True confession: I wrote a little something Tuesday about college football players under scrutiny and possibly facing suspensions, and I didn’t mention A.J. Green. I didn’t forget him. I didn’t mention him because I couldn’t imagine any scenario under which the great Georgia receiver wouldn’t be allowed to play Saturday against La-La.
But here it is Thursday and the Bulldogs are, as of this writing, within 50 hours of toe-meets-leather time — sorry, I know that’s a Tech phrase, but it’s still a beauty — and Georgia isn’t sure if Green will be available. (Here’s the report from esteemed colleague Tim Tucker on Mark Richt saying nothing.)
I’m like most of you: I believed A.J. Green when he said, forcefully and often, that he hadn’t been in Miami for the agent-funded soiree that touched off this kerfuffle. But the NCAA has been a lot of places — Alabama, South Carolina, North Carolina — and hasn’t yet announced any of its findings regarding agents and possible illegal inducements.
South Carolina tight end Weslye Saunders and North Carolina defender Marvin Austin won’t play in their teams’ openers, but both suspensions have been for “team violations,” as opposed to NCAA sanctions. (These could be construed as pre-emptive strikes by the Carolina programs: If a guy in question doesn’t play, that could be one victory you don’t have to vacate.)
From the start, Georgia has never seemed worried about Green’s status. Concerned, yes. You’re always concerned when the NCAA comes to campus. (Though it must be stipulated: UGA has never officially identified Green as the person of investigative interest.) Because you never know where the NCAA hounds are apt to sniff.
And now it’s midday Thursday and there has been no word from on high, and at this late date we must at least begin to consider the possibility that Green might not be cleared for the lid-lifter. That wouldn’t affect the outcome — Georgia could beat La-La with Cee-lo Green at wideout — but it wouldn’t exactly enhance an offense already missing Washaun Ealey. And the Bulldogs need to start hot and stay that way: Games 2 and 3 are against South Carolina and Arkansas.
There’s also this possibility: The NCAA could say nothing and leave the play-or-sit decision to the schools. Which would be kind of unfair, when you think about it. But the NCAA can be that way.
Please understand: I fully expect A.J. Green to partake of Saturday’s doings. But, and here I’m guessing I’m like a few of you folks, I’m wondering what’s taking so long.