Georgia Bulldogs: There’s No Room for Integrity in Football, Right?

“We’re not going to treat a starter any different than a walk-on or a scout team guy when it comes to discipline, because I want to be fair to everyone and true to the policies that we have and the rules that we have,” Richt said.  “The good news is if guys do make mistakes, we’re handling it, we’re taking care of it, we’re disciplining. We’re not just allowing it to go by or find a way to circumvent a rule or find a way not to discipline somebody because it might become a public issue.”

Oh my, why on earth did coach Mark Richt say those words? Does this man not know that in the SEC, it’s all about winning? I mean, my goodness, he’s got some serious nerve treating Alec Ogletree and Bacarri Rambo like they’re any other player from the scout team or (gasp) like some walk-on from Elberton—FOR SHAME ON HIM…

Okay, in case you missed it, that’s sarcasm.

Call me sacrilegious or a fool, trust me I’ve heard worse, but I don’t have a problem with Richt’s policy on discipline for two reasons: 1) entitlement built through special treatment of particular players can lead to division amongst teammates and even bigger problems in the long term and 2) continuity in such matters can lead to more stability in the long haul if executed correctly.

That said, the trouble for Richt isn’t the extreme nature of his policy regarding the behavior of his athletes, but rather the need for his athlete to test the merits of that policy by disregarding it altogether.

Georgia is enjoying a bit of excess attention thanks to having a better season in 2011 than they did in 2010 and that has led to bigger expectations for 2012. Bigger expectations means more positive attention and less stressful encounters with media, fans, etc. Keeping that in mind, a lot of these players likely are feeling pretty good about themselves right now and, ahead of spring break, were particularly motivated to take that good will and extravagant attention for a spin.

Unfortunately, they were forced to find that all the attention and love in the world doesn’t make them invincible to the one man upon whom’s job their performance rests—coach Mark Richt. Because, unlike most coaches, he’s still living under the assumption that his job is not just to train football players but mold men.

Uh-oh. See what happens when a little integrity gets in the way?

For the fans, such a philosophy means they will be (at least this season) forced to live with the reality of some of their more big-time players missing time. However, as I’ve stated in earlier posts, that reality wasn’t the one Richt intended and to point the finger at him for the individual idiocy of another is a tad unfair.

Sure, it might have been short-sighted to arrange a “surprise” drug-test after spring break, but here’s my question—and I’m just spit-balling here—why isn’t it the fault of the players who knew the test would be coming?

Now, I’m not going to restate points I’ve already belabored in recent posts but it’s beyond puzzling to continue to see comments that direct blame at Richt for being too harsh but skip over the accountability of the players whose acts prompted the action.

I don’t like the fact that many of our best players will be riding the pine for the first 1/3 of the season, but I’m not about to question Richt for that being the case. If anything, I’m looking long and hard at the players and wondering where on earth their dedication to this team had to be when they made the decision to stop playing it smart.

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I am not a 'journalist' by trade, nor do I present myself as such. I am a wife, mother, and passionate Georgia Bulldog fan. That's it. I write. You read.