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The SEC Needs A Rule Protecting Schools From Having To Face Players Booted For Disciplinary Reasons

gfx-honest-opinionLast week, Gary Pinkel surprised a lot of people — including many Missouri fans — when he jettisoned talented receiver Dorial Green-Beckham following his third run-in with police.  While the victims of the latest investigation into the player refused to file charges, the evidence suggests Green-Beckham busted into a girl’s apartment, shoved a friend of his girlfriend and then grabbed and dragged his girlfriend by her neck.

He earned his dismissal and Pinkel deserves credit for protecting the integrity of his football program.  Pinkel does not deserve to face Green-Beckham if/when the player purifies himself with a year of junior college ball.

We’ve stated this view on previous occasions.  Just last season, for example, Georgia had to face two starting quarterbacks  with the SEC who had previously been drummed out of Athens.  In the spring of 2009, freshman Zach Mettenberger was arrested.  Reportedly, he then failed to come clean to Mark Richt about the circumstances of that arrest and he was dismissed.  After a year at Butler Community College he transferred to LSU and almost knocked off Richt’s Bulldogs in a 44-41 thriller last year.

Later in the season, Georgia did fall 43-38 to an Auburn team quarterbacked by Nick Marshall.  Marshall began his career as a defensive back at Georgia, but he was dismissed from the team as a freshman in 2011 due to an unspecified violation of team rules.  After a year at Garden City Community College, Marshall landed on the Plains and came within one drive of leading the Tigers to a BCS championship.

Richt being Richt, he said he was happy that both young men had turned things around and found success.  We don’t doubt that.  But was it right for Richt to have to play two players that he had chosen to discipline?  The fact that a booted player could come back to haunt a coach down the road might lead some to hang onto players a bit longer even if they’ve proven to be bad news.

That wasn’t the case with Richt, nor was it the case with Pinkel.  They — among others over the years — made tough decisions to sever football ties with athletes who’d let down them and their programs.  One lost a game to a player he’d dismissed and might lose another to him this fall.  The other could wind up seeing Green-Beckham lined up against him somewhere down the road.  That’s not right.

The SEC should discuss at its spring meetings the possibility of taking a unified stance against players disciplined by member institutions.  There are 125 FBS programs in the nation.  Anyone thinking, “What about second chances?,” needs to remember that.  If a player errs so seriously or so repeatedly as to cost himself an opportunity to play for 14 of those schools — those in the Southeastern Conference — he would still have 111 other top-flight schools as possible landing spots.

(Interestingly, such a rule could have applied to an SEC coach in recent weeks.  If such a rule were put in place with regards to players — it won’t be — there would likely need to be a similar rule regarding coaches who lose their SEC job due to NCAA violations.  Now, would any school respect its leaguemates enough to back away from a proven coach who just happened to run afoul of the NCAA law at a conference rival?  No way.  Much to Bruce Pearl’s happiness.)

If maintaining discipline and protecting the reputations of schools is important in the SEC, the league’s schools should work in concert to make discipline a priority.  If a player is banished from one school for disciplinary reasons he should be barred from landing at one of that school’s conference rivals.  No coach doing the right thing should himself be punished for doing that very thing.

Pinkel has said that he wants what’s best for Green-Beckham.  ”I love that kid.  I want him to get some help.  He can go to another place and get a fresh start and he can still achieve his goals.”  Those are admirable comments from Mizzou’s coach.  But the Tigers shouldn’t be punished because they chose to punish a player who had brought negative attention to the University of Missouri and Tiger football.

We at MrSEC.com hope Green-Beckham does turn his life around and does earn himself a second-chance at another school.  But that school should be one of 111 schools across America.  That school should not be in the Southeastern Conference.

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Richt Not Feeling More Pressure To Get UGA A National Crown

GEORGIA MEDIA DAYSAsked by the ESPN crew if he feels additional pressure to win a national championship at Georgia, Mark Richt provided a nuts and bolts answer:

 

“The thing that we can control is that we win the East.  If you win the East you play in the SEC Championship Game and if you win that one you’ve got a chance to play for a national championship.  So that’s our goal every year and it’s really not much different than any other year.”

 

Last year, Richt’s Bulldogs finished five yards shy of winning the SEC Championship Game and getting their own shot at Notre Dame in the BCS title game.

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Richt Beats Florida, Silences (Some) Critics For Now

On Saturday afternoon in Jacksonville, Mark Richt won a game he most desperately needed.  And judging by some of the chatter on Georgia messageboards, there are more than a few Dawg fans disappointed with their team’s 24-20 victory over Florida.

Why?

Because many of Richt’s critics already believe he’s past his prime, that the SEC has caught up to him, and that he’ll never be the one to win “the big one” in Athens.  Better UGA had lost to the dreaded Gators and sealed Richt’s fate than to have him live another day and survive for another season.

That’s not uncommon thinking, of course.  Those fire-eating anti-Richters aren’t the first bunch to root against their own team for what they believe to be the greater good overall.  (I liked Pete Carroll as the coach of my Patriots, but the end of his three-year reign I wanted him to lose so he’d get an ouster.  So I understand the thought process.)

In speaking to a Georgia sportstalk show host this morning, I was told that his email inbox had been filled with “yeah, buts” over the weekend:


“Yeah, but Georgia only won because Florida turned the ball over twice.”

“Yeah, but Georgia played terribly on special teams and didn’t deserve to win.”

“Yeah, but the coaches didn’t have the team ready as they fell behind 17-3 early.”

“Yeah, but this Florida team just isn’t very good.”


All may be true.  But you can bet those folks pshaw-ing UGA’s win on Saturday have never credited Richt in past years by saying things like, “Well, Richt’s team should have won and we can’t blame him for those fumbles.”  Yeah.  Right.

Well, it doesn’t work both ways.  The bottom line is the score on the scoreboard.  Winning is winning, whether the opponent plays well or not.  Just as losing has been losing, whether Richt’s Bulldogs have played poorly or played well, only to be undone by a bad break or clumsy turnover.

After an 0-2 start to the season, the Bulldogs are now 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the SEC.  Considering South Carolina’s schedule (at Arkansas, Florida at home) and the way the Cocks’ offense looked Saturday night in Knoxville without Marcus Lattimore, the Bulldogs (Auburn and Kentucky at home) appear to be in the East Division driver’s seat despite USC holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.

If the Dawgs drop a game or two from here on out, the calls for Richt’s head will start anew.  And if Georgia comes from behind to win the East, that accomplishment will be pooh-poohed by the “we need a new coach” crowd.  “He backed into it.”

Tough noogies for that bunch. 

If Richt wins eight or more games it will be the 10th time in 11 seasons that he’s reached that number.  If he records nine or more wins it will be the 8th time in 11 seasons that he’s accomplished that.  And if he wins the East Division, it will be the 4th time in 11 years that he’s taken the Dawgs to Atlanta.  And only a 6-7 2010 season would mar his otherwise spiffy record.

Like him or not, coaches who put up those kinds of numbers aren’t fired.  Whether he wins ugly or wins pretty, as long as Richt keeps winning, the heat of his seat will continue to cool. 

Much to the chagrin of those who’ve already decided he needs to go.

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