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College Football: Is Mark Richt Getting a Free Pass?

Justin HokansonSenior Writer IJuly 2, 2008

Georgia is on a roll.

That's something you would rather hear as a Bulldog fan during the football season when you are winning games—and not referring to players being arrested in the middle of the summer.

Apparently Georgia is jealous of the attention that their division rival Tennessee is getting and is making their own run at the Fulmer Cup title.

Hey Dawgs, you don't have to beat Tennessee at everything.  Talk about taking the rivalry to another level.

With the most recent arrests involving Georgia football players, I wondered, why does it seem coach Mark Richt gets a free pass whenever his players get in trouble?

It seems like there are some coaches that are raked over the coals by their fans and opposing fans and media, but Richt always seems to avoid such criticism.

I'll admit it, I like Mark Richt.  He's a good guy and does many good things outside the realm of football that impact people's lives.  But at some point, you have to change your approach in the way you are dealing with your players if you are Richt, because it's obvious that what you are doing isn't working.

Richt has had plenty of time since getting to Georgia in 2001 to implement his standards, to make sure he recruits the right kinds of players, and to make sure they all understand what is expected of them.

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This isn't a case of a new coach dealing with someone else's players.  This is a coach that's been at his school for eight years and is still dealing with the same things he's been dealing with from day one.

Here's a look at some incidents involving Georgia football players during Richt's tenure.  I'm not even sure if this is all of them, but you will get the point.

2003 - 9 Georgia players are suspended for selling their SEC championship rings on eBay.  CB Tim Jennings, WR Michael Johnson, DT Kedric Golston, CB Kenny Bailey, DB Bruce Thornton, WR Fred Gibson, and LB Tony Taylor were the main ones involved.  This was a clear NCAA violation, as players cannot sell something online or anywhere else for profit and get over market value.

2003 - Four sophomores are suspended for violating team rules.  B.J. Fields, Chris Hickman, Jamario Smith, and Tyson Browning were the players involved.

2003 - Defensive tackle Kedric Golston is suspended for selling his SEC championship ring, his Sugar Bowl jersey, and his Sugar Bowl championship ring on eBay for an estimated $3,500.  All three of these are NCAA violations.  More to come on Golston.

2003 - Five Georgia players are arrested and suspended two games for marijuana possession.  Tim Jennings, WR Bryan McClendon, CB Demario Minter, WR Mario Raley, and OL Randall Swoopes were the players involved.

2005 - Two more Georgia players arrested.  Kedric Golston was arrested for disorderly conduct, battery on a police officer, and obstruction of law enforcement.  Linebacker Derrick White was arrested for disorderly conduct.

2007 - Two players arrested for underage drinking and giving alcohol to a minor.  QB Blake Barnes and TE Tripp Chandler were the two players involved.

2007 - Another Georgia player is arrested for underage possession of alcohol.  Akeem Hebron was the player involved and was later dismissed from the team after breaking more team rules.

2008 - Two players arrested for alcohol related incidents.  DB Donavon Baldwin was arrested for driving drunk, while FB Fred Munzenmaier was arrested for underage possession of alcohol and pedestrian walking on the road.

2008 - Another player arrested, this time on charges of speeding and a concealed weapon charge.  DE Jeremy Lomax was arrested for speeding and carrying a concealed weapon in his car at the time.

2008 - The most recent incidents involve two players being arrested on battery charges, and a third arrested and soon to be charged on felony assault charges.  OL Trinton Sturdivant and Justin Anderson were arrested on simple battery charges, while DE Michael Lemon was arrested for assault and is facing felony charges.

Any of these incidents by themselves might not be as big of a deal, except for serious charges like assault and battery.  But it's the sheer quantity of incidents that have piled up that is concerning if you are a Bulldog fan.

Is it the culture of Athens that is creating problems for these kids?  Is it Richt's system of discipline?  Or is it just individual cases of stupidity from young college kids?

Either way, Georgia is getting a black eye from every additional incident.  Sooner or later, Mark Richt is going to have to take some blame and get the situation under control.

Especially if these incidents undermine Georgia's run for a national title this year.

Get more college football fix at Justin's blog, Gridiron Guru.

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