Let’s get right to some timely Junkyard Mail …
Bobby Dupree writes: Bill, I have to say I was shocked by the speed with which Mark Richt dismissed Isaiah Crowell from the team after his arrest. And I’m a little bit baffled. Why would the coach move so quickly to kick the kid off the team without even waiting to see if the charges stick or get reduced?
I’ve had that question from several fans, and unless Richt fills us in on why he acted so quickly, whatever we say is sheer speculation. I had expected Richt to wait to see what happened with the charges and then, if they were dismissed or reduced to misdemeanors, suspend Crowell for half a season. Depending on how the player reacted to that, I figured the coach would then either reinstate Crowell or dismiss him. But with Richt moving so quickly to get rid of Crowell on the same day he was arrested, I’ve got to figure that Isaiah was already on thinner ice with his head coach than any of us imagined. Perhaps there was more to last season’s troubles than was made public. The fact that Crowell also had three freshmen in the car with him and his buddy probably didn’t help matters. Richt may have seen him as a bad influence who needed to be removed. Also, I think that Richt, in acting so quickly and decisively with Crowell, was sending a message to the rest of the team. Frankly, I think if Richt had waited, he would have been only postponing the inevitable. Yes, it’s likely that if Crowell gets the felony charges reduced or dropped he’ll wind up playing for some other major school, possibly within the SEC. And, who knows, this time he might actually come to his senses and apply himself, stay out of trouble and become a star player. But I’d say there’s an equally good chance that the same deficiencies that hampered Crowell in Athens will show up wherever he plays.
Jerry Doster writes: Bill, what is it with Georgia’s tailbacks? OK, I know college kids are known for getting in trouble and our athletes aren’t the only ones crossing the line, but the string of incidents in recent years involving the Dogs’ tailback corps is really ridiculous. Dontavius Jackson, Washaun Ealey, Caleb King, Carlton Thomas, and now Isaiah Crowell — all in trouble in one way or another and all gone from the program before their eligibility expired. What’s going on here? No other position on the team has had such consistent problems. Is it time to look at the position coach and maybe ask what he’s doing wrong?
You’re not the first to ask whether any of this continuing turmoil with the running backs can be laid at the feet of their coach, Bryan McClendon, who got a hefty pay raise last year, up to $200,000, in large part because of his considerable prowess as a recruiter. There’s no denying his value to UGA in that regard. His two latest successes: Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley. Only those intimately familiar with the workings of the team can say for sure whether there’s anything McClendon could do differently that might make a difference, but it’s tough to pin the stupid things that college students do on their coaches. Still, I’d be surprised if McClendon isn’t part of some rather urgent discussions of what can be done to put an end to this. Perhaps Georgia needs to look at how it evaluates the non-football aspects of its recruits. As for Ken Malcome, Marshall, Gurley and the others stepping up to take on the seemingly cursed tailback spot at UGA, I like this piece of advice from Chris White of the Athens Banner-Herald: “You no longer have to be the next Herschel Walker. You just have to make it through college.”
Jim Parry writes: Bill, Has gun possession become another topic our athletic department staff and coaches need to address? We do not want to become the U. of Oklahoma and their Switzer-coached wild west teams. Last I heard, Americans have the right to possess firearms, with certain legal restrictions, of course. Maybe our coaches need to dig deeper as to which players own or possess firearms and just make sure 1) They are not obviously [illegal], i.e. scratched off serial numbers like Crowell’s Luger. 2) They are a legal type to possess. 3) Registered, if need be. 4) Proper permits are carried to own and/or conceal such weapons. 5) Mandate proper use education for firearms (maybe at a local firing range). 5) Find out WHY these athletes feel the need to carry around weapons in the first place (especially ones that aren’t of the weekend deer hunting variety). Do they need to pretend they’re “gangsta” in a college environment? Get ’em out of here, if that’s the case. Are they being threatened by others and feel they need it to defend themselves? Coaches, parents and maybe even police might need to know if that’s the case. Coaches, like it or not, are the closest guardians these athletes have on campus and they need to know personal information about their “kids” to help protect them. Even if it means protecting them from themselves.
Hey, remember the whole flap about the need for Georgia’s coaches to insure the kids all have valid driver’s licenses and all the effort that went into that? If they also have to take on weapons inventory, I’m not sure they’ll have any time left for coaching.
Travis Hill writes: Hey Bill, I hope and pray that we are able to keep Coach [Todd] Grantham around a long time, but truthfully in the back of my mind I am afraid he is going to be such a hot commodity that he will have a lot of options after this season. Do you think UGA would ever put the “Coach in waiting” tab on Grantham?
That whole coach-in-waiting tactic didn’t work out very well for West Virginia and Texas, so we may not see many more schools going that route. And I’m not sure Georgia would consider Grantham to be head coach material yet, based on much-publicized incidents the past couple of seasons. From Grantham’s point of view, I think it would depend on what sort of job offer he got. I don’t see him leaving Georgia simply to return to the NFL. As for a head coaching job, it would depend on where the offer came from. If it was from a mid-major or below, he’d have to ask himself if being a head coach there was really better than being a defensive coordinator in the SEC.
I’ll answer more Junkyard Mail next week, so if you have something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg, send it to email@example.com.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg