While I am glad that Mettenberger managed to turn his life around, I must disagree with you when you say that he didn't decide to leave Athens. He decided to leave when he decided to commit a crime and subsequently when he decided to lie to Richt about the situation, Mettenberger was, through his own actions and decisions, placing himself, Coach Richt, the team and the University in a corner with only one way out. His dismissal. I say one way out. Had this been at most other SEC schools, he would've run some stairs and sat out a series or two. Let's not play Mettenberger as the victim. I hate that he had to leave the University that he grew up loving, but he placed himself in the situation through his own decisions.
In 2010, Georgia head coach Mark Richt dismissed freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger from his football team following the young man’s arrest for fondling a woman in a Valdosta, Georgia bar. Mettenberger eventually pled guilty to sexual battery over the incident.
By now you know that Mettenberger’s mother works in the UGA football office (though Richt gave her this week off as LSU visits Athens). Richt had known Mettenberger since he was a boy. It has been reported that the player was not completely forthcoming with Richt following the arrest and that that was what led to his dismissal.
Now Mettenberger is set to return to Sanford Stadium with Les Miles’ Tigers. And Richt is glad for the young man that’s the case:
“It was very difficult (to dismiss Mettenberger). It’s difficult any time a situation gets to the point where you have to dismiss a guy from the team. To do it to Zach, knowing Zach for as long as we’ve known him and his mom and dad — they’re family to us. They’re still family to the Georgia program, so it was very difficult. I think he understood it. It wasn’t easy for me, and it wasn’t easy for him. I’m proud of how he responded to it. He went to junior college and did extremely well and he got an opportunity to come back to a place like LSU, which is a tribute to him and how he’s put himself in tremendous position for his future. That’s what you hope for and you dream for these guys when they have an issue. Like I was saying before, sometimes when guys have issues, we can clean it up and he can have a great story here at Georgia. But sometimes when they have to leave, I just hope they can move forward and have great success. Nick Marshall (Auburn’s quarterback) is the same situation. Some things like that happen, and they have success and it makes you feel good.”
Mettenberger’s dismissal might have only sped up the inevitable. At the time of his departure, he was competing for the starting quarterback job with current Bulldog starter Aaron Murray. And Murray says that the loser of that battle might not have been long for Athens.
“I doubt both of us would have stayed,” Murray said yesterday. “I’m sure one of us probably would have left, and you’d be talking to him right now and I’d be at LSU or another squad.”
Murray and Mettenberger are currently ranked 1-2 on the SEC passer rating chart. Their teams enter this Saturday’s showdown ranked in the national top 10 and very much alive in the BCS championship hunt. Clearly, what once was a “difficult” situation has worked out well for all parties involved.
(For his part, LSU’s quarterback is expecting “the worst” from Georgia fans when it comes to booing and heckling. Here’s hoping that’s not the case. Mettenberger made a mistake, paid for it, and was forced to go elsewhere. He didn’t decide to leave Athens. UGA fans should remember that.)