Thursday, July 31, 2008
I know many of you have been reading his work for a decade or more, and since I first moved to Georgia three years ago, I've done the same. I covered UGA for two years at the Albany Herald, and while I'd like to think I did a pretty good job given the limitations of the position, I never had any doubt that Josh was the best reporter on the beat.
During SEC Media Days last week, I sat and chatted with Josh in the lobby of the Wynfrey Hotel one night, and he literally said hello to almost everyone who walked by. He knew them all -- from reporters, to coaches, to various school staff... everyone.
Obviously, as a journalist, I pay close attention to what's going on around the newspaper industry, and I'm always saddened to see a good reporter leave. That seems to be happening a lot lately. But I think Josh's loss is a particularly big one for Georgia fans.
Having said that, I look at the work he has done over the years, and consider it a challenge to live up to that standard. I think it will probably be an impossible standard at times, but however large the shoes I have to fill, I'm glad to have the opportunity to do it.
In any case, I just wanted to use this space to thank Josh for all the work he's done, and hope you'll use the comments section here to do the same.
Brian Mimbs, the Georgia Bulldogs' starting punter and holder last season, has been awarded a scholarship for the 2008 season, head coach Mark Richt announced on Thursday.
"Brian has earned the scholarship," said Richt. "He's worked hard during his career and become one of the best punters in the SEC as well as the country. Brian is a great asset to our program and important to the success of our team."
Mimbs, a 5-11, senior from Dublin, Ga., was tabbed third-team All-SEC in preseason balloting of league coaches. Last season, he finished third in the SEC with an average of 42.4 yards on 57 punts. In addition, Georgia ranked third in the SEC and 14th nationally in net punting at 37.86 yards.
Boling, who was arrested on suspicion of DUI in Alpharetta on May 14, was originally suspended for two games. The sophomore pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of reckless driving last Thursday, however, and head coach Mark Richt cut the suspension in half.
With the change in the charges and the attitude that Clint has demonstrated, I have reevaluated his situation and decided on the one-game suspension as a fair penalty, Richt said in statement issued by the school. Clint has been remorseful and proactive in handling all his responsibilities in a mature manner with a good attitude. He s learned a strong lesson that I m sure will serve him well from here on.
As a true freshman, Boling appeared in all 13 Bulldogs games last season, including 11 starts. His suspension will keep him out of action for Georgia s Aug. 30 opener against Georgia Southern.
Last week, Richt also informed media that, unless further developments occurred, there would be no suspensions for offensive linemen Justin Anderson and Trinton Sturdivant, who were also involved in recent arrests.
From Georgia Sports Blog, 2008 Bulldogs Media Guides are now available for sale . I get mine for free, but it definitely does make for some good bedtime reading.
Red & Black's Jason Butt writes about a potential Hiesman showdown in Week 2 , though I doubt Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour is going to get quite as much press as Knowshon.
The Ledger-Enquirer's Troy Johnson writes about Mark Richt's trip behind enemy lines.
Good news on Clint Boling , who had his DUI charge reduced to reckless driving. This may keep him from being suspended, according to the Red & Black.
Apparently Georgia's trip out west is already bringing results, as the Tuscon Citizen's Anthony Gimino votes the Bulldogs No. 1 in his preseason AP ballot.
The AJC's Chip Towers blogs that it's the Dogs' offense that will need to improve.
The Arkansas Democrat Gazette calls Georgia and Auburn the teams to beat in the SEC.And finally, the Georgia Sports Dept. wants to put your name in lights ... with a $100 donation, that is.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
On future schedule of BCS non-conference opponents:
Mark Richt: When we added the 12th game, we decided as an administraion and myself to add a BCS conference team outside of the southeast region. We'll continue to do that.
On playing time for starters during Games 1 & 2:
Mark Richt: Our goal No. 1 is to try to win the ball game. We'll play the best we have as long as we need to to secure the victory. Our goal is to play a lot of players all throughout the game just so we can keep our starters fresh and healhty. A lot of young men have earned the right to play.
On AJ Green:
Mark Richt: I've not been able to see AJ Greene practice with our players this summer, the rules don't allow us to. But what I hear from our veteran players is that he's a special talent. He seems to be highly motivated to learn what to do. We're definitely going to give him a chance to show what he's got.
On the black jerseys:
Mark Richt: The black jerseys are in Athens and I'm just not sure when we're going to wear them. But we will wear them this year.
(side note: Richt asked questioners for their thoughts on which game the black jerseys should be broken out for... he got varied responses... perhaps that's a better poll for this blog.)
On the kick return and fullback positions:
Mark Richt: Two very good questions. As far as our fullback position Shaun Chapas will be our No. 1 fullback. While Brannon Southerland recovers from his foot surgery. We have moved two LBs to fullback, one being Benjamin Boyd and the other Justin Fields. Just to make sure that Shaun doesn't take too much punishment during the preseason and early in our regular season.
Mark Richt: As far as kick returner, we really are not certain at all as to who will be returning punts or kicks. Asher Allen has done both, and we will probably limit his returning to either punt or kick return. Ramarcus Brown has done a great job as a kick returner and he's the No. 1 candidate now at that position. There's a lot of young talent that's out there that will be vying for the chance to return punts and kicks for us.
On how his son is adapting to life at Clemson:
Mark Richt: Once he got his roommates this summer, I didn't hear from him until he ran out of money in the middle of the month.
From Georgia Athletics Dept:A total of 19 athletes and coaches with ties to University of Georgia athletics will represent nine different native countries at the 29th Summer Olympic Games, which get underway August 8 in Beijing, China.
Swimmers and divers comprise the vast majority of Bulldogs at the Beijing games. Most prominent among them is the current men’s and women’s head coach, Jack Bauerle, who will serve as head coach of the U.S. Olympic women’s swimming squad. Nine other Georgia swimmers, as well as two divers, will also compete in Beijing.
Seven former Georgia track & field athletes will begin competition Aug. 15 in Beijing. Reigning world champion and U.S. Olympic Trials champion shot putter Reese Hoffa headlines this list. Also included among this group is sprinter Debbie Ferguson, a 2000 Olympic gold medalist for her native Bahamas, and American heptathlete Hyleas Fountain, who will also enter the Beijing games as the current U.S. Olympic Trials champion.
One of the most unusual Olympic competitors will be UGA swimming great Sheila Taormina. A 13-time All-American at Georgia from 1988-91, Taormina won a gold medal in her first Olympics as a member of the U.S. team in the 4x200-meter relay in 1996. Four years later in Sydney, she placed sixth in the first-ever Olympic triathlon for women. Taormina has qualified for the Beijing games in the Modern Pentathlon and therefore, she will become the first American Olympian to compete in three different sports.
The 29th Olympiad will begin Aug. 8 and will conclude with the closing ceremonies on Aug. 24.
You can click HERE to post your questions. If you don't participate in the chat today, however, I'm pretty sure ESPN archives their content for Insiders only.
Spearheaded by two national championships, the University of Georgia's athletics program finished 10th in the annual U.S. Sports Academy Director's Cup competition which annually measures the nation's most successful athletic programs.
Georgia won national titles in gymnastics and men's tennis but also had several top ten finishes in other sports including men's swimming (7th), women's swimming (8th), men's golf (8th), and women's golf (10th). Georgia also won a national title in equestrian, a sport that is not yet included in the Director's Cup competition.
In the last ten years, Georgia has finished among the nation's top 12 on nine occasions and among the nation's top ten seven times.
Final 2007-08 top 25 standings with point totals:
1. Stanford, 1461.00; 2. UCLA, 1182.00; 3. Michigan , 1161.00; 4. Arizona State, 1146.00; 5. Texas, 1129.50; 6. Florida, 1126.75; 7. California, 1119.00; 8. Louisiana State U., 1081.66; 9. Penn State, 1041.00; 10. GEORGIA, 1040.00; 11. Ohio State, 1033.75; 12. Texas A&M, 1031.00; 13. Southern California, 1011.25; 14. North Carolina, 977.50; 15. Florida State, 970.50; 16. Tennessee, 952.75; 17. Virginia, 869.00; 18. Wisconsin, 829.50; 19. Duke (N.C.), 820.00; 20. Auburn. 761.50; 21. Notre Dame, 760.50; 22. Washington, 745.25; 23.Oklahoma, 713.00; 24. Arkansas , 696.00; 25. Alabama, 683.00.
Some reading for your Wednesday...
Members of Georgia's track and field teams took home two gold medals and one silver at the NACAC Athletic Association Under-23 Championships in Mexico.
Bleacher Report ranks the level of job security for SEC coaches . I don't think there's a very good chance there will be any coaching vacancies at the end of the year, but I agree with BR that if there is one, it will probably be at Tennessee. I also wouldn't be completely surprised if Steve Spurrier decides South Carolina is a lost cause after another sub-par year.
Among other notes, the AJC's Tony Barnhart writes that the much talked about Alabama-Virginia Tech game at the Georgia Dome could still happen.
From the Cullman Times, a former UGA and Georgia Southern baseball coach has joined the UAB staff.
The Telegraph's Travis Fain writes that UGA's Chapel bell will be back in place in time for football season after a trip to Ohio for repairs.
The AJC's Michael Carvell writes that a top recruit from Alabama will consider a scholarship offer from Georgia... if he's still wanted, that is.
A Tennesee Web site hails Georgia as a nearly perfect team.
The Ledger-Enquirer details the chaos Mark Richt has dealt with the past few months as he's met excited Georgia fans.
Here's my story from Richt's appearance in Columbus yesterday.
And lest any of you think I'm a hack who only writes poorly about college football, I offer my column from today's Telegraph as proof I can also write poorly about other sports.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
More than the lack of time, however, Richt looked exhausted. He checked his cell phone a few times while answering the TV reporters' questions (although, I'm certain he no longer requires full attention when answering "How do you handle the preseason expectations?") and seemed to get a bit off track in his responses -- more so than usual.
This is Day 2 in a row of Bulldog Club meetings for him, and since I've been basically living out of the trunk of my car for the past week, too, I can empathize with his lack of excitement for another round of questions.
In any case, this is all a long way of saying there wasn't much information garnered from the interview.
Here's what he did say:
-- He recounted the first time someone asked him to autograph their shoe (that was the highlight).
-- He discussed dealing with preseason expectations for the 1,987,865th time.
-- He said Knowshon would get between 15 and 25 carries per game, minimum.
-- He said Caleb King had the inside track on the #2 RB job, but the competition would be open during preseason.
-- He named three guys people aren't talking about who might have big years: DE Justin Houston, K Drew Butler, and RB Carlton Thomas.
(Side note: Given the opponents, what are the odds Moreno isn't leading Georgia in rushing yards after the first two weeks? There's a ton of talent in that backfield. It'll be interesting to see what they do with what could be two mop-up jobs in the second half.)
And finally, asked about the attention he's received and excitement he's seen the past few weeks, here's what Richt had to say:
(David) Greene and (David) Pollack s senior year was as close as it s come here at Georgia. There was a lot of years where Florida State was ranked there, but I don t know if there s anything more intense than what the Georgia fans have been able to produce as far as excitement.
From Rivals, Richt discusses the search for Brandon Coutu's replacement. NOTE: Subscription required.
UGA slipped in the polls -- well, the Princeton Review's poll of top party schools , that is -- from fifth to seventh. Georgia did finish No. 5 in best school newspaper though, which proves my theory that newspaper writers know how to party. Oh, and which party school was No. 1? Yup, those Gators down in Florida. Looks like there's more than one rivalry to deal with this football season.
Georgia Sports Blog has 2008 UGA schedule t-shirts for sale.
And finally, a Georgia city earns ESPN's pointless summer series championship, "Titletown: USA." But the real question is, just how NOW! is Valdosta? Perhaps ESPN can assemble two celebrities and a journalist who used to have credebility to discuss.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Vandy getting 1.5 vs. Miam Ohio... poor Vandy
South Carolina is giving 13 to NC State
Michigan hosts Utah and is giving just 7 with the ghosts of App St still lingering
Ole Miss gives 10 to Memphis
Oregon gives 10.5 to Washington
UAB is a 15-point dog at home to Tulsa
My old friend (and former UGA writer for the Albany Herald) Colin Chmielewski will be happy to see Minnesota a 10-point favorite. Probably won't happen again this year.
Virginia Tech is giving 11.5 at East Carolina... my buddy, a Tech grad, calls this line "scary."
Florida is giving 27 to Hawaii... I'm sure this is the proverbial "pickle jar" argument. You know, Georgia already loosened Hawaii up for them.
USC is giving 17 at Virginia
Clemson is giving 5 to Alabama (I think I like Bama here. Tide might be my surprise SEC team this season)
Auburn gives 27.5 to La-Monroe
Kentucky gets 3 at Louisville... this should be an intriguing Week 1 game, too.
NOTE: As a matter of keeping my job, etc., I remind you that all discussion of odds here are for informational/entertainment purposes only, and I do not encourage you to gamble at all, especially if you are as bad at it as I am.
University of Georgia s track and field and cross country teams, according
to an announcement from head coach Wayne Norton.
Pigg comes to Georgia after serving a similar post at the University of
Florida since 2002.
Coach Pigg brings a lot of experience to the position, said Norton. He
has done a very good job over the last few years at Florida so our staff and
team are excited to have him here. He has fit in very well with everyone in
Also of note: I'm hoping to speak with Georgia diver Chris Colwill today or tomorrow about the Olympics.
Here's the Richt stuff:
On the upcoming season:
"Excited about our football team. We've got an awful lot of returning starters that have played a lot of ball for us. We've got a lot of guys that have backed up that have played a lot of ball for us. I think a year ago we did a good job of allowing more guys to play. I think that paid big dividends as the season went on. It helped our morale. It helped our team speed. I think it helped our health.
I think we were fresher. I think we were healthier. We're going to continue to try to do that as time goes on. But we're going to report here in a couple days and get it going. With that I thought I'd answer what you want to know, not what I might want to let you know."
On Prince Miller:
"Yeah, Prince, he's a very quiet, unassuming guy. He came from a great high school in South Carolina, Burns High School. They do nothing but work there. They do nothing but work there. He knew how to work the Georgia way. He knew how to compete. He played as a freshman. He's been very steady since he's been at Georgia. He's a tremendous special team player and a field corner for us.
He's gotten stronger, he's gotten faster, he's gotten more mature. He was always a pretty tough son of a gun. I just expect him to play extremely well for us.
With the amount of spread offenses that are being added to our schedule, you know, in and out of conference, our corners are going to be their tongues are going to be hanging out because they're going to be playing a lot of three cornerback defenses. He's certainly one of those top three, that's for sure."
On the tough schedule:
"Again, you know, here's our deal. We know everybody on our schedule can beat us. I mean, we know everybody in our division can and has beaten us. We know when we play Alabama, Auburn, LSU in the West, that's rough. We know when we play Arizona State at Arizona State, playing Georgia Tech, you know, when we play Georgia Southern, who has won national championships, Central Michigan, who won their league two years in a row. I mean, everybody we play, they all know how to win.
We don't sit there and say, Well, we got this one, we got that one. Boy, that will be a tough one. We know they're all gonna be tough. Our state of mind going into the game, every game, is that it's gonna be a 60 minute war. And if you think it's gonna be anything different, and it becomes that, you're in trouble.
So, I mean, I'm thinking of what plays we're gonna call in an overtime period before the game even starts. That's kind of how I go into every game (laughter). When we win games, I feel relief. I don't feel like, Well, we should have had that one, just get puffed up about it. You know, I know every victory's a tough one.
But that's the exciting part about this league. That's the exciting part about this season in particular. It's a great, great challenge, as you said. We've got outstanding coaches. We've got outstanding players. We've got some experience. But so does everybody else.
I mean, LSU won the National Championship. Great football team. Not good team; great team. They lost twice. You know, that's just the way college football is. That's the way our league is."
On where Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno rank among the great RB-QB tandems he's coached:
"Well, there's been Charlie Ward-Warrick Dunn was a pretty great tandem, no doubt. These guys, I don't know if they rival that or not. When you look at the production of Charlie and Warrick together, it's pretty outstanding, pretty spectacular. Will they be as productive as those two? I don't know.
As far as being creative with those guys, Knowshon is versatile enough to do something besides just be an I back, no question. Matthew can certainly play under center. His whole high school career he was in the gun. He's got much more running ability than I think people give him credit for. We have incorporated QB run with Matthew because he's a legitimate runner. He's a guy that if you don't make a plan for him, then you could get hurt by him. We don't want to game plan it where he's going to be the runner, you know, 10 or 20 times a game necessarily. But we'll pick our spots.
They do give you some good versatility. A more mature line, that gives you more versatility. I mean, last year we had three freshmen starting for us, and you can't be quite as creative when the line can't quite hold up like you want it to down after down.
Hopefully we'll be a little bit better up front earlier in the season, and that will help us, too."
On whether he looks for a specific body type when recruiting:
"We don't. I think a lot of people do have a certain size that you have to be or speed that you have to be to play a certain position. If we were really caught up in that, we wouldn't have Rennie Curran today starting as a true freshman at linebacker. Some guys just break the mold and are highly, highly productive. What we have to gauge is can he take that high school productivity and actually be able to get it done at our level.
Sometimes there are great high school players that can't translate. So you do have to be careful. You can't have a massive amount of those guys. But every once in a while there's a guy that can do it.
I mean, for me, we've had 5'6" receivers and we've had 6'6" receivers. If the guy is 6'6" and doesn't run as fast probably, at least he can out jump somebody or out muscle somebody. There's something about him that makes us feel like he can win and he can produce in our league.
The character of the man makes a big difference, too. You know, you might have a smaller man in stature, but he's a very big man when it comes to integrity. You know, that goes a long way for us and how we decide who we're gonna bring in."
On Blake Barnes' decision to transfer:
"You know, Blake's a wonderful kid. I still text Blake. We keep up with each other. I mean, we're Christian brothers. We get along great. He was not mad when he left. He just knew Stafford was gonna play. He wanted to play. He wanted to see what it felt like to be the leader of a football team. So he found a place where he would have that opportunity. He's excited about his opportunity.
You know, every once in a while that's what a guy feels like he needs to do. You know, D.J. Shockley, on the other hand, he wanted to wait through the David Green era. Even if he had a shot to only play that one season, it was worth it to him. Joe Cox is here playing behind Stafford in the same age group. They're both juniors right now.
Some guys decide they want to stay and some guys decide they just want to go and try something. I'm all for that. Just as long as they continue their education, keep chasing their dream, I'm happy for them."
On the possibility of a plus-one system and an early signing date:
"The early signing date, I was not really in favor of it. In my opinion, if we move the early signing date up, then all of a sudden we're gonna have a lot more official visits in season when you're trying to coach your team. You want to coach your team. It's hard to have a great official visit and do a great job coaching your team.
Now, the idea came up, if a guy wants to sign early, which is somewhere around the junior college signing date, December, whatever it was, they said if a guy the only way a guy can be eligible to sign early is if you did not participate in an official visit because you already knew where you wanted to go.
So now, with that idea in mind, my fear of having too many official visits all of a sudden disappeared or dissipated anyway. I'm thinking, That might not be a bad idea. If you got 10 guys that know doggone well they want to be at Georgia, don't want to take any official visit, that's going to make our life easier maybe in season. That's when it turned me, that suggestion tagged onto an early signing date, turned my thinking to saying, That might not be a bad idea. Then you could concentrate.
Let's face it. If a pool of players have decided what to do early, then everybody else knows where to go. The players know. Let's say a guy committed at his position. He knows to go to another school. We know we didn't get this guy. We know to go after another player. I think that's not a bad thing.
But it moves that calendar up, if it forces more official visits in the summer or something like that, I'm like, Forget it. We all need our summers, coaches, our families, the players, the high school coaches. Even our academic advisors. I mean our academic advisors are on call all summer when an official visit walks in town and wants to learn about what's going on. We all need to take a little break."
On what position concerns him the most heading into the season:
"Well, still offensive line. We have one junior lineman, no senior linemen. We have one junior lineman, Vince Vance. He's a second year junior college player. He's one of the few junior college guys that can come out with three to play three because he didn't play one year in junior college because of an injury.
That's our junior, but he's only been here two years. The rest are freshmen and sophomores. Yes, three did start last year. But we literally could be starting, you know, four sophomores and a true freshman possibly.
That's still a very young unit.
At safety, we've got three guys right now that I think are really game ready. You get one of those guys hurt, now you don't have any substitutes that have had any game experience at all. That's a little bit of a concern.
You know, there's other positions that even tailback, let's face it, Knowshon, he's a heck of a tailback. I have zero game experience behind him. Caleb King is a redshirt freshman, and the other three guys are true freshmen. There's no other game experience besides Knowshon.
What looks like a tremendous strength may not be, especially if he tweaks his ankle and he's out for three weeks or something.
Even at fullback right now with some injuries, I've got one fullback with any experience at all for that first ballgame. We moved two linebackers to play fullback, at least for the first couple ballgames. We're waiting on a couple guys to get healthier off of a suspension. So those are some of the areas.
You mentioned kicker. We think Blair Walsh is the number one candidate for that position. We scholarshipped him because we thought he's a heck of a player. Brian Mimbs, our punter, has been working with him all summer. He likes what he sees. We're excited about that. Hopefully he can handle the pressure of the job."
Georgia men s tennis assistant coach Will Glenn has been promoted
to associate head coach, according to an announcement Monday by head coach
Manuel Diaz. Glenn has served as an assistant for the Bulldogs since 2005.
We are very excited to reward Will with the new title of associate head
coach, Diaz said. Will has played a pivotal role in our program s
outstanding record over the last three years. He is a terrific influence on
our young men and plays a big part in their personal and athletic
development. He has great commitment and work ethic, and we are very
pleased that he will continue to help us mold these young men.
During Glenn s three seasons on the Georgia staff, the Bulldogs have
compiled an 89-4 record, two national titles and three SEC crowns. During
his tenure, five Bulldogs have earned 11 All-America honors and 16 have
nabbed All-SEC honors.
If any of you have some thoughts on other things to add to the blog (whether for this week or in the future) let me know.
On to today's links...
OK, if someone wants to explain this post from/about Thomas Brown on Bleacher Report, I'm all ears. For something a bit more informative, here's a story from the Gainesville Times on how Brown is fitting in with the Falcons.
Don't expect me to link to Auburn blogs often, but this is a really good post on what the SEC might look like in 25 years. So, what surprises do you see in store for us when the league turns 100?
The Charleston Post and Courier reports that South Carolina has the inside track on three recruits out of Georgia.
Scout.com gives us more on my boy Dicky Lyons Jr. You know, before I moved here from Lexington, I said there wouldn't be a lot I was going to miss from Kentucky. Well, now my list is: Fridays at Keeneland, Pazzos Pizza, convenient access to bourbon and Dicky Lyons Jr.
The Arizona Republic's Amy Brittain writes about Georgia's September trip to Phoenix. I've really got to start hitting the gym... only 54 days left for me to get in shape.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has five questions for WR Kenneth Harris, which includes plenty of discussion about the crowded depth chart at receiver for UGA this year. I think the WR position might be the most interesting on the roster as we head into camp. There's a lot of talent there, but not a clear-cut, go-to guy. Clearly Knowshon will be the offensive focal point, but I think the WRs will be the difference between a very good offense and a potentially great one.
Question for the readers: Which member of the Bulldogs' receiving corps will have the best year?
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Hope everyone had a great weekend. Here are a few links for your Sunday reading pleasure...
John Adams from GoVolsXtra.com says Mark Richt ought to send the Vols a thank-you card for turning the Bulldogs' season around last year. From talking to Richt and some of the players, Adams might not be too far off.
In fact, my feature for the Telegraph/Ledger-Enquirer today details just how that Tennessee game changed both the Dawgs and Richt.
Of course, down in Gainesville, GatorCountry.com still thinks Richt is a jerk (and, apparently, a liar).
Bleacher Report's Brian Trascher offers Dawgs fans a bit of preseason advice.
The Chatanooga Times Free Press's David Paschall has a good piece on the new 40-second clock being used in college football this year. This is the NCAA's third clock rule change in three years, which is a bit ridiculous.
During Media Days, Richt said he was jealous he didn't have a chance to take advantage of the new rules during his early days at Georgia, but also admitted the ability of teams to stall at the line of scrimmage will likely annoy the heck out of fans.
From the Pensacola News Journal, Jason Blakeny wonders why the media loves Georgia so much this year --- except in its preseason poll.
The Oregonian wraps up SEC Media Days. Yeah, you know your conference has some real box office cred when a paper on the opposite coast is covering it. Trust me when I tell you, newspapers aren't exactly throwing around cash for frivilous travel expenses.One more note: A few people have asked me whether I'll be posting on dawg-extra.blogspot.com or ugadogsblog.blogspot.com this season. The answer is, I'll be doing both. Content on both sites is added simultaneously. One site is linked from the Macon Telegraph, the other is linked from the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer. We'll be making some hosting changes in the near future though, so all this is subject to change. I will keep you all in the loop. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed Week 1 of the blog.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
The AJC's Tony Barnhart writes that, in the wake of the Phil Fulmer debacle at Media Days, it's time to move the event to Atlanta .
I'll have a story about Mark Richt in tomorrow's paper, but for now, enjoy reading the Charleston Post and Courier's Ken Burger's piece about the SEC's resident nice guy .
Patrick Garbin has a new book coming out chronicling the 50 greatest plays in Georgia football history .
I cannot vouch for the accuracy of this story, but I'll link to anything that involves a picture of a six-legged deer .
Friday, July 25, 2008
SEC Media Days 2008 was everything I expected and a little more. People fawned over Tebow. Urban Meyer's still mad about Georgia's touchdown celebration. Steve Spurrier had reporters eating out of the palm of his hand. Oh, and Dicky Lyons became my new favorite player in the SEC (I've circled UGA vs. UK on my schedule now).
So, before I sign off and head home, I figured I'd share some of the highlights of my trip to Hoover.
BEST DRESSED: It's a toss up between Tennesee's Arian Foster and South Carolina's Jasper Brinkley. Foster rocked a white suit with black dress shirt. Brinkley had some sort of black-and-maroon combo that was just fantastic. Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt, on the other hand, is definitely an "off the rack" kind of guy.
BEST QUESTION: Amid the overwhelming outpouring of love for Tebow, one reporter managed to top the rest with this little nugget: "Tim, do you ever wish you could clone yourself?"
Yes, just what Georgia fans need: TWO Tim Tebows.
Other great Tebow moments included his story about being recognized in a German airport, his revelation that he doesn't shop at Wal-Mart and a reporter who, having noticed the Heisman Trophy on display in the lobby, asked Tebow if he brought the Heisman with him wherever he went.
"Is it here?" Tebow responded. "I thought it was at my parents' house!"
Actually, it was brought here by Nissan, an event sponsor. The reporter should have known better. As anyone can tell you, getting the Heisman through airport security is a total hassle.
BEST INSULT BY A COACH: LSU head coach Les Miles, who reminded everyone that Alabama was 0-fer against schools in Louisiana last season.
BEST INSULT BY A REPORTER: A writer was interested in how tenaciously Tommy Tuberville recruits against Alabama, and phrased his question this way: "When your in-state rivals had 10 players arrested in 18 months, does that give you an advantage on the recruiting trail?"
BEST INSULT BY ME: New Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino was asked about how the gaudy salaries paid to SEC coaches these days compare to his early years in the business. Petrino then reflected on his youth, and how his father made him get a job instead of playing baseball one summer.
Petrino: "Each spring and summer, that's what I did was worked. I had some great jobs. I delivered produce. I ran the dock at a dairy. The last year, he made me take out the milk truck, so I was a milkman for a year."
Me: "Wow, even back then Petrino switched jobs every year."
MOST INEXPLICABLE OCCURRENCE: For some reason, the wireless network in the press room at the Wynfrey changed the Google default language on everyone's computers to Dutch. So when I mistakenly misspelled "Mohamed Massaquoi" while doing a search for his 2007 stats, I was asked by Google: "Ergebnisse Bildersuche nach Mohamed Massaquoi?" Yes, Google, I did Bildersuche nach Mohamed Massaquoi.
MOST EAGERLY ANTICIPATED QUESTION: Let's just say when a dozen stories pop up about Phil Fulmer being served a subpoena an hour before he takes the podium, a certain level of excitement fills the air. Sadly, Fulmer wasn't quite as enthusiastic about the situation.
"I would have some choice words if there weren't so many cameras here," he said.
THREE STORIES INVOLVING AN ELEVATOR:
1.) So Wednesday, I was taking the elevator from my room on the 10th floor down to the lobby to grab some food. On the eighth floor, the doors open, and a tall, early 30s guy in a fluorescent blue polo shirt with the collar flipped up gets on. My first thought is, "I know this guy from somewhere." My next thought is, "Seriously, who still flips their shirt collar up?"
Three floors later, the doors open again and a man waiting for the elevator recognizes polo-shirt guy.
"Jesse Palmer!" he yells excitedly. "How the heck are you?"
So, yeah, the former "Bachelor" star and current ESPN college football analyst is still rocking the polo shirt look from 2004. I'm not sure if that makes me happy or sad.
2.) I'm heading up to my room in the elevator with one of my friends when a woman in the elevator reads his credential.
"Oh," she says. "You work for a newspaper. I thought you were football players."
What a nice lady. Bad eyesight, but a nice lady.
3.) Wednesday night, a friend and I were heading out on the town. OK, we were going to karaoke -- but I can only assume that qualifies as "a night on the town" in Hoover.
So we're on the elevator, engrossed in conversation about something trivial. When we get to the lobby, the doors open and we walk off. Waiting to get on the elevator, however, is Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville.
As we pass by, Tuberville says, "Hey guys, how are you?"
Still engrossed in our conversation, I mindlessly blurt out a half-hearted "Yeah, hey" without even considering the fact that it was Tommy Tuberville.
He gets on the elevator, we walk a few more feet, and my friend says, "Um, did we just snub Tommy Tuberville?"
"It's OK," I said. "He'll just assume we were Alabama fans."
Now, I'm not saying that snub was quite as traumatic for him as going undefeated and failing to make the BCS title game, but I'm sure it stung.
Lyons, a senior at UK, recently got engaged. Since then, he said, he's been having regular dreams that his fiancee is leaving him.
"Cosmo says it's natural to have these dreams," Lyons said.
After attending a camp hosted by Peyton and Eli Manning and attended by dozens of top college players, including Stafford, Lyons had another of these dreams. In it, Lyons follows his fiancee to a local bar because, he said, he was suspicious of her. When they reach the bar, he approaches her and asks what she's doing. She responds that she doesn't want to marry him.
Frustrated, Lyons shakes her and yells at her to focus. Then, he makes the mistake of slapping her in an attempt to bring her back to reality. That's when our hero, Matthew Stafford, intervenes.
"I turn around," Lyons said, "and Matt Stafford punches me in the nose."
Stafford then yells at Lyons that, "You don t hit women!"
Like all great dreams, a bit of craziness ensued from there. Former Georgia quarterback Blake Barnes -- who can t even get past Stafford on the depth chart in Lyons dreams! -- steps in and starts hitting Lyons, too.
"I'm fighting all these quarterbacks," Lyons said, "and I did pretty well because I was fighting them, twisting their arms, and I knew a bunch of Army Ranger chokes in my dream. It was just crazy."
When he woke up, Lyons was still laughing about the dream. So he grabbed his cell phone and dashed off a quick text message to Stafford. "I'm dreaming about you," it said.
So did Stafford reply?
"No, no response," Lyons said. "I don't know if he liked me that much."
Here are the media preseason SEC picks:
HOOVER, Ala. (July 25, 2008) -- The Florida Gators havebeen voted by the attending media at 2008 Southeastern ConferenceFootball Media Days to capture the SEC football championship. Theresults were announced on the third and final day of the media days atthe Wynfrey Hotel. The Gators were selected as Eastern Divisionchampions while Auburn was selected to represent the Western Division.
Of the 70 members of the media who voted, Florida was named SECChampion on 36 ballots, Georgia on 18, Auburn 13 and LSU, Tennessee andOle Miss one each. In the Eastern Division, Florida had 45 first-placevotes, Georgia (23) and Tennessee (2). The Gators, Bulldogs andVolunteers were selected 1-2-3 in the Eastern Division followed bySouth Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.
In the Western Division, Auburn was named first place on 48ballots, while LSU received 21 first place votes and Ole Miss 1. Thepredicted order of finish in the Western Division was Auburn, LSU,Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Arkansas.
In the pre-season All-SEC Team voting, Auburn had ninerepresentatives on the first and second teams while LSU had eight. Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina each had five playersselected. Florida had the most first-team selections with fivefollowed by LSU and Tennessee with four each.
There were no unanimous selections to the All-SEC Team. Florida linebacker wide receiver Percy Harvin was the leadingvote-getter with 68 votes while Gator linebacker Brandon Spikes had 65votes. Alabama offensive lineman Andre Smith, Ole Miss offensivelineman Michael Oher, Florida quarterback Tim Tebow were named on 64ballots.
The results of the balloting are listed below:
2008 SEC MEDIA DAYS PRE-SEASON ALL-SEC FOOTBALL TEAM
(#-Ties) (70 total voters / Total Votes in parenthesis)
FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- OFFENSE
Pos. Name School
TE Cornelius Ingram (56) Florida
OL Andre Smith (64) Alabama
OL Michael Oher (64) Ole Miss
OL Anthony Parker (56) Tennessee
OL Herman Johnson (45) LSU
C Jonathan Luigs (58) Arkansas
WR Percy Harvin (68) Florida
WR Kenny McKinley (46) South Carolina
QB Tim Tebow (64) Florida
RB Knowshon Moreno (68) Georgia
RB Arian Foster (50) Tennessee
SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- OFFENSE
Pos. Name School
TE Richard Dickson (9) LSU
OL Ciron Black (12) LSU
OL Tyronne Green (9) Auburn
OL Lee Ziemba (8) Auburn
OL Garry Williams (8) Kentucky
C Antoine Caldwell (10) Alabama
WR Mohamed Massaquoi (11) Georgia
WR Demetrius Byrd (9) LSU
QB Matthew Stafford (6) Georgia
RB Anthony Dixon (16) Mississippi State
RB Ben Tate (2) Auburn
FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- DEFENSE
Pos. Name School
DL Greg Hardy (53) Ole Miss
DL Tyson Jackson (52) LSU
DL Sen'Derrick Marks (45) Auburn
LB Brandon Spikes (65) Florida
LB Rico McCoy (46) Tennessee
LB Jasper Brinkley (41) South Carolina
LB #Darry Beckwith (40) LSU
LB #Dannell Ellerbe (40) Georgia
DB Derek Pegues (60) Mississippi State
DB Eric Berry (56) Tennessee
DB D.J. Moore (46) Vanderbilt
DB Rashad Johnson (43) Alabama
SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- DEFENSE
Pos. Name School
DL Ricky Jean-Francois (18) LSU
DL Antonio Coleman (10) Auburn
DL Jeremy Jarmon (9) Kentucky
LB Tray Blackmon (17) Auburn
LB Rolando McClain (15) Alabama
LB Eric Norwood (14) South Carolina
LB Jamar Chaney (8) Mississippi State
DB Captain Munnerlyn (20) South Carolina
DB Trevard Lindley (15) Kentucky
DB Asher Allen (13) Georgia
DB Jerraud Powers (12) Auburn
FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- SPECIAL TEAMS
Pos. Name School
PK Colt David (41) LSU
P Ryan Shoemaker (40) Auburn
RS Brandon James (35) Florida
SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- SPECIAL TEAMS
Pos. Name School
PK Wes Byrum (16) Auburn
P Ryan Succop (20) South Carolina
RS Javier Arenas (20) Alabama
SEC PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
SEC Champion - Florida (36), Georgia (18), Auburn (13), LSU (1), Tennessee (1), Ole Miss (1).
1. Florida (45) 98
2. Georgia (23) 121
3. Tennessee (2) 222
4. South Carolina 266
5. Kentucky 356
6. Vanderbilt 407
1. Auburn (48) 99
2. LSU (21) 120
3. Alabama 228
4. Mississippi State 299
5. Ole Miss (1) 338
6. Arkansas 386
Thursday, July 24, 2008
Richt on Brannan Southerland's injury rehab:
I've heard nothing of a setback. It's 12 to 16 (weeks). That s the range, and hopefully it's closer to 12 than 16.
Richt on distributing the ball on offense:
We've always really spread it around more than some people like. Last year was really the first time since Musa Smith that we've really had a featured back.
Richt on the pace of Georgia's offense:
Our philosophy has kind of changed. We have not been a team that's going to fast-break, no-huddle. We've been a little bit more deliberate about how we go about our business. We've been on the side of wanting to shorten the game, even offensively, at times.
Richt on why the offensive philosophy has changed:
What changed was my frustration at my inability to (speed up) with the rules we had. And then when you have the runners that we've had, you take advantage of that, too, in your balance of what you re trying to do. We became more of a team that s just going to get in the huddle and run our plays, but not do it at break-neck speed.
Owens on the depth on the D-line:
We have a lot of depth at a lot of positions. In the past, we haven t had a lot of depth, especially at defensive tackle. This year, we have like seven, eight guys, plus we have two new freshmen that have come in. So we have a lot of guys, a lot of talent. There s a lot of talented kids out there with that fire, they re hungry and want to win.
Massaquoi on freshman running back Caleb King:
He's a lot like Knowshon (Moreno). We knew Knowshon was going to be a great back. Caleb King is another guy that s loaded with talent. He brings a lot to the table. He's a hard runner with great vision, so he's going to do great things for us this year, also.
Massaquoi on the roles of Moreno and Matt Stafford:
Those guys, you re able to identify with them as the playmakers. You re able to identify with them as the face of Georgia. So the other guys are just trying to help them out as best we can.
In the Criminal Justice System Phil Fulmer is represented by two separate, yet equally important groups: The Tennessee fans who want to see an SEC title, and the Alabama law enforcement community which looks forward to his arrival at Media Days every year. This is their story…
UPDATE: Quote from Fulmer regarding the subpoena (it took exactly two questions before the topic came up, by the way):
“I have not seen a subpoena and I’ve said this is not the place for that kind of thing. … the fans are not interested in that kind of B.S. and I’d have some other choice words if there weren’t so many cameras in here.”
In his morning meeting with UGA beat writers, Mark Richt addressed the disciplinary issues surrounding guard Justin Anderson and tackle Trinton Sturdivant, who were arrested on misdemeanor battery charges last month.
"I'm handling their discipline in house," Richt said. "This is a situation in my opinion that, unless I hear something new, it's a situation that needs to be discipline but, it's going to be an in-house deal and it will not turn into any kind of playing time issue for them."
While most Bulldogs fans would love to see their quarterback go first in the draft, they'd probably prefer that happens in 2010, rather than next year. Head coach Mark Richt is no different.
"I hope that he is the first pick of the draft -- two years from now," Richt said. "I m sure Matthew is going to have to make a tough decision when the season is over, but I know he came to win a lot of games, he came to win championships, he came to play great as a collegian. I know he doesn t feel he s reached his full potential as a college player and as a Georgia Bulldog. So this is just an exciting time for him. He s in the best condition of his life. He s ready to have a great experience, and that s what we re hoping for.
Check out our coverage from Day 1 of Media Days: SEC almost probation free , Tebow talks about UGA's celebration , MSU's Jamar Chaney talks about missing out on UGA , and Les Miles muses about Alabama.
A former coworker, Chip Cosby at the Lexington Herald-Leader writes about the Tim Tebow lovefest yesterday.
From the Albany Herald's Paul Dehner, a great column on Florida's other player representative.
From the Georgia Sports Blog: Rules for Cheering for the Dawgs this season. Read them. Know them. Live them.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On why he brought his sophomore quarterback Wesley Carroll to Media Days instead of a senior:
I didn t read in the handbook where you had to have a senior.
On allowing early commitments for recruits:
I got a letter the other day from a kid in the ninth grade. Wanted to know if we offered a scholarship. I hope it doesn t get to that point.
On not having to face LSU s Glenn Dorsey this year:
I know whoever they put out there is going to be a great player, but I m still glad Dorsey is gone.
On whether he views left tackle as the most important position on the offensive line:
I can t believe you asked that question to a former center.
And, my favorite, his explanation of how the Internet works:
all these different kind of tubes we have on the Internet, all that stuff, I don t totally understand it all.
Well, at least I don t have to worry about him reading this and getting mad at me.
"(Mark Richt) has done a great job and recruited extremely well, and (UGA) got better as the season went on. I saw them a couple times against crossover opponents. They certainly ran the football better and improved as the year went on. It will certainly be a very competitive game and I look forward to seeing our teams match up. It will be great."
On replacing DL Glenn Dorsey:
He was not only a very talented man but was really one of the very strongest defensive leaders that we had. He was a guy that, bumped or bruised or not, he was coming to play. ... I don t know that that piece of Glenn Doreey will be replaced. He was exceptional that way. But I think our front is awfully talented and, as a group, they may well play as well statistically as that group a year ago."
On replacing QB Matt Flynn after dismissing presumptive starter Ryan Perrilloux:
First of all, any time you get rid of a student athlete, it's not something that you enjoy. You don t look at the postitves. I wish (Perrilloux) the best and hope he takes this lesson and goes on. But I like our quarterbacks and felt like we ve had the entire spring for these guys that will be our quarterbacks and it's to our advantage that the entire spring was played by the guys that will be playing in the fall.
Slive said he was happy to be "out of the penalty box" as coordinator of the BCS, but said he was disappointed to have failed to garner enough support for the "Plus One" system.
The 'Plus-one' concept is now in the public domain and will serve as the basic for comparison for you and the fans each December when the games are announced, Slive said.
No kidding. What would December be without debate over the BCS?
In any case, Slive hasn't given up hope, saying the idea wasn't dead, but it might take a while before we see any major changes.
The review and analysis of the plus-one is a marathon," he said, "not a sprint.
UP NEXT: Urban Meyer
-- Outside the press room at the Wynfrey there are two coffee dispensers -- one regular, one decaf. That ratio seems way out of whack to me.
-- The lights in the media dining room were turned way down for lunch. I can only assume this was to set a romantic mood for the Tim Tebow love fest that's about to ensue.
-- The Heisman Trophy is resting comfortably just outside the door to the print media room. I'd love to hear some comments on who you all think should be the favorites to be holding it in NY at the end of the year.
-- From Bleacher Report: Sure, I'm planning to ride David Ching and Josh Kendall's coattails with this gig, but that's nothing compared to UGA VII, who's already topping "best mascot" lists, despite the fact that he's yet to be on the sideline for a game.
-- Getting in a plug for my boss, here's a good column from the Telegraph's Daniel Shirley about the Dogs' and Tech's divergent preseason outlooks.
-- Chattanooga's Darren Epps offers 10 big questions in the SEC leading up to Media Days.
-- Opeilika Auburn News' Collin Mickle has a good story about Tigers defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks' wardrobe troubles heading to Media Days. Interesting side note from the story, Marks will be the first non-senior to represent Auburn at Media Days since Jason Campbell in 2003.
-- And finally, from Athens Banner-Herald: Sad to see the stumbling economy hitting UGA. I'm coming to this job from a stint teaching journalism at Eastern Kentucky University, and I know firsthand the effects these higher education budget cuts have on students, faculty and staff. Call me crazy, but troubled economic times seem to be a better reason than any to invest in education. But what do I know? I'm just a sports writer.
Tuesday, July 22, 2008
Of course, there’s also a chance this first week turns into Michigan’s opener against App. State or Andre Woodson’s run at the Heisman last season. I’m making no promises.
But with SEC Media Days about to kick off, there’s really no better time to get started. The three-day event in Hoover, Ala. is the media equivalent of a three-day binge at a Golden Corral buffet – there’s a little bit of everything, and just about everyone is indulging to excess. I’m keeping Tumms handy, along with a healthy stock of Tylenol.
But before we get into the nuts and bolts of a new season of SEC football, I wanted to take a quick moment to introduce myself to the many regular readers of the Macon Telegraph, Columbus Ledger-Enquirer or any random readers who are stopping by between shopping for Amish furniture on eBay and checking their fantasy baseball scores at ESPN.com.
My name is David Hale, and a quick Google search reveals that I am no more than the 63rd most important person with that name in the world. I’ve lived in Georgia for two of the past three years, during which time I covered UGA football regularly. I’ll tell you right off the bat I neither root for the Bulldogs nor do I root against them. What I root for is a good story, and luckily for me, Georgia routinely does a good job of delivering exactly that.
I am firmly of the belief that transparency is important in sports journalism, so I will tell you that I do root for two teams: the University of Delaware (which does not play Division I-A football) and Syracuse University (which probably shouldn’t be playing Division I-A football). I attended both schools, which failed to prepare me at all for the enormous impact college football has in this part of the county. Needless to say, I like it here a lot better.
As for this blog, I’m hoping it quickly becomes part of your regular UGA-reading repertoire, though I am not fully prepared to discuss my top-secret plan to make that happen. Suffice it to say, I may resort to giving out candy.
There are many sports writers who believe they are the experts and you are the lowly fans. I am not one of those sports writers. I love hearing what the fans have to say, and it’s my hope that this blog will provide a forum for us to have an on-going conversation about UGA football (and other sports) as the season progresses. I welcome your feedback, your input, your questions and your comments.
If there’s something you like, let me know. If there’s something you’d like to see more of, I’m happy to do it. If you have a question for me, I’ll answer, and if you have questions you want me to ask the players and coaches, I’ll add it to my notebook and do my best to get a response. If you have criticisms, that’s fine, too. I do, however, have one rule: If you have a complaint, make sure it falls into one of two categories: 1.) Constructive criticism (i.e. a legitimate idea on how to improve the blog) or 2.) entertainment (i.e. you can feel free to call me a moron, as long as you do it creatively).
So, with that, let’s get things started. Media Days kicks off tomorrow morning at the Wynfrey Hotel. I’ll be blogging regularly throughout the day, and here’s a quick run-down of the week’s schedule:
• FLORIDA(1:10 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.)
Coach Urban Meyer, QB Tim Tebow and OT Phil Trautwein
• MISSISSIPPI STATE(1:10 p.m. - 3:10 p.m.)
Coach Sylvester Croom, QB Wesley Carroll and LBJamar Chaney
• LSU(3:10 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.)
Coach Les Miles, C Brett Helms and DETyson Jackson
• VANDERBILT(3:10 p.m. - 5:10 p.m.)
Coach Bobby Johnson, S Reshard Langford and WRGeorge Smith
• ALABAMA(8:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.)
Coach Nick Saban, OL Antoine Caldwell and S Rashad Johnson
• GEORGIA(8:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.)
Coach Mark Richt, WRMohamed Massaquoi and DT Jeff Owens
• OLE MISS(10:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.)
Coach Houston Nutt, DT Peria Jerry and OT Michael Oher
• TENNESSEE(10:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.)
Coach Phillip Fulmer, DERobert Ayers and RB Arian Foster
• AUBURN(8:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.)
Coach Tommy Tuberville, C Jason Bosley and DE Sen’derrick Marks
• KENTUCKY(8:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.)
Coach Rich Brooks, DEJeremy Jarmon and WRDicky Lyons, Jr.
• ARKANSAS(10:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.)
Coach Bobby Petrino, LBElston Forte and C Jonathan Luigs
• SOUTH CAROLINA(10:40 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.)
Coach Steve Spurrier, LB Jasper Brinkley and WRKenny McKinley