Archive for November, 2010

Falcons are winning because they’re following Mike Smith

Mike Smith has coached only 43 games and he already ranks fourth on the Falcons' win list.

Mike Smith has coached only 43 games and he already ranks fourth on the Falcons' win list.

They are winning because the owner cares and spends money.

They are winning because the general manager has made moves that look smart today and project well for tomorrow.

They are winning because they have a quarterback who seems to have discovered the road map to Canton and a wide receiver who just busted through that door that reads: “Superstar.”

But mostly the Falcons are winning because of their coach. It doesn’t work without Mike Smith. The money, the structure, the decisions, the athletic wonder of Matt Ryan and Roddy White – none of that translates into a 9-2 record this season and 29-14 over two and a half years if everybody isn’t following the head coach.

“We can all have grandiose visions,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “But if the head coach is not carrying the torch, it’s all for naught.”

To this point, Smith is the NFL’s coach of the year. This week’s counterpart, …

Continue reading Falcons are winning because they’re following Mike Smith »

Surprise! Spurrier proves South Carolina can be player in SEC

Steve Spurrier was carried off the field by players after winning at Florida two weeks ago.

Steve Spurrier was carried off the field by players after winning at Florida two weeks ago.

If there’s one thing more surprising than Auburn’s meteoric ascent this season under a coach, Gene Chizik, who mostly was lampooned when he was hired, it’s this: South Carolina is in the SEC championship game.

When Steve Spurrier was hired by the Gamecocks, most figured he had a low ceiling for success. The doubt had nothing to do with Spurrier, who had proven to be nothing short of a terrific college coach, despite his failures in the NFL with the Washington Redskins. It was more about his ability to recruit enough talent to Columbia and win the SEC Division, which meant finishing ahead of traditional powers Georgia, Florida and Tennessee.

So here’s the question: Is what happened this year an aberration?

The Gamecocks are a pretty good team with a few players — particularly running back Marcus Lattimore and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery — who could start for any team in the country. …

Continue reading Surprise! Spurrier proves South Carolina can be player in SEC »

Alabama staffer fired for mocking Cam Newton with songs (UPDATED with video evidence)

Here's Cam Newton, not leading the Auburn crowd in "Son of a Preacherman."

Here's Cam Newton, not leading the Auburn crowd in "Son of a Preacher Man."

(Check for video at end)

It turns out that there’s a limit to what’s acceptable when it comes to making fun of Cam Newton — in Tuscaloosa, of all places.

Alabama has fired an employee who mocked the Auburn quarterback with songs he played over the public address system before their game Friday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, according to TideSports.com.

The songs of choice?

“Take the Money and Run” by the Steve Miller Band and “Son of a Preacher Man.” (Reports don’t make clear if it was the Aretha Franklin or Dusty Springfield version of
“Preacher Man.” But I’m guessing it doesn’t matter, even if Aretha is the queen of soul.)

As you no doubt have heard, Newton and his father, the Rev. Cecil Newton, are under NCAA investigation for possibly soliciting payment from one or more potential universities for Newton’s services prior to the player transferring from a Texas community college. …

Continue reading Alabama staffer fired for mocking Cam Newton with songs (UPDATED with video evidence) »

Poll time: Can Falcons, Thrashers, Hawks all make playoffs?

The Falcons are celebrating in part because of general manager Thomas Dimitroff and quarterback Matt Ryan.

Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff and quarterback Matt Ryan are celebrating — and so is Atlanta.

Welcome to Atlanta, the center of the pro sports universe. On Nov. 29. Sorta.

This doesn’t happen very often — if ever — so I figured I better jump on it now, before lunch. If the playoffs opened today, everybody is in.

This has never happened before. Quick, stop the calendar!

The Falcons . . .

  • Will make the playoffs.
  • Will make serious noise in the playoffs.
  • Will win it all.
  • Will miss the playoffs.

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

The Braves . . .

  • Will make the playoffs.
  • Will make serious noise in the playoffs.
  • Will win it all.
  • Will miss the playoffs.

View Results

Loading ... Loading …

The Falcons are tied for the best record in the NFL at 9-2. They have beaten Green Bay and Baltimore after early season losses to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia left some wondering about their ceiling. They’re a potential Super Bowl team.

The Thrashers have won five …

Continue reading Poll time: Can Falcons, Thrashers, Hawks all make playoffs? »

Falcons keep winning even though the way keeps changing

The picture says it all: Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been ascending for weeks.

Matt Ryan and the Falcons have been ascending for weeks.

All they do is win. Sometimes it’s Michael Turner running. Sometimes it’s Roddy White flying. Sometimes they just stretch it out and let their balding 35-year-old kicker end the suspense on the last play because, well, it’s good for ratings and keeps us all guessing.

“We’re just tying to give people their money’s worth,” linebacker Mike Peterson said.

They’re building a fat bank account. The NFL season is moving into December and the Falcons already are sitting on nine wins. They’re 9-2, a record that only the New England Patriots and New York Jets can match.

Winning has become so commonplace that they just clinched their third straight winning season and it was barely mentioned.

“It’s an afterthought,” general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. “Last season at this time we weren’t having a positive season and the conversation was we still hadn’t put together back-to-back winning seasons. It’s a nice feeling to have that …

Continue reading Falcons keep winning even though the way keeps changing »

LIVE BLOG: Hot Falcons get another big test from Packers

Michael Turner carries for the Falcons Sunday against Green Bay. The Falcons led 10-3 at halftime. (AP photo)

Michael Turner carries for the Falcons Sunday against Green Bay. The Falcons led 10-3 at halftime. (AP photo)

Good morning. Need coffee.

I fully expect to see better football and fewer turnovers today than I witnessed last night in Athens. Georgia and Georgia Tech will go to low-tier bowl games — and those are gifts. The Falcons (8-2) and Green Bay (7-3) are two of the NFL’s top teams and could be on track to meet for the NFC title and the Super Bowl berth.

It may take me a few cups of coffee to get me going this morning. I left Athens at 1:45 a.m., got home at 3 a.m., crawled into bed at 3:30 a.m. But I’m in a climate controlled stadium and looking at a 1 p.m. kickoff. So that’s a significant step forward from last night.

OK, about the Falcons. This game is very similar to the Baltimore game two weeks ago. It’s a chance for the Falcons to gauge themselves against one of the league’s elite. Back in early August, I gave you my rankings of the top five NFC teams. Four of the …

Continue reading LIVE BLOG: Hot Falcons get another big test from Packers »

Georgia’s win not art, but we’ve come to expect this

Georgia celebrates after Justin Houston's interception in the final seconds sealed the victory. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The Dogs celebrated after Justin Houston's interception in final seconds sealed win. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS — It was supposed to be easier than this.

But then, so was the Colorado game.

So was the Mississippi State game.

So was . . . well, let’s just assumed “easy” left town with Louisiana-Lafayette 12 weeks ago.

The offensive line hasn’t been the dominating unit that Georgia expected. The defense under Todd Grantham certainly hasn’t improved like expected. (Did Willie Martinez leave just his playbook in Athens or was that his spirit?) The physical and mental edge that the Bulldogs have often lacked over the past three seasons? Still lacking.

This is what Georgia fans get in 2010: a 6-6 record in this season’s deep sea of 6-6 records. The Dogs won 42-34 over Georgia Tech on Saturday. They became bowl eligible, not because they were much better than the Yellow Jackets but because — until a touchdown with 1:29 left — the opposing kicker had missed an extra point.

The teams …

Continue reading Georgia’s win not art, but we’ve come to expect this »

LIVE BLOG: Georgia seeks bowl bid (and revenge vs. Tech)

Georgia players, angered by the home loss to Tech the year before, planted the school flag after last year's win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Georgia players, angered by a home loss to Tech in 2008, planted the "G" flag after last year's win at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

(This will serve as the Georgia live blog when the game starts. We’ll also have a Tech live blog on, as they say, another network.)

ATHENS — Hello and welcome to the last game this season that anybody at Georgia or Georgia Tech will remember.

The Jackets (6-5) still have a low-level bowl game to play. The Dogs (5-6) hope to still have a low-level bowl game to play. But tonight’s meeting is really about the final opportunity for either school to create a highlight in a

The memory of Tech players (like wide receiver Andrew Smith) mangling the hedges lingers with Georgia players.

The memory of Tech players (like wide receiver Andrew Smith) mangling the hedges lingers with Georgia players.

mostly miserable season.

As Georgia defensive end Demarcus Dobbs said, alluding to the last four years of his senior class: “I don’t know if we’ve left a legacy. But I know if we don’t make it to a bowl game, that will be one legacy that we leave. … We’ve done  a lot as a class. But …

Continue reading LIVE BLOG: Georgia seeks bowl bid (and revenge vs. Tech) »

Weekend Predictions: Dogs win — Auburn, not so much

newboard

Welcome to this week’s titanic showdown between 5-6 Georgia and 6-5 Georgia Tech, who battle for coveted The Governor’s Cup in a year where the Governor-elect is fresh off a Congressional investigation for ethics violations. Of course.

I think Georgia coach Mark Richt put it best when he stated: “It’s great to have a game like this at the end of the season, and in particular at the end of this season, when we haven’t reached some of the goals, or hardly any of our goals.”

And then he threw a pie at Todd Grantham.

But first, this raspberry in the direction of Ohio State president Gordon Gee. He’s a big fan of the BCS. People hear this and they assume Gee reached his position because he’s related to somebody important, sort of like Gummo Marx. Gee states that even if Boise State and TCU go

Think Gordon Gee got stuffed into lockers as a kid?

I'm thinking Gordon Gee got stuffed into a few lockers as a kid.

undefeated, neither deserve to go to the national title game, no way, no how, not even if all other schools lose or get nuked, …

Continue reading Weekend Predictions: Dogs win — Auburn, not so much »

Mark Richt will be back next season — and he deserves to be

The sideline hasn't been as enjoyable a place for Mark Richt the last two seasons as during his first eighth. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

The sideline hasn't been as enjoyable a place for Mark Richt the last two seasons as during his first eight. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – It’s probably best that we start with the latest indication of Mark Richt’s future employment.

“Mark’s going to be our coach in 2011,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity said. “I haven’t seen anything in 11 games that would lead me to any other decision. I’d be stunned.”

The thinking is, it’s always best to end such declarations with even the smallest of escape routes. Because if for some reason Georgia were to lose to Tech 42-10 Saturday, finish the season 5-7, not go to a bowl game and later that evening 17 players find themselves in handcuffs for whatever reason – well, let’s just say you want the escape route.

But Richt will be back. And he should be back.

Let’s be clear about something. There are significant problems at Georgia. There are problems that may not go away under Richt.

The team has disappointed and underachieved. The …

Continue reading Mark Richt will be back next season — and he deserves to be »