Redan Dawg Says:
Mark Richt is head football coach at UGA. I think it should be up to Mark Richt to decide if he is going to take a kid who qualifies academically in to UGA. Richt has proven he has the ability to make this type of decision in the past, and he runs a high-character program and has no problem throwing kids out who fail to maintain the criteria of the program. It is not like his kids are running wild ala Colorado. He has the highest discipline program in the SEC for Pete's sake! I won't name names, but would Zook or Fulmer have booted a 5 star O-lineman if their O-line was as thin as ours last year? NOT A CHANCE. What about suspend 8+ players for a game vs Clemson? He has proven he can handle the disciplinary duties, yet is treated by the university as if he is incapable of making those type of decisions.
I am sure Richt feels stabbed in the back right now. Some of you can relate. Have you ever told a client you could do something, only too have it not get approved up the chain? What a crappy feeling. We are not talking about a little "ooopsie" here either. We are talking about a kid having to spend the next four years of his life in Arkansas!!!!!!! He had a chance to go to any school he wanted, and now he's in Arkansas. Unreal.
I don't care what Grant did. It's not about that. The point for me is that Richt has passed on other players due to character issues. If he thought Grant was worthy of coming to UGA, he thought so for a reason. Do you not think Richt knows Gartrell (Stephenson Head Coach) well enough to get an honest and credible assessment of the situation? It's not like Grant is from New York, he plays for a guy Richt knows well.
The worst thing about this is timing. If this happens on February 8th, I got no problem with it. I have a VERY big problem with it happening 3 and a half months after signing day. It is too embarrassing and handicapping to Richt, and even worse for the kid. It is extremely unfair to any potential student-athlete to be recruited for 2 years and begged to come to a program, buy in to it, recruit your teammate, and then have the rug pulled out from under you like that. Grant committed in January. The "background check" could have been done in a week. And don't tell me it's Richt's fault for recruiting him! It is Mark Richt's JOB to make the decision of who he wants to recruit! Let the man do his job. UGA administration should be ashamed of themselves.
I don't know all the details, but Grant passed muster with CMR. Thus, I think the admissions committee should have at least given him a chance. I am very disappointed.
I can understand with the Tony Cole incident that UGA would be cautious about another incident. But I think that the timing is off. Why didn't they (UGA) decide earlier as opposed to a few days before July? What about giving the kid a second chance? I am not happy about this!
They say that life isn't fair.........that to err is human.........that one
is not condemned eternally for a sin.........that one shouldn't judge lest
himself be judged........all these ideas are closely held in our Society. When
one breaks the law, one is absolved after serving their sentence and only if one
returns to unlawfulness is their prior behavior taken into consideration. In the
greater Society, this is how we operate, but in business, in Government service,
and in other pursuits there are standards of qualification which supercede those
norms, where one's character is measured by their history and their deeds. In
today's world, security concerns disqualify many from certain fields and our
Courts have upheld the right of those hiring to do so. Even a petty offense can
prevent one from obtaining a lucrative position in upper management, for
companies take very seriously the representation of the whole enterprise by its'
excutives for the market is a vicious arena.
Now we begin the last week of June with the disconcerting revelation that a recruit, Michael Grant, has been denied admission to the University of Georgia. Since the details aren't shared due to the concern over litigation, we are all left to speculate as to why. Informed individuals such as Grant's Coach in High School have shared that Michael was expelled from South Gwinnett as an underclassman for misconduct but allowed that during his playing years at Stephenson High that Grant was a good citizen. Gartrell should know since his own son was not only a teammate of Grant's but a Georgia recruit as well.
Further speculation has indicated that the University Admission's Board now scrutinizes all prospective Student Athletes' backgrounds so as to avoid the entry of those who have checkered pasts and which could bring shame and embarrassment to Georgia, this the supposed fault of one Tony Cole. Now one is led to inquire as to just how did Cole become a Student Athlete in the first place, for his application was ALSO rejected by this very Board. Answer: the current President of the University of Georgia, one Michael Adams, overruled the Board at the bequest of former Basketball Coach Jim Harrick, who had championed the character of Cole in spite of a horrendous childhood and numerous brushes with the law.
Head Football Coach Mark Richt approved the recruitment of Grant and the extension of a scholarship to play for the Dawgs based upon his High School performance and his academic qualifications. Did Richt know of Michael's earlier difficulties? Don't know, you'll have to ask him, but Richt did take it upon himself to contact Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt to see if there was a place for him. Fortunately for Grant, he did.
I began above with a recitation of our commonly accepted Societal norms for behavior and if what has come out about Grant is true, then yes he has sinned before. I also stated that one is considered a citizen once more after serving out their penalty for unlawful behavior and will add that after a period of time, our Courts will expunge them from the record if one sins no more. Are we to then assume that the standards set by UGA are necessarily strict and immutable over and above the standards that the rest of society is held to? If so, then how does one reconcile the ex officio actions of President Michael Adams in the Cole case and why has he himself not been held accountable?
Though I do concede that UGA is within their rights to apply standards for entry, why is it that our Athletic Coaches appear to not be aware of the extent of scrutiny and why aren't interested Student Athletes made knowledgeable of them before or during their recruitment? This situation has and will result in embarrassment for Georgia and will quite possibly impact Football recruiting in the future. Once again, the legions of faithful Dawg fans are shamed before the World during the off-season and once again subject to the ridicule and taunting by rival fans.
All of this could have been prevented and avoided, but when a University's
very structure and foundation is subverted by its own President without any
repercussions, you simply cannot portray yourself or the University with the
same, exacting level and degree of high character which is demanded of a
prospective Student Athlete without being a hypocrite.
We all need to know the entire facts of this case before passing judgment. This all boils down to one concern. Did Mark Richt, knowing all the facts in the situation that the committee knew and based their decision on, agree with the committee's final decision?
If so, too many of us UGA football fans are unnecessarily making a mountain out of a mole hill here. On the other hand, if Mark Richt, knowing all the facts, disagreed with the committee's decision and still favored Michael Grant being accepted by UGA, then folks, we have a problem.
If the latter is true, I would only hope the committee has the experience and judgment superior to Mark Richt, who has judged young men's character for many years, and has proven that he will not tolerate anything but high character, for it's now evident that the committee has the final say in who our football coaches can recruit and sign, not Mark Richt nor the Athletic Department!!
Let me add, the timing of this decision, whether correct or not, flat out stinks. I only pray that the parties involved knew of this decision long ago, and just did not find out like the public did nearly five months after Signing Day!!
This is a most unfortunate situation for the kid. While I cannot condone what he did while an underclassman in high school, I think the administration at UGA must have it in for the athletic department. Coach Richt has proven that he's more than capable determining who does and doesn't fit into the program at UGA, and he should be allowed to make those judgments and let his decisions stand in the light of public scrutiny.
I don't know all of the facts and we probably never will, but I think it's a terrible negative recruiting tool that will be used against UGA in the future. Michael, apparently, is a good kid who made some grave mistakes when he was younger. It is sad that those mistakes, only now, have come back to haunt him. In the process, UGA loses out on a player whose ability and potential were sorely needed at UGA at a specific time.
Integrity: The main thing I want the UGA program to encompass even before winning. Mark Richt has already proven that he is a big believer in this and that is why the Michael Grant situation is a big surprise to all of them. I'm a big believer that something else will come out that proves the right decision was made on Grant and while his talent and speed will be missed, I think it's a great message to send out to future recruits: Your actions will hold you accountable.
Would we rather be the program that turns away a big recruit and stays clean in the long run or take a chance on guys like Willie Williams who may burn Miami because they lack the guts to move on without him. I think UGA will be fine without Grant, but I wish him all the best at Arkansas because I do think he is a good kid that will get it together.
There are plenty of recruits out there that can fill up our rosters every year without having to take chances on "troublemakers." I understand that kids with this label can turn it around (Odell), and it's a tough call, but I just think if we can steer clear of the majority of these guys we can avoid potential Tony Cole situations.
It's being speculated that not all the information relating to this has been made public. If, for example, it became known that Grant had another "incident" between the time he accepted his scholly and now, then the Admissions gatekeepers may have been perfectly justified in barring him. However, even if that does turn out to be the case, I do believe they are venturing into dangerously litigious territory when they set a precedent for having different review processes and sets of entrance criteria for athletes versus other incoming students.
I think there are some very good things to take from the Michael Grant situation.
First of all, we probably won't know for a few years if the decision to keep Grant out was a good one. Whether or not someone is going to be a problem student is tough to predict, and we don't even know what it was that got Grant in trouble with the committee. Sometimes these marginal kids work out (see, Jason Respert), and sometimes they don't (see, Tony Cole). Since we don't know what it is that got Grant the boot, it's really impossible to have an opinion at this time if the admissions committee over-reacted or not. For myself, I'm rooting for Grant and hope he finds success at Arkansas and stays out of trouble.
However, here is what we do know:
- There were rumors last year that we weren't even going to recruit Grant
because of off the field issues. Some were convinced that we weren't even going
to offer, not because of talent, but because of personal behavior issues. I was
kind of shocked that we did end up offering him.
- An effort is truly being made by the University to make sure that ALL students that are accepted meet the standards of the University. This is a good thing. We don't want to become Tennessee or Arkansas or South Carolina. We don't need to. We can win without sacrificing our school's integrity. Florida is starting to let their integrity slip (with the Crowder issue, among others). This will hurt them in the long run, not help. Many of their alumni know this and are very very nervous.
- This can serve as a wake-up call to high school kids that want to play for Georgia. Keep clean. If not, you may wind up in Arkansas.
- This can serve as guidance to our coaches who are recruiting right now. Concentrate on the kids that excel on AND off the field.
- This can serve as a wake-up call to Michael Grant. Actions have consequences.
- Hopefully, this will help repair the reputation of the University, especially after the Harrick debacle. As an Alumni, I'm glad we are being particular. I don't ever - ever - want this University to sacrifice it's academic integrity again by bringing in students who may very well harm the University's reputation by their actions. It's not worth it, no matter how fast they may run the 40.
This situation is yet another sign that there should be no faith placed in the higher-ups running the University of Georgia. Born and raised a Bulldawg fan, I love UGA more than the school I currently attend, the University of Southern California. But incidents like this make me incredibly pleased I chose USC over UGA (the fact I still get to Sanford for some Saturdays doesn't hurt either).
Why would I want to attend a school that is unwilling to give a student with excellent grades and academic repute, not to mention unbelievable God-given football talent a chance to prove that he is more mature than an incident that occurred two years in his past? Additionally, this young man was recruited by a coach who has the highest repute and has said one of his first priorities in recruiting players is that young man's character.
Adams has placed no faith in a coach that has given you no reason to has any lack of faith in the players he has recruited. Coach Richt has shown little tolerance for players who have had a second chance and blow it. Look at Randall Swoopes. He's also shown he's capable of building young men with issues into upstanding human beings. Examples: Odell Thurman and Arnold Harrison. This is just the tip of the iceberg on the character development of Coach Richt and his staff.
The University's reaction reveals their weaknesses at the top. First, it
shows how the Administration is not in touch with what is going on with the
University. By not seeing what Coach Richt has done with the young men of the
UGA football team, they show they lead the school with blinders on. A further
example is the terrible relations with the very institution that helps the
University raise money. His eyes were so closed, or maybe his head had bloated
so much it cut off blood flow, that he failed to realize the trademark on the
school's name had run out. Total stupidity. Second, it shows how Michael Adams
cares so little about how the University is presented to its fans, alumni, and
perhaps most important for the University's future, its prospective students.
Michael Adams owes Mark Richt more than he knows. Without the fantastic efforts the coach makes to represent the University well, he would be even more on the chopping block. The University owes a ton to the success of the football team. What other event can the University call upon that can draw 30,000 some odd alumni (figuring the 20k for students and 40k for the serious football fans, which is conservative) who will come back, enjoy themselves, and go, hey I remember how great this was. I want to keep this place great and then proceed to open up their checkbook. I witnessed that very event at USC this past year an uncountable number of times. And most of that was because our football team had such tremendous success. Saturdays in Los Angeles had nowhere near the enthusiasm they've had in our last two seasons than in the mediocrity preceding it. Michael Adams needs to open his eyes and realize just how much Mark Richt has helped him and stop punishing him for running a top notch program.
On another note, this situation is in very few ways related to the Tony Cole situation. Tony Cole had been booted from three schools, had a criminal record, and was vouched for by a coach with a very questionable record. A coach who has had NCAA investigations follow him everywhere. And it's not anti-UCLA bias on my part either, rather, I liked him at UGA and wanted to believe he changed. I should have been smarter than that though. Not only did he bring in Tony Cole, he allowed his son to disgrace the school, helped high school players cheat to get into school. In a straight comparison of Tony Cole and Michael Grant, Tony Cole has risk written all over him where Michael had a SINGLE problem.
Tony Cole: poor academics (flunked out of school, had difficulty getting in), poor character recommendations. He gets to UGA and blows off responsibilities. Michael Grant, with above average, if not great academics for a man with football on his plate, had incidents as an underclassman in high school. His coach, who had sent multiple student athletes to UGA who have been of at worst decent character, had nothing but great things to say about him.
Sure, the athletic admission review council that was established after the Cole situation seems like a decent response to the situation. However, they made a huge mistake with Michael Grant. Unfortunately, they're a group of individuals who will not be punished for their failure to think through and analyze a situation logically. Michael Grant, however, is, for making a decision two years more immature. With his academic standing, I'm willing to be he matured a great deal his last two years. But I suppose the "experts" on this council wouldn't know that about a young man.
The University owes Michael Grant a sincere apology. I certainly wish him the best of luck at Arkansas and here's hoping we're never the victim of his tremendous abilities. Mark Richt deserves even more congratulations for his helping Michael. To put him in that situation and to still vouch for him is a tremendous statement for the kind of man Coach Richt is. UGA is blessed to have him. Georgia football will go on without Michael Grant. His commitment to play for the University was a big day for the school. His talents will be missed. The effect we'll all feel from this will mostly be that we may never see Thomas Brown at tailback anymore.
In closing, I'd like to say I love the Dawgs and maybe this situation wouldn't disappoint me so much if I didn't expect so much more from the University. Good luck to Michael and I'll see you in Sanford.