Let’s slow down rush to judgment on taxi incident

Mark Richt is right to take a wait-and-see attitude on the taxi cab case. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt is right to take a wait-and-see attitude on the taxi cab case. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

While coverage of the reported taxi cab incident in Athens allegedly involving four UGA football players has been pretty restrained in-state, the smear on Mark Richt’s program already is under way elsewhere.

Just check out this teaser headline early Friday on the Sporting News Today site: “UGA players attack fellow cab passengers.”

So much for due process and sticking to the facts.

And the most salient fact in all of this so far is this: Even assuming the incident actually took place as described in the police report, we don’t know for sure that the offending individuals actually were UGA football players. One of the victims says they were football players but he didn’t know their names, and in the police report, which wasn’t filed until several days after the alleged incident, he doesn’t say how he knew they were football players. Let’s hope he was basing that assumption on more than them just being four big black guys.

Bottom line: Police are still investigating and no charges have been filed.

So far, Richt has handled this exactly right. He said he’s aware of the report and “I’m just waiting to see what’s going to happen from here, really. I don’t want to over- or underreact at this point.”

OK, so what if, after the case is investigated and adjudicated, it turns out that the incident happened just as described, the four individuals in question all were guilty, and all were Georgia football players. What then?

Early fan response in the blogosophere has leaned heavily toward “kick them off the team.” That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats, but the basic thinking seems to be that players represent the university and such behavior just isn’t acceptable. A line has to be drawn somewhere.

However, all such discussion is still jumping the gun. Until we know for sure that the unknown suspects are indeed Georgia Bulldogs, everyone would do well to emulate Richt’s response.

TWO-MINUTE DRILL

As are most fans, I’m pleased to hear that in the post-Jon Fabris era kicker Blair Walsh will be allowed to kick it deep and go for a touchback more often. But as I noted last week, the main problem with the Dogs’ kickoffs the past couple of years wasn’t so much Fabris’ insistence on those high, short directional kicks as it was the lousy coverage that followed.

So it’s good to hear that’s being rethought as well, with Walsh saying, “I know we’re going down there and trying to bust helmets up. We’re literally just trying to beat the guy in front of us and go get the guy. It’s not a lot of schemes. It’s a lot of old-school football involved in our kickoff coverage. … You’re going to see a lot of guys hustle, a lot of fast stuff.”

If the Dogs get off those early blocks, make more of those first hits stick and close those open lanes in the coverage, it won’t matter so much where the ball comes down. …

It was also encouraging to see that Richt made the Dogs roll 200 yards — up the field and back — in an exhausting punishment drill at the end of Thursday’s practice because of too many penalties. That was one of the 2009 team’s biggest problems and should be near the top of the coach’s list of things to fix this season.

223 comments Add your comment

Investigate, then report? Why would I do that?

April 2nd, 2010
11:22 am

Agreed. I haven’t heard of any indication other than these guys were large & black and in Athens to indicate that they were football players. Why would Sporting News wait to run the story? After all, that would mean they would have to actually do some investigative reporting.

FalconUGAFan

April 2nd, 2010
11:22 am

I think the fanbase is clearly still in the IF mode. If they did it, then yes it is not what we would expect from representatives of our school.

I like the penalty rolls too, although I hated them when I did them long ago :)

Investigate, then report? Why would I do that?

April 2nd, 2010
11:24 am

BTW – if they any of these guys are football players, CMR needs to lay down some severe punishment.

mark

April 2nd, 2010
11:25 am

If the details of this incident as recorded in the link in your blog are correct then I certainly hope these clowns get kicked off the team. The story as it is recounted in this report is disgusting to say the least and no amount of discipline within the football program will change these cretins into decent people.

Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

April 2nd, 2010
11:28 am

i just dont want this to be a repeat of 2008 when a lot of players were getting into trouble. we already have a lot of things working in our favor (schedule, depth, returning starters, etc)and would hate to see it go to waste.

Low Country Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
11:36 am

“Early fan response in the blogosophere has leaned heavily toward “kick them off the team.” That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats.” Hitting a woman deserves severe punishment! I don’t how you were raised but if that’s your opinion then you had pretty terrible upbringing sir. “IF” this is true, then the players or player need to be kicked off the team. If this was a bunch of white guys doing this to a black couple, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson wouldn’t be calling for immediate dismissal WITHOUT the facts.

Low Country Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
11:37 am

Excuse me would be calling for dismissal.

Dbalcer

April 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

The story reminds me of the one where Moreno was accused this year of hitting a drunk student. The late filing of the report and the fact the driver didn’t call it in makes me doubt the charges. With cellphones with cameras all over these days they could have taken a picture of the guys or called it in right then. I would think their would be a curfew for our players during spring training.

1eyedJack

April 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

Why are you blocking my comments Bill?

Dbalcer

April 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

Forgot to add Moreno was not charged the allegations were bogus and I think these will be too.

Scott

April 2nd, 2010
11:38 am

Richt’s response is correct at this point as there are several factors that still need to be considered. If it is determined that the incident happened just as these initial reports indicate and football players were invilved then these guys should be severly disciplined including being removed from the team.

1eyedJack

April 2nd, 2010
11:40 am

“That would be a pretty severe punishment for some slaps in the back of the head and terroristic threats”

You think? What would it take?

UGADawg83

April 2nd, 2010
11:47 am

I read the police report and the cab drivers referred to one of the players as “Derek” and described them as four black males. The only “Derek” on our roster is a reserve tight end from Gainesville. One problem with that, he’s a white guy.

Good Grief

April 2nd, 2010
11:47 am

If the reports are true, I dont care who they are they should not be on the football team. Give their scholly to someone who values it and has respect for the fact that they are a representative of the univeristy.

mark

April 2nd, 2010
11:48 am

Bill if you think kicking the players off the team for their role in this sordid affair is too severe, then you either didn’t read the allegations or you really are a very sad individual. I can guarantee that these people would never work for me again. These are very serious charges and if found to be true should result in immediate dismissal from the university. How you could ever cheer for a vicious player like these or the team that keeps them is astounding. Again, I reiterated that my statements are predicated on the fact the the charges are found to be true.

Portland Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
11:49 am

I have no problem with kicking these clowns off the team if these stories are true. We dont have to tolerate that kind-of behavior.

Bobby Bowden

April 2nd, 2010
11:50 am

I hope Markie Mark will be as strict as I used to be, cause we know I ran a tight ship.

bad apple dawg

April 2nd, 2010
11:54 am

Kick the damn thugs off the team if they hit the woman upside the head. Richt Van Winkle is still asleep at the wheel. He really needs to do a house cleaning and get rid of Garner for recruiting these thugs. BTW BOO BOO needs to go as well as the strength and conditioning coach. CMR still has a lot of work to do !!!

Marcus

April 2nd, 2010
11:56 am

It just sounds like this couple ran into 4 big black guys and ASSumed that they played football.

Toppers point

April 2nd, 2010
11:57 am

One point I would like to make is this………. these guys may have been football players, either X- UGA players or players in the NFL. If you have ever been to Toppers you will always see your fair share of X-UGA players and many of their friends on NFL rosters. Last year there were a bunch of LA Laker players in Athens partying after the USC game. My point is there are all kinds of people partying downtown in Athens, so let’s not always blame current UGA players.

Scooter dawgs

April 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

Why were these players taking a cab instead of emerging from an alley on their scooters? Something is really fishy here!

RxDawg

April 2nd, 2010
11:59 am

Im thinking of Ogre from Revenge of the Nerds

Amsterdam Sam

April 2nd, 2010
12:00 pm

If they were football players and they are found guilty, they should be kicked off the team after the proper jurisprudence is administered. If it turns out they were not football players or the story is otherwise bogus, then the accusers should be kicked out of school and charged with slander. Either way, something needs to be done, for something (assault or filing false and slanderous charges) illegal and discusting occured, Those jumping on either side of the bandwagon without knowing the facts are simple minded cretins with a bias outweighing the facts as known right now.

Georgia Fan

April 2nd, 2010
12:01 pm

apparently Bill won’t let me link to it but there are other “Derricks” on the UGA team than the one you mentioned, UGADawg83

Georgia Fan

April 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

I am praying that this doesn’t turn out the way UGA fans fear, but if it does turn out to be true, my heart will be broken as I will no longer have a college football team to cheer for.

dawgster

April 2nd, 2010
12:07 pm

First of all let the facts come out, then and only then should the appropriate punishment be handed out.. By no means do i approve of the reported actions, but the individuals involved should be looked at to see if this is there normal behavior..If the allegations are indeed true, then more than likely there was drinking involved, probably, with all parties, but that has yet to be determinced and should not exceuse it…However, kicking the players off the team may be extreme based on the incident, I don’t know, but i’m sure the coaches will get to the bottom of it and the truth will come out. I hope it turns out as a non-issue, the dawgs surely do not need this kind of publicity. We are dealing with young people here and believe it or not they do make dumb decisions, some learn from it and grow up and you never have an issue with them again, others don’t seem to learn…I hope everyone will let the coaches and the school decide the appropriate actions to take if the charges are true, but whatever happens, this will open the door for all of the dawg bashers…

BurningRedBleedingBlack

April 2nd, 2010
12:08 pm

This sounds like abunch of crap to me. Your a student from UGA and you don’t know if they’re are football players. i dont buy it at all.

Jeff White

April 2nd, 2010
12:11 pm

I wonder if Bill King even read the police report. If that were to have happened to my kids I don’t think I would marginalize charges like Battery or Terroristic Threats like Bill has done.

Joe in Memphis

April 2nd, 2010
12:15 pm

If the charges are determined to be true and they were committed by members of the football team, they should be kicked off the team. Read the report. What is alleged is disgusting. There’s no place for that on the team.

WE TRASH THIS STATE

April 2nd, 2010
12:16 pm

Georgia Fan

April 2nd, 2010
12:18 pm

Bill, your comment moderation really sucks. You’re worse than Cynthia Tucker when it comes to not allowing posts that you disagree with.

Old Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
12:23 pm

It’s obvious no one knows the facts yet. The fact that the husband is a former college football player, although it was Div III school Sewanee, may mean he knew some of the offending people from football camps. However, until all the facts are known, what’s the sense in reporting it in a national publication like the Sporting News … it’s simply conjecture. If they were UGA players, then there’s a story to report and punishment to be handed out by CMR.

End of story!

ActuaryDawg

April 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

Unless I’m missing someone on the roster, Derrick Lott is only guy that could possibly fit the description. If he can otherwise account for his whereabouts that night, then Richt should be able to quickly dismiss this garbage and move on.

1eyedJack

April 2nd, 2010
12:29 pm

If true, you’re either off the team for good or you go spend a year at Georgia Military College.

SOGADOG

April 2nd, 2010
12:31 pm

The players are innocent until proven guilty. However, if it did happen, it shows CMR should have dropped the hammer on Mettenberger so the other players get the message that bad behavior wont be tolerated. It seems our players are more focused on partying than football and school. The lack of focus and discipline off the field translates into poor play, penalties, turnovers and poor preparation and execution on the field.

a

April 2nd, 2010
12:33 pm

ditto on comment moderation. nice censorship, bill. i’m going to read tim tucker’s blog.

ARdawg

April 2nd, 2010
12:34 pm

Saint Simons was in Athens over the weekend and lost his girlfriend because he is a wuss. Now 4 Georgia football players have to pay? How about getting the facts before the convictions?

how2fish

April 2nd, 2010
12:35 pm

Athens is not a really big place and I doubt there are any guys on the football team that we don’t have a few hundred pictures of…the police will get to the bottom of it..of course they will be looking for the perp’s not just football players still one would think you could either confrim or rule out any UGA football players role in this very sorid affair faster than every large black man in Athens..but the police report tells a much grimmer story than just a slap in the back of the head, things were said that are beyond the pale period. And sorry I maybe showing my age but they were slapping around and threating a young woman. No excuses for WHOEVER did that.If of course its true to start with. But if it was my wife,sister,or daughters how could you wait days to report? That is the strange part to me.

Dawglasville

April 2nd, 2010
12:45 pm

Get all of the facts first then weigh in with both feet.

How2fish

April 2nd, 2010
12:49 pm

ARdawg St.Simons had a girlfriend ?? Wait you must have meant Yellow Fuzz!

Geez, Dbalcer...

April 2nd, 2010
12:51 pm

…CURFEW – CURFEW? Are kidding me? Curfew? For college kids? Are you freakin’ kidding me? They don’t even have curfews during the regular season, except the night before the game, when they all stay together in a hotel. Geez, son, get a life, or better yet, get a clue….

Greg

April 2nd, 2010
12:55 pm

UGA Arrest Count: 4 and counting

Greg

April 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

Excuse me the UGA Aresst Count is at 5.

Greg

April 2nd, 2010
12:57 pm

Jay

April 2nd, 2010
12:59 pm

Greg is stupid

dap01

April 2nd, 2010
1:04 pm

At least CMR does not sleep in a padded cell. He has not banned and threatened a reporter.

Urban Myer is wacko!

PMC

April 2nd, 2010
1:15 pm

There are 3 sides to every story and if these people were afraid… they would not have waited until TUESDAY to report it.

A bunch of drunk people in a taxi got into an argument (which happens EVERY SINGLE NIGHT in Athens these guys say… football player and all of a sudden it’s everywhere.

Hopefully no ones dock shoes and pastel shorts got soiled.

Delusional Dawg

April 2nd, 2010
1:19 pm

This is all Urban Meyer’s fault!

Dawg 39

April 2nd, 2010
1:23 pm

I agree that severe punishments are due to the 4 males involved. Were they football players? I hope not. If they were UGA students, then the school should send them packing. This involves more than what CMR should do or can do. However, I have serious doubts about whether any football players were involved.
I am in favor of everything I have heard or read about how the kick off team is going to operate. Special teams will be special in a positive way from now on.

$750K

April 2nd, 2010
1:26 pm

The real crime is that we are paying some football coach $750K when the education budget is being slashed.