So for the next two games his Georgia football team will be without its starting tailback, whose sin was less serious than it was poorly-timed.
Caleb King was suspended two games by Georgia on Tuesday, a day after being charged with failure to appear in court to address a speeding charge.
King was the 11th Bulldog player to be arrested this year, and the sixth since July.
Richt, the Bulldogs’ head coach, was asked Tuesday if the punishment was a reflection of a tougher standard.
“Oh yeah, no doubt,” Richt said. “But they knew that.”
Asked if he felt like he needed to send a message, Richt answered curtly: “Obviously, yes sir.”
Six weeks ago, King’s fellow tailback Washaun Ealey was suspended one game after being charged with three misdemeanors, stemming from a hit-and-run. King’s one misdemeanor drew two games, but it also came after two more arrests (safety Alec Ogletree was suspended a game and linebacker Demetre Baker was dismissed from the team.)
“Everybody knows that at this point in time if you get in trouble, you’re gonna get a pretty good lashing,” said receiver Tavarres King, who himself was suspended for the season opener after a July arrest for underage possession of alcohol.
Senior Fred Munzenmaier said the rules, and consequences, are laid down at a meeting before every season.
“It’s pretty black-and-white what everything is. But I guess when you have a lot of trouble like we’ve been going through and stuff, you start to go through some gray areas, where you’ve got to make some judgment calls,” Munzenmaier said. “But I think they’ve been handling everything well.”
Munzenmaier has his own background with the law. After being charged with underage possession of alcohol, he was suspended the first two games of the 2008 season.
“It just comes down to we’re 18-22 years old. It comes down to learning to make the right decisions,” Munzenmaier said. “I learned it the hard way. But luckily I got the chance to stay around. And I think the way that they handled it benefited me as a person.”
While Richt has ramped up the punishment, the preventive aspect remains an issue.
New athletics director Greg McGarity, on the job a little more than a month, has spoken with Richt about some preventive action. Richt wasn’t specific, but said any ideas would be “all-encompassing.”
“(McGarity) and I have already been discussing some things and we’ll implement some things as time goes on that I think will help us,” Richt said. “It will be an ongoing conversation, but I really have a lot of confidence that he’s got some good ideas in that regard and I’m willing to listen to those and see if we can get better at that.”
King and Ealey each had suspended licenses, as did a few other players who have been had run-ins with the law. Richt said the team had been doing monthly checks on the status of players’ license status; now it will be done weekly.
But licenses only get suspended after unpaid tickets, and Richt said that would be hard to stay on top of. King’s speeding ticket – going 76 in a 55 zone – happened in neighboring Walton County.
“If we are aware of things, we can make sure something like this doesn’t happen,” Richt said. “In this particular case, you basically would have to get in contact with every single county in the state of Georgia on a daily basis to find out if something like that popped up.”
Paying the ticket also remains the responsibility of the player, the coach said.
“Georgia is not going to take care of the traffic violations,” Richt said. “They have to.”
On the field, Ealey is likely to inherit King’s starting role. But with third-stringer Carlton Thomas questionable with a hamstring injury, fullback Fred Munzenmaier is getting practice reps at tailback. Freshman Ken Malcome, who has yet to play, could also have his redshirt taken off.
“They’re trying to find whoever can do it,” Munzenmaier said. “So I’d say pretty much all of us are getting a couple (reps) here and there.”