Yes, it looks awfully convenient. Three Georgia tailbacks are suspended for a game, but not the game that stood to make or break the Bulldogs’ season, due to a failed drug test that was administered last week — meaning, before the Florida game.
And here we turn to a fairly basic concept — trust. Georgia insists it did not cherry-pick which game the backs would miss. Greg McGarity, the athletic director, said: “When certain things are found, we act right then.” Claude Felton, the Hall of Fame publicist, said: “At the point a violation is discovered, if a suspension is required the penalty will be enforced for the next contest.”
Not everyone is buying this. Some folks can’t get past the notion that Isaiah Crowell and Carlton Thomas were able to play in the game that meant so much to both Georgia and its head coach. And journalists, I should note, are trained to be skeptics. But I must also note that journalists are trained to be observers, and here, over time, is what I’ve observed:
The two men quoted regarding the timing of the penalty — McGarity and Felton — are men, I’ve come to believe, whose word means something. Call me naive, but those are men I’d trust not just to say the right thing but to do it. (And I’d also suggest that just because the tests were taken before the Florida game doesn’t mean laboratory confirmation was immediately forthcoming.)
Sometimes circumstances have a fishy smell to them, and in a million-dollar industry like college football an old-fashioned thing like honor can yield to expedience. As the photo of yours truly (above) will attest, I wasn’t born yesterday. But I’ve also learned this: There are cases where you have to make a choice — to believe in people’s worst instincts, or to believe in their best? And the answer invariably hinges on the people involved.
Given the people involved in this, I trust Georgia. If that makes me a fool, so be it.
By Mark Bradley