Archive for December, 2009

Virginia Tech finally gets it right on third trip to Atlanta

On their third try, Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech finally won a game in Atlanta Thursday night, defeating Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

On their third try, Tyrod Taylor and Virginia Tech finally won a football game in Atlanta on Thursday.

Having lost to Alabama in its season opener in the Georgia Dome, then returning here following a five-game winning streak, only to get dropped this time by Georgia Tech, it’s safe to assume that whole burning Atlanta thing must have passed through somebody’s head at Virginia Tech. If not several heads.

But alas, the Chamber of Commerce can breathe easier today. They didn’t lose Blacksburg.

“If we lost tonight, we weren’t coming back,” coach Frank Beamer cracked.

Gaining some measure of superiority for the ACC over the SEC — at least for one night — Virginia Tech belted Tennessee, 37-14, in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. The result accomplished two things: 1) It will keep Tennessee out of the top-25 rankings, thereby minimizing any gloating by coach Lane Kiffin (hey, go with it); 2) It almost certainly will push Virginia Tech (10-3)  into a top 10 finish. Beamer can only imagine what …

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We’re live from a real bowl game (BCS notwithstanding)

Wonder if this guy can play left tackle and has any eligibility left?

Wonder if this guy can play left tackle and has any eligibility left?

I moved here 20 years ago, so I missed the worst chamber of commerce disasters involving weather and the Peach Bowl and Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. (Missed the 1988 season game when North Carolina State and Iowa combined for 14 turnovers and it rained so hard and for so long that former AJC staff writer Gary Pomerantz mused that the crowd of 44,635 (or not) “gasped like blowfish.”

Most assumed things would get better when the Peach Bowl was moved indoors to the climate-controlled Georgia Dome in 1992. But to this extent?

The Peach Bowl gave way to the Chick-fil-A Bowl, and its current incarnation might be the greatest remainder of what the college bowl season used to be about: Good teams. Intriguing match-ups. Happy and content fans who viewed college football’s post-season as a reward, not an aggravating and illogical exercise in futility (read: BCS).

It helps that the Chick-fil-A Bowl has tie-ins with …

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Doesn’t anybody want to be Georgia’s defensive coordinator? (UPDATED)

Excuse Mark Richt if he's wondering what's going on.

Excuse Mark Richt if he's wondering what's going on.

(UPDATE BELOW)

At some point, Mark Richt will hire somebody as Georgia’s new defensive coordinator and he will assure the entire Bulldog Nation that he got the man he wanted all along, because that’s the way these things are done.

But it can’t be too comforting for Richt to know that all he really has accomplished so far is to get significant raises for coaches on other teams.

First, Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster turned down the job. As a reward, he was given an annuity worth up to $1 million. Now, it’s pretty apparent LSU’s John Chavis was offered the offered the job and turned it down because athletic director Joe Alleva said, “We did what we needed to do to keep him.”

That meant a significant raise: from $450,000 a year to a reported $600,000. And Chavis has been at LSU for only one season.

There is no telling where Richt turns now.  Dallas Cowboys defensive line coach Todd Grantham, who coached under Foster at Virginia …

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Predictions Lite: Jackets, Tide, Gators win Leach-free bowls

bowl gamesWeekend Predictions was put to bed a few weeks ago, the result of a slight misunderstanding by my late ghost writer who typed that Florida would defeat Alabama in the SEC championship game after I specifically relayed to him via Ouija that the Gators would be so thoroughly dominated that Urban Meyer would retire, unretire, ponder, brood, mull, retire, unretire, declare sweet victory after I guess the greatest football practice in the history of the universe and eventually was told to stand in a dark closet for three hours by Lubbock Commandant Mike Leach.

Anyway, back to Predictions. I wasn’t supposed to dispense any more financial advice this season. But I’m already getting tired of Melky Cabrera jokes and we’re jumping into the heart of the bowl season  — yes, after the Independence Bowl; shirts still available here! — I had nothing else to blog about this morning. So we give you Absolute Financial Locks Lite.

Just remember how this works: I give you the winners. But it’s …

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Thrashers’ uncertain future may contribute to Kovalchuk’s exit

This is an Ilya photo. (AP photo)

Odds are that Ilya Kovalchuk will be celebrating goals for another team soon.

There is an undercurrent in the Ilya Kovalchuk negotiations that goes far beyond what most protracted player-management negotiations eventually come down to, which is, of course: “Pay me like I’m great, because I am,” countered immediately by, “You’d be a lot greater if we could find a helmet to fit over your  inflated, blimpy head.”

And that undercurrent is this: Hockey’s uncertain future in Atlanta.

If the Thrashers can’t re-sign Kovalchuk – and I now believe the chances of a deal are just this side of dead — it will be at least in part because of the backdrop of ownership’s uncertain long-term commitment to hockey and the possibility of the franchise being sold and moved during the period of Kovalchuk’s contract.

This has become abundantly clear, especially given Kovalchuk’s recent comments about desiring to spend the rest of his career in Atlanta, and Waddell’s contention that these talks are all …

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Chavis-to-Georgia rumors still alive — and why not Garner? (UPDATE II)

Rodney Garner has been getting raises. But he never has gotten a shot at the defensive coordinator's job. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Rodney Garner has been getting raises. But he never has been given a shot at the defensive coordinator's job. (Brant Sanderlin/bsanderlin@AJC.com)

(UPDATED BELOW WITH CHAVIS COMMENT)

(SECOND UPDATE WITH RICHT SAYING GARNER IS NOT A CANDIDATE)

When I posted a blog Tuesday morning about LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis telling one of his players that he was not interested in the Georgia job, contrary to rumors, the last thing I expected was that it would unravel into some inane and profane race debate. After becoming aware of it last night from a reader (while I was covering the Hawks’ dreadful performance), I had to close commenting and eventually deleted about 60 comments.

It’s with that, and some trepidation, that I inform you of one thing and ask another this morning:

♦ Chris Low, the respected SEC football writer at ESPN.com, posted a blog this morning with the headline, “Chavis on Richt’s radar at Georgia.”

♦ If Bulldogs coach Mark Richt doesn’t get the coordinator …

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Hawks, Johnson saved their worst for rematch with Cavaliers

This is a significant moment for Joe Johnson: scoring with two minutes left in the game after tossing up bricks since the six-minute mark of the first.

This is a significant moment for Joe Johnson: scoring with two minutes left after tossing up nothing but bricks since the first. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Seven months after they walked off this same court, losing to this same team, wondering if they could make moves to elevate themselves to higher ground, the Hawks met the Cleveland Cavaliers again Tuesday night.

Some went right. LeBron James looked ordinary, and Jamal Crawford again looked like the greatest offseason acquisition of the millennium.

Most went wrong. Joe Johnson hit his first four shots, then dropped into a black hole. Mike Bibby didn’t even have the first four shots to brag about. Collectively, Team New and Improved failed to score in the first nine minutes of the fourth quarter, which isn’t good when there’s only 12 minutes in a quarter.

You wanted a sign that there was something to look forward to in the playoffs. The Hawks instead gave you acid flashbacks to a 13-win team and Predrag Drobnjak. Bad things, man. They …

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We’re live from Hawks-Cavaliers: Will it be a new story?

The Hawks are hoping to control LeBron James and the Cavaliers better than in their playoff series. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Hawks are hoping to control LeBron James and the Cavaliers better than in their playoff series. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If you’re wondering whether tonight’s game between the Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers will play out any differently than last year’s playoff series, you’re not alone. LeBron James isn’t sure what to make of the Hawks yet, either.

“We controlled the playoff series the whole way through,” James said moments ago in the Cavaliers’  locker room. “They’re a talented a talented team, but we controlled them and did what we wanted to do.”

When asked if the Hawks seem like a significantly different team now, James said, “I’ll tell you tonight after we play them. … I’ve watched tape. But you can’t just watch tape . When you play them, that’s when you can really tell about a team.”

The Hawks view tonight’s game as a measuring stick. They’re 21-8 but for the first time face the team that bounced them from the playoffs last season in four straight games. The Hawks are more …

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Georgia update: If Chavis was on the board, take him off

John Chavis felt the need to squash a rumor that he was coming to Athens.

LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis apparently heard rumors that he was a candidate at Georgia, so he stopped them.

I’m not sure if this qualifies as news, since LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis never really has been cast as a realistic candidate for the Georgia defensive coordinator’s opening. But for the record, he apparently is telling LSU players he is not interested.

Tigers linebacker Kelvin Sheppard told a Baton Rouge television station that Chavis pulled him to the side during practice and told him: “You knew if I was going anywhere, you’d [Sheppard] be the first person I’d tell.  I’m here with you all, I love it here, I’m not going anywhere.”

LSU is preparing for the Capital One Bowl against Penn State Friday. WBRZ in Baton Rouge reported that neither Chavis nor Les Miles were available for comment. Chavis in his first season at LSU after 20 years at Tennessee. He makes about $450,000 as LSU’s defensive coordinator.

There’s been no shortage of names that have …

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Countdown doom: Leach’s closet, Tiger effect, Dogs’ ‘honor’

There's a reason The Count doesn't use his left hand.

The Count excelled in the dark.

The Count never played college football. Oh, he had mad skills in high school. Great quickness and an ability to disguise his coverages. For some reason he always excelled at night games. But he figured if everybody was going to call him bloodsucker all the time, he might as well go to law school and be an agent. Worked out well. Made a nice living getting Sesame Street to bust its budget every year and he avoided some of the sideline wackos that are now molding young minds. What is going on with college football coaches lately? First, there are reports of South Florida’s Jim Leavitt grabbing a player by the throat and punching him in the the face twice at halftime of a game. Then Mark “Jabba The” Mangino of Kansas loses his job after being tagged for all sorts of bizarre abuse of players, including one incident in which he forced a player to “bear crawl” across a hot turf practice field, where the artificial turf has reached temperatures of 199 …

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