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Georgia Tech Suspends Linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu: A Fan’s Reaction
Georgia Tech linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu will sit out the first half in the upcoming game against the Duke Blue Devils. This was the decision handed down by head coach Paul Johnson on Monday, Nov3 14.
The suspension is the result of Attaochu's costly penalty in the Virginia Tech game last Thursday (Nov. 10). He punched Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas in the helmet, and drew a personal foul call from the referees. Many feel that this play was the turning point in the game and was the main reason Georgia Tech lost. I wholeheartedly agree with Johnson's decision and feel that the punishment is fair and appropriate.
"It's out of character for him," Johnson said, referring to Attaochu. "Certainly, that's not his M.O., and that's why it's not more. But I think that, certainly, we don't condone that and I know he's learned his lesson, but there still needs to be something. You have to pay a price when you mess up."
The punishment Johnson levied against his outside linebacker is equivalent to what NCAA rules mandate in similar situations. It may seem convenient to suspend him against lowly Duke (3-7, 1-5 ACC). But remember, this is the same Blue Devils team that battled Virginia Tech to a score of 14-10 in a loss. They are not to be taken lightly, and having Attaochu on the bench could easily hurt the Yellow Jackets (7-3, 4-3 ACC).
Because his penalty may have cost the Jackets the Virginia Tech game, some feel the punishment did not go far enough. My first instinct was to agree with this. But what if Georgia Tech had won the game? Should he have received a lighter punishment? I don't think so. He is only a sophomore and Johnson has an obligation to help him mature as a young man. This suspension accomplishes that and sends a strong message to the rest of the team that bad sportsmanship will not be tolerated.
Don't get me wrong, I think it's appropriate to punish players for making mistakes that affect the outcome of a game. If a player fumbles or misses an assignment, then punish him in practice. Make him run wind-sprints, but don't suspend him.
We would be going down a slippery slope by suspending people for hurting the team's chances of winning. We might have to suspend coach Johnson for his second-half decision against Virginia Tech to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the Jackets' own 31-yard line. It could be argued that this decision was just as harmful to the team as Attaochu's penalty.
This suspension is about sportsmanship and character-building in a young man. It has nothing to do with winning and losing. I applaud Johnson's decision in this instance.
Joe is a former Atlanta resident and a diehard Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and Atlanta Braves fan.
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