I didn't think that was the case then, and I think it is clear now that's certainly not the case now. Herbstreit, who is well qualified to give his opinion on the global view of college football, gets it wrong at times when he gets too local. Lots of national voices are that way. He's not a villain by any stretch of the imagination, but seems to forget Richt's firm hand in throwing misfits off the team.
I think what we've seen is Mark Richt doing exactly what is needed – taking firm grip of his program and letting his team know what is expected of them… and what is not.
"We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right," Richt said in a statement while kicking Tray Matthews out of the program.
This isn't about me, but I know from first hand experience that Richt can be very firm, direct and not very friendly when he's making his point. It happens – anyone who thinks otherwise is quite naive.
Isaiah Crowell had to go. Tray Matthews had to go. Josh Harvey-Clemons had to go. Shaq Wiggins didn't have to go, but was so immature that he couldn't be depended on. The real question for Richt, and really any leader of an organization is as follows:
If you can't depend on someone from Sunday to Friday can you really depend on them on Saturday?
I've found that usually you can't. I think the entire country found out that wasn't the case when JHC and Matthews helped Auburn pull off the miracle of all miracles.
By the way, this has nothing to do with someone's skin color. This has nothing to do with a hairstyle of a player. This has nothing to do with where you grew up, or the amount of tattoos they have. Jarvis Jones and his ten pounds of dreadlocks and tattoos never got into a single problem in Athens; neither did T.J. Stripling.
This has everything to do with dependability, or lack there of. I never found JHC to be a bad kid, but he obviously has some sort of problem or addiction, and Georgia has tried to help him all they could. He couldn't be helped. He had to go.
Matthews, for his part, simply thought that the rules were not in place for him. Not stretching out a hamstring became stealing a check became getting into a confrontation with a professor. Dependability was optional for him – and you can get by with that at times on a football field because there are ten other guys out there with you on defense and another 11 on offense who can bail you out.
But when the moment of truth (one of Richt's favorite sayings) arrives you had better be ready. Because on Saturday its too late to get ready. It's too late to get amped. You needed to be in the weight room in April, May and June and before. If you think that it's going to all come together for you when the band is playing you are crazy. What did you do on Sunday through Friday to be ready for the moment?
Richt, decades later, is well aware of how important being dependable really is on a football field and in life. That's why he did what he did in forcing four- and five-star players out of his program.
Mark Richt isn't perfect – no one is. But he was right for moving along from Tray Matthews and company. Richt shouldn't apologize for having standards – not that he is – national pundits be damned.