Bobby Pope

Annual college football arrest report

Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) listens to a question during the media day for the NCAA Cotton Bowl in December.
Alabama offensive lineman Cam Robinson (74) listens to a question during the media day for the NCAA Cotton Bowl in December. AP

With the college football season less than a month away, it’s time for our annual look at college football arrests. According to the website, which tracks all athletic arrests, since 2010, 1,324 college football players have been cited on various charges.

The conference leader in that department is the SEC with 275, while Georgia and Washington State of the Pac-12 are tied for the top spot with the most for an individual school with 33 each. The ACC has had 119 arrests during that same period of time with Florida State leading the way with 22.

The main focus of this article is to see how the SEC and ACC have fared in 2016. Starting with a clean slate Jan. 1 and going through July 31, the SEC has had 29 arrests, which is up one from the same period a year ago. The 14 football members of the ACC show only eight arrests. Last year that number was nine.

Georgia is this year’s team leader in the SEC with seven, while Auburn is next on the list at four and Alabama and Mississippi have three. Then comes Kentucky, Missouri, Florida and Mississippi State with two each (one of the Mississippi State arrests was of a recruiting assistant for DUI), and LSU, Texas A&M, South Carolina and Tennessee have one each. There have been no arrests for football players at Arkansas or Vanderbilt in 2016.

In the ACC, new Miami head coach Mark Richt is experiencing the same problems had at Georgia. The Hurricanes lead the way this year with four arrests. In his final five years at Georgia, his players were arrested 25 times.

Miami is followed by Virginia Tech with two and Clemson and FSU with one each. Louisville, North Carolina, Virginia, Wake Forest, North Carolina State, Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Duke, Boston College and Georgia Tech have none. In fact, Georgia Tech has had just one football player arrested since 2010, and that was linebacker Corey Alford in 2012 for public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

While Georgia has had seven arrests, five players have been involved. Chauncey Rivers and Natrez Patrick were jailed for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It was the third arrest for Rivers in two years in Athens. Defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter was cited twice, the first time for underage possession of alcohol and possession of a fake ID in March and a DUI and underage possession of alcohol in July. Freshman defensive back Chad Clay and defensive lineman Julian Rochester, who both entered Georgia in January, were arrested for having possession of a weapon (even though it was a BB gun, it is still classified as a felony) in a school zone and damage to property in the second degree. Clay was arrested for a second time in June on a theft by taking charge.

Both Rivers and Clay have been dismissed from the team.

Unbelievably, the two Florida arrests came as a result of another BB gun incident. Rick Wells and Tyrie Cleveland were charged for firing the BB gun into windows at a dorm on the Florida campus.

The most notable SEC arrests came back in May when Alabama All-SEC lineman Cam Robinson, a 6-foot-6, 329-pound tackle, who is projected as an NFL first-round pick in April, and defensive back Hootie Jones were cited on drug and weapons charges in Monroe, Louisiana.

The first charges against Georgia’s Ledbetter and those against Alabama’s Robinson and Jones have been dismissed. The initial charges against Ledbetter were thrown out after it was determined that a police officer’s detainment prior to the arrest would not be admissible as evidence. As for the case against Robinson and Jones, prosecutor Neal Johnson said there was insufficient evidence to take the cases to trial, and Monroe district attorney Jerry Jones added he decided not to prosecute the two Crimson Tide players, saying he did not want to ruin their lives.

Georgia’s DUI policy calls for Ledbetter to miss at least the first two games, including the opener against North Carolina. Robinson and Jones will face internal discipline, but it hasn’t been announced if they will miss any game action.

It comes with the territory, but there is no question that college football players are always under the spotlight. I am not trying to defend this group, but I wonder how many regular students are arrested during the academic year on college campuses.