After starting the season 0-2, Georgia rallied to win the next six straight. Georgia is now back in the top 25 and moving up, and has an outside shot at winning the SEC East. Along the way they beat nemesis Florida for only the fourth time in 19 years.
But that’s not what we’re talking about this week.
Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas, and Ken Malcome are out this week. Their urine specimens blew up the laboratory when they went for a drug test. With Richard Samuel out for the rest of the season due to injuries sustained during the Florida game, this leaves Georgia without a running back this week. I think Richt is planning to pull a Georgette to play the position.
This does not pose any worries; Georgia plays New Mexico State. The line is Georgia by 33. They would probably have to have half the team flunk a drug test to change that. That’s just reality when a major BCS team takes on a team from the lower echelons of Division 1-A. But there could be a hangover next week when Auburn comes to town; that would be a huge problem.
The blogosphere and Twittersphere have been rife with all sorts of conspiracy theories about who knew what and when. Isn’t it convenient, they say, that the players in question were tested before the Florida game and not suspended until the New Mexico State game? To which I say: Not true. Laboratories are not always immediately forthcoming with confirmation of test results. It is entirely possible that the test was administered before the Florida game and confirmation of the results did not come in until after the Florida game.
Still, the whole thing is not a good situation and it is definitely not what Coach Richt needs to be dealing with right now. Georgia is coming off its biggest win in the last few years and has a realistic shot to play for the SEC championship, but the story this week is all about the knuckleheaded actions of a few Georgia players.
Isaiah Crowell is one of the players who was suspended. He is by far the most prized recruit of the 2011 recruiting class, and he has been instrumental to Georgia’s success this year. But this incident brings up fresh questions about his character. Sure, he’s a freshman. Freshmen do stupid things; that’s why they’re called freshmen. But this isn’t the first time he has broken the rules and lost playing time as a result. (Against Vanderbilt, he was held out the entire first quarter. Richt later revealed that this was a suspension for an unspecified violation of team rules.)
Is Crowell capable of straightening up and getting his head together? Or will he become yet another paragraph in the ongoing tale of Georgia running back infamy? Caleb King and Washaun Ealey, the last two incumbents at the running back position, were kicked off the team this summer because they couldn’t follow the rules. Washaun Ealey transferred to Jacksonville State; Caleb King entered the NFL draft but went undrafted until he signed with the Minnesota Vikings practice squad.
There was a similar situation at the tail end of the Jim Donnan era. During the 2000 season, running back Jasper Sanks missed parts of several key games and quarterback Quincy Carter missed the last four games of the season with a thumb injury and Athens was nuclear with suggestions that the team was rife with drug use and the players were being suspended but the coaches were reporting injuries to cover it up. College football is rife with urban legends and conspiracy theories of a similar nature but this one had at least a grain of truth to it. When Mark Richt started in 2001, one of the first things he did was overhaul the policies concerning injuries and player suspensions. Jasper Sanks got in trouble for drugs in the summer of 2001, and Quincy Carter was cut from the Dallas Cowboys after failing a drug test in 2004.
Coach Richt, you SO did not need this. At a time when your team is finally starting to win and get some positive momentum going, the last thing you needed was to have a bunch of your players start acting like knuckleheads.