Another year, another Richt narrative?

I get that Georgia’s drug policy is less tolerant than most schools.  I also get that Richt strongly supports it, to the point that he’s willing to accept the consequences of being tougher than others. He reiterated that at SEC Media Days, when he said,

“No, we’re not worried about that part of it,” Richt said. “We don’t want our guys to do drugs, okay? I don’t want my son to do drugs. We’ve got policies that are stronger maybe than some when it comes to the punitive part of it. That’s kind of what everybody talks about. Georgia ends up suspending their guys a little bit sooner in the policy, which I’ve got no problems with.”

The same can be said for Richt’s stance on player transfers.

Richt also reiterated his philosophy on granting players the right to transfer wherever they like. He was asked about it in the aftermath of the rash of offseason departures that saw two key players go to Louisville and another to Auburn.

“When guys leave our program, my goal for them is that they continue their career and they continue and realize all their dreams,” Richt said. “Life’s too short. They’re young men that make mistakes. If somewhere along the way you learn from your mistake, you turn it around, finish your career strong, I’m happy for the guy.”

After that, things got a little fuzzy.  First, Nick Saban, who’s dealing with his own rash of player problems, followed Richt with his philosophy, which I suppose was supposed to come off as a justification for some tough love, but instead sounded a little like he was pointing fingers.  (The irony of Saban having a former Georgia player on his roster isn’t lost on me.)

“I want you to know that there’s not one player, not one player, since I’ve been a head coach that I kicked off the team that ever went anywhere and amounted to anything and accomplished anything, playing or academically,” Saban said. “That’s not always the answer. Discipline is not punishment. Punishment is only effective when it can help change somebody’s behavior.

“When you have a family and you have someone in your family who disappoints you, we certainly can’t kick them out of our family. I think we have to try to support them, teach them, get them to do the right things because we love them, we care about them.”

I wasn’t the only one who got that impression, either.

It’s puzzling, because I’m not really sure what Saban wanted to accomplish with his stance, other than to try to state a case for why he feels his players may be entitled to more second chances than players at other programs.  And if that’s all that was about, it’s hard to understand why he felt the need to justify that to the media in the first place.

Needless to say, some in the media took the ball and ran with it in one direction.

Maybe Saban will take a cue from the SEC coach once excoriated for disciplinary problems — Georgia’s Mark Richt.

Richt actually seems harder on crime than ever. The Bulldogs dismissed safeties Tray Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons this offseason.

“Just because we’ve got guys suspended isn’t evidence we have a discipline problem,” Richt said. “It’s evidence that we discipline our players. It’s evidence there’s accountability. … Sometimes when you make part of your discipline playing time, it becomes a very public thing. Some of your dirty laundry gets out there in public. I’m willing to take that risk if the process will help these guys grow into men. If we ignore stuff they do and act like it didn’t happen and sweep it under the rug, let them get away with it or whatever, what are we teaching? We are setting them up for failure down the road.”

And that’s certainly one way of looking at it, although Saban didn’t sound like someone waiting for a cue.

But there was also this strange take from SI’s Andy Staples and Zac Ellis, which took a mash-up of the two themes and actually posed the question whether Richt’s morality is interfering with the success of the program.  (It also glosses over the fact that Richt has no control over where a dismissed player lands, but we’ll leave that for another day.)

The thing is, for all this supposed strictness, all the players cited on that clip received second chances at Georgia.  So where’s the sweet spot supposed to be? It sure beats me, but you can bet Richt won’t hear the last of this if Georgia doesn’t at least get to the SECCG this season.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

53 responses to “Another year, another Richt narrative?

  1. sectionzalum

    Whither Herbstreit???

  2. Debby Balcer

    Richt has this right.

  3. Derek

    Richt is saying that there are more important things than winning so we may throw some good players out. Saban is saying only winning matters so the guys we kick out are guys who can’t play.

  4. DawgPhan

    I imagine that saban is going to want to have that quote back. It has a pretty negative read to it. If you leave Alabama you will never amount to anything..

    • Bulldog Joe

      I am sure he meant what he said.

      The players who don’t return to the roster are those not expected to make the two-deep. He knows it is a big part of his on-field success.

      Coach Saban and most other SEC coaches look at discipline as an important tool for selective roster management, enabling them to sign more players and raise the overall talent level and depth in the roster.

      It is a big competitive advantage.

    • 79dawg

      Whelp, it was a little more articulate than the Laner saying the guys’ll just end up pumping gas….

  5. Chopdawg

    Got my media guide today! Somehow, the 75-yd drive to win the game in the 4th qtr last season vs LSU was left out of the game-winning drives section.

    • AusDawg85

      Check the “Murray can’t win the big one” or “Mett is better than Murray” sections.

      • Bulldog Joe

        Even our own Media Guide comes along and kicks us in the nuts.

        Mark Richt has lost control of Georgia’s Media Guide.

  6. SCDawg

    Mark Richt has lost control of Nick Saban’s narrative.

  7. W Cobb Dawg

    I’d believe CMR’s sincerity a lot more if he went to bat for AJ Green and Kolton Houston as vehemently as he does when “disciplining” players. A lot of our problems stem from a kid smoking a joint – something I’d equate with drinking a beer to two. At times, we’ve gone WAY overboard to the point its difficult to explain. And what’s the lesson being learned by the kids – get kicked out of UGA and go somewhere else where you can do the exact same thing without being penalized. Until discipline is equal across the board at all schools, I don’t see our policy doing much except hurting ourselves. We’re certainly not rehabilitating kids who may need a sterner hand. We’re dumping the kids and delegating the rehab to others.

    Having said all that, you can ask whether I really want some of these kids at UGA. My answer is – probably not. So why did we recruit and sign them?

    • Dawgfan Will

      For the same reasons everyone else did: they were talented and they didn’t have prior disciplinary problems.

    • What was Richt supposed to do for AJ and Kolton? Go to Indianapolis and demand the jerk Emmert reduce the suspensions. The only thing we could have done for AJ would have been to tell him not to cooperate with the investigators. Once they asked for his bank records, it was all over. With Houston, Emmert could have reduced the suspension given all of the medical evidence but didn’t. Adams went to Emmert and asked for a reduction in the suspension. It didn’t get traction until the Houston family agreed to go on the WWL’s Outside the Lines to present their case.

      • W Cobb Dawg

        CMR could’ve stood up to emmert & Co. Just like bama did for Marcell Darius at the time. AJ’s very minor infraction brought on major punishment. The sad truth is, our coach & AD accepted that punishment like pussies with narry a word of protest or objection.

        The opossum approach UGA has of laying down and taking whatever punishment the ncaa (or refs, for that matter) wants to dish out does nothing but get us more of the same treatment. And CMR really should be shouting from the rooftops for equal rules at all institutions across the board. There’s nothing fair about having unequal rules for colleges in the same conference. WTF is “high moral ground” doing in cfb? We should all be adhering to the same rules.

        • I think AJ’s situation was ridiculous. Still not sure what CMR could have done about it. We had specific instruction to players about selling memorabilia after Ring-gate in 2003. The Bama situation was that he rolled over to give up others for a lesser punishment. AJ had no leverage because he had no one to roll over on.

  8. DawgFaithful

    I don’t think he’s singling out Richt or Pinkell. Obviously players that Richt dismissed HAVE gone on to “amount to something.” (N.Marshall/Crowell, maybe Flournoy-Smith) In the case of Green – Beckham, I’m pretty sure Saban would have dismissed him too. But i do wonder why he felt the need to say this publicly. Maybe he’s getting a lot of pressure behind the scenes to dismiss some players.

  9. WarD Eagle

    “…Richt’s morality is interfering with the success of the program”

    I didn’t read the articles this phrase references, but UG it is an accurate summation, they’ve ill defined success.

  10. Truth

    In all your bloviating about revenue and paying players, this post would seem to indicate that you have forgotten that these are kids. Most of which come from Hines without fathers and when CMR promises a mother that he will look after their son like a father would, he means it. What does this man have to do to prove to you that his intentions are pure and truly has the best interest of the Student-athlete at heart?

    • I’m sorry, but I’ve got no idea what you’re accusing me of. Maybe you should read the post again.

      • Truth

        “So where’s the sweet spot supposed to be? It sure beats me…” There is no sweet spot. There are morals and there are not. There is right and there is wrong. Coach Richt doesn’t deal in shades of grey and I am thankful for that. These are kids. Kids who need guidance, love and discipline. Coach’s policies are real simple. Three strikes and you’re out. First is a 10% suspension, Second is a 20% suspension and you sign an agreement that says if you do anything, and I mean anything (a la Tray Matthews), you’re out. He will not change and she should not change. There is no sweet spot, just right and wrong.

    • DawgFaithful

      What the hell are you taking about? Did you read the post?

    • Dawgfan Will


  11. Hogbody Spradlin

    I’d like to see Nick Saban rationalize his over signing and culling policies with his ‘family’ thoughts.

  12. John Denver is full of shit...

    Family ≠ NCAA Football Team…good grief.

  13. Spike

    Right On, Coach Richt!! What a breath of fresh air..

  14. mwo

    Which players kicked off the team by Richt have come back to “bite him in the butt” according to the douchebag with the bow tie on? One bonehead play for a deflection and all of a sudden Marshall beat Georgia by himself? Best I remember, Mettenberger lost to UGA, and we didn’t play Alabama State so Crowell didn’t beat UGA. How does this dumbass have a job? I thought Josh Harvey Clemons went to Louisville, not Auburn.

  15. “One bonehead play for a deflection and all of a sudden Marshall beat Georgia by himself?” As pissed as I was about the end of that game, I really lost it when CBS named Marshall player of the game over Murray. You have got to be kidding me.

  16. Will Trane

    Good to see you back Senator. Have not looked at site ’til this morn. Certainly hope you are good to go for this season and many more.
    The man can not be dissuaded by fans, alums, sportswriters, and now the most successful SEC coach in recent years. Wonder what a comparison would be with Spurrier, Saban, and SEC Coaches who won SEC and National title re suspensions and transfers….and did their “punishment” or “policy” in both short term and long term have on their programs and players.
    The man is who he is, and it is what is. And UGA football wonders into another season.
    But the transfers of a Ty Smith to Bama. Trey Matthews and Nick Marshall to Auburn, and Josh Harvery Clemons to Louisville. Doubt if anyone would not say that is a lot of football off the current roster. I have tried to resolve how these players who came from some very successful high school programs and coaching staffs and good communities / schools had issues in Athens and the UGA campus.
    Guess there is a disconnect in the process. Somewhere the AD and coaches have to look into this with a determination to resolve it. Everyone of these young men played in Georgia. No doubt they, their friends, families, and etc followed UGA football. Did they lose their passion, self-discipline, and desire to play and to finish at UGA.
    Gues finishing at Georgia [think of the “drill”] is not important in Athens. Maybe the family is not tight enough in Athens. Maybe CMR is not as forgiving in his football program as he is in his religion. Maybe the coaches are too distant from the players. Even a CMR who was around Bobby Bowden, and Bowden / FSU was not this tough and this many roster players leave on such a consistent basis.
    Unfortunately, it is even in Mark Fox’s dog house now.
    I think there is a culture on campus and in Athens that plays into these players getting into these situations.

  17. Mayor

    I want a football coach, when I want a preacher I’ll go to church. This entire policy is misguided and wrong-headed. It doesn’t save any souls to kick kids off the team, particularly for doing the same things that regular students do without any punishment. Why should a parent of a 5 star athlete send his/her son to play at Georgia when if the son gets into trouble, instead of trying to straighten the son out, the coach ruins the kid’s life by suspending him publicly (giving the player a bad rep) then taking away the player’s scholarship? Run ’em ’till their tongues hang out but don’t suspend them from playing. That just punishes the TEAM. Kicking a player off the team should only happen because of the most egregious transgressions–not smoking dope. I’m sick of CMR trying to put his own personal ideas about morality ahead of what’s best for the team.

    • hodgie

      Mayor, Mettenberger was kicked off for sexually assaulting a girl and lying about it. Crowell was kicked off for having illegal guns in the car. Matthews was kicked off for being extremely disruptive and confrontational with a teacher. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

      • DawgPhan

        Crowell’s charges were dropped and Matthews was talking during a mayester children’s lit class on the last day of the semester.

        You are right though. Facts shouldnt get in the way of a good story.

        • Dawgfan Will

          And both had already received mercy after prior infractions.

        • hodgie

          Yep, charges were dropped and O.J. was acquitted also they were both clean : ). If you think Tray Matthews was dismissed for “talking” in class I bet you believe we didn’t land on the moon either.

        • Bulldog Joe

          Maymester Childrens Lit class.


    • DawgFaithful

      It’s not like they get dismissed for 1st offenses. These kids get chance after chance. Richt’s doing it the right way.

    • Mayor

      You guys are missing the point. My gripe is suspending players from games for petty infractions. I say do not do that. Instead, run ’em til they drop as punishment. Do not keep a good player out of an important game and cause the team to lose. That’s stupid with a capital “S.”

      • Dawgfan Will

        But what if such punishments had been meted out for previous “petty infractions”? At what point do you have to move on to more serious repercussions to make your point?

  18. DawgPhan

    The real point is that you dont get to be a hard ass on discipline and be lazy with recruiting. CMR wants his cake and eat it too. That is where CMR is putting his love of making sure that kids dont smoke dope above his duty to bring championships to Athens.

    If you want kids to get in trouble for smoking pot, then you better have someone that can play and not smoke pot behind them.

    • Dawgfan Will

      Could you elaborate on what you mean by “lazy with recruiting”?

      • DawgPhan

        We have yet to recruit enough athletes to start a season with 85 recruited scholarship athletes. When you fail to do that for a decade at a school like Georgia, you are doing something wrong. Call it whatever you want, but CMR has failed when it comes to understanding recruiting numbers. He has doubled down on that failure by punishing players with suspensions, dismissals, and transfers.

        • Mayor

          Right, DP. If CMR won’t use all the scholarships he won’t have the available bodies to suspend players from games ’cause he won’t have SEC caliber players to substitute for them. But he does it anyway and loses to Boise, Clemson, South Carolina (3 straight years) at least in part because of player suspensions.

    • charlottedawg

      Posted before seeing this comment. Hits the nail on the head.

  19. I wasn’t the only one who got that impression ………

    With you all the way here, Bluto. That was my immediate impression.

    It was clear Saban was responding to Richt, having followed him on Thursday and having been briefed late about what Richt had said. It was also clear Saban had not prepared for that subject prior to arriving at SECMD. It was clear Saban felt threatened by the subject and his reaction was a defensive maneuver, given Alabama’s off-the-field problems this year.

    the question whether Richt’s morality is interfering with the success of the program … So where’s the sweet spot supposed to be?

    IMHO, right where it is. At least if you want to run a program with integrity at the highest level. As I’ve maintained for a long time, Richt’s (and Georgia’s) high standards do not keep us from winning. We can win at the highest level just like things are, there’s just less margin for error.

    Nor has our lack of winning been because of our high standards. I don’t believe it has even contributed. Because we haven’t done some other things well, losing a good player can seem more painful than it really is. Not that it can’t hurt some. But if things are done at a high level in all areas, it is rare to experience any pain at all.

    I don’t believe the loss of JHC, Matthews, and Wiggins hurts us one bit. Believe me, you do not want boneheads playing for you in the defensive backfield, no matter how physically talented. You can get by with a few in other places, if you have nobody else, but not there.

    I’ve made that case, at great length, for some time now. But there’s no need any more. JHC and Matthews said it all on November 16, 2013, and said it so clearly that anybody can understand.

    We haven’t been operating at a high level of excellence for a long time now. Even so, we haven’t really been hurt badly by getting rid of problem players. I’m certainly not going to be bothered by talk about it, now that we are beginning to excel across the board, once again.

    It’s a non-issue.

  20. charlottedawg

    Georgia doesn’t need to go to a Saban model but you can’t under sign year after year then compound the problem with the toughest discipline policy in the league.

    • Georgia doesn’t need to go to a Saban model but you can’t under sign year after year then compound the problem with the toughest discipline policy in the league.

      Yeah, I agree.

      But the answer is to fix the undersigning. There’s no need at all to compromise discipline. It’s the undersigning that’s hurt us, along with poor evaluation, substandard recruiting (for a program like Georgia), a detrimental culture, and such like. All of those things contribute to it.

      There’s reason to believe we’re addressing all those things. And they NEED addressing, because they’ve hurt us for a long time now. So we’ll see.

      But we don’t need to do anything with discipline, IMO. Fixing the other stuff will take care of it easily.