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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thursday Links (1/14)

We're taking a little different approach to today's links.

I'm not usually one to critique the work of my fellow writers and bloggers, and while fisking the competition worked wonders for Keith Olbermann's ratings, it's not a game plan I wish to emulate.

Still, two articles from the past 48 hours have stirred up a bit of buzz, and I think they're both worth addressing. My hope is that this doesn't come off as an opinion piece on my end, but rather an analysis of what's already been written. We shall see.

-- First, we have this column from Mark Bradley, who suggests that South Carolina could be the beneficiary of all the turmoil in the SEC East. The Senator offers some rather stinging criticism of Bradley's findings if you want to start there.

Again, I'm not at this to criticize another writer's take. Bradley is entitled to his argument. But I think it's also worth offering the counter argument.

"They’ll enter next season with a new quarterback, the result of having left Aaron Murray to redshirt. (A wise choice in most years, but not necessarily in the worst season under this head coach.)"

What is conveniently forgotten every time someone mentions the Aaron Murray redshirt is that, in the middle of the season at the point in time he would have been most likely to actually see the field, he was sidelined with a shoulder injury that prevented him from even throwing the football.

While no one would go on the record to say it at the time -- nor should they have, for the purposes of presenting a united front behind Joe Cox -- had Murray not gotten hurt, I think there's a good chance he would have been the starter following the Tennessee game.

"Worse still, there’s a growing feeling across the South that Mark Richt is a year away from feeling the big heat."

I'm not a fan of broad generalizations like this. Who has this growing feeling? I'm not saying it's not true (more on that later) but sweeping statements about a "feeling" are inherently difficult to categorize. No offense to Bradley or anyone at the AJC, but if I went by the "feeling" in the comments I get here or read elsewhere, I could rightly say there's, "a growing feeling throughout the South that the AJC sucks."

If there are legitimate boosters or people within the athletics department or coaches and administrators at competing schools saying that Richt is in serious trouble or that there are glaring issues he's ignoring at Georgia, then let's hear it. But generalizations simply help make an argument that stats or on-the-record quotes can't. I'd like to know more.

"Short of landing Bill Belichick, it will be nigh-impossible for Georgia to emerge from this protracted search with a coordinator who will satisfy the majority of Dog-lovers. And it does seem troubling that three men who worked in the South and have coached against Georgia — Bud Foster of Virginia Tech, John Chavis of LSU and Alabama’s Kirby Smart, who’s a Bulldog born and bred — saw greater opportunity in the current positions than anything awaiting them in Athens."

I've said for the past few weeks that this process is doing nothing positive for Mark Richt's image, so Bradley gets no argument from me on the perception part of this.

But last year when the basketball program bounced from one big name to the next before settling on some guy named Mark Fox, I assumed there would be a reaction similar to the one Bradley predicts will happen now. I was wrong.

As bipolar as the lunatic fringe can be, the overwhelming reaction to even minor critiques I made about Fox in the early going was that of, "STFU Hale." I don't know how long of a leash fans will give the new DC once the season starts, but I'll be surprised if there's not a pretty hefty dose of, "Let's see what he's got" from the fans immediately after the hire.

Moreover, I really don't think Mark Richt has spent a second of this search worrying about what the fans -- or Bradley or myself -- think about it.

"We learned in 2005, when he won the SEC in his first season without David Greene and David Pollack and Brian VanGorder, not to dismiss Mark Richt. We saw it again this season when he took his worst team and beat Georgia Tech’s best aggregation in a decade. That said, the prevailing wind now seems to be blowing against him."

I taught journalism for a few years, and one of the first things I told students was to avoid the word "seems." Now, Bradley's been doing this a lot longer than me, so I'll bow to experience on this one -- but my feeling has always been that "seems" is the ultimate distraction from "is."

And yet, Bradley's best point -- and the reason I ultimately agree with him that the pressure on Richt is now at a high point -- is actually what he says in trying to offer a salient defense for Georgia's coach.

When the stars left in '05, Richt won the SEC. When the chips were down in '09, Richt toppled Tech.

Mark Richt wins when no one expects him to. He did it in 2002, save the lone loss to Florida. But when expectations were ratcheted up with Pollack and Greene the next two years, Richt couldn't close the deal (at least not with an SEC or national title).

He did it in 2005 when his stars left, but he could never turn a Matthew Stafford-Knowshon Moreno combo into an SEC title winner in the years that followed -- despite being a preseason No. 1 last year.

He won the final two games this season, despite everyone counting the Bulldogs out, but he still allowed a talented team to finish with five losses.

When the chips are down, Richt is at his best -- so maybe Bradley's (and plenty of others') sentiments about a decline in the program only serve to boost Georgia's chances going forward.

But as Bradley writes, the East is wide open in 2010, and Georgia's talent on the field should rival anyone else in the division. The same should be true in 2011, when the Dawgs figure to have an experienced QB to go with the rest of that talent. There's every reason to think the next two seasons will be what defines Richt's career at Georgia -- or what ultimately seals his demise.

My guess, however, is that if it all plays out well and the Bulldogs are back atop the East in the next year or two, there will be a lot of folks lining up to commend Mark Richt for taking his time and finding the right guy to take over the defense.

And if things continue to slip and Richt's job is eventually on the line, it won't be the last six weeks people point to as the beginning of the end. It will be the one day it took to announce hiring the wrong guy.

-- The second story that needs a mention is from Buck Belue's blog, which offers his scoop (*Link fixed) on what ultimately prevented Kirby Smart from taking the job at Georgia.

First off, between David Pollack's tweets and Rex Robinson's critiques of the special teams and now Belue's words on Rodney Garner and Dave Van Halanger, I must say that I have a good bit of respect for how the First Amendment seems alive and well throughout the UGA football program. Urban Meyer would probably be on some sort of "American Psycho" killing spree over this kind of commentary from former players, and odds are most former players wouldn't be so willing to call 'em like they see 'em. It warms my heart.

Now, on to Belue's post...

"And the word is, Kirby Smart didn’t want to work with Rodney Garner again."

Belue gives some additional background, and I'll admit that what he writes, I had also heard (or at least most of it). I wouldn't call my sources on that information exceptional -- really little more than rumors -- so I wasn't about to write it. But perhaps Belue's sources on the situation are better than mine.

Regardless, Garner is going to be the elephant in the room in any negotiation. Richt has made it pretty clear that, although he wants the new DC to have a say in filling out his staff, those decisions will ultimately be made by Richt. And it seems clear to this point that Richt wants to keep Garner around.

On the other hand, Garner coaches the D line -- as does Todd Grantham and Travis Jones. Garner also has a pretty strong personality -- which is fine for some, maybe not so much for others. And, as Belue said, Garner has gone toe-to-toe with some of these other SEC coaches on the recruiting trail numerous times, and that type of competition can always stir up some bad blood.

So is Belue right about this? I have no idea. But the bigger question I have is whether or not Richt's insistence on keeping Garner would make you feel better or worse about how this process is playing out?

Next, Belue says Smart was concerned about the strength and conditioning program, but Richt again refused changes.

"There are reports that have some Georgia players going to see a strength coach outside the program. Spoke with one NFL guy who commented that even when Van Halanger was at FSU, the OL/DL prospects coming out of there were great athletes, but not NFL strong."

I've written about all I can at the moment on the S&C program, so I'm not sure what more I can add. The truth is, I have been told by some people off the record that there are concerns among NFL folks that Georgia's S&C program doesn't measure up, but I don't have a single quote from anyone -- scouts, coaches, opponents, current or former players, anyone -- who will go on the record saying that VanHalanger or anyone else is a problem. And while I can't provide numbers from Florida's or Alabama's S&C program as a comparison, I can say that Georgia's strength numbers have continued to go up throughout Mark Richt's tenure in Athens.

So what we get here is a lot of what Belue offers -- innuendo. And perhaps it's true, but as I said, I don't have anyone saying anything negative on the record, and it's not for a lack of trying on my part.

Again, I don't know if there's just smoke or a raging inferno here. I do know that when the team was decimated by injuries in 2008, Richt's response was essentially, "Boy, we've had some bad luck." And when a rash of hamstring injuries befell the team in the fall of '09, Richt's response was, "Hey, no one really understands hamstring injuries. They just happen."

Those answers are fine if they're intended for mass audiences. But if they're the answers Richt is willing to accept behind closed doors, that's a concern.

Because while I can't get an on-the-record critique, Richt can and should. And if he hasn't done that, he's as guilty as if he's simply left Willie Martinez in charge of the defense and carried on as if nothing was wrong.

OK, a few other links before we wrap up...

-- Marc Weiszer has the legal outcome in the Montez Robinson case. I'm told that Robinson is likely to remain on the team but will have some very strict rules he has to follow.

-- Tim Tucker looks at the pursuit of Todd Grantham.

-- Chip Towers says the early indications are that Georgia isn't going to benefit on the recruiting trail from the troubles at Tennessee.

-- The Banner-Herald has a run down of all of Georgia's secondary violations in 2009.

-- WUOG blogs that Mark Richt "seems" to have lost control of his program. (See how easy it is to use that word?)

-- Buck Belue (he's quite prolific lately, eh?) writes that this spring should offer a fun competition for the quarterback job.

-- The Houston Chronicle has an update on Herschel Walker's MMA career.

-- The Detroit Free Press writes that the Lions remain confident that Matthew Stafford has a bright future.

-- Another close-but-no-cigar game for Mark Fox's squad.

-- A baseball player from my neck of the woods is committed to come to Georgia next year.

-- The Red & Black writes that Chance Veazey is finally getting to do some things he'd always wanted.

-- Vanity Fair has an update and photos from "Wall Street 2."

-- "Ghostbusters 3" could start filming this year.

-- And finally, what could be better than a show that combines the '80s with stars from "Kids in the Hall"? It almost makes me wish I lived in Canada. If only they had free health care...


kwame said...

I don't know about S&C numbers, but players from Alabama & Florida pass the eyeball test a lot better than uga's

Anonymous said...

"I don't know about S&C numbers, but players from Alabama & Florida pass the eyeball test a lot better than uga's"

I like how, in defense of the massively underachieving Julio Jones, people say he just, um...looks better than AJ Green.

Good for him. The eyeball test is AWESOME!

Innuendo McGee said...

It seems that Mark Bradley, WUOG, Rex Robinson, and Buck Belue are coming from places of deep-seeded sexual frustration. They should see a shrink.

EastCobbDawg said...


There "seems" to be a growing support for the hypothesis that Bradley and Schultz are resorting to a form of shock journalism in order drive eyes to the AJC site. Web hits help drive advertiser revenue when print media subscriptions are in decline and what better way to get hits than take radical positions in columns for the purpose of driving emotional responses from the readers?

If that is the case, do these guys really believe what they are saying or are they just doing what is necessary to survive in the new media age?

You straddle the line between print journalism and the blogosphere. Do you feel that traditional print columnists must more and more resort to incendiary positions in order to remain relevant in the modern world?

Kathleen said...

Love the "all out assault" comments on Schultz's blog about Kiffin, especially this:

Mike Freeman of CBSSPORTS.COM on Kiffin and college coaches in general:

Once again, we’re handed a wonderful example of why college sports is such a disgusting cesspool full of hypocritical, degenerate, greedy sons of you-know-whats. Lane Kiffin: You’re the next contestant on This Coach is Full of Crap. Come on dooowwnnn!

There has to be some sort of stand taken. The line keeps being crossed and the greed grows in new and more grotesque forms. Universities make millions and the players get nothing. Coaches make millions and the players get nothing. Players’ movements are restricted while coaches move at will with practically no punishment."

It's too bad that the point he makes will likely be lost -- coaches earn millions and move at will but players are treated as property.

Anonymous said...

If the dawg nation is so down on their coach then why not just do away with his buyout and see the crying and tears when many others will jump all over him with offers with his kind of record. I am a UGA graduate and fan who has a great deal of respect for Mark as a coach and leader of men. What UGA needs or at least appears to need is a dose of reality about what we have. We have a few fools in our group that if they keep this up may get an empty head coach position and reget it.

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:40: Way to single out two players for comparison. I can do that too: Look at Javier Arenas compared to Bryan Evans.

That being said, I'd take AJ all day over Julio, even though Julio is much stronger. In receivers, pure strength isn't as important as it is to linemen, backs, etc. Being strong isn't the only factor that determines a player's success, but it does help.

I remember when Quentin Moses only did 17 reps of 225 at the combine.

I saw Alabama practice last spring, and I came away thinking that those guys, especially the LBs and DLs, were going to hurt people because they were so big and fast. I never came away saying that after watching UGA.

dawgjammin said...

When I walked into sanford stadium on my way into the UGA-BAMA '08 I walked beside the hedges to my seat, took one look at BAMA's team up close and thought to my self, these guys are bigger, more cut and more athletic looking than our guys...

Everyone knows how bad we got beat down that night in Sanford...eyeball test is a valid test sometimes.

JRL said...

I could rightly say there's, "a growing feeling throughout the South that the AJC sucks."

David this may be the most accurate phrase I have seen on your blog - Congratulations - well done.

On S&C - I have to think we have issues as we have been manhandled on more than one occasion.

Anonymous said...

I agree that something is wrong in our S&C program, and have felt this way for 5+ years. I hope CMR challenges this during the off season.

Also, anyone who gets into a ring with Herschel Walker is a damned fool.

Tim said...

My problem with S&C program, and I respect DVH a lot, is that in response to any criticisms/questions, he throws out bench press numbers. While it's impressive someone can bench press 500lbs, how many times in a game will you be needing to do that while lying flat on your back? To me there is a difference in football strength and weight room strength. It "seems" to me that he has an old-school mindset, and is set in his ways. That was my old high school coaches mentality back in the day. When in fact a lot of progress and evolution has been made in the last 10-15 years, I feel like having some new ideas in there would be a big help.

Muckbeast said...

How many more times are we going to have to hear this rumor about UGA having a crap S&C system?

Its yet another of Richt's cronies in that department.

I am a huge Richt fan. I love having him as our coach. The only knock on him is that he is way too loyal to good old boys/cronies.

Dennis Felton said...

My team was annually the most cut in the SEC.

Julio "CFL" Jones said...

Owie! Hurt my left pinkie again. Better use me only as a slot receiver, Bama.

wesley said...

These are the Daves I know, I know
These are the Daves I know

Anonymous said...

It's not just a feeling, the AJC does indeed suck. And, so does Keith Overbite.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who watches Keith Olberman more than once is a retard. Seriously, the guy should be arrested for treason.

AJC, who reads that garbage any more? All the news you need, without the slant, is available on the net. Save your money and put these jerks out on the street.

The Watch Dawg said...

No offense to Bradley or anyone at the AJC, but if I went by the "feeling" in the comments I get here or read elsewhere, I could rightly say there's, "a growing feeling throughout the South that the AJC sucks."

Post. Of. The. Year.

Decade, even (it's early).

Cojones said...

Has anyone considered that the players were not exactly passionate about their unsupervised activities last summer and aside from pumping iron didn't pursue certain conditioning exercises beneficial to their positional requirements? Did they monitor each other for attendance and output as a team of brothers or did they cover for some while afraid of appearing as "Big Brother" and rat finks?

We don't know this team factoid nor the psychology of the team as a team during this period. Judging Van's program by eyeballing other players from other teams leaves out the possibility of steroid use not tolerated by VanHalanger.

Isn't anyone going to question Bradley's motives for writing a column calling for the dismissal of a college defensive coach and next writing a column dissing the hiring process for a new one? His anti-Richt jabs has reduced me to reading only the titles of his most recent columns. Have some of you been sucked into his vacuum of negativity toward our athletic program and Mark Richt specifically? My God!, can't anyone read facts, analyze and piece together the positive factors of our program that prevents us from tarnished images befalling major college's athletic programs in general? Are alums falling for this junk spewed by some bloggers and media who are anti-UGA? Personally, I don't think that the majority of alums listen to this shit, but am amazed that some do.

Cojones said...

Proposal. Why don't we lead thru this column to a blogging effort on Richt's site espousing our admiration for his actions while he has been beset with howls of antipathy signifying nothing?

Hale yeah! Let's send our collective support when he needs it. Messages that are collated here and in any other web sites that you can lead in order to let the positive and hopeful fans and alumni be heard. A resounding "HIP!,HIP!,HOORAY!" for Richt. Life can't be fabulous for him right now and a groundswell of support would let others know what our character as fans is toward our football coach when the chips are down.

Your turn.

Anonymous said...

No offense to Bradley or anyone at the AJC, but if I went by the "feeling" in the comments I get here or read elsewhere, I could rightly say there's, "a growing feeling throughout the South that the AJC sucks."


UGA69Dawg said...

News Flash UGA has always taken care of their old coaches. The Athletic Department under Dooley was like an old Players/Coaches home. Dooley takes pride in the fact he never fired a coach, he didn't have to he just kicked them upstairs to an adm job.The S&C under Dooley as coach and Dooley as AD had one constant JT2. We were weak on both sides of the line under Dooley, Goff (same coaches) and Donnan. UGA has had a lot of DL talent but it was always potential, we had Stroud, Seymour and Charles Grant on the same DL and we never in my recollection dominated UT or UF. I guess this is a long standing problem at UGA.

Carter said...

Maybe it’s not so much the methods in the S&C but rather the participation. I heard that a number of our defensive players didn't put in enough time in the weight room this past off-season. Our linebackers definitely didn't look too impressive. I think Rennie offered to do the other LB's sets for them and they obliged. Also, bench and squats are great and applicable to on field performance, but core strength is vital and less easily quantified. And as someone who lifts, I can tell you that hamstring pulls often occur when the quad is overdeveloped relative to the hamstring.

Anonymous said...

Don't see how writing "the AJC sucks" is going to help your career. Seems like a pretty dumb thing to do.

Speaking of "seems," Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz are columnists. They're paid to express opinions. It is perfectly fine for them to use words like "seems" as long as their sense of things isn't unsupportable or prejudiced.

Now, some people obviously think that Bradley and Schultz are prejudiced. I guess I'd think that too if I thought it was their job to write nothing but flattering columns about Georgia football. But I don't.

I think it's commendable that you don't print rumors in your articles. That would be a pretty irresponsible thing for a reporter to do. There are at least two reasons why Buck Belue can write things on his blog that you can't put in your articles. One is that he only risks his own reputation, not that of his employer's. The other is that, again unlike you, he has no editors -- editors who might ask him about his sources and their veracity.

Anonymous said...

I do not see why people are attacking Buck. If anything he has been the biggest cheer leader of this admin even when it was painfully obvious there were problems. Who knows if rumors are true but if so this would be the third member of richt's staff that Rodney apparently had issues. BVG and WM at times. Didn't Rodney have to answer to WM after his visit to Tenn as part of him staying? If all of this is true, Richt has a major problem that if he does not resolve will be his undoing at GA. As I continue to point out, keep losing to the gators and he will lose his job. It is great when the messanger is shot and no one deals with the actual issues.

David Hale said...


I didn't say the AJC sucked. I said that if you judged simply by what the "feeling" was -- without sourcing where that feeling comes from -- it would be awfully easy to say that the AJC sucked because plenty of people are saying it.

And I understand the difference between a columnist and a reporter -- so I'm not criticizing anyone for writing their opinion. What I'm asking is, when you write how things "seem" what does that even mean? Give me some sources? Give me any evidence? Give me something besides how things "seem" to you. It's a basic principle of journalism -- whether you're a columnist or a beat reporter.

This isn't necessarily a critique of the AJC or anyone else, but any idiot can get on a message board and write about what things "seem" like to them. Opinions are easy. What are some facts? What are you reasons for having the opinion you have? That's what separates a good columnist from any nut on a message board.

And, to be honest, I don't really care what the AJC thinks of me. If a news outlet won't hire me because they don't like me personally despite my credentials as a journalist, it's not really an environment I want to work in anyway.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:05 Is that you Jeff? Mark is it you? Whichever, YOU SUCK! Both of you and so does your left-wing paper.

How's those circulation numbers?

Anonymous said...

You did write "the AJC sucks." There are any number of examples you could have chosen to illustrate your point. You chose that one.

And if you meant to include me as one of the "idiots" on message boards, thanks. I honestly didn't think you were the kind of person who believes that anyone who disagrees with you is a moron. Hopefully I just misunderstood you.

And a special shout-out to Anonymous 9:22 AM. I was going to say last night that I've always suspected that the critics of the AJC on the Georgia football sites are small-town Tea Party types who attack the paper just because it's from the big city, where the elitists live. Now you've given me some good reason to believe I'm right. A few more responses from your (com)patriots and maybe I'll even be able to start using the word "seem."

David Hale said...

Anon --

I think you're reading what I wrote in a way it was not intended.

First, I didn't say the AJC sucked. What I said was, IF you only judged a situation by what commenters on message boards write, then it would be easy to say that the AJC sucked.

My point was that when Bradley -- or anyone else -- refers only to a vague "sense of things" it really means nothing. You need to attribute where that "feeling" is coming from otherwise you can say virtually anything.

But nowhere in that post did I specifically say it was my feeling or opinion that the AJC sucks.

And the "idiots" I was referring to also didn't involve you. My point, again, was that there are no barriers to entry to post thoughts on a message board. So the "feeling" that columnists might get from reading the message boards may be created by idiots.

I appreciate your take on things, but I'm pretty strict in how I approach journalism, and my opinion has always been that writing in generalities is a lazy way of getting around doing actual reporting. That's true for beat writers, columnists, bloggers, anyone. And that goes well beyond the AJC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:15 said,
And a special shout-out to Anonymous 9:22 AM. I was going to say last night that I've always suspected that the critics of the AJC on the Georgia football sites are small-town Tea Party types who attack the paper just because it's from the big city, where the elitists live. Now you've given me some good reason to believe I'm right. A few more responses from your (com)patriots and maybe I'll even be able to start using the word "seem."

I don't think the big city or the elitists have anything to do with the AJC sucking. I think they've manage to accomplish that image all by themselves.

I also think that the AJC is getting attacked by many more than the "types" on the Georgia football sites unless you believe they were the only ones that were once subscribers.

Also, if you read a little history you would maybe find that a lot of the freedoms you enjoy today were because of a Tea Party.

Voted for obama didn't you? Hope and Change. Well, you're getting part of your wish.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply and your assurance that I misunderstood you.

It is obvious that you have sound journalistic standards. Still, I disagree with you take on the Bradley column. It is fine for Bradley to say that there's a feeling that Mark Richt will come under fire if next season resembles the one that just ended. That's because it's self-evident -- that's what happens to coaches whose teams stop performing. I honestly don't see how you can imply that Bradley is being unfair, especially since I believe you agree with him that next season is critical for Richt.

I guess the thing that bugs me about your post is that it encourages, and puts you on the side of, people like Anonymous 9:22 AM. (Hi there, Anon 9:22!) I really doubt you think that the AJC's coverage of UGA is unfair or prejudiced, as is so often claimed on message boards. And I'd even bet that you realize the contempt shown for the AJC on Georgia message boards has a political aspect, as friend Anon 9:22 made so clear.

By the way, I have no connection to the AJC whatsoever. I even think it sucks, too (!), but that's because it's superficial and boring. I also think it publishes way too much right-wing crap, which makes me wonder why Anon 9:22 has such a dim opinion of it.

Anonymous said...

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