Archive for May, 2009

Newsstand previews have Dogs in Top 20

First day back from Italy, I saw one of the sure signs of impending summer: preseason college football preview magazines on the newsstands. 

Not surprisingly, the Dawgs don’t have the lofty expectations of last year at this time, when they were the consensus preseason No. 1 team, but both Lindy’s Southeastern 2009 Preview ($6.99) and Sporting News College Football ‘09 ($7.99) see them in the Top 20. 

Lindy’s puts UGA at No. 17, right behind the Trade School. Florida is, of course, No. 1 and other SEC schools ranked include LSU (6), Alabama (7) and Ole Miss (9). The Dawgs’ opening opponent, Oklahoma State, is ranked No. 10. 

The magazine’s assessment of Georgia includes a cheap shot quote from an anonymous SEC coach (who sounds like he probably was one of those who lost to Mark Richt last year). He says last year’s UGA team might have been “kind of soft. They never knocked you off the ball or blocked that well.”

Lindy’s sums up the 2009 Dawgs by noting their “ambitious” …

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Bulldogs abroad and SEC rule changes

So I’m walking through the airport in Frankfurt, Germany, Wednesday after my family and I had arrived from Milan, Italy, for our connecting flight back to Atlanta, and I’m wearing a Bulldogs T-shirt, as I’m known to do pretty regularly. As I pass another group of travelers, one of them looks at my shirt and proclaims with a smile in slightly accented English, “Georgia!” 

A nice reminder that the borders of the Bulldog Nation reach farther than you might expect.

The night before, at our hotel in northern Italy’s beautiful lake district, we’d shared our dinner table with a woman who attended the University of Iowa and another from Ohio State. As one of them put it, “a Hawkeye, a Buckeye and four Bulldogs.” We had something in common with the Buckeye, though, because she’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and, in particular, a major admirer of Hines Ward. That made up for the fact that she initially thought we might be from the Illinois Decatur rather than the Georgia one. 

Anyway, it …

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Where’s the Junkyard Blawger?

Bill King is on vacation and will return to blogging on May 29. In the meantime, feel free to continue discussing UGA sports in the comments. …

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Missing piece for Richt

Why is it that Mark Richt doesn’t get more respect? recently released the results of its latest SportsNation poll on the current state of SEC football, and one thing that caught my eye was the response to the question of who is the best coach in the conference. You’d expect Urban Meyer, coming off his second BCS national championship at Florida, to top that list and he did, taking 51 percent of the 17,655 votes.

But who was next? Alabama’s Nick Saban at 22 percent, followed by LSU’s Les Miles at 15 percent. Then came Richt and South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier (whose best days are behind him), tied at 6 percent.

Looking just at the numbers, you’d think Richt might have done better. The guy has won two SEC championships in eight seasons at UGA, and with a won-loss record of 82-22, his winning percentage of .788 is fourth best in the country among active coaches. (Meyer’s  overall winning percentage is .830.) Richt is one of only seven coaches in Division 1-A history to …

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Bulldog Bites: Baseball collapse, softball Super Regional, Jeff Owens

The good news: There will be an NCAA Super Regional in Athens this year.

The bad news for Georgia baseball fans: It won’t involve the Diamond Dogs, whose embarrassing weekend sweep by South Carolina makes 12 losses in the past 15 games. Flat. Out. Awful.

No, the Super Regional announced this morning will be in softball, with the No. 6 national-seed Georgia Bulldogs (42-10) playing host to the No. 11 national-seed Ohio State Buckeyes (47-9) in a best-of-three game series this Thursday and Friday at the UGA Softball Stadium on Milledge Avenue. The opening game is set for 7 p.m. Thursday, with Game 2 at 4:30 p.m. will be Friday If necessary, Game 3 would follow Game 2 on Friday at 6:30 p.m.

This is the eighth consecutive NCAA Softball Championship appearance for Lu Harris-Champer’s program. The Bulldogs will be making their third Super Regional appearance but will be hosting a Super Regional for the first time. Georgia earned its spot in this year’s Athens Super Regional by …

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Ex-Dawgs don’t always follow party line

The Urban Crier doesn’t like former Florida players criticizing the way his team is run, as he made clear in recent comments widely viewed as being aimed at ex-Gator quarterback Shane Matthews, who was critical on his radio show of the lizards’ offensive plan in their loss to Ole Miss last year. Said the Crier: “You’re either a Gator or you’re not a Gator.” The subtext: If you criticize the Crier, you’re not a Gator.

Over in the Bulldog Nation, Mark Richt thankfully has a much thicker skin and lets the very occasional criticism from former Dawgs roll off his back, at least in public. Mr. 60-Yarder, Kevin Butler, has been openly critical of the Dogs’ approach to the kicking game, particularly coverage of kickoffs, in some of his post-game broadcasts in Athens. And another UGA kicking great, Rex Robinson, has posted comments here critical of the Richt program’s penchant for directional kickoffs.

Well, Robinson apparently isn’t thrilled with the Dawgs’s defense over the past …

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Dog fans, who’s in your dream backfield?

Time for some fun.

If you could pick and choose from throughout the ages, who’d be in your all-time Bulldogs dream backfield? Would you try to get Trippi or Sinkwich in there with Herschel? Who’d play fullback? Quarterback?

For some unknown reason, I woke up with that question in my head the other day (beats worrying about the economy), so I put it to my brothers and a few other friends. 

Particularly at running back, there’s an embarrassment of riches from which to choose. Besides the obvious No. 34, fellow Heisman winner Frank Sinkwich and his 1942 backfield mate Charley Trippi, there’s Willie McClendon, Musa Smith, Garrison Hearst, Kevin McLee, Jimmy Poulos, Rodney Hampton, Lars Tate, Terrell Davis, Glynn Harrison, Robert Edwards, Tim Worley and the recently departed Knowshon Moreno, just to rattle off a few.  

Stellar fullbacks available include Bill Hartman (daddy of the former TV sports anchor, longtime assistant coach and Bulldog Club scholarship fund namesake), …

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Should Richt violate NCAA graduation rule?

For those wondering whether Mark Richt is likely to attend UGA signee Chris Burnette’s May 23 Troup High School graduation in violation of a patently stupid NCAA rule, it looks like the answer is no. 

To recap the situation: Burnette, who signed with UGA in February, is a straight-A student and Richt had promised the kid that he’d attend his graduation if he was valedictorian, not realizing he’d need to get an NCAA waiver to do that. Burnette didn’t make valedictorian but was picked as one of the graduation speakers, and so Richt still wanted to attend. But when UGA inquired informally about getting a waiver from the NCAA, they were told that one would not likely be granted because the student wasn’t a valedictorian.  

Some folks thought Richt ought to go anyway and take a secondary NCAA violation on principle. But when I asked UGA compliance director Eric Baumgartner about the possibility of that, his reply was succinct: “We do not intentionally violate any NCAA rules.”

For …

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UGA extremes: Dooley and Donnan

There’ve been some odd juxtapositions in Bulldogs-related news this week worthy of comment: longtime College Football Hall of Fame member Vince Dooley receiving the Bear Bryant Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Heart Association, former UGA coach Jim Donnan getting inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame’s “divisional” class for his 1-AA success at Marshall before coming to Georgia, and quarterback-turned-trainwreck Quincy Carter, formerly of the Dogs, being arrested yet again in Texas on a probation violation.

OK, first Dooley. The only surprising thing about his honor, previously given to the likes of Barry Switzer, Tom Osborne and Bo Schembechler, is that they’re just getting around to it. Dooley, only the ninth coach in NCAA Division 1 history to win more than 200 games, has always been one of the classiest guys in his field and won six SEC titles and a national championship. I know there’s a faction of fandom that associates Dooley with a less exciting …

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Bulldog Bites: Steve Greer, Rex Robinson, weak offenses

Steve Greer, one of the legendary All-SEC and All-American linemen from the Dooley era, a UGA athletics staffer for many years (he helped recruit Herschel Walker) and currently director of football operations, is retiring June 30. UGA legend Dan Magill reminisces about Greer’s career as a player in his latest column in the Athens Banner-Herald. … Another Georgia legend, Rex Robinson, is now blogging. So far he’s written about suspensions and the problems of living in a fishbowl, and on how competition from someone trying to take away his job helped make him a success at UGA. Check it out here. … David Hale of the Bulldogs Blog takes a look at the less-than-stellar prospects for offenses in the SEC in the coming season. Lots of green, relatively inexperienced quarterbacks will be starting, which means the league’s defenses (including Willie Martinez’s at Georgia) shouldn’t be allowing 30-plus points a game. The pressure is on, Hale says.

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