AJ Green broke the rules. It may be a stupid rule that has drawn criticism from all corners since the scandal became public, but it’s a rule nonetheless.The punishment he got was basically standard procedure for the rule he had broken. Other players, like Alabama’s Dareus, got some mercy and were given shortened suspensions. But the AJ situation, from an objective perspective was pretty cut and dry. He broke rule X; the punishment for rule X is punishment Y, he receives punishment Y.
What was unusual about AJ’s run-in with the NCAA was how they discovered his offense. To put it simply, he was just unlucky. According to AJ’s comments yesterday here’s how it went down:
The NCAA started looking into the now famous South Beach agent parties from Memorial Day weekend. They saw AJ’s name linked to the parties from a widely-accepted news outlet- TMZ. Seriously, the NCAA takes leads from TMZ? Does this give TMZ the most legitimacy they’ve ever had? That’s only a step or two above the FBI taking a lead from National Enquirer. But because the NCAA obviously doesn’t need good sources or anything resembling a warrant to investigate whatever they please they came on down to Athens to interview AJ.
Neither AJ nor anyone else in the program seemed the slightest bit concerned about the investigation. AJ had not been to South Beach ever in his life, could prove his whereabouts from Memorial Day weekend and that was that. But apparently the NCAA doesn’t like walking away empty-handed. In the process of the investigation they asked for all of AJ’s bank statements, which he provided in full cooperation. In those statements the NCAA found $1,000 deposit that sparked their interest. (What does it say about the setup of college athletics that a $1000 deposit into a student’s account is automatic reason for suspicion?) They asked and AJ was honest about where it came from and with less than a week until kickoff AJ was in trouble.
It genuinely seems like an honest mistake from AJ who never at any point made the slightest attempt to hide what he had done. He certainly should have known better (think anyone in UGA’s compliance office is in hot water over this?). But he sold his jersey for spring break money, put it in his account and never thought another thing of it until the NCAA was on a wild goose chase with only days until kickoff.
And so because of an inaccurate TMZ report (unbelievable, I know) and the NCAA’s commitment to letting no investigation turn up empty, Georgia has played four games without it’s best player.
The way this year has gone so far you have to wonder if Richt and the team are just starting to feel like an overall unlucky bunch who can’t ever get the ball to bounce their way.
Make no mistake. At 1-3, with only a win against UL-L, the Georgia Bulldogs are not a good football team. But if you watch them, they aren’t terrible either. They have flashes showing their talent. And while the coaches have left us with some questions about their decisions many of them have quite impressive resumes to their credit. They’re not just twiddling their thumbs in Butts-Mehre all day. A lot just hasn’t gone our way in 2010.
You won’t hear a player or coach say it, and it certainly isn’t the root of the problems, but you have to wonder if the players and coaches are just starting to get frustrated with how the cards seem constantly stacked against them.
The little things start to add up. Your best player suspended at the last minute, his status going into two games unknown until almost the last possible minute. A potentially blown call turns into a turnover literally at the goal line. A back gets open in space and trips over his own feet. A questionable pass interference call goes the other way.
Again, I’m not saying the 2010 Dawgs are a great squad only being setback by bad luck. There is LOTS the players and coaches can and hopefully will fix for Colorado this week and every game after that. All I’m saying is that a little luck our way could really help turn things around.