During the weekend, University of Georgia basketball standout Billy Humphrey was arrested for DUI and other charges in the Atlanta area.
This was not his first misstep, and Georgia head coach Dennis Felton immediately booted his second-leading scorer from the team. Felton cited the staff's hard work to keep Humphrey in line, along with the fact that it was simply time for the program to move on, as reasons for the dismissal.
Humphrey, who averaged 12.2 points per game, was a key figure in Georgia's SEC Tournament title run a year ago. That run likely saved Felton's job.
Georgia was going through a terrible season and came out of nowhere to win the SEC and earn an NCAA Tournament berth.
In my opinion, Felton's job should never have been in jeopardy. He was dealt a tough hand. When he got the job in Athens, he immediately pulled off a major recruiting coup by landing former South Gwinnett stars Louis Williams and Mike Mercer.
The state of Georgia always is loaded with big-time talent, but those talented players usually leave the Peach State for their college careers. Unfortunately for Felton, Williams decided to jump straight to the NBA and was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers. Williams had a breakout season in 2007-08, averaging double-digits off the bench.
Felton had to attempt to replace Williams late in the recruiting process, so he offered Dacula sharpshooter Billy Humphrey a scholarship. Now, both Mercer and Humphrey are off the team. Humphrey had multiple alcohol-related arrests, and Mercer had legal trouble and classroom problems. Basically, he went to class with the same frequency that Georgia won a basketball game -- about every other week.
To add to the Dogs' troubles, Takais Brown, the team's leading scorer and rebounder in 2006-07, also was booted off the team before last season.
The fact the Felton did not lose every game is surprising.
Should we blame Felton for these players' transgressions? Only if he condones them, and he does not.
Felton is a tough coach with a no-nonsense approach. He has weeded out the problem players in Athens, even if they were his best players. That takes character, and that is a trait that we need more of in college sports.
Also, given some of the moronic NCAA recruiting restrictions, Felton and all other college coaches are recruiting kids they do not know. They are not allowed to really get to know the kids personally, or they will face the ire of NCAA henchmen.
Felton faces the proverbial double-edged sword: Recruit the top talent and pray they stay on the right track, or do not recruit them and lose your job. It is the dilemma of coaches across the country.
Felton should be applauded for his approach. He recruits great players and offers them a chance to play, but when they show a lack of respect for the program, he shows them the door, no matter how talented they might be.
Felton has shown great character since taking the helm of the UGA basketball program, and sometimes that is more important than wins and losses.
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