For a second there, it looked like Georgia’s football team was going to make it through the entire spring without the word “arrest” coming up. It was almost too good to be true for Bulldog Nation.
But this time, it appears as though the Bulldogs are becoming more proactive as a troubled football team. As demonstrated by the latest incident, recruits aren’t even waiting to enroll at Georgia before getting arrested in Athens.
Over the weekend, Deion Bonner, one of the state’s top recruits from Carver-Columbus, along with, I guess his sidekick, but not a recruit (Marquise Hawkins), and another unnamed juvenile who may have been a recruit, were arrested by UGA police. The three were charged with theft after allegedly stealing items of several Bulldogs players from the locker room during an open-house event on campus.
While ESPNU could do an upcoming segment on the 2011 “Dream Team” recruiting class, it’s just as likely TruTV will bring its show “Bait Car” to Athens.
Granted, these knuckleheads weren’t Georgia commits, but the Bulldogs, according to Rivals.com, did make Bonner a scholarship offer, a sign that Georgia recruiting directors still have no clue the character of players they’re going after.
One has to wonder if the Bulldogs’ scholarship offer still stands, with this instance counting as Bonner’s first strike — you know, like some kind of early-enrollment program. He definitely got the “getting arrested” part down earlier than most players.
But all this is off-the-field drama, and for at least the time being, those on the current Bulldogs team have managed to stay away from handcuffs. The key words are “time being.”
Going months without an arrest is a great accomplishment for these Bulldogs, and even better, it gives everyone an opportunity to shift focus to on-the-field developments.
It’s spring, a time when no big games are played, so everyone can be optimistic about the Bulldogs, much in the way Royals fans can like their World Series chances.
Yes, the Bulldogs had some fine moments in an insignificant intrasquad scrimmage over the weekend. Yes, the Bulldogs have a recruiting class full of local studs that are ranked by Rivals.com as the nation’s fifth best.
However, it’s a spring game. The center would have had to snap the ball into the stands, a receiver would have had to dash to the wrong end zone or a player would’ve had to actually have been arrested during the scrimmage for it to have been a failure.
Also, this is not the first time Georgia has had a top 10 recruiting class under Mark Richt. He now has eight since 2002. Richt’s problem has never been getting the recruits. It’s been assembling them into a team that can win the big game.
This season, the Bulldogs will rely heavily on the unproven, yet, talented recruiting class. At a press conference following G-Day, Richt said he expects the incoming class to make an immediate impact. He said no current Bulldog’s job is safe and that the recruits can win starting jobs this summer.
Is that a testament to how good the recruits are, or how under whelming the current talent is?
Or how desperate Richt is to put together a big season?
I’ll go with option “C.” Last season was Georgia’s first without a winning record since 1996. The Bulldogs played in a bowl game so obscure UCF was in it. And UCF won. The new sheriff in town is athletic director Greg McGarity, who comes from a Florida program that won two national titles in three years (‘06, ‘08) while he was there. Arrests, wasted recruiting classes, being loyal to a fault by firing Willie Martinez two seasons too late and by still holding onto Mike Bobo are all signs that point to Richt’s time in Athens running out.
The season opener is less than five months away and it’s not against Louisiana-Lafayette. It’s against BCS-contending Boise State at the Dome. The following week, the Bulldogs host defending SEC East champs South Carolina.
Can you say 0-2?
Looking at their schedule, the season’s third game against Coastal Carolina appears the only sure win of 2011. Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Kentucky, even Vanderbilt — all at one time considered easy wins — are no safe bets.
While the Bulldogs have managed to stay out of trouble off the field as of late, their troubles on the field aren’t going anywhere.
I predict another losing season. And at least six arrests.
Adam Krohn is a sports writer for The Times. Follow him at Twitter.com/gtimesakrohn.