Georgia had a press release yesterday afternoon approximately 30 minutes after Mark Richt's weekly press conference stating that 3 players had been suspended for the upcoming game against New Mexico State on November 5th. Those three players were all running backs (Isaiah Crowell, Carlton Thomas and Ken Malcome). This is extra painful due to the other running back, Richard Samuel, having ankle surgery this week and is not expected to return for four weeks, if at all this season. After this was released the speculation began to fly about whether Richt or McGarity knew last week, why didn't Richt address in his press conference and why was it mishandled.
First let's look at the timeline.....Towards the end of last week there were rumors that Crowell would not play and it was due to a drug related offense. Never heard anything about the other two, only Crowell. However, it was announced Friday that he would play and that was the end of that.
Tuesday, Mark Richt has his press conference and when asked about Crowell's injuries and Malcome being ready to play, he was short and sweet and said they were both healthly and knew the playbook. 30 minutes after the press conference the press release comes out about the 3 players being suspended. Local media members and other on the Georgia "beat" were upset and wonder why it was not discussed by Richt during his press conference. My opinion here is simple, he does not owe you anything if the press release has not been finalized and if you do not ask the question about suspensions or follow up to your initial question than shame on you. You're there to report and ask questions, so do just that report and ask questions!
The other issue was it came out from a source that they all failed a drug test and also through a source it was discovered that the test were administered last Thursday. So then there was uproar whether or not Georgia knew and still let them play against Florida and it is coming out this week since they are playing a lesser opponent. Wednesday Georgia released another statement that they did not have knowledge of the violations until Tuesday morning and therefore the players are suspended for the next game on the schedule. It also came out again through sources that the test were administered Thursday and the results were known Tuesday morning. I am not sure why there are so many leaks or sources, but that is today's society so assume what you wish. Media members were asking about this as well, now that this is known I have no doubt they will want more, even though they got the answer to this question.
Mark Richt and McGarity could have prevented some of this by doing simply this, during Richt's press conference read the following. "Crowell, Malcome and Thomas have been suspended for this week's game against New Mexico State for failure to follow team rules. That is all I will say about this issue. Thank you." This would have eliminated some of the questions and more importantly handled it as other programs would have, they do not divulge more information than that. If there is any issue that creeps up annually now is the off the field issues for this program, that could end up being the downfall for Richt more so than play on the field. So in summary with this issue Mark Richt or McGarity has not given anyone reason to believe they were lying about the timeline here. The bigger issue here is the players not making the right decision. They are no longer kids at 18-22 years old, they are adults who have to make the right decisions. They cannot watch and see everything they are doing, might need to change who is coming in to get back to players with integrity. You have to take risks so Georgia might be a no win situation here.
Another little item that came out today was that Georgia is the only major program in the SEC that suspends players for a game after their first drug related offense. Other major programs (Florida, Arkansas, etc) do not suspend players for any game time until their second offense. So for those fans of these or other teams that want to throw stones at Georgia for this issue need to step back and worry about your own damn team!!
The biggest issue for me here is can Crowell be counted on as Georgia pushes forward, this is now two issues in 9 months with the program. Might need another "Dream Team" recruiting class with some running backs in the fold.