Archive for March, 2010

SEC warm-up: Trouble in Pigville, and did Calipari get jobbed?

Freshman Marshawn Powell just took ownership of the Razorbacks.

Freshman Marshawn Powell just took ownership of Razorbacks.

Heading up to Nashville this morning for the start of the SEC tournament Thursday and I’m going to try to post at least one more blog from workouts later today. But first, here are two items I thought might be of interest to you:

♦ Arkansas, Georgia’s first-round opponent, is having some issues.

Arkansas lost its last five games of the regular season and six out of seven after starting 6-3 in the SEC.

Now you have to wonder how much that’s affecting the Razorbacks internally. Forward Marshawn Powell was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman team Tuesday, after averaging 15.1 points and 6.7 rebounds during the season. Later in the day at a press conference, he responded to a question about whether he would be one of the team’s leaders next season by saying, “I believe I’m there now. I believe this is my team.”

This generally would be no big deal. The problem was that the more Powell said, the more he sort of threw his …

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Countdown: NASCAR blows a tire, Tebow blows a budget

Thought we'd give you the full-body shot of The Count at the Atlanta Sports Awards.

Thought we'd give you the full-body shot of The Count at the Atlanta Sports Awards.

The Count apologizes for today’s late arrival. He was a presenter at the Atlanta Sports Awards last night and woke up feeling less than Count-like, not because he drank too much plasma but almost certainly because he didn’t drink at all. Mrs. Count was watching me. But it was a splendid evening, and where else can Derrick Favors, Zach Bogosian and The Count pose together for a photograph, setting up the possibility that 25 years from now many will look at that picture and wonder, “Who’s the old guy in the rented tux standing with the NBA and NHL Hall of Famers?” By the way, Carl Edwards was not in attendance. Turns out, the Atlanta Sports Council offered was no trophy for road rage. Nope. That’s  NASCAR’s job. Fraud time! We count down . . .

10. You know you’re hurtin’ for business when …

Carl Edwards is on double-secret probation.

Carl Edwards was probation-ed.

Covered the Kobalt Tools 500 the other day. Watched as Carl Edwards …

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Georgia poses a threat in SEC tournament

Win or lose in the SEC tournament, Mark Fox has Georgia pointed in right direction. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mark Fox said, "We're going that way," and his players followed. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Is this where Mark Fox pops in the video of “Hoosiers?”

Maybe he invokes the name, Eruzione?

Or does he venture a little further back to David? What kind of odds was he getting against the Philistines, or anybody else in that Mideast tournament?

Georgia will play in its first SEC tournament under Fox beginning Thursday night against Arkansas. The Bulldogs have the second-worst conference record in the field (5-11). They are coming off a loss to the only team below them (LSU, 2-14). So as a general rule, Georgia does not define “smart money” in Las Vegas.

So why is it things don’t seem so hopeless?

“I’ve told our players to pack for a week,” Fox said.

This is not a prediction that the Dogs are going to run the table in Nashville. They’re packing neither a tornado, nor Sundiata Gaines. But there certainly is a more positive feeling around Georgia hoops today than there was two …

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Mettenberger learns lesson of public life the hard way

Zach Mettenberger (center) just took a hit in Georgia's 2010 quarterback race with Logan Gray (left) and Aaron Murray. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Zach Mettenberger (center) took a hit in Georgia's quarterback race with Logan Gray (left) and Aaron Murray. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Zach Mettenberger has two fake IDs and drinks beer, even though he’s not 21. Just taking a wild guess: He doesn’t stand out in Athens.

But yes, there is a problem here. Mettenberger is a Georgia quarterback. So the fact that he has been charged with five misdemeanors, all stemming from underage drinking, is going to make news, particularly when he is part of a quarterback debate. Or at least was.

You may recall  Matthew Stafford had several embarrassing pictures of himself show up on the Internet, the most significant ones being of him holding up a keg at Talladega Speedway. He was a 19-year-old freshman. We can debate what this showed about Stafford: Absolutely nothing at all or possible signs of immaturity. But the point is that pictures and stories like this don’t help the program.

I don’t know Mettenberger. He  might be a great kid. But he’s …

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Roethlisberger hires Garland, attorney to troubled sports stars

Defense attorney Ed Garland (left), with partner Don Samuel, worked the Ravens' Ray Lewis down to a misdemeanor in a double-homicide.

Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis was involved in a double homicide but, led by defense attorney Ed Garland (left) and partner Don Samuel, pled to only a misdemeanor.

We may not know for a while whether Ben Roethlisberger is guilty of sexual assault allegations in Milledgeville. At the very least, the Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback and Reynolds Plantation resident is not very smart for hanging out in college bars and continually putting himself in dumb situations.

But we just found out how serious this situation is.

Roethlisberger has hired Atlanta defense attorney Ed Garland. How significant is this? Consider some of Garland’s past clients:

Dany Heatley and Ed Garland.

Dany Heatley and Ed Garland.

Ray Lewis: The Baltimore Ravens’ linebacker was indicted for murder and aggravated assault charges following the stabbing deaths of two people Super Bowl week in Atlanta in 2000. Lewis eventually pled guilty to misdemeanor obstruction of justice.

Jamal Lewis: The then-Ravens running back was charged in …

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Earnhardt manages the impossible: Win pole and never lead

We have photographic evidence that pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. led for about two second. That's him on the right and Kyle Busch on the left. (AP photo/Brian Lawdermilk)

Photographic evidence that pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr. (right) led the Kobalt Tools 500 for about two seconds. He was soon passed by Kyle Busch (left). (AP photo/Brian Lawdermilk)

Considering its circuit has been plagued by empty seats, declining television ratings and a suspicion that Jimmie Johnson might be racing with an engine that has the word, “Cessna” on it, NASCAR actually had a pretty good day Sunday.

♦ Somebody other than Johnson, the sport’s four-time defending champion and winner of two of this season’s first three races, won the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Alas, some semblance of competition lives for one week.

♦ There was a close finish, with two late cautions bunching the field and Kurt Busch edging Matt Kenseth by a half-second. The two late wrecks extended the race 16 laps longer than scheduled, technically making this the Kobalt Tools 524.64.

♦ Nobody died but a car flipped! Carl “The Maniac” Edwards, in payback for one of …

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Who’s more likely to win a game: Tech or Georgia?

Paul Hewitt's team is on the NCAA bubble.

Paul Hewitt's team is on the NCAA bubble.

Here’s a question nobody ever figured we would be asking this college basketball season: Which team is more likely to win a game in its conference tournament: Georgia Tech or Georgia? Because right now, I’m kinda leaning toward the one in Athens.

Let’s start with this. According to Joe Lunardi, ESPN.com’s bracketologist, Georgia Tech is STILL an NCAA tournament team, despite a loss to Virginia Tech Saturday that dropped the Jackets’ ACC record to 7-9 and overall mark to 19-11.

From Lunardi’s ESPN Insider blog this morning: The ACC has four “lock” teams (Duke, Maryland, Clemson, Florida State) and the SEC has three (Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Tennessee). He has 22 bubble teams vying for 11 spots, with Tech currently listed as in, along

Mark Fox's team is capable of pulling an upset.

Mark Fox's team is capable of pulling an upset.

with Wake Forest and Virginia from the ACC and Florida in the SEC.

From Lunardi’s blog:

No. 1 Seeds: Kansas, Syracuse, Kentucky, Kansas State.

Big East (6): …

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With cornerback in fold, here are 5 choices for Falcons (UPDATE II)

Demaryius Thomas give the Falcons great balance at wide receiver.

Demaryius Thomas give the Falcons great balance at wide receiver.

Given the expected signing by the Falcons of free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson, it probably changes the focus of the team’s draft, at least in the first round. There’s no real reason to take a cornerback, not with so many issues to address.

(UPDATE: Robinson has signed a six-year deal with the Falcons, per Mr. Ledbetter. Details will be forthcoming but here’s a link to his current blog. Nice job by the Falcons.)

Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was a standout at the combine.

Missouri linebacker Sean Weatherspoon was a combine standout.

(UPDATE II: Our D. Orlando Ledbetter reports that Robinson’s deal is worth $57 million over six years and has $22.5 million guaranteed. ESPN’s Adam Schefter says $25.5 million is guaranteed. At that level, why quibble over a few million?)

The chances of the team drafting a running back in the first round — C.J. Spiller, for example — also likely are dead after Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling were given contract tenders. (Technically, …

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Credit Falcons for trying to fix problem, pursuing Robinson (UPDATED with video)

Dunta Robinson somehow got out of Athens but it appears he's headed back to Georgia.

Dunta Robinson somehow got out of Athens but it appears he's headed back to Georgia.

Last season, we saw a Falcons defense that ranked 28th in the NFL against the pass and and allowed a cartoonish 54 pass plays of 20 yards or more. It didn’t matter what the defensive front was because the secondary was scorched earth.

Rare are the times when a football coach doesn’t need to say, “I can’t comment until I see the game film.” Because we all knew what the Falcons’ biggest problem was. They’re taking a step to fix that.

Our D. Orlando Ledbetter reports free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson is close to finalizing a deal with the team. Robinson — who starred at Clarke Central High School but somehow got out of Athens and went to South Carolina — is in town today and talking with team officials. But it’s not known if  a contract will be signed and/or announced today. The Falcons are not commenting, but there’s little reason to believe at this point things will fall apart.

(Funny side …

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Richt looks to restore attitude, accountability at Georgia

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Mark Richt is paying close to attention to players and coaches this spring. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – When Georgia opened spring practice Thursday, there were three quarterbacks in the pool of potential starters, a defense switching its front from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and a coaching staff hoping to figure out how to avoid a repeat of the cartoon-like numbers that provided the ugly background noise in the 2009 season: 105 penalties and a minus-16 in turnover differential.

But here’s a newsflash: Football isn’t always about numbers and alignments. And to what degree the Bulldogs bounce back next season likely won’t even hinge on the starting quarterback as much as it will all of those other things that make a football team successful. Intelligence. Discipline. Resolve. Mental and physical toughness. The willingness to smack somebody in the mouth (legally, of course).

The Dogs lacked an edge last season. It was an edge that they possessed when they won two SEC titles in …

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