As the karmic wheel turns: Richt and Georgia face another ex-Dawg

Mark Richt takes an unusual approach to players dismissed from his program. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Mark Richt takes an unusual approach to players dismissed from his program. (Jason Getz / AJC)

Among the many other things he is, Mark Richt appears to have become the leading supplier of starting SEC quarterbacks.

Three of this year’s SEC starting quarterbacks originally signed with Georgia. Which says good things about Richt’s nose for talent.

But two of them are now leading the offense at other schools as a result of Richt’s strict disciplinary policies: LSU’s Zach Mettenberger and Auburn’s Nick Marshall.

I don’t know whether it’s happened before where a college team has to face two Top 10 conference rivals in the same season, both of whom have starting quarterbacks that used to be on the first team, but I imagine it’s pretty rare.

For one thing, not many coaches would kick a player good enough to be an SEC starter off their team, no matter what they did, and even fewer would allow the departed player to sign with another team in the same conference.

In an era when many coaches put restrictions on a player leaving their program, Richt is the exception. And his generosity in not only helping place dismissed players with junior college programs where they can get back on track, but also allowing them to sign with other SEC schools is a remarkable testament to what a good man he is — a point of pride for UGA fans, although whether it’s the best move from a football coaching standpoint is open to debate.

Still, it’s produced some pretty unusual storylines this season. First, there was Mettenberger, who grew up in the Athens area and whose mom even works in the UGA football office, returning to play his former teammates Between the Hedges. That had to have played mind games with him, though Mett had a terrific day against the Dogs, even in a losing effort.

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall will face his old team Saturday. (Associated Press)

Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall will face his old team Saturday. (Associated Press)

For Marshall, it won’t quite be as dramatic a reunion, since a quirk in SEC scheduling has Georgia making the trip to Auburn two years in a row. But even for a player whose coaches this week have (perhaps in a bit of psychological bolstering) been touting how he always remains on an emotional even keel, going up against the school where you originally signed and where you played your freshman year, and where you still have friends, has got to be a little unsettling.

But just as Mettenberger dismissed (not too convincingly) the emotional aspects of going up against his old team, so Marshall told AL.com after last week’s Auburn win over Tennessee that playing Georgia “doesn’t mean too much. It’s just another opponent that’s in our way, blocking to what we’re trying to capitalize on.”

On the other side, Georgia defensive end Ray Drew told ESPN.com: “It’s a little weird, but I knew whenever he was here that he was a player. And now someone that could have been helping, you’re having to try to stop him.”

While getting kicked out of UGA over a dorm theft probably marks a low point in Marshall’s life, things have turned out well for him. In his first year at Auburn he’s not only the starting QB, but his team has staged one of the most remarkable turnabouts in recent college football history, going from being one of last season’s conference doormats to a once-defeated Top 10 juggernaut. And Marshall is a big reason why.

You might think Richt would wince at the success elsewhere of players he turned loose, but the Georgia head coach said earlier this season: “I’m happy for them that they landed in a good place and are getting an opportunity to do what they hoped and dreamed about doing coming out of high school. I’m big on guys realizing their dreams. That’s part of the reason why I coach. When you hit a major roadblock like they did, you like to hear stories of guys turning it around and doing really good things.”

Nick Marshall in his playing days as a Georgia Bulldog. (University of Georgia)

Nick Marshall in his playing days as a Georgia Bulldog. (University of Georgia)

In his Monday teleconference, Richt struck a similar tone. “I’ve said on plenty of occasions, if a guy has a situation where he doesn’t finish at Georgia, a guy that signed with us, my goal for him is to find a new home and have success there, so I’m happy for Nick.”

Marshall, who chose to play defense at Georgia in hopes that he also could walk on at some point with the basketball team, no doubt would have been a valuable part of this year’s Bulldog team, which could have used his athleticism in the secondary, even if Mike Bobo hadn’t borrowed him for the offense.

“I think he’d be an all-conference-type guy,” Richt said Monday. “He’d be a guy with a very bright future at that position. But he’s a dynamic guy who has a lot of skills and he’s using a lot of them as a quarterback right now.”

The success of Mettenberger and Marshall after being dismissed at Georgia is the sort of feel-good story that sports media love. As former UGA defensive line coach and recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner, now at Auburn, told ESPN: “Nick and Zach are both examples that one mistake as a kid doesn’t define who you are. They’re both good kids that just made bad decisions.”

Earlier this season, Mettenberger and Marshall’s teams met on the football field and Auburn suffered its only loss so far. And, of course, Mettenberger lost when he returned to Athens.

Some might say that karmically Richt’s approach to letting ex-players go where they want should pay off for Georgia (hey, we’ve already got a win over LSU).

But, from a more pragmatic standpoint, should his policy work for or against UGA in future recruiting? I put that question to Michael Carvell, who covers recruiting for the AJC.

“In my opinion, I think this 100 percent works in favor of UGA,” Carvell said, “because it has shown, especially with the high-profile quarterbacks this year, that if things don’t work out for a player in Athens, Mark Richt is pretty much willing to let that player seek happiness wherever he feels like he may find it, even if it’s at an archrival. It shows that Richt puts the welfare of a recruit above him and the program, even if it comes back to bite.”

I hope Michael is right. I also hope that UGA does all it can to make sure the story of Richt’s generosity is one of Verne and Gary’s talking points on this week’s CBS national telecast.

So, what do you think? Do you support the fact that Richt doesn’t hesitate to dismiss talented players from the program if they get too out of line? And the way he then allows them to sign wherever they want? Or do you have a problem with that approach?

Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at  junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

257 comments Add your comment

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
4:39 pm

Three of this year’s SEC starting quarterbacks originally signed with Georgia. Which says good things about Richt’s nose for talent.

It also says a lot for Richt’s inability to spot a future criminal or provide good enough mentor ship to lead them in the right direction. That is a trait we already knew he had though.

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
4:43 pm

Bottom line though is he should be at UGA and had he not made a really bad decision he would be. It isn’t supposed to be a fell good situation.

Both Marshall and Mettenberger made seemingly poor decisions that turned out to be the best decisions of their lives.

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 13th, 2013
4:45 pm

How To Lose – Quit whining!

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 13th, 2013
4:52 pm

Do we need to keep rehashing past history….it’s 2013 and it’s Au-Barn vs Georgia.
Not concerned with where Marshall is and how he got there. Every school has their own level of ethics and UGA’s is just higher than most.

Should be a very competitive game and Dawgs have a habit of winning on Au-Barn’s cow pasture.
Looking forward to seeing a few of the injured guys back and to seeing Rumph go up against those diminuitive Au-Barn CB’s

Flo-Ri-Duh

November 13th, 2013
4:52 pm

Do we need to keep rehashing past history….it’s 2013 and it’s Au-Barn vs Georgia.
Not concerned with where Marshall is and how he got there. Every school has their own level of ethics and UGA’s is just higher than most.

Should be a very competitive game and Dawgs have a habit of winning on Au-Barn’s cow pasture.
Looking forward to seeing a few of the injured guys back and to seeing Rumph go up against those diminuitive Au-Barn CB’s

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:03 pm

Both Marshall and Mettenberger made seemingly poor decisions that turned out to be the best decisions of their lives.
================================

Don’t be such a moron Bobby. Either of those guys would have much preferred to stay at Georgia. And both would have competed for positions and played

Skokie Dog

November 13th, 2013
5:05 pm

ARdawg at 5:03 pm: I’m not so sure that Mettenberger would have played any more than Mason has so far, given Coach Richt’s preference for Aaron Murray.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:09 pm

Skokie
The positions are open every spring

Skokie Dog

November 13th, 2013
5:10 pm

NCDawg at 4:31 pm wrote, “Wow, why do I even read these blogs? The comments are sooo fricking predictable.”
That’s an excellent question.
And I absolutely agree with your characterization of the comments. Please don’t disappoint us by deviating from your usual patter. We need to be reminded constantly of how slimy we are for disagreeing with your perception of the U.Ga. program.

Skokie Dog

November 13th, 2013
5:11 pm

ARdawg at 5:09 pm: I’ve heard that one too.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:24 pm

Skokie
In blogosphere world, the most popular player is the 2nd team QB unless the team is winning. All Mason, Mett or any others needed to do is be the best QB. Murray puts in the time. Before Mett’s departure, I don’t know if he would ever put in what was required. Murray does. Murray was/is the best. You can take your warped “Richt’s fav’s” if you want. Doesn’t mean it’s valid. Richt’s favorites are the ones that put in the work

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
5:24 pm

Don’t be such a moron Bobby. Either of those guys would have much preferred to stay at Georgia. And both would have competed for positions and played

You really think Mettenberger would rather be sitting on the bench at UGA instead of being the starter at LSU with a rising draft stock? You really think Marshall would rather be playing defensive back for an unranked team instead of being the starting QB for a top 10 team? Give me a break.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:26 pm

And rightfully so. All positions are open in the spring. If you want it, take it. Simple enough, seems like to me

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
5:26 pm

All Mason, Mett or any others needed to do is be the best QB.

Oh please. Murray was always going to be the starter and the other two were never going to get much of a chance unless Murray bombed horribly or got injured. Mettenberger never would have played significant minutes at UGA no matter what he did in practice.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:27 pm

You really think Mettenberger would rather be sitting on the bench at UGA instead of being the starter at LSU with a rising draft stock? You really think Marshall would rather be playing defensive back for an unranked team instead of being the starting QB for a top 10 team? Give me a break.
============================

Little Bobby, do you really think Marshall or Mett wanted to be kicked off the team?

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:28 pm

Oh please. Murray was always going to be the starter and the other two were never going to get much of a chance unless Murray bombed horribly or got injured. Mettenberger never would have played significant minutes at UGA no matter what he did in practice.
==================

LOL…earning a position has no meaning to you Bobby because you’ve never played anything more physical than Dungeons and Dragons

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
5:31 pm

Little Bobby, do you really think Marshall or Mett wanted to be kicked off the team?

Not at the time but im fairly certain that neither would leave their current team to return to UGA and either sit the bench or play another position. Things worked out amazingly well for both of them.

How To Win

November 13th, 2013
5:33 pm

There is a way for Georgia fans to win this weekend.

Take Auburn and the points. You won’t regret it! ;-)

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:37 pm

Not at the time but im fairly certain that neither would leave their current team to return to UGA and either sit the bench or play another position. Things worked out amazingly well for both of them.
=========================

And good for them both. They were against some horrendous odds and came out the better because of it. They chose the UGA path Bobby, of their own volition. They made some bad decisions and paid the price. If they had stayed at UGA and behaved themselves, applied themselves as they have had to do anyway there is no telling what they would be doing at UGA right now. It’s all subjective and any BS your spew other wise is just that BS

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
5:37 pm

LOL…earning a position has no meaning to you Bobby because you’ve never played anything more physical than Dungeons and Dragons

Earning a position certainly has meaning but in a QB battle if you don’t earn the position early on then the chances of you getting significant playing time are almost zero. Mettenberger wasn’t just going to magically jump Murray at some point because he was looking good in practice. It doesn’t work that way. He would have had to hope that Murray bombed or got injured. Then he would get his shot. Murray never bombed or got injured.

GTBob

November 13th, 2013
5:42 pm

They chose the UGA path Bobby, of their own volition. They made some bad decisions and paid the price.

Their worst decisions were to go to UGA in the first place. They got lucky to get out of a bad situation. Mettenberger has started 2 years for one of the best teams in the country and is projected in some mock drafts to go in the first round of the draft. Im sure he wishes he had behaved himself so that he could hold the clip board at UGA and get Murray his water.

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:45 pm

Earning a position certainly has meaning but in a QB battle if you don’t earn the position early on then the chances of you getting significant playing time are almost zero.
==============================

Such is life. Certainly the QB that arrived before you is going to be ahead of you. Not by seniority but practice and knowledge of the system and playbook. Especially at the QB position. You won’t understand this but, I’ll tell you anyway. The competitive among us get busy catching and surpassing. There’s no handouts Bobby. No entitlements. Earn the position or shut the pie hole. Do the work

ARdawg

November 13th, 2013
5:46 pm

Their worst decisions were to go to UGA in the first place. They got lucky to get out of a bad situation. Mettenberger has started 2 years for one of the best teams in the country and is projected in some mock drafts to go in the first round of the draft. Im sure he wishes he had behaved himself so that he could hold the clip board at UGA and get Murray his water.
=============================

Clairvoyant often Bobby? Do you drop acid or do the visions just come naturally?

CHDawg

November 13th, 2013
6:00 pm

Marshall would have been a great corner, and it is interesting to think about what might have been had he not gotten the boot for his unacceptable behavior. UGA might have won the BCS last year, and we might have won several, if not all, of the key games this year. We will never know. Sanders might have made a difference, too.

NCDawg

November 13th, 2013
6:22 pm

ARdawg
November 13th, 2013
5:46 pm

You always have to remember that GTBooby is here because of hate. He hates the University of Georgia sooo badly that it fired his brain. He is a sociopath and he lives in a delusion where all things evil originate and dwell in Athens, Ga. He has no objectivity at all and never will because he wants vengeance and he is too impotent to be able to attain it in any other way. He is the epitome of a person with hate clouded judgement.

This isn’t just supposition…it’s truth. He has allowed hate to control him and now he cannot give it up. He is addicted to hating the Georgia Bulldogs and will make any manner of completely irrational statement just to raise a reaction. Look back over his comments and you will see that this is 100% spot on. Sad but I don’t have an ounce of pity for him or any of the other sociopaths that clog up these blogs. They have a choice and they chose hate. And it will eat them alive.

NCDawg

November 13th, 2013
6:22 pm

fired =fried

SurfnsunninSouthernCalifornia

November 13th, 2013
6:58 pm

How to Win:

After reading all of your “narratives”, it appears your problem is actually with Richt being a Christian.

As such, your REAL problem is with God Himself. The problem? Something about not wanting to be accountable to Him so you can go off and supposedly “do as I please”.

It’s an unspoken “narrative” you have; nevertheless, it’s a narrative.

Boykin

November 13th, 2013
7:28 pm

GO DAWGS!!! SIc them War Squealers!!!!

Boykin

November 13th, 2013
7:30 pm

NC, how dare you!!! Did you refer to GTBob as “impotent” or his team’s QB?

GTBob Jr.

November 13th, 2013
7:59 pm

Dad, ease up!!!!! Our QB sucks! I MISS Reggie Ball! And beginning to think that Pawl Offense is so 1970s that we Jackets need a change to 2013 NCAA Football!

Jep Palmer

November 13th, 2013
8:25 pm

Nick would have never played QB at UGA, he is not a passing QB and probally does not have the brains to run a pro style offense. He has done good for part of a season, he has played three solid but not great teams LSU:lost, Texas AM: won, they have no defense and Ol Miss: solid but not great. Lets see what he does against UGA and then the real test Bama before we crown him a great QB: Go DAWGS.

UGA Season Ticket Holder Since 1986

November 13th, 2013
8:26 pm

I’m thinking about a time when an unranked Georgia Bulldog team walked into # 7 Auburn on the Plains with a quarterback that all the haters predictably hated named Matt Stafford and stomped the Plainsmen into the ground. It was a rainy, cold day there in the upper deck corner of Jordan Hare Stadium but it was such fun. Don’t have to be nationally ranked or playing for a national championship to enjoy a good Auburn stomping. Would love for history to repeat itself this weekend.

Mobile Dawg

November 13th, 2013
9:00 pm

What we need to watch out for is AU’s defensive line. They have put pressure on QB’s all year and gotten the sacks when needed. Our OL may be a weakness they exploit. Keep your eyes on it.

BankerDawg

November 13th, 2013
9:23 pm

I agree Jep but I don’t this game will come down to Marshall alone. If they try to run right at us it could be a long day on the plains for Auburn. I suspect that they’ll pick on the corners. Hopefully we can get off blocks because our LB’s speed is questionable. I would load the box and make Marshall beat us with his arm. It’s risky, but I don’t think they can put 30 on us throwing the ball. 3 rd down play on D will be huge for GA. We’ve really struggled this year. I’m anxious to see Gurley play. He plays his best in games like this.

Cali Dawg

November 13th, 2013
9:50 pm

Oh, the high and mighty GTBob…GT has never had any issues with the law, or knowingly played ineligible players…by the way, I believe GT kept those “wins” that were done by cheating…Noooooo!, not the high and mighty, smarter than a Dawg, GT?!
Sometimes you have to issue punishment so guys will learn the lesson early and come back better than ever as a player and a person…Mettenberger, Marshall, Crowell…or else you end up with guys that have been catered to and then it’s tragic…like a guy named Hernandez. Even at LSU, The Hat probably saved the Honey Badger’s life with the harsh reality of losing his gift of playing ball and getting humbled. He’s doing ok now, isn’t he? The thing about CMR is, he is about developing men. Not sure he’s ever given his player a tongue lashing on national TV degrading him like your coach did…but, that is how he develops young men, I guess. Talking to former GT players that I know well…your coach has never welcomed them back as former players/Alums…sad. You just keep that high and mighty attitude GTBob…

janice

November 13th, 2013
10:37 pm

BILL: Like it because you give us a Fans perspective to important Dawg issues! Keep up good work!

GTBob Jr.

November 13th, 2013
10:50 pm

Dad, I know you and MOM all tucked in but Clemson gonna take us to the WOODSHED tomorrow night!!!!

Uga Jr

November 13th, 2013
11:55 pm

But Dad, UGA offense is ranked 69th on 3rd down conversions, and 108th in turnover margin. Aaron Murray I ranked 93rd in interceptions. How we gonna beat them Tigers when our offense ain’t no good, huh Pa?

Uga Jr

November 14th, 2013
12:03 am

Pa, I noticed Murray has thrown 90% of his interceptions this year either in the 1st or 4th quarter, don’;t he know how important those 2 quarters are? And did you know Pa, he also throws 90% of his interceptions when tied or losing. Let’s hope he don’t get behind Pa, right? Ok, back to my dreams about how good Murray is, dream……dream……dream

Carrawaydawg

November 14th, 2013
12:23 am

Will take all TODD can muster out of this awesome Defense to stop Tiger Rushing attack for sure!!!

Carrawaydawg

November 14th, 2013
12:25 am

We will not need Murray{best Dawg QB in history} if TODD can do his part!

Carrawaydawg

November 14th, 2013
12:53 am

Give 3rd down Defense stats ..

Carrawaydawg

November 14th, 2013
12:58 am

UGA…Guess ya want Todd to still be our HC!!! lmao! Best UGA QB in history finally couldnt bail him out…Exit Waest for Tech blog…

CHDawg

November 14th, 2013
7:01 am

Mobile, we have won every game in which the O line has blocked well, and lost every game when they haven’t blocked well. I agree they are the key leaders for the Dawgs this year. Our position players are among the best, and blocking for them cuts them loose. Auburn is well coached and is for real. It is going to take a great game to beat them.

CHDawg

November 14th, 2013
7:06 am

I like watching CPJs offense, and I pull for GT when they aren’t playing us. Hope they can whip Clemson tonight! Don’t get dragged into the negative GT troll bait folks…also, even Urban Meyer repudiated Buckeye this week, saying he “can’t stand” people dissing other teams. Go Dawgs!

JB

November 14th, 2013
7:48 am

Looking for a close game tonight with Tech/Clemson………………..BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. Is there a mercy rule?

Barnum&Bailey

November 14th, 2013
8:04 am

Auburn started their season with 3 cupcakes, and they barely squeaked by MSU. They followed that with a loss to a mediocre LSU team. Then they benefited from getting Ole Miss one week after Bama beat then down to a pulp. After another cupcake game against W. Carolina, they played pretty well against TAM, though I doubt they would have won that game if they hadn’t injured Johnny Football late in the fourth quarter. Three more cupcake games under their belt and here they are — ready to take on Georgia.

Auburn isn’t a great team, in spite of their 9-1 record, but they’re pretty good. I’d say they’re better than Vandy. I just don’t see Georgia winning this one.

Barnum&Bailey

November 14th, 2013
8:06 am

Wouldn’t surprise me at all if Tech beats Clemson. Clemson has only faced one quality opponent, and they threw up all over themselves in that game.

UA Grad

November 14th, 2013
8:17 am

Go Georgia. Beat Alabama Polytechnic Institute!

The Tide is Rolling and Nothing can Stop it

November 14th, 2013
9:00 am

Wow, it’s like you can’t really bank on players staying all 4 years. If only coaches would just sign extra players each year to help with attrition. This “oversigning” would lead to teams being much better off and not losing to Vandy when injuries occur.