Fan talk: Richt’s problem isn’t discipline or risky recruiting, it’s perception (Updated)

Was it "risky" for UGA to recruit Isaiah Crowell? (Associated Press)

Was it "risky" for UGA to recruit Isaiah Crowell? (Associated Press)

So, SEC Media Days have come and gone, Mark Richt will be making his annual visit to the Cobb Galleria Monday, and season tickets will go into the mail the second week of August. Now, it’s starting to feel like football season! So let’s check the Junkyard Mail. …

EarthDawg writes: Bill, what do you think of these critics who blame Mark Richt’s recruiting for the disciplinary problems at Georgia, saying he’s taken too many risks and ignored “red flags” with players like Isaiah Crowell. They act like Richt is cruising reform schools looking for junior hoodlums. Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Crowell recruited by just about every major football program in the country? Aside from a reputation for taking himself out of the game a lot in high school, I don’t recall any red flags raised in advance about Crowell.

You’re right. Alabama, Florida, Southern Cal, Auburn and other schools offered a scholarship to Crowell, a consensus five-star prospect, and gladly would have enrolled him, yet you don’t see anyone questioning Nick Saban’s recruiting judgment in going after him. “We’re not recruiting bad kids,” Richt said this week. “We’re competing for the same guys everybody else is in the league.”

Looking at the disciplinary problems that have cropped up at UGA in the past year and concluding that Georgia’s head coach must need to change the sort of kids he recruits — especially without explaining what sort of players you would go after instead of the ones every school wants — is a facile argument that doesn’t take into account the realities and complexities of modern-day college football recruiting. As Richt reminded reporters, coaches are limited in the amount of contact they can have during recruiting and do the best they can to root out character flaws in advance. But they’re not able to peer into the future and see how an 18-year-old will react to the freedoms and temptations that come with attending a large university in a hard-partying town like Athens — particularly kids who’ve gotten the star treatment and been coddled and enabled throughout high school to the point that many don’t think everyday rules apply to them or don’t expect to be held accountable.

As for comparing Georgia’s situation with other schools, you have to factor in that not only does UGA have one of the strictest policies in the country for recreational drug use — with the quickest and stiffest penalties — but Georgia players also happen to reside in one of the most closely policed college towns around.

And once the players run afoul of the rules, Richt tends to come down on them harder than many other coaches. Do you really think Stephen Garcia would have lasted through five suspensions at UGA? And how many coaches would kick a quarterback off the team who’s good enough to become the starter at a school in the same conference — and not put any restrictions on where the player could go? Zach Mettenberger wound up at LSU, where first drug offenses rate no suspension and where last year three players (including the Honey Badger) missed just one game after apparently failing at least a second drug test.

Richt correctly noted this week that the playing field isn’t level in the SEC when it comes to drug policies or discipline. “Some people have policies that bring certain things to light and some people don’t,” he said. “To say these issues aren’t happening around the country [isn’t] really realistic.” Not only did Les Miles sign Mettenberger after he was kicked off Richt’s team, but last season Jordan Jefferson missed four games for LSU after being involved in a bar fight. Should Miles rethink his risky recruiting?

Certainly, there’ve also been problems at Auburn, where four players were kicked off the team for being charged in an armed robbery. And yet it’s Richt who carries this reputation for having discipline problems, not Gene Chizik.

It’s not that Richt has a discipline problem or a recruiting problem as much as he has a perception or publicity problem. UGA players get called out more because of tougher policies and get punished more severely. Perhaps the school’s publicists should try flipping the discussion by emphasizing the higher standards to which the Bulldogs are held and making that the topic of national and regional sports talk rather than the numbers of players who run afoul of the rules.

Richard Samuel is a prime example of an unselfish player. (Associated Press)

Richard Samuel is a prime example of an unselfish player. (Associated Press)

Matt Cafaro writes: Bill, I don’t know about you, but Richard Samuel is finding his way up my list of favorite Dawgs of all time for his unselfish devotion to his teammates and our Alma Mater. Hines Ward was another Dawg in a very similar situation, and he reacted the same way, with the same attitude: “Put me anywhere on the field, and I’ll play as hard as I can.” I think special attention needs to be paid to Samuel this year by Bulldog Nation for his willingness to sacrifice playing time (to acclimate himself to LB again) and a whole redshirt year in order to do his part to make the Dawgs a better, deeper team. Maybe extra cheers whenever he gets in a game or a standing ovation on Senior Day at the end of the year, or perhaps some attention from the AJC. Something, anything that brings credit to his team-first ideals. I know most of us like to think that ALL the Dawgs should feel and do as guys like Hines and Richard do, but the sad reality is, that just isn’t the case, as we’ve seen MANY selfish, me-first players come and go in Athens (Isaiah Crowell just the latest example).

Well said. I don’t believe Samuel’s unselfish attitude has gone unnoticed by Georgia fans and those who cover UGA, but a bit of extra recognition for his refreshing devotion to doing whatever the team needs certainly is deserved. I know a lot of fans were heartsick when Samuel’s terrific game against the Gators last year ended in injury, and certainly those of us in attendance at G-Day noticed the boost he provided when put in at tailback in the second half. Here’s hoping he gets the senior season he deserves. If he does, it can only be to Georgia’s benefit.

Andrew Smith writes: Hey Bill, Mizzou head coach Gary Pinkel seems to be building up the SEC season opener atmosphere. Given UGA’s tendency to take a few games to “warm up” for the season do you see this game being closer than when both teams are in late-season form? Does the fact that the Mizzou QB has only been throwing a few days after surgery now play a factor in your decision?

It’s too early to know what sort of shape QB James Franklin will be in come Sept. 8. If he’s not back 100 percent at that point, it might balance out somewhat the Georgia defense missing however many starters. But to answer the first part of your question, yes, the slow starts Georgia teams have gotten off to in recent seasons is a major concern. If the Dogs’ offense shows up against Mizzou looking as not-ready-for-prime-time it did in the Dome last year against Boise State, it could be  a long night for those in red and black.

OhioState_LogoArt Finley writes: Bill,  Here are a couple of recent headlines . . .

May 31, 2012: The football games scheduled for 2020 and 2021 between Georgia and Ohio State have been called off.  Ohio State recently informed UGA that it is exercising its right to cancel the games, which had been set up in a memorandum of understanding between the schools in December 2010.  “They couldn’t make it happen due to the Pac 12-Big 10 football schedule deal,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said Thursday, referring to a recent agreement between those conferences for a series of regular-season matchups beginning in 2017.

July 13, 2012: “We are disappointed to announce today that the Big Ten/Pac-12 strategic collaboration announced jointly in December 2011 unfortunately will not be consummated,” Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said in a statement.

Do you think there is any chance that AD McGarity will contact Ohio State about reinstating the memo of understanding for Ohio State and UGA to play?

It depends on how much strength of schedule ends up figuring in selections for the new four-team playoff. If that really does wind up being a determining factor, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Georgia and OSU take another stab at scheduling a home-and-home. I’d certainly rather pay to see the Dogs play the Buckeyes than Florida Atlantic or North Texas, wouldn’t you?

UPDATE: Speaking to reporters prior to Monday’s UGA Day, Greg McGarity said that he plans on calling Ohio State to see about renewing the deal.

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 junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

197 comments Add your comment

last

July 21st, 2012
10:56 pm

ATLNative

July 21st, 2012
10:58 pm

Yes, the UGA publicists need to get in gear and CMR needs to fire up more, mess that hair up and throw some headphones a! GATA Dawgs…

Big Enos Burdette

July 21st, 2012
11:07 pm

It’s hard to say…

chazzo

July 21st, 2012
11:24 pm

I am not an anti-drug hardliner, but it has always seemed odd to me that institutions can implement rules that condone illegal activities. It seems like a legal grey area to say the least.

jocrazy

July 21st, 2012
11:36 pm

please dont forget greens back up and former falcon a great dawg

JaxDawg05

July 21st, 2012
11:42 pm

Bill, most of the “perception” problems you cite come from Jeff, Mark, Michael and Raybun the writers just down the tab from you on this very website. So……

kingdaddy

July 21st, 2012
11:47 pm

Great reading Bill. Many of the people criticizing Coach Richt and the Dawgs aren’t even UGA fans. BTW, Richard Samuel is one of my all time favorites and I can’t wait to see him tote the rock in 12…

Rincon dawg

July 22nd, 2012
12:04 am

Bill you are just making excuses for coach richt. This was one of the reasons Donnan was run out of town. Yes other programs have their issues and deal with it in their way but this is a problem that has been here long enough for our university.

RED DOG 77

July 22nd, 2012
12:57 am

Georgia doesn’t have a problem cotroling our players, nor do we have some sort of “risky” issue in whom we recruit………………….No! discipline is not the problem, and anyone saying it’s “perception” need only look around other programs with the same standards…………………Wake the hell-up people, do you care about “perception”……………..or……….”Reality”?…………The University of Georgia football program is just fine, just watch the games this year!!! you will see……………RED

dbc

July 22nd, 2012
1:56 am

Yes, yes, and yes to Richard Samuel being a DGD. He is the poster boy for TEAM Player. Richard will go far in life, without a doubt. And he will also be one of the most beloved Dawgs ever. I hope his last year pays off for all his hard work. Please UGA fans, let Richard feel the love this season…

boykin

July 22nd, 2012
1:59 am

Coach recruits all the studs all teams recruit. Not his fault some are THUGS brandishing Arms and a pot-smelling car!

dbc

July 22nd, 2012
2:00 am

Maybe this is old news, but here is an interesting tidbit from College Football News:

It has now come from three sources within Georgia football that the team will likely dress every suspended (or thought to be suspended) player for the Missouri game in Week Two, except for cornerback Sanders Commings. There’s no official confirmation from Georgia other than from Mark Richt himself, who on Thursday morning said with a smile, “I know what’s going to happen … but I’m not telling you.”

boykin

July 22nd, 2012
2:08 am

Your point, dbc? We need to go into Missouri and kick assssss, yes or no…to establish ourselves?

dbc

July 22nd, 2012
2:17 am

I would expect UGA to kick it, either with them, or without them. Just reporting what I read…

ToccoaDawg

July 22nd, 2012
2:30 am

I can’t wait until its TIME FOR THE BIG DAWGS TO EAT. GATA DAWGS. I’m not worried about our D when we play Mizzou. I have faith Coach Grantham will have them ready. Bobo’s Offense is what I’m more worried about.

Top Row Dawg

July 22nd, 2012
4:00 am

A National Championship would help the perception of Georgia.

Aaron “The rare one” Murray
Aaron “Airen” Murray

Paddy

July 22nd, 2012
6:47 am

Bill…….you and many fans are looking at this problem and the analysis and conclusions miss the mark. We all know, players, coaches, administators and fans, that the local police are always on high alert and that UGA has a tough anti-drug policy. The logical conclusion is with all this information and great communication the incidence of crime and rules infractions should be reducing not increasing. The flaws are not the policy or the policy enforcers. When people get educated and trained problems go down not up. Poilcy and rules don’t make mistakes, people do. CMR, do more research before you offer that scholly, please!

Penny Laine

July 22nd, 2012
6:53 am

Northgafan

July 22nd, 2012
6:55 am

Running back coach Burn’s for Bama came back from a game late in the season, and not sure who he talked to but told Saban we can’t take this kid. (Crowell)

Freddo

July 22nd, 2012
7:01 am

“We’re not recruiting bad kids,” Richt said this week.

————————————————————-

The loud noise you just heard was my BS detector exploding.

Freddo

July 22nd, 2012
7:08 am

It has now come from three sources within Georgia football that the team will likely dress every suspended (or thought to be suspended) player for the Missouri game in Week Two, except for cornerback Sanders Commings.

That’s hardly a secret. It’s why Richt is being so mum about it. He doesn’t want to take the heat from his decision to play these thugs. Expect an announcement a few hours before the game.

Remember, there’s a reason why UGA is known as Ths Cesspool of the South.

AAAAA Athens Bail Bonds R Us

July 22nd, 2012
7:29 am

Any more dawg players arrested today?

Hobnail Boot

July 22nd, 2012
7:36 am

Is Rambo and Ogletree suspended for the first game for sure? I have not heard (for sure) if it going to happen.

RHall55

July 22nd, 2012
7:45 am

Soon let the play on the field determine the fate of conservative play calling….mismanagement of roster depth….S&C still unproven….lack of recruiting on OL…..poor handling of player welfare….and getting passed over by many of the top in-state players….C’mon Man!!!

Hmmmmmmm

July 22nd, 2012
8:10 am

Perception you say….. Well, it’s because this coach has little or NO discipline. This makes the perception reality.. It’s really not that hard… He had NO discipline at FSU, and UGA is now an extension of his total lack of discipline. The players just run over this coach, and year after year it shows…

just a fan

July 22nd, 2012
8:19 am

If anyone is interested in buying UGA season tickets contact me by email fantasynfl3100@yahoo.com

I was recently transferred to Tampa Fl and will be unable to use my tickets

zzggyy

July 22nd, 2012
8:23 am

It’s good to see a rational discussion of the (discipline) situation as opposed to the sensationalist crap that Schultz spit out yesterday.

Ashland dawg

July 22nd, 2012
8:35 am

Seems to me Richt is a more strict disciplinarian than most of his peers. Seems like the AJC press is more interested in finding faults with Richt than giving him credit for his many virtues. In the area where I live, Marshall and Ohio State have as many or more player issues, but the press doesn’t dwell on them.

If there is a problem with players’ character in general, that is more of a reflection of what is happening in society and the “win and I don’t care how you do it” attitude of most college football fans. Money corrupts, and it’s happening in college football.

ole dawg

July 22nd, 2012
8:35 am

@Hmmm… let’s see, we’re talking about players being suspended (or disciplined)and you say Coach Richt has no discipline! Now that is funny.

Sammy Watkins at Clemson is busted for weed and pills and considering Dabo’s latest comments it seems certain that Watkins will not miss the Auburn game. That brethren is no discipline!

Jacket99

July 22nd, 2012
8:37 am

The matchup between UGA and tOSU would be interesting. Like I’ve said many times, scheduling cupcakes is a disservice to the fans and the players alike. Who is going to get excited about playing Buffalo or Presbyterian?

Alphare

July 22nd, 2012
8:37 am

I’d agree LSU is winner without honor. Les started Jefferson in place of Lee is sickening while Jefferson performed miserably in the NC game. They deserve their loss.

Neutral

July 22nd, 2012
8:52 am

@Freddo
Are there any Dawgs who have gotten in trouble recently that your school didn’t offer a scholarship?

Moobs Johnson

July 22nd, 2012
8:54 am

I guess there was a perception problem at FSU also during Bowden’s time? Richt learned from one of the best, his players are as undisciplined off of the field as they are on the field.

50 arrests in four years

July 22nd, 2012
9:01 am

It’s not just the perception – Richt and the entire team are a wretched abomination and embarrassment to every citizen of this state.

aww, it's not mark richt's fault

July 22nd, 2012
9:14 am

poor mark richt.

Crowell CHOSE UGA over Alabama, SC, etc. So there had to be something that caused IC (and these other thugs) to choose UGA. For those of you who do not understand psychology, let me explain something.

Most of these “troubled” kids are “troubled” because they have low self-esteem. To protect their low self esteem they have to put up a front of being tough…or gangstah. That gives them the feedback they need from their “homies” that they need. They have to create the illusion that they are the alpha dog….when in reality, they have no business at the head of the pack.

To truly help these folks, you have to break them and create a new paridigm. Take a look at Mike Vick. Even though he was an NFL QB…he still had to hang with his crowd. What happened to him?

Someone who is like this IS NOT going to choose to enter into a situation where their self esteem or image will be challenged. They will choose a situation where they think they can manipulate the system to get what they want.

That type of environment does not exist at Alabama.
That type of environment exists at UGA.

poor mark richt.

thank god for greg mcgarity or IC and others would still be hanging around our program. he keeps the gun at richt’s head….

Saint Mark Richt

July 22nd, 2012
9:28 am

I confess, I’m a dirtbag. I’ll do whatever I have to do to keep my bloated paychecks coming in.

If you don’t like it, that’s just too bad.

RomeDawg

July 22nd, 2012
9:39 am

All of the other coaches you mentioned have won a national title therefore making people less inclined to question their judgment about players character.

Paddy

July 22nd, 2012
9:55 am

perception may enter into the equation but it is WAY down the list. In my experience, good folks never seem to deal with police or face disipline of any kind that equates to furher harsh punishment. Good people get into that grey area also. But they get back on track real fast and never look back. All fans can live with that behavior. It is the people that always live in that grey zone that never get the memo.

Ringleader

July 22nd, 2012
10:02 am

Bill, You are a homer, and so am I.

Just when do you realize perception is a Fact.

Why do the Dogs take Sunday off, no Sunday practice ever. The assistant coaches come in at 2pm on Sunday to review film

And, no scrimmage ever between the No 1 offense and No 1 defense, no bloody Tuesday ever,

McGarity has killed the schedule, replacing Louisville with Buffalo, etc., solely because of his despise for Charlie Strong. No other reason, wait and see the empty seats,

At least we are not Penn State.

George

July 22nd, 2012
10:07 am

This is one of the most pathetic Articles you have ever written. Trying to blame it on tough policies and the police??????? Are you really that nieve. Then like always you try to bring up other schools like you always try to do to deflect the enormous problems in Athens. You bring up aubrun? Really? The armed robbers were of course a huge incident but the HUGE difference is this was an externally isolated incident unlike the decade long recurring problems in Athens. Comparing the two is nonsense. Not to mention mike dyer was kicked off the team after failing ONE drug test. Why? Because the coaches rightfully so noticed he was a bad apple and was bad for the team. Yes uga has a culture problem on the football team but to try to start blaming it on everything but what is actually the problem, is truly pathetic and actually quite comical.

UGADawg83

July 22nd, 2012
10:27 am

Bill,
I often criticize you on this blog but you are spot on with your analysis of the discipline situation at UGA. There needs to be less gotcha justice by the Athens PD along with an understanding that tighter rules bring more violations. I do worry however, that the tighter rules do not do more to detur bad behavior.

kmarshall 4

July 22nd, 2012
10:32 am

i like the scheduling you can`t play great teams every week you will to beat up playing in the sec is hard enough when your healthy. to those fans that don`t want to watch the buffalo game keep your arse at home we do not need ya go dawgs gata!!!!!!!

bubba4dawgs

July 22nd, 2012
10:35 am

Perhaps more time can be spent with the high school coaches who groom these players and even do a background investigation to determine any trouble they have been in. It seems epidemic at UGA but again perhaps UGA is doing what they are supposed to do and not putting up with misbehavior. It seems evident this is the case since players like Mettenberger winds up at LSU and I just notice another player, I believe Bonner is his name who will be playing at Tennessee. CMR and UGA is doing it right and should be commended for it!!

Froggy The Gremlin

July 22nd, 2012
10:36 am

Actually Ringleader, you ARE the Penn State of the South.

kmarshall 4

July 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

zach witchett just signed with ole miss we took his scholarship offer back when he got in trouble in high school.

kmarshall 4

July 22nd, 2012
10:41 am

disagree froggy with all those pretty things in red sundreeses no need to mess with little boys!!!!

@rincondawg

July 22nd, 2012
10:47 am

Donnan was let go for many reasons , but the main one was losing to tech.

chazzo

July 22nd, 2012
10:47 am

Here is the bottom line. I once argued on here to cut football budgets, stop recruiting and only use the students enrolled at the institution, and to require a 3.0 gpa.

As you might guess, it was like wearing a bacon suit into a pack of pit bulls.

The point: If Richt only recruits good students who are well-behaved, UGA’s record will look more like Vanderbilt’s than Alabama’s. All of these coaches are recruiting the same players. All of these schools have players failing drug tests. Bear Bryant once suggested that he would recruit a “whiskey drinking skirt chaser” over a good student every time.

Richt lies to you every day

July 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

Richt is a liar.

WE all DO RECRUIT the same kids

July 22nd, 2012
10:55 am

If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it ……………. did it really fall? In other words, if we do arrest kids in Athens for such, and it hits the wire and the net, it is all over the universe. Everyone “hears about it”. In other football towns across the USA, and in the SEC, it is not that way. Kids will be taken to the football coach or maybe the Head Coach, on the first several infractions and that is the way that it is.

All SEC schools basically recruit the same kids. Athens is essentially metro Atlanta. Compare Tuscaloosa or Knoxville or even Columbia or Gainesville or Auburn or Starkville or Oxford to this. The city of Atl is a NEWS MECCA, not Tuscaloosa, near sad old Birmingham.

Besides, it is the kid that decides to act dumb.