Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ga/Fla: Rivalrous reasons for hope

Ok, I'm hitting the road for some vacation. Before I finish shoving (crap) in the trunk, here's the last installment of the week for the Ga/Fla series. I feel that it is incomplete. Please feel free to add to it in the comments.

So...the Georgia-Florida game isn't a rivalry in the truest sense of the word. The good news is we haven't totally screwed the overall series, yet. But with a mark of 47-40-2, there's little time to waste. Luckily there are some reasons for optimism.

Watered down swamp juice?
Let's start with something outside of our area code. True, this is a time in the Georgia program where much self-evaluation is needed. But we must at least address the changes that have happened in Gainesville since Will Hill intercepted that pass in overtime then smoked a joint all the way down to the Georgia goalline.

I think it's a given that Will Muschamp will be a good head coach. Does it happen right away or does he mature into it? Weis is a suspect hire at best. Brantley is still getting re-re-wired for yet another style of offense, and his Spring performance was pretty dismal (4 of 14 for 45 yards).

And as a prelude to the WLOCP the Gators get the Tide, LSU and Auburn. I doubt they lose all three of those, but I can easily see them limping into AllTel. Do they limp in a beaten animal...or angry?

Hot seat postulate
So many people are concerned with whether or not Mark Richt coaches his way off the hot seat or onto the unemployment line. I think there's a bigger issue. If Richt is to be our coach next year I don't just want him to save his job. I want a new winning attitude instilled. 

I'll go into greater depth later as to why I think the WLOCP could be a one game barometer, but suffice it to say I'll be watching our stock at the end of October closely. If CMR is to transcend simply winning more games we should see a team who's just as hungry at the end of the game as they are at the coin toss. 

I mean let's face it, Houston Nutt could garner a winning record against this 2011 slate. 

New attitude
This is to be taken for what it is worth, which in the Summer is very, very little. But there is the possibility that the team has a new and improved attitude about tackle football heading into the Fall. I'm not drinking any Kool-aid until after Carolina leaves town at the earliest. Been poisoned the last couple years by all the rah-rahs...we're awesome, wait and see! talk. 

But there is the possibility that we evolve into a team that is not just satisfied with what comes easy. One that is at least somewhat prepared for a full 60 minutes. 

And a full 60 minutes in Jacksonville could be just enough to turn the current of the St. John's river. Thanks for reading. Y'all have a great weekend.

Sweetwater's Browneyed Buckeye

Thought you SEC fans and brew fans would both enjoy this (h/t Scott). If you're unfamiliar, Sweetwater does a Dank Tank series as a way of stretching their creative genius. The bottles are bombers (about 22 fl oz) and are mostly awesome.

But this one, just carefully. (hint: you might need to click on the image and magnify)

Ranking the SEC coaches

Barrett Sallee ranks the SEC coaches again. Richt's down three spots from last year. Do you think that's enough?
6. Mark Richt - Georgia Bulldogs (Last season: 3)
There's no other coach in the conference with as much pressure riding on 2011 than Mark Richt. Now in his 11th season between the hedges, Richt has to improve dramatically from last season’s 6-7 debacle, otherwise he'll be looking for work this winter. The good news for Richt is that, as Georgia’s head coach, he’s 55-11 with a returning starting quarterback – and he’s got a pretty darn good one this year in redshirt sophomore Aaron Murray. Richt’s two SEC Championships are the only two won by UGA in the post-Dooley era. He has to get his program turned around ASAP to stay employed, but no matter what his future holds, Mark Richt’s legacy in Athens is set in stone.

Why he could be higher: He brought a sustained level of success to Georgia that Steve Spurrier has yet to acheive at South Carolina.
Why he could be lower: You can’t ignore the downward direction the program is heading.
In case you haven't clicked over, Saban, Miles, Chizik, Petrino and Spurrier are ahead of CMR. The order behind him is Mullen, Dooley, Nutt, Phillips, Muschamp and Franklin.

I think Sallee has Richt in the right place, especially given his explanation for why he could be higher/lower. The conundrum is Gene Chizik. He's hot right now as opposed to Richt being hot a few years ago. But like many, I still have trouble believing much of Auburn's success had anything to do with its head coach.

Regardless, I think #6 is a good place for Richt. He should be top five three. Let him earn his way back.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Jonas Jennings Celebrity and Charity Event

For those of you in the area this weekend.

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Former NFL Heavyweight and UGA Alum Jonas Jennings Hosts Atlanta Celebrity and Charity Weekend

Who:            Former San Francisco Offensive Tackle, University of Georgia Alum, and Atlanta’s very own Jonas Jennings

What:           Jonas Jennings Celebrity & Charity Weekend
When:       Today, June 24, 2011 - Cross-Over Celebrity & Charity Basketball Game, 7:30 pm. Media Check-in: 6:30pm
                        Tomorrow, June 25, 2011  Free Football & Leadership Camp, 9AM - 12 pm – Media Check-in: 8:30am
On-site contact: Keshia Walker, or 404.229.2881

Where:        Tri-Cities High School - 2575 Harris street, East Point, GA 30344
                                Friday – Event held in Gymnasium
                        Saturday – Event held at the Stadium

Why:             Jonas is dedicated to supporting his Alma mater and has donated close to $100,000 to the Tri-Cities High school football program, with a current goal to assist with the modification of the Tri Cities Athletic Department weight room. Proceeds from the weekend of events will benefit Jonas’ ongoing efforts at Tri Cities High School Athletic Department to provide much needed resources to its student athletes. As a professional philanthropist Jennings is dedicated to giving our youth a opportunity to prosper in their future endeavors. Jennings vision is to be successful and not only in their high school years but also life.
  • Wingo of Jagged Edge, Grammy nominated R&B Group
  • Charles Grant, Former NFL player
  • Marcus Stroud, NFL player for the New England Patriots
  • Bangladesh, Grammy award winning producer and DJ
  • Deon Grant, NFL player for the New York Giants
  • Robert Edwards, Former NFL Player
  • Tavares Washington, NFL player for the Locomotive Guards
  • Richard Seymour, NFL player for the Oakland Raiders
  • Keyaron Fox, NFL player for the Pittsburgh Steelers
  • Aubrayo Franklin, NFL player for the San Francisco 49ers
  • Pastor Troy, Rapper and Record producer
And many more...

Music will be provided by V-103 and Big Oomp Camps own DJ Jelly.

McGarity: from "blur" to "moving forward"

Given the circumstances of what happened nearly a year ago that led to his hiring, it's understandable that the last year has been a blur. From reading this feature on Georgia's not so new anymore AD, you definitely get the feeling that the honeymoon is in the rear view mirror.
McGarity called the last year “a blur.”
This time last year he was in Omaha, Neb., at the College World Series with his son Alex. And now he occupies a corner office in the Butts-Mehre Building with one of the best views on campus.
After making it known he wanted to re-establish a foundation of trust not only among his staff but also among the student-athletes, fan base and University community, McGarity had a clear agenda in mind for the athletic department. But he said there is still work to do.
“We’ve just kinda scratched the surface on what we really wanna do,” McGarity said. “I think that our staff really went to work hard. We focused on really talking about accountability, integrity and honesty and transparency in everything we did and I think our staff became really probably closer as a result of all the tough times we’d experienced.”
After what McGarity called “a tough fall” for the football, volleyball and soccer teams, he said the winter and spring sports began to pick up and had some “fantastic finishes.”
He said the spirit and energy of his staff created an environment in which everyone felt they could thrive.
“I think that there’s no question we can all get better — everybody. Every employee feels like they can get better in everything they do,” McGarity said. “That’s the part of kind of setting the foundation on what we’re all about, which is doing the right thing every day and trying to out work people and try to do the best job we possibly can to move the institution forward. But it’s been a lot of fun.”
McGarity's vision seems pretty focused now if you ask me.

Drive by Truckers on Letterman

In case you're also a fan and missed it, here's "Everybody Needs Love" from Go-Go Boots as performed the other night on Letterman. There's also an encore at the end that Dave specifically requested for the audience. It's the best part of the clip.

Enjoy. (h/t Ron)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ga/Fla: 21 years of bitching excuses

We've had 21 years as a program to turn this series around. At times though it seems as if we're more concerned with coming up with excuses as to why our fate is what it is. Ugh. Some refer to some sort of curse that exists in Jacksonville. Depending on how the game is lost, we tend to blame specific coaches, certain players, referees, lack of a bye week, all of the coaches, not enough beer, too much bourbon, travel times, all of the players, accommodations, one specific play call, injuries, lack of focus after a bye week, weather, location, humidity, gas prices, every single play call, bad luck, poor preparation...

There's a little salt left in the shaker. So let's look at a few of these and analyze them.

Steve Spurrier changed the landscape of college football, and in so doing the series in Jacksonville as well. He returned to avenge past heartbreak and absolve the demons of coaches Graves through Pell. Florida fans are half right when they believe that college football didn't exist before 1990. Because it didn't exist in Gainseville. The WLOCP was as lopsided as many other rivalries we currently enjoy such as against South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Vandy. They may have won on occasion, but no success was sustained or largely enjoyed.

Analysis - Give me a ______ break! Once the Visor entered the picture confidence shifted, talent was thick under the scripted helmets and the series quickly went south of the border. Spurrier changed the WLOCP seemingly forever. But while Spurrier is guilty of changing the scope of the series, he's been gone for 10 years. The gators have had two other coaches since he left (three by the time we meet again this Fall) that we had no greater success against.

Ray Goff
Dooley was a four letter word in Gainesville. He could beat them as easily as he brushed his teeth. When Goff took over it's pretty well documented that the program took a step back. Actually two. And a half. Goff couldn't keep up with his Jacksonville nemesis on the recruiting trails much less on the field. Despite nearly winning the game twice*, he'll always play the part of the bumbling idiot to Spurrier's evil genius.

Analysis - This headline went out with the 1995!! The WLOCP is the a great example of how Ray Goff was in over his head as the head coach at UGA. I know he desperately wanted to win that game but the challenge was too much. Still, you can't blame a coach who hasn't been on the sideline for 15 years.

Shockley's knee
In 2005 the Dawgs were rolling. Leading up to the trip to Jacksonville, Georgia was 7-0 after a 23-20 win at home over Arkansas. But the win was costly as DJ Shockley went down with a sprained knee. That meant Joe Tereshinski III would start under center against the Gators. And as a result the playcalling was scaled back. Still Georgia had chances to win it but couldn't get passed Corch's first Florida squad, losing 14-10.

Analysis - Ok, I get it. But C'mon, really? This excuse has some merit. There's no question Shockley had the talent and resolve to win this game in his only season as a starter. But the truth is we should've won without him.

Spurrier chided Goff publicly for all the great recruits Georgia got that all of a sudden couldn't play against his mighty reptiles. In many ways I think this has always stuck in the craw of many Dawg fans. It has festered to the point that it's believed that somehow the Gators will always have better, faster players. Georgia is a rich state, but Florida is even richer. And for many of the last 21 years the head coach at Florida has had his pick of them.

Analysis - Still bogus. I simply point to one year: 1997. Donnan had great talent with Champ, Bobo, Ward, McMichael and Edwards on offense; Seymour, Stroud and Champ on defense. But I would argue that Florida was faster and equally deep with the likes of Fred Taylor, Jevon Kearse, Jacquez Green and Mike Peterson. Talent has been a push most years since 1990 and it has swung in our favor nearly as often as it has theirs. Talent will never be an excuse.

I'm sorry, I couldn't hear you. Repeat with me this time: Talent will never be an excuse.

Lastly, the city itself. It is much closer geographically to Gainesville than it is Athens. It necessitates a legitimate road trip for the Dawgs...while they get to sleep in their own beds the night before in most cases. It's a matter of logistics and the Dawgs get the scraps in this meal every year. You just can't have one team with that much of an advantage and expect the series not to tilt in one's favor.

Analysis - Ocean front property. In Kentucky. Cheap! Really folks. If you've ever believed any of that crap, find the nearest steak knife and give yourself a labotomy. The distance between Athens and Jacksonville hasn't changed since Herschel never lost to them and the travel arrangements never affected Terry Hoage's play on the field. That's weak sauce. Scrape it off your plate and grow a pair.

Ok. Better stop there. Think I blew a gasket. Gonna lighten the load some tomorrow and put the last 21 years in the rear view mirror. At least as much as my blogging acumen will allow.

* CORRECTION: As 1992 Dawg points out in the comments I omitted the fact that Goff beat Charley Pell's Galen Hall's cheatin' ass in 1989 17-10. Guess I've been too focused on 1990 and beyond. Sorry.

John Isner, 2nd round of Wimbledon

One year ago today John Isner and Nicolas Mahut continued their epic match on its second of three days. Now that Isner has defeated Mahut in this year's Wimbledon, he gets a second crack at making the third round. Last year he could barely stand the day after finishing his 11 hour slugfest with the frenchman.

This year he gets Nicolas Almagro from Spain in the second round. In many ways I think this should be an easier match than Mahut on Tuesday. Almagro struggles with his return of serve and Isner's serve is one of the most feared in all of tennis. 

But the serve is no longer a crutch that Big John uses to prop his pro career against. If you haven't seen him play since the marathon he's improved even more. His groundstrokes improved greatly last year. This year he picks the right times to challenge and his net play is an impressive complement to his power game.

Tune in and bark. He's the third match on Court 18 today.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Ga/Fla: Rivalrous during the dark days

The common era of football in Jacksonville hasn't been kind at all to the Georgia Bulldogs. Ever since Spurrier took his evil genius from Tobacco Road to the swamps of Florida victories in Jacksonville have been as rare as a mud puddle in the Mojave. So...why? Why can't we compete with Florida anymore with any consistency?

Yesterday I pointed out that the 1966 and 1976 contests were two games that Florida should've won but failed to. Then I asked if that sounded familiar. I did that because it should sound very, very familiar.

1993: Soggy Timeout
After withstanding the ridicule of Spurrier for a couple years, Goff seemed to have the Gators beat in 1993. But Zeier's touchdown pass to Jerman with 1 tick left was waved off by a timeout. 

And keep an eye on Spurrier's defensive coordinator in this video, he returns to haunt us

2002: gettin' Zook'd
This was the season we were finishing the drill, knocking the lid off the program. Richt's team was on their way to the SEC Championship game for the first time and the Sugar Bowl. We went into Jacksonville with an unblemished 8-0 record and the Gators came in at 5-3. To set the stage in three simple words: Spurrier was gone.

But after starting the season owning the entire state of South Carolina...and after going to the trouble of proving we were "man enough" in Tuscaloosa...then completely obliterating two lesser opponents leading up to the trip to Jacksonville...Zooker's squad grew more and more confident as the game went on. The end result was a 20-13 loss.

Nothing worked that had all season. The Shockley experiment was a complete momentum killer and not the change of pace, keep them off kilter plan that had been working pretty well most of the season. The defense played tough, forcing punts and field goals until late in the game when Rex Grossman finally connected on a TD pass that ended up being the difference.

2009: Fake Juice


In all honesty, this post should be about ten times as long. There was the Half and Hundred 'Tween the Hedges...the 2008 Revenge game...dropped passes...missed blocks...Shockley's knee giving way to Joe T3...and plenty of heartache to go around. I am just not physically or emotional able to relive the last two decades in their absolute misery. 

Out scored 685 to 380. 18 losses, 3 wins. Please pass the bourbon.

*further comments withheld for obvious reasons

A Les Miles Groove

Yesterday Mackie had a post devoted to Les Miles' awesomeness. I wasn't aware, but evidently the Hat reads Blogging Pantsless. Because yesterday afternoon this hit the interwebs:

When the levee breaks...Les'll find that swagger.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Ga/Fla: Rivalrous during the good ol' days

Ok now, let's harken back and hunker down. There was a time when Georgia not only dominated the series with Florida, but the gators were largely irrelevant as a football program.* The best cases to make this point... 

Gator QB Steve Spurrier came into Jacksonville as the heir apparent to that season's Heisman trophy. The previous week he had waved off the place kicker and then kicked a 40 yarder himself to beat Auburn and move his team one step closer to their first SEC title. Florida was 7-0 and riding high...right into Georgia's hands. Dooley's Dawgs were 6-1 and undefeated in the SEC. The only loss was a defeat to Miami in Orange Bowl Stadium. 

Still, the outcome was expected to go Florida's way...but from the start it was never in doubt. Spurrier famously threw 3 picks on the way to a 27-10 beating by the Dawgs. We went on to be co-SEC champs and beat SMU in the Cotton Bowl. Florida settled for an Orange Bowl win over Georgia Tech.

Fourth and Dumb
Ten years later Florida was still hungry for its first SEC crown. They had a 6-1 record and were ranked 10th in the country. And this time they jumped out to an early lead. By halftime it was 27-13 Florida. Then, in the 3rd quarter they lost their heads.

courtesy of apgarbin

So in just those two examples (of a series that dates back well before electricity was a billable resource), Florida came in the favorite and played flat in one and had a total and inexcusable brain fart in the other. Sound familiar?

And that was with two different coaches: Graves in 1966 and Dickey in 1976. Since the World's Largest Outdoor Faceplant Party started in 1990, Georgia's had three coaches (Glen Mason's two day all expenses paid 1995 Christmas vacation excluded). If Richt is to not give way to a fourth next season, he's gonna have turn the tides of the St. John's river.

I'm just getting started here. More to come.
* Good luck arguing this point with a Florida "graduate", since football didn't start in Gainesville until 1990.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Monday's Meatloaf - Let's get Rivalrous

Let's talk about rivalry. One of the greatest debates I see Dawg fans enter into is whether Florida or Georgia Tech is our biggest rival. I always give the jort heads the nod here since they're both a conference and divisional foe. 

But is Georgia/Florida still a rivalry? We haven't been much of a competitor in Jacksonville (and on respective campuses for the 1994-95 seasons) the last two decades. And before that Georgia really dominated the series overall, 44-22-2. So along that line, has it ever been a rivalry?

To answer the question I enlisted the help of something called a dictionary. Rivalry: the act of rivaling : the state of being a rival : competition. Ok. That wasn't much help. Let's look up the word Rival1. One who attempts to equal or surpass another, or who pursues the same object as another; a competitor. So far so good. But there's another definition as well.... 2. One that equals or almost equals another in a particular respect. 

Phooie. We "equaled" the gators for four quarters last year. Other than that, not so much over the last 21 competitions. So by definition the WLOCP is barely hanging on as a rivalry, on the field. Kind of depressing I know. I hate those sumsabitches and now some ancient tome that no one even uses anymore is telling me we're not a rival of floriDuh. We're not worthy of the party and barely have been stirring our cocktails with fake juice.

But stay with me now, cuz here's where I think this gets interesting heading into the 2011 season. Are the team and its fans on the same page as far as Jacksonville? Do we share the same investment? Do we all have the same mindset? Questions I intend to explore deeper in the coming weeks.

Beat. The. Gators.

Easy to think. Easier to say. Just rolls off the tongue. But not so easy to do. Alfred Hitchcock once said, "The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture." Georgia, as a whole, needs to do a better job of getting in the picture.

Today's Ingredients
  • Was perusing SicemDawgs' TV schedule posting and lo and behold, Tuesday afternoon there is Georgia-Florida, 2004. Greene, Pollack go out on top in Jax.
  • As the good feelings fade ever so slowly from the Rangers drafting Johnathan Taylor, the former Georgia outfielder is holding steady to his goal of playing again.
  • Isner v Mahut, the sequel starts tomorrow. Make sure you pay the power bill. It could take awhile.
  • As Crowell settles into Coach T's idea of conditioning, Garbin looks at the program's top 10 impact freshmen
  • Mackie looks back fondly at the 2002 meeting with Bama. After all, he was man enough to see it from the student section.
  • As usual, really enjoyed Hedges to Hardwood's countdown posts this weekend: a tribute to Trinton and a look back at 1976.
  • Martin van Dawgin also plans to have hoops star Jordan Adams' commitment ceremony live on their blog. (But you'll still have to attend in person if you want cake.)
  • Bill King entertains some fan talk, including whether or not the Dawgs should run the spread.
  • Given our great need for offensive linemen in this upcoming recruiting class, in his latest recruiting update Socrates takes a look at where things stand with John Theus.
  • Meanwhile, Chad Simmons reports ($$) that Chaz Elder should be committing sometime in August.
  • Catch em if you can...PWD points out that the NCAA is well behind the times when it comes to playing the game with cheaters. 
  • Paschall has a new series on Sundays. Yesterday he tackled the 3 most intriguing OCs in the SEC. (Warning: picture of Charlie Weis in size 63 shorts)
  • the Senator found some more fowl afoul of the law. Spurrier will surely toss and turn over this one.
  • Barrett Sallee ranks the top SEC non-conference games and has Georgia losing its opener.
  • "This is Tyler Bray's team now." Year2 continues TeamSpeedKills' look at the HillBillys.
  • Lastly, I've long been a big supporter of the SCAN Foundation. Saturday is their annual Save Our Skin 5K Walk/Run. Great event for a great cause.
I trust everyone had a nice Father's Day. I'm sure it was somewhere short of the one Rory's dad enjoyed, but good nonetheless. I was reminded yesterday that hugs are always welcome. But they're even better after the kids have showered.

I've long enjoyed watching the US Open on Father's Day afternoon. One of the fondest was the day I also took Mrs. Bernie to meet the folks for the first time. While she finished a shift at Georgia Square Mall I reclined and watched Corey Pavin hit the finest 4 wood Shinnecock has ever seen. By the time she was ready to impress my parents Pavin had Norman in his rear view mirror by a slim two strokes...and the margaritas were more than ready to be poured.

A few years later the tournament was at Pinehurst and I had a chance to go. Unfortunately the logistics just refused to allow it. While the media jumped all over Mickelson's expectant wife, Payne Stewart put together a fantastic Sunday...and a spectacular putt on 18 to win his second US Open trophy. Logistics should've been a minor hurdle.

Of course, a few months later Payne left us wanting much more, dying in a freak plane incident. But not before he helped breathe new life into the Ryder Cup rivalry with Europe. Maybe Coach Richt should have the players dress in knickerbockers...

I'm kidding! C'mon, that's fake juice. But this napkin is for real. You've got lunch all over your face Reader. Have a great Monday!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Henley poised for history...??

Last year Russell Henley wowed crowds at Pebble Beach on his way to becoming the low amateur at the US Open (T-16). This year he could become first back to back low amateur in 20 years. In 1990-91 a guy named Phil Mickelson did it.

Henley finished Saturday at even par for the tournament. Patrick Cantlay, an amateur from Long Beach is at -1.

My favorite Father's Day activity is watching the US Open. Rory is poised to run away with it at Congressional. But Henley should provide Dawg fans with plenty to cheer for. 

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Also - rising junior Bryden Macpherson has already qualified for the Masters by winning the British Amateur.