As the sun rose over Bulldog Nation on Friday morning, the news was breaking that Isaiah Crowell had been arrested on felony charges in the wee hours on Thursday night. Before the sun set on Bulldog Nation on Friday evening, Crowell had been dismissed from the team, his Classic City career ended by the latest off-the-field incident to mar an otherwise promising on-the-field start. This, according to some, is proof that Mark Richt is a lax disciplinarian.
Of all the criticisms of Coach Richt, this is the most baffling, and maddening. Despite the ticky-tacky nature of many of the charges faced by his players, Coach Richt has handed down meaningful discipline within 48 hours of learning of a player arrest in every instance, without exception, since his arrival in Athens eleven and a half years ago. In those rare instances when Georgia Bulldogs have been culpable of actual wrongdoing, swift dismissal generally has followed.
If that is lax discipline, what, precisely, would constitute strict discipline? The difference between Mark Richt and coaches who do not insist upon maintaining standards and imposing consequences for the failure to meet them is the difference between parents who punish their children’s misdeeds and those who let their kids get away with murder. Which is the more demanding parent?
I suppose, in a weird way, you could say the parent who refuses to punish anything is the more successful disciplinarian, since, after all, his children do nothing bad enough to warrant punishment, while the parent who is quick to discipline has a badly-behaved child, because, clearly, his offspring commits more infractions deserving of being sanctioned. It makes perfect sense! Mark Richt has expectations, and upholds them, so he runs an out-of-control program, while coaches who turn a blind eye to their players’ misdeeds are keeping a tight lid on player behavior! If that logic strikes you as sound, please do the world a favor and do not reproduce, because you will raise complete hellions, and they will inherit your moron genes.
Meanwhile, the depth chart suggests that Boo Malcome is now nominally the starter, though the door has been opened for Todd Gurley and Keith Marshall. While I am not without hope, I do not have much faith that either will prove to be the next Herschel Walker, and, frankly, I am tired of sitting through repeat performances of this particular play. “Heralded yet troubled Bulldog tailback washes out in the most disappointing way possible, but a heralded underclassman is behind him, so we’ll be fine!” is a storyline in which I would be more willing to repose trust, were it not for the fact that Crowell supposedly was the savior after Washaun Ealey decided to transfer and Caleb King was declared academically ineligible. At this point, I’ll believe it when I see it. Actually, I probably won’t truly believe it’s for real, rather than an aberration, even then, but I certainly won’t believe it until I see it.
That, though, is for the long run. In the here and now, another promising Bulldog career has ended sadly, provided that sadness is the proper emotion with which to greet stupidity on such a galactic scale. Once again, vast talent has been squandered due to atrocious judgment, and our insistence upon standards has left us feeling depressed and running short of scholarship athletes, reducing our chances of on-the-field success and permitting our rivals to assail us for our insistence upon taking off-the-field issues seriously.
Absolutely nothing about this doesn’t stink, for us as fans, for the Bulldogs as a team, and for Isaiah Crowell as a student-athlete and a human being.