Archive for October, 2009

Countdown whines: SEC coaches, ESPN, Brooking

The Count answers to no blowhard

Word is Brooke Hundley tried to jump on The Count's capetails.

The Count has nothing against financial growth. For years, he has been looking to expand his fan base and benefit from merchandise sales. Maybe come out with capes in a rainbow of colors. Edible fangs. A tell-all book on the backroom shenanigans on Kermit, who thinks he owns the place just because he’s on “Baseball Tonight” and is constantly hopping from one female intern to the other on Sesame Street. But the downside to huge financial growth and stature sometimes is it makes people obsess over every little thing and maybe just a bit more paranoid. We count down . . .

10. Turns out the SEC has a ‘Code of Ethics’

I’ve got three emails in the past week in my inbox from the SEC. 10/22, 8:07 p.m. Subject line: PETRINO REPRIMANDED. 10/26, 1:53 p.m. Subject line: KIFFIN REPRIMANDED. 10/26, 3:33 p.m. Subject line: MULLEN REPRIMANDED. Just once I’d like to get something from SEC commissioner Mike Slive that says, “Jeff, …

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Falcons’ charmed existence ends, problems start with Turner

Here's a familiar scene from Sunday: Michael Turner getting hammered by the Dallas defense. (Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

Here's a familiar scene: Falcons running back Michael Turner getting hammered by the Dallas defense in Sunday's 37-21 loss. (Ron T. Ennis/Fort Worth Star-Telegram)

ARLINGTON, Texas – After a performance that saw them commit three turnovers, allow four sacks, have their running back again look like he was trying to move with bricks tied to his ankles, allow a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown and generally get slam-danced Sunday by a Dallas team that struggled to defeat Kansas City, we can safely say this about the Falcons:

They’re probably not this bad.

But do you know what they have been?

Fortunate.

After weeks of tiptoeing over hot coals with a scrambled secondary, they finally watched an opponent turn yards into touchdowns. After weeks of skating on offense despite mediocre performances from a sluggish-looking Michael Turner, having only half of a well-functioning offense finally came back to bite them.

That’s how a 4-1 start turns into a 37-21 loss. That’s how a …

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We’re live from Dallas, where they fear Falcons’ Ryan

scoreboard
I was hoping for a remote control when I got to my seat. No such luck.

ARLINGTON, Texas – Hello. I am back in the Death Star. I’ll be here all game for live blogging. But first, just a few observations.

Driving around Saturday after posting the Digi-Blog on Cowboys Stadium, I was struck by how negative Dallas fans and media feel about the team. Listened to local sports talk a little and chatted with some fans and there seems to be a consensus that the Dallas defense can’t stop Matt Ryan and the Falcons. Many also believe Tony Gonzalez could be a major factor today. I realize that’s not exactly going out on a limb, but the Cowboys have struggled against good tight ends.

No place else can you watch games on the big screen and dancers before the game.

Welcome to the new NFL: No place else can you watch games on the big screen and dancers before the game than at Cowboys Stadium.

I spoke to Ryan earlier in the week about this season and his career thus far, and it’s clear he’s pumped for this game. Remember, he grew up in Philadelphia as an Eagles fan. …

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Digi-Blog goes to Cowboys Stadium (and finds cheerleaders!)

ticket

ARLINGTON, Texas — Welcome back for another episode of the Digi-Blog, the exciting new craze that’s sweeping the Internet and allows me to tell you a story with a significantly diminished chance of misspelling a word. Why? Because I use pictures!

If you’ve missed past episodes, don’t worry. Our tours of SEC Media Days, Falcons training camp and Stillwater, Okla., are right here, on demand.

Today, we’re off to Texas to tour the Cowboys’ new stadium, which is called, oddly enough, Cowboys Stadium, I believe because Fort Knox already was taken and Dallas owner Jerry Jones wasn’t sure how “Six Flags Over Jerry” would look on a T-shirt.

I’ll be brief.

♦ It’s big: Three million square feet, sitting on 73 acres.

♦ It’s expensive: They claimed on the tour it cost between $1.2 billion and $1.4 billion to build. But I’ve read $1.8 billion. Maybe that was without a Kroger Plus card.

♦ It’s absolutely ridiculous: You know how slower 265-pound football players suddenly became faster …

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Ryan measures up in ways most quarterbacks don’t

It's not the arm or the legs that make the quarterback: It's the stuff you can't measure, like what's in his head. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

It's not the arm, the size or the strength that make an NFL quarterback: It's all of the stuff you can't measure — liike what's in his head. (Curtis Compton/ccompton@ajc.com)

There always has been something different about the quarterback position, something that can’t be gauged by height or weight or speed or strength or the ability to throw a football 70 yards past the cows, over the barn, through the tire screen and into the feed bucket (when, by the way, just hitting the open tight end over the middle would’ve been fine).

If quarterbacks were measured by physical skills, Jeff George would not have been a cartoon and Joe Montana would not have been a deity. If quarterbacks were measured by fast legs, chiseled abs and ripped biceps, NFL general managers — the experts — would not draft so many colossal busts, crippling their franchise, alienating their fan base and ultimately ensuring their own unemployment.

The Falcons got it right with Matt Ryan. One player. One pick. …

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Hawks not getting a lot of love from Vegas or ‘experts’

Mike Woodson is smiling. He clearly doesn't read Bodog.com. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Woodson is smiling. He clearly doesn't read Bodog.com. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

After an offseason that saw the Hawks keep their three best free agents (Mike Bibby, Marvin Williams, Zaza Pachulia), strengthen their bench (Jamal Crawford, Joe Smith, Jason Collins), eliminate both a punchline (Limpy Claxton) and a draft mistake  (Acie Law), and draft a promising guard (Jeff Teague), optimism surrounding the franchise seems near an all-time high.

So here’s my question: Is everybody else seeing something we’re not?

The Hawks won one playoff round last season. How many will they win in 2009-10?

  • One. (Par.)
  • Two. (A step up.)
  • Three. (Going to the finals.)
  • Four for the title! (Drinking the Kool-Aid.)
  • Zero. (Still don’t like them.)

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By now, you’ve might’ve heard that several national media outlets have projected the Hawks this season to finish on par or even below last season’s results. Actually, I have yet to find one that has …

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Weekend Predictions: Falcons, Jackets and Phillips (oh my)

Got a suggestion for the chalkboard? Drop it in the in-box below.

Got a suggestion for the chalkboard? Drop it in the in-box below.

If we have learned anything in sports, it’s that it’s all about talent evaluation, which tells you why the Falcons are thriving with Matt Ryan and the Dallas Cowboys are too often flailing with Tony Romo and Steve Phillips is sitting in that special corner of what-were-you-thinking hell, because, like, dude, I know every general can’t resist the scrappy overachieving infielder once in a while and running the New York Mets can fry the mere mortal’s braincells but did you really mean to firebomb your life over the Mark Lemke of female interns?

Here's Brooke Hundley, presumably before she worked her way up the ESPN foodchain to Steve Phillips.

Here's Brooke Hundley as she was working her way up the ESPN foodchain to Steve Phillips.

The Falcons have done almost everything right in the last 22 months. The Cowboys haven’t quite done everything wrong. It just seems that way.

Jerry Jones has picked the wrong players. He has picked the wrong coaches. He certainly picked the wrong surgeon of cheekology for his last …

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Kovalchuk looks to Ovechkin, Capitals for his blueprint

Alex Ovechkin has a lot to smile about with a first-place team and a $124 million contract. Ilya Kovalchuk hopes to get there.

Alex Ovechkin has a lot to smile about with a first-place team and a $124 million contract. Ilya Kovalchuk hopes to get there.

Ilya Kovalchuk had a close-up view of his alternative universe Thursday night. Another Russian hockey star. Another former No. 1 draft pick. Another franchise trying to work its way into the NHL elite — though significantly closer than his own. A fan base back home, comatose seemingly a week ago, that now runs through turnstiles to watch hockey, even if their driveway sits closer to SEC games than the northern provinces.

Kovalchuk wants that. Alex Ovechkin has that.

“He’s totally into it there — that’s where he wants to be,” Kovalchuk said Thursday before the Thrashers’ game against Washington. “The first time he came there, there was an empty building. Now it’s sold out every game. Every player wants to play in that situation. But it’s not just him that made that possible. They have great players around him. They built it.”

The …

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Johnson’s start proves it can be done at Georgia Tech

Paul Johnson has led Georgia Tech in ways almost no other coach has. (Johnny Crawford/AJC.)

Paul Johnson has led Georgia Tech in ways almost nobody else has. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Georgia Tech has been playing football since 1892, and in that time only one football coach in 117 years has had a better start to his career than Paul Johnson.

Not Bobby Dodd, who has a stadium named after him. Not John Heisman, who has a trophy named after him. Not Bill Lewis, who … well, not Bill Lewis.

Johnson has coached 20 games at Georgia Tech. He is 15-5. The lone coach to open more impressively: William Alexander (18-2) in the 1920s. The world was different then. College football was different. Academics were different. There weren’t recruiting pressures or scholarship limits or a possibly defensive athletic director telling the world that you just can’t win consistently at places like Georgia Tech.

So do seasons of 9-4 and 6-1 count?

“If you have the right people and the right support mechanisms in place,” athletic director Dan Radakovich said, “you can be successful …

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Shockley had been off Falcons’ radar for a while

It was over for D.J. Shockley when he lost the No. 3 job to John Parker Wilson.

It was over for D.J. Shockley when he lost the No. 3 job to John Parker Wilson.

FLOWERY BRANCH  — It was two months ago when former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley said, “I have all the confidence in the world that I can start in this league and play for many years.” He’ll need that confidence if he hopes to continue playing football. But you only get so long to prove it in the NFL.

It was clear after his fourth preseason in Atlanta that Shockley did not have a future with the Falcons. Whether he has a future in pros at all remains to be seen.

The quarterback who waited his turn behind David Greene at Georgia and then led the Bulldogs to the Sugar Bowl was released by the Falcons for the second time in a month Wednesday. This time carries a sense of more permanence.

Young backup quarterbacks don’t get a long lifeline in the NFL, unless their contract mandates it. Shockley’s didn’t, and he got a longer lifeline than most. When he was beat out by Alabama’s John Parker …

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