Recently, Stewart Mandel of Sports Illustrated was asked which nonconference game of 2013 he was most looking forward to, and he ranked Georgia vs. Clemson at the top of his list, ahead of Oklahoma-Notre Dame, Notre Dame-Michigan, LSU-TCU (the Aug. 31 Cowboys Classic) and Florida-Miami.
Said Mandel of the Aug. 31 pairing of the Bulldogs and Tigers: “This sporadically re-continued regional rivalry takes on national importance this season, as it’s likely to pit two preseason Top 10 teams and two potential first-round quarterbacks, Georgia’s Aaron Murray and Clemson’s Tajh Boyd. It should also feature a healthy heaping of Tigers receiver Sammy Watkins and strangely overlooked Dawgs running back Todd Gurley. (As a freshman, Gurley ran for 1,385 yards and 17 touchdowns, including 122 yards and two scores in the SEC title game against Alabama.) The winner will gain serious legitimacy going forward, especially
Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Buddy Johnson writes: Bill, I was happy to hear this week that Georgia and Florida State are in talks to play a neutral site game in 2016, probably the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. I’d love to see the Dogs and Noles play again somewhere other than in a bowl game, and I’m sure Coach Mark Richt would be excited by the prospect. Do you think this might get derailed by all the talk about the SEC going to a nine-game conference schedule? I know UGA leaders have said that would mean the end of big-name nonconference opponents like Clemson.
Even if the conference decides to make the nine-game scheduling move, which is far from a fait accompli, SEC observers doubt the conference would be able to institute the change before 2017. But even if it did happen a year earlier, UGA probably still would be willing to sacrifice a cupcake win and a home game for the obvious benefits that come from a high-profile neutral site game like
For UGA fans, it’s sweet to have the Gators fretting about Jacksonville and the Florida coach being the one answering questions about the other team’s winning streak.
Asked by reporters this week about Georgia’s two consecutive wins in the series before a Gator Club appearance in Jacksonville, Will Muschamp puffed up his chest and boomed, “Well, it’s not going to be a long winning streak, I can assure you. We feel very comfortable.”
Maybe so. But despite the lazier media types still falling back on the old trope about Florida “owning” the series against Georgia, the days when Steve Spurrier’s version of the Gators did indeed routinely dominate the Bulldogs are increasingly lost in the mists of time. Over the past six games, the Georgia-Florida series is tied 3-3. And, of course, the Dogs have won the past two. That makes Mark Richt 4-8 overall against Florida.
The current even nature of the series
The success of UGA football’s Young Alumni Program, which took frequently unused seats away from the student body’s ticket allotment and made them available to recent graduates, ought to send a loud and clear message to the undergrads:
Show up for games, or there might be even fewer student tickets sold in the future.
The young alums program, instituted for the coming football season, offered those who graduated from the University of Georgia within the past five years (May 1, 2008-May 31, 2013) the opportunity to request renewable season tickets for football without having to make the usual required donation.
The 2,000 tickets in question, previously part of the 16,000 allotted to students, are those in the northeast upper level of Sanford Stadium, where UGA averaged about 6,000 empty seats last year. That was especially embarrassing to the
Despite all the chatter since the announcement of the SEC Network last week about the SEC increasing from eight conference games to a nine-game conference schedule in football, the change apparently won’t happen before 2016.
Tony Barnhart reports CBSSports.com has been told the scheduling formats for 2014 and 2015 will be presented later this month at the conference’s spring meetings in Destin, Fla., and both seasons call for sticking with the eight-game model.
Still, the nine-game schedule is starting to look inevitable.
Last week at the announcement of the SEC’s new partnership with ESPN, Commissioner Mike Slive took note of the the upcoming College Football Playoff and the strength of scheduling factor that its selection committee will take into account. “Obviously the playoff impacts how we think about scheduling,” Slive said. “Strength of scheduling will be a significant component in the committee’s analysis. As far as I am concerned, I am open-minded about how we should
There are a lot of stressed-out kids in Athens right now, as UGA is in the midst of final exams, so here’s wishing the best of luck to my daughter and all the other Bulldogs!
Meanwhile, let’s get to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …
Chris Pugh writes: Bill, I’m concerned that we Georgia fans and the media are setting ourselves up for a disappointment. I hear a lot of people yelling, “National champs this year, we’re gonna go all the way” and how this defense is gonna be better then last year’s. Look, I love my Dawgs but the last 2 years’ schedules have been pretty dang easy. And this year is no joke, we could easily lose four games, and it wouldn’t surprise me if we lose to Clemson with a young defense playing Clemson’s high-powered offense. What’s your thought on this?
This is the time of year when fan (and media) optimism runs high, but you’re right that Mark Richt’s Bulldogs face a much more daunting schedule this season. And the rebuilding defense remains a big question
ESPN’s SEC Blog is conducting a poll on who was the biggest star of the spring in the SEC, and as this is written Georgia’s Tray Matthews is leading the vote.
It’s no wonder. As ESPN’s Chris Low puts it, Matthews “is only a true freshman who enrolled early” but he “played well enough this spring (and handed out enough bone-crunching licks) that he enters preseason camp as one of the starters at safety.”
Starting a true freshman at safety might be worrisome in a lot of cases, but Mark Richt noted recently that Matthews arrived in Athens “ready to play” and focused on winning a starting position, and “It may be tough to knock him out of the box.”
The hard-hitting Matthews was definitely the talk of spring practice among Georgia’s coaches and players and seems the natural answer when I’m asked, as I have been several times recently, who I see as one
Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Brownie Lawson writes: I know a lot of the Bulldog Nation has been watching the NFL draft, but I can’t really work up much enthusiasm for it. I’m happy if former Dawgs get drafted, but it’s not really that important to me, especially those players that left school early. But I seem to be in the minority. Bill, tell me why I should care that Jarvis Jones and Alec Ogletree went in the first round.
I understand where you’re coming from, Brownie, especially when it comes to those who didn’t play out their eligibility in Athens, but as with so many other things in the college game these days, it all comes back to recruiting. Kids want to play in a program that they see as a pipeline to the pros. That’s what hurts triple-option programs like Georgia Tech, which play a brand of the game foreign to what’s seen on
ESPN did one of its SportsNation polls recently to determine who was the SEC’s most underappreciated football coach.
Georgia’s Mark Richt won, with 43 percent of more than 13,200 votes cast, beating out LSU’s Les Miles, who took 27 percent of the vote.
Third place went to Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen (12 percent), followed by Florida’s Will Muschamp (11 percent) and Missouri’s Gary Pinkel (7 percent).
Richt and Miles have each won two SEC championships, and Miles won a national title in 2007.
Two years ago Richt was on the hot seat after a 6-7 season, but he turned things around. After opening the 2011 season 0-2, his Dawgs have won 22 of their last 26 games. And, as ESPN noted, two of those losses came in the SEC championship game to teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the country.
Still, there are still plenty of gripes from a noisy contingent of the Bulldog Nation about Richt not having won a
First, a bit of fan news you can use …
UGA is reaching out to alumni who would like to be part of the school’s next television promo to be aired nationwide during the 2013 football season (replacing the R.E.M. spot). The university says the new film involves photos and videos of memorable UGA moments creatively coming together, ending to form Georgia’s iconic Arch.
If you’d like to submit your favorite photographic memories of UGA for possible inclusion in the spot, simply visit the special Facebook page they’ve created for this purpose and share your photos. To be considered for inclusion in the spot, your photo must be submitted by Tuesday, April 30.
And here’s another way of showing your UGA pride: A new design featuring the “power G” has been unveiled for the UGA vehicle license tag available to Georgia drivers. The new tag features a red, black and silver-gray design encompassing the entire