For the fans who follow UGA football, it’s just about gotten to the point lately where the only good news is no news.
Unfortunately, there was news aplenty at Mark Richt’s first press session of the season to mark the beginning of preseason camp.
So we learned that the rumors about much-needed offensive tackle Kolton Houston waiting out an NCAA suspension for failing a test for a banned substance were true, and that despite his family’s assertion that the drug was given to him by a doctor after surgery and considerable evidence that there’s been no reuse since 2010, the governing body of college athletics won’t let him play until it no longer shows up in his weekly blood tests.
Oh, and we also got confirmation that NCAA President Mark Emmert is an arrogant jerk. You got a measure of just how badly Emmert has gotten under the skin of UGA officials in the fact that they released correspondence between Greg McGarity and the NCAA chief. The UGA athletic director made an appeal for “a young man who’s done everything possible to clear himself,” only to have Emmert sneeringly reply that he’s “surprised the institution would make such a request” because, after all, they could have screwed the kid over even worse by applying additional sanctions for each test that still showed the drug in Houston’s system!
Ron Courson, UGA’s director of sports medicine, was blistering in his criticism of the NCAA as he noted “the most distressing aspect of this case is the appearance that no one at the NCAA actually cares enough about this case to truly look at it in an objective manner.”
Better watch out, Ron, or you might get slapped with a fine for not being deferential enough to Czar Emmert.
We also learned that yet another of Todd Grantham’s defensive starters will be missing the Missouri game. This time it’s Chase Vasser, suspended for the first two games of the season because of a May DUI arrest in Buckhead. Thanks to Cornelius Washington moving to defensive end, Vasser was listed as first-string at the outside linebacker spot opposite All-American Jarvis Jones.
Jones, who bypassed the NFL to return for what he believes could be a special season for the Dogs, sounded as optimistic as ever Thursday, noting “we know what we’re capable of,” but away from the spotlight he would certainly have a right to be pretty ticked off at the cavalier way some of his teammates seem to be approaching a great opportunity.
So far, the Georgia defense’s biggest obstacle appears to be the Georgia defense.
Otherwise, the comments from Richt and some of his players at Thursday’s press preview were pretty much what you’d expect. Watts Dantzler will start out replacing Houston on the OL, with incoming freshman John Theus backing him up. (If Theus isn’t starting by the South Carolina game, there’s going to be a lot of surprised college football experts.) … Richt will continue to employ a tailback-by-committee approach (he noted it worked pretty well for LSU), with the head coach saying true freshmen Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley having a chance to “possibly play big,” though “they have to beat out Richard [Samuel] and Ken [Malcome] first.” … Georgia’s placekicker will try to kick it out of the end zone, Richt says — except when the coaches deem a high directional kick more appropriate. (Ah, the legacy of Coach Fab lives on!) … And if anything happens to Aaron Murray, the redshirt comes off Hutson Mason at quarterback. (Cue the usual chorus from this forum’s Mason fan club.)
All in all, about the only positive coming out of Thursday was the return of the players to the Woodruff Practice Fields. Maybe now that they’re back practicing and classes are less than two weeks away, Georgia’s Bulldogs can actually focus on justifying their Top 10 preseason status, as confirmed Thursday by the USA Today coaches poll.
And quit shooting themselves in the foot.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg