Posted: 10:59 am Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Matthews dismissal shows Mark Richt’s challenge: Balancing need for talent, desire for discipline (UPDATED) 

By Bill King

Tray Matthews' dismissal from the team isn't really surprising. (Jim Hipple / UGA)

Tray Matthews’ dismissal from the team isn’t really surprising. (Jim Hipple / UGA)

There are no clear-cut answers to Georgia’s continuing attrition problem, as Tray Matthews’ dismissal marks the latest departure from Mark Richt’s team.

In the short term, the Dogs still have a loaded, talented offense and the defense looks to be strong up front, but I expect every opponent on the 2014 schedule to test the depleted secondary by throwing long and often.

Mostly due to his inability to come back from a nagging hamstring issue, Matthews never became the dominant defender he’d shown flashes of in his first spring in Athens and, in fact, lost his starting safety job late in the season.

Of course, losing athletic talent like Matthews and Josh Harvey-Clemons, no matter how inconsistent they were last season, is never a good thing, even if Georgia does have other defensive backs and some exciting new talent coming in. The lack of experience that plagued the Dogs’ secondary last year looks to still be an issue. Unless Jeremy Pruitt proves to be some sort of magician, the likelihood is that, again, the defensive backfield will be one of the team’s vulnerabilities.

Looking at the long-term considerations of the seeming revolving-door out of UGA’s program, Richt and his staff face a conundrum: how to recruit — and, more importantly, keep — the same top talent everyone else is going after while dealing with the hard reality of an institutional disciplinary philosophy that is less flexible, shall we say, than is practiced at other SEC schools such as Auburn and LSU. There’s no denying this puts Georgia at a competitive disadvantage.

For fans, I guess the question is, would you rather have UGA be one of those schools like Louisville that have become the go-to repository for failed Bulldogs or stick to its tough standards?

UGA’s administration obviously falls in the latter camp, which presents a problem for the coaching staff: When you’re dealing with high school prospects, it’s tough to predict who’s going to mature and adjust in college and who’s going to act out. Obviously, former UGA staffers Todd Grantham and Scott Lakatos didn’t have the answer about what sort of defensive backs would fit in at UGA.

The head coach doesn’t seem rattled, though. On the subject of all these player departures, Richt told Dawgs247 recently, “I’m not afraid of attrition. Sometimes attrition is good. Life is too short for guys not being where they ought to be or where they want to be, all those types of things. In the end, you want everybody to be where they want to be and have the best opportunity to do what they want to do.”

Jeremy Pruitt and Mark Richt face a conundrum. (John Kelley / UGA)

Jeremy Pruitt and Mark Richt face a conundrum. (John Kelley / UGA)

As for the not all that surprising dismissal of Matthews — who is one of four UGA players facing arraignment Thursday in Athens on charges resulting from their alleged double-cashing of checks — it provides additional evidence that Richt has lost patience with players who don’t adapt to “the Georgia way” and isn’t nearly as willing to bend over backwards providing additional chances as he was earlier in his tenure in Athens. His comment on Tray’s dismissal was unusually blunt and terse: “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”

Earlier, Richt had talked in the Macon Telegraph about Matthews needing to “take some ownership” of his hamstring issues, which caused him to miss a half dozen games last season and this year’s G-Day spring game, perhaps an indication that the player had not been all that diligent in rehabbing.

Even so, just last week, the head coach had expressed some optimism when it came to Matthews, saying, “I think he’s on a turning point of maturing some, and becoming a very dependable guy. I’m not saying he is a dependable guy, or has been at this point. But I have a feeling that that’s his desire to become that. And he needs to. It’s time.”

Obviously, time ran out for Matthews and something made Richt conclude that wasn’t ever going to happen.

UPDATE: Check out the AJC’s exclusive interview with Matthews about why he was dismissed from the team. Basically, the rumor circulating on social media (and in letters to the Junkyard Blawg) that it resulted from him disrupting a UGA class is correct. Details of the incident are in dispute, but this was apparently the final straw for Richt. As for Matthews, he maintains, after the fact, “I was leaving anyways, I just hadn’t put that in the media.”

And so, once again, a talented player who couldn’t cut it under UGA’s strict rules will look to reach his potential elsewhere.

It’s become an all-too-familiar story.

I’ll be off for a few days, but the Blawg will be back next week and I’ll answer Junkyard Mail, so if you’ve got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question, email junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

271 comments
PigIron
PigIron

Having strict disciplinary policies is not the same as having strict discipline. Georgia has too often played the game without discipline in recent years. The behavior off the field probably isn't so different from the behavior on the field. The strict policies appear to be in place as a substitute for lax discipline, in my opinion. Losing too many players to disciplinary problems probably indicates a lack of effective character evaluation in the recruiting process.


That said, Georgia can overcome the loss of this one player. I don't see this making or breaking their season.

ColumbusDawg
ColumbusDawg

Gurley responds to Chubbs comments, says he ain't worried! UGA has not had that kind competition among great backs since Worley/Lars Tate/Hampton days! Face it, Richt just has not had this many great backs in Athens at one time in his tenure. It's going to be awesome. NO dropoff in big games at TB position, unlike what happened in 2013. Douglas is a DGD, but not an elite tailback. Same for JJ., who by the way will make heads turn on D in 2014! DawgnCO, I agree, backend will be better, Clemson will not be the test, go to the chicken coop and win, and it's on!

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

Frank i agree; but as hate organge stated, restrict them from the SEC. 

Ihateorange
Ihateorange

Agreed, but I also think we need to put some restrictions on these folks as to where they can go.  Why allow them to go to some place like Auburn where we play them every year ?

FrankFraticelli
FrankFraticelli

I say play by the rules or go be a wreck somewhere else. I want a team I can be proud of on and off the field. Winning is nice - it makes money - but at the end of the day, college athletics is about producing young men and women who will be examples of what the University stands for, produces and teaches. I'll take a hundred Aaron Murrays over any number of Cam Newtons or FSU rapists and shoplifters. To say or want otherwise is to say, "I'm proud my son is a millionaire even though he made it killing people and selling tons of coke on the streets." 


"The universe is more concerned with the means than the end"

Spock

HotDawg
HotDawg

Minus 84 days.......

Just 12 more weeks!

Dawg350
Dawg350

Rest in peace Mrs Seiler!!! Very sad day for the dawg nation!

HotDawg
HotDawg

God Bless Mrs. Seiler.

My condolences to the Seiler family.

Thank you for all that you contribute to our beloved UGA.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Minus 85 days.......

DawginCO
DawginCO

If you look at how things are right now, the Dawg's secondary is no worse off than it was last year when Wilkerson went down.  Jeremy Pruitt will give us his best and put guys that can execute on the field.  They will be sound fundamentally and probably much more sound than last year.  So I expect that they will be no worse than what we endured last year and they will improve as the season wears on.  Our secondary was not noticeably better at the end of last year than they were earlier.  Maybe there will be some ugly moments early in the season but I expect that you will see a sound secondary by the end of the season.  I am not saying they will be world beaters but I think that the haters are just laying on the doom and gloom a bit thick.

bdjazz
bdjazz

I don't get all the moaning and groaning about these secondary "all-stars" leaving to rejoin the DC that piloted one of the worst defenses (especially the secondary) in UGA history! Last seasons secondary was horrible, and it's gong to take new blood and a new leader to change that anyway. Maybe we can play Louisville in the Capital One Bowl...that would be sweet!

P_The_Ricker
P_The_Ricker

all this talk about expecations of how other teams are going to approach playing UGA: "expect every opponent on the 2014 schedule to test the depleted secondary by throwing long and often." - Bill King

what most are forgetting is that the UGA offense looks to be extremely talented again this year.....barring 5-6 ACL injuries again.  the UGA secondary may have some unknowns at the moment, but  most opposing coaches are going to want to keep the ball away from the UGA offense (gurley, et al) as much as possible.  best way to do that....run!

seems that most are also forgetting that none of the other SEC east teams have any type of real passing threat.

SC- no wrs

UF- no qb

TN- no qb or o-line to give time to protect

Mizz- no wrs

Vandy- no wr or qb

KY- no comment

can get into the other opponents, but more of the same.....save potentially aub

DawginLex
DawginLex

you cant turn these kids down in recruiting because then you are bashed for losing recruits


It's a hard thing to set expectations and then actually punish the kids when they mess up


Blaming Coach Richt is the easy thing to do and reflects an opinion of someone who does not understand the situation he is dealing with. At some point, the kids have to be accountable for their own actions


For example, review what happened at Cedartown last week. High school party. 22 arrested for underage drinking. Who was at the party but WAS NOT ARRESTED because he wasn't drinking?


Nick Chubb


Personal accountabiliy

JimiNicks
JimiNicks

It isn't as hard to project how these young men will mature and succeed in the classroom as some people make believe. Most of these young men are at least seventeen years old before they can sign. Between the academic records, home life, work ethic and outside activities you should get a pretty accurate pattern. Are there exceptions, sure! But that is why they are called exceptions, not the norm.  

HotDawg
HotDawg

The discipline policy is the exact discipline doled out to those that break rules. So how do you figure there is strict policy, yet lax discipline administered? The policies are followed.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Yep, the same character evaluation process that had your favorite school (along with many other schools) also offer him a scholarship.

Except your school probably would have enabled him without any punishment and sweeping it under the proverbial rug.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@ColumbusDawg Great OLs make great RBs, if your big ugly's  play decent your backs could rack up some big real estate.

RandyHall
RandyHall

@ColumbusDawg You are right beat SC in Columbia ,,,,and UGA has a chance for a great season...tough chore...USC is vey strong on both lines of scrimmage....OL may be the best in the Conference!!!. 

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@FrankFraticelli the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few!

                                                                          Spock--live long and prosper my fellow Dawgs!!

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@FrankFraticelli  Thanks for those mature words, Frank...........maturity is rare on sites like this, usually it's just win..........win...........win............at all cost..........When I win, I really want to win, none of this I bought a championship bullcrud.......Regards to you............RED

Dog4Life
Dog4Life

@DawginCO I think you are spot on.  And, Dawg in Lex thanks for sharing that information concerning Chubb and i also agree with you insight--personal accountability it seems foreign to most people.

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

@DawginLex  Wow Lex, didn't know Chubb was that close to a lot of underage drinking. There is something very special about Nick Chubb, though, something tells me we'll be talking about him long after he leaves Athens............Me ?........I think this kids for real............but thank you for the info about the "party" he was at...........RED

GTBob
GTBob

@JimiNicks Exactly. For some reason some don't want to believe it though. UGA and other schools mostly in the SEC could recruit a better crop of guys character wise but they choose to routinely take chances on guys that have a high risk of trouble or not succeeding and it bites them over and over again.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@JimiNicks  If it were that simple then everybody could do it.  People grow and chnage and you are assuming that those records tell the whole story.  When you go talk to a recruits teachers and coaches they all have something nice to say.  If a kid is being given a pass in the classroom then the records do not reflect the kid's actual schoolwork.  The parents will all put on a nice face for the recruiters because their child may be their meal ticket in a few years.


Did you consider those things?  It is not as cut and dried as you want to believe.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Then make it illegal for EVERY school to recruit and/or sign any of these "type" players YOU deem to project future bad behavior.

PigIron
PigIron

@HotDawg  As I said, the lack of discipline on the field of play is evidence of an undisciplined team. Stupid penalties... Stupid mistakes... It's no surprise that so many of the kids in this program wind up in trouble off the field.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@Dog4Life  I think the haters are just really small people looking for any excuse to say bad things about Georgia.  Some are Tech fans with their inferiority complex. Others are fans of other SEC schools that hope and pray that they can pile on as early and often as possible.  They know that if we put a defense on the field that we will be the team to beat in the East and they are just pants wetting thrilled when stuff like this happens.  Pretty sad stuff if you think about it.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@GTBob  Some don't want to believe it because we actually live in the real world and have experience.  You obviously don't.  There are plenty of examples of how things should be and in the real world it doesn't work out that way.  Sorry to burst your bubble but you are book smart and street stupid.

HotDawg
HotDawg

do they not get an opportunitybecause you think you can predict future behavior

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bobdo we now punish people in this country for something they haven't done yet?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bob... don't be so naive that this is a geographical or school specific problem.

The same kid could be at USC out west or Oregon, or Ohio St. or you get the picture. If the kid wanted to go to your school, they woukd take him in a heartbeat if he was a 5 star.

HotDawg
HotDawg

DawginCo, OMG! People lie to recruiters to get what they want???

Lol

GTBob
GTBob

@DawginCO Yep. When Isiah Crowell was cursing, flashing gang signs, and flicking off the camera on Facebook there were absolutely no signs of him possibly being a troublemaker at all. Unfortunately none of us had the street smarts to see a potential red flag there.

GTBob
GTBob

@HotDawg It isn't about an opportunity. It's about bringing in the best guys you can after evaluating them. There is a reason that most companies in the world screen potential employees before hiring them. They aren't going to "give them a chance" unless they have some incredible personal talent that is worth the risk. College football teams like UGA take risks like these on the majority of their recruits and act surprised when they get into trouble.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HotDawg  These are the people that think they have answers and have no real world experience to actually pull it off.  They can't understand how dangerous what they purpose actually is.  What would they do if the tables were turned on them?  Someday that might be true.  Myopic and naive.  A dangerous combination.

GTBob
GTBob

@HotDawg Its not punishment. When the NFL doesn't draft a guy because of character issues they aren't punishing him. They are going with someone else they see as a better fit for their organization.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Lying...That's never happened before. Lol

DawginCO
DawginCO

@GTBob  And Georgia was not the only school willing to give him an opportunity.  You and the other Teh trolls would have been on here ragging the Dawgs for not getting him, the day after Signing Day.  You know it is true.  So, in my book that makes you all hypocrites.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bob, what surprises me are fans that deny kids at their favorite schools get into trouble, because they don't see it advertised as much.

Gee, are same percentage of kids just such sqeaky, clean, angels elsewhere?

Or is much of it being swept under rug at other places due to lesser disciplinary policies?

UGA's policy pretty much allows for the public to know immediately when a kid gets in trouble the first time.

other schools, not so much with first timers...or second timers...or sometimes third timers...and so on and so on.

Beware of a school that NEVER reports any behavior problems by any of their athletes.

They're 18 -21 year olds everywhere. A percentage will do illegal things, or flat out misbehave.

Why deny this?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bob...you're wrong people are surprised. Fact--- some kids get into trouble....always have, always will.

They are evaluating kids in high school that can play.

You are making a big assumption that most all kids that get in, let's say criminal, trouble in college previously had a criminal record in high school. Or that because they grew up in a seedy neighborhood, they are also bad seeds.

You're starting to cross a fine line when you prejudge people that way.

Example: Trey Matthews did not have a criminal past. So you don't think, as a 4 or 5 star player, practically most every school wanted this kid on their team?

You're gonna deny this kid over what?

Again people are punished for their misbehavior. Not predicted future misbehavior.

Who are you to judge?

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HotDawg  I am shocked. No way such a thing could ever happen.  SMH.

TravisBickle2014
TravisBickle2014

@DawginCO BS we were laughing when you signed him. Plenty of people expressed their fears on the Quality of Character Crowell had displayed for awhile.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HotDawg  lol!  it's because it denies him an opportunity to vent his impotent rage against all things Georgia Bulldog.  Plain and simple.  If this were Auburn, you wouldn't hear a peep out of him.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@JMcKnight  Ok.  You are delusional, so what else is new?  You are completely blind to your irrational hatred of all thing Georgia Bulldog.

Only you, a hate obsessed fool, would have the nerve to deny what has happened time and time and time again on these blogs.  If Matthews had made it a two horse race and chosen another team, you'd be the first one to come charging on every blog laughing about it.  Not conjecture, fact..  You are the ambulance chaser of bloggers.  If Georgia bleeds in any way, you are all over it like stink on _hit.

TravisBickle2014
TravisBickle2014

@DawginCO you are assuming again.....You seem to do that a lot.

LeMay had Issues and we laughed when you took him. After seeing Crowell's Twitter stuff EVERYBODY but a dWag Knew he has issues......