Archive for June, 2009

P.M. Roundup: Ranking the SEC stadiums

Having traveled to every SEC school at least once for football games, SouthernPigskin.com columnist Jeremy Hillman has decided to rank the 12 stadiums, taking into account their size, noise level, aesthetics and home field advantage based on the team’s home record the past nine years. Florida’s Ben Hill Griffin Stadium comes in first on the list, with UGA’s Sanford Stadium in second place. That’s based on placing second in size, sixth in noise, first in aesthetics (well, of course!) and third in home field advantage. …  

So Evan Berry, the little brother of Tennessee’s Eric Berry, has announced that he plans to play football for the Vols. Only catch is, he hasn’t even started high school yet. It’s not so ridiculous that a 13-year-old is announcing where he intends to go to college and play football. What’s ridiculous is that it’s actually being reported as if it were a serious verbal commitment for the class of 2013. …

DawgSports’ T. Kyle King takes an amusing look at Bulldog …

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Big picture not as pretty this year for UGA

How important you think the Learfield Sports Directors Cup really is probably depends on how your school ranks its final standings. 

It doesn’t help the cup’s prestige with the sports audience at large that it’s perennially won by Stanford, not exactly your biggest name in the two high-profile, big-money college sports, football and men’s basketball.

This year Stanford took its 15th consecutive Directors Cup, presented annually by the National Association of Collegiate Athletic Directors of America to the top intercollegiate athletic program in the nation. The Cardinal did it the way it always does — by loading up on championships and nationally ranked finishes in a host of mostly nonrevenue sports such as men’s gymnastics, women’s rowing, women’s volleyball, men’s water polo, men’s cross country, men’s swimming, women’s soccer … you get the idea.

They’re all legitimate sports, and UGA is certainly proud of its fifth straight national championship in women’s gymnastics and …

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In praise of the other Loran Smith

Georgia Bulldogs fans have a complicated relationship with Loran Smith, a longtime fixture on the UGA athletics scene. Sort of like that uncle with the bad jokes that you love dearly but would rather not sit next to at Thanksgiving.

 

Georgia Sports Communications

Georgia Sports Communications

I mean, no one questions that Smith is probably the most loyal citizen of the Bulldog Nation. He seems to know just about everyone and is topped probably only by the legendary Dan Magill in his knowledge of UGA athletes over the decades. 

 

A longtime leukemia patient, Smith has worked tirelessly on behalf of a cancer support center at Athens Regional Medical Center that bears his name.

And his Bulldog bona fides are unquestionable. Uga VI’s kennel name was “Uga V’s Whatchagot Loran,” after Larry Munson’s longtime way of introducing one of Smith’s sideline reports during Georgia football games. And Uga VII is officially named “Loran’s Best.” How can you not feel fondly toward a guy who’s had two of the …

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Dogs’ most dangerous road game?

Looking at the 2009 schedule, the game against Florida on Oct. 31 naturally looms as the season’s biggest challenge, but that’s not technically a trip to an opponent’s stadium so I’m not sure you count it when you’re trying to figure the Dogs’ toughest road game this year. Even if you do, we’ll put that game on a level of its own, especially considering Georgia’s difficulty winning in Jacksonville. 

Aside from Florida, which road game looks toughest?

  • Oklahoma State
  • Arkansas
  • Tennessee
  • Vanderbilt
  • Georgia Tech

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Beyond that, picking which road game looks toughest without anyone having played yet is mostly guesswork. But, hey, it’s summer so what else do we have to do?

Opening the season Sept. 5 against Oklahoma State in Stillwater is expected by many observers, especially in the national sports media, to be a major undertaking for Mark Richt’s rebuilding team, particularly the defense. 

Then there’s the trip to Fayetteville to …

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P.M. Roundup: SEC East prediction, defending triple option

SouthernPigskin.com picks the Dawgs to finish second to Florida in the SEC East this season, heaping praise on Georgia’s offensive front (”perhaps the top offensive line in college football”) and saying that “a defense filled with veterans has the potential to be very good” though it “badly needs a pass rusher to emerge.” Their conclusion: “Expectations are down a notch after Georgia was preseason number one entering last fall. All things considered, that may be a good thing. With a little less pressure on the team, the Bulldogs could surprise this fall.” 

Georgia Sports Blog links to a Navy football blog that examines Georgia’s failed defense of Tech’s triple option last year and concludes that Willie Martinez was using some antiquated defensive concepts designed to stop the old wishbone. However, the Georgia Sports blogger points out that film clips included with the piece show a bigger problem with the Dogs defense: terrible safety play and poor tackling. While I think the …

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Let athletics windfall benefit Redcoats

Larger salaries for basketball coaches, new engines for the athletic association’s airplane and contributing $2 million each of the next three years to the university to support academic programs. Those are all excellent ways for UGA’s athletic association to be spending some of the financial windfall that has resulted from an increase of $8.5 million in sports revenue thanks to the SEC’s new TV deal and the Bulldogs’ new media deal.

As detailed by the AJC’s Tim Tucker, that revenue boost also will pay for a lot of other items, including athletes’ scholarships, medical supplies and even new bulkheads in the swimming pool. 

So while Damon Evans is in a generous mood, I thought I’d suggest one other possible use for some of that money: a group of 400-plus students who work long and hard supporting UGA’s football and basketball teams, are a big part of the Sanford Stadium game experience and have been known to play a role in victories as they get the crowd and team fired up. …

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UGA’s Evans has eye on the prize

Damon Evans marks five years as UGA’s athletics director Wednesday, and the Athens Banner-Herald takes a look at how he’s fared so far, noting that financially he’s been something of a superstar, with the athletic budget growing from $50.2 million to $84.8 million under Evans. Also in his tenure, a $30 million state of the art basketball practice facility was finished and a $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre complex is about to begin.

Of course, Evans had a head start on success considering the high level of the program when he took over. As Evans himself says, he inherited from mentor Vince Dooley “something that had an unbelievable foundation from a financial standpoint, from the sports programs. We inherited some veteran, champion coaches that have done great jobs.”

The recent signing of a new $92.8 million eight-year media rights deal with ISP Sports has to rank as Evans’ biggest achievement to date, but UGA having the SEC’s top Academic Progress Report in football …

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Let the Big Dawg speak

I was driving over to visit with my Dad Sunday and pulled up behind an SUV sporting a nice shiny “Let the Big Dawg Eat” bumper sticker, and that got me to thinking about favorite Bulldogs slogans of that sort over the years.

What’s your favorite UGA bumper sticker slogan?

  • Let the Big Dawg Eat
  • How ‘Bout Them Dawgs
  • Go, You Silver Britches
  • Go, You Hairy Dogs
  • You Can’t Spell Sugar Without UGA
  • I Bleed Red … and Black

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Currently, I’d say “Let the Big Dawg Eat” (which was originally popularized by the late Lewis Grizzard) is the one that I see the most, but “How ‘Bout Them Dawgs,” which first started showing up in the mid- to late 1970s and came to national attention during the 1980 championship season, remains another favorite.

A slogan harking back to the 1950s is “Go, You Silver Britches,” which reappeared on a bumper sticker in 1980 after Vince Dooley revived that part of the game uniform. I remember buying one of the new …

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Happy Hour: Herschel vs. Knowshon

I thought we’d head into the weekend with one of those imponderable but nevertheless fun discussions that come up so often over a few beers, matching up two great teams from different eras and arguing about who would win.

Part of the problem in doing this, of course, is that modern era players are much bigger and faster than those from decades ago. So the 1942 national champion Georgia team probably would get killed by an average team from today, despite having Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi in the backfield. 

Even the 1980 national championship Dogs technically would be at a weight and speed disadvantage against a 21st century team. But then they did have Herschel and a helluva defense, which might be the equalizer.

In this game for the ages, I’d put them up against the 2007 Dogs, a team that lost a couple of games (one badly) but finished the season as a juggernaut. 

Think about the possibilities: The 1980 SEC and national champs with Walker, Buck Belue, Lindsay Scott, …

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Best, worst of ESPY nods for Dogs fans

The honors just keep rolling in for the Gym Dogs’ Courtney Kupets, who now is in the running for best female college athlete in ESPN’s ESPY Awards, due to be handed out July 15 at the Nokia Theater in L.A, with Samuel L. Jackson as host. The awards will be telecast on ESPN at 9 p.m. on July 19. Fans may vote through 11:59 p.m. on July 11 in all or some of the 37 categories; one vote per day may be cast in a category. Registration is required. 

Kupets is up against Notre Dame soccer player Kerri Hanks, Washington softball player Danielle Lawrie, Connecticut basketball player Maya Moore and California swimmer Dana Vollmer.

The nominees for best male college athlete? Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Boston U. hockey player Matt Gilroy, Oklahoma basketball player Blake Griffin, San Diego State baseball player Stephen Strasburg and Florida’s god playing among mere mortals, Tim Tebow.

The ESPYs being the ESPYs, of course, you can count on a high cheese content, typified by the …

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