Umm Coach, I want to start….
The news coming out of Boise and Athens this summer is not the kind you want to hear. Four starting players for Boise State are expected to miss the clash with Georgia September 3rd either because of team rule violations or legal issues and at least two starting players and several other players for Georgia will miss the opener as well because of disciplinary problems. Which begs the question, "Who wants to start in the Boise State-Georgia game?"
It may seem like a dumb question considering the nationally televised game has been touted by many as the best college football game of that week and of vital importance to BCS bowl aspirations of both teams. This is the kind of game that players live for. Players for Georgia Head Coach Mark Richt and Boise State's Dan Hawkins know the rules as communicated to them by their respective coaches, they know the penalties for violation of those rules, and yet here they are in trouble. The bigger and more successful your program, the more you're in a fish bowl and your every move is noticed. People who are against sports and offering scholarships to student-athletes will pounce on every tidbit of negative news about these student-athletes getting into trouble as fuel for their argument. Knowing this, the players still break the rules.
For Boise State, starting wide receiver Drisan James and starting linebacker Colt Brooks were suspended for the Georgia game today for an unspecified rule violation. Just days before, it was announced that Jon Helmandollar, who scored 13 touchdowns last season including a school record 5 in one game, was also suspended for an indefinite period of time. Earlier in the summer, starting safety Cam Hall quit the team while he defends himself against four felony charges in connection with the Highway 55 accident that killed three. Hall was not the driver whose car hit the other vehicle, but he was charged nonetheless. Hall's decision to leave the team until the legal outcome is known is a voluntary one; Coach Hawkins disciplined the other three.
On the Georgia side, linebacker Tavares Kearney was suspended for the season opener after allegedly confronting an instructor who accused him of cheating on an exam. Starting Defensive tackle Kedric Golston and linebacker Derrick White were suspended for their roles in a bar fight on April 10. White will also sit out the Bulldog game against South Carolina Police charged Golston with simple battery of a police officer, obstruction of a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct. White, who is vying for a starting spot, was charged with disorderly conduct.
Also, Coach Mark Richt dismissed projected starting linebacker Derrick White from the following White's second arrest in three months.
The game will be played, and it should be a great college football game with an electric atmosphere. Players from both Boise State and Georgia will attract national attention on ESPN with a pretty large television audience expected. So the players that do play that night will be fine and the teams will get good exposure. It's the players involved that will miss out on the big game. At some schools, coaches deal with these types of situations too often with a slap on the wrist. Missing the Boise State-Georgia game is a huge price to pay for a football player. Commendations to both Georgia Coach Mark Richt and Boise State's Dan Hawkins for taking the necessary actions despite the magnitude of the game. Here's hoping the remaining players for both teams can learn a lesson from the suspended players so they are able to keep their names out of the newspapers until the game.
So I guess we will find out in the next three weeks, "Who indeed wants to play in the game?"