The Georgia Bulldogs arrived in Memphis on Sunday without three players, including tailback Caleb King, who are academically ineligible for Friday afternoon's Liberty Bowl against Central Florida.
King's absence caps a subpar year for the 5-foot-11, 217-pound junior, who missed four games during Georgia's 6-6 regular season. An ankle injury caused him to miss September losses to South Carolina and Arkansas, and he was suspended for October victories over Vanderbilt and Kentucky as the result of missing a court date this past summer to address a speeding ticket.
"We've played some games without him before, and we'll do it again," Bulldogs coach Mark Richt told reporters in Memphis.
The Bulldogs are scheduled to practice this morning at Memphis University School.
Also ineligible for the bowl are redshirt sophomore offensive tackle A.J. Harmon and freshman cornerback Derek Owens. Harmon played in four games this season, the four Georgia won by 25 or more points (Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Idaho State).
Owens saw action in all 12 games, mostly on special teams. His biggest play was recovering an Eric Gordon fumble midway through the first quarter of the 41-14 win over the Volunteers.
Harmon and Owens failed to meet the NCAA's requirement of passing six semester hours in order to compete in the postseason. Richt said King's ineligibility is university-related, specifically that he violated class attendance policy as well as academic appointments.
"Caleb had missed his fifth academic appointment," Richt told reporters. "He won't be at the bowl. He won't be here."
All three have a chance to be in good standing by the start of spring practice.
Festivus is over, but I won't hold it against you if you want to air your grievances. It should be noted that King wasn't overwhelmingly featured in the offense this year, being handed just under 19% of the team's carries and pulling in 430 yards with a pair of touchdowns. Indeed, he was clearly relegated behind Washaun Ealey as the season progressed, but having our second-leading rusher out against the nation's 10th-ranked rush defense isn't a good thing.