ATHENS — Georgia coach Kirby Smart sent a message on Saturday afternoon: enough is enough.
When a coach says he’s disappointed it’s one thing. But when a coach pulls projected starters out of the lineup and excludes them from a team activity, it’s another.
Linebackers Brenton Cox and Robert Beal, arrested last week on charges of possession of less than one ounce of marijuana, were not in team drills.
“I don’t know if they’ll be out there or not,” Smart said, asked the futures of Cox and Beal. “It’s going to depend on how well they do their discipline.”
Some well-intentioned — albeit, misguided — UGA fans have played the blame game on social media. Rather than hold players accountable, some suggested laws are outdated, police are at fault, and messengers are wrong for reporting the news.
Smart is not on board with that logic. If he was, he wouldn’t be taking the sort of drastic steps intended to ensure the Bulldogs’ offseason trend of six arrests in six months ceases.
A former Georgia football player an academic All-SEC selection himself, Smart understands better than anyone players must learn to hold themselves to a higher standard.
That same message was delivered by Dabo Swinney in the Clemson locker room following the defending national champions’ spring game on Saturday.
“Championships don’t come at a discount, you’ve got to pay the full price, and the means doing things the right way,” said Swinney, a two-time national championship coach at Clemson and national title player in 1992 at Alabama.
Dabo Swinney leads after spring scrimmage/Mike Griffith photo
“If you’re going to line up for the Tigers, you’re going to be a guy that’s committed to the standards of doing things the right way,” Swinney said. “My job is to hold you accountable to the standards. Your job is to help me help you be the best person you can be.”
Smart has said Georgia has a high standard, too, and by taking action, he showed his players that he means it.
Alabama coach Nick Saban has addressed the changing face of effective leadership with his staff this spring, and last week shared his formula for success with young prospects from Detroit that visited his campus.
“Your mindset is so important to being successful and having good character,” Saban told the Sound Mind Sound Body group, “First of all, you have to know what you want to accomplish and want to do, it’s called having a vision, a goal.
“Some people want to climb Mount Everest, some people want to lose 10 pounds, some people want to graduate from college,” he said. “There’s always going to be a commitment for what you want to do, so you can do all the things you need to do to accomplish that goal, that’s called a process.
“But then the third part of it, which is the most difficult, is to have the discipline to execute it every day. So you know what you want to do, you even know what you need to do to accomplish it, but can you execute it every day?”
Smart is working with the 2019 Georgia football team to make sure all of the players share the championship vision and are willing to do what it takes to achieve it.
“ We tell guys all the time that this is a privilege, it is a privilege to be a part of University of Georgia football,” Smart said. “I don’t know that some of our guys realize that, and I’ll be honest with you, I think sometimes you don’t realize it until the privilege is lost.”
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