Chip Towers, feeling all scold-y about the recent arrests, skirts oh so close to the “Kirby Smart has lost control” edge and then pulls up.
The easy thing to do would be to climb up on top of my soap box and express my outrage over two Georgia football players getting arrested for allegedly fighting in a bar. I’m not going to do that. Football players fighting in bars has been going on since there has been football and bars.
But I’m also not going to give the Bulldogs a pass for whatever happened in the wee hours of Sunday morning at The Cloud Bar. It shouldn’t have happened and can’t happen again.
Coach Kirby Smart has a problem on his hands, and he needs to get in front of it quickly. I have no idea what he said to his players after they completed their first full-contact practice of the spring Saturday afternoon on Woodruff Practice Fields, but either he didn’t tell them “be careful tonight, stay out of the bars and stay out of trouble,” or he did and they ignored him.
Either scenario is not good.
The facts are what they are. Georgia, which is expected to be a Top 5 team when the 2019 season opens in five months, has had the more player arrests so far (four) than it has had spring practices (three). And that’s assuming that there are no more arrests as a result of Saturday night’s incident. Athens-Clarke County detectives are continuing their investigation by interviewing witnesses and reviewing video footage of what they described as a “chaotic scene” at this popular downtown Athens bar.
As it is, the current rate would give the Bulldogs 16 arrests by December.
I’m not sure if Chip knows something there with his own private Fulmer Cup count that the rest of us don’t, or if he was just on a rhetorical roll. In any event, he finishes by throwing his hands up, because ultimately, short of locking down his kids every night, there’s only so much Kirby Smart can do with teenage knuckleheads.
So I’m not going to stand up here today and point to Georgia as an out of control program that lacks leadership. Smart’s dealing with what appears to be a couple of rough-housing misdemeanors and some irresponsible citizenry at the moment. But it’s only March, and there’s a long way to go to get to that Aug. 31st opener at Vanderbilt.
I suspect the Bulldogs’ coach is about ready the kibosh on the jail-log trend for 2019. I know I am.
Internally or externally, this needs to get handled.
Well, I guess that settles that.
Seth Emerson ($$), meanwhile, buries the righteous indignation in favor of… well, reality.
But there’s a limit to what can be done when players are out and about, and they can’t be expected to stay locked in their dorm room or apartment every waking hour. People have to live and let off steam. But they should be expected to do so in a civil and law-abiding manner. Whether or not you think it was right to arrest someone for what happened outside the Cloud bar, clearly something happened to escalate the situation. And there’s something to be said for the idea that Georgia football players, given the scrutiny they are under, should know to avoid any potentially bad situations.
Still, let’s put it bluntly: This will keep happening, and it would under the most disciplined program…
This doesn’t excuse it. Smart has probably already blistered his players privately within the last few days. It could also be worth examining whether anything could be done within the team from an educational perspective.
Beyond that, though, you have to give young people the room to make their own mistakes and learn. I’ve covered this program long enough to meet plenty of players who ran into trouble but eventually grew into responsible adults. I’ve met a few players who needed to be dismissed. And I’ve covered this program long enough to remember periods that were much worse than this.
Just ask Kirk Herbstreit.