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UGA's stupid excuses: Bulldogs not achieving academically or on the field

Mike Adams admits, in effect, that UGA has enrolled some of the stupidest jocks in the nation so that Georgia can compete in the SEC.

The Bulldog Nation president must be enunciating a new policy for the football players. Because they sure as heck did not compete very well in their most recent outing.

Saturday's Tennessee game was a disgrace. Tennessee's academically superior players (more graduate) pounded Georgia's lower achieving Bulldogs. Can you believe this? Fifty-one points against our beloved Dawgs - and between the hedges, no less. For shame!

Where was the Georgia defense in the second half? Don't tell me they were in study hall.

UGA has the worst graduating rate for major-sports athletes in the SEC and among the worst rates nationally among the 319 Division I schools. Those low graduation rates for the football and basketball teams mean Georgia is recruiting ballplayers from among the poorest scholastic achievers in high school.

President Adams' excuse: "We have to compete in the SEC."

You gotta be kidding, prez. Georgia is not competing now, except in the blue-smoke-and-mirrors department. Our coaches try to make the Bulldogs look good by scheduling as many weak-kneed podunk teams as possible.

Even the podunks make the Dawgs whimper. Then along comes a real SEC team, Tennessee, and whips us so badly that Uga VI runs under the porch. You call that competing?

Something smells here. If UGA is going to recruit from the bottom of the scholastic barrel, shouldn't we be getting more for our money?

Don't get me wrong. It may be OK to hand out football and basketball scholarships to 200 guys who couldn't pass a real freshman English course on a life-or-death bet, but shouldn't they be the best ballplayers available?

Adams, UGA's de facto athletics director, owes fans more. Old grads don't mind paying exorbitant prices for tickets, and they don't care who has a C average and who doesn't.

But they expect to see winners. Sorry. Strike that. They expect to see more than winners; they want to see champs. They want challengers for national championship trophies.

Plastering Western Kentucky and stomping the University of Alabama at Birmingham are fun for the fans, but being rated No. 10 or 11 or 12 is not good enough. Why aren't we No. 1 or 2 or 3 in football? And why not every year? We ought to get something tangible for holding the SEC title for most morons.

Here's a simple solution. Let Georgia pave the way. Tell the NCAA to take a hike. Abandon the fiction of "student-athletes." Just call them what they are - "players." Recruit them according to their playing ability.

Forget calculus and Shakespeare. Figure out a way to compensate these would-be career sportsmen. Even offer them tuition-free college classes if they can make passing grades. Dress them in uniforms like stock-car drivers. Put promotional stickers all over their helmets and jerseys - "Go figure - be an accountant!" or "Lawyers know better!" Pretty catchy, right?

It would be permissible to say these players represent UGA, but don't call them students. That is not fair to genuine students, especially those struggling on scholarships to keep up grades and stay in school.

If the players don't produce on the field, use the Braves' former winning strategy. Hire new players.

Oh, I know, I'm just whistling in the dark. No one really wants to abandon rah-rah intercollegiate football in Athens. It is part of the Bulldog mystique and legacy. No one really expects the average wide receiver to turn up in an honors program.

Yet our academic leaders ought to stop proclaiming that Georgia's competitiveness is built on the intellectually weak backs of the athletes.

Such lame talk sounds like our top higher-education guys are excusing mediocrity. Surely, that cannot be the case in a system that once claimed to strive for excellence in all things.

Correction: Last week, we reported that House Speaker Glenn Richardson is attempting to develop St. Simons beach property that is state owned. The "state owned" part was wrong.

Michelle Hitt, Richardson's spokeswoman, set us straight. She explained: "In the 1970s, 1980s and again in 2001, the Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that the East Beach property in question located on St. Simons Island belongs to the Bruce family whose family originally developed the East Beach subdivision. Richardson came into the property after providing legal services to the Bruce family. Along with his longtime partner, James Tally Jr., and his father, James Tally Sr., who originally represented the Bruce family in their legal proceedings, Richardson provided advice, research and other help in the court proceedings establishing ownership."

Syndicated columnist Bill Shipp writes on Georgia politics. E-mail him at bshipp@bellsouth.net.

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