Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Hebron headed to GMC

Wednesday May 9, 2007

Want to see a bunch of tough-talking advocates of personal responsibility turn into the biggest bleeding-heart mass of equivocating relativist excuse-makers? Watch a typical football fan learn that one of his team’s players can’t get out of a punishment.

In the past day, the suspension of Akeem Hebron for the fall semester has blown up on the message boards. I’m having trouble understanding why people are surprised by the news. We knew as soon as the second arrest came that he would be facing this suspension. I guess much of the shock comes from the news that a football player couldn’t somehow get around the University policy.

Most are focusing on the harshness of the punishment. Does it fit the crime, etc.

That’s completely irrelevant. Whether the policy is too strong or is fitting (I think it’s a bit reactionary myself), it’s spelled out right up front (HT: Ching) and applies to every UGA student. Not many made a noise about this policy until it took down a football player. If the policy sucks, work to change it, but you have to live by it in the meantime.

We learn today that Hebron will take the path I mentioned yesterday and enroll at Georgia Military College for the fall semester. He’ll be eligible to return for the spring semester, and the AJC reports that "Hebron said Georgia coach Mark Richt would welcome him back in January 2008 if he followed the necessary steps."

Oh, the drama I’ve read in the past day. The excuses and enabling would make an addict proud. "He’s being crucified for such a small mistake." "He just was unlucky and got caught doing what we all did in college." "His career is ruined because of a knee-jerk zero-tolerance policy." "The police are out to get football players." Some, apparently unable in their hysteria to comprehend that getting arrested often presents certain other problems, have even asked why Stafford doesn’t face the same kind of suspension. Won’t someone think of the children?!?!

Of course none of that exaggeration is true. While most are no stranger to underage drinking, few use the bad judgment to become belligerent with a downtown bouncer months after a MIP citation. Even fewer would be likely to do it once Richt lays down the law after the first offense. You can be certain that Hebron knew what was at stake if he were arrested again. His career is far from over or ruined. The escape route to GMC is the best possible outcome in this situation. If (if, if, if) things go well at GMC, he will pick back up at UGA for the spring 2008 semester, get back on track in terms of academic progress, and lose only his freshman season. It could have been a lot worse.

I don’t want to sound overly hard on the guy. It’s a tough situation, and the start of his football career has been delayed, but it’s the result of his decisions. He knows that. "I’m disappointed in myself. The whole thing has been difficult, " he told the AJC. He’s getting what so many don’t: a legitimate third chance. The support structure at Georgia to help him will be there. I can’t imagine a better guide in that spot than Richt and Van Halenger. It’s also a positive sign of commitment by Hebron to take this route. He’s not playing D-1 ball next year regardless, so he could have used the year to transfer and get a clean start somewhere else. He’s chosen to accept the fact that he’ll have to face the probation and academic pressure when he gets back to Athens as well as face the work he’ll have to do to get back in the good graces of the football program.

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