Georgia ends spring — and needs a quiet summer

Like this photo, Mark Richt will be in the background when Isaiah Crowell and his Georgia teammates head into this summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Like this photo, Mark Richt must stand in background when Isaiah Crowell and Georgia teammates head into summer. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

ATHENS — On the day spring football came to a close for Georgia, nobody got arrested, nobody got high, nobody claimed to make the mistake of eating brownies baked by Dolly Madison’s Bohemian, hippie sister and certainly no coach yelled, “Wooo! Pig Sooie!” while exchanging 4,300 text messages with the nation’s best-paid, smokin’ blonde, student-athlete development coordinator.

Relatively speaking, Saturday’s G-Day game was nirvana.

But the annual spring game contrasted the past few months. A reported seven players (at least) were suspended or drop-kicked out of Athens for assorted legal missteps or rules violations. Coach Mark Richt appropriately called Saturday, “good medicine.”

Or a needed cleansing.

To suggest the Georgia program has jumped the rails would be overstatement. But Richt and his players know how this sort of thing plays publicly, particularly going into the summer, when free time too often breeds problems. Hot days, cold beer, long nights … you know the formula.

“We’re well-aware of what can happen now,” quarterback Aaron Murray said. “There’s been some incidents that have occurred, and the guys don’t want that kind of attention. They don’t want the additional stress on coach Richt or on the team. There’s a negative image, and we want to get rid of it.”

Six players graced the cover of the spring guide. Only four of them made it to the scrimmage program cover Saturday. Bacarri Rambo and Alec Ogletree were cropped out for expected drug suspensions.

Three other players — Chris Sanders, Nick Marshall and Sanford Seay — were kicked off the team for their involvement in a theft. Sanders Commings was suspended two games following a charge for domestic violence. The other reported suspensions were marijuana-related (though not confirmed by the school): Ogletree (failed drug test, one game), Rambo (failed drug test, four games), Branden Smith (possession, one game).

Steve Spurrier isn’t one to miss an easy punch line. So when asked about the South Carolina-Georgia game being moved from the second week to the sixth, Spurrier swung away. “I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended,” he told ESPN.

Here’s the positive news for Richt: He learned something about the resolve of his players last season. The Dogs reeled off 10 consecutive wins following an 0-2 start. Most of those players return in 2012.

The opener against Buffalo isn’t an issue — Richt could plug holes with 10 kids pulled out of the cafeteria line at the Tate Center and still win that game. Game 2 at Missouri might be a little stickier.

What the Dogs’ can’t afford are any more storylines with the words “arrest” or “drug test” in them. This summer will show if the past few months have been some aberration. It also may determine where next season finishes on the average-to-special scale.

“I think I’ve got a good pulse of what’s going on internally, and I don’t sense there are team-related issues that are of major concern,” athletic director Greg McGarity said. “We’ve got some spots where we need tightening up, but that’s true with every program.”

But McGarity is aware of the perception.

“We’re getting beat up a lot — and maybe we can do some things where we don’t have to get beat up so much,” he said.

Elaborating: McGarity said Georgia may begin a practice of not announcing any disciplinary action of players, unless there’s a legal issue that would make it unavoidable.

“If you announce that somebody has violated team policy today, you have to read about it for five months before the first game,” McGarity said. “Do we need to put ourselves in that position?”

There’s only one flaw with that thinking: Almost everything leaks out at some point, and Georgia has a better chance to control the message with a formal announcement.

The bigger issue, though, is eliminating the problems altogether. We can debate all day whether problems among an athletic program exceed the general student population. But the reality is that nobody really cares about the average poultry-sciences major.

McGarity said he meets with Richt “frequently — enough to know where he stands on things.” He knows how this has worn on the coach.

“He feels good about the program, but like anyone he feels frustrated,” he said. “He hates to take time away when something pop up. It can be burdensome.”

There’s an easy answer: Just get 100 kids to promise, “I will not get into trouble.”

Also, maybe buy a lottery ticket.

By Jeff Schultz

263 comments Add your comment

AugustaDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:01 pm

AugustaDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:03 pm

Twice in two days! Sweet! Game was okay today. A lot of 2nd and 3rd stringers though. Can’t wait till September. GATA

AugustaDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:07 pm

Now that I got to read the article, I do hope that we are done with the suspensions and other nonsense. I am certain other programs have similar issue and perhaps don’t make them public. Seems the only team in the east that can stop UGA is UGA. Nice to see Crowell lower his shoulder some today hitting the hole. Go Dawgs!!!!

Dawg Obedience Trainer

April 14th, 2012
7:13 pm

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
7:14 pm

WOW MUTT FANS look It happens not just around the TECH Campus. I can’t imagine a Big City without Crime. Sell your CRAZY some place else we have heard it all before.

http://www.ajc.com/news/atlanta/women-robbed-near-braves-1417180.html

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
7:15 pm

What HAPPENED to the Big Bad Black team aka the New JUNKYARD DWAG Defense?

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
7:18 pm

I Don’t SEE the ATTENDANCE numbers! How many MUTTs were there? I thought DWAG FOOTBALL was GOD in the State. BAMA has SRO for their Spring game.
PS Bama’s Spring was LIVE on CSS and UGa was played on TV after the BAMA game.

GTT

April 14th, 2012
7:29 pm

True, Schultz. They need to lay off the weed.

TennesseeDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:36 pm

As usual, that Tech tool Schultz spends no time talking about the game and all the time trying to bash Georgia.

CHDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:42 pm

Well, back to football folks….Dawgs looked good, and very close to what I expected. Offensive position players are very strong and deep. The D is rock solid. Those two aspects are as strong as I can remember. Offensive line looked credible to good, considering who they were up against. Don’t know if the stunts were throttled, but that was encouraging. If our line ends up being good, we should go a long way in ‘12. Special teams are going to need work at key positions, but we just need to find two souls who can kick. Overall, I like what I see. TBs looked very solid, QBs looked very promising, with all three of the top players showing solid growth. Scott Wesley, Rome, and Lynch look to make plays. Go Dawgs. And what Jeff said–we have got to behave like deacons.

CHDawg

April 14th, 2012
7:45 pm

Forgot King. He looked good, as did Brown at times, particularly on the blocking. Missouri will test our secondary for sure.

Glock 45

April 14th, 2012
7:49 pm

Too bad we can’t be done with all the idiots screaming “First”.

Vain Jangling

April 14th, 2012
7:53 pm

Mamma always said don’t take brownies from strangers.

quirkysmirky

April 14th, 2012
7:53 pm

Most fans don’t expect 4 and 5 star calibre recruits, like Georgia attracts, to act like misssionaries and preachers. These star players have grown up getting everything they wanted, and told how great they are. When they start to see they arn’t as good as they thought, they drink, smoke pot, and do other 18 year old stuff. Coach Richt got drunk more than his share as a player at Miami. College kids drink. That’s no newsflash to fans.

quirkysmirky

April 14th, 2012
7:54 pm

if Richt keeps it under 10 more arrests, and no more than 5 more suspensions, off season was a success.

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:02 pm

Anybody try the Pantie Hash Browns while you visited Athens today?

Secretariat

April 14th, 2012
8:03 pm

Jeff, I don’t know about her being a, “smokin’ blonde, student-athlete development coordinator”, but I’d hit it.

quirkysmirky

April 14th, 2012
8:06 pm

Jimmy Johnson and Urban Meyer won National Championships teams that were mayhem off the field. Kind of goes with the territory when you have a lot of great players. It’s a lot of pressure. Look, if were trying to recruit missionaries, I’d be concerned, but we’re trying to recruit athletes with a nasty streak because nice guys finish LAST.

supsalemgr

April 14th, 2012
8:07 pm

The “Ol’ ball Coach” is funny. Humour reqires some element of truth and he hit it on the head. I love to beat him and 1966 was one of the sweetest UGA/FL victories ever, but you do have to respect “super gator”. Who else has ever one consistently at SC?

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:09 pm

quirkysmirky…..funny as hell you said Athletes but LEFT OUT the STUDENT part. We are talking COLLEGE football not the NFL.

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:10 pm

the Special Education Conference is the HOME of the single digit Wonderlick score.

Tame Dawg

April 14th, 2012
8:14 pm

It’s hard for young ppl to “toe the line”. But expected when such opportunities are presented (full ride at major universities). With that said, the Petrino situation Blows My Mind!

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:17 pm

Tame Dawg have you been riding on the Motorcycle with Jessica Too? You’ll have more than a blown mind. LOL

Hairy Dawg

April 14th, 2012
8:23 pm

We looked good in springs game. I can’t waits to turn loose the team against the schedule this fall. Wel’l proofs how Dawgs own East and state as we roll to Dome and destiny of 7 straights for SEC. We got the players that play with SEC speeds and expose talents on field for NFL. That having players that play with talents is how we put the beat down on rest of East and then takes Dome. And that leads to BCS champs just like SEC is owning best football played in US. But first we win East using our talents before unloading the whooping can on the Krystal balls Bammers or LUSer choker purple and yellow kittens.

Go Dawgs!

Grantham's The Man

April 14th, 2012
8:26 pm

I’m encouraged by the O-line play. Looks like Bobo has found another quality receiver with speed in Scott Westley. Looking forward to the upcoming season and a SEC Championship!

Ted Striker

April 14th, 2012
8:44 pm

Good column.

UGABugKiller

April 14th, 2012
8:48 pm

Wow, 5150… you forgot to take your ritalin today, didn’t you.

Hey, dork, the next time a Dawg gets caught with a duffle bag full of blow, or one of our students starts casing out government buildings for terrorist attacks by Al Qaida like students at YOUR school have done…

… then maybe open your big, fat mouth.

Until then… STFU.

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:48 pm

Grantham’s The Man…do you think you can ask his mom to let him borrow one of her Braziers? He really need some support for those moobs.

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
8:50 pm

UGAbugMUTT…..Hahaha MAKE BE you Internet Tuff boy.

UGABugKiller

April 14th, 2012
8:53 pm

GIT = Georgia Institute of Terrorism.

How does it feel, knowing all that foreign money coming into your school, that y’all could be supporting America’s enemies around the world be teaching the next generation of terrorists Nuclear Physics or Electrical Engineering so they can make bigger and better bombs?

Talk about taking the money and not even caring where it comes from.

pj

April 14th, 2012
8:55 pm

Enjoyed watching the game on the flat screen today. As good and fast as our D is, it was cool to see the flare passes working and bobo using the team speed to his advantadge.
Young guys like Vasser, Ramik, Ray Drew and Garrison Smith looked great – and Crowell, Malcolme, Samuel seemed to run with a bit of a chip on their shoulder – knowing KM and TG are coming for their playing time.
Next year, if Murray leaves, we are in great hands with Lemay/Mason and Jay Rome’s TD was the highlight for me.
If we can get through the next 90 days with no more suspensions – and find a way to beat Missouri – this is shaping up to be a magical season.

Bawney Fwank

April 14th, 2012
8:58 pm

All this bad-doggie behavior is Bush’s and the Gator’s fault!

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:02 pm

WOW GT educates terrorists? You might be right. We have educated NASA pilots, Navy Air Force & Marine pilots, and a US President among others. The US has brought Terror to many foreign countries. UGa educated Fake Blonde Drunk white chicks to be Government school teachers. Sorry that Foreign Students are smarter than the Geogia trash that can gets into UGa.

If Georgia had government educated students that could actually understand technology and get the US back in TOP in world economies then you wouldn’t feel so insecure.

.

April 14th, 2012
9:04 pm

@5150 — Really, it is way past time to grow up…give it a try.

@Jeff Schultz — Interesting that Spurrier’s players never seem to miss any games due to suspensions. Given that, which school actually administers discipline and which one doesn’t?

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:11 pm

http://www.ajc.com/sports/georgia-tech/job-fair-caters-to-1417179.html

TECH does this because the STUDENT athletes at TECH have VALUE in their Diploma that UGa mutts just can’t find in Athens.

.

April 14th, 2012
9:12 pm

@ 5150 — “We have educated NASA pilots, Navy Air Force & Marine pilots, and a US President among others”

Who is the “we” you refer to? Are you know asking us to believe you actually attended GT? I think it is well chronicled that you never attended GT and are just a childish troll.

rusty

April 14th, 2012
9:17 pm

Jeff, are you sure nobody got high? If you gave the football team a drug test right now, more than half would test positive. After all, it’s SATURDAY IN ATHENS!

alpharetta alice

April 14th, 2012
9:20 pm

gotta love mcgarrity’s “sweep it under the rug” policy….wouldn’t expect anything less out of the athens septic tank…ugabugkilla might wanna let that cut between his nose and chin heal up…know what i mean…

Mr. Ed

April 14th, 2012
9:20 pm

Hey Secretariat….I hit it first!

evil empire

April 14th, 2012
9:22 pm

we punish our players and they don’t…sthu…either change your policy or your recruiting…idiots…

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:22 pm

.

I can’t say WE?
Mot UGa fans never attended UGa or even go to the games.
I have been attending TECH games since 74. I am a TECH fan WE more than 80% of the Mutt fans on the AJC blogs.

DILLIGAF

April 14th, 2012
9:40 pm

What’s McGarity “sweeping under the rug”, Alice?

GATA!
UGA/85′

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:42 pm

Pitbull

April 14th, 2012
9:49 pm

Nah, we never hear anything bad come out of Tech until the NCAA announces an investigation and Tech forfeits an ACC championship and goes on 4 years probation.

It’s happened twice in the last 10 years.

Tech just successfully begged its 1998 ACC title back on the first probation.

At Tech the rotton cheating starts at the top with the Tech Pres down through the AD, the Johnson to the players and lets not forget the alums like Lizzard Larry.

P-Man

April 14th, 2012
9:49 pm

At some point, it sure would be nice to read comments that actually pertained to the column, and not just sophomoric name calling and posturing (and that comes from fans of ALL teams).

I enjoyed the Spring game. That’s all it was. Thought the offense and the defense played well and saw some potential. Looking forward to the season, and hoping the Dawgs do well.

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:54 pm

P-Man did you see anything in Murray’s game that makes you think he is really a Heisman Candidate?

5150 UOAD

April 14th, 2012
9:59 pm

The Black team was actually wearing White? was this what the uniforms looked like?

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=401281249882616&set=p.401281249882616&type=1&theater

quirkysmirky

April 14th, 2012
10:03 pm

Get it straight people, Greg McGarity was at Florida during the whole Urban Meyer arrest extravaganza. McGarity wouldn’t care if half of Mark Richt’s team got arrested, as long as they win a National Championship trophy or two. Like I said, nice guys, they end up last.

Game Changer

April 14th, 2012
10:05 pm

No way Aaron Murray should be the starter over Mason. Football is a team effort but everything begins with the QB overall and Murray will cost GA early and ofter against good teams.

Dont care what anyone claims, Aaron Murray is not the best QB at GA nor does he give GA the best opportunity to win.

evil empire

April 14th, 2012
10:06 pm

5150, the liberty bowl patch is a nice touch…one of uga’s crowning moments under cmr…losing a bowl game to a conference usa team…take away donnan’s recruits, and…well you know the story…