Posted on: March 6, 2008 11:00 pm
The response to my column about Dennis Felton has been back and forth with some saying Georgia would be showing a lack of class to remove him given the circumstances while others claim that bigtime college basketball is a bottom line business where winners stay employed and losers get fired. Honestly, I understand both points. But one thing I felt compelled to address is the notion that Felton shouldn't be given a pass for dismissing Mike Mercer and Takais Brown because they were his recruits, meaning if Felton would have been a better judge of character in the recruiting stage he never would've had to dismiss anybody.
Technically, that's true.
But what people need to understand is that Mercer and Brown weren't out robbing banks, starting riots, driving drunk or hitting girls. You can say they were bad guys if you want. But it's important to remember they weren't any worse than many of the guys playing at most colleges right now, and they certainly had less problems. In other words, Felton didn't recruit bad guys any more than Tennessee and Pittsburgh and New Mexico State and Memphis recruited bad guys. The only difference is that when Felton got his guys to campus he -- and Georgia, in general -- tried to hold them to a higher standard, and Mercer and Brown couldn't meet that standard. So they were dismissed. But make no mistake, if Mercer and Brown played at Tennessee, Pitt, New Mexico State, Memphis or most other colleges they'd still be playing today the same way Duke Crews, Levance Fields, Herb Pope and Jeff Robinson are still playing today.
And Felton's job wouldn't be in jeopardy if Mercer and Brown were still playing today.
That's the reality of the situation.
As it is, his job is in serious jeopardy -- but not because he recruited bad kids. Rather, because he tried to hold typical kids to a standard most programs don't even strive to meet. And it'll be sad if that's what gets Felton fired because it'll send a clear message to the next coach that he better be willing to compromise his integrity if he wants to remain employed.