And here we are... the final game day of the year.
Of course, from the atmosphere around town, you might not exactly know it. It has been a quiet build-up to the festivities for sure. But all in all, I'm not knocking Shreveport.
First off, the bowl folks have been about 1,000 times better than the Cap One disaster last year. Information has been readily available, the bowl reps have been easy to find and the perks -- like Saturday's amazing media dinner -- have been a nice reward for missing Christmas.
Shreveport is certainly not the most entertaining town I've ever visited, but it hasn't been without its charm either. It's definitely not Vegas, and it's not even Atlantic City, but if I wasn't such a bad gambler, I'd have definitely been able to keep myself entertained for a while. There are some reasonable eating and nightlife options and the boardwalk served as a passable touristy shopping area.
All in all, Shreveport wasn't exactly a high-end bowl destination, but that's OK. It was sort of like a fun dive bar -- lacking some of the amenities, but if you just wanna go act like an idiot every once in a while, it's a great place to do it.
As for the actual game itself, I'm still on the fence as to the attitude of the team. Mark Richt and the players have continued to toe the company line, saying they're excited for the game, playing for the seniors, respecting the GAs, yada, yada, yada.
Of course, on the other hand, this is clearly not where they'd hoped to be at this time in the year, and while I don't think it was the biggest deal in the world, I do think the players missing meetings and activities earlier in the week was a little bit telling. And, perhaps coincidentally, they were all defensive players.
I can't help but think back to last year when there were reports of fights between players at practice and Richt was smiling ear to ear talking about the renewed physicality he was implementing for bowl season. This week certainly hasn't seemed like that. If anything, it's more business as usual.
On the other side, a reporter asked Mike Sherman yesterday if getting a win to finish above .500 (the Aggies are currently 6-6) was important. Sherman said his team had already exceeded expectations, and he wasn't worried about the actual record.
So does that mean A&M is just happy to be here?
Or does it mean they have nothing to lose?
While I'm on the subject of Texas A&M, I was flipping through their bowl media guide last night while watching Kentucky blow a game against Clemson and came across some interesting nuggets for you...
-- A&M has produced 101 plays of 20 yards or more this season.
-- A&M has used 18 true freshmen this year. That's a school record for the Aggies. The old record? Seventeen in 1980 -- which just so happens to be the last time they played Georgia.
-- A&M has had eight 100-yard receiving games this year. Guess Bryan Evans and Prince Miller might have one last chance to raise the stress level of fans.
-- Georgia hasn't won the turnover battle often this year. Meanwhile, the Aggies have won 15 of their last 17 games in which they were on the plus side of the turnover ratio.
-- Aggies freshman tailback Christine Michael's name is pronounced "Chris-tin" because his parents wanted a girl.
-- A&M is 6-0 when rushing for more than 200 yards this year. A&M is 0-6 when rushing for less than 200 yards this year. Georgia allows, on average, 127 yards per game on the ground and has allowed just two teams (Florida and run-heavy Georgia Tech) to top 200 in a game.
-- A&M assistant coach Jim Turner is from... wait for it... Delaware!
-- And this is easily the most interesting fact I learned: The Aggies are 0-6 this year in games that are on TV.
This is astonishing to me for two reasons: 1.) It's a pretty clear indication that A&M doesn't win big games, and looking over their schedule, that's true. Their second-best win this year is Iowa State and their third best win is probably UAB. 2.) They only played six TV games! Seriously, how is that possible in this day and age? Heck, their win over Texas Tech wasn't even on TV!
Anyway, consider that your pre-game primer.
And how about a quick mailbag?
TrboDawg writes: How is Rennie and Reshad talking to current NFL players about their options different than Dez Bryant talking with Deion? I don't want our players getting into trouble with the NCAA... Is it because Deion is registered as an 'agent'?
David: Pretty sure Dez was associating with agents and not just talking to friends in the pros. And what's more is, Bryant wouldn't have likely been suspended for that, but he lied to the NCAA during their investigation, which is what landed him in real hot water.
Anonymous writes: I was surprised that G.Blue(big hitter awful angles amplified vs. w.v.) was picked ahead of S.Jones, Anything surprise you D.H.?
David: Ah, our Dawgs of the Decade list... there was one thing that sort of jumped out at me on the list. First off, I thought that the voting overall was pretty good, although I think maybe there was a bit of a bias toward the current crop of O linemen over some of the more talented guys of past teams. I'd have had to put Kevin Breedlove ahead of Ben Jones -- at least for now. (Although, give Jones two more years and I could easily change my mind.) But what really stood out is how little the current crop of Bulldogs were represented on the All-Decade team. Only A.J. Green, Clint Boling, Ben Jones, Drew Butler and Rennie Curran made the list, and I think it would be a pretty easy argument to make that neither Butler (who has played just one year) and Jones deserved it.
And look at that list again -- Curran was the only defensive player on the All-Decade team from a signing class after 2005. Doesn't that speak volumes about the step back the defense has taken recently? And I'm not sure it's Willie Martinez's fault necessarily. I mean, Jon Fabris and Willie were coaching the guys before '05, too. But I think perhaps it's fair to say that the talent level has dipped by a decent amount since then. (Of course, you could also argue Willie & Co. were the ones recruiting those less-talented players...)
Anonymous writes: I am a dawg fan and hate UF and Meyer as much as anyone, but can't we give the guy a break here? He loves coaching and is really good at it, but it might kill him. So shouldn't we expect some ambivalence about stepping aside?
David: It's like me and beer. No, it's not good for me. But I like it so much!
I think the anger comes from two rationales...
1.) Most UGA fans realize that Meyer is a hell of a coach, and his presence in Gainesville can only make things harder for Georgia.
2.) He changed his mind so quickly, which seemed extremely disingenuous. Of course, that's not really our business. But if I were his wife... I'd probably be a little ticked.
Assuming what has been reported is accurate, then I think he probably made the right decision in the end -- even if he could have gone about it better.
But there's something about this whole story that just doesn't seem to ring true. I'm not in any way suggesting that Meyer is doing anything wrong here or comparing their actions, but doesn't this sort of remind you of the Tiger Woods story a bit? The first-blush information just doesn't seem to add up. It just feels like there has to be more going on here that we're not hearing about. I'd be very curious to hear what that might be.
(And again, to be clear, I'm not suggesting that Urban is nailing porn stars or that his wife attacked him with a golf club. Just that it seems like we're settling for a story with half the facts.)
Stan P writes: Has anyone heard John Chavis' name pop up for DC? Just heard the guy from ugasports.com say it on the radio...thoughts?
Anonymous writes: Chavis would be awesome! He has that sweet 70s 'stache, something missing on the UGA staff for sure
Trae writes: Rumors are circulating on LSU boards that Chavis, DC at LSU (which I am sure you are aware of) pretty ignorant of me to insert that, is going to be announced as UGA's DC after the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 2. Is there any truth to this?
David: I'd love to confirm or deny this, but there's just not much I can add at the moment. From what I've been told, Richt has not formally offered anything to Chavis or even requested permission to speak to him from LSU, but that doesn't necessarily mean much. An "offer" is an arbitrary term when talking to coaches anyway. It's sort of like a "Do you like me, check yes or no" note from grade school. No offer is officially made until a coach already knows the answer.
Richt said Sunday that he has not worked on the coaching search while in Shreveport, but he almost said it with a nod and a wink. He's not giving any information on this so it's pretty much useless to take anything he says on the coaching front at face value.
I also found it interesting that Richt referred to making a hire in the first week in January "after the bowls are over" when, in fact, the bowls aren't over until the second week in January. Might that have been a Freudian slip -- that the bowl in question will be over the first week in January? That's probably reading a bit too much into things.
I will say that Chavis is a name I've heard from the beginning, but not from anyone I'd consider a reliable source. So no, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibilities, but I wouldn't call it a slam dunk at this point.
Papadawg writes: Hey, are you doing a Live Blog during the game today? It is today, right?
David: Well, you have to understand, with these deadlines and with as much time as they've taken throughout the season, the live blogs were really putting a lot of stress on me. I was going to just give them up altogether and focus on my health and my family.
But I gotta say... you guys have done such spirited reading this morning that... you know what? Screw it! I'm coming back!
So we'll have a live blog tonight for the game... and in the meantime, we'll also have just a handful of links...
-- My game preview looks at the vast difference in perspectives the two teams have coming into today's game.
-- Mark Richt says the lack of defensive coaches hasn't been a big deal for Georgia this week.
-- And the Red & Black says the D is ready to have some fun on the football field (which I suppose is better than having fun off it, then running stairs for 20 minutes before practice).
-- Bernie has his bowl game locker notes up.
-- Hey Jenny Slater's Doug Gillett chats with a Texas A&M site about the game.
-- GenXDawg is all for enjoying the final game of 2009 before turning the page to 2010.
-- Apparently the bowl game will be a boon to the Shreveport economy. Well, I suppose I have donated a bit of my income to the casinos.
-- Bubba N Earl offer their prediction for the game.
-- Marc Weiszer says it could (and probably should) be a shootout in the Indy Bowl today.
-- And finally, the Senator wraps things up with some relevant thoughts about today's game.
OK, I'm gonna get psyched up for some Indy Bowl action, and we'll be back later with the live blog.