Wednesday, December 21, 2011
It was said that after their final epic battle, Muhammad Ali said to Joe Frazier: "Ain't gonna be no rematch", to which Frazier replied:"Don't want one". Well, I'm sure Alabama doesn't feel that way, but I suspect LSU would rather not play the Tide again. I, being one among many, am not so fired up about this SEC rematch myself. As for as I'm concerned, Alabama had their chance face to face with the Tigers. At home. And lost. I understand the game could have gone either way, but it didn't. Anyway, how many hugely important college football games could have 'gone either way' this year? Several, so that's a dead end take on the situation. What a game it would have been to match the explosiveness of Oklahoma State against tough 'Miles-Minded' LSU. We've already witnessed the defensive show down of the two SEC powers. But now we have to go through it again, primarily because 'Bama cried louder than did OSU. Here's hoping Alabama cries a whole lot after January 9th. Beware the 'Mad Hatter'. Again.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Everyone knew Georgia would have to play a flawless game in order to defeat the number one team in the country. Although they came out of the gates looking as though they were ready to pull such a performance off, it was not to be. An old nemesis from last year came back to haunt them , the dreaded drop pass syndrome. A familiar nemesis also continued to rear its ugly head, inept special teams play. Although the Bulldogs held LSU to zero first downs in the first half (unheard of!), the final two offensive possessions of the half by Georgia showed that the tide was indeed beginning to turn in favor of the purple and gold. The better team won the SEC championship, no argument whatsoever about that. Is Georgia really that far behind the Tigers in terms of being a 'great' team? Defensively, the Bulldogs are almost there. Offensively, they must develop a stable of tough, talented tailbacks. The running game is almost nonexistent for Georgia. Quarterback Aaron Murray is very good now. He will be great with a running game to assist him. Mark Richt must find a way for his Dawgs to play good, consistent football on special teams. This area is a glaring weakness at this point. Georgia might be getting very close to getting back to the level of the elite teams in the conference. They aren't there yet, and there is still much work to be done. It will be imperitive for Richt and his staff to recruit well again this off-season. A tremendous amount of solid groundwork has been laid since the 2010 season. The Bulldogs have come a long way, but they aren't where they need and want to be yet. Say tuned, bigger and better things are on the horizon.
Friday, December 2, 2011
Takeo Spikes has played for 5 different teams during his 14 year NFL career. However, Spikes has never been to the playoffs with a single one of those teams. Zero. Nada. Nilch. Nothing. He leads all active players with 198 regular season games without a playoff appearance. Not quite the distinction Spikes was expecting when he left Auburn University early to declare himself eligible for the pro draft (the Washington County, Georgia native elected to sign with the Tigers out of high school even though his home was only 80 miles from the University of Georgia campus. Spikes has never been accused of being smart). Nevertheless, the thick-necked Spikes will play out the remainder of San Diego's regular season with nothing but the television to connect him with yet another playoff season. Some things just never change.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Georgia is somewhere in the neighborhood of a 13 1/2 to 14 1/2 point underdog to LSU in the SEC Championship game Saturday afternoon. This line really doesn't appear to be that far off, after all the Tigers are the undefeated and top-ranked team in the country. But does Georgia have a legitimate shot at knocking off the mighty and powerful team from Baton Rouge? I think they do, but several aspects of the game have to be positive for the Dawgs. As in so many football games, it all starts up front. Georgia's offensive line, led by senior center Ben Jones, must be able to allow their offense to establish some semblance of a running game. They also must give quarterback Aaron Murray time in the pocket to locate and hit open receivers. I realize this seems redundant because it's always true in any football game, but especially so when you're facing the number 2 ranked defense in the nation. It is also crucial because Murray needs to have the game of his life Saturday, as does offensive coordinator Mike Bobo. Defensively, Georgia has a tendency to come out of the gate a little slow in games. If the Dogs can withstand LSU's opening drive, that will be a great sign because Todd Grantham's group usually plays strong after their opponents first possession. From a special teams perspective, Georgia cannot afford to let the Tigers have big returns. That means that it is imperative that the Bulldogs do a great job of covering punts and kickoffs. They have to play with the discipline and intensity they showed against Auburn. I understand LSU is not Auburn, but Georgia must have that same fire as a team, from the opening kickoff through the fourth quarter. I think Georgia has the attention of LSU, and I think this game could be just as tough for the Tigers as their earlier encounter with Alabama. Georgia just has to do a lot of things right for that to happen. Win or lose, we will probably know all we need to know about this 2011 edition of Mark Richt's Bulldogs after Saturday night. I personally like this team, and I think they have much more than a fighting chance against LSU. After all, that's why they play the game.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
It's been labeled "Clean Old-Fashioned Hate". It's been called the 'Backyard Brawl'. It's otherwise known as Georgia -vs- Georgia Tech (and no it is not Tech -vs- Georgia; you gotta keep the order correct). After all, Georgia plays football in the toughest conference on the planet. Tech plays football in a basketball conference. Georgia has a real live mascot. Tech has a 'hive' for a mascot. Georgia's home is a beautiful sprawling campus. Tech's home is a crime invested concrete jungle. The Bulldogs play "Between the Hedges". The Yellow Jackets play between the interstates. The loyal followers of Georgia make up the massive 'Bulldog Nation'. The followers of Georgia Tech don't really have such a distinction. They are more like a "Jacket Neighborhood", I suppose. The only similarity between Georgia and Georgia Tech is a genuine hatred for each other. A disdain for losing to the other permeates both programs. As an avid Bulldog, I hate losing to our long-standing rivals in the Southeastern Conference. But I REALLY hate losing to Yellow Jackets of Georgia Tech. Thank goodness Georgia doesn't lose to Tech very often, and I won't go to bed Friday night thinking that's going to change this year. Wreck Tech!
Friday, November 18, 2011
It's funny how the talk of renewing coaches contracts and pay raises always comes up when a team is winning. A year ago at Georgia, coaches were probably hoping no one mentioned a contract because that talk would have meant somebody was out the door. This year, it has been brought up that head coach Mark Richt will most likely have his contract renewed because he only has two years remaining on it. It looks better for prospective recruits to know that the main man is scheduled to be around their entire college career, thus the contract extension. Next came talk of extending defensive coordinator Todd Grantham's current deal. The Bulldog defense is playing in the neighborhood of spectacularly and the coordinator's contract expires in fourteen months. Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity has said he will not entertain contract discussions untill after the 2011 football season is completed. I would only say that if Georgia continues to play well and finishes strong, I would do what I had to do to keep the key members of the coaching staff intact if I was Mr. McGarity. But he is correct in waiting until after the first of the the year. There's enough time and there is a lot of football left to play.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
When Tim Tebow was at Florida, I hated it when Georgia had to play him. He is one of the fiercest competitors on the planet. However, I have always admired him for his faith and religious stand. He not only talks his faith, but he "wears it on his sleeve" and lives it every day of his life. Now that he's a pro, I find myself wanting him to succeed. Not many of the so-called experts think he can, but he sure does and that might be all that matters. As for as the jersey is concerned, I think it's fine. Tebow knows he's not Jesus, but I'm sure he would be glad that others are caring enough about Jesus to put his name "out there".
Saturday, November 12, 2011
In spite of all that has happened at Penn State this week, as well as all that has been written and been said, the two teams meeting at mid-field prior to the game was a class act all the way. The players and coaches kneeling in prayer showed what is still right about collegiate athletics, irregardless of all that is obviously wrong. Whether or not the Penn State football program is able to put this deplorable scandal behind them is of no consequence at this point. However, whether or not the victims of the abuse are able to do so is of the utmost importance. Never underestimate the power of prayer, and hopefully our government will see the above photo and realize it is more than o.k. to pray in public. It isn't the least that can be done, it's the most.
Offense, defense, special teams, coaching. You name an aspect of a football game and Georgia totally dominated it in their 45-7 rout of Auburn University. The Dawgs thrashed the Tigers as badly as they have been whipped in quite some time. Auburn was completely routed and run out of town on a rail. They had no paid junior college transfers to bail them out this year, but it would not have mattered anyway. They ran into a runaway train that was the Georgia Bulldog football team, and they got their rears handed to them on a platter. I personally have been waiting for Georgia to play a complete football game so that we could know just how good this team could be. Now that they have, I'm convinced they are an impressive group. They have come a very long way since the debacle that was the 2010 season. They deserve to soak up this win and enjoy the fruits of their labor. But only for one more day. There is still much work to do this season. Just like Tom Cruise said in 'Top Gun', "but it's looking good so far"!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
The NCAA currently allows Division 1 football programs to have nine assistant coaches. Once those nine coaches have been assigned to offensive and defensive titles and responsibilities, not all schools have an assistant to designate as a special teams coach. It doesn't seem right that such an important aspect of a football game does not necessarily have a coach designated specifically for it. After all, when we talk about the three phases of a game, we talk about offense, defense, and special teams. I think the NCAA should expand college coaching staffs to ten positions, with one of those having to carry the title of 'Special Teams Coach'. With the amount of money being made by major college football programs, it shouldn't be a financial burden. It would also open up a lot of coaching positions around the country, and everyone know how scarce jobs are these days. It would have to lead to an improvement in special teams play, with more time and attention devoted to the details and fundamentals associated with all the special teams. It's time for all colleges and university football programs to have a special teams guru.
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Patrick Witt faces one of those super-tough life decisions that literally tears you apart. It's one of those desperate calls that makes you wish you could be two places at one time, doing two totally different things simultaneously. The Yale quarterback is scheduled to play his final college game Saturday against Harvard at 12 noon, and he also has an interview in Atlanta the same day for the opportunity to be selected for a prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. Witt has an Ivy League GPA of 3.91, has already been offered a full-time job, and has NFL scouts considering him for a future in professional football. This kid has his act together, but that still does not make the choice on Saturday any easier. He has a lot of blood, sweat, and tears invested in football. He has coaches and players who depend on him. He will never wear the Bulldog uniform again. He will never receive another shot (not guaranteed to be selected at all) to be a Rhodes Scholar again either. He will be passing up the chance to study international relations at Oxford University in England. It would be the 'Super Bowl' of learning. Now you have a better understanding of what Witt is facing. He is the only one who can make the call because he alone has to live with his decision. It will be interesting to see the choice he makes. What do you think he should do?
Joe Frazier, the boxing heavyweight, died of liver cancer yesterday. He finally met an adversary that he couldn't out punch. The unrelenting, steam engine of a fighter was 67 years old. Frazier, who won a gold medal for the United States in the 1964 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo, will best be remembered professionally by his three epic bouts with Muhammad Ali, culminating with the famous "Thrilla in Manilla". The grass roots fighter with the heavy hands and the big heart was a two-time heavyweight champion. Godspeed Smokin' Joe!
Monday, November 7, 2011
Now let me see if I have all this down correctly. Ole Miss head coach Houston Nutt will resign at the end of the 2011 football campaign, which is to say in three more games. This is not a shocking development, because you don't buy yourself more time on the sidelines when you've lost ten conference games in a row (even if you are Ole Miss and you don't have very much of a football tradition to begin with). Now for the next administrative change in the Ole Miss athletic department, athletic director Pete Boone will step down from his responsibilities no later than December 2012. Boone stated when he hired Nutt that this would be his last head football coach hire. I'm fine with that, no problem there. But why hang around for another 13 months? This means that the new coach will not know who his athletic director is going to be, and the new athletic director will have had no input into the hiring of the new football coach. Is this the proverbial 'cart before the horse', the verbally incorrect 'bass-ackwards', or just "the way things are done at Ole Miss by damn"? And to top that all off, 'ole number 18, Archie Manning himself will be an integral part of the search process for the new head coach. Now who will have the upper hand in the hallway of the football offices, the guy who Archie hired or the athletic director who Archie won't hire? My money says Archie's money speaks loud in Oxford, Mississippi! Thus, we've solved the potential conflict for the Rebels, or is it the Black Bears(?), before it ever arises. But to tell you the truth, the only uprising that will ever occur over football in Oxford is when anyone tries to change the hallowed custom that is known as simply, "The Grove". Hotty Toddy! That's all anyone at Ole Miss cares about anyway.
Georgia -vs- Auburn, "The South's Oldest Rivalry", resumes again this Saturday. This edition will be number 115, with Auburn currently holding a slight edge over the Dawgs at 54-52-8. Georgia does enjoy a slim lead in points scored at 1809 to 1771, testifying to the overall closeness of the series. The rivalry has had so many games that were meaningful in the conference picture, not to mention several significant outcomes regarding the national polls. This year is no different with respect to the former, with the SEC East title at stake for the hosting Bulldogs. Although the series has always been looked on as a "friendly rivalry", that all changed last year due mainly to the cheap shots committed by AU's imported nose guard Nick Fairley. Fairley's two very late and very cheap shots to UGA's quarterback Aaron Murray were at least successful in removing the 'friendly' moniker from the description of this annual battle. As you can plainly see in the 1996 photo above, the Georgia-Auburn game has never been friendly as far as Uga is concerned. Like the old saying goes, "track 'em Dawgs, just like beagles. To hell with you, you damn War Eagle"!
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Isaiah Crowell spends a lot of time on the Georgia sidelines when his offensive teammates are on the field. The freshman tailback has had a succession of nagging "injuries" since his indoctrination into college football this fall. I'm not implying that his injuries aren't legitimate, or even serious, but he does take himself out of ballgames with some frequency. He has said the hardest part to being a college football player is time management. I understand his point completely, especially coming from a high profile athlete as Crowell is now and was coming out of high school. I'm sure he meant this comment to mean off the field management more so than on the field. However, I think his biggest adjustment on the field has been the fact that a tailback playing in the SEC gets hit hard and often on every play, with 'hard' being the key word here for Crowell. Isaiah Crowell is a tremendously gifted and talented running back. He has all the natural ability a player needs to be a great and special collegiate tailback. However, you cannot be a great player standing on the sidelines. Dare to be great, Isaiah. Toughen up.
Monday, October 17, 2011
He said, we said, they said, yada, yada, yada. A couple of football coaches yell at each other and probably represent their respective institutions in a less than flattering manner. Not the best of situations but not all that uncommon in the football arena. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, just that it is. Vanderbilt believes Georgia's Todd Grantham went berserk for no good reason. Georgia believes Grantham was provoked. It won't matter for long who thinks what, because now all that matters is what the SEC Commissioner's office thinks. That's where this incident is headed now. On the UGA front, Grantham has had to meet with head coach Mark Richt on Sunday and athletic director Greg McGarity today regarding his behavior after Saturday night's hard fought Georgia victory (or hard fought Vandy loss, depending on your perspective). My hope here is that he does not have to meet face-to-face with Commissioner Mike Slive, nor have to be on the receiving end of a hefty league office punishment. I for one don't want to face Florida without defensive coordinator who was serving a one-game suspension.
It is always said that what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. I wish Dan Wheldon had not been killed in Las Vegas, but I hope a catastrophe like this one never occurs in racing again anywhere. Wheldon died of unsurvivable injuries he suffered when his race car clipped another car and burst into flames after literally flying into a catch-fence. If I were a race car driver, fire would be my greatest fear. When the 15 car pile-up occurred, fire was the mitigating factor. IndyCar was very fortunate that it lost only one driver in such a terrible mishap, but one driver is far and away one too many. The two-time Indy 500 winner is survived by his wife and two young sons. Godspeed Dan Wheldon.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
I think Derek Dooley is a good guy. I don't know what caliber of football coach he is because he hasn't been operating at the SEC level long enough to prove himself. There is one thing for sure, the "Hillbilly Honeymoon" won't last forever. That proving period will probably end this year, past program problems and transgressions not withstanding. Mama can defend her "Precious" all she wants, but he's a Big Boy now coaching in a Big Boy conference. The vultures will soon begin circling if he doesn't restore the Volunteer program back to its days of glory. Take all the shots at her baby you want, but just remember Mama's listening. Oh yea, take a hint from Bobby Bowden, she's "not too old to find you, son"!
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
This can't be baseball, because you only get three strikes in 'America's Pastime'. It has to be the 'Ole Ball Coach, because he's the only one who allows anyone to tempt fate five times. It appears that even six times is one too many transgressions for Steve Spurrier. Thus a failed alcohol test and one Stephen Garcia is permanently booted off the South Carolina football team. And we all thought he had has many lives as the old feline, only to come up three short. But wait, knowing Garcia will partake of an adult beverage is just as sure a thing as the preacher man praying. So what's really going on in Columbia? I think that Connor Shaw's performance against Kentucky on Saturday finally convinced Spurrier that he is now prepared to be the 'Cocks number one signal caller. Shaw finally gave the "Evil Genius" the assurance he needed to rid himself of Garcia and all of his excessive baggage. It was Shaw who helped Spurrier put the noose around the neck of Garcia, not a failed alcohol test. But you all knew that anyway, right? Of course you did. But be careful Coach, it was 'Kensucky' that Shaw excelled against...
Thursday, October 6, 2011
Monday, July 18, 2011
The United States women failed to close out a Japan team that looked outmatched for much of the World Cup final. It almost seemed as if the U.S. was playing not to loose, more so than playing to win. There is a big difference you know. There were scoring chances missed by our American team, and the defense seemed to almost totally collapse on Japan's first goal. But then again, that is soccer. It is a game than can sometimes lull you to sleep, then keep you on the edge of your seat without a moments notice. Anything can happen in soccer, as is true with most sports. Anything did happen Sunday. Japan upset the United States to win the World Cup. They were a team of destiny, and they did do a better job of seizing the moment. But not to worry, where there's Hope (Solo), there's U.S. soccer!
I know we are only three games past the All-Star break, so there is actually a full half-season to be played. Nevertheless, it's already time to cut to the chase and admit that the path to the playoffs for Atlanta runs through the wild card race. There will be no Eastern Division title for the Braves, because the Phillies will claim that pennant flag once again this year. There is no disgrace in that admission, for the defending champions are the real deal. Their pitching staff is so complete with great arms that they will not experience any prolonged losing streaks. A two game hiccup is all you'll get from them down the stretch, and that won't happen with any regularity. The Braves are actually not that far behind Philadelphia in reality. The Braves starting rotation isn't "phillyesque", but it isn't so shabby either. I would also rate the Atlanta bullpen ahead of the Phillies'. However, the boys from the A-T-L just do not hit consistently enough. The lineup that takes the field for most games looks much better on paper than it performs on the field. They're wild card worthy, but a title will have to wait. Again.
Friday, April 8, 2011
...and I thought you didn't get much exercise riding in a golf cart. At least you have to get your rear end up and down and in and out of it. These guys in Lohmar, Germany are doing absolutely nothing. I wonder what the ruling is if your ball lands on the belt and gives its golfer some extra yards? Go figure...
South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended from any participation with the Gamecock football program. Indefinitely. Again. Again as in five times. Since arriving in Columbia as a freshman, Garcia has been suspended from the program FIVE times. And he's still around, so go figure. Talk about second chances, and second chances, and second chances...I think you get the picture. He's about to embark on his senior gridiron season if he gets to hang around that long. The old saying about cats is that they have nine lives. I wonder if Gamecocks do as well? Hum...only at South Carolina, where it apparently is easier to overlook discipline than it is to administer it.
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
In a matter of a few months, Ben Jones will embark on his fourth campaign as the starting center for the University of Georgia. And he wants it to count. So either lead, follow, or get out of his way. He is determined to do everything in his power to turn the Bulldawg program around, and he wants every one of his Georgia teammates to feel the same sense of urgency that he does. Jones has already called out his fellow offensive compatriots this spring, and he has no plans to let up until he has played his last snap in Bulldawg Red and Black. This spring he's not just Georgia's center, he's the center of attention.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Trey Thompkins will enter the NBA Draft this year as expected. No great revelation here. He said no to the league as a sophomore last year, so he really can't continue to leave millions on the table any longer. It was a sound decision on his part. Even though he will have to toughen up to play in the league, he will turn into a solid pro player. His propensity to hang out around the bonus arc will work out well for him at the next level. He has enough touch with his jump shot to offset his softness in regards to working in the paint. I also believe his leaving will be a good thing for Georgia. After all, he didn't exactly put the Dawgs on his back and carry them this past season. I certainly would not label his junior campaign as "stellar". It is time for Thompkins and the Georgia program to both move on. I wish Trey well, but I wish for the Dawgs of Mark Fox much more success.
Nate McLouth had a lousy 2010 season, and that assessment is being extremely gentle. However, to his credit, McLouth worked hard during the off-season, had a successful "bounce back" spring campaign and emerged as the Braves starting center fielder. Just another "feel good" story, right? Huh, not quite yet. Now that the official 2011 campaign has begun the speedy center fielder is back to his bad habits once again. He is 3 for 16, with five strikeouts and one walk. Not very good numbers for your hitter occupying the number two hole, again being very gentle here. I realize that one week does not a season make, but how much time will new manager Fredi Gonzalez give his center fielder to get his offensive numbers turned around? I would assume far less than former skipper Bobby Cox would have. I want Nate Mclouth to succeed because I want the Atlanta Braves to succeed. In order for the team to flourish, they will have to have a center fielder playing at the top of his game. At least closer to the top than the bottom.
Shaka Smart has decided to remain as the head basketball coach at VCU, as opposed to joining up with the Wolfpack of N.C State. Pardon the pun, but 'smart' decision. It hasn't been that long ago that practically any basketball coach in America would forsake all to become a head coach in the once powerful round-ball world of the Atlantic Coast Conference. And along with that the conference member programs could go after and get almost any coach that they so desired. My how times have changed. Those changes obviously include N.C. State individually as well. The once-proud Wolfpack program always prowled along the border of the first and second tiers of the conference's basketball hierarchy, always just a pounce away from the Tarheels and the Blue Devils. However, now State is considered a 'bottom feeder', and I suppose Shaka Smart wants eat a little higher on the hog than that.
Monday, February 14, 2011
Tiger Woods failed to win at the Dubai Desert Classic this weekend. But he did not fail to rasp the hearts of golf purists everywhere. By a flagrant act of spitting on the 12th green, he once again showed his disregard for timeless golf etiquette. There's no spitting in golf, just like there's no crying in baseball. Golf is different from any other sport. Its key framework is built on a foundation of honesty, sportsmanship and etiquette. To disregard any of the aspects is to degrade the great game. Tiger Woods just disgraced golf. It has nothing to do with talent, but everything to do with class. Or lack thereof...
Wednesday, February 9, 2011
There's something missing with this year's edition of Georgia Men's Basketball. It was thought that when Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie opted to remain in school and play in the SEC instead of the NBA that the Dawgs would be championship contenders. This has not proven to be the case. Georgia just isn't playing very well at this point. They definitely are not a team that has improved over the course of the season. They seem to be to be a team seeking an identity. Thompkins is a very good college basketball player, but he is not the dominating player in the paint he should be for his team at this point. He certainly could lay off that tendency to launch three pointers as well. That just doesn't seem to be working for him. For that matter, the entire Georgia team was a paltry 3 for 13 beyond the arc last night in a crucial 65-57 loss to Xavier in Athens. Leslie seems to be a player trying to fit in. He can jump straight out of the gym, and he's a highlight reel waiting to explode. But he seems to get lost during games, especially offensively. It is believed that Georgia is on the "bubble" as far as making the NCAA Tournament field is concerned. They are positioned as having a 50-50 shot at getting in. However, I think they are on the outside looking in, and I don't see that changing.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
I remember that after Major League Baseball shut everything down several years ago, they realized they had a helluva lot of work to do to win back baseball fans. Attendance at the parks, as well as general fan interest in the game, was at an all-time low. I believe that was the beginning of players throwing baseballs in to the stands to build up a new rapport with the fan base. They continue to do that each season with regular frivolity. It must have worked, because now most fans have bought back into the game. Also, time is a great healer itself. Now it's pro football's turn to weather the storm of intense labor negotiations. Whose greed will eventually win out, the players or the owners? Who will be willing to sacrifice more for the sake of the fans? For the sake of the game itself? If they choose to lock-out, they better look out. After all, Rawlings baseballs are a lot cheaper than Wilson Duke footballs. May the best team win.