A day that sums up the varying moral landscape of SEC athletics

UGA's Mark Richt confronts his disciplinary problems openly. (University of Georgia)

UGA's Mark Richt confronts his disciplinary problems openly. (University of Georgia)

So far, this week things are going pretty much the way they usually do during the offseason. Georgia has had some players get in trouble — and, unlike a lot of other schools, hasn’t turned a blind eye or covered it up. And Auburn has latched on to another reject.

You could hardly ask for a better example of the range of moral stances in today’s SEC: Georgia turns in its own players to police on a matter that probably wouldn’t have seen the light of day on some other campuses in the conference, while Auburn hires a basketball coach still under a show-cause penalty from the NCAA for lying to investigators when he was at Tennessee. Was there ever any doubt that if the disgraced Bruce Pearl wound up at an SEC school it would be Auburn?

On the matter of the football Dawgs, you could practically hear the oft-practiced groan from the Bulldog Nation Monday night when news broke that starting safety Tray Matthews, defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor, defensive end James DeLoach and wide receiver Uriah LeMay had been arrested on multiple misdemeanor counts of theft by deception, right on the even of spring practice opening. Matthews, Taylor and DeLoach cashed checks twice, according to UGA police, while LeMay is accused of cashing his roommate’s discarded checks.

Once we got past the actual details of the alleged check-cashing scheme — and puzzling over how, if it’s true, anyone could be stupid enough to think they could get away with cashing a check twice in this age of computerized banking and accounting — the most appalling thing to me was that there actually were supposed UGA fans complaining about the athletic department blowing the whistle on its own players.

Don't Bruce Pearl and Auburn seem a perfect match? (Associated Press)

Don't Bruce Pearl and Auburn seem a perfect match? (Associated Press)

Ignoring the fact that covering up such a fraud would have possible NCAA and legal ramifications, these folks apparently think Greg McGarity, Mark Richt and their staffs simply should have looked the other way or taken care of the matter in-house without ever getting the police involved, as probably would have been done by some of our conference brethren.

Maybe those folks should be fans of one of those other SEC schools.

But as Richt noted Tuesday, “At Georgia, we’ve never tried to hide things. If somebody makes a mistake, we clean it up. We don’t hide it.”

No, UGA doesn’t have more discipline problems than other schools. It simply confronts the problem in a more up-front way.

“A lot of times what happens is a lot of our policies are stiffer than most people’s,” Richt said. “If you’re going aggressively go after certain things, sometimes your business becomes a little more public than you want it to.”

That, of course, means UGA gets more bad publicity than some other schools, which leads to ignorant knee-jerk reactions like the tweet by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who thinks Bulldog players “take advantage” of Richt’s “forgiving heart” because they have “no fear of the consequences.”

Obviously, Herbstreit hasn’t been paying attention, because in Athens, where Richt has kicked potential stars like Zach Mettenberger, Nick Marshall and Josh Harvey-Clemons off the team, the players certainly know that their actions do have consequences.

Still, the nagging nature of these recurring problems — which see Georgia open just about every season with key players suspended — is frustrating for many Bulldog backers. Why, some ask, isn’t Georgia more careful about signing players not so prone to get into trouble?

Unfortunately, there’s really no reliable way to predict boneheaded behavior on the part of college students. And it’s not just athletes who get into trouble. As Richt pointed out, if you took any group of 125 students and followed their every move with the sort of glaring spotlight that shines on high-profile college athletes, you’d probably see a similar rate of dumb mistakes.

Meanwhile, of more pertinent interest to Georgia fans is what Richt will end up doing with these players. Assuming the legal charges hold up, should these guys be treated more harshly than those players who violate the drug-testing rules, despite their alleged crimes just being a misdemeanor? After all, you don’t just accidentally try to cash a check twice or take your roommate’s discarded check and cash it.

Some multi-game suspensions and/or a dismissal from the team seem likely.

And as a proud UGA alum, I believe that’s the way it should be.

Go Dogs!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

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.

Find me on Facebook.

Follow me on Twitter.

— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

128 comments Add your comment

Andy

March 19th, 2014
11:38 am

Well said, Bill.

Get The Picture

March 19th, 2014
11:42 am

Since it is a misdeamor like a first time DUI,the two game suspension seems to be in order. Both are boneheaded acts.

jrmdvm1

March 19th, 2014
11:44 am

I was hoping that this was “accidental” when I first heard, but as you say, Bill, what they did was not an accident, but rather very deliberate. Obviously, they need some additional education on accounting. How did they think that this wouldn’t be noticed? I will hate for them to be dismissed from the program, but think the seriousness ( this is not about the amounts, but rather the attitudes ) is at a level that caused others to be dismissed from the team, so I will support that outcome if that is what is decided.

Dawg_Mike

March 19th, 2014
11:45 am

So let me get this straight- if you are a player and mess up, you get booted eventually and you go the JUCO route, then you come back to D1. If you are a Coach you get fired, then take a job on the worldwide leader until the smoke clears, then you get hired back .

I get it.

Class of '98

March 19th, 2014
11:46 am

The stupidity of this crime is mind-boggling. It’s like a five year-old trying to steal cookies out of a jar when he knows his mother counted them.

Committing a crime is one thing. Committing a crime that you have ZERO PERCENT CHANCE of getting away with is another.

Dawg_Mike

March 19th, 2014
11:46 am

The players should be dismissed, IMO

HistoryofMatt

March 19th, 2014
11:47 am

Bill, people like you keep on completely MISREPRESENTING what Herbstreit said.

If someone has no fear of the consequences, that means they have no fear of getting kicked off the team.

So that means, doing as you did here, or as Radi did Monday night on Twitter, in listing the consequences (of the names of people kicked off the team) is completely redundant and unneeded.

Seriously, use some logic.

What Herbstreit is saying is, these players at UGA KNOW the consequences, but they don’t either fear and / or respect enough to fear those consequences.

So, again… stop making lists of kids kicked off the team to “attack” Herbstreit. You’re actually making his point for him.

Talk about knee-jerk.

HistoryofMatt

March 19th, 2014
11:50 am

Should say, *they don’t either fear and / or respect MARK RICHT enough to fear those consequences.*

Columbus Dawg

March 19th, 2014
11:54 am

IMO, there has been more than enough carping on the arrests. If the players are dismissed so be it. If suspended, then that is Richt’s choice. Many have been waiting months to see spring get here, and to see the “Pruitt effect”. That is what is important now, UGA football. I can tell you, nothing fired me up more than to see Malcolm Mitchell out running the rest of the receivers in the video. Gurley looks to be in shape again. Even fat boy Theus looks better than he ever has since arriving in Athens. Things are looking up in Athens even with the recent idiocy.

Columbus Dawg

March 19th, 2014
11:58 am

The only reason they don’t fear getting kicked off the team, well, the ones that are top line players anyway, is that they know they can end up at Auburn, LSU, or Bama with NO consequences. Why in hell is this MAIN POINT left out of the conversation EVERY TIME by the drive by media?

HistoryofMatt

March 19th, 2014
12:04 pm

Columbus… you are exactly right. As is Herbstreit.

UGA players have no fear of the consequences at UGA, because they know Auburn and LSU, or some other coach with low standards, will take them in… all with Mark Richt’s personal phone call to make sure it happens.

RxDawg

March 19th, 2014
12:11 pm

“Committing a crime is one thing. Committing a crime that you have ZERO PERCENT CHANCE of getting away with is another.”

Maybe it’s a cry for attention? ;)

NYCDAWGFAN

March 19th, 2014
12:25 pm

@HistoryofMatt you are a Jerk… Period.

Bill, as usual, you have it right. Kirk jumped out there and ran his mouth and then spent a good while back tracking and apologizing. @HistoryofMatt had Kirk been correct in what he was saying there would be no need for apologies and excuses/explanations. Seriously, you, use some logic.

Red and Black til Death

gtcaryd

March 19th, 2014
1:00 pm

The crime was a misdemeanor but their stupidity was definitely a felony.

Independent

March 19th, 2014
1:04 pm

This is the same CMR that played at Miami and coached at FSU (Free shoe University), why is a lack of discpline so shocking!?

True DAWG

March 19th, 2014
1:13 pm

Why on earth would you mention dismissal for ove 71 dollars??? obsurd to mention that Bill! And I am getting tired of UGA doing this. I sure hope Pruitt bring in some new blood and slows this annual Richt embarrasment down!

WDE

March 19th, 2014
1:14 pm

Yeah Independent its the same CMR that kicked Crowell, Marshall,Mett and JHC off the team in the last what 3 years…that CMR….

True DAWG

March 19th, 2014
1:16 pm

First Richt needs to say players can only go to division two schools if they leave- If not for his well being then for the bulldawg nation well being- Somethings needs to give!

Huh?

March 19th, 2014
1:38 pm

I give Richt an A+ for hounding out consequences AFTER a player has done something stupid.

However, I give him and the coaching staff an F when it comes to creating an environment where players don’t do stupid things TO BEGIN WITH.

Simply pointing to other schools, and saying what they would or wouln’t do is a cop out. UGA still has too many players getting into trouble….period. It doesn’t matter what goes on elsewhere.

iamlistening

March 19th, 2014
1:38 pm

Columbus said it best. If a player gets kicked off of Georgia’s team and they are allowed to go to another D1 power, why should they be afraid of the consequences. I also agree with gtcaryd, where he said the crime was a misdemeanor but their stupidity was a felony. Bottom Line: All schools have these issues. Even at Vandy, we have guys getting into trouble… Not at the rate as Georgia but we do.

Huh?

March 19th, 2014
1:38 pm

handing not hounding

Independent

March 19th, 2014
1:38 pm

WDE, so, that CMR kicked of a gun runner and sex offender…..means he knows about discpline????

dawgfan

March 19th, 2014
1:41 pm

I don’t know Kool Aiders. You might want to think about this one. If former players can’t go to rival schools anymore that eliminates one of your excuses for Richt. Is it really worth putting one of your precious excuses in jeopardy?

It’s not like Richt was winning anything before all those guys went to other schools.

7576DAWG

March 19th, 2014
1:55 pm

First there has got to be a standard penalty in the SEC for different Offenses for all the Schools. By not having one the SEC is just as bad as Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, and Tennessee when they sweep things under the rug. Win at all Cost , nothing more important than the money they get. Be damned the players.

Huh?

March 19th, 2014
2:00 pm

There will never be a standard penalty for offenses. Nothing is equal from school to school…entrance standards, school facilities, coaches’ salaries, recruiting budgets, schedules, etc. So why would penalties be any different?

7576DAWG

March 19th, 2014
2:08 pm

If Richt stays with his past punishment of 1 game suspension per Offense. Then Mathews gets 3 games, LeMay 4 games , Taylor and DeLoach 2 each. I would give each an extra game for letting down their team. LeMay may get 2 extra since he dragged his roommate into his mess. I would not kick him off the team because all Offenses are a criminal Offense .
Richt will not go easy on them because the Offense is one of the BIG 10 , Thou Steal Not Steal.
They all will be on a short leash , mess up again and they are gone. This is a first Offense for all of them so I would be surprised if we ever hear anything bad again but I doubt any of them will feel bad at what they did. Yes , they will be feel bad down for letting their teammates down but stealing no.
You either know right from wrong or you don’t and don’t care when you get their age.

scdawg1

March 19th, 2014
2:14 pm

Talked with a banker last night who said her bank as not going to do the phone app deposits because this is rampant among young people and uneducated people. And actually when I started using it, I did it online and got no special education on the process so I can see how those that are not as worldly whether by age or environment, might actually think they could get away with it, the way it was done, because NO, they do not understand accounting. NOT DEFENDING…just saying evidently it is a huge problem for banks right now.

gtcaryd

March 19th, 2014
2:28 pm

Sorry scdawg1, no one and i mean no one is that stupid, they just figure they get a game or two off and everything will be fine with CMR. They just simply dont fear the punishment.I guess since they practiced that they will not be kicked off the team.

Independent

March 19th, 2014
2:33 pm

scdawg1, you state because they ” might actually think they could get away with it”. This means they know it is wrong but just get caught! If criminals didn’t think they could get a way with the crime, they would not do it in the first place!

Mike

March 19th, 2014
2:37 pm

So Bruce Pearl is a reject? hardly…he made a huge mistake and was fired…plain and simple…so that means that he should never work again? The AJC makes a huge mistake every time it publishes the drivel from King so they should fold up shop and quit publishing the AJC? Your bulldog (bulldawg?) colored glasses are blinding you from looking like…well you know…

Roswell Dawg

March 19th, 2014
2:37 pm

Totally agree that these criminals should be identified and punished, regardless of what other SEC teams do. I am on the other hand extremely frustrated with Richt not restricting dismissed players to non-SEC teams. Restricting them should cut down on the side stepping of consequences and keep players like Mett and Marshall from coming back to haunt us. This really shouldn’t be Richt’s decision at all. The people that pay his salary, the fans, should decided.

WDE

March 19th, 2014
3:17 pm

Independence who’s a gun runner??.Last I heard Crowell was exonerated for those charges…that really must chap your azz. And in your long career as a coach at the college level how would you handle this? We are all dying to know, the point was that when CMR is faced with a tough call he doesn’t shy away from doing the right thing…you might wait and see how this plays out before you decry his decision but then you have already made up your mind haven’t you.

Independent

March 19th, 2014
4:02 pm

I’m going to take the who’s a gun runner question, as a rhetorical one, since you answered it yourself. Also, OJ Simpson was exonerated, but then again he didn’t go to UGA, so he most likely did commit murder! However, Crowell was exonerated, so he is good to go in your book because he was a DAWG!! However, that makes me wonder why CMR kicked him off the team if he was innocent…….

Joyce jacks

March 19th, 2014
4:26 pm

Most crimes of this kind not taking in consideration being an athlete but just common everyday people would end up doing community service. I feel each of them should have to do numerous hours of community service. Maybe walking down 316 picking up trash or working with youth or something that would make them think. I think treating them special because they are athletes isn’t always fair. An hour for every dollar plus an hour extra training for every dollar. Or maybe during the first couple of games suspend them and make them sale cokes up and down the bleachers of Sanford Stadium.

7576DAWG

March 19th, 2014
4:26 pm

Independent
I think Richt gets these kids, one on one, ask them what happened and they are told not to lie to him. That essentially, God is listening. Most of these kids are repeat Offenders. He told them the last time if they screwed up again then they will be off the team but to reward them for being honest he will not restrict them from going to another SEC School.
I know they can sit out one year or go to Junior College one year and transfer to any program that will have them but if Richt called lets say LSU and ask them not to accept a transfer from one of his former players I think that request would be honored. When the other Coach calls I think Richt endorses the transfer because the player told the true that only Richt will know about.

7576DAWG

March 19th, 2014
4:34 pm

What I would like to know is what kind of reaction did their parents give when they were told.
If I had been on the team back in the seventies and If I had stolen something , Dooley wouldn’t do 10% what my parents would have done not to mention the disappointment I would have had to live after seeing it in their face.

Things are not so different now

March 19th, 2014
4:59 pm

I attended UGA the 60s. Graduated in 70s. Kids needed money then and now.

I knew some guys that took text books from around the student center or cafeterias, in order to sell them, so they had money for Daytona Beach during spring break. Four or five books could net them $35.00-$50.00 Gasoline then was 39 cents per gallon, McDonald’s Burger, fries and coke was 69 cents. Krystal burger were a dime!!

This is a true story. One of these fools became a YOUTH pastor in a large church in the northern metro area of Atlanta, many years later, of course. Two others became business men, family men, good fathers. All of them asked for forgiveness in one way or other.

These football players are indeed as DUMB as we were in the late 1960s, early 70s.

Go Dogs

RollDog

March 19th, 2014
5:59 pm

SimpleDawg

March 19th, 2014
7:36 pm

I say, Cut ‘em loose. Can’t be trusted. Tried to rip off the school, the athletic dept, and a teammate.

Awbarn is waiting.

Preacher Lemay must be so proud.

VaDawg

March 19th, 2014
8:07 pm

Not to minimize the problems we have had with players smoking weed, when you steal from the athletic department which is providing you with a free education it says more about your character to me than smoking weed. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how plain stupid these 4 guys are. If we have kicked players off the team for stealing from their teammates in the past then all four of these morons need to be be kicked off the team for knowingly stealing from the athletic department that is paying for their education. Zero tolerance. You steal, you are gone. Tough love from Richt.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

March 19th, 2014
8:28 pm

If we are going to kick players off the team then dont allow them to play in the SEC

Until that happens….. forgive me while I laugh at the so called tough punishments handed out by the UGA athletic department

Mobile Dawg

March 19th, 2014
8:39 pm

Several things to think about, not knowing the specific background of these kids but you can probably guess. I know it’s stereo typing, labeling, but they are a microcosm of a good sized portion of our society. Don’t know why anyone would be surprised at their behavior. Marshall stole from his teammates and was dismissed. Is this any different principally? Probably not.

Agree with Flat Tire, if you allow them to transfer to another SEC school are you really teaching them any accountability?

hind tit

March 19th, 2014
8:41 pm

Why is stealing a misdemeanor. Why don’t the rest of the team beat the crap out of their team mates when they do DUMB stuff like this and screw up the beginning of every season for as long as i can remember. No wonder they blow assignments.

Dog4Life

March 19th, 2014
10:11 pm

Where is Coach Mervos when we need him? It was a one time offense and no one wanted to repeat time with Mervos–I also believe that once title IX came out forcing athletes into the main student population disallowing athletic dorms things began to come undone. Coaches could keep a better watch on kids when under one roof–always will be some shenanigans, but if there is an eye on them much of the time there is always less trouble. Dooley avoided many issues because he could keep a good eye on them–plus he had Coach Mervos(imho)

I-DOG

March 19th, 2014
10:44 pm

Not looking great for next season with so many players being suspended and one kicked off and there is a lot of offseason to go yet. Two 5 star safeties that won’t play against Clemson or SC is a lot to overcome.

Auburn will make the NCAA tourney with Pearl before UGA does with Fox. That is why they hired him. He will make Auburn basketball relevant again.

Truthiness

March 19th, 2014
11:12 pm

UGA, Old Testament retribution. Auburn & LSU, NewTestament redemption. Might as well play out all these morality tales. Some college students did something they thought was clever, and as we all know from our own experiences, was pretty stupid. But where we had only the private shame from family and friends, these athletes shamed themselves, their coaches, and our University. They bought in to the deal when they accepted their scholarships. If we believe we owe these athletes an education in exchange for their football talent, then I guess we’re just holding up our part of the deal, too. Guess they get some education now.

RED DOG 77

March 20th, 2014
12:20 am

Dealing with the number of young men college coaches are responsible for molding is amazing to me, considering just about every one believes they are the greatest thing that came down the pike. I have watched coach Richt carefully over the years, and while I haven’t agreed with everything he has done, I am convinced he is without a doubt one of the top coaches in the nation. There is an old saying from my generation that says “it’s not if you win or lose that’s important, it’s how you play the game”…………..Looking around at what’s in the news daily, crime in the streets, a criminal in the White House, a lack of morals just about everywhere……………..I don’t care if it costs us a game from time to time for doing the ” right” thing…………….I’m proud Mark Richt is head coach of the University of Georgia Bulldogs……………..Damn Proud!…………..RED

Aint for 8-4's

March 20th, 2014
12:52 am

Dismissed Nick for locker room theivery…WILL continue to prove his WEAKNESS as a HC and leader of our team if HE doesn’t dismiss these boyz!

Rhall55

March 20th, 2014
7:20 am

When can UGA fans expect an off season w/ no arrests…no suspensions…no forced transfers or dismissals…..can we not expect that from a Man who is making $3.5 million a year + perks + commercials + camp residuals + etc??

gtcaryd

March 20th, 2014
7:58 am

Rhall55, I’m beginning to think you never will. Seems like off season arrests are tradition now.