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Chris Gay: Choosing pot over college football is a bad choice

Posted: May 3, 2017 - 2:29am

Let's start with a few questions.

What's going on in Athens, Ga.? Georgia running back Elijah Holyfield, as you know by now, was recently arrested on the charge of marijuana possession. According to www.11alive.com, this marks the eighth Georgia player to be arrested in coach Kirby Smart's tenure. Smart's record: eight wins, eight players arrested.

That's not a number you want to have, especially when you're already on the hot seat entering your second season. More on Smart later.

Meanwhile, the question remains: Why can't football players avoid drugs? What's the fascination with marijuana? Why make such a bad decision?

Football players who are lucky enough to get an NCAA Division I scholarship are a fortunate bunch. Name another sport where athletes get a free ride to college? Basketball? Maybe a few players. Golf? The same. Baseball? Nope. Soccer? Nope. Softball? Nope?

There is a certain value to getting to attend Georgia for free that some of these kids, like Holyfield, certainly don't appreciate. If they have a decent career and get a good degree, these young men will have endless opportunities to make a ton of money.

But smoking marijuana like they're about to star in the next installment of the movie Friday? Are you kidding me? These kids are watching their careers go to pot.

Last month, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported wide receiver Riley Ridley was arrested for marijuana possession during a traffic stop. He's expected to be a breakout performer this season. Now, any time he drops a ball or misses a block, we're going to wonder the worst.

In fairness to Smart, the guys arrested represent a small percentage of the players who come through the program. There are some fantastic young men who play football at Georgia and don't get arrested, don't cause any trouble, like Augusta's Brendan Douglas.

Still, these arrests are not what Georgia fans want to read about in the off-season. The Bulldog Nation wants to hear great things about the program, how Georgia is finally going to win its first Southeastern Conference title since 2005. How the defense, how the quarterback, is much-improved over last season.

Instead, some Bulldogs are making the news for all the wrong reasons.

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NOT SO SMART: Talking about dumb decisions, Georgia coach Kirby Smart is avoiding the Augusta area for the second year in a row. In previous years, Bulldog football coaches would make the annual spring tour through the state of Georgia, give an assessment of the program, shake hands, sign autographs and answer some questions. Smart only went to five stops last year, including places like Columbus, Macon and Savannah. He also went to Dallas (Texas, not Georgia.)

Why the snub? The Greater Augusta Bulldog Club is believed to be the largest in the state outside of Atlanta. More than half a million folks live in the Augusta area. Are we not large enough for Smart? Are we not good enough?

Is Augusta too far away (90 minutes)? Is he too busy trying to plant recruiting seeds elsewhere? Is he just too busy for us?

The bottom line: This is a bad look for Smart. Him avoiding the Georgia faithful makes it look like he's coaching from an ivory tower. He makes almost $4 million a year. Smart should be signing as many autographs and taking as many photos with fans as he can. While his main obligation is to win football games, his other one is to at least be somewhat fan-friendly. You don't alienate your fan base, especially when your first season was a disappointing 8-5 that included dumb losses to Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech.

Smart should talk to sports information director Claude Felton, the best in the business at what he does. Claude is a legend. He's a friendly person who understands the Bulldog Nation. He gets it. Maybe one day Smart will get it. We'll see.

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GETTING FIT(BIT): For my wedding anniversary, my wife gave me a FitBit Charge 2. I think she was trying to tell me I'm fat. She's not wrong.

I'd love to lose another 20 pounds by the end of the summer (five pounds a month - that's doable). So I've already started walking. I clocked in my first 10,000 steps (10,370 to be exact) Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, I had more than 8,300. I'm hoping to walk this fat away.

The Fitbit gift ranks among the three best anniversary gifts my wife has given me through the years. On our first anniversary, she gave me Led Zeppelin's Complete Studio Recordings, a 10-CD box set - a whole lotta love in that present.

For our 10th anniversary, she r eceived jewelry, while I updated my set of 1980s-era golf clubs with a moderate, but not expensive, set of TaylorMade Burner Plus irons (4-AW). They instantly added 10-15 yards of distance to my game.

Now, I have a wristband that shows the time, shows my heart rate, and shows how many steps I've taken. It even monitors my sleep patterns (which aren't pretty). For now, it's a fun little gadget to have. We'll see if it continues to motivate me to get my 10,000 steps the rest of the year.

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DEAD BIRD: The Atlanta Hawks lost again in the playoffs. I'll need an entire column to talk about how pathetic they are and have been. I'll whet your appetite with this: The Hawks need a real owner and a real general manager.

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MORE SEACREST: Georgia native Ryan Seacrest needed another TV show like the Georgia Bulldogs needed another player arrested. He will soon join Kelly Ripa for the morning show LIVE with Kelly and Ryan. Congrats to him on getting yet another job - he's still going to work his weekday radio gig, too.

As much as I appreciate Seacrest being a hard worker and being everywhere, I feel like he's Kardashian-ing us to death. We need a Seacrest break.

Out.

 

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Comments (1)

Just My Opinion

Part of meeting the fans is to establish a "relationship"

I agree wholeheartedly about the problems coming with Smart not meeting with fans.
I've been a Dawg fan for well over 30 years. In that time, we Augusta fans have had several opportunities to meet coaches Vince Dooley, Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, and Mark Richt. We've gotten their autographs, got our pictures taken with them, shook their hands, made general small-talk, and even were able to ask them questions about the football team and the upcoming season. Kirby Smart has offered NONE of that....NONE. So, what happens when you meet these coaches "one on one", is that you develop a relationship of sorts with them, and a part of you feels like you "know" the man. When times get tough for the coaches, the fans he's met in the past give him some empathy and some more time to get things straightened out. Kirby?? Nope...in my book, he doesn't get ANY time to straighten things out. If he doesn't produce, his butt is OUT of the University of Georgia, and I won't care one little iota.....all because he's never reached out to the fans to connect with us. If he treats the Georgia fans like his coaching job is a business, then he better expect us to treat his position like it's a business.
Like a lot of fans, I have a "Georgia Room", and in it, I have pictures of the past coaches, and most are autographed. When I recently called UGA to get a pic of Smart, I was bounced around to different places, and then one young lady meekly told me that "At this time, Coach Smart has not set up a program by which his picture or autographs can be disseminated.". Wow. The guy can't even have a stack of pictures with his autograph stamped on them, be mailed out by student interns??
I just don't get it. Well, maybe I do get it. It always comes down to money. This season, the only places Smart IS going to are to PRIVATE events, where only the big donors are invited to attend. Forget us little, season-ticket holders. We don't bring in enough money to matter????
SEC college football gets it's money in different ways....television contracts with ESPN and CBS, monies generated via the SEC Network, monies spread out from SEC teams that have gone to bowl games, endorsements from apparel to foods, and money from season ticket holders...which is, apparently on the low end of that revenue list! So, Smart seems to assume, why bother with the little fish, when it's more profitable to schmooze with the big money fish.
I am usually one of the fans who really wants to give our coach A LOT of leeway and time to get us back on track. As long as Smart runs things this way, I'm not willing to give him that luxury of time. Don't get me wrong...I still want Smart to get Georgia back to winning. But he better do it in the next year of so....significant improvement. We sent a good man like Mark Richt packing, so the next coach had better improve. I'm just not sure Kirby Smart is that man. We'll see.

Sorry this is so long, but I obviously had a lot to say on this matter.