Saturday, July 16, 2011

DawgNight continues the daydream

What a special night. I'm not too surprised many Dawg fans haven't heard of this event yet. It's relatively new and not many follow recruiting so closely. But beyond the highlights of gaining some premium commitments from some big time recruits, there's reason to believe DawgNight has already made it as an elite event.

A couple thoughts:

I think ecdawg is right, momentum was the night's biggest attendee. The Dawg Nation needed some good news as well as some verification that recruiting wasn't dead after this past February. The summer is usually a big time for Richt and his recruiting staff. This summer we've watched a lot of big recruits cross state lines with their commitments. That changed last night.

I can't give any better rundown on the commitments themselves than Socrates and Legge. DawgPost has some great pictures up as well, btw. But I can assure you that there is reason to get excited, even though they are simply commitments. John Theus was expected to pledge to Richt and he is a huge need on the offensive line. That alone makes the night a headline grabber.

But Richt was just getting started. And I think that's the biggest story. Five recruits over three states and three different classes. The stock of the Georgia football program might be pretty stagnant after the last couple seasons, but the coaches are still out gaining investments at a premium. National Signing day wasn't a was just beginning.

Chizik, a bigger johnson...??

Capstone Report goes exactly where 99.997% of the college football fandom is heading with this post paralleling the engiNerd castration to what might be on the horizon in Opelika.

Yellowjackets coach Paul Johnson said that he believed Thomas and Burnett were eligible to play in the last three games of the 2009 season when the NCAA told Georgia Tech A.D. Dan Radakovich they had been cleared.
Does any of this sound familiar?
But as Schad pointed out, the most alarming element for fans of a program widely thought to be in the crosshairs of the NCAA is this:
All of this was happening to Georgia Tech with zero indication in the local media.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had no idea that the Yellowjackets, mere walking distance from the paper’s sports department, got an NCAA notice of inquiry on September 13, 2010, a notice of allegations December 11, 2010 and stood before the freaking committee on infractions on April 15, 2011.
I don't know what the future holds for Auburn football. But I'm a huge college football fan and I also like to believe there's justice in the world. $312 is monkey change in eastern Alabama. If Julie Roe Lach slapped the crap out of NATS...

What does the Georgia Tech story tell us? It’s simple.
If you’re an Auburn fan and really believe what your team did last year was above board, you’re like an ignorant beachgoer relaxing in an innertube in the ocean’s warm waters…all while the sharks are circling and sizing you up down below.
But the scariest element is that while Georgia Tech’s shark was probably an ill-tempored sandshark, with only a small infraction leading to their punishment, Auburn’s may be a great white, with half a dozen “alledged” investigations going on into Auburn improprieties in the last several years.
And to make things even more interesting, it was Chizik reaching down into the waters to strike the shark on the head by irritating NCAA vice president for enforcement Julie Roe Lach at the SEC meetings in Destin last month.
...just imagine what she would do to Chizzy.

Friday, July 15, 2011

50 days...into the season

Whether you like Coach Richt, dislike him or are somehow just plain have to give him credit for making some changes the last couple years. Did he wait too long to turn the program around? We're soon to find out. 50 days until toe meets leather in the Dome. 57 until we all meet at Sanford for an early season must win against the Gamecocks.

But today I want to look well ahead of that to 50 days into the season. While Richt is a popular topic of discussion and print, my feelings on him are easily summed up: I like him, I want him around a long time, but it's program first and coach somewhere after that. On this special occasion with just 50 days left before kickoff we need to explore something deeper. We need to get our minds right for the entire season, not just the first game of the season.

Ironically for me, that starts with one game. 50 days into the schedule we'll be gearing up for the biggest game of every season. Jacksonville. The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Georgia - Florida. Battle on the St. John's. Don't think of this season in terms of a number that would make it successful in your opinion. And don't worry about whether our coach will be on the sidelines next year. Richt's the coach of the Georgia Bulldogs. Once toe meets leather it doesn't go beyond that.

Would a 10 win season thrill me to no end? Well, can a black knight score 10 measly points and beat you? I'd love a 10 win season. But I want something more than that. I want once again to cheer for a team that has toughness. Not just at the opening kick and not just on one side of the ball. I want a team that's man enough to stare their arch nemesis in the eye and hunker down one more time despite how much it hurts, how exhausted they are or what the score is.

WLOCP. A one game barometer. A 60 minute reading of the pulse of the program. Beating Boise would be sexy. But proving we can beat the team that's flat out owned us the last two decades is Jennifer Aniston wearing nothing but a Scott Woerner jersey hot! There's no comparison. 

Even beating Carolina as the proposed pre-season front runner of the SEC East would be great and would go a long way towards paving the way to Atlanta. But the road to the GA Dome in December goes through Jacksonville in late October. Always has. The difference between beating chickens and beating gators is like the difference between leasing and owning a car. One's cool. The other is something to build on.

And brothers, sisters...we need hammer and nails, not spackle and a coat of paint. We've been shoveling our own grave for too long. So with 50 days until the season Reader, I'm not gonna ask if you're ready for football. I'm not gonna talk about how cool it would be to beat the Broncos and spoil their season right out of the gates. That's not my mindset. For 21 years we've watched one single game swing in one direction. If the 2011 season is to be considered a success there will be shouts aplenty of Go Dawgs!! from those escalators leaving AllTel stadium October 29th. The drives and flights back to all destinations red and black on the 30th will be peaceful and not tormented like so many of the last 21 times we've left Jacksonville.

We'll know then that our Dawgs are not only ready to start a fight, but also ready to finish it. We won't need a funny looking uniform to pump us up before kickoff. We'll see our Dawgs in their usual road gear and the fervor will come naturally. We won't even need unsportsmanlike flags littering an endzone to punch the opponent in the face. We'll do that because that is what our UGA forebears have done for generations. The WLOCP is our game. We own it and it's been taken from us because we've gotten lazy and proficient at coming up with excuses. It's time to reclaim the GA/fla game, and it's gonna take our full concentration. A complete, concentrated effort. Fan, coach...player. Our voice, their guidance and a Dawgs' heart.

So my question is simple this morning. With 50 days until the season, are you ready for 50 days into it?

Couple quick notes

Finishing up a bigger post. Some headlines broke yesterday that we can address while I'm dotting t's and crossing i's.

  • ESPN's actions yesterday in suspending Bruce Feldman (a giant in his field) for his (granted and approved) participation in Mike Leach's book is deplorable. Reminds me of this coach the other day that stood up and called out the NCAAs VP for enforcement for timely investigating. Why got to such great lengths to prove so publicly that you're a dumbass?
  • Tech. Holy crap. Why would NATS go to such great length to prove AJC writers can write negative things about their football program? Especially after the AJC had been so accommodating while the investigation was ongoing. And I'm sorry, there's no way Paul "Bigger Fish" Johnson is gonna let this go without someone's ass on a platter.
  • And Samuel is a running back again. So we now have Crowell to run the ball, Samuel to block, Malcome to back them up and Thomas for 3rd and 8s.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NCAA on the flats - UPDATED

That adds a whole new meaning to the joke by the Coke doesn't it? They must've found out Reggie Ball's been tutoring student athletes in...counting.

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UPDATE: Spencer Hall has a transcript of the conversation between Coach Johnson and the NCAA investigator assigned to be his bitch.

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UPDATE Dos: Mark Bradley has broken rank and says this could be big...

Bump...set...spike! Samuel

Y'all surely know as well as I do that the Dawgosphere is vast. One of my favorite ever posts on a Dawg blog is Streit's account of his and Earl's trip to see Richard Samuel in action as a high school senior. If you want to figure out what a pygmy goat has to do with Samuel and Cass HS, click here and take an extra napkin for the awesome sauce.

Now though, I'm convinced the infamous pygmy goat is cursed. Once again we have a player that has been asked again to change positions. Samuel has spent the last year and a half training for a position he should've been at since he arrived on campus. Samuel is fast, really fast. But he's not a tail back. At least by SEC standards. And he's definitely not a tailback now that he's spent a redshirt season readying himself to contribute on the other side of the ball.

We only have three scholarship tailbacks left, and a walkon that may have out played two of them back in the Spring. When it became official that King would not be eligible this Fall I figured if worse came to worse, Samuel would be called upon to fill in at tailback.

But why ask him to switch now? Hold onto your breakfast folks because the first possibility may be one that doesn't sit well: 

  • Crowell is having trouble adjusting to Athens. There've been murmurs of some difficulty coming down from being the HS super stud to the bottom of the missing man's depth chart.
  • The next thing that comes to mind is the curious post-Spring depth chart (that Richt really doesn't like to call a depth chart) where Malcome was buried despite having a decent GDay game.
  • Coach Olivadotti despises goat and this didn't come out in the initial interview.
  • Carlton Thomas hasn't gained 2 feet and 45 pounds under Coach T's program as expected...(chirp, chirp...)
Whatever. I'm outside the arena y'all, just hoping whatever Samuel chooses is what is best for him. He's too special an athlete to be wasted like a volleyball between Coach Bobo and Coach Grantham.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Can Coach Richt evolve?

Before we begin, let me be clear that this isn't about Evil Richt, Sunday School classes or black jerseys. Those are journalistic headline grabbers. This goes deeper. So chunk your rose colored glasses or your pitchforks, whichever it is that you are currently grasping and let's entertain ourselves with a mutual discourse.

This is Richt's 11th season as a head coach, all at Georgia. He brought early success in his first few seasons, was next to impossible to beat when his team donned the white away uniforms, and he felt the confetti as it poured from the rafters of the GA Dome.

Last season we lost to Colorado...Colorado gave up 50+ points to Kansas. They also lost to Baylor.

The last few years Richt's been a shadow of himself. His most ardent detractors will tell you he's never been a great coach. They'll point to Donnan's players and a transition from the HBC to the Zooker in Gainesville. They say he'll never win the big prize for UGA and that he lacks the toughness to make it in the SEC. "He'd be a heckuva a good ACC coach" is about the nicest thing they can manage. 

I don't buy all of that. What's been lacking recently that was at a premium during the 2002-05 seasons is leadership. And that starts at the top. Richt can coach SEC championship football, he's proven that. Now he needs to prove it again. Back in January as we tried to digest a 6-7 season we came to realize that we're not that far away and also not even close. Leadership can put us beyond the former and further from the latter.

So my question is, can a coach evolve? Can Richt overcome a previous version of himself through some genetic drift or mutation? Or will natural selection punish him for his loyalty to staff and favoritism towards certain players and put him on a shelf beside the do do bird?

I know Richt has it in him. Again, I've seen it as recently as a handful of years ago. But can he translate a new winning mindset to his current players, both veterans and Dream Team members alike? No easy task for sure. And then can it permeate down and stick hard enough for the team to pull out 4th quarter victories? 

Can we finally keep our silver britches urine free and beat Florida again?

I want to believe the answers are yes, but I've told you I'm not gonna hold my breath like the last couple years. The headlines will be there next month, the ones about how well players are looking and how so and so is ready to fill so and so's shoes. We'll hear and read about the new attitude and how well the upperclassmen are preparing the team.

I'll read and I'll listen, but I'll need my eyes to believe evolution has allowed our coach to become a dominant figure roaming the SEC sidelines again. Having less than 85 scholarship athletes won't be any excuse. Losing a key player won't ease any pain from a loss to a mediocre team. A new defensive system is a headline from the past. 

It's football come September 3rd. Words are for losers. Winning comes from dirt, effort and the blood coursing through the veins of a team that knows its coach is bound for glory. Charles Darwin is taking notes. And those are ones I'll definitely be reading.

The other (uglier) side of social media

I've long been worried about the implications of Georgia student athletes on social media sites. We know Coach Richt won't ban them, so it's really just a matter of time before something even larger than AJs jersey happens. 

Well, Dean Legge is flipping the coin and urging fans to stop living and breathing football players' status updates and tweets. I'm proud to say I've already stopped following several even before reading his article for some of the reasons he outlines. I don't stalk players and dissect each word trying to decipher their meaning. But you can't help but be faced with the tweets and the postings at times. And many I'd rather not be faced with...others I tend to enjoy.

In the end I guess it's all about what you want. For instance, I don't follow each and every football player on Twitter. But I created a list that collects most of their tweets for me (and anyone who follows the list) whenever I want to read them. So in essence I choose to be on the fringe of the team's public social media experience. I can step closer or further away just as easily.

But I'll never get too close. I've seen too much of what the ugly underbelly of BookFace and Twitter can look like. Legge puts it best when calling out the stalkers that take every Fake Isaiah Crowell FaceBook post and copy it onto a message board:

"The train wreck is inevitable… you don’t want to be a part of it."


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Cock Fights and other non-news out of Chickumbia

File this under "I" for irrelevant

Alshon Jeffery was allegedly arrested for trying to be a HillBilly ( a bar...) on Friday but details are sketchy.

Miller initially reported that Jeffery's arrest was related to a fight that involved teammate Nick Allison. But that was erroneous. Miller corrected it to say it was teammate Cody Gibson, a redshirt freshman from Tallahassee, Fla.

Miller said Gibson had teeth knocked out and needed dental work. That part I can confirm with some confidence. Someone I know and trust saw him Saturday night and said he was missing three teeth. Another person just told me he was hurt pretty badly in the fight.
As for Jeffery, he's "shaking his head"...or taking out a "lien"...or maybe both. I'm not sure.

So, I get how Gibson's name is out there. But where does Jeffery, the junior receiver from St. Matthews, fit into this? 

According to Jeffery, he doesn't. 

 Alshon Jeffery 

And later ...

 Alshon Jeffery 
I called my Vegas insider and he suspected the early odds this morning would be best for a Spurrier suspension followed soon by a complete vindication. Stay tuned. Or not. Cuz it doesn't matter much anyway. As the players say...smdh at yu Spurrears...

"Missing a beat" means missing the recycling bin

Yesterday Aschoff outlined the importance of the Georgia-Carolina game, both this season and in seasons past. It follows mostly on point until you get to this:
South Carolina, the East's defending champ, will enter the season as the East favorite and returns a solid defensive unit that should feature one of the most ferocious pass-rushing groups in the league. Marcus Lattimore and Alshon Jeffery are back on offense and if troubled quarterback Stephen Garcia stays focused, the Gamecocks shouldn't miss a beat. 
Let me start with the fact that I'm assuming Aschoff is implying Garcia stay focused on football. Which I'm all for. Hell, he played last season tanked off his mullet and took the chickens to the big city. The more he says these words - My name is Stephen and I have a drinking problem... - to his support group the better the chance Brandon Boykin catches more passes than Jeffery on September 10th.

Here's hoping Garcia's recycling bin stays stays thirsty for natty cans this Fall. By late September the ol ball coach will be installing the "Latt Cat" offense.


Former player updates

In case anyone is interested...

Brent Benedict is transferring to VA Tech. He chose Blacksburg despite interest from Florida, among others.

“I liked Virginia Tech the first time around [in the recruiting process],” Benedict said. “It’s a great program with a coaching staff that’s been there awhile. They win games and do well in the ACC. I’m really excited to get up there.”
After sitting out a year because of NCAA transfer rules, Benedict will be a redshirt sophomore in 2012. Did Benedict want to avoid facing his old school?“Maybe that was in the back of my mind a little bit,” Benedict said. “It could still happen with a bowl game. My main focus was choosing the place where I felt I fit the best. Virginia Tech was the best fit for me.”
Caleb King (with much help from Coach Richt) continues to weigh his professional options. He met with Arizona Cardinals RB coach Tommie Robinson the other day as well as a CFL team official yesterday. My guess is he tests the waters of the supplemental draft unless something guaranteed comes to him before the NFL lockout is over.

Monday, July 11, 2011

SEC Media Day attendees announced

SEC Digital Network released the 2011 player attendees. Georgia is on deck Thursday July 21 between 8:30 and 11:00am. Our players are:
GEORGIA (Head Coach Mark Richt)
•    Brandon Boykin (CB, 5-10, 183, Sr., Fayetteville, Ga., 44 tackles with 6.5 for loss, three interceptions and three pass breakups, also returned 34 kickoffs for 825 yards)
•    Ben Jones (C, 6-3, 316, Sr., Centreville, Ala., Made 12 starts and played in all 13 games)
•    Aaron Murray (QB, 6-1, 211, So., Tampa, Fla., 1st-team Sporting News Freshman All-American, 2nd-team Freshman All-American, 1st-team SEC Coaches Freshman All-SEC)

Monday's Meatloaf - Grand Days

Spent a lot of last week sitting on a deck overlooking the Roanoke Sound as well as the 14th green of the Nags Head Golf Links. If you ever play that course, when you get to this particular hole I can assure you that it's more than an extra club to reach the green. The wind is deceptively forceful and eats golf balls all day long. 

Yes, even Pro V-1s. A lot of this time my grandmother in law was sitting out there as well. We'd discuss the breeze off the sound, old memories and life in general. My grandparents have all passed. I'm thankful to have been adopted by Mrs. Bernie's Granny. She makes a mean bloody mary and constantly reminds me of all that I miss about my grandparents. Together they are my own personal microcosm of the greatest generation.

"Obviously you're not a golfer."
As a fan I'm constantly at some stage of worry with the Dawg Nation. But even more I worry about the state of our actual nation. I'm not some right wing nutcase that's convinced we're all going to Hell and I'm not a left wing fanatic that hasn't showered since Clinton left office. I'm just a dude man...trying to make some sense of the world. I worry that parents are not teaching their kids to value family. And a lot of times that value can start with a chair beside a grandparent. Like any other, my grandparents weren't perfect. They were better than that. They had seen decades of mistakes and years upon years of good decisions in spite of those mistakes. They'd shove some cash into every birthday card, but their time and their words were more valuable than anything the US Treasury could print.

I'm thankful my kids' grandparents provided the last two weeks of family for all of us. As I watched my parents and in-laws interact with my two girls I realized that in the scope of real life it was the equivalent of a full year of schooling crammed into two beach weeks. Compared to many of their classmates they are spoiled in that respect. Because we'll continue to provide them with as many moments like those as their little eyes and ears can take in.

Can't wait to share another bloody with Granny and casually recall the summer my grandparents took me on a trip to Fargo ND in their Airstream trailer. One KOA Kampground at a time...priceless!

Today's Ingredients
Don't forget Harton!
  • How much did I keep up with my college football reading while on vacation? Well, as of this posting I'm only 429 items behind in my Google Reader. Nevertheless, here's some linkage.
  • While Caleb interviews with NFL and CFL execs, the Dawg Nation turns anxiously towards Thomas, Malcome, Harton and Crowell. Tyler looks at UGAs rushing situation and finds it not as dire as he had feared.
  • And the Senator brings up some 2003 stats to shift the focus from the RB position back to the defense where it belongs.
  • Meanwhile, with DawgNight coming up this week Socrates looks at some backfield recruits that could make a difference on some college campus in the future.
  • Groo looks at the addition of the new scoreboard and approves of the decision that bigger ain't always better.
  • As Streit says, parking passes for gamedays this Fall go on sale today...if the website recovers from an early morning crash. 
  • You'll need more than a subscription to read it, you'll also need a good 15-20 minutes. Fletcher's newest Mail Sack ($$) is over 10,000 words long!! 
  • Easy to admit I'm not pleased with Perno's results on the field as of late, but you can't read this feature on him by ABH's Clarkson and not feel proud that he's been there for the team through its most difficult stretch.
  • In case you missed it, hoopdawg caught a Los Angeles Clippers blog that had an evaluation of Thompkins and Leslie.
  • Lastly, did you know the creator of Delta Force was a Damn Good Dawg? I didn't. (h/t TC)
I'm still a little mesmerized by Legge's feature on Orson. There's been a lot of talk this off season about the character adjustment going on in the locker room. The malfeasance has moved on in one way or another. In reflecting on that I'm sure Coach Richt felt a responsibility to all of those young men, wanted to help guys like Ealey see the right and good path. But he also owes it to young men like Charles to surround them with winning attitudes. Not just on the field but also in life.

So I leave you with OC's first TD as a Dawg. Watch the entire 10 minutes of highlights or just find the 6:50 mark and see his two catches in the game, back to back...for 62 yards.

courtesy of pr1sonmike

Well, it wasn't ready for your coffee. But after 11 hours on the road yesterday I did get it to you before lunch. Here's your fork...hope your Monday is grand Reader! 


Orson Charles, #7 in your program...#1 in your heart

Stop. Just stop what you're doing, whatever it is and go read this piece by Dean Legge on Orson Charles. If you're worried about the lack of depth at receiver, it'll make you feel better. If you're worried about lack of leadership on the team, it'll make you feel better. If you just need a nice story about a son and his relationship with his mom, it'll make you feel fantastic.

I (Legge) spotted Charles hanging out with Murray and the other three quarterbacks last summer. It was almost like Charles was supposed to be there – even though he wasn’t a quarterback and Murray had obviously organized the throwing opportunity for the signal callers only – nevertheless Charles was there.
“He’s an unbelievable worker. He’s pushing me, too,” Murray said. “Orson and I are very, very tight. You can tell because everyone always jokes, ‘Hey, you’re always looking for Orson.’ That’s because usually he’s open. He’s definitely a hard worker. He’s pushed me pretty much all spring and summer. He’s wanted to throw at night, and on weekends he’ll say, ‘Hey, let’s go do some stuff.’ He’s really been pushing me to work harder, too. The more we work together the more comfortable I get with him.”
“I can’t believe I am playing with Aaron in college,” Charles said with a smile last fall. “I just thank God I know someone at quarterback who I have been through the trenches with. Aaron just stands out. It shows. No one asked about him because it shows. I know where Aaron is going with the ball. We call it the scramble drill. That’s when the play breaks down, and I just go to him.”
Hard to believe there was actually a time when I thought there wasn't anything the kid that voluntarily took an ROTC course last Winter could do to surprise me more. I've already been proven wrong, many times over.

One thing's for sure. Charles' glass isn't going to be half full for long.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Are you ready for some football...

...reading material?!?

Sorry to leave you all in the lurch the last couple weeks readers. The good news (or bad news) is I'm on the way home and ready to get back into the swing of things. We're close to official practices and even closer to media days in Hoover.

I'm ready. Let's go kids! Next stop...the great state of Georgia!

- Posted using BlogPress from Bernie's iPhone