I heard some disturbing stuff on the way home this afternoon, and need to know exactly how out of touch I am. I live in the Atlanta area, and we have two AM sports talk stations that I listen to fairly regularly. Naturally, the hot topic of the day was the arrest of Georgia’s Washaun Ealey for a hit-and-run and driving with a suspended license. The following quotes are paraphrased, from the best of my memory.
First, I heard this from Beau Bock on 790 The Zone:
“Whatever happened to the days when people took care of players. Ealey is a nice young man, and that rent-a-cop should’ve let Ealey go, then found a way to get in touch with Coach (Mark) Richt personally and let him know what happened…in private. Handle all of this behind the scenes. This wasn’t even a hit-and-run, it was more like a ‘scrape and run’. It’s outrageous he could miss time because of this.”
Then, I turned to 680 The Fan, and heard this from Buck Belue, speaking of Richt:
“Richt has to consider the long-term impact on the program when he hands out the punishment. I mean, this is big buiness, 90,000 fans filling the stands every week. Suspending Ealey for multiple games could really hurt the program in what could potentially be a big year. He has to think of the program when he’s making this decision.”
Now, just to be clear for those of you who don’t live in the area – Bock has been covering Atlanta sports since the early 70’s. He’s an old man, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but he’s also a first-class boob that routinely spouts off contrarian views just for the heck of it. But I truly think he meant what he was saying this time, and it’s idiocy. To claim this should’ve been swept under the rug and “handled internally” is a throwback to the early 80’s when institutional control was just a gleam in the NCAA’s eye.
Over on 680, Buck Belue is the worst radio personality EVER. I kid you not, he is beyond painful to listen to, and most UGA grads I know will tell you the same. Never has one guy gotten so far on the strength of one play. I wish Lindsay would’ve tripped. But I digress…
That said, for Belue to imply that the long-term health of Georgia’s program should be considered when doling out Ealey’s punishment is outrageous. Ealey should be judged and punished based on the crime and the crime only, and his status as Georgia’s starting tailback or the future of the program should have zero bearing.
Beau Bock and Buck Belue have a right to their opinions, don’t get me wrong. But I also have a right to come on TRC and say they’re wrong and they’re blathering idiots that should retire and go work at a golf course, respectively. Their on-air partners and the callers I heard who gave no push back whatsoever can take a leap too. I felt like I was in a time warp.
I was fired up, obviously, but had no intention of blogging on the topic, until I reflected on the past week, and this thought crossed my mind:
What if this had happened in Columbia to a Gamecock player? What would the radio and television shows in and around Columbia have sounded like then?
NOTE: Mark Richt’s announced late in the day that Ealey is suspended for at least UGA’s opener against ULaLa. That sounds about right to me. I fully expect him to be back for our game.