Posted: Thursday, July 24th 2014 at 7:30pm
Opinion: Georgia fans in need of some relief? It may be easier than you think
By Morgan Lee Editor
I am thinking of initiating a sort of 12-step program for Georgia football.
But it’s not for those “outlaw” players or gullible/careless/soft/(pick your inflammatory adjective) coaches in Athens.
Rather it is for Bulldogs fans, who are in far more need of relief from the stomach ulcer that grows with each player arrest or game suspension story. For the latest transgression, click here.
Like all 12-step (give or take a few steps) programs there are certain phases that will allow Georgia fans to feel better about themselves and their Dogs, while dealing with the barbs tossed their way by supposedly cleaner programs, who presumably field 22 choir boys every fall weekend.
Step one: Acceptance
18-22-year-old college males are going to do stupid things. A lot of stupid things. In fact, wives -- if you are reading -- you wouldn’t believe half the stupid things your husband tried and probably got away with during his four-six year stint on campus. So just hoping that this will somehow go away is setting yourself up for a few couch trips or a lifetime supply of lithium.
(This BY NO MEANS excuses the practice of doing said stupid things. Your mama raised you better than that, and coach Mark Richt did absolutely the right thing by ejecting defensive tackle Jonathan Taylor from the program on Wednesday after his arrest on felony battery charges. There is NEVER an excuse for putting your hands on a woman, and it should not be tolerated. And, just to make it clear, most of the stupid things college-age males do don't approach anything like felony assault -- of which Georgia's football program is a great example. But more on that later.)
Step two: Deal with it
Things are not going to change in Athens for the foreseeable future. The 120 young men under coach Richt’s care won’t all suddenly turn into little angels -- you know like the ones at all those other SEC campuses (Nick Marshall REALLY is on the straight and narrow now!) or at Georgia Tech (hey, three guys dismissed for violating team rules is just a drop in the bucket, right?).
Nor will Georgia turn aside from a policy of drug testing and punishment that is one of the strictest in the SEC -- a policy that, combined with a very open flow of information from Athens, means that Bulldogs players are called out when they make mistake. This only adds to a sense of a program gone wild, and the way some media outlets trumpet the latest transgressions make it seem as though Athens is more like South Beach from the 1980s and that Luther Campbell is hanging out in Red and Black.
In fact it is quite the opposite, Georgia allows fewer second chances and does more to test its own players accountability than many programs would ever dream. That policy also denies the Bulldogs plenty of games from starters on the field, whereas many other teams prefer “internal punishment” as a way to handle discipline -- the validity of that system is an argument for another day, however.
And beyond drug use, all those players that have committed violent crimes have found themselves on the way out of town.
Step three: That’s it.
The simple truth of the matter is that coach Richt is not manning the helm of Renegade U. Yes, there are issues, but they are issues dealt with by every major collegiate football program in the nation.
The difference is that Georgia’s transgressions are almost always there in black and white print -- or whatever color your browser prefers -- for all to see, while offenses in other places may not always be so obvious.
Granted transgressions like Taylor’s would make the news anywhere, and deservedly so. But for every suspended driver’s license, moped infraction, and marijuana positive at UGA, rest assured there is something quite similar happening on every other campus.
So when you read about them, just remember, step one: accept it. Step two: deal with it. As things stand, you’ll be much better off, and that ulcer might actually shrink.
-- Morgan Lee is sports editor for Access North Georgia.com.
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