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Georgia Football: Drug-Related Suspensions Not an Indictment on Mark Richt

ATLANTA, GA - DECEMBER 3: Head Coach Mark Richt of the Georgia Bulldogs disputes a call against the LSU Tigers during the SEC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on December 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
John SmithCorrespondent IIMarch 30, 2012

The notion that Mark Richt needs to gain control of the Georgia team because of failed drug tests is absolutely false and complete nonsense, and there are facts to back it up.

Need I first remind you the kind of person Mark Richt is? I don't think I do. 

The Georgia policy is the toughest in the SEC. In fact, Kentucky is the only other school in the conference that even penalizes a player for his first failed drug test.

At Alabama, Auburn, LSU, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M, Missouri, Florida, Tennessee and South Carolina, nothing happens to a player following his first offense. This means that when one of those players does fail a drug test, there are no suspensions announced, no headlines made and no negative PR towards those schools. 

To go even further, at Ole Miss nothing happens until your third offense, at LSU the penalty for a second failed test is "up to 15% of games" and I could go on and on....

Look at Isaiah Crowell, who chose Georgia over Alabama. Had he been at Alabama, and failed that same drug test he did at Georgia, nothing would have happened. No suspension would have been issued, and the public wouldn't know about it until a second failed test. 

The idea that this is an indictment on the kinds of players that Richt recruits is also false. Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, Florida and others all recruit the same kinds of players from the same areas with the same problems. 

While at the same time, this is still no excuse for a failed drug test, the players know the rules. 
But the bottom line is that Georgia and Mark Richt expect more out of their players, and that is why this team wins off the field. That's why Mark Richt is Mark Richt, and at the same time, that's why Ole Miss is Ole Miss. 

The negative attention comes from people that are uneducated about the policies, which is almost everyone. The media makes it seem like Georgia players are so much worse than everywhere else, whereas in actuality, they just hold themselves to a higher standard. 

And in the end, whether Rambo's appeal is won or denied, he and every other player at Georgia will be better off because of this policy. This might impact the scoreboard on Saturday, but Richt is teaching his players to be accountable, unlike any other coach at any other SEC school. 

Georgia has not won the SEC since 2005, but that doesn't matter, Richt is teaching his players to win off the field, which is ultimately more important. 

And if the result of this is negative press, then so be it. It doesn't matter to me. I'm educated about this issue, and while it bothers me that some players make the mistake of doing drugs, I'm proud of the job Richt and UGA have done in holding their players accountable to a higher standard. 

I might be in the minority, but like the negative PR Georgia receives about this issue, I simply do not care.  

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