Mark Richt: Georgia doesn’t have a discipline problem
The biggest story of the off-season for many has been Georgia’s disciplinary issues and attrition, and although the Bulldogs saw seven players arrested, Mark Richt doesn’t think the program has a discipline problem.
“The guys that misbehave have a discipline problem and that’s why we discipline them,” Richt said, according to Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald. “The rest of the guys don’t. Some are still here and some aren’t. That’s just part of the consequences of not doing what you’re supposed to do when you’re supposed to do it. The great majority of our guys are doing a great job. I’m really proud of them. There’s different levels of issues, obviously, but even a good man makes a mistake sometimes. We’ll take care of those things and we always have and not hide from that.”
Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity went on Atlanta radio station 680 The Fan this week and was asked about the perceived problem.
“The perception bothers me greatly and bothers us greatly,” McGarity said. “To hear ESPN talking about it — the only way to change that is to stay out of trouble.”
McGarity also addressed the team Thursday and told the players that Friday started a clean slate.
The most recent arrest was linebacker Davin Bellamy. Bellamy was arrested for DUI and will miss the first two games of the season against Clemson and South Carolina, but his arrest was only days after defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor was charged with felony aggravated assault/family violence. Taylor was dismissed from the program.
Former safety Tray Matthews, defensive linemen James DeLoach and Jonathan Taylor and former receiver Uriah LeMay were all arrested on theft charges in March. Matthews, Taylor and DeLoach were charged with double-dipping their stipend checks. LeMay was charged with taking his roommate’s deposited stipend check and cashing it. Since that time, Matthews was dismissed and transferred to Auburn; Taylor was dismissed following his second arrest, and Uriah LeMay transferred. DeLoach is the only one of the four still on the team.
Star safety Josh Harvey-Clemons was also dismissed and transferred to Louisville. Corner Shaq Wiggins transferred to Louisville on his own accord, and he was also arrested in January for driving with a suspended license.
All arrests made national headlines in a relatively quiet off-season in college football.
Coaches only have slim opportunities to really get to know prospects before they sign, so coaches have to go with their gut. Recently, Georgia rescinded a scholarship offer to a prospect because of his use of social media. Richt was also asked if he plans to be more diligent during the recruiting process moving forward.
“The reality is, if you look at the guys we sign, they’ve usually got offers from five to 20 other schools we compete with,” Richt said according to USA Today. “That doesn’t mean we’re all recruiting bad guys. We’re all doing our homework. There are people we cull during the recruiting process that you don’t read about. We can’t say publicly that we dropped this guy, but there are guys we drop from the recruiting process. There are things we find out on a visit, of maybe some of the current players say, ‘He’s not going to make it around here.'”
While Georgia has been the off-the-field story so far this off-season, Richt gets an unfair rap on the discipline issues, and his longevity as being the SEC’s longest-tenured coach – aside from Gary Pinkel – works against him.