Richt on discipline: 'We've never tried to hide things'

semerson@macon.comMarch 18, 2014 

THETELEGRAPHMIDGA

ATHENS - Mark Richt may not have announced any immediate discipline for the four players arrested on Monday night, but the Georgia head football coach did get expansive when it came to the general subject of discipline.

Richt isn't known for being chesty about the harsher discipline of his program - which has benefited other SEC programs who have signed the players Richt dismissed. But one of his more interesting answers came Tuesday when he was asked what goes through his mind when he gets another call about his players being in trouble.

After saying pointing out the obvious, that he's disappointed, Richt added this:

"At Georgia, we’ve never tried to hide things. If somebody makes a mistake, we clean it up. We don’t hide it. In due time, everyone’s going to know what’s going to happen because of it. Some things when it comes to discipline are very public and some things aren’t. I’m not sure exactly where this is going to fall. If there’s something that we need to let everybody know, we’ll let y’all know."

Yes, that could mean a few more months of uncertainty around the status of a Georgia player. Richt still hasn't revealed discipline for receiver Justin Scott-Wesley (marijuana arrest last October) or cornerback Shaq Wiggins (traffic arrest in January). He never confirmed a longer suspension for Josh Harvey-Clemons (positive marijuana tests, reportedly) until the safety was dismissed from the team in February.

Certainly a lot of Georgia players have run into trouble with the law. But many of the incidents have come from UGA's drug policy, the harshest in the SEC. And the misdemeanor arrests of Tray Matthews, James DeLoach, John Taylor and Uriah LeMay occurred after UGA's administration reported it to the university police.

"A lot of times what happens is a lot of our policies are stiffer than most people's," Richt said. "If you're going aggressively go after certain things, sometimes your business becomes a little more public than you want it to. But in the meantime you don't want to act like it didn't happen. We're going to address everything head on and handle it appropriately and move on from there."

Richt then pointed out that if someone examined 125 UGA non-athlete students, or 125 students at any other school, they would likely find "a little bit of this and a little bit of that along the way." But because Georgia and SEC football players are so high-profile any incidents become public.

"These guys are not going to be perfect. I know that," Richt said. "If they do something that needs discipline, we're going to give it. We're going to do that. If it causes a guy not to be at Georgia, then it will happen. If it causes a guy to lose playing time, we'll do it. If there's some other form of discipline internally, then we'll do that. ...

"There's going to be a form of punishment, some form of education and then ... we're going to love them. We're going to love them even if they leave Georgia. I'm not saying that's going to happen in this case. But when it comes to discipline in general (that) is what I'm talking about."

Zach Mettenberger, Nick Marshall and Isaiah Crowell are three of the biggest names to be dismissed by Richt and emerge elsewhere. Harvey-Clemons could be next. And discipline of some form awaits the latest four.

Richt looked around the room, which was full of reporters, including a number of cameras from Atlanta TV stations.

"You know it's a distraction. There's probably more people here today because of that. I don't know," Richt said. "I don't know. Maybe ya'll all wanted to hear about football. But that's about all I'm going to say about that. But if we want to talk about football some more, I'll keep talking."

The rest of the time was about football.

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