Mark Richt

Mark Richt doesn’t think UGA has a discipline issue


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.

Kentucky QB Patrick Towles to transfer

Patrick Towles

Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles will transfer, he announced in an Instagram post Sunday afternoon.

Towles leaves school as Kentucky’s sixth-most prolific passer, completing 427-of-759 passes for 5,099 yards with 24 touchdowns and 24 interceptions.

Once compared to Ben Roethlisberger, Towles’ career peeked in a 2014 game with then-No. 1 Mississippi State, as he completed 24-of-43 passes for 390 yards with two touchdowns in a 45-31 loss to the Bulldogs.

But Kentucky stumbled down the stretch, starting 5-1 and finishing 5-7, and Towles stumbled through a 2015 campaign in which he threw nine touchdowns against 14 interceptions.

He’d been passed by freshman Drew Barker by the end of the season, and threw only four passes in a loss to Louisville on Saturday.

A junior, Towles will complete his political science degree in December and be eligible for immediate playing time at a new destination in 2016.

Penn State fires offensive coordinator John Donovan

Penn State football practice, Sept 9, 2015

Penn State has fired offensive coordinator John Donovan, the program announced Sunday.

“I have tremendous respect for John and the work he has put in the last five years,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “I wish him and his family nothing but the best in the future.”

Donovan originally hooked up with Franklin when the two were at Maryland, then coordinated his offenses at Vanderbilt and later Penn State.

Despite playing with what many project to be a future first-round pick in quarterback Christian Hackenberg, Penn State ranked 101st nationally in scoring, 108th in total offense and 80th in yards per play.

Penn State dropped its final three games of the regular season and averaged only 14.6 points in its five losses.

Purdue retains head coach Darrell Hazell, fires both coordinators

Markell Jones
AP Photo

It’s never a good thing when a head coach has to fire both of his coordinators on the same day. Of course, it’s never a good thing to be 6-30, either.

Both are realities at Purdue, as the Boilers announced Sunday head coach Darrell Hazell will return for a fourth season in 2016, but offensive coordinator John Shoop, defensive coordinator Greg Hudson and defensive line coach Rubin Carter will not.

“I appreciate the efforts of each of those guys over the last three years,” Hazell said in a statement. “They are quality men who are well respected by their players and their peers, and I am disappointed that things didn’t work out better. But I believe that in order to turn around this program, we need to make some significant changes and move in a different direction at those positions.”

Purdue, 2-10 in 2015, ranked 115th nationally in yards per play and 112th in yards per play allowed.

Virginia Tech announces Justin Fuente as head coach; Bud Foster to stay on as DC

Associated Press

Justin Fuente is officially Virginia Tech’s new head coach. A day after reports linked the two parties, the Hokies made the match official by announcing the 39-year-old as their new head coach on Sunday afternoon.

“Justin is a very impressive individual who also happens to be one of the brightest offensive minds in college football,” Virginia Tech AD Whit Babcock said in a statement. “He elevated Memphis to unprecedented heights. His recruiting philosophy is progressive and comprehensive. Coach Fuente has displayed tremendous talent in evaluating players and developing young men as they strive to reach their full potential. Simply put, Coach Fuente exudes all the qualities that Hokies hold near and dear. We are excited to officially welcome Justin Fuente as the leader of the Virginia Tech football program.”

Fuente went 26-23 in four years as Memphis’s head coach, but his success runs far beyond a simple won-loss record. After going 7-17 in his first two seasons, Fuente guided the Tigers to a 19-6 mark in 2014-15, which included a 15-game winning streak, a No. 13 national ranking and a win over rival Ole Miss within that run.

Simply put, it was the absolute peak of modern Memphis football.

And now Fuente is tasked with taking Virginia Tech to new heights. The Hokies dominated the ACC throughout much of the 2000’s, taking conference crowns in 2004, 2007, 2008 and 2010. But as Florida State and Clemson have risen, Virginia Tech has fallen.

After posting 13 top-25 finishes in 14 seasons, the Hokies are set to conclude their fourth straight campaign outside the national rankings, going just 16-16 in ACC play over that span.

The offensive numbers state exactly why Fuente was hired, and what he must do in Blacksburg; Memphis ranks seventh nationally in scoring offense and eighth in passing efficiency, while Virginia Tech sits at 64th and 59th, respectively.

The cupboard is not bare, though. Virginia Tech is in the midst of a 23-year bowl streak, and Fuente has already secured one key commitment — longtime defensive coordinator Bud Foster has agreed to stay on staff.

“I’ve been privileged to work for a legendary coach who always did it the right way,” Foster said. “I enjoyed that chapter and the success we’ve had, however, I am equally excited for the next chapter and working for Justin. Justin and I share a vision for the future of our program. After spending time together, I’m convinced he’s the right person to continue building on the standard we’ve established at Virginia Tech. I’m truly looking forward to working with him and supporting him.”

Clearly, Babcock and the VT brass believe, a Fuente offense and a Foster defense are what the Hokies need to catch Clemson and Florida State.

Now it’s Fuente’s job to make that happen.