ATHENS – A couple more things on these running back suspensions and then we’ll move on to the next thing for Georgia football.
Georgia coach Mark Richt addressed the situation for the first time during the SEC Coaches Weekly Teleconference on Wednesday. Here’s what he had to say:
“My response is that we’ve always had the utmost integrity in everything we do. We have policies in place in our athletic association that we follow to the T. That’s the case here and it’s been the case since I’ve been at Georgia. We all know that we do our business the way it should be done and we do it with integrity. So people who make comments who don’t know probably shouldn’t, quite frankly, because they don’t know and I’d be able to prove 100 percent they’re wrong. But I’m not going to spend the time doing that. The bottom line is we have rules and we follow them to the T and we have the utmost integrity in how we go about our business. That’s how we’ve built this program since the day I got here and we’re not going to change for any reason.”
“I’ve always felt like was you have to have an element of punishment, something that will sting, something that will make somebody think twice about doing something or other guys who are watching, make them think twice. But you have to educate them, then you have to love them still. They’re still part of this family and we want them to understand we’re supporting them through it. But, you know, if the attitude is right and they’re ready to learn from it and become better for it, discipline can be a very positive thing in that way. Everything I’ve seen to this point has been pointing to that very thing. So I’m pleased with how they’re handling it. And then the other thing is, you’ve got to challenge the rest of your team to pick up the slack, whether it’s the young guys that are going to get this experience playing running back for the University of Georgia, when they thought that probably wasn’t very likely, all of the sudden they’re getting an opportunity to do something they probably dreamed of, which is a great thing. But the rest of the team, the special teams, the defense, the offensive line, the receiving corps, the quarterbacks, everybody’s got to play a little better to make sure that this situation is not going to cost us.”
“Yeah, but I’m not surprised that young men make mistakes. We all know no one is perfect. We know that young guys tend to use bad judgment sometimes. When they do, that’s when we come in and help them out.”
“I think Isaiah is going to do great, I really do. Because I saw how he has handled this mistake to this point and I really feel confident he’s going to be stronger for it. I really do.”
“I’m not sure I can spell his name right now, but it starts with a K,” Richt said of Karempelis. “I like him. He’s a tough kid. He’s got some good run skills. In camp he did a nice job. Harton did a nice job last spring. . . . We’ll have to use [Brandon] Boykin and little more and [Branden] Smith a little more and maybe go some no-back sets. We’ve got enough tight ends. We have some ways we can still move the football.”
ALSO . . .
>>>Here’s A LINK TO UGA’S DRUG-TESTING POLICIES AND PROCEDURES. Everything you need to know is pretty much spelled out there. But since the accused parties are three players at the same position, it would seem reasonable to assume this week’s actions were the result of the “reasonable suspicion” clause. In other words, a coach or administrator suspected something and ordered a test for these guys, which they subsequently failed.
>>>Sooner or later, you have to question Georgia’s recruitment and coaching of the tailback position. Going back to Dontavius Jackson and continuing through Washaun Ealey and Caleb King, this makes six tailbacks in the last 15 months that have been subjected to some sort of suspension, dismissal or general disciplinary action. Bryan McClendon gets paid $200,000 a year to be the Bulldogs’ running backs coach. Ultimately, it is his responsibility to see that his charges are doing things “the Georgia way.”
>>>Finally, here are the options as we know them for playing tailback on Saturday against the New Mexico State Aggies (3-5), who, by the way, rank 111th in the nation in rushing defense (214.38 ypg):