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Post Should Figgins redshirt?

Monday May 11, 2009

The suspensions of three football players were reported last week by UGASports.com and confirmed by the University over the weekend. The only surprise is that medical reasons have ended Tony Wilson’s career.

For Figgins the suspension raises a question about the future of his career. Despite his shoulder surgery he was still considered the favorite to enter the season as the starting tight end. The depth chart will have to change as the result of the suspension, and as many as four players will get a chance at the position before Figgins is scheduled to return. Even before the suspensions were announced Mark Richt told the Roswell Bulldog Club (and presumably other clubs along the Road Tour) that both incoming tight ends (Lynch and Charles) would likely see time as true freshmen.

So Figgins faces the challenge of using the second half of his junior season just to battle back from behind and work his way through the depth chart. It would leave him with only his senior season in which to try to play most or all of the year as the starter. Of course that assumes he wins the job back, and that’s not necessarily a given with the talent coming in. A redshirt season in 2009 would allow him to rehab his shoulder completely and give him two full years to play, though, again, he’d be facing a much more crowded depth chart.

The question whether to redshirt Figgins needn’t be answered now; you don’t have to declare a redshirt before the fact. David Hale touches on the issues facing the tight end position without Figgins, and we’ll have six games to see whether those roles can be filled by others on the roster. If we get to October and the position looks to be in good shape, Richt might address the redshirt decision then. If the position looks shaky over the first six games or if a blocking tight end fails to emerge, you’ll almost certainly see Figgins return this year.

That leads to another question: would Figgins redshirting this season go against the spirit of the suspension?

PS…I know there are those reading this who will say, "Why bother to keep a repeat rules violator around any longer than necessary? He’s lucky to even be on the team." It’s true that Figgins’ attitude and behavior going forward will likely play into Richt’s decisions, but there’s also no need to cast off a potentially valuable contributor without cause.

3 Responses to 'Should Figgins redshirt?'

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  • Redshirting is certainly skirting the punishment.

  • Groo, you know i love you, but I gotta take exception to the “without cause” portion at the end of your blog post. Even though it has not been confirmed by CMR, as Mark Schlabaugh reported Figgins’s 2 violations involve impromtu ncaa drug tests. That’s more than enough reason to drop-kick his sorry ass out of Athens.

    If he’d failed 2 drug tests as simply a student, he would no longer be on campus.

    Also, let’s revisit the Jeff Henson situation. Remember him, the snapper who got a DUI and then was busted for peeing on a brick wall downtown? Those two violations were enough for CMR to boot his butt off the team. Call me crazy but failed drug tests are a bigger concern than peeing on a wall.

    The issue here with me is consistency. Figgins doesn’t deserve a scholarship and doesn’t desrve to be on campus, quite frankly. Anything less undermines the new history of strict discipline CMR has so far worked hard to build & reinforce.

  • Ally, “without cause” was definitely a poor choice of words. What I meant was that there isn’t an inconsistency because the appropriate policies actually *are* being followed, and dismissing Figgins would be above and beyond what athletic department policies call for.

    The difference between the Henson and Figgins cases is the difference between UGA policy and athletic department policy. Henson had two alcohol-related arrests. UGA’s drug and alcohol policy calls for a one-semester suspension for any student who gets a second arrest while on probation. Figgins violations, if they were drug-related as we suspect, were not arrests but under the athletic department’s own testing policies which call for a half-season suspension for a second positive test. It might seem like a minor difference, but it’s two completely different policies governing the situations. Go back to Akeem Hebron – he also got nailed by the UGA policy and chose to serve his fall semester suspension by leaving the program for a year to play at GMC. Hebron wasn’t kicked off the team, served his time away, and is now back on the roster.

    We can disagree that the athletic policy should be stronger and a second positive test should result in dismissal, but this was a point that was more than likely thought about quite a bit before agreeing on the appropriate level of punishment. So long as they follow the policy, and they seem to be, I don’t see a consistency issue. We don’t even know if the policy allows the coach to have the discretion to apply a harsher punishment (like dismissal), though I suspect it does. I agree that a pattern of inconsistency would be alarming, but it appears that the letter of the law has been followed.