Urban Meyer, Mark Richt talk arrests, discipline and second chances
Florida coach Urban Meyer and Georgia coach Mark Richt have had their share of players with legal issues during their tenure, but this week both coaches defended their disciplinary methods and addressed at length how they decide on punishment for players who run into trouble.
When the Gators and Bulldogs meet today, four players will be on the field who've been arrested in the past four months.
Florida WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. was arrested in June on DUI charges. He remains on the team, but lost his scholarship and is paying his own way with an opportunity to regain his scholarship after this semester. Hammond was suspended for the season opener.
Gator WR/RB Chris Rainey will play today for the first time in seven weeks after he was arrested in September for sending threatening e-mails to a former girlfriend.
Meyer said he recognizes the problem these situations present for the program.
"I think obviously the initial sting is a lot of negativity brought on towards the program, and disappointment,'' Meyer said. "But then it’s an opportunity for a young man to clear his name, and get himself right, get him goinglike we’ve had a bunch of guys around here, and a bunch of guys all over the place. We’re going to keep a tightreign on Chris Rainey, it’s never been an issue before, and certainly better never be again.''
Georgia RB Washaun Ealey was arrested in August on a hit and run charge and driving with a suspended license after he was involved in a minor accident. He was suspended for one game. Junior tailback Caleb King was arrested earlierthis month for failure to appear in court for a speeding ticket. He was suspended two games.
While each case is handled on an individual basis, Richt said he has a general rule about discipline in these situations.
"Well, if somebody doesn’t behave the way they should we’ll discipline them,'' he said. "And we’ll educate them. Andif they do something that I feel is where he loses his privileges being a Georgia Bulldog, then I would let the young man go. It’s the last thing I want to do, but at times there’s are some things that happen that would dictatethat. But even so, if you do let a guy go, you still try to help him find the next place and you help him continue his career because even though some young men have left our program, I still think they deserve another opportunityto finish their college career and pursue anything that they want to pursue. I believe we’re educators of the young men and there’s a lot of things we have to educate them on, and when they go astray we need to straighten it out. Hopefully they’ll learn from it and become a better man from it. Whether or not they are able to stay kind of depends on what they do.''