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Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Links (2/23)

Happy Monday, folks. Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend. Before we get to today's links, I had a couple things I wanted to clear up from last week's posts.

-- First, I had an article in the Telegraph last week and added a post here with the full interview transcript chatting with Damon Evans about the various bits of bickering going on among SEC football programs this offseason. The story was picked up and linked by a handful of other (bigger) media outlets, which is usually a pretty good thing, but somewhere along the way, I think the message got a bit distorted.

I've had multiple people ask me -- and a fair number criticize me -- about what exactly it was Lane Kiffin said to anger UGA (and Damon Evans) so much. The answer is nothing... well, mostly nothing. In both my article and in the interview (which you can read HERE) I never suggested that Kiffin accused Georgia of cheating, and if you read the interview question, that was not the issue I posed to Evans.

What I said was that Kiffin had been critical of Georgia, as well as other schools. From his comments -- along with some from other coaches as well -- a lot of hype has followed, which has led to rumors of cheating surrounding various programs. Check the message boards or listen to talk radio, and it's hard to get away from.

So, my question to Damon was simple: Have there been any violations at Georgia (simply clearing up the rumors) and what are his feelings about the immense offseason hype (both real and rumored) this year. That's the answer he gave me, and I believe it was both fair and candid. His remarks were not directed at Lane Kiffin, but were rather a general assessment of his program. In fact, you needed to read no further than the headline to the Telegraph story to see that: "Evans stays above the fray in SEC war of words." The folks who seem intent on criticizing both myself and Damon for not doing our homework on exactly what Lane said should probably do their homework a little better on exactly what we said.

-- Secondly, I had a post yesterday (and a story that ran in the Telegraph) regarding the number of players who have rallied behind a concept of change from last season.

My point in posting that was not necessarily to be critical of Matt Stafford or Knowshon Moreno or anyone else from last year's team. Rather, I wanted to present the situation and find out what you guys thought. So far, I think the responses have been excellent and thought provoking.

Looking at what the players this offseason have said -- and said repeatedly -- I think it's hard not to assume that there were real issues in terms of motivation and leadership last year, with several players stating that pretty explicitly. If you read Aron White's comments to Total UGA, it's hard not to see how that relates to some of the stars. Is that fair? I don't know. I'm just saying that seems to be what some of the players think.

I mentioned this in the comments on the post, but even if there were leadership problems with some of Georgia's stars a year ago, I don't think that necessarily means those players didn't care, didn't work hard or didn't have enough heart. There is a good reason why so few stars go on to be great managers or coaches. The mentality of preparing for a game as a star is different than for someone who is not. The challenges are different, and sometimes all that talent can make it difficult to put yourself in the shoes of a guy who doesn't have nearly as much natural ability. So it doesn't mean that Stafford or Knowshon or anyone else weren't trying to be leaders -- just that perhaps their message wasn't what the other players needed to hear.

Paul Westerdawg over at Georgia Sports Blog adds another good point to this discussion: Whether or not you want to blame last year's leaders, a good bit of the responsibility for off-field shortcomings needs to fall to the coaching staff. I think Mark Richt realized this during the season last year, and prior to the bowl game, he routinely commented that he regretted being too soft during practices and promised a change for the bowl. I think much of that is carrying over into this offseason.

Of course, even if the leaders and the coaches do their jobs perfectly, it's still up to the players to buy in and make the right choices. That clearly didn't always happen last year, but while it's only two months into the offseason, you're certainly hearing a uniform message this time around. Whether that can last remains to be seen.

Again, I've enjoyed everyone's thoughts on this so far, so keep it up.

Now, on to some links...

-- While we're discussing Georgia's new work ethic, check out this must-see photo gallery of the Bulldogs working out this offseason from the AJC.

-- Bubba 'N Earl wonder if this could be the break-out year for Caleb King in their latest blog post. I've talked a good bit with Caleb, and he seems both focused on having a great season and humbled by what happened last year. I'm not saying he's going to be Knowshon, but I do like his chances to put up some impressive numbers in '09.

-- Speaking of Knowshon Moreno, his 40 time has become a big question after the combine. First, there questions about just how accurate his time was. Second, the generous time has him in the mid 4.5s, which isn't quite where he was hoping to be, especially after a month of training. Of course, Moreno's competition didn't exactly light things up either.

-- Interesting piece in the AJC over the weekend on former Georgia player Andre Hastings, who now trains dogs for competition. Oddly, I was just talking about this very subject with the Banner-Herald's Roger Clarkson last week because apparently both Sean Bailey and Ramarcus Brown also train dogs. Given what a complete brat my dog is, perhaps I need to hire one of these guys to give her some lessons.

-- Jeff Owens has probably stolen some of his coach's thunder, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that there's a bunch of new material up at MarkRicht.com.

-- After a weekend sweep of Youngstown State, baseball coach Dave Perno chats with 960 the Ref.

-- The Lady Dogs had a nice run going a couple weeks back, but the wheels seem to have come off of late, and they are in danger of missing the tournament for the first time in more than 15 years.

-- It was a good weekend for both Georgia's swimmers and softball team.

-- (Spoiler Warning) -- Don't know how many of you watched "The Wire" on HBO when it was on, but in my humble opinion, it may have been the best show ever to air on television. Season 4 of the show was as groundbreaking as anything I've seen in movies or TV, and it's a shame so few people took the time to watch.

One of the show's best characters, however, will get a shot at a bigger audience soon when Idris Elba, who played Stringer Bell on "The Wire" guest stars for six episodes on "The Office." That should sufficiently keep him from being typecast, I'm guessing. (BTW: Amy Ryan, who guest starred as Holly on "The Office" was also an alum of "The Wire.")

-- And finally, I offer this Onion headline as a Monday morning pick-me-up for my buddy Dave, who has spent a good portion of his life making jokes at Michael Bay's expense.

3 comments:

Michael A said...

David, I was completely with you on the characterization of Kiffin's comments and Evans' response, but I sure could have used a spoiler alert on that like to that column about "The Office."

David Hale said...

You're right! My bad... many apologies, and it won't happen again.

Michael A said...

No worries. Keep up the good work.