Thursday, October 9, 2014

GEORGIA RUNNING BACK TODD GURLEY SUSPENDED INDEFINITELY

By: Connor Glowacki

Figure 1: Todd Gurley
Photo courtesy of fansided.com
    Georgia Bulldogs running back, and Heisman hopeful, Todd Gurley has been suspended indefinitely pending an investigation into an alleged violation of NCAA rules, the school announced on Thursday October 9th. According to ESPN's Joe Schad, he was told by a source that the investigation revolves around whether Gurley was given money for autographs, memorabilia, or the use of his likeness.

     "I'm obviously very disappointed," said Georgia coach Mark Richt in a statement. "The important thing for our team is to turn all our attention toward preparation to Missouri."

Figure 2: Head Coach Mark Richt
Photo Courtesy of Cbssports.
     While we wait to hear more about this NCAA investigation, the 13th ranked Bulldogs are just two days away from taking on the 23rd ranked Missouri Tigers on the road, in a critical SEC East showdown. Gurley is the leading rushed for the Bulldogs with 773 yards and eight touchdowns on the season. The total amount of rushing yards is more than all other four Georgia running backs COMBINED. He has averaged 8.2 yards per carry, caught 11 receptions and had a 100 yard kickoff return for a touchdown this season. In addition, with 3,147 rushing yards, Gurley is just 86 yards away from passing Garrison Hearst for second on the school's all time rushing list.

Figure 3: Johnny Manziel
Photo courtesy of bleacherreport
     Let's keep in mind that this is NOT the first time a collegiate football player has sold autographs or memorbillia in exchange for the acceptance of impermissible benefits. Current Cinicinatti Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green acknowledged selling his Independence Bowl jersey to a former North Carolina player that was regarded as an NCAA agent, while he was at Georgia in 2010. Green had to pay back the $1,000 he received and was suspended for the first four games of the 2010 season.
   


     Just before the 2013 college football season, Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel was investigated when there were reports that surfaced indicating that he received money for signing autographs.
     There was no concrete evidence that Manziel did anything wrong, but the school suspended him for the first half of the season opener against Rice University. Just like Green, Manziel was still drafted in the first round and is now a member of the Cleveland Browns.

Figure 4: Heisman Trophy
(Award for college football's
best player).

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.
     Whether the investigation proves that Gurley received money or not, it will have a negative effect over his chances for the Heisman trophy. Before this report came out, I had Gurley as my frontrunner at  to win the award and I still believe he is the best and most dynamic player in this country. And while this investigation might bring questions to Gurley's character, it will also bring back the debate over whether or not college football players should be considered paid employees of their universities.

(That's a debate for another day).
   
     In terms of his draft stock, I don't believe it will be negatively impacted because Manziel, Green and countless other former football players didn't experience a negative impact when they were investigated by the NCAA over similar circumstances.

(Gurley remains at Number 9 on ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board)

     In the meantime, we'll have to wait and see how this investigation plays out. If more evidence comes out against Gurley and he is suspended for more games, Georgia's chances at winning the SEC and Gurley's magical Heisman season, will likely be over.

What do you think of the Todd Gurley investigation? Leave a comment below or tweet me your comment on Twitter @ConnorGlowacki.

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