ATHENS — When the news first eked out about Chad Clay and Julian Rochester on Tuesday, it looked bad. All it said next their names in the Athens-Clarke County Jail log was “criminal damage second degree” and “weapon school zone.” And next to those lines were the letter “F,” as in felonies.
Whether it’s your name next to those words or you’re a reporter reading them, that’s bad news. Serious news.
It wasn’t until later, when the players’ attorney first shed some light on the subject, and after the 20-page police report was finally released in the afternoon, that the true nature of this crime was revealed. It was silly stuff. Kids shooting a BB gun in a dorm room. Stuff getting broken in a dorm room. Oh, yeah, and a little marijuana residue and paraphernalia sitting around.
There’s probably not many middle-aged men around who couldn’t relate to at least some of that. I know I could.
I’m not proud to say that in my adolescence I once got in trouble for shooting a kid in the neighborhood with a BB gun. It was a Daisy pump set-up and I had to have been over 50 yards away. Hid in the azalea bushes in my yard and shot across the street, factoring in a considerable amount of arc to hit my intended target.
After a couple of misses I finally I got him in the backside. At first he’d thought he’d been stung, which I thought was hilarious. I didn’t move, praying I wouldn’t be spotted and was sure I’d gotten away clean with my devious deed.
It wasn’t until later when my father came home from work that I realized I’d been fingered. Somebody had seen me slipping away.
I never saw that BB gun again. And let’s just say I couldn’t sit down comfortably for a few days.
But that was then and this is now. And these weren’t some kids cutting up in the suburbs. They were in a university dormitory, and there are expressly-written statutes regarding weapons of any sort being on campus. Like you can’t have any of any kind. Ever.
Never-minding what any of our personal judgments are about this, here’s what Kirby Smart is dealing with: He has two freshmen facing felony weapons charges and the added complication of pot residue and a bong being in the room.
Based on the reduced bonds the players ended up getting ($2,000 each), I would guess that the felony charges eventually will be reduced to misdemeanors, as they probably should. The bigger question is how Smart and UGA might decide to handle to the inclusion of marijuana in the police report.
UGA’s student-athlete handbook is pretty straight forward when it comes to pot. You can’t be involved with it in any way, shape or form. If you are, it’s a suspension.
Smart hasn’t said yet how he’s going to handle this situation other than to assure one and all, “they will be disciplined.” Horse play or not, I have a hard time seeing how this won’t result in at least a one-game suspension.