Darrell Huckaby - Were rules meant to be broken?

I have rules on my mind today. There are an awful lot of them around these days.

You know, there's just one problem with making rules. Folks tend to break them. Some folks, of course, not all. Honesty compels me to admit that I have been one who does, probably more often than I should. But then when folks do break the rules, there has to be a consequence. Therein lies the problem with making too many rules.

Of course, if you don't want to impose a consequence, you can always just change the rule.

I don't know if the following story is true, but I hope it is. I have been told that former Georgia football coach, Wally Butts - the immortal "Little Round Man" - once had a rule that his football players could not be married. When he abruptly changed the rule, someone asked him why, to which he supposedly replied, "Charlie Trippi got married."

Like I said, I don't know if that story is rooted in truth or not, but I like it anyway.

Which brings us back to rules. And regulations. And laws.

It seems like a number of University of Georgia football players have had a hard time following rules and regulations - not to mention laws - during the off season. There have been a number of well publicized arrests, on a number of charges, as well as other lesser infractions by many of those who would be king of the college football realm.

(Y'all do realize, don't you, that the season is only three weeks away?)

Georgia is not alone, of course. Supposedly - or perhaps I should say "allegedly," 20 percent of the University of Alabama's squad has run afoul of the law since the Crimson Tide last played. In fact, it is rumored that Nick Saban will be using a no-huddle offense this fall because so many of his players are forbidden from associating with known felons.

I am sure an Auburn fan came up with that one, but back here in the Peach State, everyone from Rabun Gap to Tybee Light has an opinion about the Georgia players who have gotten in trouble. Some over-reactors insist that the actions of those few who have gotten in trouble indicate a fundamental lack of control of the team by Mark Richt and his staff.

I think that's poppycock. Richt's program is certainly not out of control.

There are others, of course, who just laugh it all off and say "boys will be boys."

I think that's poppycock, too.

But although the sky is not falling down around the No. 1 ranked Dogs' shoulders, the antics of the few do reflect on the whole - and weakens the team while serving as an unwelcome distraction as the Bulldogs prepare for what could be a season for the ages. So much so that Coach Richt is said to be considering making downtown Athens off limits for his players until after the National Championship game in Miami on Jan. 8.

I said that about Miami, by the way; Coach Richt didn't.

Those of us who went to school at Georgia in the '70s find it amazing that there would be a reason to declare downtown Athens off limits. There was no reason to go downtown, back in the day, other than to sneak a peak at the magazines in the adult section at Barnett's News Stand or try on clothes none of us could afford at Gibson's Menswear.

Ban players from the Fifth Quarter or B&L Warehouse or that place down on the end of Elm Street, maybe. Downtown? Why on earth?

It's not the same now, of course. Downtown Athens is wide open and the students - and others - party deep into the night. And we all know that partying is usually synonymous with alcohol consumption. We also know that when college students consume alcohol late into the night, bad things are prone to happen. And Georgia has too much at stake to allow more bad things to happen this year.

So Coach Richt will have to decide whether banning his players from downtown Athens will be the best means to that end. I'm glad it's his decision to make and not mine, because I don't know what I'd do if I were in his shoes.

But I do know this. If I did make a decision to ban the players from downtown, I would spend a lot of time hoping that Knowshon Moreno didn't decide to try on a new outfit at Gibson's Menswear.

Darrell Huckaby is a local author and educator. He can be reached at dHuck08@bellsouth.net.