Archive for November, 2011

Mike Smith picked wrong time to take a huge gamble

Mike Smith made the surprising decision to go for it on fourth down in overtime. (Curtis Compton/AJC)

Mike Smith's surprising decision: Go for it on fourth down in overtime. (Curtis Compton)

Let’s put aside for now that the Falcons probably got jobbed by a replay official. And that the wrong play may have been called on fourth down. And that, yes, no matter what the circumstances are, an offensive line and a 247-pound running back should be able to bulldoze their way to a one-foot gain.

Mike Smith picked a very strange time to get bold. The wrong time.

The Falcons lost to the New Orleans Saints 26-23 in overtime on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. It was a three-point game won in the 67th minute between two division rivals who may battle for first place for seven more weeks. So this certainly is no time to make grand proclamations about one team being superior over the other.

Simply, the Falcons lost because they made more mistakes. They had too many too penalties (10, including four 15-yarders), too many drops (two alone by Roddy White, one of which led to an interception and a …

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Georgia saves its best for when it matters most

Aaron Murray threw four first-half touchdown passes when Dogs took a 35-7 lead. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Aaron Murray's four first-half touchdown passes gave Dogs a 35-7 lead. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

(UPDATED: 8:30 p.m.)

ATHENS — So. How many points do you think Georgia will be favored by over LSU?

The unexpected metamorphosis of the Bulldogs from 0-2 and punch-drunk to 8-2 and potential conference finalist took another unexpected turn Saturday. They were dominant. They were smart and efficient and tough. They looked remarkably top-10ish. They won a conference game that mattered in a way we probably haven’t seen in Athens since 2007.

Georgia body-slammed Auburn 45-7.

As the university president, Michael Adams, neatly summarized, “That was the first time this year when we really ran over somebody. You never know when a team is going to grow up.”

Goodbye to the wonder years. If this performance was something nobody could have projected two months ago, consider that the SEC East title suddenly comes down to a simple and certainly probable two-word mandate: Beat Kentucky.

Beat …

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LIVE: Gamecocks win, Dogs try to stay ahead in SEC East

It's Saturday in Athens. Can Georgia extend its winning streak today against Auburn?

It's Saturday in Athens. Can Georgia extend its winning streak today against Auburn?

ATHENS — Hello, and welcome to any place but State College.  I considered not posting the pregame blog until after the South Carolina-Florida game, but figured this would give some of you folks an outlet to comment on that game until Georgia and Auburn kicks off at 3:30.

As I wrote earlier in the week, the Bulldogs are in a position that didn’t seem plausible two months after they started the season 0-2. They have won seven straight and, at 5-1 in the SEC, sit one-half game ahead of South Carolina (5-2) in the SEC East. Forget the contributing circumstances (Georgia’s soft schedule; the Gamecocks losing their Marcus Lattimore and Stephen Garcia losing his mind). All that really matters is if the Gamecocks lose and the Dogs win today, Georgia is division champions.

Even if both teams win, the Dogs need only win next week’s home game over Kentucky to assure themselves a spot in the conference …

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Weekend Predictions: Number align for Dogs, Falcons

scoreboard 002

Hello, and welcome back to another adventure of, “Yeah, I knew that would happen.”

Before getting to this week’s episode, “My Three Ideas To Fix Government: Um, uh … oops,” by Rick Perry, I have great financial news.

This is Weekend Predictions No. 11 for the season. And Friday’s date is 11/11/11. Ooh. Scary.

According to Chinese feng shui — OK, according to a story I saw about a chain letter going around that referenced the date being Chinese feng shui-friendly — calendar dates with repeating “1’s” in it are called “moneybags.” Word is that you need only refer this news to eight friends, assuming none work in State College, to assure yourself of riches, so sayeth, the proverb.

In gambling, this is what we like to refer to as, “A system.” Also bankruptcy.

We need to start Rick Perry with something slow, like the Three Stooges.

Rick Perry should start with something easy: The Three Stooges.

My last system blew up. When Georgia started the season 0-2, I applied the, “They’re Toast” system and it didn’t work.  Two months later, the Bulldogs are …

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Penn State finally says no to Joe Paterno, fires him

Joe Paterno is saying goodbye, but not in the way anybody anticipated for the college coaching legend.

Joe Paterno is saying goodbye, but not in the way anybody anticipated for the college coaching legend.

The final day of Joe Paterno’s career was different from every other one: Somebody finally said no to him.

After a dizzying few days that saw Penn State become engulfed in a sex abuse scandal that will linger for years in criminal and civil cases, the Penn State Board of Trustees ousted Paterno as head coach and university president Graham Spanier following an emergency meeting Wednesday night.

The stunning firing of Paterno came only hours after the 85-year-old coach had announced he would retire — apparently without any approval from school officials — at the end of the season. But that would have created a circus atmosphere, beginning with Saturday’s final home game against Nebraska, that the board apparently didn’t want.

This story has moved at a dizzying pace. It’s going to take a while to digest. But nobody could have anticipated that Paterno, one of the legends …

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Paterno’s statement’s not enough, Penn State dropped ball

Joe Paterno is retiring but will be allowed to coach the rest of the season

Joe Paterno is retiring, but he will be allowed to coach the rest of the season. (AP photo)

Joe Paterno will coach at least three more football games.

This is not going to be pretty.

Paterno confirmed this morning that he will retire at the end of the season. This follows ugly sexual abuse claims against former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky and the belief by many that school officials, including Paterno, may have been complicit in covering up the matter and/or could have done more to push for an investigation.

Paterno released a statement in which he conceded, “With the benefit of hindsight, I wish I had done more.”

They were the proper words. But they should have been spoken, not released via email, before anybody at Penn State even considered allowing him back on the sideline.

I can’t imagine any university, company or entity handling a situation worse than how Penn State has handled the past few days.

Paterno’s complete statement:

“I am absolutely …

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Win streak shows Dogs haven’t quit on season or Richt

Mark Richt is smiling a lot more since an 0-2 start this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Mark Richt is smiling a lot more since an 0-2 start this season. (Jason Getz/AJC)

ATHENS – Let’s put aside for a moment the acknowledged asterisk of a soft schedule, that even the head coach has been underwhelmed by some of the wins, and certainly that Steve Spurrier and Stephen Garcia have provided everybody outside of Columbia with some wonderful comic relief.

Georgia has won seven consecutive games. That’s impressive at any level.

It’s a monumental achievement for an SEC team – even in a season when the SEC East doesn’t project as SEC-like.

The first two games against Boise State and South Carolina had been projected by at least one player as “our season.” The Bulldogs lost them both. The fact those losses haven’t defined their season says something about this team.

It doesn’t mean the word “great” should be stamped on the team. Nor does it guarantee anything for the Auburn game Saturday or the final few weeks on the schedule. But when a team goes …

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Paterno morally obliged to answer questions on Sandusky

Joe Paterno needs to say more about what he knew regarding Jerry Sandusky and when he knew it.

Joe Paterno needs to say more about what he knew regarding Jerry Sandusky and when he knew it.

After reading the Pennsylvania grand jury’s presentation, the first thought is not that Jerry Sandusky needs to go to prison if the allegations are true – it’s that he should be tied to the bumper of a Chevy and pushed off a cliff. I say that not as a father of two but as any human being with a shred of decency, morality and a soul.

“Victim 2” (of eight listed in the document) was estimated to be 10 when he was seen in the locker room showers at Penn State being subjected to sexual intercourse by Sandusky, then 58, in 2002.

“Victim 4” was 12 or 13 in 1996 or 1997 when he was “repeatedly subjected to Involuntary Deviate Sexual Intercourse and Indecent Assault at the hands of Sandusky.”

“Victim 5” was 8 or 10 and attended as many as 15 football games with Sandusky who said he felt uncomfortable about constantly being approached by Sandusky in the showers, and one …

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Potential first: Georgia and Tech both playing for titles

Mark Richt and Paul Johnson have their teams in posiition for title shots.

Mark Richt and Paul Johnson have their teams in position for title shots. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

This didn’t seem possible when Georgia opened the season with losses to Boise State and South Carolina and Georgia Tech followed a 6-0 start with losses to Virginia and Miami: But both schools can all but assure themselves of a ticket to their respective conference championship game this week.

The Bulldogs and Jackets never have played for conference championships in the same season since the SEC (1992) and ACC (2005) split off into divisions, nor have they ever won conference titles in the same season.

Here’s the backdrop:

Georgia (5-1 in SEC plays) holds a half-game lead over South Carolina (5-2) in the SEC East and is a whopping 12½-point favorite over Auburn Saturday in Athens. If the Dogs win, they need to only beat Kentucky at home the following week to clinch the East. The Gamecocks’ final conference game is against Florida, which was Georgia’s last SEC victim. …

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Miles and LSU beat Saban at his own game (UPDATED)

Les Miles deserved to be in middle of the celebration after a 9-6 win over Alabama.

Les Miles deserved to be in middle of the celebration after a 9-6 win over Alabama.

(UPDATED)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Notwithstanding that college football’s projected game of the century had the distinct look of a Liverpool-Chelsea soccer game, this night belonged to Les Miles.

Miles replaced Nick Saban, who had won a national championship at LSU in 2003. Miles won a BCS title himself four years later. But it seemed he never was fully embrace in Baton Rouge. Then came last November. A Miles-esque fake field goal in the fourth quarter led to a touchdown and a 24-21 comeback win over Alabama at LSU. And he just did it again.

Miles and the Tigers found themselves in the unusual position as the BCS’s No. 1 ranked team but a five-point underdog to No. 2 Saban and Alabama Saturday. Safe to say it will be the last time this season they will be an underdog — and the last time Miles has to hear, “He’s good, but he’s not Nick.”

In a meeting of two 8-0 teams, the Tigers won in overtime 9-6. …

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