Archive for February, 2009

Diamond Dogs look to break jinx

Ah, the sweet clank of cowhide on aluminum! Yes, college baseball is back.

I spent a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon over in Athens this past Saturday watching David Perno’s 2009 Diamond Dogs showing off their offense for a near-capacity crowd at Foley Field, scoring double digits in all three games of their opening home stand for the first time since 1980.

It was a better than expected turnout against an unranked opponent (Youngstown State), with only a handful of seats in the shady (and very chilly on this day) reserved seat section going unfilled. In fact, the team drew 8,868 over the three-game opening stand, breaking a record set against Oregon State in 2007. It was a nice mix of local oldsters who regularly turn out, sorority girls with their dads, and families with young kids. Plus some of the hardcore were out at the foot of Kudzu Hill. A lot of folks like me from metro Atlanta were there, too. (It’s not a bad drive; I was walking up to the ticket window less than 90 …

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No. 1 for Stafford? I don’t care

I’m sorry, but I can’t really get too worked up about whether Matthew Stafford throws for the pro scouts or not and whether he goes No. 1 in the NFL draft.

I enjoyed watching him play for the Dawgs and I wish him well in his pro career. I’ll definitely follow his progress, though perhaps not with the same feeling as I would for a player who stuck around his full four years in Athens and accomplished a bit more.

If he goes No. 1, good for him (though I’m not sure it really will be good for him if that means he winds up in Detroit). If he doesn’t go No. 1 but still goes on to become a top-notch NFL quarterback, I doubt anyone will remember where he went in the draft. And if he’s a bust in the pros (unlikely as that seems), he’ll only get cited as one of those No. 1 draft picks that didn’t work out.

Aside from possibly padding Stafford’s bank account a bit more (and that of his agent), I can’t see where there’s that much of an up side to going No. 1.

OK, I recognize there’s maybe …

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Dogs haven’t given up after all!

Originally posted Feb. 14, 2009:


The other day a friend asked me if I thought the struggling Georgia basketball team would manage another win this season.

I had to admit it was looking doubtful.

Watching the basketball Dogs in recent weeks had become painful, with all the turnovers and the lousy shooting indicating the players had pretty much given up on the season.

Then came today. Not only did the Dogs win, but over the lofty lizards from Gainesville, with Terrance Woodbury scoring 32 points.


That’s as sweet as it is unexpected.

No, I’m not thinking this is some major turnaround and that the basketball Dogs are going to make a late-season run at respectability.

But then I didn’t think they’d beat Florida, either.

No matter what happens the rest of the way, they have one sweet upset in conference play they can point to.

Never say never!

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Remembering “Big Jim”

Originally posted on Feb. 7, 2009:


Scarlett’s Aunt Pittypat may have fretted about “Yankees in Georgia!” but for a couple of decades before the Vince Dooley era, UGA got some of its best players by venturing north of the Mason-Dixon line, particularly to Pennsylvania, where the Bulldogs signed Frank Sinkwich, Charley Trippi, John Rauch and the outstanding pair of All-American tackles who anchored Dooley’s first offensive line … Ray Rissmiller and Jim Wilson.

Both went on to play in the NFL and Wilson, who died this past week at age 67, began a controversial career in the “sports entertainment” field as wrestler “Big Jim” Wilson while still in the NFL, working primarily in the Atlanta-based promotion that was a precursor to Ted Turner’s late WCW, where another Bulldog, Bill Goldberg, wrestled a generation later. Being a former Dawg and an NFL player, Wilson quickly became something of a star on the wrestling circuit, and in high school I remember kids on the bus in Athens …

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A challenge for Damon Evans

Originally posted on Jan. 29, 2009:


I never like to see a good man lose his job, though with the kind of buyout clauses big-time basketball coaches have in their contracts, the sympathy is measured. Dennis Felton is, by all accounts and appearances, a good man. He just wasn’t a very good head basketball coach for an underperforming program at a big school in a major conference. As an administrator, Felton appeared to be a bit too inflexible, judging by the number of players he ran off over the past few years. OK, maybe some (or all) of them deserved to be run off. But that probably means Felton wasn’t recruiting the type of players he needed for his type of program. He sure wasn’t recruiting the talent needed to win big in the SEC. Or, this year, to win at all in the SEC. As a game coach, the verdict on Felton was mixed. I’ve seen games where he looked at times like a master strategist and others where he appeared out of sync with or even indifferent to what was …

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A matter of perspective

Originall posted on Jan. 20, 2009:


After spending the past week sitting with my two brothers as our 86-year-old father is tended to by the doctors and nurses of the Intensive Care Unit of Athens Regional Medical Center, I feel a bit disconnected from the world at large, including the sports world. But believe me, when someone you love is seriously ill, the ups and downs of college athletics are less than a top priority.


Not completely out of mind, though. My brother Jon the gymnastics fan has kept us up to date on the Gym Dogs. And sitting with our uncle the other day talking about Dad, we still managed to touch briefly on the football prospects for next season and the budding disaster that is the current UGA men’s basketball team. We even caught a few minutes of that best-forgotten game against Kentucky between hospital visits.


Before Dad fell ill last week, I had planned on writing about the always-next-year nature of the basketball program under Dennis Felton … and …

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No, the sky isn’t falling

Originally posted on Jan. 7, 2009:


So we know now that thanks to Matt Stafford and Knowshon Moreno leaving early for the NFL draft and Mohamed Massaquoi graduating, three of the Dawgs’ Fab Four will be gone next season. Sounds dire, but I’m not so sure the Georgia offense is going to be as bad off as some folks in the Bulldog Nation fear. I think Joe Cox will be fine at QB. He’s not as talented as Matthew Stafford, granted, but he throws a nice ball and knows the offense. And he’ll still have A.J. Green, Michael Moore and Kris Durham as big targets, not to mention any other receivers that step up. As I said last week, I’m more concerned with the falloff at tailback, though the tandem of Caleb King and Richard Samuel certainly has potential, and I’m betting Washaun Ealey doesn’t redshirt like Moreno did. The young offensive line, while not exactly top-caliber, should be markedly improved after this season’s baptism by fire. Plus Trinton Sturdivant should be back. The …

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