If you remember the three questions I posted earlier this week that I answered for the fellows over at The Student Section, you can find my answers and theirs at these three links:
One of the long-standing criticisms directed at Mark Richt from a certain quarter has been about his religious faith. He’s made no bones about it and what kind of person that’s fashioned in him. For some, while it’s not a character flaw, it’s certainly a coaching flaw.
And yet, in the Bible Belt, how much of a recruiting flaw is it? Judging from this piece, probably not much. But there’s a quote in there that leads to a bigger question.
But as 3-star offensive tackle Chris Barnes points out, “most schools believe in Christ.” It’s not an uncommon sight for coaches to pray with the team or speak at Fellowship of Christian Athletes events.
For those who think it’s a flaw, there’s a simple question to ask: if Richt’s religious faith has hampered Georgia football, why hasn’t that been the case elsewhere?
Say what you will about the manner in which he goes about his business in that department, I’ve never heard a Georgia player talk like this about Richt or the program:
The separation of church and football — not to mention church and public education — blurred at Tennessee, Foster says. Coaches, led by head coach Phil Fulmer, scheduled trips to Sunday church services as team-building exercises. Foster asked to be excused. He was denied. (The school confirmed that these team-building exercises to churches took place.) Word spread: Foster was arrogant, selfish, difficult to coach. “They just thought I was being a rebel and didn’t want to participate in the team activities,” Foster says.
“I was like, ‘No, that’s not it. Church doesn’t do anything for me. I’m not a Christian.’ I said, ‘We can do other team-bonding activities and I’ll gladly go, but this doesn’t do anything for me.’
“So I went, probably five times. I don’t want to bring race into it, but we never went to any predominantly black churches. We went to a lot of those upper-middle-class white churches, which I always found interesting because the majority of the team was black, so I thought the majority of the team would relate to a black church. I would rather go to a black church, honestly, because the music is better to me. If the majority of your team is black, why wouldn’t they try to make them as comfortable as possible? But I guess when you’re dealing with religion, color shouldn’t matter.”
One of the things I’ve been impressed about with Richt is how Musa Smith was able to fit comfortably within the team. And if you think that was no big deal for a Muslim player in the aftermath of 9/11, you have a short memory. Would things have been so smooth in Knoxville? I can’t say for sure, but using church attendance as a mandatory team-building exercise would seem to suggest perhaps not so much. And I doubt Tennessee is the only program, especially in the South, that’s taken that sort of approach at times.
So, again, what is it about Richt’s form of religious observation that strikes the wrong chord in some fans and observers of Georgia football? I’m genuinely curious.
I think every Georgia fan knows what it means when a player is suspended for four games and his coach says, “We have to respect what they say on amateurism.”
But I have to disagree with Saban a little bit here.
Bo Scarbrough is still recovering from a knee injury. Saban said he didn’t expect Scarbrough to be healthy enough to play early in the season anyway. And it just so happens he’ll be back in time for Alabama’s game on October 3rd in Athens. Anybody think things would work out so conveniently in an alternate universe where it was a Georgia running back in that situation?
That’s not an NCAA thing. That’s a non-Georgia Way thing.
That’s a great quote from Vanderbilt LB Nigel Bowden in a good Jon Solomon piece about a survey of 42 SEC players on a variety of topics, from who’s the best player in the conference to how many teams should be in the CFP field.
The only real surprise in it for me was how many players are unconcerned about concussion risks. Either the schools have really upped their game on protecting the kids, or a lot of heads are buried in the sand.
Anyway, take a minute to read it.
For a group of folks who say they don’t want to make a big deal out of upgrading the talent base, Georgia’s coaches sure are talking about upgrading the talent base.
Oh, look. It’s another Nick Saban rant.
“One of these days when I’m finished coaching at Alabama, I’ll write an authorized book,” Saban said at Thursday’s news conference. “Because there’s really only one expert on my life, and guess who that is? Me. And there won’t be any misinformation, there won’t be any false statements, there won’t be any hearsay, there won’t be any expert analysis from somebody else. It will be the real deal.
“But I’m not really ready for that to happen. And you know, it’s a little amazing to me the timing of all this happening right when we’re starting camp. I just want everybody out there and all our fans to know it won’t be a distraction to us, and it’s never going to get discussed again.
“But since I’m not finished yet at Alabama, we’re not writing any books yet. But when we decide to write an authorized book, it will have the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
So help him Bear.
I get that he’s pissed off about someone making a buck off his name without permission (and, no, I’m not going there), but needing to assure the fans that “it won’t be a distraction to us”? Really? Anyone think the players are losing sleep over somebody writing a book about Nick Saban?
Then again, this is the guy who was worried about how Alabama people were going to react to his appearance in a movie as the head coach of LSU – which he was at the time of the events depicted in the movie.
History is hard, I guess.
I know… Forget it, Jake. It’s Tuscaloosa.