USA Today’s Dan Wolken goes there.
And over at MrSEC.com, John Pennington uses an old news analysis about penalties (and I do mean old… you can find similar stuff Matt Hinton wrote years ago about penalties and winning in the archives here if you search) as a platform for this “I’m not sayin’, but some people would say” observation:
Georgia has come under fire of late due to a spate of player arrests. They also begin each season with a number of players serving suspensions (though we feel that’s a product have having tougher mandatory punishments than other league members). Still, some will take a look at the number of flags tossed at UGA over the last seven seasons, marry it with the arrest/suspension issues and decide that Mark Richt’s program might lack discipline overall.
It’s starting to look like this year’s Mark Richt meme is rounding into shape quite nicely.
I’m as unhappy about the arrests and suspensions as anybody, but here’s the thing – exactly what would anyone critical of Richt’s management suggest he do differently on the discipline front?
Is he chasing the wrong kids? If so, he’s got plenty of company.
“From the standpoint of coach Grantham not picking the right guys, there’s teams that have – I’m not picking any names in particular – there’s teams that are picking up guys who have done way worse things than here,” Jenkins said. “People who make that statement need to go check the other schools and who they’ve recruited, and who’s on their team now.”
That was a point Richt made a bit obliquely as well, defending the screening process his staff does in recruiting.
“The reality is, if you look at who we sign, they’ve got offers from five to 20 schools that we compete with,” Richt said.
Not to mention the kids who have left Georgia and gone on to contribute at other D-1 programs. And nobody can claim those coaches didn’t know they were bringing on baggage.
And even further, allow Damian Swann to retort.
“How many regular students do you hear about getting DUIs? Or just being arrested? We don’t know any. We might see a guy get arrested when we’re out, but we don’t see it on the news or on ESPN. It’s the spotlight we’re put in, and we have to deal with it.”
Actually, you can check the arrest logs of the ACCPD and see that the number of students arrested is legion, but Swann’s larger point is correct. It ain’t news unless you’re already in the spot light. Does that make the fault lie more with the institution that is the University of Georgia than it does with the football head coach? In my mind, hells, yeah. But that’s not the way the fingers are pointing these days.
Bottom line, it’s the same deal I mentioned the other day about Greg McGarity’s fretting over the situation. If there really is a valid fix for Mark Richt’s problem, society as a whole needs it more than Georgia’s football team does. So what I’d say to critics of Richt is simple. If you’re gonna wag your finger, offer a suggestion for improvement while you’re at it. My bet is that’s too hard for most of you.