ATHENS - Last summer, as the Georgia football program was enjoying a long run without any bad off-field news, Mark Richt sounded a cautionary note.
"We all know we could wake up tomorrow and have a bad situation. But to this point today, they've done a nice job," he said.
This spring, it's been a lot of bad mornings.
The news broke on Wednesday that at least two players, safety Bacarri Rambo and linebacker Alec Ogletree, will be suspended for the start of the season. Both are set to be out two games, according to a source, while Rambo's suspension could stretch to four. The players violated athletics department policy.
This comes on the heels of cornerback Branden Smith's arrest for marijuana possession in Alabama.
And former player Orson Charles' arrest on a DUI in March.
And the dismissal of three freshmen in February after a theft from a dorm room.
And cornerback Sanders Commings' arrest in January on a misdemeanor domestic battery charge.
Let's not dance around this: Georgia is back to having behavior problems. The rash of trouble may not equal 2010, when 11 players were arrested, but so far this is three arrests (including Charles), three dismissals and two more suspensions, all in the first three months of the year.
You could also stretch it back to last October, when Cornelius Washington's DUI ended an 11-month run without any arrests. Then that was shortly followed by three tailbacks being suspended a game after positive drug tests.
Richt isn't due to speak to the media until after Saturday's spring practice. Who knows what he'll say. Who knows what he can say. It bears pointing out that Rambo and Ogletree are being nailed for an in-house violation, so while you might be tempted to say the program is out of control again, at least the program is policing itself.
That's what Richt, and to a certain extent Greg McGarity have pointed to in the past: As long as the program is showing its authority and punishing offenders, it's doing all it can short of shackling the players to their dorm rooms.
The discipline part of this will be dealt with shortly. Georgia will remind everybody that it has procedures and rules, and will point out that two of its best players are being sat down for something the school itself policed, not the actual police.
Then the attention turns to what this does for the team. And it's not a pretty picture.
The presumed losses of Rambo and Ogletree at least won't result in having to move another receiver over to defense or reaching too far down the depth chart to replace them. Corey Moore was being groomed last year in case Rambo went pro, and Christian Robinson will step back into his starting spot to replace Ogletree.
But Rambo and Ogletree are impact players. That's where their absenses will hurt. Rambo was an All-American and a ball-hawk at safety. Ogletree was ready to take the next step as a junior, and be a guy who made a couple big plays a game, and a couple big hits.
Back when the revised SEC schedule was released, and Missouri replaced Alabama on the Bulldogs' schedule, critics howled at the Bulldogs' luck. They complained at how easy the team in Athens was getting it.
How does that second-week trip to Missouri look now? Clearly, those critics didn't know Georgia would go back to shooting itself in the foot. Over, and over and over. It's 2010 all over again.
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