ATHENS — Here’s what we know for certain at this juncture — Todd Gurley is not going to play for Georgia against Missouri on Saturday.
Among the many things we don’t know is if Gurley will ever play again for the Bulldogs.
Gurley did not practice on Thursday and wasn’t even with the team. The Bulldogs will depart for Columbia, Mo., on Friday and Gurley is not expected to be with them. Beyond that, everything’s uncertain.
NCAA sanctions regarding improper benefits are based upon the financial amount the student-athlete is determined to have benefited from. I’ve seen unconfirmed reports citing sources that allege that Gurley was paid $400 to sign 80 items. I’ve heard of other reports that it was more 200 items for $2,000. A.J. Green, as UGA followers are well aware, was suspended for four games for selling one UGA jersey Independence Bowl for $1,000. We’ll get more answers about that tomorrow.
As for the genesis of this whole thing, TMZ Sports surfaced with a report late Thursday night claiming that an individual was shopping video and pictures of Gurley signing helmets, pictures and jerseys from inside a car. That would jibe with info I’ve received suggesting that, unlike the Johnny Manziel fiasco last year, there was incriminating evidence in Gurley’s case.
Coach Mark Richt and Gurley’s teammates were already resigned to the fact that the junior Heisman Trophy candidate was going to turn pro after this season. That was becoming more evident every time Gurley carried the football. At this point, one record or another seemed to fall with every yard gained.
So Gurley had only eight games left to play in the Georgia uniform. And that’s the truly sad part of all this. Gurley will be fine in the long run. He’ll still become a first-round NFL draft choice next May and will be able to live out his dream of becoming a professional football player. His goal of being able to provide for his mother and family will be realized.
The big loser in all this is the Georgia fan. It’s all those people who were jumping into their cars on Friday to make the 12-hour drive to Columbia, Mo, in hopes of watching Gurley run roughshod over the Tigers. It’s the little kids who lined the hedges at Sanford Stadium screaming for Gurley to throw them one of his gloves. It’s the season-ticket holders who didn’t mind ponying up the big bucks this year for the premium lower-level seats at Sanford Stadium because they knew they’d get to watch Gurley at work seven times this season.
Meanwhile, there is still the matter of a very important game to be played on Saturday.
We’re told Richt didn’t go into any detail when he informed the players before Thursday’s practice. He simply told them that Gurley was suspended and they’d have to play without him. Most of his teammates already knew why.
Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo by Saturday’s noon kick certainly will have spent a couple of sleepless nights trying to tweak a gameplan that was heavy on No. 3 runs. Now those runs simply will have to go to 27, 22 and maybe even 36. Those are the jersey numbers of freshman Nick Chubb, sophomore Brendan Douglas and walkon Kyle Karempelis.
Wonder what those jerseys might bring you on eBay? I’d say a lot if Georgia can still somehow pull off a miraculous victory.