JOE BIDDLE: Todd Gurley goes from Heisman favorite to martyr

JOE BIDDLE: Alabama hands top-ranked Mississippi State its first loss (Image 1)

Georgia will be without the services of former Heisman trophy favorite Todd Gurley for an indefinite time.

Best case scenario? Two to four games. Worst scenario? Todd Gurley’s college football career is over.

Gurley’s case is drawing nationwide attention. He is the best football player in the best football conference.

He is alleged to have taken money from a memorabilia dealer or dealers for his autographs. Meanwhile the University of Georgia has been selling Todd Gurley game jerseys for $140 a pop, so that middle-aged men can be styling between the hedges.

So, who’s the hypocrite here? A college senior who will be a high draft choice in the 2015 NFL draft, or the university that the player played a big part in making them money they never would have made if Gurley had not been a beloved All-American who was the leading Heisman Trophy candidate before the NCAA sleuths uncovered what they believe to be a significant rules violation?

No wonder the Power Five conferences will soon demand autonomy to make their own rules. NCAA be damned. Only the blind have no knowledge that high profile college athletes in football and basketball have for years been getting what the NCAA deems improper benefits, in the form of $100 handshakes, autograph sessions, selling of jerseys and rings, etc.

So Georgia’s season is in ruins. They are playing Missouri Saturday. The winner will be favored to win the SEC East race and play in the SEC Championship Game, which if they should win would likely have put them in the inaugural NCAA Championship Playoffs. Not now.

Gurley has been a one-man wrecking ball on offense. His replacement will be freshman Nick Chubb. Yes, that Nick Chubb.

Gurley has rushed for 773 yards on 94 carries and 8 touchdowns. He completed a 50-yard pass out of the wildcat against Vanderbilt. He has caught 11 passes for 53 yards and returned 3 kickoffs for 147 yards, including a 100-yard return for a touchdown.

That, my friends, is Heisman material.

Chubb has 224 yards on 31 carries and two TDs. Gurley leads the Dawgs with 54 points. Chubb has scored 18 points.

Georgia students have rallied in support of Gurley. Some have gone overboard, as they constructed a candlelight vigil outside the stadium Thursday night, complete with candles and skulls.

One sign displayed the urgency of the situation: Free Gurley.

You would think he is a political refugee, locked up 24 hours a day and being water-boarded.

Bottom line, Gurley is a college football player. Or was. Gurley is arguably the best college football player in the nation. Certainly, he has proven to be the best all-around running back in the sport.

Gurley has seen what happened to elite college football players who chose to sell autographs and merchandise for a price. Former Heisman winner and Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel escaped harsh punishment when the NCAA could not prove he accepted money for autographs. They allegedly have the goods on Gurley.

Manziel had to sit out a half of one game. Gurley’s fate is in the hands of the NCAA. He knew he was out of bounds.

If this had happened five years from now, there would be no consequence. The Power Five conferences are expected to abolish such archaic rules they know will be unenforceable.

Meanwhile, Todd Gurley has been labeled as a martyr, at least by some of his fellow students.

That’s a long way from being the Heisman Trophy favorite.

Contact wkrn.com. Sports Columnist Joe Biddle at joebiddle11@gmail.com.

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