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So About Those Caleb King Rumors . . .

No one can confirm it. Coach Richt won't address it. But the rumor has been floating around that Caleb King may not be eligible to suit up for the Bulldogs in 2011. King was ineligible for the Liberty Bowl at the close of the 2010 season, so it's not a complete shock that he might still be an academic question mark. Still, it's a question mark that Mark Richt doesn't really need right now.

{Red-faced rant starts here}

This is as good a time as any to remind everyone of my stated position on academic ineligibility: if you somehow manage not to make satisfactory academic progress as a UGA football player you have no one to blame but yourself. Seriously. The University employs an army of tutors and a phalanx of academic counselors. The coaches enforce mandatory study halls and class attendance. If a player has a learning disability (and there is a mechanism in place for diagnosing that, by the way) accomodations are available under the ADA. There exists no excuse for becoming academically ineligible as a UGA football player. There is however a surefire reason: sheer laziness. I cannot imagine, given the results on the field these last two seasons, that anyone would be surprised to learn of a streak of creeping laziness among Bulldog football players. And academic progress is what economists would term a "lagging indicator". That is, it doesn't tell you what's going to happen, but it tells you explicitly what has happened. At this point the best we can do is hope that the creep has been halted and hopefully reversed.

{Red-faced rant stops here, objective analysis recommences.}

While the reaction of Bulldog Nation to the loss of Washaun Ealey was a collective "meh" the loss of Caleb King strikes me as an entirely different situation altogether. During his time in the Classic City, Washaun Ealey hasn't really demonstrated any skill set that we don't all suspect Boo Malcome to also possess. He's a biggish back with good quickness if not breakaway speed who can run tough between the tackles. Malcome's pass blocking couldn't be that much worse that Ealey's after a full year in the program. Elevating Malcome to Ealey's spot in the rotation strikes me as a push, and if his off-field/conditioning issues are less pronounced it's probably an upgrade.

Caleb King, however, is the closest thing we have to a proven homerun threat in the backfield. He's a better than average pass blocker for his size, and he catches the ball out of the backfield better than any tailback we've had in recent years. In other words, we now need a guy to handle tailback duties on 3rd downs, a situation in which Mike Bobo can usually use all the help he can get. He's also a fifth year senior, which in and off itself is a useful attribute. Isaiah Crowell may be the best freshman tailback in the SEC, a crackerjack omelette maker and an above-average amateur carpenter, but for the time being he simply is not a fifth year senior.

I'm in the camp (along with Washaun Ealey, apparently) that believes that Crowell and Malcome were going to be getting a lot of work, perhaps the majority of the work, by midseason anyway. But if Caleb King were unavailable it would put us one injury away from relying on one of those guys plus Carlton Thomas, and two away from relying on heaven only knows who and either walkon Brandon Harton or Wes Van Dyk. Before getting that far we might be able to move Alex Ogletree to tailback as well, or even bring Richard Samuel back from defense. That last one strikes me as unlikely, but you get the idea. We're talking about a variety of less than optimal situations, and considering which of the suboptimal situations is least unpalatable. That's not what you want heading into an opener against a top 5 team followed by a game against the defending division champs.

That's why losing Washaun Ealey was a pain, but losing Caleb King would be a problem.

Go 'Dawgs!!!