| |If you added up the total amount of moral culpability involved in every stupid thing a University of Georgia athlete has done since the day after Jasper Sanks was kicked off of the team, you wouldn't get half the amount of moral culpability of Reuben Houston . . . allegedly, of course.
That having been said, one player arrest is one player arrest too many and, while Mark Richt has never put up with anything like the degree of malfeasance tolerated at his previous coaching stop (Florida State) or at his alma mater (Miami) on a regular basis, we simply have to put a stop to this sort of stupid nonsense.
Yes, I know it's largely boys-will-be-boys tomfoolery, the results of dumb moves like letting your driver's license get suspended or having the misfortune of being well-known when, as a 21-year-old college kid, you happened to head downtown in Athens, where liquor licenses are handed out more freely than diplomas at Auburn.
Youth, celebrity, liberty, and opportunity often combine in dangerous ways and Georgia doesn't have anything like the culture of lawlessness that prevails in Knoxville, Tenn., and Columbia, S.C. Nevertheless, I expect the Bulldogs to adhere to a higher standard. The fact that almost all of it is foolish rather than felonious is not a mitigating factor in my eyes; when you're a high profile athlete, even your childish mistakes are going to have high profile consequences and, although that reality may not be fair, it is the reality.
If, while I was in college in the Classic City, a buddy of mine had gotten drunk and passed out in the men's room while using the facilities, the result would have been a funny story we would continue to kid him about to this day.
However, none of us were offensive linemen for the defending Southeastern Conference champions. Most students only embarrass themselves through their own stupid escapades. Athletes at major universities make us all look bad when they behave irresponsibly.
When you accept a scholarship to play football at the University of Georgia, you are accepting the obligation to represent the institution and the program in the most favorable light. That obligation is not limited to a player's conduct between the hedges. These idiotic offseason antics drive me up the wall.
How does this help the argument in favor of a two-year series between Georgia and Michigan? Since one of the arguments against scheduling such a series is Georgia's annual neutral site contest with Florida, a partial rebuttal may be found in the fact that O.U. is willing to schedule tough out-of-conference opponents, despite the Sooners' annual game against the Longhorns at the Cotton Bowl.
Oklahoma and Texas have met in Dallas each fall, without fail, since 1929. Bevo and the Sooner Schooner haven't hooked up on one another's home fields since meeting in Norman in 1922 and in Austin in 1923.
Oklahoma gives up an additional home game every other year by facing a bitter division rival clad in orange at a neutral site in the opponent's home state for a game so famous, it has a nickname as well as a permanent off-campus home dating back to the Depression. Does that scenario sound familiar to anyone in Bulldog Nation?
Despite facing a significant scheduling constraint that mirrors one faced by Georgia, O.U. has been willing to go on the road to face quality opposition. Even if we omit future Big 12 rivals and mid-major teams from the list, we find an impressive roster of non-conference foes the Sooners have visited over the years.
Oklahoma faced Alabama (in 2003), Arizona (in 1989), California (in 1997), Kentucky (in 1982), Miami (in 1975 and 1986), Minnesota (in 1985), North Carolina (in 1988), Notre Dame (in 1968 and 1999), Ohio State (in 1977), Pitt (in 1965, 1971, and 1984), Southern Cal (in 1973, 1981, and 1988), Stanford (in 1978 and 1983), Syracuse (in 1994), U.C.L.A. (in 1990), Vanderbilt (in 1976), and Wisconsin (in 1969)---all on their home fields and all since 1965, the last season in which the 'Dawgs played a road game outside the South.
Now O.U., while working to keep the Red River Shootout in Dallas, has agreed to travel to Coral Gables once again. Oklahoma's neutral site game with Texas hasn't hampered the team's ability to schedule tough opponents . . . or to compete for national titles. With Georgia's national stature having been restored by Mark Richt, that final hurdle is the only one yet to be cleared.
The willingness to schedule top quality out-of-conference opposition like Michigan would enhance the Red and Black's reputation and permit the inevitable undefeated Bulldog squad to compete for the national championship at which Auburn cost itself a shot by scheduling weak teams in 2004.
High profile victories and solid strength of schedule are important ingredients in a run at No. 1 and Georgia has to come to that realization . . . Sooner or later.