Why recruiting star athletes is not always the best plan.

I do not think we should ever gloat over the misfortunes of UGA athletics, and that is not the purpose of this post. However, this column by Mark Bradley in today's online AJC is worth noting. It seems UGA starting RB Isaiah Crowell has been arrested for felony weapons charges related to a 9mm Luger hidden under the seat of his car. There were four team members (three incoming freshmen) in the car with him at the time he was stopped.

UGA made sure Crowell was seen as a star from the moment he first visited the campus. The antics the department staged with the so-called Missing Man formation was not only against NCAA rules, it was a terrible way to treat an 18 year old who already thinks the galaxy revolves around him. Crowell has repaid the star treatment he received by violating team rules and running afoul of the law. This would be bad enough if it was a totally isolated incident, but it is part of a pattern of pampered UGA athletes making headlines of the kind fans and administration officials don't consider flattering. It seems the higher ranked their recruiting classes are the worse their behavior becomes.

This contrasts sharply with the philosophy of Paul Johnson that recruitment, commitments, and signing are steps in a relationship built on mutual respect and a common understanding of expectations. I want us to recruit the best athletes available in every sport, but I also want them to be exemplars of the best attributes we could hope for in our school's public face. And, let's be honest. The football team is much more the public face of any major university than the College of Engineering. How many people outside Atlanta know who is President of Georgia Institute of Technology, much less the Dean of Engineering? Ask yourself if that number is more or less than the number who know who is the head coach of our football team.

These kids who join our football team need to be recruited aggressively or they will make commitments to other schools. Maybe most of them will in any case. But we have to consider their character. I would prefer to have one Roddy Jones than two Isaiah Crowells. I know, this is not a fair comparison because Crowell has such a disadvantage from the very beginning that he seems hidden in Jones' shadow. Enough said. Go Jackets!!!

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