Archive for August, 2011

Michael Vick’s new contract will benefit Falcons’ pockets

Michael Vick: Finally out of debt.

Michael Vick: He's finally out of debt.

Arthur Blank: He'll get back $7.5 million, maybe more.

Arthur Blank: He'll get $7.5 million, maybe more.

So if I read this correctly, Michael Vick just helped Arthur Blank move $7.5 million closer to getting a new stadium.

Vick’s new reported six-year, $100 million contract with the Philadelphia Eagles means he should be able to clear all of the creditors listed in his original bankruptcy, which totaled about $20 million.

Not surprisingly, the biggest creditor was the Falcons. They are owed $7.5 million from his signing bonus after he defaulted on his contract. Something about dog fighting and prison. It’s all a blur now.

Our D. Orlando Ledbetter reported back in April of 2009 that Vick and the Falcons had reached a settlement on the salary cap refund, so that part of the story is not news. But this could be: Via ProFootballTalk.com, the Falcons will seek and could receive salary cap credits, which would come as Vick returns the money.

Greg Aiello, the NFL’s vice president of public …

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Richt and Georgia have a chance to alter perceptions

Mark Richt is only 2-8 in his last 10 games against ranked teams. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Mark Richt is only 2-8 in his past 10 games against ranked teams. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

ATHENS – It wasn’t Mark Richt’s intention to contrast the recent state of two college football programs Tuesday when he praised Boise State. But the words just sort of tumbled out that way.

“They know what they’re doing, they believe in what they’re doing,” the Georgia coach said Tuesday. “Teams with a habit of winning are hard to beat.”

When the Bulldogs face Boise State on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome, it will be an opener like no other Richt has had. That’s not merely because most believe this season will determine his future. It’s just that nobody can be sure what to make of the Georgia program right now.

We know athletes still flock to the program because recruiting services tell us so. We know they can still sell tickets and romance donors and build wonderful facilities. But are they still a player where it counts most? Richt went 48-18 (.727) in 66 SEC games …

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Falcons win the Super Bowl! (or so says Sports Illustrated)

If Peter King is correct, Arthur Blank and Mike Smith will celebrate a Falcons Super Bowl win. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

If Peter King is correct, Arthur Blank and Mike Smith will celebrate a Falcons Super Bowl win. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

The Falcons ended last season with a 48-21 playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers. They will end this season with a 24-20 win over the San Diego Chargers . . . in the Super Bowl.

That bold prediction comes from neither a season ticket holder nor owner Arthur Blank but rather veteran NFL writer Peter King of Sports Illustrated. King’s column in Sports Illustrated’s NFL preview issue doesn’t yet appear online, but S.I. publicists sent out a link to his predictions. You can click it and see his division predictions in entirety, but here are the highlights:

NFC division champions: Philadelphia (East), Green Bay (North), New Orleans (South), St. Louis (West). NFC wild cards: Falcons and Detroit.

King had the Super Bowl teams right (but the winner wrong) in last year's preview issue.

Peter King had the Super Bowl teams right (but the winner wrong) in last year's S.I. preview issue.

AFC division champions: New England (East), Pittsburgh (North), …

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Paul Johnson: Ex-college stars should be punished for actions

Willis McGahee has long since said goodbye to Miami but if Paul Johnson had his way, players who took illegal benefits would pay a price.

Willis McGahee said goodbye to Miami years ago but if Paul Johnson had his way, players who took illegal benefits would pay a price.

If the claims of convicted felon Nevin Shapiro are to be believed,  he gave money, cars and assorted impermissible benefits to 72 Miami football players and other athletes over a nine-year period (2002-10). The Hurricanes are expected to be hit with NCAA probation as a result of this.

But what happens to all of those former Miami players? Nothing. That’s why Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson believes there needs to be some type of legislation that follows an athlete and acts as a deterrent for those taking illegal benefits.

“In my mind it’s not going to change until you do something to the people who are involved in [receiving things],” Johnson said. “You can maybe smear their name,  but what happens to them? They still get to sign big contracts. The guys who are left to get punished are the guys who didn’t know what was going on.”

This …

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Here are your best-case scenarios for Georgia, Georgia Tech

Mark Richt would smile at BCS bowl.

Richt would smile if Dogs made it to BCS bowl.

Paul Johnson's team could be better than expected.

Johnson's team could be better than expected.

Nobody has played a game yet and optimism reigns on most campuses this side of Coral Gables (NCAA investigators tend to put a damper on things). So this seems like a good time to pose the question: What’s the best that Georgia and Georgia Tech fans realistically can hope for this season?

ESPN The Magazine — the publication that turned Michael Vick white — listed Georgia as one of five dark-horses with at least five losses last season as a contender for a BCS bowl. The other four: Arizona State (6-6), Notre Dame (8-5), Iowa (8-5), South Carolina (9-5). The Bulldogs obviously stand out in that group. They were the only team with a losing record (6-7) and certainly the only one that lost to Colorado. A BCS bowl? Really?

And what’s the best Tech fans can hope for? The Jackets went from two winning seasons and an ACC championship in 2009 to a 6-7 record and a loss to Kansas last season. …

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Georgia will go 9-3 this season, and here’s how

Georgia coach Mark Richt faces a tough start to this season. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Georgia coach Mark Richt faces a tough start to this season. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(This appears in the AJC’s college football section on Sunday.)

(Click here to read here how and why things spun out of control for Georgia Tech last season)


Sept. 3, Boise State (Ga. Dome), 8 p.m.

No. 5 Boise State has been outscored 121-40 in its past three games against SEC teams: Georgia (48-13 in 2005), South Carolina (41-14 in 2002) and Arkansas (32-13 in 2001). I like the Broncos anyway. I’m not sure Georgia’s defense has an answer for quarterback Kellen Moore (left), and as terrific as Aaron Murray is, I suspect it will take a little while to get used to life without A.J. Green. The Dogs’ cast of running backs is obviously thin (and Carlton Thomas is suspended for this game). If freshman Isaiah Crowell comes out like a wrecking ball, all bets are off. But I’m betting not.

Prediction: Bulldogs lose.

Sept. 10, South Carolina, 4:30 p.m.

Marcus Lattimore rushed for 182 yards …

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Georgia Tech has something to prove this season

Paul Johnson needs to rally Georgia Tech back from a 6-7 season. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

Paul Johnson needs to rally Georgia Tech back from a 6-7 season. (Johnny Crawford/AJC)

(This appears in the AJC’s college football section on Sunday.)

(Click here to read Georgia’s game-by-game prediction and how they’ll finish 9-3.)

In Paul Johnson’s first two seasons at Georgia Tech, he went 20-7, won an ACC championship, beat Georgia, was named national coach of the year once, ACC coach of the year twice and probably even led some to think, “Wow, I guess that goofy offense can work in a BCS conference after all.”

Season 3 wasn’t a reality check. It was a 2-by-4.

“We definitely were walking on air going into last season,” wide receiver Tyler Melton said. “Not now.”

The Jackets went 6-7 in 2010. That punctured their ego. They saw the NCAA slap them with probation and strip them of the 2009 ACC title. That just made them angry. So they’ve gone from cocky and happy to humbled and bitter.

This is an important season for Johnson. He doesn’t need to win the …

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It’s ‘Sack Schultz’ time and you can win a trip to Hawaii!

If you can pick football games, she will be your tour guide.

If you can pick football games, she will be your tour guide.

Would you like to win a free $100 gift card to Taco Mac and a Fathead every week of the football season? Would you like two free tickets to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game? How about a $5,000 trip to Hawaii?

Hah! Fat chance, sunshine. The only way you can win any of the above prizes is to pick winners of college football games every week better than me — and that’s so not happening.

But amuse me. The “Sack Schultz” contest, a monumental success in year one, just went on performance-enhancers.

Sure, you get gift cards and a trip to Hawaii. I get a pat on the back. When I make a deadline. Which is seldom.

Here’s how it works. Go to www.ajc.com/go/sack-schultz to register. Registration begins now!

Your table (or stool) is waiting at Taco Mac.

Your table (or stool) is waiting at Taco Mac. (tacomac.com)

Each week, there will be a selection of college football games from across the nation. All you have to do is pick the winners. I will do the same, so you can actually …

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We interrupt this blog . . .

I wonder if I can use this as a write-off?

I wonder if I can use this as a write-off?

Time to finish up some vacation time before football gets here. I’ll be back soon, but before my return I’ll likely post a few things that are scheduled to appear in the AJC’s College Football’s Preview section, which will be published Aug. 28.

We’ll be releasing details soon for the second “Sack Schultz” contest. This is when you, the novice, get to pick football games every week against me, the expert. You’ll almost certainly fail miserably, which I’m with because then I’ll get to keep all of the prizes.

Seriously, though: I’ve just become aware of the prizes in this year’s “Sack Schultz” contest and they are crazy good. Let’s just say that if you think you are going to win, you might want to pack a suitcase. And bring suntan lotion. Details to come.

Also, I’ve heard from several followers of “Weekend Predictions.” Fear not, our weekly wild ride through the weekend’s games will return the first full college football week — online …

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Keegan Bradley goes from slopes to PGA Championship

Original CKeegan Bradley celebrates his 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to tie Jason Dufner for the lead in the PGA. He went on to win in a three-hole playoff. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Original CKeegan Bradley celebrates his 35-foot birdie putt on No. 17 to tie Jason Dufner for the lead in the PGA. He went on to win in a three-hole playoff. (Jason Getz/AJC)

With rain, sleet and a freezing wind blowing in his face at the top of a mountain, Keegan Bradley had a revelation at the age of 12.

It was cold. Cold stinks.

“I’m at the top of this mountain in Killington, Vermont, thinking, ‘This isn’t much fun,’” Bradley said Sunday. “That was the moment I realized I didn’t want to ski. I wanted to be a golfer.”

The PGA Championship this week at the Atlanta Athletic Club was bizarre. Tiger Woods blew up on Thursday and flew out on Friday. Phil Mickelson never was a factor. Nor was Rory McIlroy or most recognizable names on the Tour. If there was a bridge in Johns Creek, a television executive was jumping off of it.

So it sort of figured that the tournament came down to two of the biggest obscurities in the field: Jason Dufner, who had never won a Tour …

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