Different offseason, same story for the Georgia Bulldogs. Four players were arrested on Monday night and charged with multiple counts of theft by deception, including starting free safety Tray Matthews. This is not what Mark Richt needed on the night before the start of spring practice.
The authorities have indicated that the players tried to cash Athletic Department checks twice. All of the checks were less than $500, so each player was charged with misdemeanors. Also arrested were defensive linemen Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach and wide receiver Uriah Lemay. Taylor and DeLoach were reserves last season with limited action but are looking to make an impact this season. LeMay was redshirted and will probably see limited action this season due to depth at his position.
If these charges stick, these players will certainly be suspended for the first two games against the Clemson Tigers and South Carolina Gamecocks. Dabo Swinney and Steve Spurrier must be thrilled to hear this news as yet another unwelcome distraction invades the Georgia locker room. After all, it was Spurrier who remarked in 2012 that he enjoyed playing Georgia in the second game because “you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended.”
With the dismissal of Josh Harvey-Clemons and likely suspension of Matthews, the Georgia secondary will be a skeleton crew on Aug. 30. Jeremy Pruitt and the defensive staff will have to figure out a new game plan and cross-train other players this offseason in preparation for those first few games.
Offseason troubles have become commonplace at Georgia. Many blame Richt for being too softhearted and forgiving, while others blame the players for taking advantage of his good nature. In any event, these four arrests will be the talk of the first day of spring practice. Rather than focusing on who is ready to play, Richt will be answering questions about bond amounts and discipline problems.
If the Dawgs want to step into the college football elite, days like this are definitely a step in the wrong direction.