Archive for May, 2010

Bulldog Bites: Christian LeMay, Cocktail Party, Tech-Georgia weekend

(University of Georgia)

(University of Georgia)

Let’s head into the Memorial Day holiday weekend with some quick hits that you might want to discuss …

One more reason for Dogs fans to get stoked about Matthews, N.C., quarterback Christian LeMay saying he intends to enroll at UGA: In the first installment of the Sporting News Top 100 ranking for the football class of 2011, Lemay ranks a lofty No. 3. The other Georgia commitment making the list: defensive end Sterling Bailey of Gainesville at No. 95. …

When our Tim Tucker revealed that in the forthcoming new deal for the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville the two schools will have the right to sell the name of the game, a coworker wondered aloud what they’d do if a beverage company like Seagram’s or Budweiser offered a bundle — especially since the UGA and UF presidents have discouraged the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party nickname.

While it’s amusing to consider, chances are they’d say no. You don’t see any alcohol product names on college …

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Athletic success at UGA really comes down to football and dollars

There's nothing wrong with the perception of UGA athletics that a great year for Mark Richt can't fix. (Associated Press)

There's nothing wrong with the perception of UGA athletics that a great year for Mark Richt can't fix. (Associated Press)

Let’s put Damon Evans’ Thursday comments on the state of Bulldogs athletics into some perspective:

It wasn’t a particularly satisfying year in terms of performance for many of UGA’s higher profile teams. Anyone who follows football, basketball, baseball and gymnastics already knew that.

But when it comes to the factor that basically drives big-time college athletics these days — the financial bottom line — it was another great year for the Dogs. So much so that the athletic association could afford to give the financially beleaguered university another $2 million gift on top of the $6 million pledged last year.

Although UGA finished second in the race for the SEC’s All-Sports Trophy, Evans wasn’t pleased overall. “We are not where we want to be nationally. I think our program should be much higher than it is,” he told the UGA Athletics Association’s Board …

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No guarantee, but Richt sees possibility of ‘tremendous’ season

Bacarri Rambo drew praise from Mark Richt for the speed with which he picked up Georgia's new defensive scheme. (Associated Press)

Bacarri Rambo drew praise from Mark Richt for the speed with which he picked up Georgia's new defensive scheme. (Associated Press)

College football head coaches have to walk a fine line when talking to booster clubs.

On the one hand, the fans who gather in the spring and summer to hear the coach preview the forthcoming season are looking to get revved up.

But there’s always the danger of getting expectations too high, as Jim Donnan found out when he said before the 2000 season, “I’ve been waiting 55 years to be the head coach of a football team that has this much potential. And I guarantee you that we’re going to get it done.”

Mark Richt usually is a bit more circumspect, sort of in the Vince Dooley mode, though he did fire up one booster gathering earlier this spring by saying, “Are we going to beat Florida? You’re dadgum right.” To be fair, of course, he didn’t say it would necessarily be this season.

Richt walked the line on Wednesday night when he talked to the Georgia …

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How could game day in Athens be improved?

Would the Dawg Walk be even greater if more fans could experience it? (AJC staff)

Would the Dawg Walk be even greater if more fans could experience it? (AJC staff)

Game-day traditions are a big part of college football. Even though fans of rival schools like to trade trash talk about each others’ traditions, there’s an overall appeal to the colorful spectacle and sometimes heart-pumping excitement of the various rituals. You don’t have to be a fan of Ohio State to appreciate their band’s dotting of the “i” or the many quirky traditions of Texas A&M.

The Sporting News’ Dave Curtis and Matt Hayes have each listed their top 10 game-day traditions, and UGA mascot Uga placed high on Hayes’ list, coming in at No. 2 behind the Saturday night atmosphere at Death Valley in Baton Rouge.

I must admit, I never really thought of Uga as a game-day tradition — more like a 365-days-a-year tradition — but I can see how a visitor to Sanford Stadium would come away most impressed with what many outside the Bulldog Nation consider the best mascot in college football.

We …

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Back to barking: 2010 Dawgs, Damon Evans, Mark Fox and more

Time to give some credit to Damon Evans. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Time to give some credit to Damon Evans. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

I’m back from vacation and pretty much caught up on what’s been happening while I was away, so here are some quick-hit thoughts on what’s caught my eye. Feel free to chime in. …

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach pretty well sums up my feelings about Mark Richt’s 2010 team: “If Dogs get anything out of [Aaron] Murray, they’re going to win 10 games. Best WR in the country. Two good backs. Senior-laden OL. Best kicker and punter in the SEC. All comes down to defense.” … I know it’s fashionable among some folks in this venue to mock Damon Evans as some sort of Michael Adams lapdog, but what does it say about the depth and strength of UGA’s athletics program that Georgia was No. 2 to Florida in the standings for the SEC All-Sports Trophy despite mediocre years for football and basketball and a terrible, last-place finish in baseball? Of course, to some of you that means nothing because you don’t care about spring sports or women’s …

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Open forum for Dawg talk

I’m on vacation the rest of this week, but you’re welcome to keep discussing UGA sports here. Just keep it clean or the commenting might be shut down until I return.

Go Dogs!

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Sometimes fans are right and coaches are wrong

Mark Richt has admitted the Georgia coaching staff was wrong to try and make Richard Samuel a tailback. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt has admitted the Georgia coaching staff was wrong to try and make Richard Samuel a tailback. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

OK, we’ve established that I’m part of the vast majority of Bulldogs fans who support Mark Richt and think hot-seat talk about a coach as consistently successful as him is ridiculous.

But, as also has been established many times in the past, that doesn’t mean I think Richt is always right. On matters ranging from Willie Martinez to directional kickoffs to various decisions over who should be starting and who should be riding the bench, I’ve been among many fans critical of Richt in the past (and, conversely, encouraged by off-season moves he’s made this year to address some of those problems).

This raises an interesting point, however, about college football fans discussing their favorite teams. Every time I write something even remotely critical about the Georgia coaches or players, not only do I get my loyalty to UGA questioned by a few unnamed …

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Richt’s two main rivals are Urban Meyer and himself

Mark Richt must deal with the what-have-you-done-lately attitude prevalent in college football today. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Mark Richt must deal with the what-have-you-done-lately attitude prevalent in college football today. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

We don’t need to get into any of that silly “hot seat” talk about Mark Richt, a man who has averaged 10 wins a year in his nine years at UGA. I think it’s instructive that those stories usually emanate from writers in Alabama, Florida and Tennessee. Some of these folks cite “widespread” concern about the state of the program within the Bulldog Nation, but from what I’ve observed more often than not the talk about the need for a new coach at Georgia is mainly confined to a handful of anonymous Internet trolls.

It is a fair statement, though, that just about nobody at UGA or in Dogs fandom found last year’s 8-5 record satisfying, and that includes Richt himself. In fact, he was so unsatisfied that he fired three of his staff members, including one of his closest friends.

But what faces Richt is more than just coming back from one relatively disappointing …

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Which September game looks toughest for the Dogs?

Will Georgia's revamped defense have more success against Ryan Mallett this year? (Associated Press)

Will Georgia's revamped defense have more success against Ryan Mallett this year? (Associated Press)

Although most Georgia fans are viewing the 2010 schedule as less daunting than last year’s, September still could be a tough month for Mark Richt’s Dogs.

After a cupcake opener against Louiana-Lafayette, Georgia plunges right into the SEC battle by traveling to Columbia to meet the Gamecocks. Many are viewing this as a now-or-never season for Steve Spurrier at South Carolina, which makes an always tough game even more interesting.

Then this year’s most hyped conference team and quarterback, Arkansas and Ryan Mallett, come to Athens. Another early test for Todd Grantham’s new 3-4 scheme, and if it turns into another shootout, can Aaron Murray keep up with Mallett like Joe Cox did last year?

The next week the Dogs are back on the road at Mississippi State, never a particularly fun trip for Georgia.

Chris Low of ESPN.com has pegged the Dogs as having the second toughest September …

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Richt to opponents: Guess what, we’re throwing to A.J.

Mark Richt says everyone knows Georgia wants to get the ball to A.J. Green. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

Mark Richt says everyone knows Georgia wants to get the ball to A.J. Green. (Johnny Crawford / AJC)

The common theme of many preseason assessments of the 2010 Dogs has been that with an inexperienced quarterback, a veteran offensive line and two good (possibly great) tailbacks, Georgia is likely to lean heavily on its running game.

And to an extent, that’s probably going to be true. At least early in the season, while Aaron Murray gets his first game experience, the offense might not be quite as balanced as Mark Richt and Mike Bobo generally would prefer.

But the way a Richt offense works, a successful running game opens up the passing game, and vice versa. And with a weapon like A.J. Green in their arsenal, not to mention a slew of tight ends who are talented receivers, the idea that Richt and Bobo are going to be offering up Dooleyball this season is pretty unrealistic.

Richt said as much this week speaking to fans in Macon. “If we don’t throw the ball to A.J., we’re not …

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