When a college football team dismisses its leading rusher from the previous season, there is usually more than a terse 72-word news release.
But thats really all Mark Richt needed to say Friday when he kicked Isaiah Crowell out of the Georgia program following the running backs arrest earlier that day. The less Richt said, the more we knew how upset, disappointed and downright angry he had to be at having no choice but to make the decision.
We have a dedicated and committed group of men who are working hard to prepare for the coming season, said Richt. Our total focus will be directed toward the team and this effort.
That was it. There was no mention of Crowell in the entire comment. Richt didnt wish Crowell well in his future endeavors or none of the other usual scripted words. Richt instead talked about the very things that kept Crowell from achieving greatness in Athens: dedication, commitment, being a man, hard work, preparation, focus and effort.
There is no doubt Richt made the right decision, and he should be applauded for not letting the sun go down Friday before making Crowell an ex-player on his team. This was more than a strike three situation; it was a player given more than three chances to prove if he wanted to be an integral part of the Georgia football team.
Sure, these players are young men, and young men occasionally misbehave in college. But thats an empty excuse when players, staff and coaches beg someone to behave. Crowell was given every chance to become a star, but hes the one who got in his own way.
This is simple addition by subtraction. The other players know what Crowell had done during the past year. They probably know more than we know and know enough to realize this latest incident, whether Crowell is legally guilty or finds a way to beat the charges, was the final straw.
A team has to depend on every member, and when someone who is admittedly very important to that equation lets down his teammates again and again, they have to go.
Its going to be tough to replace the 850 yards Crowell ran for last season, but Georgia will be fine. Ken Malcome, Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley will form a solid trio and, at the same time, likely stay out of the newspaper for off-the-field incidents.
Its somewhat sad every time we see an athlete, whether its in college or in the pros, squander an opportunity. Maybe they just get too cocky and think they are above the law and above respect. Maybe they get away with things at one level that they cant get away with at another. Maybe theyre just stupid and dont have the sense to stay out of trouble.
The saddest part of this situation, however, is it was not a surprise. Most Georgia fans have been holding their breath all offseason hoping Crowell could get through the summer without any more trouble.
If this had been a player who had no marks on his record and had been exemplary in his time in Athens, then he would have been given more of a benefit of the doubt. Perhaps they would have allowed the legal process to take its course before making a final decision.
But this was someone who was already on a short leash, and the words felony charges were the final two words Richt or anyone else needed to hear regarding Crowell.
So like Caleb King and Washaun Ealey before him, the latest next Herschel Walker leaves Athens with a bad ending. Perhaps at the least, the lesson of what happens to players when they dont behave will rub off on someone, since Crowell never really got it.
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