Happy Thursday, ladies and gents. Hope everyone has some big Memorial Day weekend plans. I'll actually be heading up to Charlotte with my dad to attend Sunday's NASCAR smash-em-up, so this will likely be the last post for the week (with the exception of updates on the Diamond Dogs).
Monday I'll be in the car most of the day, but next week I'll be blogging live from the SEC league meetings in Destin, Fla., so hopefully we'll have some interesting things to share from that. I'll also have another "Get to Know" segment with an incoming recruit and we'll hopefully be catching up with a former fan favorite as well. So, a lot on the table for next week, but in the meantime, here's a heaping helping of links to help get you through to the long weekend...
-- First off, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who offered opinions in our discussion of the reporting of legal issues from earlier this week. I'm not sure any consensus was reached, but there were a lot of good points made. If you haven't seen them, you can read the comments HERE and HERE (one is from the Macon version of this blog, the other from Columbus).
-- The Butts-Mehre expansion project has been approved and could be completed within two years, reports the AJC.
-- The Albany Herald caught up with Mark Richt at the Bulldog Club meeting yesterday, and Richt said he's looking forward to some "rest and relaxation," which I think might be a pretty dubious statement on Richt's part.
-- Mark Fox had some words of wisdom for the Bulldog faithful in Albany, too.
-- Bernie writes in his latest post about getting his chance to hassle Mark Richt with a question at the ESPN Zone in Atlanta and manages to offer some praise to all us reporters along the way. Flattery will get you everywhere, Bernie! (And by the way, don't be too disappointed by the lack of an interesting reply from Richt. Just be thankful he didn't regale you with a story about the weather, then rattle off his entire offensive line depth chart.)
-- Senator Blutarski takes a position-by-position look at the Georgia roster at this point and finds a lot of question marks, particularly on offense, which is something I wrote about earlier this month.
-- Marc Weiszer has some encouraging news from Trinton Sturdivant, who sees big things from Georgia's O line this year.
-- Rivals has a story on Joe Cox's appreciation of the role of leader for Georgia this year.
-- ESPN's Chris Low looks at some "out of nowhere" players who could have an impact in the SEC this season, including Carlton Thomas.
-- The Denver Post compares Knowshon Moreno with another former Bulldog-turned Bronco.
-- And the award for dumbest Bleacher Report story of the day goes to... THIS ONE.
-- Bulldawg Illustrated has more thoughts on the Cocktail Party game.
-- Scout looks at what Georgia's concerns should be and has some SEC predictions. (Subscription required)
-- Tennessee's coaching staff had some troublesome tweeting that landed them in some luke warm water with the NCAA.
-- Coach Meyers says he's concerned about off-field issues this time of year. He has had 23 players arrested since taking over the program in 2005.
-- Ah, but let's not focus on Urban. Remember the happier times? Deadspin has some news on The Zooker.
-- Georgia picked up just its second SEC win of the month against Ole Miss and will take on Arkansas (a team that has suffered similar recent struggles) today with Trevor Holder toeing the rubber.
-- Daugman's Chronicles has an update on former Bulldog Mike Mercer's legal troubles.
-- 960 the Ref talks to Georgia golf coach Chris Haack before the Bulldogs tee off in the NCAA championship.
-- Jeff Wallace and Chelsey Gullickson took home national tennis honors for their work this season.
-- Georgia's soccer team is getting a local transfer from Clemson.
-- Macon Dawg has a great list of things he wishes were a part of the NCAA Football 2010 game.
-- This story sums up why being a Cubs fan is so infuriating. We could have had him three months ago. Instead, he'll pitch on the Southside.
-- So "Chuck" will definitely be back on NBC next season, with fewer episodes and a reduced budget, but the show's creator is hoping viewer's won't notice much of a difference.
-- During my post-graduation months of unemployment back in 2001, I watched approximately 11 episodes of "Law & Order" per day (sadly, this is not a joke). The show will reach 20 seasons this year, and MTV wonders what other popular shows might be like if they made it that long.
-- I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news, but Dan Aykroyd says things are going smoothly as plans to begin shooting "Ghostbusters 3" are underway.
-- The New York Times has a cool profile of Conan O'Brien.
-- Here's one for all the "How I Met Your Mother" fans: The show's creator talks about the season finale, which aired Monday. I thought this season was pretty good overall, but I thought the finale was a bit anticlimactic.
-- This blog post plays a little revisionist's history with the 1992 baseball expansion draft, wondering how things could have turned out for the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins (and notes that Mark McGwire could have landed in Colorado, and would have projected to hit 84 home runs in 1998).
-- And finally, I'll end with this, since it no doubt will be the most inflammatory. David Ching of the Banner-Herald did an informal poll of national college football writers a few months back to find out their thoughts on why Georgia seemingly trailed LSU and Florida (and in the opinions of at least one writer, Alabama) in terms of success. I'll let you read what the most recent responder had to say, and then be sure to read Westerdawg's replies at Georgia Sports Blog, too. (I think Paul does a good job of shooting down the type of "analysis" you typically get from national writers, who know a little about a lot of teams, but don't know a lot about many, and usually end up simply repeating things that have little basis in reality.)
Battle Hymn Notes wonders something similar, asking if the honeymoon is over for Mark Richt, if perhaps he's become a victim of his own success.
My thoughts: In sports, we're trained to believe that everyone is judged by championships. That's absurd. Yes, as fans, we desperately want to see our teams win the biggest games, but that is an extraordinarily small sample size. Yes, in many cases, the best team DOES win a title. But in many other cases, it doesn't. That is particularly true in football, when rather than a seven-game series determining a winner, it all comes down to 60 minutes of football. That's it. (Just look at USC last year. Who's to say the Trojans couldn't have beaten Florida had they played head to head for a title. Instead, one bad half against Oregon State on a Thursday night in September was the difference between playing for a title and not.)
If you were to sample at random just one article that I had written over the past year, you might think I was the worst writer in Georgia or you might assume I was the best, depending on which story you happened to choose. The far better evaluation is by looking at the broad scope of accomplishments, and in Georgia's case, the overall resume is as impressive as any in the SEC in terms of simple wins and losses. The Dawgs were simply a few points or a key injury away in 2002, 2005 and 2007 from playing for national championships, and a few points in either direction over the course of Richt's nine years in Athens is statistically meaningless.
In the grand scheme of things, what's the REAL difference between Florida, LSU and Georgia since 2001?
LSU's two championships: The first was a split title with USC, in which voting certainly could have left the Tigers out of the picture altogether. The second came in a year in which they lost two games, and just happened to be lucky enough to watch every other team fall by the wayside, too.
Florida certainly has been special in its two title seasons, but take away Tim Tebow -- one player -- and it's doubtful they're playing for those titles. Not that Florida's staff doesn't deserve the credit for recruiting and deploying Tebow as well as they have -- they probably deserve more credit than they have gotten, actually -- but it just shows how much the talent of one player can be the difference between a very good team (which Georgia has been) and a truly great team (which seems to be the knock on the Dawgs).
(Side note: Should there be criticism for the UGA staff for under utilizing Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno? At least in the case of redshirting Moreno, yes, I think there should be.)
At the end of the day, the margins people are arguing over are so small, that there is no reasonable way of measuring one team against another in real terms. It's simply a matter of one team got some breaks, and another didn't. It happens every year to a half-dozen teams. That's why winning a title is so hard. After all (most seasons) only one team gets to do it.
OK, so you're still angry that your team has zero titles and LSU and Florida each have two since Richt came to town? That's fair. In the end, that's what matters to fans. So if you're forcing me to find fault with Georgia, I'll say this: In the past few years, when Georgia has lost, it's been ugly. So are the coaches to blame?
Richt hasn't had much turnover on his staff in his time in Athens, and probably for good reason. But he has had only two former assistants go on to better jobs (Neil Callaway and Brian Van Gorder) and it's debatable as to how much better those folks did in their new locales. I'm not sure that speaks to the level of talent or respect Georgia's assistants have earned around the country, because several others have landed good (if lateral) jobs with other programs, but it isn't exactly the ringing endorsements that people like Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong (who really should have gotten a better job by now) have earned.
But more concerning is the inability of the coaches to adjust on the fly. Going back four years, the sheer number of utterly embarrassing halves of football Georgia has played is probably the one significant chink in the armor. When things go wrong for the Bulldogs, it seems like it takes an act of Congress to right the ship. And in the course of any season, things are going to go wrong.
I'm currently reading a book called "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, which has some interesting things to say about how people achieve success. To paraphrase (and do virtually no justice to the exhaustive research the book employs), success is as much about catching a few breaks at the right time as it is about pure talent and ability. There is a threshold of ability or intellect, the book says, beyond which more ability or intellect are no longer important. The bottom line: You don't have to be great to achieve great things. You just have to be good enough and catch a few breaks along the way.
But the argument can be made, too, that you make your own breaks -- or at the very least, that it's up to you to take advantage when they come. Maybe that is what Georgia has been missing, but if it is, it will take someone a lot smarter than me (and probably smarter than Gladwell) to figure out how to change that in the future.Perhaps, however, Doc Saturday can shed some more light on the situation, as he does HERE.