Analyzing the 5 most prominent SEC suspensions
Todd Gurley’s suspension last week sent shockwaves throughout college football and the SEC. Not only was Gurley Georgia’s best player, but he was perhaps the top player in the nation and a certain Heisman Trophy candidate.
These kinds of high-profile suspensions can bring a lot of unwanted attention to a program and Gurley’s suspension is hardly the first time a big-time SEC player has been forced out of action due to off-the-field issues.
Let’s take a look at the five most prominent suspensions in recent SEC history.
WR A.J. Green
Length of suspension: 4 games
The ultra-talented Georgia wide receiver was suspended for the first four games of his junior season in 2010 after he admitted to stealing his 2009 Independence Bowl jersey for $1,000 to an agent. Green appealed the suspension, but it was upheld by the NCAA. The season before, Green led the team with 53 catches for 808 yards, despite a nagging injury which forced him to miss a few games. He was a projected high-first round pick at the time and his absence was a huge blow to the Bulldogs. UGA went 1-3 to open the season without Green with all three losses coming against SEC opponents. Green, who returned against Colorado, made his presence known by catching seven passes for 119 yards and two touchdowns in his first game back.
DB Tyrann Mathieu
Length of suspension: 1 game
As talented as Tyrann Mathieu was, the “Honey Badger” didn’t exactly have a cookie-cutter collegiate career during his time at LSU. He exploded onto the scene in 2011 as he was named an All-American that season, thanks to his 77 tackles, 1.5 sacks, four fumble recovers, two interceptions, two defensive touchdowns and two return touchdowns. Outside of the offense, he impacted every part of LSU’s game plan. Unfortunately, Mathieu had trouble passing drug tests and was eventually suspended for the Auburn game in 2011 for a failed drug test. While his suspension in 2011 didn’t affect LSU much as they went on to win the SEC Championship that season, Mathieu’s continued troubles off-the-field led to a full dismissal in 2012. After leaving LSU, Mathieu said he failed at least 10 drug tests while at LSU, but then lost count.
QB Johnny Manziel
Length of suspension: 1 half
With the kind of lifestyle Johnny Manziel portrayed off the field, it wasn’t shocking to hear he had gotten himself into a situation that merited a suspension. Johnny Football was suspended for one half of Texas A&M’s game against Rice after reports surfaced that Manziel accepted payments for signing his autograph. The NCAA only suspended him one half because there was no evidence of any actual money exchanging hands. However, they ruled Manziel violated a bylaw which states no collegiate athlete can permit their likeness to be used for commercial purposes. Manziel appeared in the second half against Rice and Texas A&M won its season opener 52-31. He threw for 94 yards and three touchdowns on 6-of-9 passing.
QB Cam Newton
Length of suspension: 1 day
The Auburn quarterback was in the midst of a special season at Auburn as he was on his way to leading the Tigers to a National Championship. However, there were some bumps along the way for Cam Newton when the NCAA learned Cecil Newton, Cam’s father, solicited anywhere from $120,000-180,000 from Mississippi State for his son to transfer there. The NCAA suspended Newton for for one day, but eventually sided with Auburn that Cam was unaware of what his father was doing. He was reinstated on Dec. 1 and was declared eligible for the 2010 SEC Championship game three days later. He went on to win the BCS Championship and the Heisman Trophy that season.
RB Todd Gurley
Length of suspension: Indefinite
The most recent of high-profile SEC suspensions is the one that is still ongoing. Georgia running back Todd Gurley reportedly accepted money from memorabilia brokers for autographing certain items. Reports from the AJC suggested Gurley’s season could be over, but nothing official has been handed down by the NCAA. He already missed one game, but the Bulldogs didn’t skip a beat, defeating Missouri 34-0 behind running back Nick Chubb. Regardless, if Gurley is indeed out for a significant period of time, there’s no doubt UGA will miss him dearly even with the talent they have at running back.