News, as relayed by esteemed colleague Chip Towers, that Todd Gurley didn’t board Georgia’s buses leaving Athens and thus won’t make the trip to Little Rock will come as a disappointment to Bulldogs fans. (Unrelated thought: Does Mark Richt still speak to his men of “The Energy Bus,” a business concept that became the theme of the 2011 bounceback season?) But it shouldn’t. I don’t think anybody who works in Butts-Mehre seriously believed Gurley would return this week.
This ball, as it were, is apparently still in Georgia’s court. For Gurley’s status to be clarified, the athletic department must first submit the results of its investigation and any proposed penalties to the NCAA, and that hasn’t happened yet. (The NCAA will then either accept those penalties or suggest something more.) For all of those on the outside who believe they know every detail of this case, let me just say: I’m pretty sure you don’t. I don’t, either — but I’m reasonably certain there’s more to it than has come to light.
Which isn’t to say Gurley is gone for good. I continue to believe he’ll play again this season. My guess was that he’d be back for Florida on Nov. 1, although I concede that there’s a chance he’ll incur a four-game penalty, as opposed to two. If so, he’d be back for Auburn on Nov. 15.
I never expected him to play against Arkansas. He wasn’t suspended until Oct. 9, which was eight days ago. Investigations as complex as this aren’t conducted in the span of two phone calls.
As for Arkansas: It’s a scary game, seeing as how it’s not only on the road but in a city and a stadium with which even Mark Richt, who has been around a while, isn’t familiar. The Razorbacks have played Texas A&M and Alabama tough before losing at the end, which indicates they’re again on the upward trail, but still: This is a program that hasn’t won an SEC game in two calendar years.
If Georgia is fat and sassy after winning at Missouri, it could lose. But I’m guessing there’s still enough energy — and manpower — on those buses to carry the day.