Saturday, December 10, 2011

With a sad heart...

...I aim my car towards Athens today. So many times I've driven into Clarke County and turned towards Sanford eager with anticipation, due mostly to one man's voice. Today however I go to remember his lasting impact on not just one Dawg Nation, but generations of college football fans alike.

The man who's passion for the Silver Britches was only outmatched by his voice. Today we remember you, forever we will miss you.

God Bless You Larry Munson!

BotW: reinstatement, phase one

I'm so eager to type about beer. I think it's because there isn't a football game to travel to, tailgate for and then cheer for today. It's nice to have something else chat about and I've got a lot of things to pass along. So I'll do this in chunks with a couple reviews thrown in between. For today I want to tell you about my newest book.

Here posing with a pint of Fireside Chat
If you like beer you need to add The Oxford Companion to Beer to your gift list. I asked for it for Christmas but was lucky enough to get it for my birthday a couple weeks ago (thanks Mom and Dad!). It evidently has a few historical inaccuracies in it which I'll address in a later post about brew podcasts. But it is literally the perfect companion to your pint glass. 

Just putting aside the fact that beer is now such a major thirst-quenching player worldwide that Oxford scholars would approve this tome, this is the biggest and best reference point for all things brew. Whether you are a home-brewer, curious history buff, just a drinker of beer or all of those rolled into one you will enjoy this expert compilation. So far I've just enjoyed perusing certain entries that happen to come to mind as I'm reading, listening to others or drinking. Such as the other day when I decided I wanted to know more about how malt is processed. I thumbed through the index, grabbed the page number and Boom! I've got it.

Also put aside the fact that it costs about the equivalent of 4 sixers of a nice craft brew. It'll be worth it in the long run. Especially if Santa leaves it under your tree. Just tell him Bernie sent ya.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Dawgs turning pro early

I'll put a poll up this weekend. There's still plenty of time to waver back and forth on the fence. But for now, here's what I think will happen with some of our juniors and redshirt sophomores:

  • Rambo - stays
  • Jarvis - stays
  • Washington - goes
  • Orson -stays....goes...stays, I hope.
  • Commings - stays
Those are the guesses so far. Let me know what you think, and who I have missed.

Friday's Fathead Feedbag

As promised.

What's the big deal with Fatheads? I guess I can understand the ones that are of a team's helmet or something of the like that is timeless. But if I were from Wisconsin and was the biggest cheesehead to ever cut it, why would I want to lay down $100 on a Fathead of Clay Matthews when in a few years or less he might be a 49er, a Bengal or (gasp!!) a Viking?

What becomes of my fathead then? Ebay as a collector's item? Trashcan? Halloween decoration?

Fat, yet proportional.
It just baffles me sometimes what we spend money on. And trust me I'm including myself and those close to me in that. My 9 year old used to love to dump money into this gumball type machine at our local Kroger. Except instead of gumballs it gave you one of those little plastic containers with the cheap prize in it. She'd beg for $.50 and even break her piggy bank just to throw coins into that thing, turn the dial and hear the prize tumble down. She was just sure this time the little miniature puppy would come rolling out into her little palm.

WompWomp!...Another cheapass keyring. Which is just as worthless as a Vince Young Tennessee Titan Fathead.

The Feedbag
  • Good thing Gator Charlie Weis Fatheads were never produced. Whew!
  • I mean seriously? MusChomp didn't even know Weis had interviewed at Kansas? And found out on the way to his Gator Bowl presser? This season's been a Nightmare on Jort Street. It's like a UGA and FSU alum got together and wrote the script. I'd give it two thumbs up. Way up!
  • Every one of Murray's TD passes in video, yes please (h/t Groo). Remarkable.
  • Outback Bowl update: wanted to pass along some ticketing and lodging info I've received.

  1. Tickets - per UGA: Tickets are $75 and can be ordered online now @ or by calling the Athletic Association ticket office 1-877-542-1231 between 8:30a.m. - 4:30p.m. Monday-Friday. All orders will be filled in the order in which they are received and upon availability.
  2. Lodging - got an email this week from Dan who runs a Tampa area Days Inn. He assures us it's a Georgia run hotel and plans to have it decorated in red and black as well as a complimentary hospitality room. Hotel has wireless, pool, free breakfast and rates as low as $45 for 1-4 person accomodations. Contact info: phone(813) 977-1550; email - Daysinn05280 AT aol DOT com  addressTampa Days Inn North  701 E. Fletcher Ave Tampa, Florida 33612

  • Speaking of the bowl game...the players are getting a watch, a ring, $25 Outback giftcard, $150 BestBuy giftcard and a cap. You can check out each bowl's gifts here.
  • It's official, Texas A&M is completely nuts. As if Coach Richt would pick his entire compound of Richtlets up and move all the way to College Station. This is what happens when beat writers and fanbases are just interested in throwing around names without understanding the men that bear them. So glad we're not in that position.
Speaking of worse than bonkers...quick reminder: tomorrow is Munson's Memorial. If you'd like a special sticker and ribbon, see Kevin at 11:30 in the Tate Center by the big tv. (check the FB page for more updates)

Already miss that guy. See you there!

Go Dawgs!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Coach Richt's steering wheel

The easy thing to do when evaluating Mark Richt would be to regurgitate the awesome sauce that was the ten game win streak. Whether you are a little too eager to point out that the wins came against the schedule's inferiors or if you are a little too eager to claim that this was the head guy's best coaching job of his tenure, the fact of the matter is that when Richt's 2011 team needed every single win to get back to Atlanta they got it.

Personally, I have that weird feeling of being both satisfied and hungry for more. Kind of like after you've been around the Thanksgiving table three times yet still desperately want two slices of pumpkin pie with a couple heavy dollops of whip cream. My low point during Richt's time in Athens came in Boulder last year; no loss this season came close to matching that one. And my high point of Richt's time at UGA was probably the 2005 LSU win; the win this year in Jax had nearly all the Glory of that one. Just lacked the coronation at the end.

Looking back to January, we needed to become a 60 minute team and Mark Richt made the changes necessary. We needed a coach willing to grab the steering wheel and correct for the recent poor navigation and he cranked up the energy bus. We needed to infuse some young talent into the depth chart and he produced a Dream Team.

But I'm finding it pretty easy to refrain from the back slapping and the pom-pom shaking. Not because I'm bitter over Saturday night's second half, or the other two losses for that matter. No, every time I feel like basking in the glow of a 10-3 turnaround reality strikes me in the face. 

For every three or so defining highlights from this season (such as Samuel's touchdown in Jax and Aron White's catch and run in Oxford) there's another one that could've sent the season spiraling into the sewer drainage (such as Drew Butler's "tackle" in Nashville and the 4th and 57 in Knoxville). My point is a lot of seasons hang in the balance with certain plays that are either made or not, like Daryl Gamble forcing the fumble against Vandy in 2007. It puts things in perspective: we could just as easily be packing up the practice fields and interviewing candidates this weekend instead of sending recruits into Richt's office and prepping for a January bowl.

Not getting so giddy over things has done me well. I enjoy spectacular moments like White's hedge jump just as much as the next guy, but I've come to enjoy my carefully measured glass of kool-aid when it comes to overall evaluation. So my final analysis of the 2011 season will be nearly as much about me as it is Coach Mark Richt. As a fan and especially as a blogger it is easy to take one off season quote for instance and make too much out of it. The same goes for losses and the same goes for wins.

I like Coach Richt a lot and hope he's our coach for a long time. I'm glad he's not on the "hotseat" this off season. But more than anything I'm thankful he now has his hands firmly on the steering wheel. The course was corrected. Unlike last December, the destination is ahead of us instead of behind.

Boise State opener, from McGarity's rear view mirror

Last week, with all the talk about the BCS mess and which teams were deserving of the top two spots, we heard some Dawg fans wonder what might have been if we had not played Boise State to open the season. Thanks to Paschall, here's AD McGarity's answer to that.
Q: Is there any regret to scheduling Boise State in the opener?
A: "No. I think what that did was allow us to be on the big stage and really focus all our offseason programs into knowing that there was a tremendous task at hand in game number one. It excited everybody, and we had so many steps of success during the offseason -- we had a great recruiting year and a very quiet spring, and the players came back in phenomenal shape. There were a lot of upward trends that were very positive, and we just stacked those on top of each other.
"I think the Boise State game was a great indicator. When you do that, and Virginia Tech bought into this last year after playing Boise State that first game, it tells you so much about your team very quickly. It really reveals your strengths and weaknesses against a top-flight opponent, so when we entered conference play, we were not searching and finding out about our team. I don't think there is any regret there at all."
For me I believe there's some merit to that. It certainly wasn't a good feeling watching the play of our team in the opener. After months of anticipation we looked out classed, out coached and out played in all phases. But if we had a patsy in the Bronco's place I wonder how long it would've taken us to get our bearings straight. After all, as ugly as the Carolina loss was there was definite improvement from week one to week two. Two cupcakes within the first three weeks could've spelled an early season of more questions than answers.

Anyway, hindsight and all that. It's a good Q&A from Paschall. McGarity even talks about what the first two weeks were like for him evaluating the team at 0-2. Give it a read.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Judge: "Well m'am...who circumcised the lil feller?"

A Florida woman wants to change her son's middle name. That in itself isn't newsworthy I guess. But her son (now 4 years old) is named Spurrier Urban Wiley. Jen Wiley, "Spur's" momma is upset with Corch now that he's a Buckeye and no longer a loyal slitherer.

You just can't make this stuff up folks.
“I want to change his middle name,” she said.
Wiley actually has to travel to Ohio several times a year for work; so ironically, Spurrier Urban Wiley was born in Ohio.
The name doesn’t faze the now 4-year-old Spur. He doesn’t really understand his mom’s frustration, but he’s playing along.
“He wants to be Spur Willy Nilly Silly Bear Wiley,” said Wiley.
Wiley said anything is better than Urban.
It’s a name that reminds her of the letter the former Gator coach wrote her son shortly after his birth.
In it, Urban Meyer wrote, “I look forward to growing with you as a Gator over the years.”
Wiley’s husband isn’t on board with the change, and she said she won’t officially change her son’s name unless her husband agrees.
If he does, she’s thinking Tim after Tim Tebow, the great Gator quarterback who is becoming a star in the NFL.
I hope this proceeding makes CourtTV . I'd like to see Corch called as a witness and address that letter he wrote the little reptile.

(h/t Hamp)

Keith Marshall steps into Crowell's backfield

Coach Richt's missing man formation just got a lot more crowded.

Just as Keith Marshall uttered the words we all expected him to, I couldn't help but wonder what Isaiah Crowell was thinking. I also wondered who he was with when he found out that the 2012 top running back was coming to Athens to compete with the 2011 top running back. Teenagers have an uncanny ability to concern themselves with what those around them are thinking. Was he hanging around any energy vampires? 

I know a lot of people are talking about how they're not worried about Crowell's injuries or attitude anymore now that the next big sensation is coming to Athens. And even more competition could very well follow. But the same thing holds true now as it did back in September/October when Crowell was gaining all those yards: we're a better team with his talent. I sincerely hope he gets things turned around because competition is a good thing. Real good.

Anyway. I agree with every point PWD makes in this piece about Marshall. I would simply add one thing. The best part about getting Keith Marshall as a Dawg is that he'll be here in January. He'll start working out with the team, conditioning himself to be an SEC back, getting familiar with the playbook, campus life...adjusting to being away from his home.

All of those things are good for the young man transitioning from all-star high school phenom to the rigors of the bottom of McLendon's depth chart. And if we're lucky it helps Crowell make his turnaround sooner rather than too late, so that all that competition between January and September translates to quality depth next Fall.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Remember this guy?

Something's been irritating me. Let me get straight to the point here.

I keep seeing articles and comments about how Boo Malcome should get the start in the bowl. As we discussed yesterday, people are sick of #1 and ready for someone who runs like Malcome did late in the Tech and LSU games.

Great. I get that. But what I don't get is how soon we forget this...

As I said yesterday, I'm not giving up on Crowell. And I have enjoyed what little I've seen of Malcome so far. He definitely seems to have turned a corner.

But for my money...given EVERYTHING Richard Samuel has done to help this program...EVERY sacrifice and position change...the starting tailback spot at the University of Georgia is DICK SAM IV's to lose for the remainder of his matriculation in Athens.

Now, as you were.

Keith Marshall gives us The Truth

Widely regarded as the nation's #1 running back recruit, Keith Marshall of Raleigh NC plans to give everyone his decision this afternoon about 2:45. He plans to enroll early, so his commitment is likely the truth.

Georgia has long been considered the favorite as long as Richt is still the head coach. Since that is now a foregone conclusion it would seem that today's announcement is low on drama. Probably so. I'd be shocked if he doesn't end up in Athens this Winter. South Carolina and Florida are very distant longshots.

But...the other possibility is Clemson. And Clemson recruits like a middle eastern oilman that is up on all the rap lyrics and vernacular that goes with it. Dabo was a guest at Lil Wayne's 16th birthday party and is the one who taught Pitbull exactly how you have a real good time. There are unsubstantiated rumors that he also laces that hunk of granite with rohypnol before recruits "touch" it. By the time it wears off they're covered in orange and are living with Dwayne Allen on some farm owned by an IPTAYer.

In short, you can't rule out the school that landed the TOP TWO recruits from FLORIDA last year and convinced them to come to "upper" South Carolina and ride a tractor to botany class every Tuesday and Thursday morning. I think Dabo even got the last official visit. BUT...Richt (and McLendon) got the last in home Sunday night.

I think Marshall is a Dawg.

Other readings:
- Chad Simmons' has quotes from Marshall ($) on each of his final schools and what he feels they have to offer him
- Big Muddy has some video from one of Marshall's better games this season. UPDATE: and also has a new video up today.
- DawgPost's profile

Cleaning house

Some quick items to pick up with the dust pan.
  • Sorry about not having the meatloaf ready yesterday. To make up for it I'll have a rare Friday Feedbag in a few days.
  • There's been some slight quirks with the commenting. I believe it was a Blogger to Disqus interface issue, most likely coming from comments made on the mobile version of the blog. If you ever make a comment it should appear immediately. If it doesn't please email me (berniedawg AT gmail DOT com) and I'll correct it.
  • Yesterday we broke down Crowell. Tomorrow it's Richt's turn. Only fair after reeling off 10 straight wins, right?
  • Lastly, I've been contacted by a Michigan State blogger. We'll exchange some questions as we prepare for the Outback Bowl. Hope to have a few up early next week and then one more round once we're closer to New Years's and practices have revved up.

Bowl Pool, to benefit the Human Fund

It's the Second Annual Festivus4theDawgNus Bowl Pool. Frank's gotten the pole out of the crawl space and George is crying over his cassette tapes. The only thing you need is the following info:

Link to group's page
password - "thestrike"

Entry is free, but donations are generously accepted. All benefits to be given to The Human Fund. For Twitter updates on the pool, follow me here and/or Darren the Intern there. Winner gets a year's worth of free fake donuts from H&H Bagels.

If you have no clue what all this means, perhaps this clip can catch you up.

For my Spanish speaking readers, here it is translated. Usted tiene un sistema de creencias fascinante. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

SEC Today - 12/5/11

Hannah Chalker fills you in on bowl season matchups and other top stories from around the SEC.

Breaking down Crowell

There's a ton of frustration among fans. Which is surely a fraction of what there is on the team. There's a lot of emotion and a lot of ill will. I think most of the concerns fall into two areas: his ability to handle the role of an SEC tailback physically and mentally and his attitude as a whole.

Many have questioned his toughness after some nagging injuries this season, but in reality this was an adjustment we should've expected. Crowell carried the football 147 times his senior year of high school. Going into the Outback Bowl he's carried the ball 182 times this season even though he didn't play in two games, played minimally against Kentucky and missed a full quarter against Vanderbilt.

The comparisons to Lattimore were unreasonable, albeit understandable. An off season of strength and conditioning training will help Crowell prepare to carry the load at an SEC level, rather than a Class AA.

This is a much bigger concern. Put simply, Coach Richt and Crowell are not seeing eye to eye. The writing began appearing on the wall for fans to read back before the Vandy game, when Richt said he "loved" his running back. The message between the lines was just as subtle leading up to Saturday's game with LSU, but much more terse. The next couple weeks are critical if Crowell is going to grow into the role we need him to. He's done things to distance himself from his coaches and teammates alike. If he wants respect he's got to give it, pure and simple.

Case in point: back around the Ole Miss game I mentioned that I was a little concerned by our star running back's penchant for mouthing off after runs. I was blasted for it. Back then you'd see the coaches and players redirect Crowell in a supportive way. Saturday the response to his mouth was to sit the rest of the game on the bench.

A lot of people have put some blame on Richt for the way Crowell was recruited (read: the missing man formation). However, if you feel that way then you must first look at the national attention that college recruiting has taken on. If you patted Richt on the back for landing the crown jewel of the Dream Team, then you can't exactly criticize him for the way in which his staff did it.

The easy thing to do would be to give up on Crowell altogether. And I'm talking about fans here; we should know Richt isn't going to give up on him. But given the fact that we live in an era when an 18 year old can get so much unearned attention just over the act of putting on a school's cap or holding up a miniature mascot, I think it's more prudent to let the next few weeks play out. They'll be crucial to the tailback position's future at UGA, not to mention the young man's as well.

Outback, a quick look

From what I've read the Cotton really wanted us and the CapOne really wanted Arkansas. But ultimately the Orlando based bowl was concerned how well Razorback fans would travel. So, the bad news is we lost what would've been a cool trip to Dallas. The good news is we only fell to another post-New Years bowl.

This will be our first trip back to Tampa since New Years Day 2005 when Pollack and Greene wrapped up their careers with a win over Wisconsin. Overall we're 3-1 in the game, which was originally the Hall of Fame Bowl. We beat Purdue in OT in 2000, Wisconsin in 1998 when Bobo ate his Wheaties before the game and we lost to Boston College in 1986, the bowl's first year.

Michigan State is also 10-3 after losing to Wisconsin in the Big 10 championship game. They are led offensively by Kirk Cousins the school's winningest quarterback. And they sport two good running backs, Le'Veon Bell (huge kid averaging 5+ ypc) and Edwin Baker. But truly their defense is the reason they are the Legends Division Champs. They are 9th in scoring defense only giving up 17 points a game and 5th in total defense.

Both teams' coaches should be pretty familiar with each other, having met in the Capital One Bowl back at the end of the 2008 season. A lot will be made of Murray and Charles returning to Tampa where they starred at Plant HS. But it's also a homecoming of sorts for one of their former teammates. Spartan defensive end Denzel Drone also went to Plant. Other Dawgs from the Tampa area: Kosta Vavlas, Ramik Wilson and Zach DeBell.

Because of NFL games, New Years Day bowls will be on a Monday. So the Outback is slated for January 2nd at 1pm.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday's Thoughts on 10-3

I used to like the GA Dome. Sigh.

After analyzing hours of stats and analytics, I must say that I think it should be Georgia vs South Carolina in the MNC game. all seriousness. We have nothing to "blame" the loss on. LSU (in the end) was the much better team, as expected. We needed a perfect game and couldn't produce it. You can't blame the coaches by any means. You can't blame the dropped passes, the missed field goal or the defensive lapses in the second half. This was LSU's win. Respect it for what it's worth.

In the end we weren't good enough to withstand the mistakes against the best team in the country. That's not designed to trash any bad throws, missed catches, missed tackles, missed #1's or missed calls on the let's jump up an down on the honey badger train punt return.

Seriously, what else is there to say? I'll have my honest take on Crowell later. We could've been up as much as 21-0 at half but I don't know that it would've helped much. LSU is a damn good football team. Even better than I thought. And good enough to win with defense and special teams alone.

I'm upset that we lost. But not irrational over it. We had a helluva season. Damn proud of our Dawgs.