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Chip Towers

UGA not the only program taking a hard line on discipline

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By now I’m sure you probably saw where Clemson announced the suspension of four players for the Georgia game on Aug. 30 at Sanford Stadium. Three of them are Georgia natives — guard David Beasley, defensive back Garry Peters and defensive end Corey Crawford — plus offensive tackle Shaq Anthony. They’re all significant players.

That’s a nice change for the Bulldogs, who have been mocked before by certain SEC coaches for almost always having multiple players suspended early in the season. Knock on wood somewhere, but at the moment Georgia will be missing only wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley for the season opener this year. The Bulldogs would have also been missing starting safety Josh Harvey-Clemons, but he has since gotten himself booted off the team.

So I guess you could say Clemson currently “leads” 4 to 2 in disciplinary absentees. Georgia fans, keep your fingers crossed as spring break begins next week.

Clemson isn’t the only program dealing with early disciplinary issues. Tennessee has also found itself in the news this spring due to player behavior problems.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson, who is from Gainesville, recently got charges of resisting arrest and purchasing alcohol for underage persons reduced in exchange for doing some community service. Same thing for defensive lineman Danny O’Brien and just-graduated defensive back Dontavis Sapp, who were charged from the same campus party.

Meanwhile, Tennessee fans found out Tuesday that star receiver Alton “Pig” Howard is going to miss spring practice while “dealing with some personal circumstances.” No word yet on what those circumstances are but his status for the coming fall is indefinite.

Going forward, how second-year coach Butch Jones deals with these situations is going to be very telling going forward. And it renews conversations about how schools handle discipline independently from one another rather than having a uniform code of conduct along conference lines.

I’ve often said the fact that UGA regularly takes disciplinary action in and of itself is evidence that the Bulldogs run a disciplined program. To me, you should be wary of the program that never reports a disciplinary issue, that never sits players as punishment. One hundred 18- to 22-year-old males simply are never going to make sound decisions every day. Playing time is one thing they all covet.

For that, I think Clemson Dabo Swinney should be applauded. I also give him props for making the situation public in March, rather than playing coy about it until the game for some sort unrealistic strategic advantage. That misses the point, in my opinion.

Four Clemson players are missing the opener because they screwed up. Four backups who are minding their Ps and Qs will get a chance to step up. Good for them. End of story.

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