Mark Richt defends UGA’s disciplinary policies, actions of players

Georgia coach Mark Richt found himself defending UGA's disciplinary policies in his first stop on the UGA Days speaking tour Tuesday night in Augusta. (UGA photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt found himself defending UGA's disciplinary policies in his first stop on the UGA Days speaking tour Tuesday night in Augusta. (UGA photo)

Georgia coach Mark Richt has spent a lot of time this spring talking about discipline and I’ve spent a lot of time writing about it. I’ve filed a dozen stories on the subject already in 2012, including THIS ONE about drug-testing and UGA’s philosophies on crime and punishment.

So it should come as no surprise to learn that discipline dominated the discussion Tuesday night in Augusta when Richt and other UGA coaches and administrators spoke at the first stop on the annual “UGA Days” tour across the Southeast. Addressing of crowd of more than 200 supporters, the first question/comment received was from a man complimenting him on the handling of disciplinary matters, even though it has resulted in the dismissal and/or suspensions or eventual suspensions of at least seven football players.

Richt thanked the man, then launched into a soliloquy about his and UGA’s doctrine on disciplining students. Here what he said, as recounted in Seth Emerson’s “Bulldogs Blog” on The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer website.

“Did anybody here go through college, did anybody maybe do something stupid, and not have the whole world know? I know I did. . . . When a mistake is made, there needs to be a consequence; there needs to be a discipline; there needs to be a learning experience from it. I’m not gonna change the way I discipline. Some people may think it’s soft. A lot of people think you might be losing control of your program because you have a lot of suspensions for the season. But the reality is that’s how you keep control of your team, by disciplining your team.

“If you notice, we’re not gonna have any partiality as to whether a guy is a walk-on or a starter. I don’t like disciplining a starter. I don’t like disciplining a walk-on. But when they get out of line you want the punishment to stick. And the punishment that sticks the most is playing time. That’s what I’ve learned over the years. And then you’ve gotta educate them. You’ve gotta have them understand why what they did is wrong, and how it hurts them.”

Richt went on to recount his experiences with past players who ultimately benefited from his disciplinary style.

“Just this weekend I ran into Ray Gant and Danell Ellerbe. Now Daniel Ellerbe was this close from being gone. He had a DUI right before he did whatever he did, and he was that close to being gone. But then you know you have a conversation with that kid. You say, ‘one more thing and you are gone,’ and, ‘what you did is not gonna define your career. What you do from this point is gonna define your career.’ And so I said, ‘If you take care of business you have a chance to still have a great career, and still play in the NFL.’ And sure enough, this guy he got serious about school, he got his degree before he let, he got drafted to the NFL, albeit a little bit later than he would have been if he didn’t have an issue. Still he’s a starting linebacker for the Baltimore Ravens and he’s doing awesome.

“There’s so many guys like that. Anybody remember Verron Haynes? What do you remember Verron for? Pass-44 for touchdown against Tennessee? Well if you don’t remember, he got himself in trouble, too. He made a mistake. He got suspended for the first game of the season along with a couple of other guys. But those guys turned it around and they recovered. They learned from it. The sad part of it is it’s so public.”

Richt went on to say he didn’t think we’d ever see a time when there would be a uniform policy regarding drug-testing or any other forms of discipline conference-wide or nationwide. But he did point out that Georgia has been more stringent from a disciplinary standpoint since his arrival in Athens in December of 2000.

There is some tangible evidence to back up Richt’s claim from a drug-testing standpoint. In the last year Jim Donnan was head football coach (2000), UGA spent just $3,385 on drug-testing for the entire fiscal year, according to records obtained by The AJC. That number jumped to $15,480.40 in Richt’s first year and was $39,473.50 for Fiscal Year 2011.

In that time UGA also established a written code of conduct just for student-athletes. In addition to stringent policies on drugs and alcohol, it also has hard and fast bylaws regarding academics, class attendance, tutoring and mentoring appointments.

“It’s not easy to be a student-athlete,” Richt said after the G-Day Game this past Saturday. “There is so much demand we put on them physically, in the weight room, speed and agility stuff, learning the system, playing the game, all of the practices. Then you’ve got academic mentors, you have tutoring, you have class, you’ve got your classwork you’ve got to get done. There’s just not that many hours in the day, so they don’t have much of a break. They’re grinding; they’re working hard. It’s not easy. The more you do it, the easier it gets. the better you do it the easier it gets.”

Richt’s remarks in Augusta are certainly the most candid and extensive we’ve heard him on the subject of discipline. He has tended be a little tight-lipped around reporters this spring as several of the disciplinary matters before him remain fluid situations. The court date for cornerback Branden Smith, arrested in Henry County, Ala., on marijuana possession charges last month, has been postponed until May 21. And UGA has never confirmed multiple-game suspensions for All-America safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree due to alleged flunked drug tests.

Whatever the case, Richt and Athletic Director Greg McGarity have found their disciplinary policies front and center before the public. It will probably be again Wednesday night as the UGA Days tour makes its next stop in Rome.

So what do you think about them and how do you think Georgia is doing?

UGA DAYS
All programs begin at 7 p.m. with a 6 p.m. social hour unless otherwise noted

  • Wednesday — The Forum, Rome
  • April 24 — Doublegate Country Club, Albany
  • April 25 — Rivermill, Columbus
  • May 8 — Walnut Creek Shooting Preserve, Macon
  • May 9 — Charlotte Marriott, Charlotte, N.C.
  • May 15 — Coach’s Corner, Savannah (noon); Morgan Center, Jekyll Island (6 p.m.)
  • May 16 — Rainwater Conference Center, Valdosta
  • May 22 — Sheraton Birmingham, Birmingham, Ala.
  • May 24 — Steinbrenner Field, Tampa, Fla.
  • July 23 — Cobb Galleria Centre, Atlanta

216 comments Add your comment

RedandBlackDawg

April 18th, 2012
11:21 am

I support his policy. If you don’t expect these kids to uphold standards as far as conduct goes, then you are cheating them, your university and yourself. A scholarship means you have a responsibility to do more than just show up for football games. You are representing the university as well.

Paul in NH

April 18th, 2012
11:23 am

Richt is certainly trying to do the right thing.

PTC DAWG

April 18th, 2012
11:23 am

The entire faculty/coaches/admin should be tested, no warnings, take hair samples…. Let’s see how that works out. Then the ADAMS followers would simmer down.

Vance Duly

April 18th, 2012
11:28 am

I think Georgia does about as much as it can considering that athletes tend to be coddled and are the “superstars” on many high school campuses. So, they are used to special treatment and getting away with things. The disparity among various schools is one thing that bothers me. A player gets suspended for something that would get him a “get out of jail free” card for the first offense at another school. GO DAWGS!

dawg fan

April 18th, 2012
11:30 am

I think our problems are college kids being college kids when everyone wants them to act like eagle scouts. I praise richt for his work and hope we keep home for a long long time.

Newman

April 18th, 2012
11:30 am

Just keep lovin’ em.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
11:30 am

Richt is certainly trying to do the right thing.

I will admit that Richt is trying. It just appears that he has no idea what he is doing.

carolina dawg

April 18th, 2012
11:39 am

on espn.com today, Mark Schlabach chronicles the marijuana usage among athletes. One of the reasons we hear so much about UGa suspensions is because they are one of the FEW who penalize after the first infraction. Some wait until the 3rd failed test before any discipline. It’s not a fair comparison since, as Richt said, different schools have different punishment policies.

Dumbo

April 18th, 2012
11:40 am

GTBob…you’re mistaken again, BOB, not CMR but that joke of a coach PJ, right BOB….BOB…bob on this

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
11:42 am

GTBob…you’re mistaken again, BOB, not CMR but that joke of a coach PJ, right BOB….BOB…bob on this

Who has had less disciplinary issues in the past 4 years? CMR or CPJ?

NWDawg

April 18th, 2012
11:43 am

This is why Mark Richt is the best any program can hope for when it comes to college football — outside of game day. He may not be the best strategy-wise (which I know is all some people care about), but the man takes his job of shaping the lives of young men seriously both on and off the field. If we could all be so principled in our approach to the game of life.

Hello Pot, this is Kettle

April 18th, 2012
11:43 am

**I will admit that Richt is trying. It just appears that he has no idea what he is doing**

GTBOB.. umm.. and you are saying Pajamas has it all together??

LHarding Dawg

April 18th, 2012
11:45 am

GT why don’t you jump up your butt and go away? It must be sad to be you.

PAAAWWWWLLL!!!!

April 18th, 2012
11:46 am

Do they even test like this at other schools?? How many DUI did John Parker Wilson have in HIGH SCHOOL Pawl?? are you telling me he NEVER did that at Tuskytown?

What about Eric ainge at TN when the cops arrested him high and strung out, and called a FRIEND to take him to rehab?? would the UGA police have done that?? huhh??? PAWWWLL!!!!

bubba4dawgs

April 18th, 2012
11:59 am

GTBob, you must have your head in the sand! It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that CMR is doing all he can to develop good players with character. How can you criticize his effort? Oh, I know, because you are GT and that’s all you do is hate UGA no matter how good they are! You can learn a lot by what CMR does! It might even bleed over to your football team and help make them better. They just might become good enough to compete with UGA!! Nuff sed!! Good job, CMR!! GO DAWGS!!

E

April 18th, 2012
12:01 pm

Richt forgot to mention that suspensions rarely hurt the team because the punishment is usually meted out against the pansies on the schdule. So I don’t know why dawg fans get so upset with all the arrests and drug test failures.

piermontdawgny

April 18th, 2012
12:02 pm

sure beats having a coach pay $20k for a concubine, and then wreaking his whole family and career on a motorcycle accident including a whole bunch of misdeads and lies!

Big Mike

April 18th, 2012
12:05 pm

I’m “the man” that made the initial remark when Coach Richt asked if there were any questions. He said from the start that he would only take this one question on that topic, and that he would be brief. Instead, he took about five minutes to make the remarks in the article. He was very forthright and looked me right in the eye the entire time. This is truly a man of conscience with high moral standards. God bless you, Coach Richt!

BigDawg

April 18th, 2012
12:07 pm

He’s doing the best that he can. You can’t monitor kids 24/7 and some kids are just going to get into trouble no matter what you do. Guess what? All 5 star recruits don’t pan out. Some recruits have no history of problems whatsoever in high school, but go hog wild when they get to college. You fans have the advantage of playing armchair quarterback and make your comments in hindsight. Frankly, I wish many of you morons would go support another team. Even ESPN spoke about how UGA was one of the few schools that discipline after the first infraction. Other schools just give it a wink and a nod until the second or even third infraction. Just shut your mouth, sit down and know you’re role. If you could coach as well of better than Richt, you would be coaching. So sit there, drink your beer, eat your potato chips and leave the coaching to the experts.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:08 pm

How can you criticize his effort?

Effort means nothing if there are no positive results.

a.p. dawg

April 18th, 2012
12:10 pm

Eyou need to get your facts straight. We had several starters suspended for the last time we played Clempson. Rambo was suspended last yr for Boise. Now we will have starters out for Mizzou. Richt’s policy has always been that suspensions will take place in the next game or games after the infraction.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:12 pm

Richt’s policy has always been that suspensions will take place in the next game or games after the infraction.

Unless Crowell gets caught smoking weed before the Florida game. Then the suspension will take place the week after when you play New Mexico St.

BigDawg

April 18th, 2012
12:13 pm

Play with the guys that you have and hope for the best. Our offense is running at full steam and I know that the D will hold it together until the starters come back. I can’t wait for the season!

T'ville Dawg

April 18th, 2012
12:15 pm

@E-

More times than not, suspensions occur the first couple of games, since the infractions occur during the off season.

That being said-I wouldn’t consider Boise or SC “Pansies”. For that matter, I don’t think Missouri (2nd game this coming season) to fit the pansy category either.

old dog

April 18th, 2012
12:16 pm

Good thing they didn’t test for weed in the ’70’s……………..

go dawgs

April 18th, 2012
12:22 pm

GTBob
why do you feel like your voice matters? you have GT in your name. you seem pathetic trying to talk georgia athletics. when georgia tech has so much they need to fix.

DawginLex

April 18th, 2012
12:23 pm

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:12 pm
Richt’s policy has always been that suspensions will take place in the next game or games after the infraction.

Unless Crowell gets caught smoking weed before the Florida game. Then the suspension will take place the week after when you play New Mexico
******************

do you really want me to destroy you over this again?

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:24 pm

do you really want me to destroy you over this again?

I do, let’s hear it.

Loyal Fan

April 18th, 2012
12:27 pm

How can you criticize his effort?
@GTBOB
“Effort means nothing if there are no positive results.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kind of sounds like Tech Football over PJ’s career. According to you, Ga Tech has the meaningless effort down then.

The funny thing is that GTBOB even admits that Tech is the dumpster, but would rather troll in here, and try to stir up trouble. You should drop the GT; you have no loyalty towards them, and just go with TrollBOB, (its more fitting)

Old Dawg

April 18th, 2012
12:28 pm

I support Richt and UGA for having written policies that are enforced. CMR is correct that you can’t get every school to comply with a strict code of conduct. And he’s correct on the fact that college students are going to do some pretty stupid things.

The one thing I wish fans of other schools would acknowledge/realize is that athletes from their schools are just as likely as UGA’s to be in trouble. And, yes, I know that some UGA fans like to point the finger when it happens. That does’t make it right.

Look in the mirror. Remember your days in college and ask yourself, honestly, were your college years or yours 20s error free? If your answer isn’t “yes, I was a knucklehead,” you need to look in the mirror a little longer.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:30 pm

You should drop the GT; you have no loyalty towards them

I have extreme loyalty towards them, I am just not the kind of fan who pretends my team is better then they are and ignores their problems.

Loyal Fan

April 18th, 2012
12:39 pm

@TrollBob

“I have extreme loyalty towards them, I am just not the kind of fan who pretends my team is better then they are and ignores their problems.”
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Oh really, well I would say that they have a lot of problems starting with PJ, the old, option scheme, and multiple rapes and robberies on and around campus: just to name a few.

News Flash: Every team is going to have problems. Just sayin’ you should probably drop the whole your a big Jacket fan act. Its obvious you like coming in these UGA message boards everyday because Tech is not worth talking about. Have you quit on them?

gadawgs

April 18th, 2012
12:42 pm

Issues like what we have had happen EVERYWHERE on every campus in America. It is how it is handled which is the DIFFERENCE all you haters. I have a friend that I played high school ball with who has been on the staff of several SEC football teams (and currently still is). I have asked him about these type of scenerios and if they happened at any of his previous employers and he said absolutely yes and unless there was no way to avoid it the issue was handled “internally”. Which meant no suspensions, no public acknowledgement to the media etc… Stop hating on CMR because he has morals and expects more from his guys and does not hide it.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 18th, 2012
12:43 pm

This you have to support Richt on. He is trying to run a clean program and not throw these young men out on the street when they make a mistake. Go take a look on the front page of ESPN and read the article Schlabach and Alipour write about the state of College and the college environment ingeneral when it comes to the pervasive use of Marijuana. Richt simply cannot babysit these guys 24/7.

everyday

April 18th, 2012
12:45 pm

cut GTBob some slack….the guy obviously lives a tortured life. Could you imagine what it would be like to have the compulsion to be on a Gator blog every day? I mean, no life whatsoever.

Ace

April 18th, 2012
12:45 pm

More trouble to come, there is a pattern here.

Mark (another one)

April 18th, 2012
12:46 pm

As a Dawg season ticket holder, I appreciate the job Richt is doing and applaud the outcome. Some disagree but Ellerbe and the others show that Richt’s process works. Throwing a young man to the wolves over a discipline issues is wrong. Having a published set of policies and standards is fair and honorable.

Putting his christian beliefs aside, and focusing on Richt’s leadership as a coach is impossible. He is a christian and it influences how he coaches his team. It is also why he would be the last one to take issue with how another coach diciplines his team.

I am not a GT fan but I respect Paul Johnson for how he coaches his players off the field. It’s different than Richt but i believe it is with the same higher goals of being fair and helping his players develop as men. He has also turned out some great young men, and some have gone on to the NFL.

I don’t see that taking shots at either coach over the team discipline issues is appropriate. I read the comments on both sides and wonder if their Mamas dropped them on their heads.

Just Sayin

April 18th, 2012
12:47 pm

Congrats Dawgs! You are the lead story on ESPN. keep up the smokin!!!

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:51 pm

Its obvious you like coming in these UGA message boards everyday because Tech is not worth talking about. Have you quit on them?

How have I quit on them? Because I post on UGA blogs a lot? It is obvious why I am here. Unfortunately the real reason went way over your head.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:52 pm

I mean, no life whatsoever.

I have devoted my life to the AJC blogs.

Lowcountry Bulldawg

April 18th, 2012
12:52 pm

Far from the lead story but if that fits your agenda Just Sayin have fun with the Lincoln Logs you are putting together with that single digit IQ.

what of it?

April 18th, 2012
12:54 pm

as much stick as I give Richt, I think his statement on this was fairly profound, and he’s right, the sad part is that it’s so public in our muckraking world. For all his shortcomings, no one can argue against the fact that he is honest.

82Dawg

April 18th, 2012
12:55 pm

@Just Sayin…..how do you get UGA out of Orgeon?…Idiot!

NC Trophy Shatters

April 18th, 2012
12:55 pm

When will Bama stop trying to stick their balls in every ones face? Just keep them where they belong on the stand.

Bulldog on the Bayou

April 18th, 2012
12:56 pm

@GTBob – thanks for the comedy you bring to this blog, for I laugh at your asinine posts every time I read them (asinine should be spelled assinine in your case, for you are an A$$, my boy). How old are you – twelve?

Mike

April 18th, 2012
12:58 pm

If we’re the lead story on ESPN on how we stick to strict disciplining these young men and not coddle them, then I’m OK with that. Richt and Co. should be commended with not caving into public pressure and public opinion when it comes to correcting these young men. Notice I say “young men” and not “student athletes.” Most of these guys will not have a big impact in the NFL world, but in OUR world. You know, the world we live in, work in, and raise our kids in. That, to me, is more important than a game of overpriced athletes on TV.

GTBob

April 18th, 2012
12:58 pm

Issues like what we have had happen EVERYWHERE on every campus in America.

The UGA strategy for excusing arrests, and suspensions:
1. Cry that it happens everywhere but provide no proof.
2. Cry that UGA is too harsh on it’s players.
3. Commend Mark Richt for running a tight ship, even though it isn’t working.

The Fulmer Cup

April 18th, 2012
1:00 pm

This just in: Bobby Petrino has been nominated for the Fulmer Cup Hall of Fame!

Mike

April 18th, 2012
1:03 pm

GTBob, just because guys aren’t caught or punished, doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Richt tries to get any infractions out in the open as opposed to covering it up. I think Penn State, Arkansas, and a slew of other universities can attest that cover-ups aren’t the best for the university…just sayin’.

The Fulmer Cup

April 18th, 2012
1:04 pm

This just in: GTBob has been nominated for the best job at replacing St.Simons!