ATHENS - For the first time in his seven years at Georgia, Mark Richt conducted his first bowl practice Thursday before learning where his No. 4 Bulldogs will play in a bowl.
The light workout was a good way to keep the players thinking of football during their first open week after completing their 10-2 regular season with last Saturday's 31-17 win over Georgia Tech.
It was also a good way to work off some nervous energy as the Bulldogs wait to learn Sunday if they'll be invited to the Orange, Fiesta or Rose bowls or possibly even have a chance to play in the national championship game.
The Bulldogs' national championship hopes rest on No. 9 Oklahoma beating No. 1 Missouri and Pittsburgh beating No. 2 West Virginia on Saturday. It might also help Georgia if No. 14 Tennessee upsets No. 5 Louisiana State in Saturday's Southeastern Conference championship game in Atlanta.
There is speculation LSU could pass Georgia in the Top 25 if it claims an impressive victory over Tennessee. If Georgia falls one spot to No. 5 in the BCS standings Sunday, it wouldn't be assured a spot in a BCS bowl.
'There are Pittsburgh fans, Oklahoma fans, Tennessee fans on the team,' said senior running back Kregg Lumpkin. 'Maybe we will get that golden shot to play for the national championship.'
Richt said he's curious to see how Saturday's games end. He said he won't watch all the games.
'It would be really fun to watch if we really knew what would happen,' Richt said.
'The reality is we can watch all the football we want on Saturday and we still won't know the answer until they make decisions on Sunday.'
Richt has said he would enjoy making his first visit to the Rose Bowl. He already has participated in the Orange and Fiesta bowls.
'I want to be sure everyone understands me, I know I will be excited about any opportunity given to us,' Richt said. 'It's just exciting to think about all the possibilities, and I know our players are the same way.
'I do believe all the bowl experiences are going to be awesome. I did say I've never been to the Rose. That was made to be a bigger deal that it probably should have been. I guarantee I'd have a good time in the Orange or Fiesta or wherever.'
The players just know to expect a New Year's Day bowl as a reward for a 10-2 season.
'I think any bowl would be cool,' said running back Knowshon Moreno. 'All three are real big bowls. The Orange Bowl in Miami would be warm weather, and the same thing in Pasadena. Any of the three would be great.'
Said linebacker Marcus Howard: 'Either way, the BCS is the BCS.'
When asked his preference on Thursday, linebacker Dannell Ellerbe said: 'It don't matter to me. I want to go to the bowl that gives the best gifts.'
Richt acknowledged he was reluctant to schedule practices for Thursday and another practice for next week.
In past years he has had players involved in only running and weight-room workouts before the formal bowl practice schedule in mid-December, though he said he's always heard of other coaches opting for earlier starts.
'Other teams have done it,' Richt said. 'It's been brought up to me every year since I've been here. I didn't see a reason to do it.'
Richt said the practice 'is not going to be a lot,' adding he doesn't agree with coaches who want to make the bowl practice schedule 'another spring practice.
'My biggest desire is to be ready to win the bowl game,' he said.
No matter what bowl that may be.
'I'm just thankful we are where we are,' Richt said. 'I'm going to feel the same way next week.'
Notes: Senior receiver Sean Bailey had surgery Thursday to repair torn meniscus in his left knee, according to Richt. Bailey, the team's leading receiver, should be ready for the bowl game. 'He'll be ready to go for sure after Christmas,' Richt said. ... Moreno said he had no injury in the Georgia Tech game and Richt said the freshman had no limitation in Thursday's practice. After the Tech game, Richt said it appeared Moreno may have been bothered by a slight injury. ... Lumpkin, returning from knee surgery, said he had full medical clearance for Thursday's practice. ... Running back Thomas Brown had a dental appointment and missed the practice.