Archive for August, 2009

Grab bag time: Blackledge likes Bulldogs for an upset

Blackledge thinks Joe Cox might find the wait was worth it. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)

Todd Blackledge thinks Georgia's Joe Cox might find his wait to start was worth it. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@ajc.com)Welcome to Grab Bag Monday. Let's see what we have left in here . . .

It’s Grab Bag Monday. Let’s see what we have left in here . . .

♦ Blackledge on Dogs, Jackets

In case you missed it, former Penn State quarterback and ESPN commentator Todd Blackledge had some interesting comments about the whole SEC vs. ACC thing, leading up to Saturday’s game between Alabama and Virginia Tech. Feel free to catch up here. What I did not include in that column were his observations about Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Blackledge believes the Bulldogs have a good chance to defeat Oklahoma State Saturday, which runs contrary to what oddsmakers think. I’m not sure if this is enough for Georgia fans to forgive him for leading Penn State past the Dogs in the Sugar Bowl for the 1982 national championship. But it’s something.

“I’m anxious to see Georgia this year,” he said. “I really …

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Rodriguez’s problem: Everybody cheats, but others are liked

Get the feeling Rich Rodriguez's head didn't hurt as much in West Virginia?

Get the feeling Rich Rodriguez's head didn't hurt as much at West Virginia?

That was a fine decision LSU coach Les Miles made two years ago to not go to Michigan. (See video below)

By now you’ve probably heard that Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez is being investigated by the school for requiring players to put in practices and strength and conditioning hours far more than are allowed by the NCAA. This follows a package of stories in Sunday’s Detroit Free Press that quoted several players anonymously. Rodriguez denied the allegations again today in a news conference.

My initial reaction was the same as almost everybody’s: Hah! (Sorry. I have this thing about how people who pledge loyalty one day, leave the next, try to get out of paying $4 million exit clauses in their contract and get implicated for stealing player files on the way out the door. I also have a strong belief in the whole what-goes-around-comes-around thing.)

Here’s my second reaction: I’d be stunned if the vast …

Continue reading Rodriguez’s problem: Everybody cheats, but others are liked »

Woodson running his new offense: Pick-and-whine

Here's Mike Woodson holding his breath, waiting for a contract extension.

Here's Mike Woodson holding his breath, waiting for a contract extension.

Most coaches would embrace a strong off-season like the one the Hawks have had and try to use it to build some momentum and excitement for the upcoming season.

But Mike Woodson is not like most coaches. He prefers to whine.

Woodson is entering the final year of his contract. He apparently wants to make sure everybody knows that. I guess the hope is, I dunno, somebody starts a Save-The-Woody write-in campaign. The combustible one spoke about his situation again this weekend to Yahoo Sports. Most of the comments echoed those he told our premier hoops writer, Sekou Smith, three months ago. But Woodson turned up the rhetoric, saying: “Am I a little disappointed that none of my staff and I were extended contracts this year? You’re damn right I am because we deserve it. … Any other coach probably would’ve been extended, without a doubt. … For us not to be extended is not right.”

You know what’s not right? A …

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If ACC wants to get noticed, it needs to step up against SEC

National publications tend to take notice of major conference collisions.

National publications take notice of major conference collisions. This one followed Alabama's win over Clemson.

It’s the start of college football season. Is this when the SEC big foots everybody again? Is this when the ACC screams from the Chapel Hill-tops that the conference went 6-4 against Cyclops in the regular season last year, yet continues to get ignored because – well, what happened at the end again?

We remember the first Saturday meeting of the conferences: Alabama 34, Clemson 10.

We remember the final bowl meeting of the conferences: LSU 38, Georgia Tech 3.

Single games don’t project entire seasons. But Virginia Tech plays Alabama Saturday at the Georgia Dome, and this would be a good time for an ACC school to do more than just clear its throat.

“I don’t necessarily think the game should be painted as the ACC’s chance to save face,” said Todd Blackledge, a closer observer of both conferences but an outsider as a former Penn State quarterback living …

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Weekend Predictions (sound check): Dogs in trouble?

I am so ready for this (and get your hands off my chips).

Because this is the final blog of the day, and I wanted something to hold you through the weekend, and I’m pretty sure my feeling that FOOTBALL CAN’T GET HERE SOON ENOUGH gives me at least one thing in common with even those of you who often throw your half-eaten sandwich at my face on your computer screen, I’ve got football stuff for you.

Actually, consider this a low-level tease (that sounded kinda dirty) for next week’s re-unveiling of Weekend Predictions. Since we’re more electric and less acoustic now here at the AJC (that’s the newspaper) and AJC.com, it follows that you’ll be able to read Weekend Predictions online on Thursday afternoons now, as well as in print the following morning. This will allow the online reader access to special web-only Thursday night game BONUS PICKS, which will be so special that I felt the need to hit the CAPS LOCKED key, which normally is reserved for those commenting on Michael Vick

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Sunny day! Elmo stares down Dream!

Don't let this face fool you. He is in no mood to be tickled.

Don't let face fool you. Elmo's in no mood for tickling.

There are at least two reasons why you are almost never going to read about the Atlanta Dream in this space: 1) I don’t care about them. 2) You don’t care about them.

An unmotivated writer and unmotivated readers make for a really bad combination, especially when you have editors looking at computer printouts and pie charts and screaming in your ears, “PAGE VIEWS PAGE VIEWS PAGE VIEWS!”

But today, I will write about the Atlanta Dream, for a few paragraphs. Why? Because they’re funny.

First let me catch you up: The Atlanta Dream is a women’s basketball team in the WNBA. I hope that’s all you need to know because I’m about tapped out.

According to the standings that I’m now looking at for the first time –it turns out the WNBA has a website and uniforms and everything — the Dream is 15-13. With six games left, they apparently have a chance to make the playoffs.

But there’s a problem. It seems the big boys are coming to …

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Braves fans, here’s the numbers (cover your eyes)

The Braves celebrated a win Thursday night. But they're going to need a few more.

The Braves celebrated a win Thursday. But they'll need quite a few more.

I know sometimes baseball fans get angry when us nattering nabobs of negativism (copyright: tax cheat and lousy official scorer Spiro Agnew) suggest that their team might be hopelessly out of the race.

So I won’t do that this morning. Yes, the Braves just lost two out of three games at home to the San Diego Padres, a last-place team, at a time when they really needed to sweep somebody at home, especially a last-place team. But keep hope alive, right? Uh, where was I?

So here goes.  You will get no negative verbiage from me. You get only numbers. I figure in this case, numbers tell the story.

First, here’s how it looks in the N.L. East:

Team              W     L     Pct.  GB

Philadelphia    73   52  .584  –

Atlanta            67   60  .528  7

Florida            67   60  .528  7

And here’s how it looks in the N.L. wild card picture

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Abraham suddenly finds himself in strange role: leader

John Abraham is leaning on this pad, but this season most of the Falcons' defense will be leaning on him. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

Here's John Abraham leaning on a pad, but the Falcons' defense this season will be leaning on him. (Curtis Compton/compton@ajc.com)

FLOWERY BRANCH – In their never-ending quest to spin a negative into a positive, football coaches often will punctuate their pep talks with the word, “opportunity.”

“Our left guard broke his leg. But you have an opportunity to be a starter for the first time since you left the Arena League.”

“We’re cutting you. But it’s only because this gives you the best opportunity for another team to pick you up.”

“We’re 2-11. But we have a great opportunity to win these last three games so I can save my job and convince my wife to not run off with Julio, the pool boy.”

So I submit this to John Abraham: You have an opportunity.

Abraham has long been known as one of the NFL’s top pass rushers. When he hasn’t been injured, his sack totals are consistently in double-digits, and he has reaffirmed that in his first three seasons as a …

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News and Views (QB edition): Falcons’ hole, Schaub’s piehole

Here is D.J. Shockley (left) preparing to knock the ball out of Chris Redman's hand. Kidding. Sort of. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

It struck me the other day when rumors began circulating that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers may dump quarterback Luke McCown – whom they just gave a $2.5 million signing bonus to — about how comforting it is that the Falcons’ QB situation is set. And then I thought: Wait a minute: Is it really? . . .

NEWS: No. 3 (or 2 or 4) quarterback D.J. Shockley struggles in his second exhibition game against St. Louis, possibly sealing his fate on the roster.

WHY SHOULD YOU CARE: Because if Matt Ryan were to go down, this team does nothing without a decent safety net.

VIEWS: No. 2 (or 3, or 4) QB Chris Redman will play significant snaps Saturday against San Diego. If he plays well, the primary roster decision likely will be put to rest. Redman will be Ryan’s backup, and whatever happens to Shockley and John Parker Wilson happens. But folks, this …

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Vick has a better chance for success in return than Favre

Is Michael Vick pointing in the same direction as his career?

While it seems like 90 percent of readers tell me that they’re sick of stories about Michael Vick, while the other 90 percent continue to consume every word about him — and I’ll get back to you about the math just as soon as I can figure it out — I think there’s something we can all agree on. Tonight’s kind of a big deal.

Tonight, Vick will be on a football field. In a football uniform. Playing in a football game. And not in a prison yard. Or worse, the UFL.

Vick will see only limited action in Philadelphia’s exhibition game against Jacksonville. But the fact that it will be the first time any of us see him sweat outside of a courtroom since Dec. 31, 2006 — when he and the Falcons closed the regular season with a loss at Philly — is significant. It’s not quite Mike Tyson getting out of prison and returning to

Who has the greater chance for success this season?

  • Michael Vick
  • Brett Favre

View …

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