Wednesday, December 31, 2008
As part of their gift package for playing in tonight's Chick-Fil-A Bowl, Georgia Tech players will receive a ring commemorating their victory over cross state rival, the University of Georgia. Keep in mind that the Yellow Jackets had not defeated the Bulldogs for seven consecutive years. They finally find a way to slip by the Dawgs 45-42 this year, and they are getting rings for the victory. For a regular season win. Are you kidding me? Are you that unaccustomed to winning, or are you that sick and tired of losing to such a superior program that you have to denote it with jewelry? To the victor belongs the spoils I suppose, but if Tech wants it that way I have a great suggestion for them, as well as for the series. Give rings to the winning team every year, compliments of the state's governor. Then let's see who gets their fingers filled the fastest. One out of eight just will not get it done for you Tech. Triple option or not, you won't be capable of putting together a winning streak against Georgia. Come to think of it, one every now and then is probably all you will be able to accomplish. So go ahead and flaunt your self imposed reward if that is what it takes for you to have your self-esteem back. Giving it to yourself is perhaps the only way you will receive it.
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Nick Collins of the Packers lays a little 'smack down' on the Giants Ahmad Bradshaw in last year's NFC title game. Notice the paint, stripes, and numbers flying off Bradshaw's helmet. Nothing like a little head-to-head competition! This shot made SI's Best Shots of the Year.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Matt Ryan was named by SI Galleries as a Breakout Star of 2008. This number three pick in the 2008 NFL draft has led his Atlanta Falcons to the playoffs with an uncharacteristically cool rookie demeanor. Joining him on this list was teammate Michael Turner. Interestingly, Alabama's Julio Jones made the list but not Georgia's sensational freshman receiver A.J. Green. How could you have one without the other? Go figure...
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Under NCAA rules, the Bowls are allowed to give individual players up to $500 in free gifts. This year, at least four bowls are giving Best Buy shopping sprees and/or gift cards. No love for Circuit City in these packages...but they can always try for a government bail-out!
Of all the assistant coaches many Georgia fans felt we could afford to lose, offensive line coach Stacy Searels was the absolute last one we wanted to lose. And we may have come closer than any of us wants to know. But Coach Mark Richt has announced that Coach Searels has turned down Auburn's flirtation and will remain with the Bulldogs. The line coach is the fourth highest paid assistant on the Dawg staff at $235,400, but that figure has been increased to a higher, not yet to be disclosed, sum in order to entice Searels to stay put. I guess Christmas came a couple of days late for the Bulldogs in regard to this news!
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Merry Christmas to everyone from An Opinion On Sports! We trust that you and yours will have a joyous holiday season. We thank all of you for dropping by this site, and we look forward to providing you with more southern perspectives on sports. Take care and God bless!
Monday, December 22, 2008
Dallas was in a must-win situation, as was Tampa Bay. Minnesota, the team the Falcons faced Sunday, was in that situation themselves. And the Falcons were do or die more so than the other three. The Cowboys fell to the Ravens on Saturday night, the Buccaneers lost to the Charges on Sunday early, and Atlanta downed The Vikings later that afternoon. The Falcons were the only team who went out and did what they needed to do to qualify for the post-season, and that is win. No backing in for these Birds, they flat out earned their ticket. The most encouraging remarks I read after the game by the Falcon players was that they aren't satisfied with just making it into the playoffs, they want more. There seems to be no complacency with this group. They realize you don't get the opportunity to walk this route always, and they want to make the best of it. They are a scrappy bunch of hard playing over-achievers, and perhaps no team in football runs the ball better than Atlanta. Their rookie quarterback, Matt Ryan, has played all year like a guy who has been in the NFL for half a decade. He is poised beyond his years. The defensive secondary has improved, but I really think they are a cornerback or two away from being a complete defensive unit. They also need more pressure up front. Nevertheless, I would not want to face Atlanta in the early rounds of the playoffs. They will be a dangerous foe early on. If they advance, pure adrenalin and desire will have to make up for some talent shortages for the run to continue. But you have to like the way this bunch of guys play as a team together. They really are all for one, and this flock is flying high!
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno have petitioned to the NFL to project where they might be selected in the upcoming NFL draft. This draft committee gives a rough estimate to the collegian as to which round he is likely to be selected in. However, the committee does not try to project the actual selection number. This process usually takes as much as two to three weeks, and then the player has until January 15 to declare for the draft. Both Stafford and Moreno have said repeatedly that they have not made a decision at this time. Both the NFL owners as well as the Player's Association would like to see some type of rookie salary cap set up. This would mean that first year NFL players would have their salaries set, thus ending monetary contract negotiations for them. Some believe that could happen as early as the 2010 draft, which could mean literally millions of dollars for guys coming into the draft this coming year. You think that won't factor in tremendously in the decisions that are made in the next three weeks? The NFL is so in love with Stafford's arm that he might not be served well with another year at Georgia, but I think Moreno has so much more to show everyone with his vast talent. If he should choose to remain a Dawg, he will play behind a stronger, more experienced offensive line. He very well could have a Heisman Trophy type year. I hope we get to see that. Anyway, January 15th is not that for away. We'll know for sure then...
For a long time, Georgia's Mark Richt was o.k. with college football's postseason bowl games. However, all that has changed with him and he is ready to see a four or eight team playoff implemented to determine college football's national champion. He believes sentiment is changing along those lines with college coaches, and even with college presidents. Perhaps they are tired of having to convince pollsters to vote for their teams when it could be decided between the chalk lines. It seems as if the vast majority of college football enthusiasts favor some type of playoff system, but for purely political reasons it just can't seem to get accomplished and become a reality. Why not establish a panel of major college colleges to review the suggestions and proposals for a playoff? Let the panel of coaches study them, break them down, debate them and select what they determine is the best system for college football. Come on guys, it isn't like you're trying to re-discover the wheel or anything. It can be done rather easily, and in a way that would actually enhance the bowls rather than hurt them. And on top of that, everyone would still get their almighty dollar, and probably more than what is being raked in now. And that is already a ton! Stop all the talk. Just get it done.
Chick-fil-A will once again host college football's equivalent of the Daytona 500 when they match Alabama versus Virginia Tech in the 2009 Kickoff Classic. The second annual event will be played on September 5, 2009 in the Georgia Dome. Last year Alabama upset Clemson in the inaugural Kickoff Classic. Clemson was never the team preseason pundits expected them to be after that devastating loss, and Alabama never looked back. Georgia Bulldog backers are not necessarily enthused about the Crimson Tide appearing in this game again. It is a belief held by many that 'Bama gets tremendous exposure and leverage with high school recruits in the state of Georgia by appearing in such a high profiled game played in this state. It will be interesting to see if the SEC representative to this season opener begins to rotate around the conference as the annual series continues.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The Green Bay Packers announced today that they have signed former Washington Redskin's punter Durant Brooks to their practice squad. Brooks, who is coming off of a hip injury, will battle current Packer punter Jeremy Kapinos for the starting job next season. It is ironic that Durant finds himself in Green Bay, the same team that signed Derrick Frost, the punter he beat out for the Redskin punting duties earlier this year. Frost lost the Packer job to Kapinos. Durant never got a fair shake in Washington, a mistake the 'Skins will dread tremendously because the talented punter will be in the NFL Pro Bowl one day. Brooks was a sixth round selection in the 2008 draft out of Georgia Tech.
The Atlanta Falcons do not control their own destiny as far as reaching the playoffs is concerned. They are in a dead heat with Dallas and Tampa Bay for the two wild card playoff berths, and the tiebreak scenarios do not favor Atlanta. Even if the 9-5 Falcons run the table in their final two games to finish at 11-5, they would still need either the Cowboys or Buccaneers to lose in order to play in the post-season. Dallas has Baltimore at home and finishes with a road game at Philadelphia. Tampa has two home games left against San Diego and Oakland. Dallas has two tough tests perhaps, but the Bucs only worry will be the Chargers. The Falcons travel to Minnesota Sunday, then finish at home against St. Louis. I could see either (or both) of the 'Boys and Bucs losing, but the Vikes at home won't be a shoe-in for the Birds either. But here's betting that if Atlanta wins out, they'll make the playoffs. If not, it sure would be a waste to leave an eleven win team at home during the post-season. Especially if it turns out to be the Falcons!
Tiger Woods' caddie, Steve Williams, called golfer Phil Mickelson a "prick". He also said the two pros 'don't get along', and he took a shot at Phil's weight. Woods was said to have been disappointed in his caddie, and he released a statement saying that the matter had been "discussed and dealt with". Mickelson's side referred to Williams' remarks as inaccurate and irresponsible. That's a good way to keep the PGA's 'down time' interesting. Everyone has always wondered about the Mickelson/Woods competitive relationship, and this little bit of 'charity event chatter' just adds more speculation to it. But if I were Phil, I wouldn't lose too much sleep over what Steve Williams said about me. Not some guy who has already thrown a photographer's $7,000 camera into a lake, wrestled another one away from an off-duty police officer, and has been fined on several occasions by the PGA for inappropriate attire. With these latest remarks, along with these past actions, I don't consider Mr. Williams character in line with that of the game he represents.
The Atlanta Braves might possibly announce today that former shortstop Rafael Furcal is returning to his former team. This announcement is pending Furcal's passing a physical examination. His previous stint with the Braves was six seasons. With the multi-talented Yunel Escobar already penciled in at the shortstop position, Atlanta could move Furcal to second base to shore up that side of the infield, or possibly dangle Escobar as an integral part of a trade for pitching ace Jake Peavy. Here's hoping Escobar stays with Atlanta. I think we've only seen hints of how good this kid can really be. Chipper, Escobar, and Furcal in the same infield sounds pretty impressive to me.
Back in Time: December 15, 1982, Alabama's Paul "Bear" Bryant retires from coaching. After 15 years of leading the Tide, Bryant departed with a record of 232-46-9, and nine National Championships. It has taken the Alabama faithful 26 years to finally accept his departure, due only to the success of the 2008 squad. At least they are ahead of the Elvis fans, who still haven't accepted the King's death!
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I know this has nothing to do with sports. Quite frankly, I don't want it to. This is bigger than anything going on in the world of sports. This is us. This is country. This is real. This is heavy. One man cares enough to make sure every grave at Arlington National Cemetery has its own wreath at Christmas. At no expense to anyone but himself. He feels the price has already been paid. And it has been paid by those who occupy those many grave sites at our National Cemetery. What a story. I encourage you to research it yourself. You'll be blessed. I promise you will. If you only take the time to read one post on An Opinion On Sports, I hope this one could be it. May God bless you and yours during this joyous season, may God bless all of those who make this wreath project possible, and may God bless America. Merry Christmas everyone!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
Three of the nation's top collegiate quarterbacks are the finalists for this year's Heisman Trophy. They are Tim Tebow of Florida, Colt McCoy of Texas, and Sam Bradford of Oklahoma. The last time all finalists were quarterbacks was 2001. Tebow, of course, was last year's recipient. He and Bradford will square off not only Saturday night for this award, but also in the National Championship game, a game McCoy and his Longhorns feel they should be a part of. An Opinion On Sports casts its ballot for the Sooners' Mr. Bradford. You didn't really think this Dawg blog could endorse the Gator did you?
On December 11, 1959, the New York Yankees acquired right fielder Roger Maris in a trade with the Kansas City Royals. Maris(L), shown here with Mickey Mantle, came to the Yankees much cheaper than did C.C. Sabathia yesterday! In fact, the Yankees only gave up four players to get three, including Roger.
Whoa, Big John! What did that Aussie tree ever do to you? Ho hum, Daly's at it again. On his last hole of yesterday's Australian Open golf tournament, John Daly threw a spectator's camera into a tree after the spectator, Brad Clegg (above), snapped a shot at close range to the hefty golfer. In fairness to Daly, Clegg admitted to seeing the "No Camera" signs on the course. The golfer had gone to play his stray tee shot in the trees when the incident happened. He finished his round with a "smashing" 78!
Georgia's embattled defensive coordinator Willie Martinez says he almost departed the Bulldogs to join Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio, a long-time friend. This was five years ago when Dantonio was at Cincinnati and Martinez was Georgia's defensive backs coach. The Georgia coordinator not only admits he came close to leaving then, but that he's had other opportunities to leave Athens since that time that were even more difficult to turn down. Really, now. Wow. Just think, Dawg Nation, Willie could be standing on that Spartan sideline at the Capital One Bowl facing the Bulldogs. What a shadow fate can cast...
The mighty Yankees have struck again. Have pen, will write big check! Free Agent C.C Sabathia signed with the New York Yankees yesterday for $161 million over seven years. The largest contract ever awarded to a starting pitcher (you know, they don't play everyday!), and the fourth largest contract in Major League Baseball history. There's no recession is the 'Big Leagues' baby! Perhaps the big three auto makers should have gone to MLB for their bail-out request instead of Congress. At least he Yanks have money to burn. One aspect of this contract that I found interesting was that Sabathia has an 'opt-out' clause after three years. This means that at the three year mark he will have the option of remaining with New York or signing with another team. In other words, he can be a free agent again at that point, giving him a shorter stint with the Yankees if he finds his stay there not as burgeoning as his bank account. That sounds like to me that he really would have preferred signing with another club now, but that almighty dollar was tugging him harder that a new jock strap. That's because his next closest deal was by the Brewers for only $100 million over five years. Incidentally, the Yankees initial offer was for $140 million. So you bump your own offer $21 million when you're the lead dog anyway? Go figure... I guess MLB is really just "the Yankees' World", and all the other clubs are just livin' in it!
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
A throng of Auburn University students and alumni marched across campus to the president's mansion (see above) to protest the handling of the Tommy Tubberville situation. They sang the school's fight song, at least those who could remember it did, and chanted we want "Tubs"! Also, in a related manner, two wives of AU assistant coaches call out the university on the issue, one even going as far as to accuse 'Bama's Nick Saban of paying recruits. Have you ever...? The Tide and the Tigers are at it again! It's a shame they both can't lose in this thing! Or can they...
O.K., I'll go along with Florida versus Oklahoma for the National Championship. There is still reasonable debate on that point, but they just very well might be the two best teams in college football. It should really be a game to look forward to. But after that, oh brother! For example, if the Gators and the Sooners are one and two, then Texas and Alabama have to be three and four (which they are in the BCS). Why not pit those two teams in another terrific match-up in a particular bowl. Any bowl for crying out loud. Have a pecking order that rotates each year. If we're never going to have a playoff, at least get some great games lined up in the bowls. And for goodness sake, put an end to the conference tie-ups and affiliations with certain bowls. I can't imagine the Orange Bowl being ecstatic about having Virginia Tech playing Cincinnati. But being locked in with the fabulous Atlantic Coast Conference, they are stuck with a FOUR loss conference champ Vaaaa Tech. The grand ole Orange Bowl with a four loss team...mercy! I would have figured that four loss teams would play in something like the GM/Ford/Chrysler Bail-Out Bowl, but not one of the "Grandaddys". Is Ole Miss the best the Cotton Bowl could come up to face explosive Texas Tech? And does Southern Cal have to play in the Rose Bowl practically every year? And always against the Big Ten? That venue would sell out every year with any great match-up from any section of the country. Put the football in it, and get the politics out of it. Everyone will make their millions anyway, so why not appease the fans? At least get the top ten or twelve teams interestingly competing in the top five or six bowls. If that got accomplished, I'll ventue to say more of the 'other' bowls would have better pairings. But what we have is what we will continue to have because the 'need for greed' is far too great.
Monday, December 8, 2008
The Georgia Bulldogs will meet the Michigan State Spartans on New Years Day in the newest edition of the Capital One Bowl. Bowl officials selected Georgia over Ole Miss, and Michigan State over Northwestern and Iowa. It will be a match-up of the Southeastern Conference against the Big Ten Conference. Both the Bulldogs as well as the Spartans are 9-3. The two teams last met in the Gator Bowl on January 1, 1989, in a game Georgia faithful remember as Vince Dooley's last game as Bulldog head coach. The Dawgs defeated the Spartans 34-27. This year's game will feature two of the country's premier running backs in State's Javon Ringer and Georgia's Knowshon Moreno. The Capital One Bowl has the largest payout of any non-BCS bowl at $4.75 million per team. After finishing last season at 7-6, Michigan State looks at the Capital One Bowl as a step forward in their rebuilding process. As for Georgia, after going into this season with visions of playing in the National Championship game, this invitation might seem somewhat of a letdown. However, if I were the Bulldogs, I would be elated to be going to the Capital One Bowl after the way they played the second half of the year. That is the reason the bowl looked so hard at Ole Miss, because they finished the season so much stronger than did Georgia. With that said, it will be interesting to see if Mark Richt can have his troops regrouped and playing more aggressively and with more discipline by New Years Day.
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The SEC championship game did not disappoint us. By far, the two best teams in the SEC, as well as, two of the best teams in the country, squared off and punched and counter-punched all night. The outcome was not determined until very late in the fourth quarter, and the game was much closer than the eleven point margin of victory. It was great to see two teams so well prepared, so well coached, and so disciplined show up and perform in one of the nation's most anticipated match-ups of the entire college football season. The level of intensity and desire to win was evident with both teams. The SEC was very well represented and showcased Saturday afternoon. I get tired of the media's hallowed admiration of Florida's Tim Tebow, but I must admit, there is not a better leader of a team in the nation than is he. Tebow simply would not let his team be defeated. On the other sideline, no one expected Nick Saban to have the Crimson Tide playing at this level in only his second year at Alabama. They just picked the absolute worst time to suffer their first loss of the season. One would have to admit that below these two top-notched programs, the level of play in the SEC dropped off considerably this year. Alabama and Florida are just that much better than everyone else in the conference. I know that Georgia lost to both of these teams during the regular season, and they would have lost to either of them yesterday as well. The Gators and Tide have raised the bar to a new level, and Georgia, Tennessee, LSU, Auburn and everyone else must improved tremendously to compete at that same level.
Friday, December 5, 2008
Judge Jackie Glass did today in Nevada what college and professional football defenses were not able to do very often, and that is stop O.J. Simpson. After imposing such a varied series of concurrent and consecutive sentences that even lawyers had difficulty breaking it down, it has finally been deduced that the earliest Mr. Simpson could be released from jail would be after his 70th birthday. He is 61 years old now. Judge Glass, known for a no-nonsense approach, as well as for dishing out tough sentences, was strictly business today. She began the day by denying Simpson the privilege of wearing street clothes to the sentencing, and ended it by denying him bond pending an appeal. These two denials meant that O.J. Simpson exited the courtroom in shackles and a blue jumpsuit and headed directly to prison. Do not pass 'GO', do not collect $200. Simpson had been convicted on October 3rd of 12 criminal charges, including kidnapping and armed robbery.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Caution. Beware. Proceed Slowly. The football coaching profession in the Southeastern Conference can get nasty in a hurry. In a 'New York Minute' as we say in the South. Cases in point: Tommy Tubberville has a very commendable ten year track record at Auburn University, goes 7-3 against cross state rival Alabama, and is only four years removed from an undefeated season. One down year and GONE. Phillip Fulmer goes to the SEC Championship game exactly one year ago. One down year and GONE. Charlie Weiss posts Notre Dame's worst record in forever, preceded by less than spectacular years. Several down years and NOT GONE. Sylvester Croome does a commendable job at arguably the hardest place to win in the SEC. GONE. Les Miles, you had a down year. CAUTION. Mark Richt, your program came up short of expectations. CAUTION. The coaching life span in the SEC is getting shorter than a Brett Favre retirement. If you don't believe that, consider that Mark Richt is now the dean of the conference's coaches at their present school. This is the end of his eight campaign. Now don't get me wrong, I'm certainly not jumping on the Tubberville-Fulmer-Croome bandwagons. All of my SEC concerns begin and end in Athens, Georgia. However, I did believe that Tommy especially would weather this insanity storm. He has been through all of this before at AU. He would have had the 'ole War Eagle flying straight by this time next year. I don't really think Saban would have hung six more in a row on Tubs. No way. Now you've got to start all over with a new guy. Recover recruiting, get new coaches, learn a new system. Wow, that's a load. But don't bother calling Tommy back now to admit you made a gigantic mistake. He's already deposited the first of two installments from that gigantic payoff you had to come up with. He says he's going to hang around Auburn for awhile. Will that be like having an ex-spouse move in next door to you? Some shadow he'll be casting over the sleepy little town on the Plains! I wouldn't think it's a cost of living issue with him; he can live in a lot of better places than Auburn, Alabama (you've seen one trailer park, you've seen 'em all!) with that lottery ticket he just hit. But that's life in the vicious SEC. You can't win it all every year, but you sure better stay competitive and win the ones you're supposed to when you're supposed to. And that ain't that easy in that conference. Just proceed with caution, there's a big financial booster lurking behind every loss.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
The Birmingham News is reporting that Auburn has fired Head Coach Tommy Tubberville. The Tigers finished the season with a 5-7 record, the worst in Tubberville's ten year run on The Plains. He led Auburn to an undefeated season only four years ago, and had won six straight games against bitter rival Alabama before this year's Crimson Tide 36-0 thrashing. Coach 'Tubs' was 85-49 overall, was Auburn's fourth longest tenured coach, and was fourth in wins all-time. According to the terms of his contract, Auburn must pay him $3 million in 30 days, and another $3 million within one year. Along with Phil Fulmer, Tubberville is proof that when the powerful, influential, big contributing alumni and boosters want you out, you're out. Huge contract settlements are no deterrent to your ouster. It's just a matter of what have you done lately. It does not matter if you're Les Miles, Urban Meyer, Nick Saban, or Mark Richt, if and when you fail to bring home a trophy in a matter of a few years, you're history. They can stick a fork in you, 'cause you're done. You let Mark Richt's troops continue to play 'soft' and settle into a state of mediocrity over a couple more seasons, and he will be out at Georgia just as quick as Phil and Tommy. It's the nature of the game. It's a big money game, and where the stakes are high, the risks are just as high as well. Back to Auburn, I don't think they would have kicked Tubberville out this year unless that had very good reason to believe that Texas Tech's Mike Leach would take that vacated seat. Just a gut feeling...Anyway, good luck Tommy Tubberville. You and Fulmer keep rolling those sevens. And don't get rid of your agents, they gotta be two of the best in the business with those payouts they set up for you two!
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Mike Hampton reportedly will become a member of the Houston Astros this Wednesday. If he follows his normal progression of the past six-plus seasons, he will become a member of the Astros injured reserve in early to mid 2009. Hampton was paid $48.5 million over six seasons, while starting a booming 85 games for the Braves and recording a whopping 35-24 record with a voluminous 4.10 ERA. Allow me to break it on down for you: That comes out to $570,000 per start, $1.39 million per victory, and $95,160 per inning. He did manage to start 13 games for the Braves last season, going 3-4 with a 4.85 ERA. This did include eight quality starts with only a 3.72 ERA in his last nine games. So now he's out of Atlanta and that shouldn't cause anyone any concern over a guy you couldn't count on to make his scheduled starts anyway. Right? Not quite, and here's why: The Braves actually offered Hampton more than Houston did, and now that he is finally, supposedly healthy, he bolts the Braves. Come on 'Mash Unit Mike', give Atlanta at least a chance to make back some of that rotten investment. Professional athletes always talk about the lack of loyalty from ownership. That's probably true, but that street runs both ways boys. Go ahead Hampton, and carry your injury-proned rear end to Houston. Good luck passing that Tuesday physical exam. It will be the first one you will have been able to pass in many off-seasons. Mike Hampton, you're already forgotten in Atlanta. After all, we hardly even knew you!
Monday, December 1, 2008
Plaxico, rule number one is if you're gonna own a firearm, know how to use it. Rule number one enables you not to break rule number two, which is never shoot your own stupid self. Rule number three says possess the firearm in a state/city where it is permissible, New York City not being one of those locales. As a matter of fact the Big Apple carries a MANDATORY three-and -half-year jail sentence for unpermitted and concealed firearms. Wow! Since you don't seem to enjoy practicing with Eli, perhaps you and Mike Vick can toss it around the pen together! You two must really be afraid of heights, because once both of you got to the top, ya'll dropped like the Dow Jones. Ole Gump's mom was right, "Stupid is as Stupid does"! And this guy you are definitely not:
Sunday, November 30, 2008
To the victor belong the spoils. Tear off all the hedge clippings you want. You defeated an under-achieving, undisciplined, poorly coached Red clad football team. Believe me, as a long-time, traditional Georgia fan, a loss to Tech always is the worse. And it feels much worse than the three point margin, I assure you. But to be very honest, I was not caught off guard on this one. The Bulldogs have digressed as a football team this year and I really didn't think that was going to change Saturday. It did not. The 9-3 record that Georgia now sports is no indication of the caliber of this team whatsoever. We are not as good as 9-3 would lead one to believe. The Dawgs do not play very good fundamental football. They do not play with any sense of urgency, thus the absence of anything resembling a 'killer instinct'. They routinely hurt themselves ,while aiding their opponents, with missed assignments, penalties, and turnovers. They always seem to 'play down' to an inferior opponent, but seldom 'play up' to an equal or superior opponent. Georgia has games, and several times this season, halves ,when they just fail to show up and play. It's problematic across the board, but primarily on defense and special teams. The Bulldogs have to be the worst kick return and kick coverage teams in the entire country. They have to be one of the worst tackling teams in the country. These deficiencies have been recurrences over several weeks. They have not been 'fixed' or even improved upon as the weeks and games have gone by. Georgia has settled into a style of play that is very alarming if you are a Bulldog fan. We have a man who is paid upwards of $2 million dollars per year to diagnose and then nurture this program back to health. Get to work Dr. Richt. You've got one hell of an off-season ahead of you.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
It's Gameday in the 'Classic City'. Georgia versus Georgia Tech. And it's a very wet Gameday. It's often said in football that bad weather conditions favor the underdog. Only trouble with that is, this game is rated a virtual toss-up. I would think the rainy day would tend to help the Jackets because of their ground attack, except for the fact that handling the triple option with a slippery football can't be conducive to extended success. There are just too many tosses to trailing backs in that option set. Not to mention the fact that Tech is prone to putting it on the ground anyway. But from a Georgia offensive perspective, quarterback Matthew Stafford and his corp of receivers can't be overjoyed with a forecast of steady rain. With all of that said, it is entirely possible that the weather will do what the defenses are so concerned about being able to do: Stop the opposing offense. Now it becomes a game of turnovers; who will commit the least, and who will be able to take advantage of them the most. Special teams will come into play in a significant way, because field position will be especially important. But isn't it important in every game? Who knows, a punter and/or a kicker might turn out to the the hero of the game. Or the 'goat'. But the bottom line is that it's still football, and it's raining on both sides of the line of scrimmage. May the team wearing the 'Red and Black' reign victorious!
Friday, November 28, 2008
When Georgia plays Georgia Tech tomorrow in Athens, it will have been an incredible 42 days since the Bulldogs last played at home "Between the Hedges" in beautiful Sanford Stadium. That is the longest 'away' streak for any major college football team in the country this year. There was much talk about how tough Georgia's schedule was before the season started, but that conjecture centered around the Bulldog's opponents, not necessarily where the game was to be played. Now looking back at who the Dawgs played, where they played them, and when they played them, it 's pretty impressive that our record stands at 9-2 with one to play. For example, I wondered early on how the late return from Arizona State would affect our preparation for Alabama. You know the result of the 'Bama game. I also pondered how Georgia would get "up" for Florida in Jacksonville after just returning from the hostile environment of LSU's Death Valley. You know the result of the Florida game. On the other hand, I have contemplated how the off week before Tech might aid the Bulldogs in getting prepared for the much ballyhooed triple option offense of the Yellow Jackets. No, you do not know the result of the Tech game...yet.
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who stops by An Opinion On Sports from time to time! One of my annual Thanksgiving rituals has been to read Furman Bisher's column on this day each year in the Atlanta Constitution and see just what it is that he's thankful for. Try it yourself this year and then take a moment to realize all the things you have to be thankful for. Even for most of us on this Thanksgiving as we gather with family and friends, our cups truly do runneth over. But at the same time, we should always be mindful of those who will go without. May God bless those people, as well as each of you and yours.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
After hearing about all the negative things that seem to surround many professional athletes, it's kind of nice to be reminded of all the good things a lot of them do. SI Galleries has a great section on the charities that the Pros are involved in. The one pictured above is called PeyBack Foundation, which focuses on disadvantaged and at-risk youth. I'm somewhat partial to Kyle Petty's Victory Junction because I was in Atlanta once when the 'Charity Ride Across America' came through there. I learned all about this charity, and saw how all those bikers were really 'sold-out' for that cause. Kyle himself was very accommodating, even willing to stop for a photo with my wife. The SI Vault highlights more than a dozen charities, with names such as Tiger Woods, Brett Favre, Derek Jeter and Warrick Dunn. Check it out. You'll be impressed!
Monday, November 24, 2008
General Motors has announced that it will end its endorsement package with golfer Tiger Woods at the conclusion of 2008. Woods has represented GM, and more specifically Buick, for the past nine years. General Motors claims these separation talks have been ongoing for most of the year, and are not related to the car maker's recent loan request from the federal government. They further state that this agreement is two-fold: Tiger wants more time to spend with his expanding family. and GM wants to cut costs. Yea right General Motors. The real deal is you need the money you're paying Tiger (which was too much to begin with), and you need the money you're seeking from Uncle Sam. This move would have to be considered a positive one in the eyes of the government committee. Now all you have to do is get rid of those corporate jets and all of those inflated management salaries. Good luck...
Sunday, November 23, 2008
We are less than a week away. Saturday, 'high noon', in Athens town. The Bulldogs versus the Yellow Jackets. Georgia going for their eighth consecutive victory over Georgia Tech. Mark Richt has never lost to the pesky insects from Atlanta. However, Paul Johnson's triple option offense is cookin'. Georgia's defense is not. The Jackets are hungry for victory "Between the Hedges". The Dawgs have not played 'hungry' in quite some time now. Tech is a better team than the one that started the season. Georgia is not a better all-around team than the one that started the season. Tech is a disciplined team. Georgia is out of control. Based on the two teams last two games, if Tech plays Georgia like they did Miami, they will win. If Georgia plays Tech like they did Auburn, they will lose. But always remember: "If 'ifs and buts' were candy and nuts, what a Merry Christmas it would be". Go Dawgs!
Friday, November 21, 2008
As an avid Georgia fan, I must pause and give Georgia Tech their due and congratulate them on a very impressive 41-23 thrashing of the Miami Hurricanes Thursday night (You know those Jackets like those Thursday night tilts!). Even though in my heart of hearts I would have much preferred to see the 'Canes prevail, I do think it was best for Georgia that Tech won this contest. Now they will come to Athens next week so confident and full of themselves they they will almost be foolishly cocky. And on the flip side, the Bulldogs got to see first hand how impressive the triple option offense can be when run so well. And the Bees did run it exceptionally well last night. With that in mind, now Georgia knows they cannot take Tech lightly. 472 rushing yards is no fluke, and while Miami isn't Alabama, they aren't Susie Dasher Elementary either. Tech raised Georgia's sense of urgency a lot last night. It will take a supreme defensive effort for the Dawgs to slow up Tech's offense. They will have to play the option better than they did against Georgia Southern and Kentucky, and neither of those teams runs it as efficiently as does Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets. Georgia must play disciplined, assignment football, they must tackle well, and they cannot commit penalties to help Tech sustain drives. These are all things Mark Richt's Bulldogs have not done a good job of in any recent games. Having said all of that, I do anticipate Georgia playing very well in their first game back "Between the Hedges" in more that four weeks! Tech will not have it so easy next Saturday as they did on 'Amateur Night' in Atlanta. I do not anticipate ever offering congratulations to a Georgia Tech football team again. I certainly have not enjoyed trying to be so 'politically correct' with them today. Perhaps last night will be end up being their final victory of the 2008 season. Now that feels much better. Go Dawgs, WRECK TECH!
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
It has already been determined that the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Florida Gators will face off in this year's SEC Championship Game. There is no doubt that this year the two best teams in the conference will indeed play for the title. Heck, they might even be the two best teams in the country for that matter. Alabama is already ranked number one, and Florida is sitting in the third spot of the AP poll. If Oklahoma were to defeat Texas Tech this week, the Tide and the Gators could come to Atlanta ranked 1 and 2 in the nation. Wow, the conference would have the entire college football country in the palm of its hand. Barring any regular season upsets for the two teams, the winner in Atlanta will definitely play for the National Championship. Maybe you can spell it without SEC, but you sure can't play for it without the SEC! You'll read much more about this game between now and December 6, both here and everywhere else. Stay tuned...
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
The title "Head Coach-In-Waiting" is gaining popularity around the college football ranks. Florida State has one, as does Kentucky ( now why would anyone hang around and wait for the Kentucky job to come open?). And now the University of Texas has one. Will Muschamp, arguably the most sought after assistant coach in Division 1 football, will apparently continue to be the Longhorn's defensive coordinator until Head Coach Mack Brown decides to ride off into the Texas sunset. Although Muschamp has only been on the scene one year, Texas has cloned him their chosen one for the future. He also gets a raise which doubles his current salary to $900,000 per year. Muschamp feels he isn't ready to be a head coach yet, and he's content to learn all he can from Brown while he's there. He also believes being the head football coach at the University of Texas is the ultimate job for him. Mack Brown is 57 years old, which is still considered young in the coaching profession. Texas wants him around a lot longer, and he wants to coach a lot longer. He has eight years remaining on his current contract. The Longhorns feel this announcement makes that transition day so much less traumatic for its program. They will not have to deal with such issues as speculation, rumors, coaching searches, nor recruiting problems. Since they feel Muschamp is their man, the speculation that he was receiving interest from Tennessee, Clemson and Washington might have stepped up this announcement. My only question is, how long is an assistant willing to remain an assistant when he realizes 'his time' might already be there? If Mack Brown finishes out his contract with Texas, will Muschamp remain content as an assistant for the next eight years? One would expect that a lot of really good jobs at some top universities will open up between now and the next eight years. Even now, being named the head coach of the Tennessee Volunteers would not be that much below Texas. Clemson would not be paying "chump change" either. And oh yea, what if Auburn is really fed up with Tommy Tubberville this time, there aren't many coaches who would turn down that job on the Plains and a chance to compete in the SEC. But on the other hand, I'm sure Will Muschamp knows all of this, having played at Georgia and coached at Auburn. Perhaps this "tie-up" would be easier to understand if he wasn't so sought after, or even if there was a specific date out there that he would assume control. Good luck, Will, in staying the course!
Football teams have rituals that they go through before games. At Clemson, all the players touch "Howard's Rock". At Notre Dame, players touch a sign that reads "Play Like Champions Today". At Georgia, all the players touch the huge cement Bulldog just before they run out onto the Sanford Stadium turf. The traditional nuances run on and on, but I think you get the drift here. I have a great idea for a potential motivational sign for the football coaching staff at Georgia. They could have this sign in all their offices and meeting rooms for the next nine months in hopes of never letting this be true of them again:
* "Never has so little been accomplished by so few with so much" *
Fox Sports has announced that it is pulling out of further negotiations for the rights to telecast college football's BCS Championship bowl games. Fox's current deal for the BCS games ends in 2009. The price tag for this four year package was $82.5 million. Fox's new bid was also at four years but with a higher commitment of $100 million per year. ESPN was leading the pack with a four year bid of $125 million annually. Wow, that's $100 million left on the table over the life of the contract. Fox officials felt that they made a very competitive offer, and they even took a not so subtle shot at ESPN and the BCS by saying that the BCS officials and university presidents "decided to take their jewel events to pay television". At this point, no agreement has been signed by ESPN and the BCS.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
I've heard it said before after a really good, hard-fought game that neither team deserved to lose. Well after the Georgia - Auburn game today, all I can say is that neither team deserved to win. Even though Georgia prevailed 17-13 and 'improved' (?) to 9-2, it was one of the 'worst' victories I can remember in a long time. Again for the second week in a row, the Bulldogs managed to hang on at the very end to defeat another lesser opponent they should have dominated by at least 21 points. Auburn is not a very good football team, and Georgia seems to deteriorate weekly right before our eyes. The Dawgs lack discipline, and they don't play with the intense fire that fuels motivation. They don't appear to be fundamentally sound, and here we are in the 11th week of the season. There is an off-week for Georgia before they face in-state rival Georgia Tech in Athens (by the way we've played, we had several off-weeks lately). Maybe, just maybe, Mark Richt's troops can hang in there one more time this year. However, with the consistent downward trend of quality football (or lack thereof), played by Georgia over the last several weeks, the Jackets might be the ones to make the Bulldogs 'pay for poor play'. It really hurts this die-hard Dawg fan to realize that...
Friday, November 14, 2008
Brett Favre led his New York Jets to a 34-31 overtime win against the New England Patriots Thursday night in Foxboro. The victory improved the Jets record to 7-3 on the season, and propelled them to first place in the AFC Eastern division for the first time since November of 2001. Favre was 26 of 33 for 258 yards. He threw for two touchdowns, with a very surprising zero interceptions.
Thursday, November 13, 2008
As Georgia prepares to face its oldest rival, the Auburn Tigers, Mark Richt said this week that he and Tommy Tubberville are "buddies". Hey wait a minute, there are no "buddies" where SEC football is concerned. Richt just better kick his "buddy's" butt all over the Plains this Saturday. All of a sudden, this doesn't sound so warm and fuzzy to me. I say: "Track 'em Dawgs, just like Beagles. Straight to hell you damn War Eagles!"
Brian McCann won his second National League Silver Slugger Award today. The award goes to the top hitter at each position in his league. There should have been two handed out to Braves players, but David Wright of the Mets won the award for third basemen even though Chipper Jones led the entire league in hitting. In addition to the two Silver Sluggers, McCann is a three time NL All Star. This off-season he is working towards improving defensively as the Braves full time catcher. He has already dropped about 15 pounds in hopes of taking some of the stress and strain off of his knees by avoiding cheese burgers, lifting weights and even jogging. Last season he played in a career high 145 games with 573 plate appearances. McCann will turn 25 in February. Remember back in July I told you he was the real deal. Well, suffice it to say he is, and he's really just getting started!
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Mike Smith is a no frills kind of guy. Strictly business. Punch the clock, do your job. Work hard, but have fun playing the game. Keep it simple, 'cause it ain't rocket science. When everyone tried to build up the Falcons' game with Green Bay on the infamous "Frozen Tundra", Smith was quick to point out that it was 100 yards long and 53.5 yards wide just like every other football field. Don't make a big deal out of something that's no big deal. Just play hard, have fun, and win. And yes , Atlanta defeated the 'Favreless Pack' on that historic field! "Smitty" is a hands-on football coach. That's what you sometimes get from a life long assistant coach (if you're lucky). He's not an observer at games nor practice. He is definitely a participant, and the players have bought in to his blue collar approach. Falcon followers are no longer talking about dog fighting and prison terms, they're talking about playoff possibilities and the solid football being played by this edition of their Atlanta Falcons. There's definitely a new Sheriff in town, and he's got both barrels blazing. He's doing the leading, so you better follow or get the heck out of the way!