Richt, Georgia have been hurt by too many recruiting risks

Mark Richt has seen several players arrested and suspended this offseason, including departed running back Isaiah Crowell. (AP photo)

Mark Richt has seen several players arrested and suspended this offseason, including former tailback Isaiah Crowell. (AP photo)

HOOVER, Ala. – Mark Richt ignored the red flags and was among the nation’s coaches who lined up around the block for Isaiah Crowell.

He already has seen seven members from his vaunted 2011 recruiting class either kicked out, flunked out or never academically qualified to begin with (“Dream Team”? Anybody?).

Arrests and suspensions likely will lead to four defensive starters missing games next season.

There is a problem again at Georgia — and it matters little that it’s a different one from the past.

Richt, to his credit, no longer responds to players’ criminal or just plain stupid actions by merely making them run stadium steps or suspending their dessert privileges. He has come a long way from enabling Odell Thurman. He suspends players. He kicks them out. He tries to make them understand that getting four or five stars stamped on your forehead by a recruiting site and the ego trip of a signing-day news conference shouldn’t be accompanied by a sense of entitlement (even if it too often does).

The problem now is that too many of the players Georgia is recruiting should be red-lined. The line of risk needs to be pulled back.

Obviously, Richt and his staff are getting a lot right. The Bulldogs are favored to win the SEC East. They’re projected to open the season as a top-10 team.

But imagine if they actually had everybody there.

“We’re not recruiting bad kids,” Richt said in a private media session with local writers Thursday at SEC Media Days. “We’re recruiting a lot of great kids. Other schools are recruiting the same guys.”

Have the negative headlines of this offseason given him reason to pay closer attention to a recruit’s personal blemishes?

“We do find out as much as we possibly can,” he said. “There are rules on how many times we can call a kid and see him in person. We try to maximize those things.”

Sorry. But losing seven of 26 kids from one recruiting class in one year screams that there’s a need for a better filter.

Richt was accurate when he said, “To say that issues aren’t happening around the country isn’t really realistic.”

But losing at least five starters (Crowell plus four on defense suspended) is significant.

Crowell, after multiple suspensions and missteps his freshman season, was bounced following his arrest on felony gun charges. Cornerback Sanders Commings is gone for two games following an arrest for domestic violence. Safety Baccari Rambo (possibly four games), cornerback Branden Smith and linebacker Alec Ogletree all reportedly tested positive for marijuana. Three other freshmen (Nick Marshall, Chris Sanders, Sanford Seay) were kicked out for their reported involvement in a campus theft.

Some of Georgia’s problems can be attributed to having a tougher drug-and-alcohol policy than other schools. But that doesn’t explain everything. The recruiting mistakes will hurt.

The we’ll-be-better-off-without-him rallying cries regarding Crowell makes for a nice locker-room speech. But it’s just not factual. He was Georgia’s best running back — by a long shot — and the Dogs’ potential issues on the offensive line don’t suggest just anybody can be productive.

This will be a team that must rely on its defense and its resolve. The Dogs’ ability to rebound from a 0-2 start with 10 consecutive wins last season said something about the character of the players who aren’t getting arrested (even if that was followed by two more losses to LSU and Michigan State). It’s a team with a solid quarterback (Aaron Murray), strong leadership and several players who bypassed the NFL draft last season to come back for another season. But the suspensions and player losses will hurt.

“There’s been more attrition the last couple of years than there has been since we’ve been at Georgia,” Richt said. “But sometimes that happens. We’ll still have plenty of guys to field a team.”

Then again, if just having enough players was the criteria, there would be celebrations in Toledo and Ole Miss. The question now is whether the Dogs’ chances for a special season have been undone before they’ve even played a game.

By Jeff Schultz

Previous SEC Media Days blogs

• Arkansas living with deserved humiliation after Petrino firing

• Muschamp getting heat but deserves some time at Florida

• Slive: SEC needs to be vigilant to avoid Penn State situation

Digi-blog gives you a snapshot of SEC media daze

779 comments Add your comment

SECya

July 19th, 2012
3:12 pm

Chi Town

July 19th, 2012
3:14 pm

Respect, Saban.

Dawg Haus

July 19th, 2012
3:14 pm

Jeff, that’s definitely a fear in the back of my mind but I’m hoping for the best. It’s do or die in 2012.

Spanky

July 19th, 2012
3:15 pm

Jeff, spot on! Sometimes the really big, prize-winning fish are poisonous…question is, would they’ve been poison elsewhere??

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:16 pm

Surprise, surprise another anti UGA blog by Jeff Schultz.

Spanky

July 19th, 2012
3:17 pm

Also, how big was it that McGarity scheduled the Carolina game in the middle of the season?

zzggyy

July 19th, 2012
3:17 pm

I truly enjoy your columns, but this time you are full of crap.

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:18 pm

Do I have to repost all the trouble that has happened at other schools like LSU, Auburn, TN, and FSU that I put on another stupid blog about so called UGA discipline problems?

Steve

July 19th, 2012
3:18 pm

Darn, I wasn’t first, what a loser I am! Jeff, like Richt said, everyone pretty much recruits the same top high school players. Why is it do you think that these problems almost always happen more at UGA then at any other school?

Dawg Haus

July 19th, 2012
3:18 pm

Kerryb, I don’t think it’s necessarily anti-UGA. Jeff is just asking if the program has shot itself in the foot a little too much. Since Georgia’s worst enemy is oftentimes Georgia, both on the field and in the offseason, this Dawg has to agree with him.

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:18 pm

Spanky, I don’t think McGarity did that. That was the SEC office that made up the SEC schedule.

Steve

July 19th, 2012
3:19 pm

Kerryb, how is this blog anti-UGA? All he is doing is speaking the truth. This coming from a UGA fan.

Steve

July 19th, 2012
3:20 pm

Spanky, no SEC schools have any control over their conference schedule. Follow college football much?

quillian

July 19th, 2012
3:24 pm

I agree that it is an issue, but it is an issue with any top team in the country. You pointed out UGA’s tougher standards which is likely the reason it is more noticable at UGA. Other schools are not making the issues public until it becomes an even greater issue. As much as I’d love to have a championship team with a bunch of choir boys, it is just not possible. Duke and Vandy haven’t had much success that way. Big time college football requires you take a chance on these kinds of kids. Sometimes they don’t work out. If Richt hadn’t recruited the “Dream Team” and hadn’t rattled off 10 wins last year we’d be looking for a new coach. Sometimes you have to take a chance on some bad seeds and weed them out when necessary

Pitbull

July 19th, 2012
3:25 pm

My confusion with labeling the guys who did not work out as recruiting risks is that those guys were being recruited by most of the BCS schools in the South and out of the South. I do not agree that we recruit risky kids. They come to Georgia and act out and are booted out as they should be.

I think the same thing happens at the other schools too, but those schools are not as transparent about it and the media there are more aliegned with the athletic programs so the public does not hear about it. Look at what Muschamp inherited at UF from Meyer. Meyer left because he lost control of his animals yet all we hear about is the crystal that he won.

You can’t have it both ways unless a sportwriter spins it that way.

sheepdawg

July 19th, 2012
3:26 pm

thug U. we need a credible coach

Hog Wyld

July 19th, 2012
3:26 pm

Petrino never had this trouble.

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:27 pm

Here we go:

Auburn-2011 4 players arrest for committing a home invasion
TN-2009 two players arrested for personal armed robbery at convenience stoer
2010 Da’Rick Rodgers and other players involved in bar brawl and beat an off duty
police officer uncoonscious
LSU -2011 has players accused of a bar room brawl while they are out after curfew. Stomp one man in the head causing serious injury. October 2011 players including the Homey Badger suspended for marijuana usage
FSU- Top recruit James Wilder has been arrested twice in the last year. Once for obstructing officer and a second time for probation violation. Last week Greg Reid is arrest for marijuana possession.

The difference in UGA and a lot of other schools is two things. One is that UGA has random drug testing where a lot of schools refuse to do. Second Athens-Clarke Co and University Police apparently have a zero tolerance for anything including University athletes

If IC had gone to Bama he could have committed the same crime in T town and you would have never heard about it. I guarantee you that if Trent Richardson was caught in T town last year at a road check with an illegal gun someone would have been called within the athletic program to come and pick him up. That is the difference in UGA and a lot of other programs.

LHarding Dawg

July 19th, 2012
3:27 pm

While I usually enjoy your column, this one stinks. How about some love for the guys who bought in to everything and are doing well despite being brought up in some unfortunate situations. This type of column might be fine for April or May, but I’m getting ready for some serious football with the players who have done everything right. Not, in your opinion, everything wrong.

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:28 pm

Spanky — That’s a question that can’t be answered, obviously. Either: 1) Would kid be different, or 2) Would standards be different? No way of knowing.

quillian

July 19th, 2012
3:29 pm

Right on PItbull. Miami and FSU won championships in the 90’s with a bunch of stealing, cheating thugs and no one has a problem with that. The problem is UGA does the right thing and hasn’t won a championship. If they one a championship no one would even remember the off the field stuff

BS Patrol

July 19th, 2012
3:29 pm

Yawn….ZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:29 pm

zzggyy — “I truly enjoy your columns, but this time you are full of crap.”

You make a strong argument.

[...] Richt, Georgia have been hurt by too many recruiting risks [...]

EC Dawg

July 19th, 2012
3:30 pm

All the majors recruit the same kids and divy them up somewhat equally. Athens and other major college towns have all the same temptations. If you agree on those two points, then it has to come down to Athens PD doesn’t coddle anyone and UGA AA is more transparent than other schools. Period.

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:30 pm

KerryB — Question: If I had written a column on the discipline problems at LSU or Auburn, would you have responded, “But what about the discipline problems at Georgia”?

Dawgfan__1980

July 19th, 2012
3:30 pm

Obviously you missed Richt’s television Q and A later in the day, where he responded “to say there aren’t issues around the country, just isn’t realistic.” It is about time members of this media stood up and held the other schools accountable for their actions or just realized that we play by a different set of rules in Athens. I am not arguing one way or another on whether or not we should change our drug testing policy. I am not saying that we too should have off-duty policemen giving athletes a ride home from the bar. I am not saying that our players should have telephone numbers they call when they get in a little sticky situation. Mark Richt has chosen for them to live by the same rules every citizen does and I respect his decision.

For the media to continuously look toward Athens and point fingers, while almost completely ignoring Jimbo Fisher’s handling of Greg Reid’s drug possession charge “internally” is a joke. Look, I realize Atlanta is the biggest city in the SEC, and we have a lot of people in Athens trying to break a story. It would just be nice to point out what the real problem is. College athletes do not always arrive at their school wise their years. Some schools have learned how to handle the situations that arise and some have chose not to “handle” them. To act like this is a recruiting problem is a joke. To act like this is a UGA problem is a joke as well. We all recruit the same type kids.

Hollywould

July 19th, 2012
3:31 pm

As an AU fan it is just a matter of time before any school loses recruits because of screw-ups. All schools recruit the same 4 and 5 star players. Auburn has had their share just like Georgia. You have to recruit the so-called best players or you will be left behind. Not Richt’s fault.

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:31 pm

Steve — I can’t answer that. Like I wrote above, I believe Mark Richt is responding to the problems correctly.

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:31 pm

Steve — I can’t answer that. Like I wrote above, I believe Mark Richt is responding to the problems correctly.

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

quillian

July 19th, 2012
3:29 pm

Right on PItbull. Miami and FSU won championships in the 90’s with a bunch of stealing, cheating thugs and no one has a problem with that. The problem is UGA does the right thing and hasn’t won a championship. If they one a championship no one would even remember the off the field stuff

_________________________________________________________

So, what you are saying is that if UGA wins a championship the players can then run amuck and that would be okay.

7576DAWG

July 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

The leadership still isn’t where it should be. The seniors are more interested in being one of the crowd not sounding like a coach, being cool but as I have told my son many times that’s the difference in maturity in the young crowd verses the adults and they will find out how immature a lot of his peer group really was in their teens and twenty’s in a few years when he is not biased.
There are two different ways to have leadership. First you have maturity and second you have the leadership a player shows in his conduct, the way he prepares for a game and his results.
The player that I am most impressed with is Jarvis Jones but most are way behind him.

hot diggity dawg

July 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

It would be nice to have a head coach who seemed to have a solid handle on the program.

How long have we been talking about discipline in the program?

How many seasons have we been trying to rebuild the O-line?

How long has it been since we’ve had a solid backfield?

How much longer before things are fixed on special teams?

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:33 pm

Pensacola Dawg — I deleted your comment because of racist overtones. If you want to edit and repost, feel free.

Spanky

July 19th, 2012
3:34 pm

Steve, point taken, but you don’t have to be a douchebag about it!

Jeff Schultz

July 19th, 2012
3:34 pm

Dawgfan_1980 — That quote is in the column. (Obviously you missed that.)

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:35 pm

Hollywould

July 19th, 2012
3:31 pm

As an AU fan it is just a matter of time before any school loses recruits because of screw-ups. All schools recruit the same 4 and 5 star players. Auburn has had their share just like Georgia. You have to recruit the so-called best players or you will be left behind. Not Richt’s fault.

___________________________________________________________

Very good point. I believe AU and Bama were recruiting IC hard also. I don’t think it is any of the programs fault. It is home training before they get there. Most of these kids where raised in one parent homes and were not taught how to act right. IC would have gotten in trouble eventually whether he was in Athens, Auburn, or T town. A college coach cannot keep constant tabs on 85 players every minute of every day. They are going to do what they do.

wandering Dog

July 19th, 2012
3:36 pm

I’ve lived in central Alabama, and smack dab in Gainesville, FL. I can tell you, factually, that players do
things at AllBarn, Allybammer and Gaturdville that would have our guys on the front page..there you don’t hear of it after the first day. Not always football, either. Very eye-opening to have lived there.
Meanwhile, everyone has access to Rivals, etc…and knows most everything about most every recruit their team signs on natty signing day. Dog fans were ECSTATIC when we signed Isiah and almost as giddy when Washaun signed. The. those warts pop up, they get kicked off and suddenly Richt signed
a player he should have known better than to sign. Folks, either get on the wagon or get off, but for
Dogs sake, stop the fair weather fan-ness!
Go Dogs, GATA

quillian

July 19th, 2012
3:37 pm

kerryb, I’m not saying that if they win a championship they can do whatever they want. What I’m saying is that the Bloggers will not be writing stupid articles about how we recruit the wrong guys. I think the way UGA does things is the right way. Just like you pointed out LSU had issues last year, but they won the SEC and made it to the NC game. Do you hear the media making a big deal about their off field issues? No. Don’t be that guy that twists things…..

Steve

July 19th, 2012
3:38 pm

Sorry Spanky, not that you did but I get sick of the morons who come on here saying how easy Georgia’s SEC schedule is and makes jokes about it. They obviously don’t understand how it works. Very soon, UGA will have the toughest SEC schedule. Go Dawgs! Oh and t-minus 2 minutes until the nerds get on here and make jokes thanks to their obsession with UGA.

Frank

July 19th, 2012
3:38 pm

Jeff Schultz

Everyone in the country was recruiting the same guys. Speaking particularly of Crowell, Duke and Cal even offered him.

https://twitter.com/Mark_Schlabach/status/218869717602013184

JB

July 19th, 2012
3:40 pm

Georgia has lost 28 scholarship football players for one reason or the other ( I have listed them on the other blog being run now under ” I don’t recruit bad kids”) in the last 24 months or so. This has to hurt in pure numbers….and a big distraction for the team and it’s goals, Yet Mark Richt is about as good a man as you will find. Lot’s of theories, but something is not right.

Falcon 34

July 19th, 2012
3:42 pm

Great article Jeff.

Our Georgaia Bulldogs are simply mediocre and it’s tolerated (please save the anti-UGA bias here; I’m a UGA grad, fan, and ticket holder).

Get ready for the litany of excuses we’re about to hear from the Richt Sycophant Crowd.

1) Other teams recruit the same players
2) We won 10 games last year
3) We’re only a few plays away from winning the SEC
4) UGA’s drug policy is stricter than other SEC teams
5) The Athens police are out to get UGA players and the Football team
6) Athens is more of a party town and players get into more trouble
7) Insert standard Richt excuse here ___________

The simple fact remains that UGA is mediocre and nothing more and has been since 2005. Many can and will fans like us as “Anti-UGA,” “trolls,” or whatever slander the RSC (Richt Sycophant Crowd) chooses.

I like Richt and think he did some great things and will go down as one of UGA’s best head coaches in history (and in all honestly, a new offensive coordinator could take us back to relevance), but for whatever reason, the Dawgs haven’t really sniffed true title aspirations since 2005 before DJ got hurt. Before we hear the 2007 chants, getting beat by a really terrible South Carolina team and absolutely embarrassed in Tennessee and beating Florida Gators team with an injured Tim Tebow doesn’t really matter that much.

Before you start hurling insults and vitriol, answer this simple question…………….

When is the last time that our Georgia Bulldogs have won a big game of major consequence and importance?

Dawgfan__1980

July 19th, 2012
3:42 pm

Jeff–I believe you went back and put that quote in there. Just kidding.

Spanky

July 19th, 2012
3:44 pm

Jeff, if there was one thing about the way that CMR recruits that you would change, what would it be? Me? I’m fairly certain that there’s more to it than any one of us would consider. I try to give CMR benifits of alot of doubts, but you made some good points! Anyway, I’m sure Les Miles will welcome Crowell to his squad in a couple of years, just like Metty!

kerryb

July 19th, 2012
3:45 pm

hot diggity dawg

July 19th, 2012
3:32 pm

It would be nice to have a head coach who seemed to have a solid handle on the program.

How long have we been talking about discipline in the program?

How many seasons have we been trying to rebuild the O-line?

How long has it been since we’ve had a solid backfield?

How much longer before things are fixed on special teams?

_____________________________________________________________________

I think the problem is that the assistant coaches in the past got comfortable with their jobs and did not do the job. Martinez played the same defense every year with no changes and became very predictable. Searles had a good year his first year and the line went down hill after that. I like the way the line played last year under Friend. Richt’s mistake was that he waited a little too long to pull the trigger on getting rid of coaches who were not doing the job. I think the backfield last year was pretty good until the injuries crept in. I believe the new guys we have will do things the right way and will be great players. Our special teams use to be one of the best in the SEC but they have had three different special teams coaches over the last three years with coaching changes. I believe they will be better this year the second year under the same coaches. Also, I saw a video of this new kicker kicking a 60 yard FG in a game last year and he has a real strong leg. I don’t think he had a return on a kickoff last year. I honestly believe things are looking up especially since we got the bad eggs (Crowell and Thomas) off the team.

Wilson Pickett

July 19th, 2012
3:46 pm

Got meet Coach Richt and Coach Dooley today at the even. Jarvis was dressed out in his black and had the red tie going. One of my former HS football teammates is an assistant at Carver. I asked Paul Finebaum to ask Nick to explain the flip process in recruiting! He said …yeah right!! Just hung out on radio row and had a fun time. The SEC is the Man no doubt. The look on Nick’s face while signing the autographs of grown men and women is pricless to say the least. Had about 6-8 UGA fans fighting for Mark and Jarvis autographs as well. Ice the beer for we’re getting ready for some football. Sheet bout to get real. Roll Tide

JB

July 19th, 2012
3:47 pm

Falcon 34…………….So true. You nailed it.

savannadawg

July 19th, 2012
3:48 pm

Good God Jeff. What the hell are you talking about. ALL 17, 18, 19 year old kids are riskey. So what. Thats one of the reasons Coaches choose the profession they are in and that is why you should stay were you are. GET OVER IC!!!!!!! he is gone and I for one am not happy that he is. The one thing that is a miss here is the older and supposedly wiser football players that should have been looking out for stuff like this and stopping it in its tracks. I blame Mark Richt for not teaching the leaders of the team how to BABBY SIT! Because that’s what it is!! And the answer is YES they do need baby sitting.

quillian

July 19th, 2012
3:48 pm

Falcon 34, In 2007 they did finish #2 in the Nation. They couldn’t have been that overrated.