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!
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Georgia's offensive line is like a Timex watch. It takes a licking, but keeps on ticking. At the beginning of this season, Georgia had a total of 13 scholarship offensive linemen. As they prepare for this weeks game against Auburn, that number has dwindled to 7. And talk about a youth movement, that group starts 3 freshmen and 2 sophomores. Saturday's quintet will be the Bulldogs fifth different alignment this season. And they know all about cross training, as all of them have played at least two different line positions. Even with all this going on, Georgia still has managed to lead the SEC in total offense. That's really mind boggling when you stop to think that offensively everything starts up front. And with very little, if any, continuity that fact is even harder to believe. That is a credit to the "remaining" guys' toughness, Coach Stacy Searles ability to restructure and adapt, and the outright talent of Georgia's offensive skill position players. Incidentally, Freshman center Ben Jones was just named SEC offensive lineman of the week in recognition of his efforts in the Dawgs victory over Kentucky. It is certainly no startling revelation that Coach Richt and staff must make signing offensive lineman a high priority each recruiting season so that, at some point, wholesale rebuilding will not be a necessity. It goes without saying that it will be much better to 'reload' as opposed to 'rebuild'. But we're a long way from 'reloading', so we just have to keep 'revamping' in order to get through the remainder of this season successfully.
Monday, November 10, 2008
It's already started. Perhaps it's too early, but it's already started. Falcon's fans, as well as some Falcons themselves, are talking about the 'Birds' being in the playoffs. Atlanta is now 6-3 after Sunday's 34-20 thrashing of their division rivals, the New Orleans Saints. There are still seven games left on the schedule, and I would have to say the playoff jabber is a little premature. The Falcons are playing well though. Rookie quarterback Matt Ryan seems very steady as a first year starter in the NFL. He might not be flashy, but he's getting the job done and not making those typical rookie mistakes to cost his team. The running game is very strong with the combo of Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood. The defense is aggressive, and the team seems to be thriving in their new-found success. If they prove to be the kind of team that can improve week to week without suffering significant injuries, they just might be found when the playoffs roll around. But the division is competitive, and Atlanta isn't even leading it at this point. For the time being, I would think focusing on the task at hand, the Denver Broncos, would be the wise thing to do.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
How's this for a Saturday night on the job? 40 of 50 for 456 yards and six touchdowns with zero interceptions. These were Graham Harrell's stats after his Red Raiders crushed Oklahoma State 56-20 to improve to 10-0 on the season. Number 2 ranked Texas Tech also owns the nation's longest winning streak of 12 consecutive victories. They will have this week off before facing the nation's number 6th ranked team, Oklahoma, in Norman in two weeks. The Red Raiders are definitely one of the best teams in the country. They are exciting to watch, and the kind of numbers they are putting up are the kind that jump off the page at you. Graham Harrell has to be the front-runner for the Heisman Trophy based on pure statistics, value to his team, and overall success of this team. There's no way Florida's Tim Tebow should be projected ahead of this kid. And who knows, it's possible they could face off against each other in a BCS Bowl. Perhaps even the BCS Championship game. Now that would be one for the ages...
Saturday, November 8, 2008
A win is a win is a win. And pretty doesn't have to figure into the final score. That's a relief, 'cause pretty wasn't around Saturday afternoon in Lexington where Georgia defeated Kentucky in an exciting manner 42-38. What you see from Georgia now is about what you're going to get from here on out this season. Everyone will be in the game against us. If our opponent isn't as good as us don't worry, we'll play down to their competition level. We won't embarrass them or blow them out because even though we can score, we probably will not hinder their scoring efforts when we need to either. And there is a good chance we'll keep them in the game by committing a crucial penalty or turnover, or by making a special teams blunder. We at least showed some resiliency against the Wildcats. We came from behind. We made big plays. We were competitive. We survived victoriously to play another day, and this time it will be on the road yet again against Auburn. I just hope we compete again and win again. And then rest for two weeks and 'Wreck Tech'. 10 and 2 sounds better every week...
Friday, November 7, 2008
The Los Angeles Dodges made the initial offer in the Manny Ramirez sweepstakes with a reported deal of two years at $50 million, or three years at $75 million. Either would be the second highest average annual salary in baseball behind the Yankees Alex Rodriquez. Ramirez, who is 36 years old, and his agent Scott Boras, are said to be seeking a longer term deal that would perhaps carry Manny into his early 40's. Don't expect this to be settled anytime soon. Manny wants to test the free agent waters and see just what figure other owners place on his value, or more specifically what other owners are willing to pay for his services. I think I would have to put a "disenchanted clause" in his contract if I was an owner. It's pretty hard for Manny to stay content in one place over a long haul, and I sure would hate to be paying him monster bucks when he decided to quit running out ground balls again (right Boston?). But I guess that too is just "Manny being Manny", as they say (right Manny?).
Thursday, November 6, 2008
On Wednesday, Greg Maddux won his record setting 18th Gold Glove Award. There were also five first time winners in the National League. The 42 year old Maddux has won the NL award for pitchers every year since 1990 except for 2003, when Mike Hampton won the award. (Now there's the answer to a great trivia question for you). Rawlings has presented the award annually since 1957. Players are voted on by managers and coaches in their respective leagues, but cannot be voted for by members of their own team.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Now we get over the Florida blasting and move on to Lexington where Kentucky always plays Georgia tough. In fact the Wildcats defeated the Dawgs there two years ago. Although all the preseason goals that were set are now gone, there is still much to play for. We won't win the SEC East, much less the SEC. Neither will we play for the mythical National Championship, or even a BCS Bowl. However, a 10-2 season would be envied by many teams, and it will certainly appear better looking back on it later. If you don't think so, do the math and see how it looks if we were to lose 1,2, or 3 more this year. And being the traditional Bulldog fan that I am, we sure the heck better 'Wreck Tech"! As far as I'm concerned, Kentucky and Auburn are just tune-ups for the Jackets. Whether we end up in the Outback Bowl, Outhouse Bowl, or somewhere in between, just BEAT GEORGIA TECH! See, I told you there was still a lot to play for...
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Hey Phil, you can continue to keep that Tennessee Family together! Lock 'em and love 'em! But then again, with that tremendous payout UT has to come up with for you, why even hit a lick at a snake? I read where you will always be Tennessee orange, and that will be easy to maintain with all that Tennessee "green". I really hate to see you go, because you had that program "plateaued out". Good luck hiding all those payout dollars from the Democrats!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
Texas Tech competed against Texas in a big game. And won. Georgia Tech competed against Florida State in a big game. And won. Georgia DID NOT compete against Florida in a big game. And lost. If I could ask Coach Mark Richt one question, it would be to get his answer as to why Georgia has games when they just fail to show up and compete. We did not show up and compete in Tennessee a year ago and were thrashed. We did not show up and compete against Alabama this year in Athens and were thrashed. And now we don't show up and compete against Florida in Jacksonville and we get thrashed. It was billed as perhaps the biggest Georgia-Florida game ever. So many implications. SEC East, SEC, National Championship. And we are not there in the end with a chance to win and continue towards those lofty standards. Is Georgia overrated or under-achieving? I would venture to speculate a lot of both. It's certainly not a talent issue, because we have recruited well and we are loaded with kids who can flat out play. I think it is a passion issue. I think we lack kids who are willing to sell-out for the ultimate prize. I think we are not a team who fights through and overcomes adversity very well. I think we need one of those recruiting classes that is not ranked in the Top 10 classes, but is loaded with players who want to knock their opponent into next week, fight to the end, and leave the message that playing Georgia is never going to be a fun experience. We do not seem to have that type of passionate player in Athens. Yea, I'm talking about a David Pollack caliber player. Ultimate desire to be the best. Ultimate team player. Unmistakable killer instinct. That's what is missing with our Georgia Bulldogs. Until we have teams instilled with those intangibles, we'll continue to "not show up" for the big games. We will continue to not be there in the end with at least a chance to win. And we will continue to under-achieve.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
Want to do a little Gator hunting of your own? Just go to the AJC link below and see how many of those pesky reptiles you can hit before time runs out. Be ready though, 'cause they're as quick as those Gators in Gainesville! Have fun and ZAP away...