Archive for April, 2010

If SEC expands, it needs to hook them Horns

sec logoThe past week, whether it’s at work or out and about, I’ve been hearing college football fans talking about possible SEC expansion if the Big 10 kicks off the era of 16-team superconferences, and which teams ought to be added.

It’s the kind of subject that leads to spirited and enjoyable debate, with the candidates I’ve heard suggested ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous.

So here’s my take on all of this:

If the Big 10 adds more than one team, Commissioner Mike Slive has indicated the SEC will be proactive to protect its position. Which probably means going to at least 14 and possibly 16 teams.

But just adding teams isn’t what this is all about. The aim of expansion for the SEC will be widening its television footprint by moving into lucrative new markets. Why add teams (like, for instance, Georgia Tech or Louisville) in markets that the conference already dominates? Splitting up the money more ways only makes sense if there’s more money generated. And that’s only going …

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Is it fair to hold UGA athletes to a higher standard than other students?

Aron White has stood up for a former teammate. (Associated Press)

Aron White has stood up for a former teammate. (Associated Press)

The blogosphere can be pretty brutal, but there’s nothing like the columns and letters to the editor in a college newspaper when it comes to finger-pointing, moral absolutes and general snarkiness. The readers and writers are mostly students who’ve yet to experience the real world but have no doubt at all about the way things should be.

Believe me, I know. During my time at UGA I put in a stint editing and writing for The Red and Black’s opinions page.

Wading into a debate in such an environment can be a bruising experience, as Georgia tight end Aron White has found out.

White wrote a letter to The Red and Black recently taking issue with a column the student paper had run about Zach Mettenberger being kicked off the football team as a result of his drunken excursion to South Georgia on spring break.

The columnist, Bailey Keiger, a senior from Atlanta majoring in magazines, blasted Mettenberger for his “childish …

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There’s more than one way to keep a quarterback happy

Does Logan Gray really want to play receiver? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Does Logan Gray really want to play receiver? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

What to make of the Logan Gray situation?

If it were simply a case of the apparent loser in the battle for the starting quarterback job threatening to go elsewhere to play, you’d have to conclude he wasn’t thinking too clearly.

First of all, Mark Richt isn’t likely to change his mind about who his starter is just because of the threat that the backup might go elsewhere. That didn’t even work for D.J. Shockley’s dad, and D.J. was a helluva lot more talented QB than Gray is.

Secondly, even if you view it from the perspective of what’s best for Gray, rather than the program, it doesn’t make sense. Gray is one injury away from starting for an SEC team. If he leaves, he can either drop down to a lower level for two years of potential playing time or  give up a year of eligibility if he goes to another Football Bowl Subdivision team. And what are the odds he’ll waltz in as a one-year QB and start at such a …

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Is confidence high again in the Bulldog Nation?

The Dogs' running game should be a big plus, thanks in part to Washaun Ealey. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The Dogs' running game should be a big plus, thanks in part to Washaun Ealey. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It’s been an up and down spring for Georgia football fans.

On the one hand, we’ve gotten excited about the rebuilding project Todd Grantham has undertaken with the defense. Sure, it likely will take more than one season to get the Dogs back to Junkyard status, but the fact that basic fundamentals like footwork, tackling and ball awareness are being taught at the Woodruff Practice Fields again fills a lot of us with hope.

And, yes, the new 3-4 scheme will have its kinks early on and the Dogs look a little thin at some positions, particularly outside linebacker. There’ll be a mostly new secondary, too. But the talent there is exciting, and Georgia looks to be putting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks with Grantham’s scheme. Now if the Dogs can just get some take-aways!

On offense, there’s been the big question mark about quarterback, but concern over that has been …

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It may not be official, but Dogs’ quarterback battle is over

Logan Gray still could wind up playing somewhere other than quarterback. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Logan Gray still could wind up playing somewhere other than quarterback. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

There was only one real surprise out of Athens on Thursday, and it wasn’t the post-spring depth chart announced by Mark Richt or his kicking walk-on backup punter Trent Dittmer off the team. On the latter, once I heard he’d hit someone as well as being arrested for public intoxication, I figured he was gone.

As for the depth chart, which Georgiadogs.com has nicely displayed here and Richt discusses here, most of us expected Aaron Murray to be listed No. 1 all along. And it’s not even a surprise that Dean Legge of Dawg Post reports sources say the departed Zach Mettenberger would have been ranked No. 3 even if he hadn’t been dismissed. The guy was facing a one-game suspension and was the only QB not to get time with the first unit at G-Day. Of course, he would have been third.

While Richt said this depth chart is just “a snapshot of where we see our guys right now” and “by no means …

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Sound off on Stafford’s legacy, mix-and-match uniforms, spring stupidity

Do you consider Matthew Stafford a Damn Good Dawg or just a talented guy who spent three years in Athens? (Associated Press)

Do you consider Matthew Stafford a Damn Good Dawg or just a talented guy who spent three years in Athens? (Associated Press)

As the NFL teams take their pick of the best of the nation’s college football players again, Dogs fans’ thoughts naturally turn to a year ago and UGA’s $41 million man, Matthew Stafford, going first in the draft.

Yes, a year ago the considered opinion of the NFL brain trust was that Mark Richt’s program had produced the nation’s best quarterback, which pleased most fans in red and black. And yet Stafford doesn’t seem to hold much of a special place in the hearts of a lot of folks in the Bulldog Nation.

My son was commenting the other night on the frequency with which you see Georgia fans taking shots at Stafford, who clearly isn’t viewed with anything like the affection folks have for SEC championship winners David Greene and D.J. Shockley or even earlier quarterbacks like Eric Zeier who, like Stafford, failed to bring a conference title to …

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Will Murray flourish or wilt in the spotlight?

Let's go ahead and put the ball in Aaron Murray's hands. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Let's go ahead and put the ball in Aaron Murray's hands. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

I know many UGA fans at this point are tired of talking about the Zach Mettenberger situation, especially since it doesn’t look like we’re going to get the full story about why Mark Richt kicked him off the team any time soon.

There are a lot of rumors circulating, but no one in a position to confirm what happened is talking. Suffice it to say from what we’ve seen of Richt over the years, you have to assume that when additional information about what happened in Remerton reached him, it crossed some boundary that made tacking on a few more games’ suspension not enough punishment. Possibly the head coach found out he’d been lied to.

I do know one thing: Richt wouldn’t throw this kid’s UGA career away lightly. He’s bent over backwards to near-contortionist levels to give players a second chance in the past.

He anguishes over having to deal with wayward players. After the Touchdown Club of Athens …

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Big blow to Dogs offense: Mettenberger kicked off team!

Zach Mettenberger has been kicked off the team. (Bob Andres / AJC)

Zach Mettenberger has been kicked off the team. (Bob Andres / AJC)

UGA just made the announcement this afternoon. Not many details, but here it is:

“University of Georgia redshirt freshman quarterback Zach Mettenberger has been dismissed from the Bulldog football team according to a Sunday announcement by UGA head coach Mark Richt.

According to Richt, the dismissal is a result of violation of team rules.

A graduate of Oconee County High School in Watkinsville, Ga., Mettenberger had been issued a minimum one-game suspension by Richt following an alcohol-related arrest in March.”

Obviously, new details must have surfaced from the incident earlier this spring in which Mettenberger was arrested for underage drinking and having false IDs. Those don’t seem like charges that would get you kicked off the team, and it’s hard to believe Richt would have let him go through spring practice if he was going to dismiss him just for that.

And, of course, Mettenberger finished the spring …

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Is A.J. Green returning punts worth the risk?

Is the upside of A.J. Green returning punts worth the risk of injury to the offense's biggest weapon? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Is the upside of A.J. Green returning punts worth the risk of injury to the offense's biggest weapon? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

One thing G-Day never sheds much light on is the kicking game. As is the custom with most college programs, Georgia’s coaches decided not to have kickoffs in the spring intrasquad game, and while there were punts, they weren’t rushed or returned. The reason most teams forgo kickoff and punt returns in the spring games is chiefly because the risk of injury is greater on those plays.

Which is what popped into my mind when I saw David Hale’s update on the punt return situation over at Bulldogs Blog. John Lilly, who’s now special teams coordinator, said he spent the spring rotating various players as punt returner and isn’t even close to making a decision about who’ll get the job. The candidates appear to be Rantavious Wooten, Carlton Thomas, Brandon Boykin, Branden Smith and Bacarri Rambo.

Oh, and star receiver A.J. Green’s still a possibility at punt …

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Do we really trust SEC officials to make even more subjective calls?

The last thing college football needs is another opportunity for officials to affect the outcome of the game.

The last thing college football needs is another opportunity for officials to affect the outcome of the game.

I understand the rationale behind the NCAA’s controversial rules change to take points off the board starting in 2011 if a player is called for taunting on his way to the end zone.

The folks who run college football have been uncomfortable for some years now with all the high-stepping and pointing and diving toward the goal line like Superman that they see as a lack of sportsmanship, and they feel that calling a dead-ball foul that’s assessed on the PAT or ensuing kickoff just hasn’t gotten through to the players. As Grant Teaff, executive director of the American Football Coaches Association put it, “this rule is one way to make sure the kids pay attention.”

And this won’t change what happens if a player or team is called for excessive celebration. That’s after the score and will still be a dead-ball foul tacked on to the kickoff.

I understand all that, but I still …

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