We as Georgia fans, alum and supporters have had our fair share (perhaps more) of violations that have caught national headlines and put our school in a bad light. However, the Freeh Report released today regarding its findings on the child abuse case at Penn State has proven that things could be a lot worse for us. Granted, a player violation pales in comparison to a scandal of this magnitude but this is the mother of them all. Ohio State's violations not too long ago were not nearly as detrimental to the school or its football program (save for bowl eligibility) as the consequences Penn State will most likely be facing. That being said, I am grateful that we have a strong head coach who will take the necessary measures to ensure the integrity of both the football team and the university remains intact.
My opinions about Penn State and former Coach Joe Paterno need not be put out here. I will say this much. I feel bad for the folks in Happy Valley and I am disappointed that Paterno's coaching legacy has been tarnished forever. If the same situation (God forbid) were to happen in Athens, I do not know how I would respond. As fans we get annoyed and angry at the stupid mistakes the players make. We all know there is a code of conduct that must be followed but it seems that no one wants to adhere to it. I think that is what makes my opinion of Coach Mark Richt so favorable. He is not above getting rid of bad apples; as was shown with the dismissal of RB Isaiah Crowell. It does not matter who you are or how high you were ranked amongst fellow recruits. Either follow the rules or be shown the door.
That is only an example of player violations and not necessarily a gross infraction on the part of the coaching staff. I know I am young but I cannot recall any coaches being dismissed due to improper conduct or immoral behavior. I would like to know if that has been the case in the Georgia history. The Penn State scandal has got me thinking though; how would we as a fan base, alumni or current students respond to such accusations? Prior to me writing this I visited Penn State's blog on SB Nation, Black Shoe Diaries, and the general consensus is one of anger, hurt and disappointment. I cannot fathom experiencing something to the degree that they are going through. As a fan, I have to wonder how I would feel, or any of us, in the wake of something so horrible. How would your react? Would your loyalty change? What kind of impact would it have on not only us but the school itself? Ponder that for a moment.
We are lucky to be a part of the Georgia brand. From Vince Dooley to Coach Richt himself, the university has ensured integrity, moral values and commitment to excellence. Things could be worse for us Dawg Nation but players can be replaced. The legacy of a man or the reputation of a school cannot. When the Bulldogs run onto the field in that first game between the hedges, I will take comfort in knowing that my team is one and not divided. There will be no distractions, no controversy. Just football and determination to win. We are lucky Dawg Nation because in the end, things could be worse.