The Georgia Bulldogs have won two straight national championships, a Southeastern Conference championship and 17 straight games to go along with a 29-1 record, and have had 25 players taken in the last two NFL Drafts.
In addition, they were seeing success prior to the last two seasons, finishing with three 10-win seasons, winning another SEC title, winning two New Year's Six bowl games and making the 2017 national championship game. The Bulldogs are without a doubt the top college football program right now and are looking to solidify that status with a third straight national title in 2023.
However, things have not been easy for head coach Kirby Smart when it comes to his players' actions off the field.
Since January 2022, more than 10 Bulldogs have been arrested; and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that in Smart's seven-year tenure, women have come forward and accused 11 players of some form of abuse. Incoming freshman defensive tackle Jamaal Jarrett was not charged but was investigated in connection with a sexual assault claim during a visit to Georgia when he was 16 years old, and it was reported that Jarrett missed curfew and had been drinking that night as well. Former linebacker Adam Anderson, who was charged in connection with with separate rape incidents, entered a plea deal in July, pleading down two felony rape charges to misdemeanor sexual battery with a maximum of 12 months of jail time.
The most notable of the above-mentioned issues is the tragic car crash that included Jalen Carter, who was cited with reckless driving for "drag racing" with the other vehicle that eventually crashed. The crash took the lives UGA recruiting staffer Chandler LeCroy, whose blood alcohol limit was .197, and offensive lineman Devin Willock.
One would think that would be a wake-up call to the current players on the Georgia roster, as 11 Georgia players since that incident have been cited with traffic-related moving violations, including linebacker Samuel M'Pemba and wide receiver Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint more recently.
"I'll be the first to admit we haven't solved that issue or problem," Smart told reporters during a news conference. "I don't honestly know that anybody has, but certainly for us, it's important to acknowledge it first. We've had a lot of intervention in terms of talking and visiting, and discipline measures have been implemented in terms of education. We'll continue to do that."
It isn't just road-related incidents. Alcohol has been involved on numerous occasions. Quarterback Stetson Bennett was arrested for public intoxication in Dallas. Long snapper William Mote was arrested after destroying a window after he told police he was intoxicated. Defensive back Javon Bullard was arrested on a DUI charge, one of seven misdemeanor charges he faced.
Kirby Smart has turned things around at Georgia and is well on his way to being one of the best college football coaches we have seen in the modern era and, potentially, of all time. But these off-the-field issues need to become a priority for him if they have not already. There will be one-offs within a program that involve breaking the law one way or another, whether it's a speeding ticket or something much worse. But when it reaches these types of numbers, the culture and guidance of the program need to be re-evaluated.
Netflix's new docuseries "Untold: Swamp Kings" gives watchers an inside look at the Florida Gators program that was dominant from 2005 to 2009. It won multiple national titles and SEC titles but also endured a high rate of off-the-field issues. Smart and the Bulldogs have a chance to go down as one of the best dynasties in the history of college football. But they could bring a lot of baggage and off-the-field storylines that will be carried along with them, just like the Gators, if they do not take care of business.
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