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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Knox Headed to GMC

Mark Richt didn't mention any problems with grades when I spoke to him earlier this week, but as it turns out, one player didn't make the cut. Safety John Knox will transfer to Georgia Military College for academic reasons. Here's the UGA release...

University of Georgia redshirt sophomore free safety John Knox of Statesboro will transfer to Georgia Military College (GMC) for academic considerations according to Bulldog head coach Mark Richt.

Knox will begin classes at GMC this month. He played in 12 games in 2008 recording eight total tackles.

Knox was Georgia's second most experienced safety behind Reshad Jones after serving as the primary (and at times, only) backup last season. He's a good hitter with solid speed, but was far from consistent. Still, he made some nice progress last year.

So what does this mean?

Well, for one, it means Bryan Evans better be ready. Evans already appeared to have the inside edge on the starting job after moving from corner to safety late last season, but now it's all but guaranteed that he'll be the man. He looked good in Georgia's bowl game and was a strong leader this spring, according to everyone I spoke with, so he appears up to the challenge.

It also means Quintin Banks needs to stay healthy. Banks figured to play the role Knox did last year, but missed all but one game with various injuries. He didn't see much action this spring either, but could easily fill the void left by Knox if he's back to 100 percent by fall.

And it probably means we'll see a good bit of Baccari Rambo, the scout team QB extraordinaire, who earned very positive reviews from teammates this spring. Rambo is young and, after redshirting last year, has no game-day experience, but there's a lot of talent and athleticism there, and he's gotten a lot bigger since he arrived.

All in all, this could be a lot worse. There's no one with quite as much experience as Knox to step in, but there's no shortage of players who could easily handle the job.

Don't be too surprised, either, if we see Knox back in a year, a la Akeem Hebron.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Cash Cow

From SEC release...

The Southeastern Conference will distribute approximately $132.5 million to the 12 league institutions in the revenue sharing plan for the 2008-2009 fiscal year, which ends Aug. 31, 2009, according to league commissioner Mike Slive.

The $132.5 million is the highest total ever distributed in SEC history and represents a 4.0 percent increase from the $127.6 million distributed to the schools in 2007-2008.

The revenue sharing plans include money generated by football television, bowls, the SEC Football Championship, basketball television, the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and NCAA Championships.

Broken down by categories and rounded off, the $132.5 million was derived from $52 million from football television, $25.4 million from bowls, $14.3 million from the SEC Football Championship, $13.6 million from basketball television, $4.1 million from the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament and $23.1 million from NCAA Championships.

The average amount distributed to each school was $11.1 million.

Not included in the $132.5 million was $11.6 million retained by the institutions participating in bowls and $744,000 divided among all 12 institutions by the NCAA for academic enhancement.

Other yearly money distributions, since 1980, are as follows: 1980 ($4.1 million); 1981 ($5.57 million); 1982 ($7.24 million); 1983 ($9.53 million); 1984 ($18.4 million); 1985 ($9.34 million); 1986 ($13.1 million); 1987 ($13.56 million); 1988 ($14.34 million); 1989 ($13.85 million); 1990 ($16.3 million); 1991 ($20.6 million); 1992 ($27.7 million); 1993 ($34.34 million); 1994 ($34.36 million); 1995 ($40.3 million); 1996 ($45.5 million); 1997 ($58.9 million); 1998 ($61.2 million); 1999 ($68.5 million); 2000 ($73.2 million); 2001 ($78.1 million); 2002 ($95.7 million); 2003 ($101.9 million); 2004 ($108.8 million); 2005 ($110.7 million); 2006 ($116.1 million); 2007 ($122.0 million); 2008 ($127.6 million) and 2009 ($132.5 million).

NOTE FROM DAVID: Pay close attention to those numbers in the last graph... the revenue has doubled in the last 10 years and increased nearly 400 percent in the past 15 years. Wow.

David & the Dawgs

I'll be away from the action for the rest of the weekend while in Delaware for my brother's high school graduation, but here's a couple updates on UGA's postseason hopes...

-- The Diamond Dogs got off to a great start against Ohio State.

-- Things didn't work out so well for the golf team, however, which was eliminated by Arkansas this afternoon.

-- The softball team will be back in action Saturday, so keep an eye out for that.

And if you really miss me over the next couple of days, you can check out my appearances on 960 the Ref by clicking HERE or hear my interview with Bill Shanks by clicking HERE.

Harman Helps Georgia Past Okie State

From UGA Athletics...

Senior Brian Harman's putt on the 18th hole lifted the Georgia men's golf team to a dramatic 3-2 win over Oklahoma State on Friday in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship at the Inverness Club.

Harman defeated the Cowboys' Rickie Fowler 1-up with a four-foot birdie putt on No. 18. Moments earlier, Fowler's 8-foot birdie putt veered left at the last moment.

"That was unbelievable theater," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "That was two of the best players in college golf; that was a clash of the titans. On the 18th tee box, Brian turned to me and said, 'I'm not ready to go home yet.' That was one of the guttiest performances I've ever seen."

"Rickie played great and I hung in there as best as I could," Harman said. "The last three holes, something got into me. You couldn't ask for a better finish. That was two really good teams going at it. I have a lot of respect for Oklahoma State and a lot of respect for Rickie Fowler."

Video Blog: Gene Chizik

Auburn coach Gene Chizik talks about his new offense and whether the spread can work for the Tigers.

SEC Notes: UGA Closing in on Deal

Georgia is closing in on a new deal for its marketing and media rights with ISP Sports, and an agreement could be reached within the next few weeks, associate athletics director Alan Thomas said.

The deal was first reported in March and could be worth up to $10 million annually. Georgia's current contracts with multiple rights holders expire June 30. Georgia's current contracts generate about $8.3 million annually, according to the Sports Business Journal.

"We're moving right down the track," athletics director Damon Evans said. "We don't have a signed deal with them yet, but it's imminent."

Evans said he didn't anticipate the new contract would create significant changes for the school, but it would allow Georgia to increase its media presence in multiple platforms.

"Same dimensions, just a different rights holder," Evans said. "Now there will be some new twists from a multimedia rights to get ourselves more exposure. I don't know all the details, but one thing is we're trying to brand ourselves better and get more people to see the University of Georgia."


A team gets 80 scholarships for its football players and the NCAA considers 25 players a complete recruiting class, but that didn't stop plenty of schools from inking more than 30 players on signing day in February. With that in mind, the topic of a firm limit on the number of players a school could sign became a popular topic of debate Tuesday, but its one Mark Richt thinks should be tabled for the time being.

"I wouldn't change that rule," Richt said. "A lot of things happen between February and August, and if you hit your number (of 25) on the head, you may end up with 79 (scholarships) when the season starts. But like anything, things can be abused and then someone has to pay for it, and I don't want to do it at the expense of a young man who is already on our team and say, ‘You know what? We found a guy better than you.' I don't want to do that."


After more than a year of fighting his way back onto the field, wide receiver Tony Wilson's Georgia career ended abruptly this month with the news that he had received a medical disqualification and had been found in violation of team rules.

The parting ways with Wilson, who would have been a fourth-year junior in 2009, won't have a significant affect on the team in terms of production -- he had just one catch last year -- but he had long been one of the more vocal players in the locker room and had spent significant time working with the coaching staff last season has he recovered from an ankle injury.

Richt refused to comment on Wilson's future beyond the medical disqualification, but said there was no hard feelings on his part.

"He's still one of my very good friends, and he's going to stay that way." Richt said.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

All's Fair in Football

In Florida, it's Urban Meyer's way or the highway. It's a sentiment Mark Richt understands, but he isn't taking things quite so seriously.

Meyer drew attention for critiquing former players at a recent fan club meeting, saying that if they were loyal to the Gators, they wouldn't publicly criticize anything the team does.

Meyer has the luxury of a national title to quell any potential criticism, but Richt found himself mired in it last season following ugly losses to rivals Alabama, Georgia Tech and Meyer's Gators. But whether it comes from fans or former players, Richt said he takes it all in stride.

"There's calls I made that I don't like," Richt said. "I look back and say, 'I wonder why I did that.' So it's not something I worry about."

Meyer's comments appeared to have been directed at former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews, who criticized the team on a radio show after it lost to Mississippi in September. At a Gator Club meeting, Meyer said any players who spoke out against the program would no longer be welcome in the team's football facilities.

"If you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team you can buy a ticket for seat 37F, you're not welcome back in the football office," Meyer said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "You're either a Gator or you're not a Gator."

While Richt said he can't recall specific complaints from any former players, although a number of them work in media roles similar to Matthews and are routinely required to offer opinions on the team. Critiques of the team's performance last season, particularly that of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, were wide ranging, and while Richt was quick to defend his players and coaches, he didn't directly attack his critics.

It comes with the territory as a head coach, Richt said, and while he would certainly prefer any former players come to him with complaints, he has no plans to rule with an iron fist.

"You would rather that your guys not do that," Richt said, "but if they had some kind of issue or something, you'd like them to just come and see me about it."

Get to Know: Jordan Love

Georgia's new recruits are just a few days away from arriving on campus to start their careers. In the meantime, we've been talking to a few of them to get to know what they're all about away from the football field. In our latest addition, I talked with defensive back Jordan Love...

David Hale: So you're just a few days from leaving for Athens. How have you been spending your time?

Jordan Love: I’ve been hanging out with a couple friends, but I moved down here last year from Baltimore, so I’m going up there to see people and stuff like that. Once I get back from there I’m going to start packing up and get ready to hit the road.

DH: Georgia's had some good luck plucking players from the Northeast region lately, but it doesn't seem like a natural place a guy from your part of the country would consider. What drew you to Georgia?

JL: It was just, I’ve always wanted to do something out of the ordinary. I wasn’t the typical guy who gets recruited by the schools in the Northeast and you go up there. It wasn’t really on my list, but when I went down to Georgia, you can’t really describe how it was. Everybody there, it’s like a family atmosphere. The coaches are one-of-a-kind. They didn’t really have to recruit me because they can just recruit players from the South, but when they came up north to recruit me, that really said something to me that they really wanted me as a player.

DH: Is there an NFL player you think your game resembles or who you really look up to?

JL: Probably (Antonio) Cromartie, because he’s kind of long like me and I just like the way he plays. He’s more of an athlete. Him and Charles Woodson.

DH: If you could meet any celebrity, who would it be?

JL: Kobe Bryant. Kobe’s the man. Everybody talks about LeBron James, but Kobe’s the man.

DH: I've spent a lot of time in Baltimore, so I may already know the answer to this, but what's your favorite meal?

JL: Any type of shrimp is my favorite – fried, scampi, baked – I just love shrimp.

DH: Not crabs?

JL: No, I definitely eat the crab legs, too. Crab cakes, crab legs, anything.

DH: You've spoken with a bunch of the players already on the team. What type of advice have they been giving you?

JL: Come in in shape and get ready by learning the playbook as much as possible. Whenever you can look at the playbook, do it, because it’s really hard to learn.

DH: Coming from Baltimore and Virginia, what worries you the most about moving to the South?

JL: The heat. And it’s a lot slower than up north. Up here you’ve got the cities and everything’s fast and up-tempo. People in the South, they’re slow, laid back. I’m always in a rush to get places, but people down there like to take their time. I guess I’ve got to get used to that.

DH: If you could take a vacation anywhere, where would it be?

JL: I think I would probably want to go to Panama. I heard it’s really cool. I like to be on the beach.

DH: What do you like to do in your free time?

JL: Play video games. That’s all we do is play video games, work out and football.

DH: Any favorite games?

JL: Call of Duty and NCAA.

DH: Do you always get to be Georgia when you're playing NCAA with your friends now?

JL: Well a couple of my friends are going to Virginia Tech and UVA, so when we play we all pick our own squads and go up against each other. And I always win.

DH: Do you see many Georgia fans up your way or do people think it's strange that you're going to play football here?

JL: When I got back from there, I was surprised how many people up here like Georgia. There’s a couple people in our neighborhood who are Georgia fans. One of my teachers went to Georgia. You would actually be surprised how many times I’ll ride around town and see people with the Gs on the back of their car or the Bulldog. So it’s pretty surprising how many people up here like Georgia.

DH: That's got to get you pretty excited to get down here and get to work, right?

JL: Definitely.

Video Blog: Richt on the Polls

Mark Richt discusses how his team handled last year's preseason No. 1 ranking and whether there is any value in preseason polls.

What, Me Worry?

Everyone else may have been sweating things out, but Mark Fox said he was never too worried about the future of star forward Trey Thompkins.

The sophomore, who will be Georgia's top returning scorer in 2009-10, had been reluctant to commit to returning to the team following the termination of former coach Dennis Felton in January, but announced last week that he would definitely be back next year.

The news came with a sigh of relief for fans of the team which doesn't figure to have much offense to spare next season, but Fox said he was always pretty confident that Thompkins would stay put.

"Trey never once told me I'm going to leave," Fox said. "He was just frustrated. They had a tough year last year. I listened to his frustration, and he had some very mature thoughts. But he always had a smile on his face when I've been with him, so I wasn't really overly concerned he was going to leave. But certainly he had to get comfortable with me before he said he was going to say."

Thursday Links (5/28)

Well, it's my last day in Destin, and I'm fairly sure Damon Evans, et al will be happy to no longer have me stalking them. I'm flying from Atlanta to Philly in the morning to go home for my brother's high school graduation, so I'm a little swamped with stuff today as I try to get everything done, so the links will have to be slightly abridged...

-- With the additions of New Mexico State and UL-L, you may have thought the UGA football program had reached a middle ground on its scheduling of tough opponents, but after talking to Mark Richt and Damon Evans about it, it looks like this is going to have to be one of those agree to disagree situations. Richt thinks the slate is too much, Evans likes the big games. End of story.

-- Anthony Dasher reports that Derrick Lott has now qualified (subscription required), which leaves just Kwame Geathers and Brandon Bogotay on the outside. I spoke with Bogotay a couple weeks ago (story coming next week) and he's simply finishing up school and will be a late arrival this summer in Athens. Nothing to worry about on that front though.

-- Georgia is looking to add another QB from Tampa to its roster in 2010.

-- He may not be winning at the same clip, but Paul Finebaum writes that Steve Spurrier can still talk a heck of a game. (Side note: I passed Spurrier at least three times yesterday in the hallway or out by the pool when he was sitting around telling stories to people who were hanging on his every word. Say what you want about him, the man is engaging.)

-- Mike Slive delivered a pretty pointed message to the SEC coaches yesterday. I'd say it still remains to be seen how much it actually tunes down the rhetoric.

-- I knew me and Fran Tarkenton had stuff in common... we're both sick to death of Brett Favre.

-- I guess you could call this a bad day for Kentucky basketball: Its new head coach could be in trouble for recruiting violations at his last job. Its old head coach is now suing them. And one of its top recruits spent the day in court.

-- T Kyle King does his usual spectacular job previewing the Diamond Dogs regional series in Tallahassee.

-- While Georgia won't play again at Foley Field this year, a road trip to Omaha isn't too intimidating.

-- Georgia softball, meanwhile, is in a whole new stratosphere.

-- If you're a jogger in Athens, you may have to find a new place to run for a few months.

-- This is pretty cool. Check out the science behind the "visual illusion" of a curve ball.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Henley Leads Golfers

From UGA Athletics...

About the only thing that could stop Georgia's Russell Henley at the NCAA Championship on Wednesday was the weather.

Henley shot a 4-under-par 67, including a streak of four straight birdies, to take over the individual lead at the Inverness Club. Henley also helped keep Georgia in the mix in the team standings as the Bulldogs posted a 1-over 285 for a second-place total of 5-over 573, five shots behind Oklahoma State's 568.

Mother Nature made her presence known on Wednesday as the teams endured a rain and lightning delay of more than four hours. Georgia was one of the 15 teams able to finish the second round. The other squads made it through about half of their round before play was suspended due to darkness. The second round will be completed with 6:45 a.m. tee times and the third round will start once the second round is over and the teams are re-paired.

The NCAA individual champion will be crowned following the third round. In addition, the low eight squads will advance to a match play tournament that will be played Friday and Saturday to determine the team national champion. Georgia won the team titles in 1999 and 2005, and George Hamer in 1946 was the first - and still only - Bulldog to claim medalist honors.

"I honestly am trying not to worry about it," said Henley, who is tied with North Carolina State's Matt Hill at 4-under 138. "My goal is to help our team get as high as we can in the top eight. I want to have good pre-shot routines, pick good targets and make good decisions. If I do that, everything else will take care of itself. We don't want to just shoot for the top eight; we want to finish on top."

On Thursday, the Bulldogs started on the back nine, where Henley closed with birdies on Nos. 15 through 18. His third birdie putt covered about 25 feet. Said Henley, "I got into a good rhythm and was hitting the best putts I could." He also had a birdie on No. 7 coming out of the weather delay. Georgia additionally got birdies on No. 8 from sophomore Harris English and on No. 9 from senior Brian Harman.

"When the horn blew, I knew where everybody was on the course and that we were in good shape, and I knew we had a chance to come out of the break and get some quick ones," Georgia coach Chris Haack said. "We responded right out of the gate. Brian's birdie on 18 was a nice way to finish to send us into the third round."

Told that Henley's focus was on helping the Bulldogs grab the top spot in the team standings rather than winning the individual title, Haack said he wasn't surprised.

"That's the kind of character he has," Haack said. "Knowing him, the individual title isn't even in his mind. Helping the team is always his goal."

Harman shot an even-par 71 in the second round, while senior Adam Mitchell had a 2-over 73 and English posted a 3-over 74. Junior Hudson Swafford had the Bulldogs' non-counting score of 7-over 78.

Harman moved to even-par 142, followed by English at 5-over 147, Swafford at 9-over 151 and Mitchell at 10-over 152.

Live scoring, tee times and pairings can be found at

SEC Notes: Anonymity Restored in Coaches' Poll

Mark Richt said he doesn't particularly enjoy being questioned about his vote in the USA Today Top 25 coaches' poll, but he can always defend his selections.

Whether the rest of his coaching brethren can do the same thing, however, will remain a mystery beginning in 2010.

The American Football Coaches Association decided Wednesday that starting in 2010, the final ballots of individual coaches will be kept anonymous, keeping fans from finding out which coaches may have submitted questionable votes at season's end.

The issue is of particular importance because the coaches' poll is a key component in the BCS rankings, which determine the teams that will compete for the national championship, and coaches could potential bump one team up or another down to suit their own interests.
While the public won't have the chance to judge, Richt said coaches have been assured that the administrators of the poll will continue to monitor ballots closely for outliers, so he's not particularly concerned about the consequences of anonymity.

"It's not that big a deal to me either way," Richt said. "There's some built-in accountability, and that's all we need, whether it's public display of the vote or someone watching it to make sure it doesn't get way out of whack."


The number of graduate assistants allowed on the field for practices and games was a prime topic of debate when football coaches met with theSEC's athletics directors Wednesday.

The NCAA currently allows teams to employ just two graduate assistants as on-field coaches, which makes it particularly difficult to run scrimmages during practice sessions,Richt said. Teams already employ two additional grad assistants in capacities often deemed "quality control," but those assistants are not allowed field access.

"We just want to take those guys who already exist and allow them to be on the field," Richt said. "It's not going to cost any more money or anything like that."

Any changes will need to be ratified nationally, Richt said.

More specific to the SEC, however, is a rule that forbids coaches from attending coaching clinics in which they aren't speaking. Other conferences, including theACC , do not employ a similar rule, giving SEC coaches a distinct disadvantage on the recruiting trail compared to some of their in-state rivals.

"You don't want your competition in recruiting to be able to spend time with coaches when we can't," Richt said, "so we're trying to free it up to if you have an in-state clinic, you should be able to go."


One topic of debate among the SEC's basketball coaches was the scheduling of a tougher non-conference slate among the league's schools. With just three SEC teams making the NCAA tournament last season – and only one advancing beyond the first round – the issue of adding to the league's overall strength of schedule was at the forefront.

That's not an issue for Georgia, head coach Mark Fox said, since the Bulldogs already have several tough out-of-conference games lined up, including road dates with Missouri and Virginia Tech and a neutral-court game against Illinois. The bigger issue is finding teams that want to come to Athens.

"We have some teeth in our schedule," Fox said. "The concern for us right now is just securing home games."

Fox said Georgia is nearing agreements with several teams for the 2009-10 season, and contracts should be signed by the end of the week. Still, several open dates remain.

"We have made some progress, but we're not done by any means," Fox said. "But we've made a significant dent in it."

While simply finishing a schedule remains a daunting task now, down the road Fox would like to see Georgia play a number of big-name opponents once he feels his roster has enough talent to handle it.

"We want to play a high level schedule," Fox said. "Once we can establish the quality of our team, we'll play an extremely difficult schedule, but it's a process."


Georgia forward Trey Thompkins was one of 17 players selected to attend the USA Under-19 National Team trials next month in Colorado Springs, Colo., and will compete for one of 12 roster spots on the U.S. national team.

As a freshman, Thompkins averaged 12.6 points and 7.4 rebounds per game last season.

UGA Softball Has Two All-Americans

From UGA Athletics...

University of Georgia sophomores Alisa Goler and Taylor Schlopy were named Louisville Slugger/National Fastpitch Coaches Association Division I All-Americans according to an announcement made by the NFCA on Wednesday.

Both Goler and Schlopy were selected as First-Team members with Goler at third base and Taylor an at-large outfield selection. The sophomore duo become the seventh and eighth players in school history to be recognized as All-Americans, and they are the first to earn Louisville Slugger/NFCA All-America honors since Kellie Middleton (2nd team), Jessica Doucette (3rd team) and Megan McAllister (3rd team) did so in 2006. The only two Bulldogs to previously earn NFCA All-America First Team honors were Kim Wendland (2004 & 2005) and Nicole Barber (2004).

Video Blog: Lane Kiffin

Want to know why Lane Kiffin has spent his first few months on the job making opposing coaches angry? Here's his answer (sort of)...

Closing in on Qualifiers

No promises, Mark Richt says, but things are looking good to get all of his 2009 signing class qualified academically.

Most of the 20-player class has already qualified, with quarterbacks Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger and lineman Dallas Lee already enrolled. But a handful of stragglers remain, and Richt said the final results for them won't be in for a few more days.

"We're in pretty good shape, but until the final grades come in on some of these guys, you don't even know what their GPA is," he said. "After that, we'll have a better feel."

The good news, however, is that everyone has a shot of qualifying, and so far, Richt said no one is on track to head to prep school.

"At this point, no one is on that path," he said. "Everybody's still in the race."

Wednesday Links (5/27)

Day 2 in Destin doesn't appear that it will have the same fireworks as Day 1... not that there were really anything more than media-created fireworks. Boy, we sure do love a good story. Truth is, Lane Kiffin speaks his mind and, in some cases, doesn't have a clue what he's talking about. Urban Meyer doesn't like him -- or anyone? -- but will wait until September before unleashing his venom. Steve Spurrier doesn't like everyone else getting all the attention, so he steps in with a few extra words of wisdom, too. And the whole thing really adds up to nothing more than a minor bit of entertainment at an event that otherwise keeps the media waiting around in hallways for someone to talk to.

So, since I'm slightly bored (for now) and about to get some breakfast, let's look at some links...

-- Yes, Spurrier "confronted" Kiffin yesterday, but from what I saw (and granted, it wasn't all of it) it was all in fun and there didn't seem to be any real anger.

-- One order of business from yesterday: Georgia is trying to get rid of an SEC rule that is helping Georgia Tech get a leg up on recruiting.

-- Rex Robinson checks in with some advice for overly critical Georgia fans. By the way, if you aren't reading Rex's blog, you absolutely should be. It's routinely enlightening.

-- Bubba N Earl remind us that we're closing in on double-digit days until kickoff and they take a look back at what's happened in Athens so far this offseason. If only they could have had this narrated by the guy who says, "Previously, on Lost..." (By the way, for those of you who must watch your "Lost" in HD, it's coming to Blu-Ray.)

-- Chris Low looks at the backup quarterbacks around the SEC and after reviewing the list, I'd have to put Georgia's situation among the best of them.

-- Blutarski points out another reason Florida could be scary good in 2009. I also owe the Senator a debt of thanks for bringing this quote by Percy Harvin to our attention. Great stuff.

-- The All Pro Dad event that Tony Dungy was in Athens to promote last month is set for June 20 for those of you interested. I'll try to track down some more details, too.

-- One of my all-time favorite interviews, Tra Battle, was released by the Cowboys. I feel bad for him, but I'm glad a guy I like is no longer playing for Dallas.

-- 960 the Ref talks with David Perno, who doesn't pull any punches in his discussion of Georgia's chances in the regionals.

-- Georgia's golfers share the lead in the NCAA tournament after Day 1.

-- Interesting information from Facebook (if utterly unscientific) about which states spend the most time on the site discussing college football.

-- Kiplinger's ranks Athens among the best places to live in America.

-- I can't say I know much about her qualifications, but the new Supreme Court nominee has certainly had a major impact on the sports world -- including college football.

-- If you just graduated with a journalism degree, you already know you're screwed. But if you're looking to get into sports management, things aren't much better. Not surprisingly, these have been my two main endeavors since college.

-- And finally, check out the winners of the national beard and mustache competition.

OK, back to work for me. I'll have a bunch more posts today, and don't forget to follow me on Twitter.

UGA in the ATL

Mark Richt is all for playing some football in Atlanta in the coming years, but don't ask him for specifics.

For one, he's through talking about moving the annual Cocktail Party game between Georgia and Florida to the Georgia Dome, a notion that has been discussed at length during the past few weeks. Richt's initial comments on the game, which is played every year in Jacksonville, Fla., was that the Gators had a distinct advantage because the venue is significantly closer to Gainesville than Athens. But the backlash to his comments was swift and generally harsh, and Richt said he has learned his lesson on putting his two cents in on that topic.

"Every time I say something it becomes a much bigger deal than it is," he said. "I really don't think it's neutral, but then everybody's wanting to make a big stink about where should we play the game. I don't care where we play the game quite frankly."

That doesn't mean he wouldn't like to lead his team onto the field for a game at the Georgia Dome soon. Richt said he is in favor of playing a neutral-site game in Atlanta each year, but he won't do it at the expense of a home game at Sanford Stadium. If an opponent is willing to sacrifice a home game to play at the Dome, however, Richt's all for it.

"We have a neutral site game (against Florida) already, so every other year we're losing a home game," Richt said. "If you have another neutral site situation, you're losing another home game, and I don't think we should trade a home game for a game in the Dome. But if they want to trade a home game to play in Atlanta, that would be great for us."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Making the Grade

Before finals ended, Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox was a bit concerned about how many of his players could fall short of qualifying academically for the 2009-10 season, but as it turned out, there wasn't much to worry about.

Fox said his players finished the semester strong and everyone was on track to be eligible next season. He said nearly all of the Bulldogs will be on campus for summer classes, but added that very few actually needed them.

"We just need to maintain normal in the summer and we'll be fine," Fox said. "I don't think academically we have an obstacle we can't overcome."

It's All Part of the Plan

There aren't a ton of media folks here, but everyone who made the trip was interested in talking to one person first and foremost... Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin met with the media for about a half hour (and then some more after that) and had plenty to say about his first few months on the job. Here are some highlights...

On all the transfers...
"It's not an easy time to be a Tennessee football player. We have very high expectations for what you do on the field. Some guys weren't able to hold to those. So some guys we removed ourselves, some guys decided to leave themselves, and we wish them the best of luck."

On why he has been so outspoken/controversial...
"As you look at this job, you have to have a national presence. When you become a head coach, you take a specific plan into each job. This one as I looked at it needed to have a spark immediately as far as national exposure. The way recruiting is now, we've got to be able to have players around the country, talking about kids even in middle school, seeing Tennessee, talking about Tennessee, being familiar with our staff. As you look at the plan over six months, I think it's going extremely well."

On whether he thinks he has done the right thing by being in the spotlight so much...
"Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No. But my job is not to love everything I do. My job is to do the best thing for our university and for our people."

On the reaction from his players to his comments...
"When you do some of the things we've done, it puts it back on our players because they know you've said some things about what you're going to do and what you can accomplish. When you go back from doing that and you're working out with your players and a couple of them come up and say, ‘Hey Coach, we really appreciate that because that makes us want to work that much harder.' It's a motivational tool for our players."

On how his comments affected recruiting...
"I don't think if you took a real conservative approach, I don't think there's any way you would have signed that class or signed the No. 1 player in the country. So in my opinion, there were things that had to be done specifically for this job."

On whether his comments make his team a target...
"If we didn't have this attention drawn to ourselves, would we not coach as hard? I don't think anything changes at all because we're going about it regardless of what's been said or who we're playing or what's in the media."

On what other coaches think of him...
"Each of us have a different job for a different university, a different athletic director and a different team. I wouldn't thinkthere'd be any hard feelings for anybody. I think at the end of the day, everybody understands we all have specific jobs for our university."

Kiffin also said he had no further plans to apologize to Urban Meyer beyond the one he made immediately after signing day. In response to a question of whether he felt like Meyer would expect an apology, he joked that he was still waiting on an apology from SteveSpurrier for jokes Spurrier made at his expense. And best of all, Kiffin said when he was fired by the Raiders, he spent the next few months coming up with a specific game plan for how he would approach potential jobs, including Tennessee and said that the comments he has made thisoffseason were all part of that plan, months before he was even offered the job.

Of course, blame Kiffin if you must, but at least he's had some fun with it. On the other hand, there's Coach Meyers, who wasn't making any bones about how much he dislikes his compatriots at other programs.

Consistency is a Virtue for Grimm

Justin Grimm hasn't always been great, but he's been good enough that David Perno knows what he can expect from his sophomore right-hander -- and that's what's important this time of year.

Grimm is expected to get the start in Georgia's opener in the regionals against Ohio State just as he did in the SEC tournament opener, and no one will be happier than Perno if he gets the same results.

"He's been pretty good for us all year," Perno said of Grimm. "He's had a couple disappointing outings, but for the most part he's been pretty steady, throws strikes, has an electric arm, and he's been getting better every time out."

Grimm, who had served as Georgia's third starter most of the season, pitched 5 1/3 innings against Ole Miss in the SEC tourney opener, allowing just one earned run in a 6-3 Bulldogs win, which when combined with the recent struggles of No. 2 starter Alex McCree, made him an obvious selection to man the rubber against the Buckeyes on Friday. Ace Trevor Holder is expected to pitch Game 2.

"It just matches," Perno said of his projected starters. "Game 2 is probably the most important game of a regional because if you lose Game 1, you've got to win Game 2 to stay alive. And if you win Game 1, you need Game 2 or you're right back to where you started."

Grimm is 3-4 on the season with a 4.19 ERA, but he has been Georgia's most consistent starter during the past few weeks. Just as importantly, he has shown a knack for versatility, which means he'll likely be the choice to pitch Monday, too, should the Bulldogs need a third game to advance to Super Regionals.

"If it gets pushed to Monday, he'll be able to bounce back on two days, and Trevor's probably not as resilient as him," Perno said.

No Hard Feelings From Burnette

Chris Burnette accepted his diploma from Troup High School on Saturday, and Mark Richt wasn't there to see it. Burnette wasn't surprised by the absence of his soon-to-be coach, but the story behind it came as a shock.

"I was just in school trying to make sure I had my classes and my work done right and trying to see where I could graduate, and it turned out to be something big with him trying to come to graduation," Burnette said. "It was a national story, and I never thought it was going to even get out of our house when he told me he wanted to come. So it was pretty crazy."

Richt had promised Burnette that he would attend the offensive lineman's graduation if he was his school's valedictorian. Burnette fell just short of that honor, but Richt still hoped to attend. As it turned out, however, the NCAA put the brakes on that plan because it would violate recruiting rules.

Georgia officials appealed to the NCAA for a waiver, but it was not granted, something Burnette said has already taught him a valuable lesson about life as a college football player.

"It probably is a good lesson to learn that the NCAA has their ways and what they say goes, I guess," he said.

Burnette never figured that Richt would make it to the graduation anyway. He assumed the ceremony would hardly top Richt's to-do list, figuring the coach would have more important things to do. So rather than being upset about the NCAA's decision, Burnette said he was simply a bit surprised that the story unfolded this way in the first place.

"I was kind of disappointed initially, but after I thought about it, I was just honored that he would even offer to come to one of his recruits graduation," Burnette said. "I figured he was a pretty busy guy and he might have other stuff going on, but I never thought that the NCAA would try to reel it in and get into that."

In the end, Burnette said, the effort Richt put in to trying to make it happen said more than if he had simply watched from the crowd without incident.

"For a coach to put that much effort into coming to a high school graduation just shows me the type of guy that Coach Richt is," Burnette said. "That he's worried about his players, whether they're already on the team or just recruits. I'm just glad he took the time out to try to come when other coaches probably wouldn't even give you the time of day."

National Lampoon's Destin Vacation

Greetings from Destin, Fla. I'll be attending the SEC league meetings here for the next three days, catching up with coaches, ADs and whomever else happens to be in the area and, if all goes well, I'll have plenty of content gathered for the blog.

I'll also be updating via Twitter with regularity, so be sure to sign up to follow me HERE.

And since I've spoken with Mark Richt and Mark Fox several times since any real news (save the UGA suspensions) has broken, I'm a little low on questions. So if you have something you'd like me to ask one of them (or any of the other coaches or ADs), send them to me at or post them in the comments here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

McRee Banished to Pen

After serving as Georgia's No. 2 starter for most of the season, McRee has been demoted to bullpen duty for the postseason, where Perno hopes the junior can right himself in lower-pressure situations.

"It'll help him," Perno said. "You can get away with more in the bullpen. We can cover him up, have someone else ready if he's throwing the ball all over the place or can't get outs. As a starter, you just can't get off to the type of starts that he's been giving us."

After a 7-1 sophomore campaign, McRee stepped quickly into the No. 2 starter role this season and was dominant in the early going. Although he battled mono for a while, missing several starts early in the season, he jumped out to a 4-0 start with a 2.15 ERA through April 18. Since then, however, things have fallen apart.

McRee was on the mound against Ole Miss on April 25, but failed to get through the fourth inning. Georgia lost a 10-8 decision, the start of a stretch of 11 losses in 13 games. While there was plenty of blame to go around during the losing streak, McRee has been dismal. In his past five starts, he has made it through five innings just once and has allowed 32 runs in 17.2 innings, walking 13. His ERA has risen from 2.15 to 6.34 with the low point coming last Saturday in the SEC tournament against LSU. McRee faced just 10 batters before being lifted after only two-thirds of an inning, allowing seven earned runs in a 16-0 Georgia loss.

McRee pitched from the pen in Georgia's College World Series run last year, going 1-0 with a 4.70 ERA in five relief appearances.

McRee last five starts (all UGA losses):


Hits Runs ERBB
LSU 2/3 5 7 7 1 0
S. Car


5 7 7 4 4
6 7 7 7 2 5
Fla 4 2/3
8 5 4 2 8
Miss3 1/3
7 6 5 4 4
Total 17 2/3 5 32 30 13 21

UGA Heading to Tallahassee

From UGA Athletics Dept...

(NOTE: Find all regional brackets HERE.)

The Georgia baseball team has been selected as the No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional and the Bulldogs will face the No. 3 seed Ohio State on Friday. Florida State is the No. 1 seed and Marist is the No. 4 seed.

The Bulldogs are making their 10th NCAA postseason appearance including the fifth under David Perno, who has taken more Georgia teams to the postseason than any other baseball coach in school history. Georgia made the NCAA District Playoffs in 1953 and has since made eight regional appearances (1987, 1990, 1992, 2001, 2002, 2004 2006 and 2008).

Georgia is 45-26 overall in the NCAA postseason including 25-10 all-time in NCAA Regionals and 8-3 in Super Regionals. Georgia has won six NCAA Regionals (1987, 1990, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008). In their last five NCAA postseason appearances, the Bulldogs have advanced to the College World Series four times. The Bulldogs won thrilling NCAA Baseball Regionals in Athens in 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008 on their way to the College World Series, and this marks the first time since 2002 Georgia will go on the road for a regional.

The Bulldogs have advanced to the College World Series six times (1987, 1990, 2001, 2004, 2006 and 2008). Georgia won the 1990 national championship and finished runner-up in the College World Series last year. Currently, the Bulldogs are 37-22 and have won 82 games over the last two seasons, which is the second-highest two-year win total in school history.

Memorial Day Quick Links

Happy Memorial Day to everyone. I hope you are all enjoying the extra day off, but don't forget to take some time to remember the meaning behind the holiday.

There's a lot on tap for us this week. I'll be stopping over to chat with the Diamond Dogs after regionals are announced at 12:30 on ESPN, then I'll be in the car en route to Destin for the SEC meetings this week.

There will be a bunch of updates coming from the meetings, plus a few other bits and pieces of news, but in the meantime, here are just a few links for the day.

-- ESPN profiled Mark Fox and the immense job in front of him as the head man at UGA.

-- Georgia is already on the minds of the Oklahoma State Cowboys, three months before they are set to face off in Stillwater.

-- In a shocking turn of events, the AJC has yet another story on the Cocktail Party game.

-- There will be at least one fewer frustrating defensive end in the SEC East this year.

-- While the baseball team waits to find out where it will play regionals, the softball team is headed to its first college world series.

-- Georgia's track & field squad had six players earn All-SEC honors.

-- And finally, I linked to this story when the Rocky Mountain News announced it was closing a few months ago, but I'm doing it again now, because there is probably no better salute to the military on a day like today than this. It's a long one, but I can't encourage you enough to read it.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Thursday Links (5/21)

Happy Thursday, ladies and gents. Hope everyone has some big Memorial Day weekend plans. I'll actually be heading up to Charlotte with my dad to attend Sunday's NASCAR smash-em-up, so this will likely be the last post for the week (with the exception of updates on the Diamond Dogs).

Monday I'll be in the car most of the day, but next week I'll be blogging live from the SEC league meetings in Destin, Fla., so hopefully we'll have some interesting things to share from that. I'll also have another "Get to Know" segment with an incoming recruit and we'll hopefully be catching up with a former fan favorite as well. So, a lot on the table for next week, but in the meantime, here's a heaping helping of links to help get you through to the long weekend...

-- First off, I wanted to say thanks to those of you who offered opinions in our discussion of the reporting of legal issues from earlier this week. I'm not sure any consensus was reached, but there were a lot of good points made. If you haven't seen them, you can read the comments HERE and HERE (one is from the Macon version of this blog, the other from Columbus).

-- The Butts-Mehre expansion project has been approved and could be completed within two years, reports the AJC.

-- The Albany Herald caught up with Mark Richt at the Bulldog Club meeting yesterday, and Richt said he's looking forward to some "rest and relaxation," which I think might be a pretty dubious statement on Richt's part.

-- Mark Fox had some words of wisdom for the Bulldog faithful in Albany, too.

-- Bernie writes in his latest post about getting his chance to hassle Mark Richt with a question at the ESPN Zone in Atlanta and manages to offer some praise to all us reporters along the way. Flattery will get you everywhere, Bernie! (And by the way, don't be too disappointed by the lack of an interesting reply from Richt. Just be thankful he didn't regale you with a story about the weather, then rattle off his entire offensive line depth chart.)

-- Senator Blutarski takes a position-by-position look at the Georgia roster at this point and finds a lot of question marks, particularly on offense, which is something I wrote about earlier this month.

-- Marc Weiszer has some encouraging news from Trinton Sturdivant, who sees big things from Georgia's O line this year.

-- Rivals has a story on Joe Cox's appreciation of the role of leader for Georgia this year.

-- ESPN's Chris Low looks at some "out of nowhere" players who could have an impact in the SEC this season, including Carlton Thomas.

-- The Denver Post compares Knowshon Moreno with another former Bulldog-turned Bronco.

-- And the award for dumbest Bleacher Report story of the day goes to... THIS ONE.

-- Bulldawg Illustrated has more thoughts on the Cocktail Party game.

-- Scout looks at what Georgia's concerns should be and has some SEC predictions. (Subscription required)

-- Tennessee's coaching staff had some troublesome tweeting that landed them in some luke warm water with the NCAA.

-- Coach Meyers says he's concerned about off-field issues this time of year. He has had 23 players arrested since taking over the program in 2005.

-- Ah, but let's not focus on Urban. Remember the happier times? Deadspin has some news on The Zooker.

-- Georgia picked up just its second SEC win of the month against Ole Miss and will take on Arkansas (a team that has suffered similar recent struggles) today with Trevor Holder toeing the rubber.

-- Daugman's Chronicles has an update on former Bulldog Mike Mercer's legal troubles.

-- 960 the Ref talks to Georgia golf coach Chris Haack before the Bulldogs tee off in the NCAA championship.

-- Jeff Wallace and Chelsey Gullickson took home national tennis honors for their work this season.

-- Georgia's soccer team is getting a local transfer from Clemson.

-- Macon Dawg has a great list of things he wishes were a part of the NCAA Football 2010 game.

-- This story sums up why being a Cubs fan is so infuriating. We could have had him three months ago. Instead, he'll pitch on the Southside.

-- So "Chuck" will definitely be back on NBC next season, with fewer episodes and a reduced budget, but the show's creator is hoping viewer's won't notice much of a difference.

-- During my post-graduation months of unemployment back in 2001, I watched approximately 11 episodes of "Law & Order" per day (sadly, this is not a joke). The show will reach 20 seasons this year, and MTV wonders what other popular shows might be like if they made it that long.

-- I'm not sure if this is good news or bad news, but Dan Aykroyd says things are going smoothly as plans to begin shooting "Ghostbusters 3" are underway.

-- The New York Times has a cool profile of Conan O'Brien.

-- Here's one for all the "How I Met Your Mother" fans: The show's creator talks about the season finale, which aired Monday. I thought this season was pretty good overall, but I thought the finale was a bit anticlimactic.

-- This blog post plays a little revisionist's history with the 1992 baseball expansion draft, wondering how things could have turned out for the Colorado Rockies and Florida Marlins (and notes that Mark McGwire could have landed in Colorado, and would have projected to hit 84 home runs in 1998).

-- And finally, I'll end with this, since it no doubt will be the most inflammatory. David Ching of the Banner-Herald did an informal poll of national college football writers a few months back to find out their thoughts on why Georgia seemingly trailed LSU and Florida (and in the opinions of at least one writer, Alabama) in terms of success. I'll let you read what the most recent responder had to say, and then be sure to read Westerdawg's replies at Georgia Sports Blog, too. (I think Paul does a good job of shooting down the type of "analysis" you typically get from national writers, who know a little about a lot of teams, but don't know a lot about many, and usually end up simply repeating things that have little basis in reality.)

Battle Hymn Notes wonders something similar, asking if the honeymoon is over for Mark Richt, if perhaps he's become a victim of his own success.

My thoughts: In sports, we're trained to believe that everyone is judged by championships. That's absurd. Yes, as fans, we desperately want to see our teams win the biggest games, but that is an extraordinarily small sample size. Yes, in many cases, the best team DOES win a title. But in many other cases, it doesn't. That is particularly true in football, when rather than a seven-game series determining a winner, it all comes down to 60 minutes of football. That's it. (Just look at USC last year. Who's to say the Trojans couldn't have beaten Florida had they played head to head for a title. Instead, one bad half against Oregon State on a Thursday night in September was the difference between playing for a title and not.)

If you were to sample at random just one article that I had written over the past year, you might think I was the worst writer in Georgia or you might assume I was the best, depending on which story you happened to choose. The far better evaluation is by looking at the broad scope of accomplishments, and in Georgia's case, the overall resume is as impressive as any in the SEC in terms of simple wins and losses. The Dawgs were simply a few points or a key injury away in 2002, 2005 and 2007 from playing for national championships, and a few points in either direction over the course of Richt's nine years in Athens is statistically meaningless.

In the grand scheme of things, what's the REAL difference between Florida, LSU and Georgia since 2001?

LSU's two championships: The first was a split title with USC, in which voting certainly could have left the Tigers out of the picture altogether. The second came in a year in which they lost two games, and just happened to be lucky enough to watch every other team fall by the wayside, too.

Florida certainly has been special in its two title seasons, but take away Tim Tebow -- one player -- and it's doubtful they're playing for those titles. Not that Florida's staff doesn't deserve the credit for recruiting and deploying Tebow as well as they have -- they probably deserve more credit than they have gotten, actually -- but it just shows how much the talent of one player can be the difference between a very good team (which Georgia has been) and a truly great team (which seems to be the knock on the Dawgs).

(Side note: Should there be criticism for the UGA staff for under utilizing Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno? At least in the case of redshirting Moreno, yes, I think there should be.)

At the end of the day, the margins people are arguing over are so small, that there is no reasonable way of measuring one team against another in real terms. It's simply a matter of one team got some breaks, and another didn't. It happens every year to a half-dozen teams. That's why winning a title is so hard. After all (most seasons) only one team gets to do it.

OK, so you're still angry that your team has zero titles and LSU and Florida each have two since Richt came to town? That's fair. In the end, that's what matters to fans. So if you're forcing me to find fault with Georgia, I'll say this: In the past few years, when Georgia has lost, it's been ugly. So are the coaches to blame?

Richt hasn't had much turnover on his staff in his time in Athens, and probably for good reason. But he has had only two former assistants go on to better jobs (Neil Callaway and Brian Van Gorder) and it's debatable as to how much better those folks did in their new locales. I'm not sure that speaks to the level of talent or respect Georgia's assistants have earned around the country, because several others have landed good (if lateral) jobs with other programs, but it isn't exactly the ringing endorsements that people like Dan Mullen and Charlie Strong (who really should have gotten a better job by now) have earned.

But more concerning is the inability of the coaches to adjust on the fly. Going back four years, the sheer number of utterly embarrassing halves of football Georgia has played is probably the one significant chink in the armor. When things go wrong for the Bulldogs, it seems like it takes an act of Congress to right the ship. And in the course of any season, things are going to go wrong.

I'm currently reading a book called "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell, which has some interesting things to say about how people achieve success. To paraphrase (and do virtually no justice to the exhaustive research the book employs), success is as much about catching a few breaks at the right time as it is about pure talent and ability. There is a threshold of ability or intellect, the book says, beyond which more ability or intellect are no longer important. The bottom line: You don't have to be great to achieve great things. You just have to be good enough and catch a few breaks along the way.

But the argument can be made, too, that you make your own breaks -- or at the very least, that it's up to you to take advantage when they come. Maybe that is what Georgia has been missing, but if it is, it will take someone a lot smarter than me (and probably smarter than Gladwell) to figure out how to change that in the future.

Perhaps, however, Doc Saturday can shed some more light on the situation, as he does HERE.

Video Blog: Holder on SEC Tourney

Georgia ace Trevor Holder talks about rebounding from a couple rough outings in time to make his first start in the SEC tournament today.

Charles' Goals Are All About Team

Orson Charles plans on accomplishing big things at Georgia, and he can hardly contain his excitement to get started. But when it comes to setting goals for his freshman season, No. 1 on his list has little to do with touchdowns or receiving yards. He's just trying to make friends.

"The first thing is getting to know my teammates and remember that it's not all about me, it's about my teammates," Charles said. "We've got to bond to be able to play together."

With that in mind, Charles has taken a lead role in staying in contact with his fellow incoming freshmen, and he doesn't mind talking up the success he thinks each could have -- including fellow tight end Arthur Lynch.

While the two might be competing for snaps as freshmen, Charles said he sees Lynch as a complimentary piece rather than competition. Each offers unique skills that when added together make for a dangerous combination.

"That's what makes this class unique is we all bring something different to the table," Charles said. "We're more complete this year. I bring something different and Arthur brings something different."

There are a few other personal goals Charles said he has established for himself this year, but they aren't anything too outlandish. It's his team goals that really get him excited.

"A personal goal is I don't want to have any dropped balls, any missed assignments, I don't want to be butting heads with any of my teammates," he said. "From there, if I've got to sit to have us win, that's all I want is to win. If we beat Florida -- I mean, when we beat Florida -- even if I'm on the bench I'm celebrating like I started. That's my whole mind-set."

And it's a mind-set he hasn't been shy about sharing with the huge contingent of Florida fans in his hometown of Tampa. Charles said he gets plenty of taunting about Georgia's 49-10 defeat at the hands of the Gators a year ago, but despite the fact that he hasn't played a snap yet for the Bulldogs, he's been happy to offer a healthy dose of trash talk in return.

"Man, there's a lot of people that are Florida fans around here," Charles said, "but I'm just saying, just make sure you come to Jacksonville because we're going to put on a show. We're not going to just lay down because of what y'all did last year. We're coming this year, so just make sure you're ready."

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Cerione Lifts Dawgs

From UGA Athletics...

Matt Cerione's grand slam in the top of the sixth gave Georgia a 4-1 lead and the Bulldogs held on for a 6-3 win over Ole Miss in the first round of the SEC Tournament Wednesday at Regions Park.

The No. 6 seed Bulldogs (36-20) advance to face No. 7 seed Arkansas Thursday at 6 p.m. Eastern. The Razorbacks defeated No. 2 seed Florida, 8-5.

Cerione finished with five RBI while Zach Cone and Peter Verdin had two hits apiece.. It was the Bulldogs' first win in an SEC Tournament game since 2006.

Justin Grimm (3-4) earned the win after holding Ole Miss to two runs--one earned--on eight hits in 5.1 innings.

"Justin got off to a good start and threw the ball extremely well," Georgia coach David Perno said. "He's been pitching well the last several weeks and he continued that today. We're trying to get back to playing good baseball, and we got off to a good start here."

Cox Has Built-In Rapport with Receivers

Georgia will begin the 2009 season with a different starting quarterback than it has employed for the better part of the past three years, but Joe Cox is hardly the new guy.

As a fifth-year senior, Cox has the luxury of knowing Georgia's offense and, perhaps more importantly, his teammates awfully well. So while he's light on game-day snaps, no one is expecting much of a learning curve thanks to the thousands of passes Cox has already thrown in practice to the group of receivers he'll be working with this season.

"It's going to look different as far as names and body sizes, but we're doing the same things out there in practice," said wideout Michael Moore, who has played with Cox as part of Georgia's No. 2 unit in practice for most of the past three seasons. "We're running the same plays, Joe can make the same throws, we're running the same routes. I don't think too much is going to change."

Cox has always been a steadying force in the locker room -- he recently earned 107 votes in a poll of 110 players asking who the leaders on the team were -- but this year, his teammates have the added advantage of knowing just what to expect from him on the field, too.

When Matthew Stafford first took the reins of Georgia's offense in 2006, there was a huge adjustment period for the Bulldogs' receivers, who weren't used to the touch -- or more often, the heat -- Stafford put on his throws.

With Cox, that's not an issue. Along with Moore, Georgia's other starting wide receiver, A.J. Green, spent plenty of time working with Cox last preseason and said he sees hasn't noticed much of a change since Cox took over the offense. Tavarres King credits Cox with helping his game while the two worked together with the No. 2 unit last year, and Israel Troupe offers similar platitudes. Other than the incoming freshmen, this year's receiving corps has as much experience working with Cox as they had with Stafford, and in most cases, more.

"With Matthew, after about a year, everyone kind of figured out his mentality and how he was going to be and where you needed to be to get open so he could get the ball to you," said wide receiver Kris Durham, who will sit out this year after injuring his shoulder this spring. "Since Joe's been here, we've already developed that ideal relationship where we know what he's thinking, we know his arm strength, when he's going to let go of it. It's just a benefit for us."

Of course, there's a big difference between the balls Stafford threw and what receivers expect from Cox, and he's fully aware his passes won't take nearly as much adjustment on the part of his wideouts.

"Obviously they caught some of the hardest passes thrown, so I don't think it's that hard for them to catch what I throw now," Cox joked.

Still, even he admits that all the time he's spent with his receiving corps during practice over the past few years has its benefits.

The relationship between a quarterback and his receivers hinges on a fundamental trust. The quarterback needs to know his receiver will be in the right spot at the right time. The receiver needs to know his quarterback can get him the ball in a position to make the catch without getting killed.

And that's the biggest key with Cox, Moore said. There's already an established trust.

"I have gotten used to throwing to those guys the last couple years," Cox said. "I think that does help me knowing where certain people are on the field and who has the best chance to make a play."