By now, it is news to no one that Justin Houston reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Combine. My immediate reaction was one of surprise, considering (what I remembered as) Houston’s lack of a significant disciplinary history while in college.
That, however, was an instance of my middle-aged brain once again being forgetful, because I had forgotten that Houston was suspended two years ago for the Georgia Bulldogs’ season-opening tilts with the Oklahoma St. Cowboys and the South Carolina Gamecocks. Here is how the University explained Houston’s two-game suspension:
Two University of Georgia football players will incur suspensions due to violation of team rules, according to an announcement Saturday by Bulldog head coach Mark Richt. . . .
[R]edshirt sophomore defensive end Justin Houston has been suspended for two games. . . .
"I’m very disappointed in the poor judgment of these players," said UGA head coach Mark Richt. "They’ll have to pay an appropriate price and I’m confident they will learn an important lesson from their mistake."
Though the University’s official release gave no indication of the specific team rules Houston had violated, CBSSports.com stated in its NFL Draft profile of Houston that he "[w]as suspended in May 2009 for reportedly violating university substance abuse policy." It is the policy of the University of Georgia to impose a mandatory suspension for ten per cent of an athlete’s season for an initial positive drug test. In a twelve-game regular season, that translates (with rounding up) to two games.
Following his two-game suspension to start the 2009 campaign, Houston started ten games that autumn and started all 13 games in 2010. Given the toughness of the Bulldogs’ anti-drug policy, it is safe to say that, if CBSSports.com is right about the reason for his 2009 punishment, Houston did not fail a drug test after the end of the 2008-’09 academic year.
Is this embarrassing? Certainly, but the Florida Gators we ain’t. Whatever Houston did wrong in the spring of 2009, he either didn’t do again, or he didn’t get caught doing it again for the next two years. Before this morning’s news broke, that suggested strongly that Coach Richt’s hope that Houston had learned his lesson had been fulfilled. Here’s hoping this report, if accurate, serves as a reminder to Houston of what’s at stake, and here’s hoping this sort of thing doesn’t happen with Houston’s successor.
Regarding the latter point, I’m feeling pretty safe in assuming that Ray Drew doesn’t smoke weed. Hey, he’s a minister and a Charlie Daniels fan. If he said Willie Nelson was his favorite country musician? That might be a problem.
(Disclaimer: I saw Willie Nelson at the Classic Center in 2000. While at the show, I did not inhale. The first round of the 2011 NFL Draft starts at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, April 28, and you may prepare for and follow the draft at SB Nation's NFL Draft Hub and NFL Draft weblog, Mocking the Draft.)