Ranking the teams, from top (Falcons) to bottom (duh)

  It was about a year ago this time when we presented our completely unscientific inaugural rankings of area sports teams.

  The unveiling had such a profound impact on the sports landscape that No. 1 ranked Georgia went on to allow 135 points in losses to Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech, and the No. 2 ranked Braves lost 90 games and bankrupt several HMOs.

  Perhaps, like the BCS, we should just go to a playoff system.

  But no, we’re back. This ranking isn’t based merely on projected win totals but also direction, leadership, structure, stability, coaching, drafts/recruiting, fan support, litigation and any time one co-owner calls another co-owner, “evil” (thank you, Bruce Levenson).

  So here we go, top to bottom, with last year’s ranking in parenthesis:

So guys. Now that you've fixed the Falcons, what are your thoughts on the economy? Iraq? Orphan socks?

  1. FALCONS (3): Last year’s high ranking was based on the hiring of Thomas Dimitroff and Mike Smith. So we got something right. And then those two got everything right. The team fumbled a season-ticket renewal push before the playoffs. But could anything stop them from consecutive winning seasons? (There. I jinxed it.)

  2. GEORGIA FOOTBALL (1): I guess it says something that the Bulldogs went 10-3, yet were viewed as the Hindenburg. Mark Richt lost Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno but more importantly kept assistant Rodney Garner, his key to recruiting, which leads to wins and money and, OK, sometimes false expectations.

  3. TECH FOOTBALL (4): Paul Johnson inherited players who were recruited for an entirely different offense, won nine games, beat Georgia, energized the fan base and didn’t act surprised about any of it. Should we be surprised he and Mike Smith are close friends?  Maybe they can do something about General Motors.

Derek Lowe was the Braves' third choice to be their No. 1 starter, after Jake Peavy (this guy) and A.J. Burnett.

Derek Lowe was the Braves' third choice to be their No. 1 starter, after this guy (Jake Peavy) and another guy (A.J. Burnett).

  4. BRAVES (2): This winter was like watching Frank Wren work the Stardust Ballroom and every girl responding, “No, I don’t want to dance with you.” The spring optimism about the pitching staff – I witnessed that last year. This team still has more what-ifs than wows (Derek Lowe and Javier Vazquez as Nos. 1 and 2 starters?). Two big keys to success: 1) No exploding arms; 2) No exploding head on Jeff Francoeur.

  5. HAWKS (5): Rick Sund admits he still isn’t sure what to make of the team. March (when the Hawks play 12 of 17 at home) needs to be better than the last two months (11-13). A playoff team? Yes. A fourth seed? Possibly. But Mike Bibby is doing most of it himself right now. Also, the spitting war in the executive suite precludes me from ranking them higher.


  7. TECH BASKETBALL (6): The next person who says, “Yeah, but wait until next year!” gets run over by a Winnebago. I maintain some trust in Paul Hewitt because Final Four runs just don’t happen by accident. He can coach. He can recruit. But he had better coach those recruits to something next year or there may not be another next year.

  8: GEORGIA BASKETBALL (7): Damon Evans has to sell a coach on his vision. That coach has to sell recruits on hope. Until then: spring drills open March 17.


Is there any way we can just start over?

Is there any way we can just start over?

  9: DREAM (unranked): They went 4-30 in their first season. But they signed somebody who can dunk (Michelle Snow), talked Chamique Holdsclaw out of retirement and, as a bonus, their future is not in the hands of Don Waddell. (Transition.)

  10. THRASHERS (8): They have built only one thing since 1999. Debt.


122 comments Add your comment

Football Ken

February 23rd, 2009
2:40 pm


Saw you last night with Sam, moving up to T.V. sweet! But UGA baseball should be #4 and Braves should be #6. DAwgs are starting to play to capacity crowds in AThens.I don’t the Dream and Thrashers warrant ranking at this time. Go ahead and pencil in Gwinnett Braves at #9 and your local High school at #10.


February 23rd, 2009
2:55 pm

The only legitimate rankings here that matter are what order the 3 football teams are ranked in, with the Braves always in last place at 4th. This is the South. Only football is important, with the Braves getting a slight nod due to their franchise’s length of stay in our town. Even when they were winning pennants annually, the crowds were sparse, while the football crowds were always at capacity. The basketball and hockey rankings belong in the category with “American Idol” and “Dancing With the Stars”.

Reno 911

February 23rd, 2009
3:04 pm

I think I might rank the Georgia Force ahead of the Thrashers.


February 23rd, 2009
4:05 pm

Hey AJC Blog Gesthapo!!! You can’t make Benny the Beaver relevant… He stinks in the morning!!! He stinks in the afternoon!!! He stinks in the evening!!! He stinks in the vacuum of space!!! HACK!!! HACK!!! HACK!!! Now delete that one…

Jeff Schultz

February 23rd, 2009
4:05 pm

Ken — I almost stuck in Gwinnett ahead of the Thrashers, but I figured I should let them play a game first. …. Reno 911: That would be the ultimate slap — ranking a folded team (Force) ahead of the Thrashers. I could never do that. On second thought, hmm …


February 23rd, 2009
4:54 pm

I don’t know Jeff – This is the best Hawks team in a long, long, long time. And it built off of playoff excitement last year.

They definately have more mo-jo than the Braves at this point and for the good games, are a tougher ticket than GA Tech football.

I vote to move the Hawks to #3 or even #2.


February 23rd, 2009
5:18 pm

Lets be real – it isn’t the Thrashers players or coaches; it is the idiots who own the team. WHEN are you going to hold the Atlanta Spirit Group accountable, Jeff?


February 23rd, 2009
5:24 pm

But Jeff, you promised regular pics of trashy, bikini-clad starlets.

Chamblee Dawg

February 23rd, 2009
5:25 pm

I think you could rank Norcross boys basketball ahead of the Thrashers, too


February 23rd, 2009
5:47 pm

Are you kidding, Jeff? How are the Thrashers even ranked? There are a number of squads that should’ve made your list before them…

Gwinnett Gladiators (a hockey team that we could actually be proud of)
Georgia Force (a folded league but they won more playoff games)
Gwinnett Braves (I bet they won’t charge $48.50 for tickets)
Insert ranked high school basketball team here
Insert unranked high school basketball team here
Atlanta Knights (even they won a league title while they were here)
Atlanta Chiefs (ditto)
Your nearest park/recreation center team

Reno 911

February 23rd, 2009
6:20 pm

Dejay – you forgot the foosballing Georgia Generals, from the early 80’s, if I recall.

Tostido Bandit

February 23rd, 2009
7:12 pm

Truly a little mystified by your “he can coach” comment regarding Paul Hewitt. His overall ACC record would not seem to indicate that. As for the Final Four run, sometimes teams get hot at the right time and it has nothing to do with coaching. It has been by no means a barometer of his coaching abilities. He is fortunate he works in a city where the media is too scared–or too soft–to question him.


February 23rd, 2009
8:16 pm

vidalia indian should be no.1

Jeff Schultz

February 23rd, 2009
8:39 pm

Bill, that’s pretty funny. When have I NOT held the ASG accountable. … NRBQ: I’ll try to provide in the Tuesday Countdown. … Chamblee: Also a few middle school teams …. Tostido: Surprised it took this long for somebody to jump on that, given the number of Hewitt bashers these days.


February 23rd, 2009
10:17 pm

The biggest problem I have is the Hawks being #5. They have proved that last season was not a fluke and accomplished the most by taking the eventual NBA champs to 7 games in the playoffs. The Falcons made the playoffs and lost to the #2 team in the NFL. Both great but the Hawks have improved every season under Woodson whether we like him or not. The Falcons still have to prove they can improve 2 seasons in a row much less have back-to-back winning seasons. As much as I love the Falcons I’m going to have to pay the Hawks some respect. If we’re just going by 2008 performances the list would have to be:

1. Hawks (Will probably slip to #4 or 5 in the 2010 poll because all 3 football programs will be better and the Braves have a chance to climb a little)
2. Falcons (Could be a strong #1 in 2010’s poll)
3. UGA Football (Losing to GT was a fluke…yeah, I said it)
4. GT Football (Beat UGA more often or win the ACC to move up)
5. Braves
6. UGA Basketball (they won the SEC tourny in March but still suck)
7. GT Basketball (they just suck)
8. Dream
9. [Vacant]
10. Thrashers (officially the worst team in Atlanta sports history


February 23rd, 2009
10:24 pm

Somebody should do a ranking of sports guys in Atlanta. Any guesses where you rank Jeff?


February 23rd, 2009
11:01 pm

Should have just done a top 5


February 23rd, 2009
11:21 pm

“This ranking isn’t based merely on projected win totals but also direction, leadership, structure, stability, coaching, drafts/recruiting, fan support, litigation”

Really? Obviously you did not use much of this criteria in ranking a football team that lost ahead of the team that beat them. Direction? Tech is going up. UGA is and has been going sideways despite being very good. Fan support? Everyone is behind Tech’s football staff. However, I’m sure you could fill several servers full of fans calling for the heads of richt and martinez. Coaching? Who won with less talent? Stability? Which team can’t keep there players out of jail? Recruiting? Irrelevent, as proven by Tech this year if you have good coaching and solid players – even if they are 5 star recruits (recruits! They’ve done nothing in collegiate ball yet!) Structure? uh, what do you mean (except pointing out that the hawks owners should just have a free for all. Leadership? One coach united a split fan base, another has split it with his coaches – oh and please see my blurb on stability.

Until you can actually write an article that has continuity and flow and doesn’t contradict itself, you will have much less readers than your counterparts.


February 23rd, 2009
11:26 pm

Why, in ranking the Atlanta teams, do you include teams in another city? If you think Athens is a suburb of Atlanta, try making the trip there on foot some day! Uga is NOT in Atlanta, journalism graduates, no matter how you spin it.


February 23rd, 2009
11:29 pm

PS. CrazyFool has the most honest handle I’ve seen on a blog yet.


February 23rd, 2009
11:33 pm

Kennesaw baseball could be #6…:D We had the front page of ESPN’s college baseball section the other day!


February 23rd, 2009
11:37 pm

I totally agree with Crazy and Whatthe?! Both obviously much more with-it than the blogger. Mabe #9 could go to the SilverBacks — when they can afford a season, that is.


February 23rd, 2009
11:42 pm

Baseball prospectus has the Braves winning the wild card in the national league this year. I think they are a little higher than some mediocre college football team. The south really shouldn’t even have sports teams because it is such a terrible sports market, especially the states of Georgia and Florida. Both are complete jokes.


February 23rd, 2009
11:45 pm


10 years, 0 playoff wins, lowest pctg of draftees that become pros in the whole NHL. this franchise will leave before it even becomes good.

nice blog though, i agree with your doubts about the braves and i’d even consider the hawks ahead of them.


February 23rd, 2009
11:46 pm

1. UGA Football ( I ‘m a Falcon season ticket holder as well, but the birds have a little catchin up to do).
2. Falcons
3. Braves (Tech’s gotta have more than 1 good season to pass Bobby Cox) !
4. Paul Johnson
5. UGA baseball
6. Hawks
7. UGA Lady Gymdawgs
8. Tech womens volleyball.
9. Gladiaters (Cause tix are cheaper)
10. Thrashers
** Hawks just lost by 20 points to Jazz.

Ted Striker

February 23rd, 2009
11:48 pm

Jeff — You should consider including a factor for “hot chicks” in your next ranking. I hold the notion it’s an integral part of the overall game experience.


February 23rd, 2009
11:53 pm


In what world is Georgia Basketball better than GT basketball?

Josh M

February 23rd, 2009
11:56 pm

Can anything stop the Falcons from consecutive winning seasons? I say this as a season ticket holder and HUGE Falcons fan – have you checked the freakin’ 2009 schedule? I’m terrified.


February 24th, 2009
12:04 am

Next year, when the Gwinnett Braves and women’s soccer team are playing, do the Thrashers still get a Top 10 ranking?


February 24th, 2009
12:10 am

The Hawks are legit! #1 ahead of everybody else. Hometeam would agree with me if he were here. And Tech football did beat GA.


February 24th, 2009
12:16 am

Would you even consider putting Georgia State’s fledgling football program ahead of the Thrashers?

Gotta admit that they’ve made some early noise with Bill Curry.


February 24th, 2009
12:29 am

So Crazyfool,
“3. UGA Football (Losing to GT was a fluke…yeah, I said it) <<call it what you will but a fluke it was not. Roddy is still running down the sideline.
4. GT Football (Beat UGA more often or win the ACC to move up) << so UGAg loses to GT and doesn’t win the SEC but they are ranked higher and GT is held to a higher standard, umm no. Maybe UGA should worry about beating Florida at some point if they want to be ranked high as well as winning the SEC and beating GT every single year. (hey if GT has to do it so does UGA)
5. Braves
6. UGA Basketball (they won the SEC tourny in March but still suck) <<yeah last year and this year they fired the coach
7. GT Basketball (they just suck)” <<yeah and yet that sucky team still beat UGA

Maybe you need to get your rankings in order and this year GT is better than UGA in football and basketball. And for goodness sake, when did UGA play in Atlanta?

B. Thenet

February 24th, 2009
12:29 am

One of these days a Thrashers player is going to break your jaw, I hope they put it on YouTube.


February 24th, 2009
12:56 am

Interesting article on the Hawks:



February 24th, 2009
1:01 am

B. Thenet:

Sucks to be a Trashers fan, huh?

It must really blow when your team is so pathetic that it is totally irrelevant.


February 24th, 2009
1:24 am

If a GT team can get hot enough to go to the Final Four without good coaching, then they can get cold enough to win only 1 game in the ACC without bad coaching. Idiot. One day people will realize that this just isn’t a very good GT team. Hewitt’s fault for putting it together, but they’re just not a good offense team.

Oh, and UGA is not in Atlanta.

Rollins Tree

February 24th, 2009
1:25 am

Put the Hawks at the bottom!! Its time to face facts – WE ARE GOING NO WHERE IN THE PLAYOFFS!!! I think they have milked the Celtics series from last year all they can this season. I already don’t care anymore and can’t wait to see Woodson gone after the season. But in typical Atlanta teams are a joke fashion….. Woodson will return next season when he shouldnt even be here now!!!


February 24th, 2009
1:28 am

And right now, the Hawks are looking like their old selves.


February 24th, 2009
2:25 am

UGA at 2? Clearly should be at the most 3rd. Tech went
way further with nothing, should be 2. You don’t fall
from number one like that and expect to be number 2.
That whooping by Alabama was powerful, then The Tebow
Express and then losing to poor pitiful Tech? GT was
the 2nd best in 2008.

Political Man

February 24th, 2009
4:20 am


You did a pretty good job on rankings. The problem after GA football and maybe Tech, is believability of the teams, namely Falcons, Hawks, and Braves. The Braves will be better, maybe 81-81, but I don’t seem them hitting. Francouer has to perform. The Hawks are afraid to win. The Falcons have to do it another yr to convince me. They still seem to lack talent in some areas.


February 24th, 2009
6:42 am

Let’s rank the newspapers in this town. One thing’s for sure, it’s rank.


February 24th, 2009
6:55 am

You forgot the Atlanta Xplosion. You put the Thrashers on here, who suck for no apparent reason. You put the Dream on here, who struggled last season though understandably so. Why would you omit the team that was World Champions in 2006? Come on. You are a sports guy. You should know all the sports.


February 24th, 2009
7:19 am

Since when is UGA in Atlanta????


February 24th, 2009
7:19 am

I agree that we should expect the Falcons to have a winning record, even with a tough schedule. Good teams (which everyone agrees the Falcons have become) win 6 or 7 of their home games, which means they would only need to win 2 or 3 road games to finish with a winning record. I absolutely expect that, at least.


February 24th, 2009
7:46 am

Should be:

#1) Falcons
#2) Braves
#3) Georgia TECH football
#4) Georgia football
#5) Hawks
#6) This space for rent is pretty good. I”ll keep it.
#7) Tech basketball
#8) Thrashers
#9) Georgia basketball

Women’s basketball? Really? I’ll keep my list to 9.


February 24th, 2009
7:54 am

hey special jack, first off, since when is uGAY in ATL??? And secondly, 45-42!


February 24th, 2009
7:56 am

Paul Johnson is the type coach Bear Bryant used to say could beat you with his own players, or take the other team’s players and beat his own.

What’s up with Mike Smith and the pith helmet?


February 24th, 2009
8:04 am


What about the Gwinnett Gladiators? They’ve been in the playoffs every year since coming to Gwinnett.


February 24th, 2009
8:14 am

How about a name change for the ATL hockey franchise that reflects the reason they are in the league–the Thrashees. One letter changed…the truth exposed.


February 24th, 2009
8:15 am

Another good article Jeff, almost. I can only assume that Don Waddell must have comprimising pictures of you as well for you to rank the Thrashers in any poll, besides turds that need to be flushed!How this man STILL has a job is amazing considering the total ineptness of not only his team but the condition of the franchise…