On Saturday Joe Cox again flexed his leadership muscle and reminded his teammates of the need to stay out of trouble over the next few months when coaches have the least amount of supervision over the team. The weekend that concludes spring practice is typically one where the team lets loose, but they managed to stay out of the papers this year.
I don’t necessarily believe that there’s always a direct relationship between off-field incidents and in-season performance. In 2003 Georgia had several preseason incidents and suspensions to go along with an SEC Championship ring-selling scandal, and they managed to field the most impressive defense I’ve seen from a Georgia team. So I’m not going to flip out if and when something happens this summer – I’m a lot more worried about things like the running game and pass rush than whether or not the team has facial hair or enjoys themselves downtown. Still, Coach Richt admitted that the incidents and negative publicity last year were a "distraction", and keeping clean certainly won’t have any negative effects on the team.
So far the message has hit home. No one is pretending that the team has adopted the monastic lifestyle, but at least they’ve managed to either avoid police attention or make the right decisions when they do go out. Chip Towers notes that the program had already tallied four arrests by this point in 2008, and they’ve managed (knock wood) to keep that at zero so far in this calendar year.
So far, so good. I’m holding out hope that it’ll continue, but even the quietest offseasons don’t pass without at least one or two incidents. I’d welcome the change.