Rivals can focus on game, not NCAA

Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Aaron Murray (11) celebrates with Bulldogs fullback Shaun Chapas (49) after the touchdown by Chapas in the second quarter at Sanford Stadium on Saturday, September 4, 2010 in Athens, Ga.

 

COLUMBIA --- Call it the NCAA Distraction Bowl.

No. 22 Georgia (1-0) and No. 24 South Carolina (1-0) face each other today after a week of star suspensions, formal letters of inquiry and unending questions about NCAA infractions.

Bulldogs receiver A.J. Green was docked three additional games by the NCAA on Wednesday for selling a game jersey for $1,000 to someone deemed an agent. A day later, South Carolina's football program received a formal letter saying it was under NCAA investigation.

Gamecocks tight end Weslye Saunders has met with the NCAA already this summer and was questioned about potential agent contact. He has been suspended from the team since Aug. 23, though coach Steve Spurrier says that is not related to the NCAA investigation.

That sounds like plenty to process for coaches and players preparing to open the SEC season.

"We just go out and do our thing," said Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray. "We have tremendous guys all around, and all our wide receivers go out and play. I trust everyone, no matter who it is out there."

Green was held out of Georgia's opening week win over Louisiana-Lafayette because of eligibility concerns, though that didn't stop Murray from connecting for 160 yards and three touchdowns in a 55-7 victory.

While Georgia knows the outcome of its NCAA issues, South Carolina awaits a resolution that could be weeks or months away.

Saunders was questioned by the NCAA in connection with possible contact with agents and his attendance at a South Beach party earlier this year. There have been similar investigations at Alabama and North Carolina.

Saunders was among several players Spurrier asked to move out of a local hotel amid allegations that they were given cheaper rates than available to the public. The NCAA has not detailed the scope of its inquiry.

Spurrier said on his radio show Thursday that the investigation has "nothing to do with anything coaches did. It was some other areas, I believe, so we'll let it play its way out."

SEC showdown

WHO: No. 22 Georgia at No. 24 South Carolina

WHEN: Noon today

TV: ESPN2

WHERE: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia

Culliver, King cleared to play

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina cornerback Chris Culliver and left tackle Jarriel King have been cleared by the NCAA to play in the team's Southeastern Conference opener against Georgia, the university said Friday.

The school has not said what questions were being reviewed regarding Culliver and King, who missed the season-opening 41-13 victory over Southern Mississippi because of concerns about their eligibility.

Culliver is a senior who moved to cornerback this offseason from safety, where he was a second-team all-SEC selection last season. He finished third on the team with 62 tackles. He also returned 26 kickoffs for an average of 22.5 yards per return.

King is a 6-foot-5, 327-pound senior from North Charleston who entered this season with 19 career starts, more than any other returning offensive lineman.

-- Associated Press

TODAY'S GAMES

- Georgia Tech at Kansas, Noon (Fox Sports South)

- Presbyterian at Clemson, 3:30 p.m. (No TV)

- Georgia Southern at Navy, 3:30 (CBS College Sports)

 

More