Part of me would like to rail against the injustices of college football and how coaches like Brian Kelly are forced to abandon their teams before their biggest game of the year and how flawed the system is and how it's always the student-athletes who get screwed, but I just don't have the energy. It is what it is, and there are bigger problems in the world. But nevertheless, it's sad to see happen yet again. And it will happen again next season, too. I would have been rooting for Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl regardless, but I definitely will be now.
Anyway, some links for your Friday afternoon...
-- Whatever you do, take some time to read this Rivals.com story on the inspiration Chance Veazey is offering others while dealing with his own immense challenges.
-- After a heavy dose of feedback yesterday, Rex Robinson responds to the critiques of his blog post questioning the culture and conditioning in Georgia's locker room.
As someone who does this for a living, I commend Rex on being willing to admit a mistake and on sticking to his guns about the things he believes. That's really all you can do as a writer.
It's a tough dynamic for anyone. It's something I struggle with almost every day. I try to keep my opinions to a minimum and instead focus on news and analysis, but in this age of the Internet -- and particularly on a blog -- that's tough. Presenting those opinions properly is even tougher.
You guys read this blog (and, presumably, Rex's blog) because you are Georgia fans. As fans, the vast majority of you crave good news about your team. So presenting an opinion that provides a less than glowing portrayal of the team you love is a delicate affair. But more often than not, it's also a necessary one.
A few weeks ago, I was sitting around chatting with a few other reporters about the stories we all wrote over the summer. My honest assessment was that, looking back, I was embarrassed by some of what I wrote. I glossed over too many obvious problems -- or at least problems that would have been obvious if I had dug a bit deeper -- and I was too quick to give coaches and players the benefit of the doubt.
But put yourself in my shoes. It's hard not to do that. Over the offseason, no one is talking about bad news. It's like Spring Training -- every team is optimistic. Coaches don't want to tell you about how many picks the new QB is bound to throw or how far below expectations the O line might play (although kudos to Mike Bobo, who actually did tell us that). They want to sell you on the positives, and in June and July, most fans are all too happy to buy as much good mojo as they can.
So as reporters, columnists, bloggers, radio hosts, etc., we're left with two options: Report on what the players and coaches are telling us or voice concerns that we have little evidence to support. We don't get to watch practice, we don't have many on-the-record complaints from the primary figures involved, and we don't have any games or stats or film to base those opinions around.
If Mark Richt and Mike Bobo and all the receivers tell us how accurate Joe Cox is, I don't have to believe it, but back in June, what evidence did I have to argue a contrary opinion? And my abiding approach to voicing opinions on this blog is that, without evidence to support it, it's worth nothing more (and sometimes less) than what you can find on any message board or around any office water cooler.
But the truth is, I am embarrassed by some of what I wrote last summer. I wish I had viewed things with a more critical -- perhaps cynical -- eye. But had I done that, how many readers might have reacted to those stories the same way they reacted to Robinson's post yesterday?
I don't think Rex worded his blog perfectly, and that's something he admits in his follow-up today. But I also don't believe he was being malicious in writing it.
As we approach January with some new coaches and new freshmen on the way, there are more than a few reasons for optimism in 2010. But before we don those rose-colored glasses and react with anger and contempt those who might focus the spotlight on the chinks in Georgia's armor, let's just remember how many stories I wrote about Richard Samuel and Bryan Evans and Carlton Thomas last summer.
Optimism is a good thing, but it should always be tempered by reality. I have no doubt that was Robinson's only goal, regardless of how eloquent it might have been argued. And I don't write this purely as a defense for Robinson. I write it because, ideally, I don't want to have any stories I'm embarrassed by next year.
-- Congrats to Drew Butler, who took home the Ray Guy Award as the nation's top punter. Speaking of stories that seem silly in hindsight, remember all the talk about how Butler would fare as a replacement for Brian Mimbs last summer?
-- Battle Hymn Notes has an excellent post on how the Dawgs could benefit from Charlie Strong's departure at Florida.
-- About Them Dawgs has some more interesting statistical analysis on the four key statistics that have the biggest impact on a game's outcome.
-- And speaking of stats, the Red & Black offer a few of interest from Georgia's latest hoops loss to St. John's.
-- Tim Tucker writes about the official job postings for Georgia's defensive coaches. I'm not sure if Kirby Smart got his masters yet.
-- Bulldawg Illustrated points out that Washaun Ealey had a remarkable season this year, despite playing in only sevend-and-a-half games.
-- Orson Charles and Montez Robinson both made it to the All-SEC Freshman team, but no signs of Washaun Ealey.
-- The Shreveport Times writes that the winner of the Independence Bowl is likely to be whichever team actually cares about being there.
-- Bubba N Earl note that in down years, it's usually the kicking game that comes up big.
-- Dave McMahon has some interesting stats for this week, including a long list of Georgia players who were born in 1991 -- the last time the Dawgs went to the Independence Bowl.
-- You're welcome.
-- I'm not smart enough to follow a lot of legal mumbo jumbo, but this case sounds like it could have some far-reaching effects throughout professional sports.
-- Back when the Phillies were routinely awful, I purchased a "Fire Ed Wade" t-shirt and wore it to a game. It more than paid for itself. I had at least five beers purchased for me and strangers wanted their picture taken with me (and the shirt). I was almost a bit sad when, a few weeks later, Wade really was fired. But after seeing deals like this one made by Wade, now the GM in Houston, I'm thinking I can put my shirt for sale on eBay and find a few Astros fans ready to pay top dollar for it.
-- If you're a comics fan, this is pretty cool -- a number of other comic artists provide their own vision of Calvin and Hobbes.
-- ABC is slashing one episode off the season tally for both "V" and "FlashForward."
-- I know we have a bunch of "Modern Family" fans that read the blog, so here's an interview with one if its stars, Eric Stonestreet.
-- There's a great Lewis Black joke about how he assumed he's reached the nexus of the universe when he walked out of a Starbucks and saw another Starbucks across the street. I got that feeling reading this: A list of the top lists of 2009.
-- "Whoa whoa whoa, Miss Lippy. The part of the story I don't like is that the little boy gave up looking for Happy after an hour. He didn't put posters up or anything, he just sat on the porch like a goon and waited. That little boy's gotta think 'You got a pet. You got a responsibility.' If your dog gets lost you don't look for an hour then call it quits. You get your a$$ out there and you find that f***ing dog." Gotta love Athens. (h/t C-Nati)
-- Need to kill that last hour of your workday? This ought to take care of it.