shot himself, leaving behind a wife and two young sons.
Would that have been the outcome if Oliver was more connected to the Georgia community and had that support system to rely on?
Would he still be alive if he had resources to use to obtain a job after leaving the NFL, the seeds to a productive post-playing life?
“I’m not going to be presumptuous that if Paul had a good job waiting for him afterwards or if he had hope for a good job or he was on the path for a good job that he would be here today, but maybe,” Richt told the Athens Banner-Herald. “I do know this: A man, I think he is divinely created to provide for and protect his family. I think if he’s not doing that or doesn’t feel capable of doing that, I think it hurts his spirit.”
At Oliver’s funeral, Richt pledged to his former players that he would try to do more to help them in their post-football lives, so he gathered them around and told them about a plan to create a system for former UGA players to network and use the Georgia community to secure jobs.
The “P.O. Network” was born. From the Banner-Herald:
More than 120 of Richt’s former players showed up for the first Paul Oliver Network gathering, which will be held annually. They attended breakout sessions on banking entrepreneurship and real estate. They were given career and personality testing and offered help with job placement.
“I even had a couple two or three guys that were thrown off the team that showed up,” Richt said. “They got hugged by their teammates. So many guys emailed or called back and said, ‘Coach, that was awesome.’”
Richt estimates that about 75 percent of players who attended the networking event in the spring had jobs and were doing well. There were resources for former NFL players to tap into to further their education.
Georgia is trying to educate its current players this summer with a career management symposium. Former players including D.J. Shockley, and Matt and Jon Stinchcomb are returning to speak about credit, saving and investing and value-based decision making.
Richt, a devout Christian, has often said, “What you do is not who you are,” something he tries to instill in his players.
“It might be the greatest gift I can teach them,” he said. “If you pour all your life into what you do and somehow you get fired or something happens to the business, then now what? You’re a wreck. You’ve got nothing.”
For more on the P.O. Network and all the efforts former teammates of Oliver’s are making to help improve the connection between former Bulldogs and the UGA community, read the full Banner-Herald story.
It’s one positive thing coming out of a tragic story, and good on Richt and the Bulldogs for making a genuine effort.
THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW
1. SEC Media Days kick off today, which means you can officially consider the 2014 season here! Bleacher Report has the full SEC Media Days schedule with scheduled speakers if interested.
2. Late last Friday, as most people had probably begun their weekend, it was reported that Auburn QB Nick Marshall was cited for possession of marijuana in Reynolds, Georgia. Police found 8-10 grams in Marshall’s car; because it was less than an ounce, Marshall wasn’t arrested. Instead, he must pay a $1,000 fine for the weed and $100 for illegal tint. As of Sunday evening, Marshall’s status for the season-opener against Arkansas had yet to be changed, and but he was pulled from representing Auburn at SEC Media Days. Marshall, of course, will earn more attention for his citation than most because he was a star last season’s national runner-up team and is a Heisman candidate for 2014.
3. South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier takes the podium at SEC Media Days on Tuesday around 9 a.m. CT. Consider yourself officially notified.
THREE THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW
1. There’s a new edition of ‘The Audible’ podcast out today, and it has a slightly different feel. New FOX Sports addition Stewart Mandel is officially joining ‘The Audible’ team with Bruce Feldman, and they’ll be doing a punch of podcasts together and with their own guests this season. They were also kind enough to invite me into their podcast home, so I’ll be chiming in from time to time from my producer station in the studio when I’m not pushing buttons and hoping the podcast doesn’t blow up. We hope you enjoy the podcast this season and encourage your feedback.
Here’s today’s episode – a kickoff to the Media Days season:
2. The past week brought Elite 11 finals and The Opening, two massive events on the recruiting calendar. If you’re interested in a large selection of recruits who shined, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Johnson has a good roundup here. Bama fans will be happy to read about Blake Barnett and Calvin Ridley.
Oh, and Jeremy: Get the shoes off the Maserati, “Brodie.”
THREE THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO KNOW
1. Speaking of SEC Media Days, the league has proudly bragged about how many consecutive national titles it has won on the cover of its Media Days guide. As Jason Kirk at SB Nation points out, the 2014 guide suddenly has a humbler face. Also worth your time: CBS’ Jon Solomon compiled some of the best quotes from previous SEC Media Days. They are fantastic.
2. Last Week, we tried something ambitious. For about a decade, Feldman has done his Top 20 ‘Freaks’ in college football list, and since so many of you like it, we wondered if it could be something more. So we decided to expand the brand to a week of content. Here are the five pieces if you missed any of them. Top 20 Freaks / All-Freaks Team / Top 10 Freaks in Class of 2015 / Top 10 Freaks of last decade / The Audible: Freak coach Mark Hudspeth.
3. Bleacher Report’s Adam Kramer has a longform piece on how Nike and Oregon created college football’s “perfect brand.” Worth the read.
A quick note on ‘CFB AM,’ the blog you’re reading now: As noted at the top, this will be a Monday-Friday post going live around 9 a.m. ET each morning. The goal, I hope, is that it becomes a quick daily stop that informs and entertains, where you leave feeling prepped on the college football world’s main events for that day and have a few things to talk about with your friends. That’s really the whole objective.
It’ll be informational and will include some levity, but I don’t want it to be a big time commitment. You should be able to breeze through it first thing at the office in the morning. We’ll have some hits and misses, but that’s the idea behind this. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, please reach out to me via Twitter or email below.
Teddy Mitrosilis is an editor and writer for FOXSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TMitrosilis and email him at email@example.com.