A few player arrests, and we’re all psychology experts.

Tony Barnhart chimes in with a suggestion on how to rein in player misbehavior.

… But I don’t think you ever get a handle on that subset of problem children unless you have a conversation with them that goes something like this:

Young man, you are blessed with enormous talent. But you have a decision to make. Which do you want to do more: Play football and go to school OR engage in anti-social and potentially criminal activity? You can’t do both. If you want to play football we have a great opportunity here and we would love to have you with us because, as I said, you are very talented and we believe you could be very successful as an athlete and as a student.

But if you embarrass our football program and our university, your athletic career can be ended right here and right now. You know that NFL dream you’ve had since you were little? It won’t happen because the pros have decided they are fed up with the Michael Vicks and the Ben Roethlisbergers, and the Pac-Man Joneses of the world. These guys do more background research on a potential NFL Draft pick than the U.S. Senate does on a future Supreme Court justice. They will come to us and ask us what we think of you. And we will tell them the truth.

So on draft day, when you go in the fifth round after your agent said you were a lock to go in the first, you’ll know why.

Sounds good on the surface, but I’m not sure how effective that winds up being.  Kids with legitimate pro prospects have options and if they don’t feel like they’re going to get the love they want from a program, they’ll go elsewhere.  And maybe that’s okay with many of you, but, as Barnhart notes, there will be consequences.

… But on this issue, fans and media are often guilty of wanting to have their cake and eat it too. When the left tackle gets into trouble and embarrasses your university, you want him gone–right now. But when the backup left tackle gives up four sacks in the next game and your team loses, the coaches suddenly become stupid people and should be replaced.

We can’t have it both ways. Like we just told the athlete who behaves badly, we have a choice. We either want discipline or we don’t. If we do, then we have to be adults and live with the consequences. And if we don’t, we also have to be prepared to live with the consequences as well.

The problem is that Georgia won’t operate on a level playing field if it adopts a Michael Fitzpatrick-like scorched earth policy.  Dismissing Tavarres King for underage possession may make you feel saintlier in the short run, but King will certainly find plenty of other places willing to take him and his receiving skills.  In the end, the only lessons to be learned from that sort of move will be the realization that Georgia isn’t a very forgiving program and that there are more attractive options to develop NFL skills.

And as for Jeff Schultz’ suggestion“But if Richt believes he is doing everything he can to discipline his players, maybe the problem is he’s picking the wrong players.” – hey, if it’s so easy, Jeff, you do it.  Richt is trying to manage 100+ eighteen to twenty one-year olds from varying backgrounds, and in the summer he’s stuck trying to do it during a period when his contact with his charges is limited by NCAA rules.  That’s yeoman’s work as it is.  But to expect that a football coach can predict every player’s future consistently… well, I’ve raised three daughters and they’re all great kids whom I trust.  But they’ve each done stupid things away from home.  Hell, I did stupid things in college.  In fact, I’m not sure I know anybody who didn’t do something stupid in college.  Why would we expect these players to behave differently?

None of which is to suggest that certain actions aren’t beyond the pale.  But if we’re simply going to toss all player arrests into a common hat and in so doing equate not giving a police officer a middle name, underage possession, DUI and physical assault with each other, the results aren’t going to be constructive.

Mark Richt’s job isn’t to eliminate misbehavior.  That’s a task above his pay grade.  All he can do is make sure that every player in his program knows there will be consequences for crossing a line and that the rules are consistently and fairly enforced.  A player makes a mistake, that’s on the player.  A coach doesn’t enforce proper discipline when a player makes a mistake, that’s on the program.  People need to recognize the difference between the two.

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30 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

30 responses to “A few player arrests, and we’re all psychology experts.

  1. Section Z alum

    18-23 year old men do dumb shit. this is not localized in athens.

    • negative ?

      I am sorry, but it has got to end.

      We recruit too many marginal players we want to forgive for their transgressions BEFORE they play for us, and they do NOT end up graduating from UGA.

      We also forgive too many for their transgressions AFTER UGA Admissions lets them in, when if they tried and could not play football, they would NEVER be here in the 1st place.

      There are 25 replies all saying Hell Yeah Bluto to his latest excuses and attempts to describe boys will be boys and you to add-on, it happens everywhere.

      Which is why of course, we are # 1 in Fulmer Cup Standings today; Right Section Zalum ?

      And, why Bluto calls it “just a few arrests;” right as well ?

      So, out of 25 replies here – I am the ONLY POSTER who has begun to say perhaps Bluto is incorrect.

      Perhaps we should not have fought UGA Admissions in the Press over Michael Grant.

      That were we to actually look at each recruiting class, and list the trouble-makers over these 10 years of the Coach Richt Era in recruiting, that we can clearly see – we have had too many.

      And, we have been way to FORGIVING with them.

      We also have doled out suspensions in a manner such that it is not fair that the guy who gave his valid Driver’s License, Vance Cuff, to the 7 underage in the truck – all 7 cited one way or the other, gets 0 games suspension. I know the Judge will make him appear in Court and answer what Coach Richt does not want me to point out on this point.

      Not fair that Branden Smith, who looks like in every way Vance Cuff has Vance Cuff’s DL to buy liquor underage, but Branden Smith also gets 0 games suspension. Am I the only person – besides the Judge who is going to ask Branden Smith son did you take the DL and buy the booze or not ?

      These are SERIOUS CRIMES if

      Vance Cuff
      &
      Branden Smith

      in fact did this.

      And, Tavarres King gets 1 game suspension for purposely for the sole objective of driving around Athens in his truck to get drunk with 7 in the truck, forces Dontavius Jackson to drive HIS TRUCK so he will not subject himself to a possible DUI ?

      Pretty smart on Tavarres King’s part. Real dumb on Coach Richt’s part to FORGIVE THAT, too.

      We have a problem.

      TOO MANY ARRESTS, not enough wins the last 4 years and after this 2010 season, we have another year of not enough wins – yet, we are # 1 Fulmer Cup.

      Congratulations. Terrific combination.

      The solution is more strict less forgiving in suspension.

      And, the solution is that UGA Admissions is going to have to do what Coach Richt Rodney Garner and especially Mike Bobo have not done and that is forgiving all these players who have not gone on and graduated from here anyway, giving us bad press and going 10-10 vs SEC east the last 4 years.

      So, there is 1 post on the other side.

      Guess what ?

      It is the majority opinion.

  2. heyberto

    A voice of reason in the wilderness… thank you Senator. Only a couple of weeks until the start of practice. Let’s hope that covers it.

  3. Scorpio Jones, III

    Middle-aged white men pontificating on the activities of college kids.

    At Georgia, mind you, not in Knoxville.

    At Georgia where the program is, compared to many, saintly.

    At Georgia where the program, compared to itself 10 years ago is Windex clean; compared to itself 20 years ago is on another planet of cleanliness.

    Michael Adams would do back-over flips (picture that) if the entire student population had the alcohol-related track record of the football team.

    To the gentlemen from the AJC I say phooey!

    Thank God I don’t have to thuggerize college kids to pay my house payment.

    In fact the only thug in this contest is the writer who uses the mistake of a college kid to generate hits on his blog.

  4. Ditto to what you all have said. It is simple: playing football or basketball or baseball doesn’t make you “more mature” or better equipped to turn away from trouble.

    You might have more to lose but that’s not how 18-23 year olds think, that’s how 35-45 year olds think.

    • If any college football coach ever discovers the secret to preventing player misbehavior, he ought to write a book about it. Every parent in America would buy one.

      • Mayor of Dawgtown

        Each time something happens with a 20 year old getting into trouble that person needs to be treated individually, like we would treat our own kids. Mark Richt does that as well or better than any other coach in the USA. We do not need the sledgehammer approach advocated by Fitzpatrick and others.

  5. Chuck

    Well, just for the record, I didn’t do stupid things in college. :)

  6. Irishdawg

    A college football team is a large group of young, testosterone infused alpha dogs; you could put them on an island in the South Pacific and they would find some trouble to get in. Groups of young males do stupid things, whether its soldiers, athletes, or frats. UGA players’ transgressions run from fairly serious to ridiculous, but the majority are not thug-type incidents. (the Lemon kid being the exception). Richt is not a prison warden, and he shouldn’t be expected to run his team like Pelican Bay.

  7. JC in Powder Springs

    Yes Mr. College Football, sitting em down and giving em a good talking to will definitely do the trick. I understand the talk works best on the simple-minded ones who want to be sportswriters after their football career is over. Problem solved! Thanks Tony.

  8. west coast native

    One of the worse jobs to have anywhere in the world would be to “police” 18 to 23 year old males and females. Any coach deserves a break from that.
    My Dad used to tell his students “I do not want to
    come home from this trip and find out I am a
    honorary father”.
    He told us he kept his fingers crossed everyday while he supervised students.
    .

  9. ConnGator

    It comes in waves. A year ago it was Florida having all the arrests and the national media was claiming it was a program out of control. Now it is other programs. As long as the coaches do not tolerate it this will pass.

  10. UFTimmy

    As much as I enjoyed mocking Bowden for his discipline in the ’90s, kicking a player off a team for misbehaving is not in the best interest of the player. After a point has been crossed it is needed, but removing the carrot from the player for one minor transgression will often lead to more anti social behavior rather than less.

  11. hassan

    On the recruiting trail, practically every coach promises the parents of almost every recruit that they will take good care of their boy if he comes to play for him. Now, kids will do stupid stuff. The coaches can only do so much in that regard (particularly with the amount of access they have allotted by the NCAA). If a kid is truly incorrigible, then he needs to be dismissed for the greater good of the team. HOWEVER, the coaches made a promise to take care of these kids and to help them grow. A quality coach will discipline and discipline appropriately, but he will also help to make the kid learn from his mistake and to be a better person.

    This isn’t the pros. This isn’t a hire and fire situation. The coaches have a responsibility to the parents.

  12. thewhiteshark

    I will be glad when practice starts so we can get past all this. Would this have been near as big a deal without Damon Evans? I seriously doubt it. Much of the trouble during the Richt era appears to me to have been propagated by the overly zealous APD. Much has been written and said about that so I won’t spend much time with it but if we think similar things don’t happen on college campuses all over the country we are deluded. Football player’s transgressions have been covered up for years. They used to be in Athens too. And football player or not you used to have cops that would give a kid a break now and then. Some of the offenses during Richt’s era have been legit — some have been nothing more than things that kids do.

  13. thewhiteshark

    BTW — good post Senator.

  14. Macallanlover

    Being the genius that Schulz is, perhaps he could tell us the risk factors in recruiting a player like Mettenberg. Surely CMR should have by-passed him on the record of his development years. Impossible to predict flawlessly how 18-19 year students will behave when exposed to the environment they find at college, often away from home for the first time. Richt is no better or worse than other CFB coaches. All face the same risks, with the same likelihood of success or failure, it is just a matter of how much light is shown on the program. Anyone throwing rocks at other programs for bad behavior is foolish. Save the criticisms for how that bad behavior is handled when it is exposed. I would put Richt up against anyone in that regard.

  15. coastiedawg

    I really only have an issue with the use of the phrase “that’s yeoman’s work” being used to describe a difficult job. I’m a Yeoman in the Coast Guard and it’s really not that hard of a job. I usually have plenty of time to get on the internet and read this blog along with several others. My job really only consists of making sure everyone gets paid properly, filing, and finding info for members. As for the underage drinking…college kids are going to drink. There’s no stopping that.

  16. Scorpio Jones, III

    You know, and I realize Bradley and Barnhart are in Atlanta, but if you want lecture me on athlete behavioral issues, would it not seem that what happened at Bar KnoxVegas is a much more compelling example of athletes gone bad than a kid with a beer in his hand?

    Unless, of course, your only real purpose is to drive web traffic to your blog (s), there being more AJC readers who are Georgia fans.

    Once again, Bradley is doing a great job of driving his web traffic.

    Nothing else, of course.

  17. I know it’s a somewhat different subject, but what of Da’Rick Rogers’ status?
    Did the whole “not even mentioning him in the press conference” ploy by Coach Dooley the Lesser actually work?
    What gives?

    • Ray

      I don’t know….he could be taking the Richt approach and waiting to see all the charges that are going to be filed. I think the longer Lil’ Dool waits the worse it will be for Da’rick in the end. Then again I could be very wrong but it is strange indeed that we haven’t heard anything.

  18. negative ?

    Sounds good on the surface, but “a few player arrests” is not what we are talking about

    AT ALL.

    These last 4 years have seen the # 11 college football program All-Time in 1-A wins become instead, the # 19 team in won / loss record at 38-14.

    In the last 4 years, we have been penalized on the field at NCAA Record Level of Averaging # 96. Off the field, we are the # 3 worst college in all of America for football player arrests, giving more credence to assaults such as those by Zach Mettenberger and by Montez Robinson and giving less weight to Jordan Lawrence Love DOB 12/31/1990, whatever that secret is all about :

    http://www.sportsargumentwiki.com/index.php?title=Fulmer_Cup_Dynasty

    And, now this off-season you attempt to characterize as a “few arrests” UGA stands at # 1 worst college football program in all of America in arrests / suspensions.

    # 1 in Fulmer Cup Standings 15 July 2010 :

    http://www.sportsargumentwiki.com/index.php?title=Fulmer_Cup

    Therefore, they are correct and you incorrect Bluto once again while you sit there squirming in your seat that we only have a few player arrests / suspensions, it’s no big deal, and no Coach Richt Rodney Garner and Mike Bobo do not need to do anything about signing marginal players to this football program who continue on a daily basis to lose to every team in The SEC East division we cannot get out of, while also daily giving us NOTHING BUT BAD PRESS.

    As for your musings that you think Tony Barnhart is incorrect that he says we should more evenly punish our wayward UGA football players instead of being so damn forgiving as we are and as we have been, I am sorry but you are equally wrong on that front as you are as attempting to characterize 1st Place in the Fulmer Cup as “just a few arrests.”

    And, as for your ruminations and pondering of your navel Bluto that we will lose players at UGA who can play the game and bring us the more wins you act like we are getting anyway, which we have not in the last 4 years and after this season losing 15 seniors and 4 or 5 juniors certainly cannot after this season either, if we are actually tough instead of forgiving as we are and as we have been here, excuse me, Montez Robinson should have been sent packing the 1st time he heat his girlfriend to a pulp. Certainly by the time he later then went back and beat up her car. What do you need Bluto ? Just what does it take to NOT FORGIVE this thug ?

    Dontavius Jackson. He goes out with THUGS at 2 am drunk and gets into a taxi with a man and woman whom the gang member thugs he is out with beat them both up and threaten much worse. Coach Richt FORGIVES him, in fact praises him for being out drunk at 2 am with such lowlife gang member thugs. So, when he gets his DUI this weekend, that’s enough to kick him off the team. Right ? Hell no. Just suspend the guy and keep him around. Hit and Run. That’s enough right, now Coach Richt will kick him off the team, after his great showing in the G-Day Game this season, obviously 1 of the top running backs in the U.S. No, sir, Bluto. Just a suspension AGAIN.

    Branden Smith goes to the Liquor Store with a FAKE ID to buy alcohol for 7 in the truck Dontavius Jackson is driving. Starter. Absolute future NFL star. NO SUSPENSION whatsoever.

    Tavarres King who DUPED and CONNED, FOOLED and TOOK IN, HOODWINKED, DECEIVED and TRICKED Dontavius Jackson – obviously not the sharpest knife in the drawer – into not Tavarres King driving his truck for the sole purpose of driving around Athens with a gal to go get drunk behind the wheel drinking as they drive around in it, but Tavarres King asked Dontavius Jackson to drive instead so he would not subject himself making this decision to a DUI. Coach Richt gave Tavarres King the same suspension that he gave Dontavius Jackson, right ? Hell no. 6 games Dontavius Jackson and 1 game the guy who is MORE RESPONSIBLE for it since it was HIS VEHICLE he decided on his own to get them all drunk in.

    And, so you go on that we will LOSE PLAYERS.

    Bluto ?

    Hello ?

    We are losing them ANYWAY, D.A.

    4 players and an athletic director are not with this program today that 4 months ago were.

    These are all 4-Star recruits or better.

    And, our lone 5-Star Recruit for next season Quarterback Christian LeMay, the # 1 QB in the nation according to some sources or # 2 according to everyone else, commits the same offense as Michael Grant. Maybe you remember Michael Grant, Bluto ? Sex on campus. In this QB case, in front of the Butler High School Principal. Boys will be boys. FORGIVE THE GUY for all this continued BAD PUBLICITY for The University of Georgia because he can play FOOTBALL by God. Not his fault. Blame the chick who offered what you say no man can turn down, no matter where he is or who he is.

    Coach Richt argued with UGA Admissions over Michael Grant.

    • 4 players and an athletic director are not with this program today that 4 months ago were.

      These are all 4-Star recruits or better.

      Trent Dittmer was a four-star recruit? Man, they really were loaded at punter. ;)

  19. negative ?

    He will do the same starting now with Christian LeMay.

    No way they can let in LeMay and not Grant, who by the way is a great football player too.

    2009 recruiting class. Have you LOOKED AT IT ?

    2010 recruiting class on Offense, have you looked at it either ?

    We have issues.

    It’s FORGIVENESS and EXCUSES for guys who can play football but NOBODY should keep around – such as Dannell Ellerbe, Jamar Chaney, Michael Grant, Christian LeMay, Montez Robinson, Zach Mettenberger, Dontavius Jackson, Brandon Williams, Dexter Moody, Derrick White, Bruce Adrine, Michael Lemon, Cory Moon, Odell Thurman, Vance Cuff, Ian Smith, Branden Smith…

    Do you know what Coach Richt did to George Foster for his Foster-Flop belly humping the Florida Gators defensive player that took us out of field goal range, and perhaps cost us that drive for a TD that made the difference ?

    NO SUSPENSION.

    That’s what George Foster got for all he did to The University of Georgia.

    Bam Hardmon is a famous football player for what the TV Announcers did in that little incident with George Foster.

    All my life, I will recall that as 1 of the most unbelievable personal fouls ever.

    Coach Richt sent the whole team on the field in the end zone to get multiple personal fouls against us vs Florida he is 2-7 against; now, in fairness he says he ONLY SENT 11 to do so.

    This is what we are.

    In the G-Day Game, our Linebacker holds down our Running Back at the end of the game and will not let him up. The RB jumps up and punches our LB in the face. We tell the “officials:” not to cal ANY PENALTY on either. Our new Defensive Coordinator who has not been here 10 years to see ALL THIS, is appalled and pulls his man OUT OF THE DAMN GAME, blessing him out all the way to the sidelines.

    Stick around Todd Grantham. You ain’t seen nothing yet. Just wait.

    In addition, we are 10-10 vs SEC East teams the entire last 4 years, 21 fumbles Average each of the last 4 years, 14 interceptions average the last 4 years, # 96 in NCAA Most Penalized Football Team Average over the last 4 years, # 3 in vs SEC East the last 4 years, # 4 vs SEC teams the last 4 years, # 5 Coach SEC Coach at his current school vs Ranked Teams his entire tenure according to Chris Low.

    And, Tavarres King gets 1 game suspension ?

    Branden Smith 0 game suspension ?

    George Foster 0 game suspension ?

    Vance Cuff 0 game suspension ?

    Montez Robinson 2-game suspension for beating up a girl coed student at UGA and her car ?

    Coach Richt intends to play this out in the Press again with UGA Admissions again with Christian LeMay as he did with Michael Grant ?

    That’s the reason why we are 1-3 vs vols the last 4 years and 1-3 vs Florida the last 4 years, because UGA Admissions won’t let Coach Richt FORGIVE Christian LeMay, or his girlfriend (however you view that it is all her fault and no judgment errors by him.) He is FORTUNATE he was not ARRESTED on a number of sexual charges, and frankly clearly is lucky it turned out as good as it has, which is NO GOOD FOR Coach Richt, Mike Bobo and The University of Georgia I can assure you.

    Oh no Coach Richt is on no hot seat if he doesn’t go like 12-2 this season with this soft schedule of but 1 ranked team # 5 Florida.

    Bluto, Get The Picture.

  20. Mr. Georgia Football Returns

    Are there Communitarian groups here at work reporting UGA Students/faculty to law enforcement if seen drinking and driving? These groups are in every city and town nationwide assisting police.