Another arrest: Embarrassing for UGA, but not humiliating

Washaun Ealey against LSU last season. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Washaun Ealey against LSU. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

In a world where games are played but nobody keeps score, this number would matter: Georgia had eight football players arrested over the offseason in 2008 and has had eight more in 2010.

In the real world, these numbers matter more: Mark Richt is 90-27 as Georgia’s coach.

Tailback Washaun Ealey was arrested early Friday on misdemeanor charges of hitting a parked car and leaving the scene, and also for that staple Bulldog indiscretion — driving with a suspended license. (Ealey also faces a warrant for failing to appear in court earlier this month on speeding and tag violations.) This arrest, it must be noted, all but clinches the uncoveted Fulmer Cup for UGA.

The Fulmer Cup was created by Spencer Hall of the Florida-friendly website EDSBS.com. Named after former Tennessee coach Phillip Fulmer, whose Vols had a knack for the extracurricular, the Fulmer Cup recognizes the program with the most arrests in a given offseason. Before Friday, Georgia was tied with Minnesota with a week remaining; Ealey’s arrest makes the Bulldogs the leaders in the figurative clubhouse. Or doghouse. Or something.

If your program is in position to claim the dishonor of being arrested the most often, your program is embarrassing itself and its university. But embarrassment isn’t to be confused with humiliation. Reading about a player’s arrest on a Friday in August is embarrassing; losing to Georgia Tech on an autumnal Saturday is humiliating.

No, that’s not how it should be, but that’s the way it is. Richt won’t get fired if a player gets hauled off to jail for hitting a parked car in the middle of the night. He’ll only get fired if he loses a bunch of big games. Yes, Georgia went 8-5 last season, Richt’s worst, but  he’s 50-22 against SEC opponents and 21-15 against the Bulldogs’ four biggest rivals.

Even in a lesser season, Richt’s Bulldogs filled Sanford Stadium and played on national TV and went to a bowl. (Shreveport still counts.) For all their off-the-field indiscretions, Richt’s Bulldogs haven’t stopped minting money for the Athletics Association. And money, as you might have heard, talks.

To be a big-time college coach is to be disingenuous. You can say, “We’re only interested in would-be saints,” but we all know that’s bunk. Richt isn’t signing Justin Bieber to play linebacker. Neither would Julliard offer a scholarship to a model citizen who can’t carry a tune in a bucket. Every big-time football program seeks athletic ability first.

The quickest way to curtail these off-the-field embarrassments would be to exercise zero tolerance: One arrest and you’re gone. That would also be the quickest way for Richt to fire himself. The cold reality is that a coach can live with Ealey driving on a suspended license if he gets 183 yards against Tech. The vast majority of Georgia fans can live with it, too. (Richt announced after practice Friday that Ealey would be suspended for a minimum of one game.)

And it isn’t just Georgia fans. Under Urban Meyer, Florida had 24 players arrested between 2005 and 2009; it also won two national championships. Under Nick Saban, Alabama claimed the Fulmer Cup in 2008; it took the BCS title in 2009.

Georgia’s arrests are as much a reflection of Richt the Recruiter as of Richt the Disciplinarian. Rule of thumb: If you sign a player you consider a risk, you’ll eventually discover why. But Richt doesn’t coach intramurals — he works in the cutthroat SEC, and if Georgia doesn’t take a big-time talent who’s not quite a big-time citizen, the school in the next state will. If you’re going to play at this level, you play to win. Or else you get fired and somebody else gets to try.

Yes, there are limits to an administration’s patience, but Richt hasn’t neared those limits. Oklahoma winked at the excesses of Barry Switzer’s program for years, and only after quarterback Charles Thompson appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in an orange jumpsuit — he’d been arrested for selling cocaine — did the Sooner brass find religion.

Georgia under Richt, we must stipulate, is nothing like OU under Switzer. The Bulldogs aren’t, as SI had it, “terrorizing their campus.” They’re simply embarrassing UGA. But there’s a chance Georgia might win in Jacksonville this October, and you’d be amazed — actually, you wouldn’t — how much embarrassment fans can bear if in the end they get to crow over a fallen Gator.

647 comments Add your comment

South Jax Beach Bulldawg!!

August 27th, 2010
3:33 pm

South Jax Beach Bulldawg!!

August 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

I gotta admit that this might be a case of poor judgment. Someone earlier mentioned the idea of having all of these players drivers licenses on file to make sure that no one has a suspended license. This might be some sort of invasion of privacy issue but you could probably file it under the code of conduct that the players must adhere to

Mark Bradley

August 27th, 2010
3:34 pm

Kudos, South Jax.

RxDawg

August 27th, 2010
3:35 pm

Well as long as it’s not humiliating..

Mick

August 27th, 2010
3:37 pm

Polic Chief compared Ealey’s offense to hitting a fence.

Wow, really embarrasing to Georgia.

I’d say we’re lookin at a 1 quarter suspension, if anything.

Ophelia

August 27th, 2010
3:39 pm

Mark, if it were the only arrest recently you would be right. However, taken together with the other shennanigans in Athens, and yes, the word is humiliating.

Ping

August 27th, 2010
3:40 pm

Georgia is not emarassing, Ealey was. Richt was at home asleep when this happened, not sure how Richt sleeping last night embarrased Georgia.

Just a kid, sped on his scotter and hit a car, but didn’t hurt the car.

Andy

August 27th, 2010
3:41 pm

Ealey MIDLY embarrased Georgia. It reflects only on Ealey. Has nothing to do with the team, we arn’t talking about Tenn here, where 9 players kicked a guy’s face and elft him to die.

Mick

August 27th, 2010
3:42 pm

Would you suspend a player for hitting a fence? Of course not.

Buckhead Dawg

August 27th, 2010
3:43 pm

Here Bradley, here’s a dead horse…beat it, kick it, stomp it, shoot it…we get it.

RxDawg

August 27th, 2010
3:44 pm

lol Buckhead

Jerry

August 27th, 2010
3:44 pm

In my opionion, the anti-Georgia sports journalists, spreading their negative slants, cause mnore embaraassment than the event itself. This is very, very minor. To exaggerate this thing into something big, is tantamount to sensationalism.

matt

August 27th, 2010
3:45 pm

I’d much rather our players be arrested for something like instead of hitting women, starting fights in bars, etc. Scooter-gate is preferable to selling crack. Embarrassing, yes, but the program is not spiraling out of control.

'phelia

August 27th, 2010
3:45 pm

Wow, another one

Mick

August 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

The Police Chief was trying to show people how silly this was by comparing Ealey’s incident to hitting a fence. I don’t think a player get suspended for hitting a fence. If not, you can’t suspend this kid hitting acar, and doing no damage. Why should he have reported, there was NO DAMAGE.

Pago Pago DAWG

August 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

We’re already scared to death this season.

sogadog

August 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

I am appalled at Ealey’s behavior and arrest. He should be suspended the first quarter of the Louisiana Lafayette game.

hunker down

August 27th, 2010
3:46 pm

Good news is no red panties were involved.

'phelia

August 27th, 2010
3:47 pm

If this were the only incident, I would agree with you Mark. But taken together with the other shenanigans in Athens, it is humiliating

Sarcastic Dawg

August 27th, 2010
3:48 pm

WE hit and RUN THIS STATE!!!

hunker down

August 27th, 2010
3:48 pm

How can you expect UGA to cut down on penalties this year when they continue to show such complete lack of judgement in off the field situations.

Andy

August 27th, 2010
3:49 pm

Embarrasing? Here’s embarrasing, what Tennessee players did, kicked and hit an office until he was unconscious, left him to bleed and die, ran off.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/09/darick-rogers-arrested-af_n_640779.html

jdawg

August 27th, 2010
3:49 pm

I mean really, there should be a better points system for the Fulmer cup based on the offense. Should traffic violations and underage drinking tickets be given just as many points as things such as armed robbery, assault and possession of weapons? Every national news outlet today has lead people to believe that Ealey crashed and left the scene of a major accident when actually he hit a unattended, parked car in a parking deck…stupid.

GeoffDawg

August 27th, 2010
3:51 pm

Of course Shreveport counts. If tech can count their record streak of bowl games with smurf turf or named after nut companies, we can count this blip known as the former weedeater bowl.

Re: Ealey, can’t really understand what he was thinking when he left the scene of the accident after being told the police were coming but oh well, whatcha gonna do? He’ll face the judicial consequences which will probably amount to a few hundred dollars in fines and then move on with his life. You hope he can learn from the experience but IMO, it doesn’t require more than a one or two game suspension at most. Even two might be really pushing it.

Tom Tom

August 27th, 2010
3:52 pm

You want a story, how about the Story Florida kid, arrested for BATTERY a few days aGO. That’s embarrassing.

http://gators.flatoday.net/2010/08/gator-football-recruit-arrested.html

Washuan Ealey

August 27th, 2010
3:52 pm

I did nothing wrong.

Mikey in SAv

August 27th, 2010
3:52 pm

I’m more concerned why Ealey didn’t address his original charges from May.
what did he think would happen…

Dawgs2010

August 27th, 2010
3:53 pm

Beat the Gators? That is big dreaming. We always lay an egg versus the Gators. The players change but the result doesn’t. “Gee, Golly, Shucks” is all we can expect in Jacksonville.

Dennis

August 27th, 2010
3:53 pm

Let me interpret your logic. He should be suspended for whole second half of the first game that we have a lead by at least 21 at halftime but only if the opposing team doesn’t get back within 10.

Tom Tom

August 27th, 2010
3:54 pm

@WreckBuZZ

August 27th, 2010
3:54 pm

You know, I’ve finally come around to the Dawg fans way of thinking. UGA DOES have a an advantage on the depth chart

GEORGIA TECH
Arrested: Robert Hall

GEORGIA
Arrested: Washaun Ealey, Zach Mettenberger, Montez Robinson, Trent Dittmer, Dontavious Jackson, Tavarres King, Josh Parrish, Jordan Love

Chi Town

August 27th, 2010
3:54 pm

They dont call it the University of THUGA for nothing…..

Washuan Ealey

August 27th, 2010
3:54 pm

Whats wrong with slamming my car into someone elses car? Whats wrong with leaving the scene when asked not to? Whats wrong with failing to appear in court and having a warrent out for me? Really, I dont get it?

Helmet Head Riding The Short Bus

August 27th, 2010
3:56 pm

Mark,

Does this put even more pressure on Coach to stablize this program and the New A.D. to send a message to the athletes on Campus to comform and follow the student code?

Somewhere along the way the confidence level of contributors to UGA will say enough is enough.

Tom Tom

August 27th, 2010
3:56 pm

8 players arrested under Saban in just 14 months:

http://sports.espn.go.com/ncf/news/story?id=3266101

How embarrasing Nick Saban is to the University of Alabama.

Big Dawg

August 27th, 2010
3:57 pm

Personally, I am embarrassed and someone should get fired. These kids are role models and should be acting like it. We have no self pride. I don’t know how we continue to make excuses and “move on.” I’m done UGA football.

NORRIS

August 27th, 2010
3:58 pm

What happened to Curfew? why was he even out at 3 am and how did he get out without someone knowing?

Coach Johnsons Paul

August 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

Heck at least our players are enterprising enough to try to turn a buck (see Pot Selling incident or book stealing and selling) before getting hauled off to jail or kicked off the team!!! And you want to pretend your a “Business” school.

Bud

August 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

Should sports journalists be fired for poor graphic design or a poor photo on their blog, even if they didn’t do the graphic design or take the picture? That’s like trying to blame Ealey’s MINOR mistake onto Richt or Georgia.

Jeff

August 27th, 2010
3:59 pm

Tom Tom, your reaching on the Saban thing. That article is over two years old. Suck it up, your prgram is embarrassing.

Paul Johnson

August 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

Can we PLEASE start talking about us getting ready for a explosive S C State team with a great band bringing close to a bus load of fans over here. Coach Groh is about to pee in his diaper getting this defense worked up…..We looked at the UGA game again and it’s just to blurry to make out much. A lot of #3 and #24 running off in the distance. We’re working hard over here and all, looking at film of SC State vs. Mississippi Correctional, but to be honest, really can’t tell a lot with all the police and sirens going off at that game. Mark, please do a story on us. It’s a great day to be a Jacket, I’m telling you it is.

Randnotell

August 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

So is Justin Bieber supposed to be a would-be saint? Or a musician who could gain entrance into Juilliard?

Sports Review

August 27th, 2010
4:00 pm

[...] Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) [...]

Fire Mark Bradley!

August 27th, 2010
4:01 pm

HEY! TURD FERGUSON!!! didnt I just read this article earlier this morning? way to beat a dead horse…
P.S. You suck at life and everyone hates you!!!

Dr. Doom

August 27th, 2010
4:01 pm

More arrests are inevitable. The future is doomed to be a repeat of the past. Change is not possible. Give up hope. Give in to cynicism. Since arrests have happened in the past, it’s Georgia’s fate for that to happen. This arrest was written in the stars decades ago, nothing Georgia or Richt can do to stop the hands of fate.

JBDawg

August 27th, 2010
4:02 pm

As a die-hard UGA football fan and alumnus, I am growing tired of the student athlete arrests (and staff). It’s becoming hard to refrute the “thUGA” comments. However, one has to consider the circumstances that are unique to the UGA’s, Florida’s, and Tennessee’s of the world. These school campuses are heavily populated and are located in college towns, or “party towns”. There are way too many distractions for any student body. On any given day, there are multiple arrests of kids because of immature actions. Statistically, some of those arrest will involve student athletes.

What am I trying to say… UGA will always be on the leader board for the Fulmer Cup. The environment in Athens in conducive to such events, and nothing about CMR, or a new coach, will change the it. As a fan of UGA athletics, we have to accept the good with the bad.

See you in 8 days…

Chi Town

August 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

ATTN: Tom Tom

Look when the story was written you dumb as*…..Updated: February 27, 2008, 12:42 AM ET

In case you forgot it was the same year as the infamous “Black Out”. You know, the one when Saban came in and stomped your as*es on National Television?

Still hurts, don’t it?

Even nice enough to link the story of the game for ya below in case you forgot.

http://scores.espn.go.com/ncf/recap?gameId=282710061

Big Dawg

August 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

Another excuse JBDawg

Big Dawg

August 27th, 2010
4:03 pm

Excuses are for losers

Helmet Head Riding The Short Bus

August 27th, 2010
4:04 pm

Tom Tom…or is it Dumb Dumb….that article was 2 years and 6 months old.

Spurrier, Chizik, Saban and the idiot in LSU has dismissed 4 and 5 star recruits in the past 18 months due to minor infractions. The past 2 years you can look at the police blotters and see that every program has had issues, the problem here is the numbers and numbers and numbers….
And if you guys think this does not hurt recruiting…you have lost your mind. You have a commit from a guy who got kicked out of school and is now not playing his senior year….great example..