Saturday, December 6, 2014

I really wish...

...I was heading down to the GA Dome about now. Another chance to see friends and tailgate and all of the day drunjs and whatnot.

But instead, as I prepare to head downstairs and fry up a rasher of bacon in my sock feet and bed head, I can't help but wonder which is worse: coming up five yards short at the Dome in December, or first and goal short at Willy Brice in September?

That 2012 SECCG was the worst feeling I've ever had at a game. Worse than the next November in Auburn. But looking back over this past season, those few yards against what turned out to be a miserable chicken shit team are entirely awful.

I hate college football. And yet, I love it like my own child.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Dawg Legends giving back to the community

As part of the sixth annual Allstate SEC Good Works Day, yesterday both Jon and Matt Stinchcomb as well as David Greene helped refurbish an Atlanta park while surprising some young football players with new uniforms and some hands on instruction.

Here are some of the pictures from the event.


How you like Richt now?

My thoughts as I processed yesterday's hires by Florida and Nebraska turned to the "Richt-haters" those that want change yesterday. I wonder how they slept last night. Maybe a little easier.

Perhaps. Actually, probably not.

Both the Gators and the Cornhuskers are programs that should be able to hand pick their coaches. And that's if the very best candidate doesn't just fall right into their lap. Foley made a play for Hugh Freeze and then moved quickly on a guy that went 22-16 at Colorado State. That's in the Mountain West. His conference record was 14-10.

However, McElwain had shown improvement in each of his seasons; 2014 ended with a 10-2, 6-2 record. And ultimately that was enough to make Florida pay a ton of money to rid themselves of Will Muschamp, buyout McElwain's CSU contract, and then pay him an average of $3.5 million for six seasons.

So, are Florida fans excited to have McElwain, or are they still laying in an afterglow of not having to call Muschamp their head coach? That jury will be out for several months. But Muschamp leaves behind a talented team capable of competing for the 2015 SEC East championship. If McElwain can find an SEC-ready quarterback that is.

Nebraska's search was eerily similar to Florida's in that they too went after an up and coming SEC coach first, then quickly moved on option #2. When I asked the one Nebraska fan I know about the search, his response was "Who's Mike Riley?"

He wasn't joking. But in all fairness, Riley is a good coach. He's just not a great coach. Most amazing, he's not a great coach who is also 61 years old!!

So, back to my original question. Both Florida and Nebraska are comparable programs to Georgia. Do you think McGarity would've out-played Foley and Eichorst this week? Would the leadership in such a search to replace Mark Richt have opened up the coffers to reveal the mountains of fat stacks in the basement of Butts-Mehre? Although I understand the restlessness and the frustration, I have serious doubts UGA would've done better.

A pooch kick less travelled

by way of The Dawgcast

Why The Pooch Kick?  

A Lament

The pooch kick has never made all that much sense,

But Athens will rue it from this day hence.

What started as cute in the first of the season

Always left fans puzzling after the reason.

In a game of yards, why give them 50?

But clearly some coaches thought the thing nifty.

So Derek and Old Dawg decided to act.

They asked their dear listeners to form a firm pact:

Call coaches, call players, call all the douches

And tell them to please stop kicking the pooches.

The list’ners, they finished the drill and then some.

Dozens and dozens of calls beat the drum:

“Stop the pooch kick, please God, stop it now!”

The sounds of their voices raised to a howl!

Derek’s friend begged him, “Call off these good Dawgs!”

Bulldawg Nation thought the message was logged.

For weeks, no pooches were kicked, no yards given

Morgan kicked deep, and Richt was forgiven.

But just when we needed those yards all the more

An old habit floated from the old coach’s core.

Eighteen small seconds, and Tech needs a kick –

Surely you put it where the end zone is thick?

Alas, we did not, and the football was bounced

To a Tech team that already thought it was trounced.

“What a gift!” they must have thought on that day,

And with it, they took our dear win away.

Woe be to Bulldogs, woe be to Richt!

The decision stung deep; the poor pooch has been kicked.

- Ryan J. Van Meter

Thursday, December 4, 2014

"carried Kirkland out of the bar by his belt and collar..."

Two things: 1) Zach DeBell is a real strong human being, and 2) dude, don't expose yourself at Toppers or run the risk of getting manhandled by DeBell and punched by a guy named Kim.

Click for the rest of the sordid story.

Why I hope the Belk Bowl takes Georgia.

Really glad Tyler did the heavy lifting on this earlier in the week. No one ever knows how the bowl selection will play out, but this year there is the added element of sorting through the CFB Playoff seedings and subsequent top tier bowl shake outs. Georgia is nestled somewhere below the SEC "access bowl" tie-ins, the Orange and Peach.

Make sure and follow @BelkBowl on Twitter. Their tweets
are both stylishly dressed and classicly humourous.
The most likely destinations appear to be the Outback, Belk, and Music City bowls. If I'm being honest, once eliminated from the national spotlight all I care about is winning against whoever seems most willing to provide that extra W to close the season. A bowl win means nothing in the grand scheme of things. But it's nice for the senior class to go out with a win and can build some momentum in off season workouts and recruiting. Sure, blog hits take a dramatic January drop after a bowl win as opposed to a loss, but that's a side effect I will always gladly accept.

Back to opponents, the most intriguing is Notre Dame, which is who Yahoo has us playing in Charlotte's Belk Bowl. It would be a great matchup for Georgia's current team, and it would be a nice appetizer to the recently scheduled home and home between the two schools. ESPN is split with Schlabach and McMurphy's pick. One has us in the Outback against Minnesota (sure, ok.) and the other has the Dawgs in Orlando against Wisconsin (no, no thanks.) I'd rather not play the Badgers, plus I don't think the Citrus is a likely landing spot. But you never know I guess. Rounding out the projections, CBS agrees with Schlabach on Tampa versus the Golden Gophers (sure, ok.) and Phil Steele also has us in Tampa, but against Maryland. The plus side there would be slapping the Terrapins silly, but the downside is travelling to Tampa.

Looking at it from a personal side, anywhere but Jacksonville again is fine with me. But the only destinations I'd consider travelling to are to watch the Belk Bowl or the Music City. Nashville's a great trip. Good nightlife, and great food. Plus, it's not too far. With a 3:00pm kickoff you could even make it a day trip from the Atlanta area. But, Georgia plays in Nashville every other year. So I'd much prefer a trip to Charlotte, especially to watch the Dawgs tarnish those Golden Domes for sixty minutes.

A lot of fans like going to a bowl game in Florida, for the obvious reasons I guess - attractions, the (sometimes) warmer weather, beaches. And there are a lot of Dawg fans down yonder that deserve a reward for putting up with the gator jorts for 12 months every single year. However, I think a lot of Dawg fans would travel to Charlotte as it is within a few hours of Athens, is a new/different location, and, if projections hold true, would offer Georgia an interesting opponent.

Lastly, make sure and come back next week to enter in the Fifth Annual Bowl Pool - Festivus4TheDawgNus. Selections come out Sunday. So the pool should be up and ready for your entry on Monday. Happy Bowling y'all!

Humpday Hilarity - Paddy's Christmas Carol

h/t Mac

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Coach Richt, moving forward now (part two)

If you missed part one, I go into some historical basis on where I stand and why. At the conclusion I mentioned that I have some measure of faith in the current staff and their direction, at least more so than administration in finding someone able to build on things at this moment.

Admittedly, that opinion is based mostly on some of the cultural and philosophical changes we've begun to see in and around the program. From the outset I want to say that the common denominator seems to be Jeremy Pruitt, and he is given most of the credit for some of the things listed below. But the truth is that these things wouldn't be noticed at all if someone wasn't letting that happen. And at least one of those persons is Mark Richt.
  • First and foremost, recruiting has become very aggressive. Richt is no longer relying on contract extensions and top ten classes to drive football recruiting year in and year out. If there's a player they want, they are going after him. Doesn't matter if he's committed or not.
  • Along those lines, de-recruitment. This isn't something we saw much of under Grantham, but Pruitt isn't playing games with seniority, number of stars as a high school player, or even past on-field performance. Whoever practices best will play. Don't like it? Either try harder next week or hit the road.
  • Indoor practice facility. I don't want to open the door to an IPF's merits/drawbacks, mostly because I'm in the minority. But the fact that one will be constructed soon (and more importantly the way in which it was brought to the forefront of media coverage a few weeks ago) should show fans that the football staff is going to force administration to get serious about spending some money. That alone gives me hope. 
Now, all that being said, I have serious concerns about Coach Richt's leadership. And I am going to make sure I explain these in a way that singles him out solely. For one, this program is under his leadership; two, like it or not, he is the one person that can institute some manner of change. 
Got it Bernie! Let's do this!
  • Clock management. Mentioned yesterday that this is an ongoing problem. There certainly has to be some teamwork amongst the staff in terms of when to call a timeout, as well as when not to. But ultimately this falls at Richt's feet. And it's one of the things that cost us the game against Tech. Richt didn't ask for either of the fumbles near the goal line, he's not the one that lost containment on the quarterback before the tying field goal, and he didn't throw the interception in overtime. But he can do a better job of managing the clock so that it helps rather than hinders the team.
  • Game management. For a man that everyone believes to be such a nice guy (and deservedly so), Richt is one of the most stubborn football coaches out there. Therefore I can't help but wonder just how much of the down to down operations he turns over to his staff during the game. But I'm pretty sure he was as close to a lone voice on that last kickoff as you can get. I doubt many players and coaches wanted to do anything except kick that ball deep (just like they practice) and win the damn game. I'm glad the head coach owned up to his mistake, but if he's not also doing some soul-searching as far as how to manage the game to WIN IT as opposed to TRYING NOT TO LOSE IT, he's not doing the team any favors. To be quite frank, it's as bad as trusting too long in an under-achieving defensive staff.
  • Bye week preparation. Haven't seen many people mention it, but before the season we were all talking about how well the 2014 schedule set up. A bye week before two key divisional matchups, and a cupcake before Tech again. Well, that didn't work out so well as we lost both games following the bye weeks and then added another loss after the FCS opponent. So speaking of soul-searching, Richt should look into just what they did or did not do during the bye week/Charleston Southern week that could've caused those three losses. Doesn't help that they were three very different losses that can't be pinned on one single issue, but I would call that a very bad pattern that we want to steer clear of next season.
  • Lastly, team management. This is another area I think Richt has gone to great lengths to improve on the last several years (anyone remember the movement to rid the house of "Energy Vampires" a few years ago?). But I keep coming back something post-WLOCP, when one of Richt's players was the only one being honest with the media and public. Everyone who watched that Florida game knew Georgia took the Gators lightly. Kudos to Ramik Wilson for calling a spade a spade, as that's about the only morsel of comfort I got from that game's fallout. But Richt's insistence (stubbornness again?) that no one was looking down on their SEC East rival just shows some measure of disconnect between coaches and players. And therefore, some amount of doubt creeps in as to whether the head coach is always on the same page as his players. I hope that even if that game's effort and intensity wasn't up for public discussion, it was up for some private conversations.
Not to beat the horse to death, but all of this boils down to evolving from a program that plays not to lose tackle football games into one that plays the game to win it. Week in. And week out. From cold January mornings until the very last second drains from the clock each and every Saturday. I can keep the faith in Mark Richt now because I do see some evidence of evolution going on. Those bullet points above should be the off season discussion in and around Bulldog Clubs in the coming months, around water coolers from Ringgold to Valdosta and beyond, and yes, even on message boreds

Most importantly, they should be at the forefront of discussions and operations in and around Butts-Mehre.

Coach Richt, moving forward now (part one)

The last couple days I feel as if I've been forced into a storm of awkward nostalgia.
Changing coaches is not something I take lightly. I've seen Ray Goff, Glen Mason, Jim Donnan and Mark Richt hired in my Dawglife. Two were guaranteed mistakes, one of which we ended up avoiding altogether. The one sure thing I've learned as a fan from those experiences, is that it never exactly goes as expected.

People who tout that we're not that far away are right, we aren't. But there's also the annoying fact that we didn't get any closer this season. We're back at the drawing board in January, eager to get excited about something in early February...then again in April...only to watch our hearts break in the Fall.

So who knows what a year may bring. Perhaps a season of vast improvements, maybe a nosetackle as big as a mid-size sedan. Conceivably we'll see a head coach with a hunger that eats right through his players.

And will all be enough to turn this leaf back over again. The difference this off season for me is, I'm not goofily holding my breath.
That was me back in early January '11, fresh off a loss to Central Florida in a bowl game no one really gave a shit about altogether. As I alluded to Monday, as well as many times prior to that, I'm a program first guy. Up until that 2010 season I admit to being pretty smitten with the head coach. Never so much as to hold him on a pedestal above the tradition and the history of the football team that I hold so dear, but I held the man under the headset in very high regard.

I still do. But I admit it is getting harder and harder to defend the idea that the Georgia Bulldogs don't need a change in leadership. I'll get to why in part two of this post. But for right now it's important to recognize that many who scream for Richt's head don't remember the seasons before he brought stability and success into town. He knocked the lid off the program. And since then we've watched other programs chase dreams that, years later, they are still restlessly grasping for (read: Tennessee would love to have the Philip Fulmer decision back). And since Richt took over in 2001, things have been pretty awesome in Sanford....
Sorry Coach. Not feeling very giddy right now.

...Except for that one nagging fact that we so often catch glimpses of everything we need to see in the team. We see play calling that is exceptional and always ahead of the opponents' coordinators. We see fire and determination on the sideline and on the field. We see all three phases of the game competing at the highest possible level. It's absolutely awesome, and gives fans so much hope for the immediate future, not just the long-term.

And then we see everything we don't want to see in the team. Listlessness. Poor judgments. Out played on the field and out coached on the sideline. It absolutely sucks, and gives fans no port in the storm and grasping at desperation straws.

If there's one thing we do know, Richt will be the head coach at the University of Georgia next season. Barring something unforeseen, I don't see the Richt family picking up and moving to Lincoln. And I definitely don't see the administration stepping in and showing Richt the door the way Nebraska did.

Nor should they in my opinion. This comes down to a question of faith. The team finished the regular season 9-3. In August that would've seemed about right. Unfortunately, as mentioned above, we were given glimpses of greatness this season. And that's what makes the three losses have such a bad taste. But right now, I just have to say, I have more faith in Richt (disclaimer: with Bobo and Pruitt) going forward into the 2015 season than I do Greg McGarity finding a replacement that can build off of what's going on in Athens as of this moment.

A few years ago I had lost faith in our head coach. I'd watched him knock the lid off the program and then promptly become stagnantly stubborn. Now there's another lid on the program.Whether you like it or not, we're gonna have to wait until next season to see if Mark Richt has what it takes to knock that sumbitch off too.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Coach T's leadership

I can be happy for Joe Tereshinski, excited for a new direction with the S&C program, and sad to see the man go, all at the same time.

This picture by Kelin Johnson says it all.

Bryan Allen desperate to get off "naughty" list

But word is, Santa is too busy to give a damn about his latest lies.
"Because I never wanted to screw over Gurley. I never wanted to screw over their fans or anything like that. That was never my intention. I wish I had never even gone down there. It's not worth it."
One remaining question, is the standard rate for a piece of shit still one lump of coal? Or two?

Richt's clock management, under further review

Ok, I didn't re-watch the entire game last night. But I did subject myself to the closing seconds of regulation. A number of conflicting comments have been made about what transpired, so I cued the last minute up mostly to clear up my own understanding of everything thing that happened. But I also figured it would probably be blog-post-worthy. And I was right.

First off, the refs gave Georgia more time than was due after the pass to Conley at the two yard line was eventually ruled incomplete. That pass was ruled complete with :31 seconds left. They correctly overturned the call on the field, but reset the clock at :38 seconds. I didn't catch that in the stands Saturday. I'm sure some of you did. But it's worth noting that this error likely cost Georgia the game as much as anything. If Morgan had squibbed it with :11 seconds left instead of :18, that may have been the final play.
"Hows about I find some kind of way at the end of this game to
get you that contract extension Paul?"

Ok, maybe not. But still interesting to debate, iyam.

What's more relevant (to me at least) is something my partner Nama caught immediately when it happened - inexplicably, Richt helped Tech avoid a costly penalty and in so doing gave their kicker a chance to extend the game into overtime.

After the Conley incompletion at the two, we run Chubb for a couple yards and Tech calls their last timeout. This proved critical at the end of regulation as Justin Thomas runs out of bounds with four seconds left. Coach Johnson almost immediately decides to pull the offense and send in the kicking unit. There's some confusion initially on both sides, but Georgia is set and ready well before the Tech kicker gives a warm up kick with 16 seconds on the play clock. By the time their kicker is side stepping his mark and preparing to line it up, the play clock is down to five seconds.

Richt calls a timeout.

The ONLY reason to call a timeout in that situation is because you have more than 11 players on the field. We didn't. That kicker was 1) about to get a delay of game penalty, therefore backing the kick up five steps, or 2) about to rush his kick and most likely shank it.

I've almost finished a post on why folks need to back off the FIRE THAT GUY ledge. If I do say so myself, it's beautifully with balanced with the chief concerns I have with Richt as Georgia's head coach. The first of which may be clock management, or simply game management as a whole. It's a concern that dates back to his first season as a head coach. Between then and now there have been many games where it's not been an issue, others where the clock has been handled perfectly, and still others where you're just left dumbfounded.

Go ahead and chalk Saturday's season finale up in the last category.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Who is more dangerous?

Fans that are never satisfied (the ones never heard from until after a loss when they poke their head out from whatever hole they've been in since November 1st), or the ones that blindly support one man over the program itself (the ones that revere the Man as if he is some idol to be worshipped and never, ever, ever criticized)?

And I don't ask that as a way of opening up the door to bash Mark Richt. I'm just amazed at some of the comments I see from these factions. My advice to both groups is Get over yourself!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Second guessing below the surface

Look, I make mistakes too. So these words don't ring hollow for me.
“I should have let him kick it deep and go cover the thing and see what happened from there,” Richt said.
Well, at least not on the surface they don't ring hollow. Because the (long term) problem isn't that we lost to Tech, and it's also not that Morgan was asked to squib the last kickoff. I would expect Richt to use those words in the presser following the game.

But don't just second guess the squib kick. Second guess the idea of playing not to lose. Because that's closer to the heart of the matter. If I'm Coach Richt, there with 18 seconds left I'm seeing my players, who even though they haven't had their best game, are ready add another victory to the win column. I'm seeing one sideline across the field is deflated, and the one behind me elated. I'm seeing that I'm about to kickoff to a team whose leading kick returner has had two returns for a total of 20 yards. So in short, I'm seeing an opportunity wrap this one up with a big red bow.

But no, I am not Coach Richt and I am not sure what exactly he was seeing.

I'm not one of those that is over-reacting to the loss yesterday. Tech is a really good team, and when you give really good teams extra opportunities they are going to find a way to win.

And I'm certainly not one of those calling for a coaching change. The problems with the football program lie much higher up than the dudes that roam the sideline. We'll get into that in the coming months I'm sure.

But I am asking that we act like the goddamn University of Georgia. And not some sub-standard byproduct of its facsimile. Play to win the game each Saturday and with each snap of the ball.

As many have said, those seniors deserved a better ending. Very true. And I bet they wouldn't have chosen to give Tech the ball at their own 43 yard line, thereby breathing new life into the enemy and giving them a chance to win.

Or more directly, allowing your own team to snatch a defeat from the jaws of victory.

Sunday Thoughts on not having the balls to kick it deep

Every mistake made inside the five yard line...every fumble...every missed tackle....every failure to cover a free was all behind you. Hutson Mason had hit Malcolm Mitchell with just 18 seconds left to give you the lead...over arch rival Georgia Tech.

18 seconds. That was all that was left to erase a myriad of mental mistakes, poor blocking, poor tackling. That was all that was left to seal yet another win over the Yellow Jackets.

And you squibbed it.