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Jeff SchultzJeff Schultz

Richt, Pruitt justified in making changes

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Jeremy Pruitt has been given free rein to fix Georgia's defense. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

Jeremy Pruitt has been given free rein to fix Georgia’s defense. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

There are two absolutes when a college athlete is dismissed from a team: 1) The player did something wrong (probably more than once); 2) The coach did something right.

Given Georgia coach Mark Richt has dismissed safety Tray Matthews for unspecified reasons, the third high-profile exit from his team’s defense this offseason. This should confirm that the let’s-give-him-one-more-chance mentality that used to exist in Athens is officially dead and buried.

Richt’s statement on Matthews’ exit was brief but said enough: “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”

UPDATE: Matthews addresses his dismissal: He admits he caused disruption in classroom. Link here.

Richt doesn’t “run off” players. So it’s safe to assume Matthews had been given multiple chances on certain issues and blew it.

The decision-making process almost certainly included new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt. He probably has watched several nauseating hours of game tape of the three departed players — Matthews, the twice-suspended Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaq Wiggins — and saw that natural ability often didn’t equate to performance. Or intelligence. Or effort. There was no reason for any of the three to slack off and not conform to team mandates.

I don’t believe it’s a coincidence that all these exits are happening now, after Pruitt replaced Todd Grantham.

Matthews was among four Georgia players arrested in March and charged with allegedly double-dipping on financial aid checks — scanning and depositing them in one bank and then quickly cashing them at another. (Because, you know, a bank or a school’s accounting office would NEVER catch up to that trick.)

Harvey-Clemons and Wiggins already have transferred to Louisville. Matthews may join them. That would reunite the three with former Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, where they can all underachieve together again.

All three players were touted recruits, if you pay attention to that star-system thing. But all three also had maturity issues, were excessively coddled and arrived with a sense of entitlement. It’s all too common in recruiting.

Pruitt is a tough guy, a smart guy. He proved that at Florida State, building a defense that helped the Seminoles win the national championship. Richt is justified in giving him free rein with the defense. He did that with Grantham and it backfired. I have a feeling this time it won’t.

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