Archive for June, 2009

On Richt’s Florida raids

While the talk in recruiting circles often focuses on whether Mark Richt can fend off other schools trying to poach native talent in Georgia, Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald has an interesting look at how Richt is getting more commitments from Florida.

Of the eight players who’ve given UGA verbal commitments for the 2010 class, half are from the Sunshine State: linebacker Demetre Baker of Orange Park, offensive tackle Brent Benedict of Jacksonville, and safety Marc Deas and defensive end/outside linebacker B.J. Butler of Kissimmee.

Weiszer points out that’s already more players from Florida than Georgia signed in any of the past three classes, and it’s only June. The Dogs got Aaron Murray, Rantavious Wooten and Orson Charles in 2009, and Carlton Thomas, Blair Walsh and Jeremy Longo in 2008. UGA didn’t sign any Floridians in 2007.

Richt says he’s always gone after Florida players but “I do think more and more Florida kids are interested in Georgia than in the past, and …

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Georgia Theatre memories

Like anyone else with strong ties to Athens I’m dismayed today by the news of the Georgia Theatre fire. My son and brother Jon both called early this morning with the news. Jon was trying to go to the bank in downtown Athens but couldn’t because of the power grid being turned off. He said with all the cops trying to direct traffic with the lights out plus the smoke and a couple of helicopters hovering up above it was a wild scene.

I go way back with the Georgia, having had my Mom take me to Disney films there when I was quite young and my uncle was an usher for the theater (remember ushers?). I wrote about the theater’s original conversion to a music hall for The Atlanta Constitution during my rock critic days and I saw several terrific concerts there. My son has been to a lot of shows at the Georgia in recent years.

It’s a big part of the cultural life of Athens and UGA students, and I really hope owner Wilmot Greene is able to rebuild. Athens wouldn’t be the same without …

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How did Julio steal the spotlight from A.J.?

Two freshman wide receivers made big splashes last season in the SEC: Alabama’s Julio Jones and Georgia’s A.J. Green. 

Both had big, high-profile games early on. Green had eight catches for 159 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State while Jones caught five passes for 94 yards and a touchdown against Georgia. Both were named second-team All-SEC by the coaches while Green made AP’s All-SEC first team and Jones the AP’s second team. Green was the coaches’ freshman of the year while Jones was the AP’s freshman of the year.

Their numbers for the season were quite similar, with a slight edge for Green, who played in 13 games and snagged 56 passes for 963 yards and eight TDs. He averaged 17.2 yards per catch. Jones played in 14 games and had 58 catches for 924 yards and four TDs, averaging 15.9 yards per catch.

So how is it that as the 2009 season approaches, Jones seems to be the media favorite over Green? Phil Steele has Jones second-team All-American while Green is third …

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Bark along with these tunes!

Which of these Bulldog tunes is your favorite?

  • “Bulldog Bite”
  • “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs”
  • “Let the Big Dog Eat”
  • “Damn Good Dawg”
  • “Every Dawg Has His Day”

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Since it’s Friday, I thought instead of a Question of the Day to get things started we’d pick a Song of the Day to tide everyone over until it’s once again time for tailgating in Athens. 

There’ve been quite a few Bulldogs-related recordings issued over the years, but probably the best-known are Atlanta ad man Clisby Clarke’s rollicking “Bulldog Bite” and “Let the Big Dog Eat” (which some people call “It’s Time”) and the legendary James Brown’s funky “Dooley’s Junkyard Dogs.” Fortunately, all three can be found online (where I couldn’t find Clarke’s “Bulldawg Boogie” — if anyone has a link, please post it in the comments).

We can round out this far from complete selection of UGA tunes with Nathan Sheppard’s rockin’ “Damn Good Dawg” tribute to Uga and country singer Corey …

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Bulldog Bites: Coach talks up freshman defensive end

Buck Belue had Mark Richt on his 680 the Fan radio show Wednesday and reports in his blog that the coach feels “the line of scrimmage is looking like the strength of this 2009 team, if the D-End guys can come through.” At defensive end, Belue says Richt “feels good about Rod Battle’s chances of stepping up and playing some impact football. [DeMarcus] Dobbs and [Kiante] Tripp are talented dudes who can run and make athletic plays. And Richt believes that Montez Robinson is a freshman that has a chance to make an impact in year one.” Offensively, Belue says Richt “thinks the improved play on the O-Line will make life easier at QB & RB.” …

Elsewhere, while Georgia’s nonconference schedule has been called the toughest in the nation, ESPN.com’s Bruce Feldman offers his list of this year’s softest nonconference schedules. Included are three SEC teams: Ole Miss (playing Memphis, Southeastern Louisiana, UAB and Northern Arizona), Kentucky (Miami of Ohio, Louisville, Louisiana-Monroe …

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UGA doesn’t need to play Curry’s Panthers

With the news that Alabama has signed a deal to play the nascent Georgia State football team in Tuscaloosa next year, it’s natural to wonder whether UGA would entertain scheduling the 1-AA Panthers.

Let’s hope not.

Playing 1-AA schools winds up being a necessity for SEC schools some seasons in order to fill out the home schedule with teams that don’t require a return visit. Thus Georgia is paying Tennessee Tech $475,000 to come to Athens this year and Bama is paying GSU $400,000 to visit the Tide in its first season of football competition.

The 1-AA schools can dream of an Appalachian State-over-Michigan type of upset, plus their players get to experience big-time football and the program gets a nice payday.

But generally there’s very little upside in these games for the host team. They’re expected to win easily over the 1-AA school, and if they don’t win by a wide enough margin, it can hurt in the polls, as happened last year when UGA lost the No. 1 spot after its …

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Time to upgrade Richt’s TV show

The news that ISP Sports gets control of the UGA coaches’ TV shows as part of its $92.8 media rights deal has me hopeful that Mark Richt’s weekly program during the football season finally will get a much needed upgrade.

I don’t know if ISP can do anything about improving the time slot when the show is shown locally in Atlanta (midnight), but certainly they can revamp the content and improve the program’s currently second-rate production values.

If you watched “The Mark Richt Show” last season on cable/satellite channel SportSouth (seen in six Southeastern states), the comparison with some other SEC coaches’ shows wasn’t flattering. First of all there was the amateurish sound. I don’t know whether they taped the Richt show in a lobby at Butts-Mehre, but it had the echoey sound of a gymnasium. What, none of the TV studios at UGA are available on Sunday mornings? 

Then there’s the content. OK, I know the co-host of a coach’s show is traditionally a shill for the school, but …

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What does September hold for the Dogs?

We know one thing about the 2009 Dogs: By the end of a challenging four-game stretch in September, we’ll have a much better idea of just how much of a “rebuilding” year this will be. I’m trying to decide which game worries me the most.

Which September game worries you the most?

  • Oklahoma State
  • South Carolina
  • Arkansas
  • Arizona State

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First, there’s the much-ballyhooed visit to Stillwater to take on T. Boone Pickens U. (aka Oklahoma State), one of this year’s Big 12 media darlings after finishing 9-4 last season. The Pokes are generally considered a preseason Top 15 or Top 10 team mainly because of their high-powered offense, led by QB Zac Robinson (a running and passing threat), running back Kendall Hunter (1,555 yards and 16 TDs last year) and wide receiver Dez Bryant (87 catches for 1,480 yards and 19 touchdowns last year). Of course, that was mostly against Big 12 defenses. Speaking of which, the Cowboys’ D was pretty bad last …

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Rich get richer: UGA signs big media rights deal

UGA announced today that it has finalized an eight-year media rights deal with ISP Sports valued at $92.8 million. The deal gives ISP the rights to the Dogs’ radio broadcasts and the coaches’ TV shows, among other properties. WSB Radio and ISP also reached agreement for WSB to remain the Dogs’ flagship station for the duration of the contract. The Athens Banner-Herald reports the deal is the biggest ever in annual payments for a school’s media rights, topping Ohio State’s deal with IMG College.

Meanwhile, Charlie McAlexander, who handled South Carolina’s play-by-play 1995-2003 and has also worked for Middle Tennessee State, Kentucky, Vanderbilt and Ole Miss, is joining UGA’s Grady College as an assistant to the journalism school’s dean, the Banner-Herald reports. He’ll develop a sports journalism emphasis working with Toccoa-based WNEG, the UGA-owned commercial TV station.

At this point, there’s been no discussion of “Charlie Mac,” as he’s known, joining Georgia’s radio …

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Was Moreno best tailback since Herschel?

Who has been Georgia’s best tailback since Herschel Walker? Bulldawg Illustrated’s Jeff Dantzler asks that question and concludes Knowshon Moreno might have unseated Rodney Hampton as his favorite. But he gives consideration to some of the other great backs since No. 34, including Tim Worley, Garrison Hearst and Robert Edwards. Among Dantzler’s honorable mentions are fullback Keith Henderson, who “would have been a dynamite tailback, but he was around at the same time as Worley and Hampton.” 

Hampton, who averaged over 7 yards per run in 1987, was indeed a great one in his three years with the Dawgs. And there’s no denying Moreno’s talent, though we’ll never know how great he ultimately might have been if he had not been redshirted and had played more than two seasons. I think maybe he was the best we’ve had since Herschel, yet I hesitate to give him the nod based on his short UGA career. 

Had he been a running back from the start and not been hampered by injury, I think …

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