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Saturday, February 6, 2010

From the Mailbag: Recruiting, Scheming and Some Partical Physics

I have some good news and some bad news for you.

First, the bad news: I'm taking the next week off.

I know, it's terribly irresponsible of me, but it needed to happen eventually. Take some solace, however, in the knowledge that there's virtually no way this plan actually works out. For one, some story is bound to break while I'm gone. (I'm looking forward to a Warren Belin teleconference to keep me on my toes.) Second, my current plan involves driving north to see the family, and I'm not sure how well my car is going to handle the 86 feet of snow they're dealing with. So we shall see.

The good news, however, is that I'm not leaving you empty-handed... or empty-blogged, as the case may be.

As a parting gift, I give you the longest mailbag in Bulldogs Blog history. Enjoy...

Barton writes: Why don't more teams in college run a 3-4? Is it because it is hard to find dominant nose tackles and tweeners straight from High School?

I think that's probably part of the reason, but it's a silly one. Yes, it's tough to find a great, prototypical nose tackle -- like Mount Cody, for example. But as Todd Grantham has said numerous times, he turned Jay Ratliff into a Pro Bowler, and Ratliff certainly doesn't fit the mold as a NT archetype.

And as for those "'Tweeners," I think they're probably a good bit easier to find. The beauty of this system -- particularly as it relates to this year's class at Georgia -- is that it opens up so much more flexibility for players who don't fit a specific mold. Before, a player like T.J. Stripling would have arrived underweight and in need of some serious S&C before he "fit" the system. The 3-4 seems to allow players to develop in whatever way their body best allows, and then offers options on where they might best fit.

Given all the chaos Georgia has had in finding the right homes for Richard Samuel, Kiante Tripp, Brandon Miller and a host of other highly recruited players, having a system that allows talent to supersede "fit" sounds pretty appealing.

In fact, Todd Grantham probably puts it a bit better: "As far as body types, everybody’s going to want to have a guy with this length or that length, but players make plays and find a way to get it done, so I think it’s important to take the players you have and fit them into your system.”

That should be music to the ears of Georgia fans, and I think it will have some reverberations on the recruiting trail, too, with guys who don't fit the mold elsewhere seeing Georgia as a place that will look a bit deeper at what they can bring to the table.

And I'll add this quote from Mark Richt, because it's just so far removed from everything so many of us have said about the UGA program the past few years:
"When you hear 3-4 compared to 4-3, it causes some curiosity and maybe even some concern, but again I think most of that concern has a lot of to do with everybody trying to create doubt. We’re very confident and trying to do the right thing. We’re also confident in that a lot of NFL teams and college teams are moving toward this trend, so we’re moving to the front end of this trend.”
For all the success of the pro-set offense and tradition-rich D, when's the last time you heard someone calling UGA ahead of its time?

The 3-4 is the Dippin' Dots of defenses... "The scheme of the future!"

UGA69Dawg: Having heard the DC from the Saints talking about how their game plan was to hit the QB on every play and see if they could keep focused, I see some very scared QB's in the SEC. This 3-4, bring the house D will keep the QB's happy feet going in overtime. Unless we run into a NFL QB next year I think it's going to fun to watch.

David: This is the other great thing about Grantham's new scheme -- instead of Georgia being the team that's confused, it's going to be the opposition wondering what's coming next.

Look at the overall level of QB play in the SEC the past couple of years. It's been below average, at best. It might be fair to throw out the word "terrible" save a few of the top guys like Matthew Stafford, Tim Tebow and Ryan Mallett.

I thought Jonathan Crompton made great strides last season, and obviously Jevan Snead has some real skill… but I find it hard to believe those guys would effectively read Grantham's NFL-style 3-4 defense on a regular basis. And those were the third and fourth-best QBs in the league last year.

Here's how Grantham views it:
"The thing with the 4-3 is, the guys who put their hand in the dirt are the guys rushing. In a 3-4, I can tell you that the three guys with their hand in the dirt are coming, but one of those other outside backers is going to be coming 95 percent of the time. So they’ve got to account for all four of those guys on every snap, yet only one of those guys is going to be coming. So I think it gives you more position flexibility relative to the formations and I also think it’s a little bit tougher for quarterbacks.”
So you have a coach calling the plays who spent the past decade scheming against the best quarterbacks in the world. He's calling those plays in a scheme that almost no one at the NCAA level runs consistently. And he's running that scheme in a conference that has been dismal in terms of QB play of late.

How does that not add up to some very interesting possibilities on defense for Georgia?

ScruffyDawg writes: "Todd Grantham’s first few days as Georgia’s offensive coordinator have been a whirlwind" (Editor's Note: This was a line from the lead of a story I wrote for the Telegraph.)

This is exactly why I don't believe anything the Telegraph says. This is cut and paste lowest bidder journalism at it's best. Sad

And this is exactly why people shouldn't go into journalism. One little typo on deadline and you get torn a new one...

(Also, should I be happy that he thought it was "cut and paste lowest bidder journalism at it's best"? I mean, it could have been lowest bidder journalism at its worst. That would have been a real embarrassment. Of course, given what my paycheck looks like, I can't argue with that "lowest bidder" part.)

Josh writes: I trust you'll get after the intern that identified Grantham as the new "offensive" coordinator in the opening sentence first thing this AM!

Don't worry. He has been summarily dismissed, his desk emptied, and, I'm assuming, he was drug out into the street and shot. Hopefully ScruffyDawg will reconsider canceling his subscription now.

Anonymous writes: I too was playing rotisserie baseball when I was 12. We held the draft in our cafeteria before school. My first pick ever was Frank Viola the year he started tipping pitches. I think national league stats came out on tuesday and the american league stats came out on wednesday though it could be the other way around. Our league was forced underground when someone snitched and our school found out there was a $50 pot.

Our first year of fantasy baseball, my buddy Dan (whom you may remember from our college football picks columns) was assigned to hold the money. We were in seventh grade at the time, and his mom happened upon the stash in his bedroom one day while we were at school. Assuming it was funds Dan had been squirreling away for something devious, she took the money and deposited it into a savings account he had no access to. The end result was that he was forced to pay the winners in bits and pieces, and the second-place finisher's money came in the form of a bag of nickels. We tried to keep that tradition alive for quite some time, until we got to a point in which we all lived so far apart from one another that mailing a bag of nickels became cost prohibitive.

I also need to add this: While I brush off calling Grantham an "offensive coordinator" by accident, I must apologize for one of the most egregious errors I've ever included on this blog.

I wrote, regarding my penchant for statistics, that I used to make my dad take me out to buy "the Sunday edition of the USA Today." Of course this was ridiculous, as there never has been a Sunday edition. (And thanks to all 578 of you who emailed to tell me… I feel like I screwed up my TPS reports!)

My local paper, The News Journal in Wilmington, Delaware, printed stats on Sunday, but I used to go out to buy Baseball Weekly, published by USA Today, which came out -- if memory serves -- each Wednesday. I simply confused the two, which led to my error. Still, utterly unacceptable for someone who spent so much time reading both.

(And, as a side note to Anon's Frank Viola story, I was in a league with a guy who attempted to draft Bo Diaz a year after he died in a freak satellite dish accident. It played out much like the scene from "Major League." ... "This guy here is dead." ... "Well cross him off then.")

@buddymugsy writes: Do you think ESPN is encouraging these kids to throw out rumors of switching to boost ratings?

Does Urban Meyer fake retirements to land recruits?

Kwame writes: One thing I've noticed is that recruiting services are passing out more "stars" than they used to. For example, in 2004, the state of Alabama had 5 guys rated four stars or better. In 2010, Alabama has 13. In 2004, the state of Georgia had 15 prospects rated 4 stars or better; In 2010, that number jumps to 31. You may have mentioned this already; I couldn't read the whole post because I have the attention span of a gnat.

Recruiting services aren't much different from any other news venue. They are a for-profit entity whose product is intended to be produced without the bias of profit motives. It's a paradoxical business model that often leads to all kinds of ethical dilemmas and, obviously, plenty of criticism.

The overriding opinion I hear from people outside of the media business is that newspapers and ESPN and MSNBC and whatever other news outlet you might peruse clearly do have an agenda that is driven either by profits or by some nefarious scheme for world domination.

"Hey, look at my rankings. You like those five-stars? Look in your closet; there's a
pair for you. Don't like them? Then neither do I!"

In some cases, that's probably true in terms of an organization's overarching leadership. My guess is that profits drive a lot of the business decisions made at a place like ESPN, and those business decisions occasionally filter down into the editorial decisions you see on the air.

But I can also tell you that most individual journalists are not driven by corporate greed. There may be some who want to move up the ladder or some who follow in lockstep with a corporate directive or some who simply want to create a buzz. But I do think the majority of reporters simply want to do their job to the best of their abilities.

Again, this is true of recruiting services, too.

So, what do you get with both venues -- news and recruiting? You get a mix… some scouts that report honestly, some that toe the company line. Some sites are stingy with grades and spend hours and days and weeks watching film and talking to coaches, others that pump up the value of players who will draw traffic to their most visible sites.

Like with almost any venue for information, there is value in consuming it only if you still intend to still think for yourself about how you choose to evaluate that information.

And, as a side note on how the media works, if you haven't seen any of Jon Stewart's visit to "The O'Reilly Factor," you should really take the time to watch.

Full disclosure (and this is far more about presentation than politics) -- I like Stewart quite a bit, and I'm not much of a fan of Bill O'Reilly. Having said that, I think they both do their profession a great deal of justice in these interviews.

I don't think it really matters which side of the aisle you're on here, because Stewart brings to light some legitimate criticisms and O'Reilly does a heady job of defending his news organization, and both find room to critique the third parties.

It's one of the most forthright, intelligent and balanced discussions of the state of modern political media I've heard in a long, long time, which is sad, considering O'Reilly is a commentator, and Stewart is a comedian, and neither are actual journalists.

Anonymous writes: I was wondering who is still left out there that has not committed yet? I know we signed Orson a while after signing day last year. Just wondering if there are others that we could end up signing?

I wouldn't expect any late arrivals this time around. While Georgia did well landing Kwame Geathers and Orson Charles (and Brandon Bogotay, remember him?) after signing day last year, those were guys the Bulldogs were on top of for months. There doesn't appear to be any likely candidates to fit that bill this time around, and Rodney Garner also added that, assuming no one bolts the program or fails to qualify, Georgia is already at 84 scholarships for 2010. That last one is likely earmarked for a walk-on who has earned it, but you never know.

Anonymous writes: The Chris Low piece on recruiting highlights one veddy interesting factoid about UGA's SEC East competitors next season (with the apparent and notable exception of Florida): they will all be breaking in a bunch of newbies on their respective offensive lines. E.g.,

Kentucky - lost four out of five of their bowl game O Line starters;

Tennessee - "frighteningly thin" on the O Line; the "veteran" next year will have 1-year's starting experience and is a former TE;

S. Carolina - a "priority" for Cackalacky; its O Line has been "the root of South Carolina’s offensive struggles under Steve Spurrier";

Vandy - losing 3 senior starters and sorely lacking depth.

I understand that we will have questions of our own on the D Line next year. Still, I get a tingle up my leg thinking that Coach Grantham's 3-4 blitz attack could really have an impact against these relatively inexperienced O Lines. At any rate, it may help to level the field while our D gets up to speed on the new scheme.

Regardless of how you want to rank Georgia's signing class this year -- and I think there's merit to the arguments on either side -- the effect it has on 2010 won't be too strong.

The Bulldogs return 10 starters on offense, and Da'Rick Rogers wasn't going to reshape how things run on that side of the ball by any drastic margins this season. Georgia could probably have used as much defensive help as it could get, but the truth is that this season likely will be more defined by the coaching staff than the players on that side of the ball. And looking around the rest of the East (plus an easier slate out West for the Dawgs this season), it's hard to say that anyone has a markedly better starting 22 than Georgia.

This coming season will ultimately be defined by two things:

1.) What kind of production can the Dawgs get from the QB position?

2.) How quickly and efficiently does the defense adapt to Todd Grantham's scheme?

Because aside from those two issues, this looks like a very good team in a very winnable division in 2010.

Jim F. writes: I want to offer a sincere apology to you for (to quote Roger Clemens) 'misremembering' the facts regarding Brandon Saine. I shouldn't have included that worksheet, because I hadn't fully investigated.

I had more than a few people point out to me that Brandon Saine hadn't transferred, as had been noted in one of my final recruiting analysis posts. Jim, who was kind enough to put together all the data used in those posts, followed with a nice note apologizing for the error, but in fact, it was completely my fault. I should have verified the information before posting it. So, my bad… and a renewed thanks to Jim for all his efforts.

Spencer writes: Maybe you've posted this already, but in stating that an evaluation of coaching ability is the number of Top 100 recruits that get drafted, shouldn't it also be taken into account how many non Top 100 (i.e. 2, 3 star) recruits get "coached-up" to become draft picks? Maybe a school is whiffing on the Brandon Millers but churning out Tim Jennings and David Pollacks.

Obviously the inherent limitation to the recruiting analysis we did was that it contained information only on the most heavily recruited players. Part of the reason for doing this was simply the limitations of time. I can't imagine how long it took Jim to compile all that data, so digging 10 times deeper to create a more universal set of numbers would have been far too cumbersome.

Secondly, while you can question the validity of recruiting rankings all you want, the evidence shows that a 5-star guy is much more likely to pan out into a star than a 3- or 4-star guy. That's not to say a 3-star guy won't be a stud in the NFL one day or that a 5-star guy won't completely flame out, but in a field that is fraught with volatility, those "top 100" guys are the most stable group from which to draw conclusions.

So… while that rationale holds true for our analysis, it's not at all unreasonable to say it should hold true for coaching valuations, too. Think of it this way (and I'm just making these numbers up):

If a 5-star guy has a 50 percent chance of becoming an all-conference performer on average, and a 3-star guy has a 5 percent chance of becoming an all-conference performer on average, then even the best "coaching up" isn't going to help even out those odds. You're still better off having a 5-star guy with no coaching than a 3-star guy with great coaching, on average, by a wide margin.

Now, the flaw in that logic is that there are far more 3-star guys than 5-star guys. It's not a one-for-one tradeoff. Schools are inherently limited in the number of 5-stars they can land each year, while those 3-star guys are relatively plentiful. But…

Joeski writes: These so-called 'rankings' are misleading, and you cannot judge the recruits a school has pulled in until they are no longer at the school (regardless of how/why they leave). Until then, it's all just HYPE, which might in fact be driven by something beyond a rational and unbiased consideration.

The name David Pollock ring a bell to you? He was a 'marginal 3-star recruit' according to David Greene? 4 star.

This is the argument everyone seems to bring up in defense of losing a 5-star guy, but it's flawed. (No offense, Joeski.) It's like saying that, because you really like the alfredo sauce at Olive Garden, all chain restaurants are as likely to offer a great meal as a five-star bistro in Paris. Or at the very least, it's like saying you can't really guess whether the food is any different until you've tried both. You're trying to use exceptions to insinuate that there shouldn't be a rule. I promise you, for every David Pollack you can name, I can give you a dozen Ricardo Crawfords and Kevin Perezes.

Let's go back to our numbers for a second.

Let's assume that a 5-star guy is essentially a coin flip on whether he'll become an impact player. That means that, for every two you land, there's a good chance you're going to get at least one big-time performer.

(And note: I made that 50-50 number up, but if you look at research, it's a reasonable estimate. Jim did some research on just the 2006 class and found that, of all the 5-star players, just shy of 50 percent earned all-conference honors at some point, and closer to 60 percent figured to be drafted in the NFL or had been already.)

Now, if only one out of every 20 3-star players becomes an all-conference type of performer, that essentially means that, for every school that lands a 5-star guy, you have to recruit 10 3-star guys to match the likelihood of finding one who performs to that same "impact" level.

(Again, these numbers are out of left field, but if you look at 2009's All-SEC performers, only seven were players who graded out in the mid-70s or worse, while the SEC adds at least 100 "3-star" caliber guys a year in recruiting. So that 1-in-20 number is probably incredibly generous.)

Even if you assume that Georgia's coaches are just really, really good at "coaching up" a 3-star guy into a talent, they might increase those odds by, at most, a few percent.

But let's assume that Georgia's coaches are twice as good at turning 3-star players into big-time performers as the average coaching staff is. If you simply consider the probabilities (which is really what this is all about), that still means they need to land five 3-star guys for every one 5-star guy another school gets, all else being equal.

(Which, of course, it's not, because there are limits on how many players you can sign, and if UGA adds five 3-star guys to counter the one 5-star guy signed by School X, School X still has an extra four scholarships to play with -- which if they use those to land three 3-stars and another 4-star, probabilities would suggest that's roughly the same as adding yet another 5-star type of player down the road. Are you guys still following any of this?)

The other caveat here is this: If School X is so good at recruiting 5-star guys, the odds are they have a pretty darned good coach, too. So to assume that Georgia's coaches are really good at creating David Pollacks and Tim Jenningses but, for example, Urban Meyer is not as good at coaching up 3-star kids, is probably a flawed assumption.

(Side note: What might be a better assumption -- and a far more lucrative one, if true -- is that Richt & Co. are better at finding 3-star guys that have been undervalued and actually have 4- or 5-star talent, rather than being good at "coaching up" guys with lesser talent. There's definitely something to be said for having the Billy Beane of recruiting on your staff. And, moreover, I'm shocked that a recruiting writer hasn't managed to write college football's version of "Moneyball" yet. Unless I missed it.)

The bottom line is this: Recruiting is an inexact science, much like playing the stock market. So if your goal is to maximize your profitability and minimize your risks, you want to recruit as many 5-star guys as possible, and if you want to see a 3-star pan out, you really have to get a bunch of 'em, because the odds of one being successful aren't particularly high.

Yes, sometimes those 5-star guys don't pan out. And yes, sometimes you get that cheap stock that blows up. But there's a reason everyone remembers Pollack and Jennings, and there's a reason Mitch Mustain is the butt of jokes. They're rare. They're the exceptions. They're not at all what you should be building your recruiting philosophy around if you consider yourself one of the top 10 programs in the country.

So, yes, there is some value in recruiting a guy with "the wants" that may not be a star in the eyes of recruiting services. But at the end of the day, all the math says that there is more value in landing a few of those guys with the really high ceilings than snatching up a few dozen guys who "just want it more."

(And one last side note: People seem to be spending a lot of time talking about the talent of 5-star guys and the determination of 3-star guys as if those two things were mutually exclusive. Usually they're not.)

The Watch Dawg writes: I find this analysis quite inaccurate, as you have failed to take account for the varying weather patterns throughout the country. How can you compare recruits in the muggy South to recruits in the Arid West? This is outrageous.

Excellent points. But speaking of weather patterns, don't you think this guy would have made a fantastic nose tackle in the 3-4?

Jason C. writes: In your post about recruiting and mentioning Outliers (which I haven't read, but have heard Gladwell talk about), I couldn't help but think about Brandon Miller and K. Tripp and a few others. If I understand the theme of the book correctly, getting meaningful reps at a specific skill set is very important. By moving Miller and Tripp around so much, were they hindered in getting those meaningful reps?

Indeed. In fact, if you haven't read the book, I give it my recommendation to check out. It's an interesting analysis of how truly great people got to be that way, and the end result is this: It's a lot more about work than genetics (although both play a part).

To Jason's point, there are sections of the book devoted to the idea that, in many cases, greatness is all about having the opportunity to perfect your craft through hours and hours and hours of training that other people don't have the access or desire to do. In the case of both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs, they were in the unique positions of having access to computers and the ability to program during the 1960s -- long before anyone else had an opportunity to do so. In the case of the Beatles, for years, they played clubs in Germany that required them to be on stage for up to 16 hours a day. When they finally left for America, they weren't just the biggest band in the word because of their interesting haircuts. They had practiced more than almost any other band out there.

The same is true of anything. Practice makes perfect, as cliched as it sounds. And when you are as talented as guys like Miller an Tripp, there's absolutely no reason to expect that, if given the opportunity to hone their craft, they couldn't be great.

(And yes, outside factors always play a part, too. But I'm not going to get into all of that because you're really better off just buying the book.)

(Oh, and second side note: One of my New Year's resolutions was to find time to read at least one book per month in 2010. I've already missed my goal, and it's only February, but I am about two-thirds through Gladwell's new book, "What the Dog Saw," and it's also quite good.)

Anonymous writes: David, I thought you would comment on the Unicycle girl and the bowls at halftime. That was spectacular.

Trust me, I had every intention of talking about the unicycle girl, who performed during halftime of the Georgia-Arkansas game on Wednesday. She got easily the biggest ovation from a Stegeman crowd I've heard in three years -- aside from the occasional Travis Leslie dunk.

Malcolm Gladwell should have written about how many hours went into
perfecting this routine. And the music is kinda catchy, too.

Anyway, I have a ton of respect for people who can turn a completely niche skill into a profitable enterprise -- and I'm sure this girl does well, because I've seen her perform several times. And, I think it says a lot about this great country we live in. I mean, you grow up being really good at riding a unicycle and balancing bowls on your head. In what other country could you turn that into a career?

And the sad part? I spent $30k on grad school when I should have just spent that time and money learning to roller skate while juggling fireworks.

Anonymous writes: Went to Woodfire Grill a few nights ago. Damn. Maybe not the most memorable meal of my life (the one in the Austrian farm house when the dog had puppies under the table during dinner tops that list) but it was the best. I did the chef's five selections and was amazed.

I also made a point to go to Woodfire Grill in the fall. (And if you're a "Top Chef" fan, another of last season's contestants, Hector, is the chef and owner of Pura Vida in Atlanta. It's a Latin tapas place, which I've heard good things about, but I haven't been.)

We also did the chef's five selections and we paired it with their wine tasting. I assumed it'd be a few sips of wine with each course. Not so. It was a glass. Considering the glass we had while waiting for our table and the one we had before ordering, I left not only with a full belly (the food really was superb), but a nice little hangover the next day.

(Oh, and a question for Mr. Anonymous... what were you eating while the dog had puppies? I think that might have spoiled my appetite.)

Clif writes: I wanted to check and see if you knew anything about Austin Long. If I remember correctly he was a fairly highly regarded OL recruit out of Tennessee, but was sidelined due to back surgery.

Normally I skip over questions I don't know the answer to, but I had a bunch of people ask about Austin this week.

I put in a call to Georgia's sports information department, but I'm not likely to get an answer on that until Monday at the earliest.

The last real update I had on Austin from Mark Richt came on Nov. 11.
Freshman Austin Long underwent back surgery before the season and has yet to practice with the team. There was hope he might be ready to practice by December leading up to an anticipated bowl game, but Richt said that's unlikely.

"He's got another appointment with the doctor, and it's sometime in December, to try to gauge how well it's healing," Richt said. "There's a possibility it's healed, but there may have to be some things that are taken out."

Richt said Long has been relegated to minor workouts -- elliptical machines and exercise bikes -- but he has not been able to run or do any significant weight lifting.
Just how much has changed in the three months since? I'm not sure, but I'll post an update as soon as I get an answer.

Trey writes: Is Sturdivant technically going to be a junior this season? I know sometimes they let kids redshirt and then medical redshirt. I just don't know how that works since he has missed two straight seasons.

This one I can answer.

Currently, Trinton is technically considered a junior. He played as a true freshman in 2007 and accepted a medical redshirt after missing all of the 2008 season. The NCAA rules allow a player to complete four years of playing in a five-year span, so technically speaking, he's out of redshirt options, making 2010 his redshirt junior season.

Now, the NCAA does, on occasion, allow for a sixth year of eligibility based on medical hardships, which Sturdivant would appear to be a perfect candidate for. However, those appeals are generally not made until a player's final year of eligibility, so we won't find out about that for certain for a couple more seasons.

dvansant writes: great blog but I think your working off the wrong facts. For most recruitniks, Rivals and Scout are the two most respected services. ESPN can only offer broad, generalized coverage.

Accoring to Rivals we nabbed 4 of the Top 10 and Scout has us with 5 of the Top 10 (would have been 5 and 6 respectively had Da'rick not jilted us at the alter)

I'd say that's doing a pretty good job. There's also one consensus Top 10 in state player that UGA refused to offer due to major character issues (he signed with Kiffin, go figure)

This is a fair complaint, for sure. I chose the ESPN rankings for two reasons:

1.) I was already looking over them when the idea of writing about keeping in-state talent came to mind, and…

2.) ESPN had UGA's class ranked higher than the other two sites, so I figured it was already being pretty kind to the Bulldogs.

I did mention in the post, however, that while Georgia had just one of ESPN's top 10 players in the state, it did have four of the next nine.

Characterizing this year's class as being one that missed on a number of in-state guys may have been a tad bit unfair, particularly using the source that I did, but there's still some truth to the thought process, as our next commenter points out...

Irwin Fletcher writes: I want to go back to another point. Our issue isn't an ability to connect with kids 'in-state.' State boundaries are a red herring. Our biggest issue is the ability to lock down Metro Atlanta. Georgia is a huge state. It is the largest state east of the Mississippi. Auburn, FSU, Florida, and Clemson...draw a circle around those schools using a radius of 150 miles and you probably cover more area in Georgia than in their home state.

Look at ESPN's list again...most of those kids are from Atlanta. UGA missed on most of them. 9 kids on that list are from Gwinett, Hall, Walton, and Newton Counties....UGA got 2.

Rather than using artificial boundaries like state lines, I'd be curious to see how UGA has done within a 150 mile radius of Athens compared to other schools recruiting kids within 150 miles of their campus. I'm not sure that would be favorable to UGA. Of course, the flip side is that while GA Tech, Auburn, Tennessee, Clemson, South Carolina, FSU, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, and Vanderbilt's 150 mile radius would ALL overlap UGA's, a place like Texas (which would only overlap with A&M and Baylor) or USC (UCLA) or LSU (anyone??? maybe Starkville...but that's stretching it according to Google Maps!).

Irwin's logic is pretty on point here, so no argument from me. But as sort of an aside, I do think there are some items fans have been using as pretty convenient excuses since signing day that don't really hold water -- at least not if they also want to see Georgia become a legitimate national title contender annually.

1.) I lived and worked in Albany for two years -- covering sports, no less. And while Albany is closer to Auburn, Gainesville and Tallahassee than it is to Athens, I'd estimate the overall makeup of the fan support there was about 70 percent UGA and 30 percent everyone else. In fact, a few years before I got there, the Albany Herald did a survey of its readership and found those numbers weren't too far off.

2.) Irwin is correct that, while the rest of the state might be a bit of a wild card, Georgia would be well-served to decide it was a top priority to lock down the Atlanta Metro area. Yes, there's competition for those kids from other schools, and no, not all of them are going to be UGA material, but again… if Georgia wants to be an elite program that competes with Florida and Alabama, getting a majority of the really high-end recruits from Atlanta is probably as good a starting spot as any. Saying, "Well, that's an impossible standard" might be true, but something tells me that's not something Urban Meyer would say.

3.) I also have heard quite often the old line that, "If a kid doesn't want to be at Georgia, then we don't need him here." Again, it's a faulty logic. If that's the way the world worked, there'd be no need for advertising. Recruiting is all about making the sale -- convincing a kid who isn't sure what he wants that Georgia is the right fit for him.

Some guys, like Garrison Smith, never had to think twice. He grew up loving Georgia, he liked Mark Richt, and when the offer came, it was a no-brainer.

But you can't build your program solely around Georgia fans. And moreover, there will be a lot of Georgia fans who, come time to decide on where to play college ball, think the mature decision is to go where you have the best chance to play and get drafted rather than to head for a program you used to watch on TV because your uncle and your dad did, too.

Da'Rick Rogers didn't make a mature decision, and I think we can agree on that. A choice that could define your career based on where your friend is going to school is obviously short-sigthed. But isn't that what teenagers do? How many of us might have done the same thing when we were 18? It's up to the adults in the situation to make sure they see the big picture.

It's easy to shrug off the Rogers situation with, "Good riddance. He didn't want to be a Dawg, so we don't want him here." Same is true of any number of other in-state kids who headed elsewhere.

And it may be true, but it's not the player's job to want to come to Georgia. It's the coaches' jobs to convince him he does.

(And one more thing... I've also heard plenty about what a "thug" Rogers is. I don't know the kid, so I'm not going to say anything one way or the other. But remember, Mark Richt recruited him and wanted him to be at Georgia, so he obviously passed whatever standard the UGA staff has. And I can't help but ask what all those Rogers bashers would be saying about him if the kid had still chosen to become a Bulldog in the end. Not saying you aren't right -- again, I don't know -- but it seems like a lot of Monday morning quarterbacking to me.)

(Oh, and another thing... all those fans who are now barking about prefering a 3-star guy with heart and loving those guys who bleed red and black... are you sure none of you were the same people bashing Joe Cox all season? Because Cox is the epitome of what you're saying you want in recruits.)

Dan writes: Did we really lose ground on Florida? TEBOW GRADUATED. UGA traded Willie for Grantham. NO we did not lose ground in the first two months of 2010 to the Gators.

As for recruits, you are all referring to a group of high school kids that haven't played a down of SEC football. Some will become all SEC, but some will get injured, some will flunk out, some will become felons, some will transfer, some will play 2nd string behind the other top recruit, and some will never qualify.

Yes we missed out on some guys due to transition, but it's one class and if memory serves me correct the last 4 years of top classes have not resulted in a trip to the SEC Championship. Remember the goal is to finish first in the SEC, not the Rivals standings.

Here's the problem, Dan -- all those things you mentioned about recruiting are true, but they are also true of Georgia.

Every single recruit who signed with a school last week did so with his future still yet to be written. Anything can happen. But that's not just true at Florida. It applies across the board.

You can't paint with this broad brush of, "We don't know what will happen, so all things are equal." Florida signed more players, and more highly regarded players than Georgia. At both schools, there's a good chance that a few will be busts, a few will get hurt, a few will transfer and a few will become great. But by getting a bigger and better signing class, Florida has increased its odds of success. Georgia, on the other hand, has to hope that its success rate on the players it landed is far higher than the success rate of Florida's class. And recent history offers little evidence that will be the case. In essence, Florida's margin for error is far greater than Georgia's right now, and when so much is left to chance, a small margin for error is troubling.

So was this year a bust for Georgia? Absolutely not. In fact, I think UGA filled a lot of needs quite nicely.

And is there a chance that Georgia's class will produce more good players than Florida's? Sure there is. But the odds are most definitely stacked in Florida's favor right now.

Think of it this way: If you looked at it objectively, if you weren't a fan of either team, which class would you rather have? If you polled 100 people, 95 of them would choose Florida, and the other five were probably drunk.

Matt writes: I remember reading somewhere (yesterday) another person essentially saying this:

UGA missed out on the top quarterback, top runningback, top OL, top WRs, top CBs, and top linebacker in the state.

I understand losing some guys, but that is losing out on a lot of positions, including many of need.

Also, if hiring new defensive coaches was an issue, why were most of our best recruits on the defensive side of the ball? Also, the only recruit we picked up yesterday was a highly rated defensive tackle. Not sure what to make of that. You might be right, but we didn't do well in offensive recruiting either.

Another good point, and it's one that Georgia Sports Blog brought up this week, too.
"What I don't get is the offensive in state recruits from this class. How do you miss out on the top QB, RB, WR and OT in state all in the same year? Kolton Houston (OG) is the only top player at his position we inked. How is that possible? I've been following UGA recruiting pretty closely since the 1997 season, and I don't even remember a class so shallow when it comes to in state offensive talent.

"The crazy thing to me....all the coaching instability was on the defensive side of the ball. We were entrenched and solid on the offensive side...and the puzzling stuff is all isolated to one side of the ball where we had the most margin for error. Granted there is some territorial / geographic overlap from offense to defense, but still. It's mystifying."
Truth be told, the attrition came on the defensive side of the ball, with three commitments bolting, compared to just Rogers on offense. The problem was the inability to get commitments in the first place on the offensive side of the ball.

It's not the end of the world, because Georgia is well stocked at quarterback, running back and tight end for the next two years and, barring injuries, should be able to get by at receiver. But what this has done is put a lot of pressure on the coaching staff to land a stellar crew next year, because at that point, landing a top tailback, at least two receivers, a handful of offensive linemen and possibly a quarterback are going to be essential, not optional.

Anonymous writes: One thing I am surprised that no one has commented on (or at least I have not seen) is how the coaching staff offered Ogletree's brother (Alexander) a scholarship- even when he was only a 2 star recruit. Was this done to possibly keep Alec firmly entrenched as a Bulldog. Yet they would not do the same and offer Nance (a 3 star- and only rated slightly lower than Mason who we did get) to help retain Rogers.

I can remember way back in '93 when Bill Clinton first took office, MTV held its own hipper version of the inauguration ball. In addition to the top musical acts of the day -- which, if memory serves, included hip-hop legends Wreckx-N-Effect -- the network scheduled a little-known musician by the name of Roger Clinton to play the event.

Roger Clinton, as you might be aware, was Bill's screw-up brother -- similar to Billy Carter, only without his own brand of beer to offer some sort of redemptive quality.

Sometimes, I think we elected the wrong Carter.

Anyway, I can clearly recall John Norris introducing Roger Clinton by saying, "We booked this next performer a while ago, before we even know he had a famous brother…"

Now, I'm not calling John Norris a liar, but I don't seem to remember any Roger Clinton videos making their way onto MTV before or after that performance. I do seem to remember Roger Clinton sucking. So, I definitely have my suspicions.

I mean no offense to Zander Ogletree, who might yet turn into a solid player. We're a long way from knowing that for certain. But to assume his recruitment had nothing to do with Alec's… well, I'm not calling anyone a liar, but I have my suspicions.

I have a lot of respect for how Mark Richt handles recruiting, and I've had numerous people tell me that Georgia has missed the boat on good players because Richt refused to take the low road. That's commendable. But if you think that Georgia is somehow completely immune from all the back-room, smoke-and-mirrors stuff, that's probably a bit naive.

Players get recruited at Georgia for the same reasons Nash Nance got recruited to Tennessee. It's the same reason I got so many emails right after Georgia offered Lonnie Outlaw, with fans suggesting this was a prime way to lure his quarterback next year. It happens. Da'Rick Rogers bolted on a commitment to Georgia, and the Bulldogs swiped a lineman away from Kentucky. Again, it happens. Recruiting is a dirty business.

I don't know if Zander's offer was a strict quid pro quo -- and my guess is it wasn't -- but I find it hard to believe that it never entered anyone's mind that having Alec's brother on board would be a pretty good way to ensure Alec stayed on board. And in truth, I don't really see anything wrong with it. If a school wants to burn a scholarship to get a player it thinks is valuable enough, that seems like a reasonable choice to make. And the result is that a player like Zander (or Nance) who may not have had a ton of other top options will get a chance at an elite school. Sometimes that works out for the best for everyone.

If you read the background on what happened with Rogers, Nance and the signing of Hutson Mason, as told by Dean Legge at Dawg Post, it certainly sounds like a bit of that creative forethought might have helped Georgia earlier in the recruiting season, too.

I don't cover recruiting year-round, so I don't know. Dean does cover recruiting, so I'm inclined to take his word for it.

Regardless, the fundamental question becomes this: As a fan, what are your expectations for your coaching staff on the recruiting trail, and, more importantly, what are you willing to sacrifice to make those expectations a reality?

If you want your coaches to take the high road all the time, you're going to lose some good recruits and, in turn, some games.

If you want them to take the low road to get the job done, there's a good chance there will be some consequences -- or "Kiff-equences," as I'll now call them -- for doing so.

It's a trade-off. Most things in life are.

(Side note: Is John Norris still working at MTV or did his retirement benefits finally kick in?)

(Second side note: I defy you to find another writer who could so successfully analogize Roger Clinton and Zander Ogletree. I'll be turning that one in for Pulitzer consideration.)

JFerg writes: Re: The Nash/Rogers to UT story, my Analogy: Nash/Rogers is like "the Blind Side" mixed with "The Girlfriend Experience"

I'll be honest, I had to check IMDB on this one
"The Girlfriend Experience": "A drama set in the days leading up to the 2008 Presidential election, and centered on a high-end Manhattan call girl meeting the challenges of her boyfriend, her clients, and her work."
OK, that might just top my Clinton/Ogletree analogy.

Parker writes: Does it seem especially shady to you that the day after Florida signs the greatest recruiting class ever assembled that their defensive coordinator announces that he's leaving? These players just signed away their right to choose where they'll spend their college career, and now they're not going to be playing for who they thought they were playing for. Surely, Edwards knew he'd be leaving before Thursday, but waited until after signing day to announce it. Corch Meyer has to be behind all of this, asking Edwards and the Bills to keep it under wraps until after signing day.

I'll take heat for this, but I'd rather have 8 wins under Richt or someone as equally honest than 2 national titles under Meyer. There are more important things than winning.

Does it seem weird to me? Well, I would think announcing you're retiring because coaching could kill you, then un-retiring one day later and taking a leave of absence instead, then two weeks after that telling media your leave lasted a day-and-a-half… That strikes me as kinda weird. What Edwards did? Well, at best it's the second weirdest thing to happen in Gainesville this offseason.

But let me say this -- I feel for those kids who thought they were playing for Edwards and now are stuck, but this type of thing is hardly unique.

In fact, I'd be willing to bet there are a few kids who just signed with Vandy that are more than a bit upset about Georgia's latest coaching hire.

Brock writes: One thing somewhat overlooked is when this move was announced - after signing day. Coach Richt could have went after Coach Belin weeks ago, but that time frame would have jeopardized Vandy's class. By making this move now, shows exactly the type of man that is leading our program. I feel it's an important tidbit that was lost in all the hype surrounding national letter of intent day..

Of course, this is another way of looking at things. And I tip my hat to Richt for letting Grantham finish his gig with Dallas, for waiting until after the NCG to get into the gory details with Kirby Smart and for letting Belin finish out his signing class. His patience didn't exactly help Georgia's program, but he did some real favors to other teams.

But again, Vandy benefited from the timing. But did those kids who just signed away the next four years of their lives to a coach who bolted two days later benefit?

And I don't now the answer to this, but it is certainly possible that Belin had told his players (the linebackers, at least) that he was planning to depart, in which case, kudos to him for doing so. If he didn't, well, it's just sort of the way things work in college football, and I suppose no one should be surprised by it anymore. At least he didn't fake a retirement to close any deals.

Joe writes: Many of your readers may be as confused as I am regarding the number of scholarships. I thought we had 24 or 25 and only used 19. Will CMR use the remaining scholarships for walk on or non scholarship players or will they help us next year? I know there is a cap but I noticed Auburn signed 32? I read your articles daily and hope you will consider offering some insight on this topic.

You are confused for good reason.

First off, Georgia certainly could have signed more players, but as Rodney Garner said, they weren't out to meet a quota. That said, if the Dawgs hadn't had four late defections, they certainly would have signed more players.

Secondly, Garner also stated that there are currently (including the new signees) 84 players on scholarship. As you're no doubt aware, there is a limit of 85. So that would lead one to believe that Georgia really wouldn't have had room for too many more signees.

As to your final question, however, the reason Auburn and others signed more players is because it assumes that not all of them will qualify. A school can only bring in 25 new scholarship players per year, so when it over-signs, it's generally with the assumption that several of those players will attend junior college to get their grades up, and then, ideally, stick with the school they originally signed with once they're qualified.

(There are also caveats about letting mid-year enrollees count toward the previous signing class, etc., etc. but getting into all the exceptions starts to get above my pay grade.)

The SEC instituted a rule this year that capped signings at 28, with a 2-for-1 punishment for schools that violate the rule. So that is to say that, if a school signs 29 players this year, next year it will be capped at 26. But again, when you take into account the exceptions to the rule, things get tricky.

Hope that clears things up, but I'm not so sure it does.

GATA writes: Every SEC team can sign a max 0f 28 every year. Early enrollments do not count against this number. However, a team can only have 85 scholarship athletes "enrolled" at any given time. So to answer your question, if Bama only has 20 scholly spots available, and they sign 28, then they will have to pull 8 offers before the kids enroll. Sometimes kids do not qualify or get injured and wash out that way.

OK, maybe that clears it up a bit better.

Patrick writes: Loved the “Lost” SEC coach comparisons! Like yourself, I have been big fan of the show over the years. Last season somewhat “LOST” me in a way, as I’m starting to wrestle with the whole time travel/black hole/ loop theory ideas. What are your thoughts/theories on what is going on. I just hope I haven’t invested all these hours into something that is going to turn out to be “someone’s dream”, etc.

There is a school of thought that thinks last years finale and “the incident” could have been one in the same, meaning that what if “the incident” was in fact caused by the Castaways and this whole thing is just a “loop”. Setting off the bomb would cause the plane not to crash, but if that happened… how could they have been here to cause “the incident “ in the first place. I’m not sure that there is a good way out for the writers that will explain everything that has happened up to this point. Just wondered what your take was.

I have definitely put off talking about the season premier of "Lost" for far too long. So...

*Potential Spoiler Alerts*

Stop reading if you're still waiting to see the episode on DVR or if you're absolutely bored to death by "Lost" discussions.

(Oh, and for those of you who are completely annoyed by the "Lost" commentary on this blog, you'll actually enjoy this link.)

OK, my thoughts:

1.) I'm OK with the whole parallel universe theory. In fact, as someone who enjoyed "A Brief History of Time" as bathroom reading for about a month last year, I'm actually intrigued by the idea.

(Oh, and if you haven't seen this yet… it's kind of cool. Both the original plane crash scene and last week's "new" one, side by side.)

(Also, I commented while watching the episode that Jack got up to use the bathroom a bit too often. Also, the scene where we was trying to do CPR on Sayid was shot from ground level looking up at Jack... it was kind of some disturbing imagery if you wathed it out of context.)

Anyway, I'm interested in the idea of this new reality. Clearly the bomb didn't erase the past (nor, as Patrick notes, could it, theoretically, because then it would have prevented the castaways from setting it off in the first place).

It's interesting that there are small differences (Jack's in a different seat, Shannon stayed in Australia) and some really big ones (Hurley is now extremely lucky, Desmond is on the plane for some reason). This isn't an issue of what would have happened had the plane not crashed. It's a completely new reality.

One other thing: When Jack first found Desmond on the island, he recognized him. When Jack saw Desmond on the plane, he thinks he knows him… but he can't place it. It makes you wonder where this time split happened... how much of life before Oceanic 815 was the same in both "universes."

2.) Of course, beyond the parallel universes, the other big story line is what's going on with Jacob and the mysterious man in black. The easy conclusion to come to -- and the one I assumed was happening as the episode progressed -- was that, just as the man in black was now possessing Locke's body, Jacob planned to take over Sayid's. And, sure enough, that appeared to be the case at the episode's conclusion.

Only, here's what bothered me throughout: The man in black didn't possess Locke. Locke's body was laying on the beach. This was another Locke. In the final scene, however, it was Sayid's actual body that got up. This is clearly different than what was going on with Locke.

And a few questions I have -- or simply things I noticed…

-- The title to the episode is not "LAX." It's "LA X." That space has to mean something. One theory I've read is that it stands for an alternate universe, similar to what is done in comic books with Earth and Earth X.

-- OK, so Jughead blows up, creating a parallel universe in which Jack & Co. are back on the plane en route to L.A., but all the Losties are also back in present time, presumably on the island that was inhabited by Sun, Locke, Ben and the like at the end of Season 5. So… what happened to all the other people who were on the island in the 1970s? Why was it only the time travelers who, again, traveled through time and split off into another universe?

-- The dead guy in the temple… what was the book? What might that have meant? And was anyone else reminded of Chester Copperpot in "Goonies"?

(Side note: In college, we used to play a drinking game called Kings which required a large "community" beer for the loser to drink. We used a coffee pot for this and named it Chester Coffeepot. Sadly, Chester's life was cut short when our pal Dan decided he was tired of losing the game and smashed Chester in the street in front of our house.)

-- My feelings on Season 6 so far -- and really, my feelings on much of Season 5 as well -- are a lot like my feelings about Georgia's signing class. I'm on board. I think there's potential. I have faith in the guys who put it together, because they've done excellent work in the past. There is hope.

But I'll admit, I have my concerns, too. I'm wondering if they may have painted themselves into a corner, and I'm not entirely thrilled with the direction things are headed.

Part of me really enjoyed the interplay between the LA-bound flight and life back on the island. It was a good way of reminding people what the story of the show was seven years ago. We saw Kate in chains and Jin being a jerk and Charlie strung out. It was an ending that offered a nod to the beginning.

But for me, it sort of underscored the difference between the early seasons of the show and the current season. Remember when finding out what was in a hatch was the biggest mystery on the show? There was something simple and sublime about that. But opening the hatch was like opening a Pandora's box. What was inside led to shorelines far more complex and, in some ways, convoluted than the ones that first hooked me on the show.

To boil it down to its simplest form, the early years of "Lost" were a mystery. The clues were there, and it was all explainable if you were smart and patient and observant. This season (and last) feels like something different. It seems more like fantasy.

In a mystery, there are rules. That's why Bruce Willis couldn't interact with any other characters in "The Sixth Sense."

In a fantasy, the rules are all made up. It's a world fully created by the writers. Mysterious beings can inhabit the bodies of dead people and a group of hippies has this secret lake inside its temple that can presumably heal gunshot wounds on occasion. It starts to cross a line for me between dramatic effect and simply making stuff up. And the beauty of "Lost" has always been that, despite its immense weirdness, it was always grounded in some level of authenticity. That was the genius of the show.

I realize that in a show like "Lost" you have to have some interplay of both mystery and fantasy, but it's my hope that when we get to the true conclusion, it ended up far more of the former than the latter.

*End Spoiler Alerts*

Mike in Valdosta writes: "5. Tennessee. It will probably be an important SEC East game, but it's hard to get too excited about it now without an arch villain on the opposing sideline. But hey, maybe UGA ends up playing USC in the national championship game in the next few years, and revenge can be appropriately dished out then."

Young Hale, you are wise, your grammar is great, your work ethic is excellent, but your respect for one's opponents is beyond Crompton!

You know, having "Beyond Crompton" used on me… I guess before that, I never really understood the impact of those words.

By the way, I'll go ahead and take full responsibility for the Da'Rick Rogers situation. I downplayed the significance of this year's Tennessee game because Lane Kiffin was gone and the Vols didn't look like they'd have the strongest of teams.

It was almost as if I was asking for something controversial to happen, and now here we are. So it's my fault, and I'm sorry.

I just hope Bacarri Rambo and Jakar Hamilton aren't reading this.

Bob writes: One question I have that seems to have gotten glossed over by the lap dog that is ESPN and the fawning media types regarding FL’s recruiting class. For a team that desperately needs a running game they signed only one RB (Mack Brown) and for a team that is thin at the QB position they signed two QB’s with one being a “2 star” and one a “3 star”.

Hey it sells well on paper when you have several 4 and 5 star guys but when there are gaps in filling your needs I find it hard to rationalize a “A+” rating to any teams class. Is it just me that recognizes this?

This is an exceptional point that is really glossed over -- and not just about Florida.

These recruiting averages are simply a look at how many stars were given to the overall class, but there's no accounting done for what position those guys play or what positions those schools most needed.

In Florida's case, the class overall looks impressive, but it's heavily weighted toward one side of the ball.

The same is true for Georgia, but of course Georgia also needed far more help on that side of the ball.

Still, the Bulldogs provide a great example for why balance is every bit as important as overall ability. Two years ago, Georgia had a team with a big number of legitimate stars. They had a five-star QB who would be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. They had a superstar tailback, two great receivers, some big-time recruits like Asher Allen and Reshad Jones on defense. But they didn't have an offensive line and they didn't have a pass rush. The result was a team that never seriously contended for an SEC title.

Getting a lot of great players is nice, but getting a lot of great players who fit your needs is much better.

Which brings me to another interesting email...

Wes writes: I went look for some info to shut up a Gaytor co-worker and I found something pretty interesting. Since 2005, Florida has only had 4 offensive players drafted in the top 4 rounds of the NFL Draft. Everyone has fallen in love with Meyers spread offense, but his success doesn't exactly bode too well for his offensive players.

Florida: Round 1=Percy Harvin (#22 overall,09) Round 3=Andre Caldwell (#99 overall, 08) Round 4= Louis Murphy (#129 overall, 09) Ciatrick Fiason (#122 overall, 05)

Georgia: Round 1=Matthew Stafford (#1 overall, 09) Knowshon Moreno (#12 overall, 09) Round 2=Reggie Brown (#35 overall, 05) Mohammid Masaquoui (#50 overall, 09) Round 3=Leonard Pope (#72 overall, 06) David Greene (#85 overall, 05) Round 4=Max Jean-Giles (#99 overall, 06) Fred Gibson (# 131 overall, 05) Martrez Milner (#133 overall, 07)

Just thought that was interesting.

I'm curious when this is eventually going to come back to bite Florida. Urban Meyer is on record calling Tim Tebow the greatest quarterback of our era, but the guy is probably a second-round pick at best, and even that will be based more on reputation than anything.

Meyer's offensive system is built for college football -- and filled with college football players. But that doesn't seem to translate well to the NFL, and you'd think at some point a guy with NFL talent on that side of the ball is going to look at Florida and say, "Is this really preparing me for life after college?" then look at Georgia and say, "That system looks an awful lot like what I see on Sunday."

In fact, I'd be shocked if Richt, Garner and Co. aren't saying that to those kids already.

Anonymous writes: Vandy was 80 spots ahead of UGA in kick coverage last year. For that reason alone I say give (Belin) a job. Oh yeah, he also coaches linebackers and recruits pretty well too.

I don't know what the appropriate grade is for Georgia's recruiting class. Recruiting isn't really my thing. But I do know a good bit about the team that's already in Athens and what it was lacking in the past couple of seasons, and on that front, I'd have to give Richt an 'A' on his coaching hires.

Grantham is a hard-nosed aggressive guy who not only brings an NFL pedigree but a bunch of fresh ideas that have been sorely lacking in Athens of late.

Lakatos is an up-and-coming coach with a lot left to prove, and I mean that in a good way. His history with DBs at lower levels is impressive, and the reason that's the case is because he's done a great job of teaching fundamentals.

And now we get to Warren Belin, who also has a history of doing more with less (as opposed to Georgia's recent track record of less with more), has a reputation for enforcing the fundamentals and brings with him a record of success coaching special teams. (Oh, and Lakatos was a special teams coach early in his career, too.)

Grantham has the sales pitch that he can get players to the next level. Lakatos and Belin have a record of coaching up the under-the-radar guys.

Grantham is a bit short on recruiting experience and Lakatos isn't an SEC guy, but Belin brings credentials in both areas.

It's a staff that not only could be considered three impressive hires individually, but as a group, I think they fit quite well together.

So, no, the process wasn't exactly ideal. But so far, it's hard to call the result anything but solid.

Of course, the caveat to all of that is… none of it really matters until we see the product on the field.

Don writes: what I noticed when I read the Vandy blog was that he recruited the Atlanta area very well. been reading all week about how UGA does not recruit ATL well. looks like a good hire.

And there's that, too.

Anonymous writes: I recall thinking how classy UT was this year when they booed Marlon Brown (an 18 year old) for choosing UGA over UT. At the same time, I have a huge desire to see Rogers booed at least a little in Sanford. Booing a kid seems a bit much, but the situation is different, right? The thing that bothers me about Rogers is that he kept us from recruiting another WR by saying he was coming, not that he didn't come here in the end. Please agree that I still have the high road.

I think it will be OK to boo Da'Rick, and here's why…

1.) Tennessee boos Marlon Brown, who chose Georgia despite never committing anywhere else. Classless move.

2.) Da'Rick chooses Tennessee, despite being committed to Georgia first. Also fairly classless.

3.) Da'Rick says he likes the "culture" in Knoxville. Which we've defined as classless already.

Er go, Da'Rick is perfectly fine with you booing him in a classless fashion. In fact, he'll probably enjoy it.

Which makes it kind of a classy move, if you ask me.

"Ugh, Tennessee was a *bad* choice. ... I'm trapped in glass case of emotion!"

You stay classy, Dawg Nation. Be back in a few days...


Anonymous said...

David, thanks for taking a vacation. Now I have an extra hour a day from not reading your posts to spend with my wife.

Anonymous said...

"The result was a team that never seriously contended for an SEC title."

Um, 2007?

David Hale said...

I was referring specifically to the '08 team (hence the part about the lack of a pass rush). But even in '07 uga still lost 2 SeC East games... at least one of which the prob would have won if not for the rookies up front having very little experience at the time.

Anonymous said...

Looooooooongest post EVER! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the reading material. I've read a little bit and it's great stuff. Thanks again for all you do.

UGAHAWK said...

I’m gonna go ahead and point out the elephant in the room….David Hale is too good! He will not be here much longer folks. Enjoy it while it lasts. His sports roots are deeply entwined in the NE, but he has definitely made his presents felt in the Bulldog Nation. We will forever compare UGA writers and bloggers to his style, approach, integrity, and dedication. He will with out a doubt move on to the ESPN’s and Deadspin’s of the world and we will fondly reminisce of the days of yesteryear.

Enough slobbering!! There has been much speculation about why our recruiting class was week. The most obvious reason is because we had a prolonged DC search. That, however, does not hold much water. Here are a few examples why:
-Lane Kiffin last year at TN and this year at USC were able to recruit late
-Chizik was able to recruit last year
-Strong was able to recruit this year
-FL was able to recruit this year
-Dooley was able to recruit this year
-Fisher was able to recruit this year

There seems to be a lot of examples that lead to the belief that coaching turnover doesn’t matter near as much as some other factors. Recruiting rankings are all relative, but we have high expectations because we believe that UGA/Richt should attract a much better class of players than what we accumulated this year. Despite Richts tenure, college coaches throughout the SEC poach players under his watch. Grantham was correct in his assessment of the talent in GA and the fact that UGA could be better than FL, USC, TX, and AL if we kept our recruits. I’m sure Richt didn’t take that as a knock on him…but maybe he should’ve. When he took over the job, Richt pointed out the need to lock-down the boarders. He hasn’t. I’m not trying to bash Richt, but our flaws need to be addressed. And as David alluded to, I’m not concerned about who has left GA, I’m concerned who the GA coaching staff has targeted and did not retrieve. That is more telling of their recruiting acumen than looking at where the top ten players in GA went.

And here's to next year UGA being the Doc's hand and Fletch being the SEC:

Mooooon Riverrrrr!

Herschel Blogger said...

Two things:
-first, you definitely stole my partner, Fratt Stinchcomb's signoff there at the end...
-your LOST analysis is spot-on. I watched the premiere with my girlfriend who has never seen an episode. She took all the "fantasy" aspects in stride, assuming that it was what LOST was all about, then she was confused as to why I was disheartened after it. Basically Dave, I felt like I was watching a low-budget LOTR-style fantasy show that would come on UPN or Peachtree-TV during the afternoon or something. Some of the effects/camerawork even seemed lowbudget. For instance, the CGI used to show the island underwater was comparable to something I could cook up in an Intro to Graphics class... The new temple with people we've never heard of just seemed a bit too Xena: Warrior Princess for me. I, for one, was terribly under-impressed, and it will take a lot more than a malicious black-cloud-Locke-person to satisfy me this season. I'd start up a drinking game with a shot for every time LOST pisses me off this season, but I'd have serious concerns for the safety of my liver.

Anyway, thanks for all you do, and the fact that you cover UGA and LOST so efficiently makes you my new best friend. I ought to stop by the press area next bball game and introduce myself. I think I just may....

Anonymous said...

Fan of Stewart, Bill O.....not so much. That says volumes about your age and level of naivete. When I was your age I felt they shouldn't let people over 40 vote, now I feel you should have to be over 40 and own something. Even if you don't believe this now, you will in the future. Idealism is for the young, reality will awaken you soon enough. All of us want to provide for everyone's needs, all of them, most of us know that is neither practical nor affordable.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 12:41:

Sorry to wreck your "grown-up" theory, bud, but this here is a 50 year-old native south Georgian who is just as liberal, idealistic, and impassioned as I was in college. More so, maybe. Especially because the good guys finally won an election. (Oh yeah, I'm also a property-owning, tax-paying, school-age-kids-having guy, too. A regular Joe who I hope you'd enjoy having a couple drinks with, so long as the topic was UGA football rather thsn health care.)

The trouble with political extremists is the hole in their world view that simply cannot understand that the folks who think differently than they do have exactly the same sense of validity about these opposing viewpoints.

SO lighten up with the doom-and-gloom "One day, lad, you too will be a shrunken old Monty Burns Republican." Shrunken and old? Yes - hopefully. A Rush clone? Not on your life.

We now return you to your regularly-scheduled football blog.

Anonymous said...

No, 12:39, some never catch on, but they are a minority. Maybe they work in academia, or belong to a union, or have some other cause that blinds them. But the liberals are the one trying to stifle free speech (talk radio, FOX News, internet, etc.) because they dare challenge with facts, not mushy "feelings" that are nice to have, just not doable. You should know about extremists, the left is dominated by them (now many are czars.) We cannot afford all the freeloaders, in this country, much less outside of it outside of it. Go back and put your head in the sand, conservatives will save the brain-dead among us....again.

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Anonymous said...

Influence can be defined as the power exerted over the minds and behavior of others. A power that can affect, persuade and cause changes to someone or something. In order to influence people, you first need to discover what is already influencing them. What makes them tick? What do they care about? We need some leverage to work with when we’re trying to change how people think and behave.

Kathleen said...

Anon 11:10, how is it that only a "minority" "never catch on"? Where do you get that information? Is it extrapolated from YOUR experience and YOUR circle of acquaintance? Why do you need to think it's just a minority for you to feel that you're correct in your beliefs?

What kills me about the way conservatives paint liberals as pie-in-the-sky folks who believe in fairy tales is that these conservative groups are very frequently the same who use God to justify their policies. If that's not pie-in-the-sky, I don't know what is.

The other thing that kills me is the whole idea that Presidential candidates need to be "just like you and me" and the flip side that Sarah Palin is like an average Joe American. If the average Joe American ideal means we all end up with pregnant 17-year-olds and that we are better off being led by the LEAST educated (bachelors in journalism? really?), then THAT is a horrible fantasy.

It is terrifying that education is being held up as a dangerous, liberal, ivory-tower ideal.

Cultural Revolution, anyone?

TrboDawg said...

.... and now for something completely different...

UGA Men's Tennis - "The Bulldogs have now won 24 straight against the Yellow Jackets, dating back to 1989 and improved to 50-1 in the series since 1969." -ABH

I believe there were conservatives AND liberals on all of those teams...(and maybe even a few libertarians, like me!)

Anonymous said...

This link has nothing to do with anything, but you should still all check it out.

Its good to be Matthew Stafford.

Anonymous said...

Kathleen, don't paint all conservatives as "Jesus freaks". I don't see where anyone who posted above said all liberals are flakey. Many are young, idealistic, and have never been exposed to the realities of socialism. Just as many are simply people who have one cause (abortion rights, unions, environment, gay rights, immigration immunity, death penalty, anti-war, etc.) that drives them so strongly they latch onto a party that has that one issue as one of their planks, even if that person is more centrist in total. Radicals on the left have abandoned the moderates and left many without a home.

Others are simply zealots who oppose the life-style and values that the US was founded on. That's OK, they should be allowed to have different opinions, but they should also be expected to be criticized. Neither liberals nor conservatives can expect to take exrtreme stands and not be attacked by the moderates. The "jam down" approach by the party currently in power has polarized the country. It is never good, imo, for one party to control the WH, the House, and the Senate at the same time. Checks and balances are all that will protect us from the extreme areas of both parties. A moderate 3rd party is needed, and soon.

I have to agree with the above posters, the liberals are now the ones who threaten freedom to be different with their attacks on certain individuals on talk radio, or the largest cable news network. And education has been in the control of left wing thinkers for decades, that isn't new, nor disputable. Combined with control of the major media outlets, that is a dangerous situation for all of us.

Joeski said...


All you political types, please keep your sh... er, stuff off my sports blog, thank you kindly! Got plenty of places to discuss that blood-pressure raising stuff, and not enough to revel in the pure purpose of sport! ;)

Seriously, tho; David, thank you for addressing what I said. Your points are valid, but if I recall correctly, my point was primarily that recruiting is a very inexact science (unfortunately, I can't find my post... I'm guessing due to the fact that the link I have on my home PC points at the Macon blog post, and the one on my work PC points at the other one), a sentiment which you yourself agree with, and that many of the recruiting services seem to up-grade recruits simply because they are so hotly pursued.

So, except for the fact that I took the tack of "this is not as 'bad' as the nay-sayers will make it out to be" and you taking the tack of "there is reason to lay some criticism on Richt et al", we pretty much agree.

Both of our viewpoints are valid, but I think that my 'beware the hype-machine' still has weight. If I were to simplify the debate, it would come down to: give the UGA staff credit for recognizing local talent that the national recruiting services pass over... why is this important? Because every big name program can get a certain amount of 'blue-chip' recruits. No, the difference comes in the major program properly identifying the 'diamonds in the rough' and developing them.

(PS- you're gonna be stuck with me for a while, Mr. Hale. I'm an Alum, my wife is an Alum, and we're both dedicated Dawgs... and my company just shipped the software I was working on, which means I have to take a 60 day furlough... so I'll have nothing to do but follow your blog obsessively. I apologize in advance... ;)

Alan said...

I'm Ron Burgundy?

Anonymous said...

Dammit, who put a question mark in the teleprompter?

cyberdawg said...

Hate to bring this up, but as a fellow writer, I feel compelled to point out that it is either "particle" physics or "practical" physics.

Harold said...

One thing I think has been lost during this whole process is the Dawg Nation's impact on a new recruit's decision to go to UGA or somewhere else. Our game in '09 vs. UK was nationally televised on ESPN.

The entire universe saw pissed off Dawg fans leaving in droves--BEFORE THE GAME WAS OVER! What does that say to a 17-year old kid considering UGA?

I was at the game and, sure, I was upset, but my buddies and I stayed until the final whistle-BECAUSE WE'RE DAWG FANS, WIN OR LOSE!