It took a freedom of information request for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to finally obtain a full tally on the number of scholarship players Georgia will have available for football this fall. That number? 72… 13 below the 85-scholarship limit.
Chip Towers of The AJC points out that Southern Cal — starting its scholarship reductions this season — will have three more scholarship athletes than the Bulldogs. That should put things into perspective.
Still, recruiting coordinator Rodney Garner says he’s happy with the thin red line that remains in Athens:
“I do like the quality of the young men that we have in the program. Some of the guys that we’ve lost — and we’ve lost a lot of guys — you wish you could have been able to save a few of those. It definitely would have helped our situation. But a lot of those guys we made the decision to cut and move on. It wasn’t a university decision or whatever. It was just, what do we want this program to be known as, what do we want it to be? It’s a double-edged sword.”
Sounds good, “What do we want this program to be known as,” and all. And we all know that UGA has rather strict policies when it comes to arrested players. But Georgia’s high horse isn’t quite so high after word came Saturday that cornerback Branden Smith — arrested in March for misdemeanor marijuana possession — will not start the season on suspension as expected.
“After just gathering all the information, determining what happened, we’ve got peace that we’re doing the right thing,” Mark Richt said. Indeed, the head coach has likely got more details on what happened with Smith than any outside party. Also, Smith entered a pretrial diversion program in May, which apparently allowed the starting DB to avoid suspension.
A misdemeanor marijuana possession charge probably wouldn’t have ended with a suspension at many schools, but Georgia has touted its tougher standards for quite a while now. You can’t have it both ways. You can’t point to a strict rulebook one minute only to look for loopholes if your secondary depth starts to look bleak heading into an SEC opener at Missouri.