A pair of off-the-field issues since the end of 2011 has kept Georgia in the college football headlines for the wrong reasons. Yesterday, word broke that Bulldogs cornerback Branden Smith was arrested Sunday night and charged with possession of marijuana during a traffic stop. In January, CB Sanders Commings was hit with charges of domestic violence and simple battery stemming from an incident where he allegedly struck a woman.
The smaller issue is that the latest legal run-ins could strain depth in the Bulldogs secondary going forward. The bigger concern is that no program wants to be branded, fairly or otherwise, for patterns of off-the-field issues. On Monday, coach Mark Richt addressed Smith’s arrest, adding he didn’t feel his program had discipline issues.
Here’s the full blog on what Richt had to say, courtesy of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but below is a clip:
“When guys do make mistakes, two things are very important: How we handle it and how he handles it,” Richt said. “Are we going to discipline our players the way they ought to be disciplined according to what they’ve done? I think we do that. I think we do that more strictly than most people do. If you look at other people’s policies, ours is much tougher than just about anybody other’s pocliy I’ve seen. So because some of our guys end up with a game suspension or whatever it may be, a kid at another school may do the very same thing and their policy doesn’t say that it has to be that way. I mean, I don’t care what they do. All I’m saying is I think it’s important how you handle it.
“Our goal when our guys make mistakes is to find out the truth about it and then discipline it properly. The second thing that is important is how they respond to it. If they learn from their mistakes and become better people because of it, then that’s a positive thing in that guy’s life. If he’s not truthful about it and acts like he didn’t do anything wrong and his behavior isn’t going to change in any way shape or form, then he’s probably not going to be at Georgia very long. That’s just kind of the way things go. To think every single guy is not ever going to make a mistake and be perfect, I don’t think is realistic. It’s certainly what we search for. Is it frustrating? Yes, it is.”
It’s also part of the business. Two Bulldog players have been arrested in the past two months, but that doesn’t make Georgia any worse than any other school. Hell, it’s the offseason, where getting arrested seems to be as much a national pastime for college athletes as spring baseball is for the rest of us.
It’s not a concentrated issue, either. Plus, for every player that gets arrested, there’s another volunteering in his community and going to class. You just don’t hear about it.
But you do hear about the two kids that got arrested. Does it mean Georgia has a discipline problem? Not any more than most other programs.