Todd Gurley’s Career is Over and I Blame the NCAA
Dude’s Note: This article was written at 1:30 AM and after dranks as now-confirmed reports of a torn ACL began to surface. Pardon it’s brevity and know that a more comprehensive evaluation of Gurley’s career is forthcoming.
Unless Todd Gurley comes back for his senior season, his collegiate career is over.
It didn’t end how he wanted it, with him hoisting a national championship trophy after a magical junior campaign. It didn’t end how we wanted it to end, with him on the football. It didn’t even end how the NCAA wanted it, with him behind metaphorical bars, racking up a lifetime worth of community service for writing his name. It just ended.
And now for the second time in two years, a Georgia legend’s career has been cut short, shredded alongside a knee ligament. But this doesn’t feel like the Aaron Murray situation.
When Murray went down, it was almost fitting. The perennial do-gooder plagued by bad luck, Murray was always destined to get hit late on his final play. He was destined to go out against a bottom-feeder like Kentucky in a game in which he didn’t even need to play.
But Gurley wasn’t supposed to go out like this. He wasn’t supposed to race to a Heisman Trophy campaign lead position by mid-season before missing four games because of antiquated NCAA legalism. He sure as hell wasn’t supposed to return, dismantle the Auburn Tigers and watch his career slip away in garbage time.
But the greatest tragedy of all this is the context with which Gurley’s time at Georgia will always be framed. My memorandum should just read something along the lines of, “Oh no! This sucks! I hope Todd gets well soon. While at Georgia, he ran for a ton of yards and caught a lot of passes too and scored in bunches.”
Instead, his career—his final year at the very least—will forever be defined by the one “what if” that is more painful than what if he hadn’t gotten hurt?
What if the NCAA wasn’t such a complete disaster?
And the scary part is, I don’t know how to answer this hypothetical. Sure, Todd Gurley would be the Heisman Trophy frontrunner. That much is easy. But things get dark when you begin parsing the end of Gurley’s season with its NCAA-induced interruption. I can’t sit here and tell you that Gurley’s prolonged absence (43 days between games) contributed to his injury. But I damn well can tell you he wasn’t in better game shape because of that layover. For all my “his legs will be so fresh” jokes, the fact remains that he didn’t face live contact, live cutting or a live workload for 11.8% of a calendar year, beacuse the NCAA refuses to adapt to a modern era.
Gurley was visibly gassed and often seemed a quarter-step slower on Saturday. Maybe I’m alone in that sentiment, but I don’t think I am. And while we probably shouldn’t make the assumption that his suspension caused or contributed to his injury, that jump to conclusion isn’t any more absurd that the NCAA itself.
Todd Gurley broke a rule. We’ve been over that a thousand times. But that was a victimless crime. Now, Gurley stands to lose money if he slides in the NFL Draft, and for what? So that an NCAA member institution can defeat another member school in a game that may very well have no impact on conference or national titles. I’m throwing this injury on the NCAA. And I’m sentencing Mark Emmert to 100 hours of community service, because I have every bit as much authority to do so as he does.
A few weeks ago, I wished that Gurley wouldn’t come back to play for Georgia. Now I wish that wish had come true.
That’s all I got/