Archive for February, 2011

Title odds: Falcons 16-1, Dogs 50-1, Jackets 150-1

Mike Smith's Falcons are 16-1 to win Super Bowl.

Mike Smith's Falcons are 16-1 to win next year's Super Bowl.

Richt's Dogs (50-1) and Johnson's Jackets (150-1) both long odds in BCS race.

Mark Richt's Bulldogs (50-1) and Paul Johnson's Yellow Jackets (150-1) both face long odds in the next BCS race.

Earlier I gave you my rankings of the 32 NFL teams going into next season, which I should note originally was posted BEFORE Green Bay defeated Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl Sunday.

Now we move onto the rankings that have dollar signs connected to it.

The following “futures” odds have been posted by the online sportsbook Bodog. Odds obviously come with no guarantees. That’s why Las Vegas can afford really big hotels.

But it’s worth noting that the Falcons, despite their lopsided home playoff loss to the Packers, have not dropped at all in the minds of oddsmakers. They’re listed at 16-1 to win the Super Bowl. That’s tied for eighth overall and the third-best odds among NFC teams, behind only Green Bay (7-1) and New Orleans (14-1). Dallas and Philadelphia also are 16-1.

Bodog is less optimistic about the …

Continue reading Title odds: Falcons 16-1, Dogs 50-1, Jackets 150-1 »

Let the debate begin: Ranking NFL next season (1 to 32)

Falcons will need to rebound next season from playoff disaster. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Falcons will need to rebound next season from playoff disaster. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

(Updated at 7 a.m.)

Before this NFL season, Minnesota and Dallas were embraced by oddsmakers as much as the Green Bay Packers. All three were listed among NFC teams at 12-1 to win the Super Bowl.

The Packers ended up winning Sunday’s Super Bowl against Pittsburgh. The Vikings and Cowboys ended up firing their coaches and providing us all with hours of hilarity and created the ultimate debate: Is it more fun to mock Brett Favre or Jerry Jones?

It’s difficult to project an NFL season. Half the playoff field from the previous year usually implodes. But if you’re wondering about next season, no worries. With the Super Bowl officially ending the year, here’s a peek at next season. These rankings are subject to change after the draft, free agency or any day I suspect commissioner Roger Goodell will blow up the season with a lockout. (Teams listed with this year’s record).

Caption

Only Aaron Rodgers is …

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‘Rejuvenated’ Richt can thank McGarity for having his back

Mark Richt

Mark Richt feels "like a brand new coach."

Greg McGarity

Greg McGarity knows Richt was "beat down."

Moments after Isaiah Crowell put on a Georgia hat and announced, “I’m gonna be a Dog,” Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity picked up the telephone and called Mark Richt.

“I was in my office and phoned Mark and said, ‘OK, you can relax a little bit now,’” McGarity recalled. “He said, ‘It was a great day.’ Then I told him, ‘Take a little bit of time off.’ We had a [standing] meeting scheduled for Friday but I told him, ‘There’s nothing [we] need to talk about. Just go and get away from it for a little while.’ He deserved a break.”

Great recruiting classes don’t come with guarantees. Nor do staff changes and new strength and conditioning programs. But if Mark Richt manages to turn around a Georgia football program that has been on the decline and is coming off its worst season in 14 years, he can start by thanking his boss.

Amid cries from alumni, fans and media to fire Richt, McGarity has …

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Georgia recruiting: Now Richt must turn stars into wins

Mark Richt is hoping his "5-star" recruits pan out more like Aaron Murray than Caleb King. (Brant Sanderlin)

Mark Richt hopes his "5-star" recruits pan out more like Aaron Murray than Caleb King.

(Update III after Isaiah Crowell’s announcement, 2:30 p.m..)

ATHENS – The plan was to build an invisible fence along state borders. Mark Richt did that. He kept the best players that carry a Georgia postmark. He created a highlight for the program. He made folks forget, even if for a day, what has happened on the field in the last two seasons and, worst of all, what happened Dec. 31 against a Conference USA team.

There’s really only issue left unanswered: What does it mean?

College football teams don’t win games in February. If that were true, the Bulldogs would regularly play in BCS bowls. Think of national letter of intent day as a trip to the grocery store. A great cook can spend $40 and create a wonderful meal. A bad cook can spend $100 and hand you something south of Chef Boyardee.

Ingredients haven’t been the problem at Georgia. According to Scout.com, one of the major recruiting …

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Isaiah Crowell: From recruit to key to Georgia’s season?

Two new Bulldogs: Isaiah Crowell of Georgia and his little pal. (AP photo)

Two young Bulldogs (one human): Isaiah Crowell of Georgia and his little pal. (AP photo)

(Updated with Mark Richt comments.)

ATHENS — Isaiah Crowell just signed his letter of intent to attend Georgia. So is it too early to assume he’s the key to next season? I don’t think so.

Crowell is a 5-star recruit. He’s the nation’s consensus top running back. Highlights and statistics from Carver-Columbus project possible greatness. But we’ve seen too much to assume anything. Most recently, we’ve seen Caleb King, a former 5-star recruit who has been a huge disappointment.

But if Crowell lives up to the hype, he will become something even more important than the best player in Georgia’s recruiting class. He’ll be the most important player on the Bulldogs’ roster next season.

When asked how he sees Crowell contributing, coach Mark Richt said, “Heavily. … I wouldn’t be shocked to see him running that rock in the Dome against Boise State on the opening play if he does what he’s supposed …

Continue reading Isaiah Crowell: From recruit to key to Georgia’s season? »

Georgia recruiting: Waiting on Isaiah Crowell (and normalcy)

The future of mankind tilts one way or the other, depending on if Isaiah Crowell plays for Georgia or Alabama. Or so it seems. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Georgia is a slight betting favorite (unofficial odds) to land running back Isaiah Crowell over Alabama. (Jason Getz)

In the interest of full disclosure, two weeks ago I set up a search column on Twitter via  my Tweetdeck to keep up on Internet rumors about where a certain high school football player might go to college. And I had I known almost 30 years ago that I would ever type that string of words, I would’ve told my father, “Yes, pops. I would love to sell insurance.”

Thursday is my favorite day of the year. That’s because it’s the day after national letter of intent day, when the creepiness of grown adults — OK, some not so grown — consumed with where 18-year-olds go to school moves back into the shadows.

I get why recruiting has grown to ridunkulous proportions. Our obsession with college football has mushroomed. It follows that the feeder system into college football has blown up with it. Technology like Twitter and Facebook just makes it easier to lurk. When it’s

"Why won't he take my calls? I'm Nick Saban!"

"Why …

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As Braves get started, Fredi Gonzalez looks like Cox 2.0

Bobby Cox left behind his cigar humidor xxx.

The retired Bobby Cox left behind an office-warming present for his replacement, Fredi Gonzalez: his cigar humidor.

Fredi Gonzalez hasn’t fully transitioned to his new job yet. He was walking around in shorts and a Braves hoodie the other day, with no name on his door and his office — still filled with old furniture with empty drawers and stripped down walls — ready for an extreme makeover.

Asked if he would sit for a photo behind the desk that once belonged to Bobby Cox, Gonzalez said, “That’s not mine.”

Instead, he stood off to the side, adjacent to the cigar humidor, which Cox left behind.

“The humidor is the only thing that’s staying,” he said. “Bobby gave that to me as a gift.”

In the Braves’ managerial world, the passing of the torch involves a lit Macanudo.

Three and a half months after replacing the retired Cox, Gonzalez began his on-field duties as manager this week, albeit on a small scale. The Braves are holding their annual pitching camp at Turner Field before they …

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