Georgia Bulldogs Football: Is Leadership an Issue?

McLeod NealeAnalyst IAugust 2, 2008

There have been many teams that are the best in the country top to bottom, regardless of sport, that have fallen short of the ultimate prize.  There are a number of reasons that could hold a team like Georgia back. 

The most common ones that I have heard are the schedule is too hard and the WRs stink.

I want to propose another reason that probably outweighs those two combined as to why Georgia will fall short: Lack of Leadership.

It is quite simple actually.  Mark Richt's team should not need different jerseys and endzone dances to get ready for the game. 

I believe that has to do with the fact that Georgia does not have players that are ready to step up and be leaders.  They should be ready to play, no matter what they are wearing or what they do in the endzone.

Mark Richt is obviously a leader as the head coach, but he needs some help from a few players and the way that things are looking it seems as if he is the only leader on the team.  It is somewhat understandable, though, due to the fact that Georgia is such a young team.

If that is not enough to convince you that the Georgia Bulldogs do not have great leadership coming from the players, then all you have to do is look at how their offseason has gone this year. 

This is a great indicator of how much leadership comes from the players due to the fact that the coaches are not allowed to contact the players during the offseason.  So that means that it is all up to the players to keep each other in line.

It has been a tough offseason in Athens, Ga.  Here is what it has looked like:

In January, cornerback Donovan Baldwin and fullback Fred Munzenmaier were arrested for alcohol-related offenses. Baldwin was arrested on DUI charges, while Munzenmaier was arrested for drinking underage, and he will be suspended for the first game.

On May 14, Freshman Offensive Lineman Clint Boling was arrested because he was pulled over for driving recklessly and he refused to take a breathalyzer test.  He has been suspended for one game.

On June 5, Defensive End Jeremy Lomax, was pulled over for speeding and having a concealed firearm.  He simply was ignorant of the fact that he was not allowed have the gun under his driver's seat.

On the morning of June 27, Sophomore Offensive Linemen Trinton Sturdivant and Justin Anderson were charged with a misdemeanor of simple battery after touching a girl inappropriately.  It was reported that they had been drinking.  Their punishments are being handled "internally."

On the night of June 28, Sophomore Defensive Lineman Michael Lemon punched Demarius Jackson at least five times in the face, fracturing the victim's left eye socket.  Lemon was charged with a felony.  He has been kicked off of the team, and was arrested again this morning for drinking underage.

On Aug. 2, junior long-snapper Jeff Henson, who had been charged with a DUI in November, became the eighth Georgia player arrested this offseason.

He was arrested for public intoxication and urinating in public.  He has been suspended from the team.

Additionally on Aug. 2, Defensive Back Donovan Baldwin and Linebacker Marcus Dotwin were hospitalized after a brawl.  Following the incident, Richt also dismissed Baldwin from the team because it was his second incident this off-season.

While Baldwin and Dotwin were in the hospital many UGA players, like good teammates, visited them to see how they were doing.  Just when it seems like things cannot get any worse for the Georgia Bulldogs, on August 3rd, teammate, junior linebacker Darius Dewberry, was visiting his teammates when he decided to vandalize a parking lot control arm and plant container pots causing a whopping $2100 in estimated damages.

Dewberry became the sixth player that was either suspended or booted off of the team this off season, when Richt decided to suspend him for the first two games of the year.  The hospital decided not to press charges, but on top of the suspension Dewberry's punishment includes extra conditioning at 5:30 AM, 20 hours of community service, a mandatory part-time job to pay off the damages, and mandatory counseling.

The number of offenses is alarming, but the other thing that is alarming is how many of them are alcohol-related.  An off season full of booze is not a way to win an SEC or national championship.

It just spells a lot of trouble for a team during the regular season when they are having lots of off-field incidents, and it makes it worse when they are alcohol-related.  It has to make you wonder how many people on the team are doing these things and not getting caught.

I am sure that Richt is going to give his team a mouthful about proper off-field conduct when they start practice on Monday afternoon, and his team deserves it.

I am not one who delights in the transgressions of opponents, even if it is a rival like the Georgia Bulldogs, but these signs cannot be promising for Georgia heading into the regular season.

I hope the Bulldogs can get themselves together and behave off of the field, because 2008 seems like it is going to be a great year in college football. It would be such a shame to let off-field incidents ruin the season of such a talented team.