Archive for January, 2011

What are key fixes Dogs must make for Richt to keep his job?

Stacy Searels' underperforming offensive lines have been a big problem for the Dogs. (Georgiadogs.com)

Stacy Searels' underperforming offensive lines have been a big problem for the Dogs. (Georgiadogs.com)

The list of things Mark Richt and his staff have to fix for the coming season in order to keep their jobs at UGA is pretty long. Chances are they won’t be able to get it all done, even under the best of circumstances.

But while the Dogs might not be quite as “close” as Richt touts them to be, they do have Aaron Murray and some other talented players, and if a few things break Georgia’s way a turnaround to challenge for the SEC East is certainly within Richt’s reach.

But in order for that to have a chance of happening the head coach and his staff absolutely have to get a few key things done. And those keys are:

Line play has to improve on both sides of the ball. On defense, if Georgia can land JUCO beast John Jenkins, who recently pulled out of his commitment to Okie State, it will be a big step toward fixing one of the major weaknesses of Todd Grantham’s defense: the lack of …

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Are latest departures from UGA a good thing?

Marcus Dowtin was known for not being a happy camper in Athens. (AJC file)

Marcus Dowtin was known for not being a happy camper in Athens. (AJC file)

A housecleaning of sorts appears to be under way in Athens.

A week after we learned that new athletic director Greg McGarity was taking some of the head coach’s administrative duties off Mark Richt’s plate so he can concentrate fully on football, another couple of departures have been announced.

First, inside linebacker Marcus Dowtin was granted an unconditional release from his scholarship to transfer elsewhere. And now associate athletic director Arthur Johnson is leaving UGA to return to the University of Texas.

Dowtin’s departure will hurt the already depleted linebacking corps, but it’s not really a surprise. He had the reputation of having an attitude problem, which apparently resulted in a clash with a coach that led to him not playing in the Liberty Bowl despite making the trip to Memphis. And then there was the second-degree assault charge back home in Maryland last May that he managed to get …

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A Dogs fan’s view of the BCS championship game

Gene Chizik has a BCS trophy ... for now. (Associated Press)

Gene Chizik has a BCS trophy … for now. (Associated Press)

Wish I could say I was happy the SEC notched its fifth consecutive BCS title.

Generally I root for the SEC in these matches, though by this point I don’t think the conference has anything to prove. But I couldn’t bring myself to do it. Yes, it’s tough to cheer for a team with neon green-yellow shoes, but it was Gene Chizik and preening Cam Newton and Dirty Nick Fairley on the other side, so I couldn’t pull for the “War Eagle” crowd.

Like my son said, besides Fairley’s criminally dirty play against us, the most important reason he couldn’t cheer for Auburn was “my Dawgs don’t need another rival waving a national championship trophy in the faces of recruits.”

But Auburn won and we’ll just have to live with that.

Speaking of Fairley, I liked that ESPN caught on camera another one of Fairley’s dirty plays when he twisted the helmet of that Duck on the ground, and that the commentators noted it then and again after the …

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Can 2011 Dogs pull a ‘Junkyard Dogs’ rebound?

Can the 2011 team emulate Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs? (University of Georgia)

Can the 2011 team emulate Erk Russell's Junkyard Dogs? (University of Georgia)

We all know Georgia looked pretty bad against Central Florida in last week’s Liberty Bowl, giving the Dogs their first losing season in 14 years. But was it a loss of historic proportions?

My friend Mike thinks so. He e-mailed me the day after the game. Said Mike:

“My worst 4 losses:

Wake Forest ’79

33-0 to Kentucky in ’77

’78 Bluebonnet

This one.”

Admittedly, all those games were stinkers. But I told Mike I thought the 1974 Bulldogs’ 21-10 loss to Miami of Ohio in the Tangerine Bowl was worse than this year’s Liberty Bowl. The Dogs were coming off an absolutely humiliating 34-14 loss to Tech on a miserable cold, rainy day in Sanford Stadium when Georgia seemed helpless against Pepper Rodgers’ wishbone attack. At 6-5 most observers felt UGA really didn’t belong in a bowl game. (This was back in the days when you didn’t have more than half the teams in the country participating in bowls.)

And …

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Is cutting off contributions the right way for disgruntled UGA fans to protest?

Greg McGarity noted that contributions don't just support the football program at UGA. (University of Georgia)

Greg McGarity noted that contributions don't just support the football program at UGA. (University of Georgia)

After last week’s bowl game disaster, I mentioned to my wife that for those young Dogs fans who haven’t been able to afford the “buy-in” level of contribution to get season tickets, this might be the year to make the move. It seemed likely there would be more nonrenewals of season tickets than usual and the cut-off point probably will continue dropping, as it has the past couple of seasons.

You’ll recall that when everyone was all excited about Georgia being a preseason No. 1, the annual cut-off level of cumulative Hartman Fund/Bulldog Club donations necessary to become a first-time UGA football season ticket holder soared from $1,991 in 2007 to a ridiculous $10,651 for 2008. The next year, however, it dropped off to $4,205, and last year to $1,550.

It’s a good bet that figure will drop even more this year, especially considering the way athletic director Greg …

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What sort of ‘cutting edge’ football are we likely to get from Mark Richt?

Mark Richt doesn't want to "confuse" Aaron Murray with too much change. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt doesn't want to "confuse" Aaron Murray with too much change. (Associated Press)

It’s the postseason, so fans and columnists are naturally devoting a lot of energy to parsing Mark Richt’s intriguing but typically vague comments at his season-end press conference.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot of substance there, and what there was isn’t likely to make folks feel any better about the direction of the Georgia football program.

In other words, a typical Richt press conference.

The most interesting revelation was that UGA athletic director Greg McGarity, who was notable in his presence at the press gathering, has taken some of the administrative duties off Richt’s plate, which the coach says is “going to help free me up to [spend] more time doing the things I love the most, which is study the game of football and be an expert and be on the cutting edge.”

Richt didn’t spell out what that meant, but he indicated he was “not making any plans” to take back the …

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Should anything less than 10 wins save Mark Richt’s job?

How many wins in 2011 should be enough to save Mark Richt's job? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

How many wins in 2011 should be enough to save Mark Richt's job? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

We all know Georgia needs to show marked improvement next season to save Mark Richt’s job.

The question is how much improvement will be enough?

If Georgia wins the SEC East, the fire-Richt talk will quiet down, no doubt about it. And such a turnaround from this year’s disappointing results certainly isn’t out of the realm of possibility.

Short of a trip to the SEC championship, though, what would be considered acceptable progress? What would constitute being back “on track” in the eyes of Greg McGarity and the bulk of the Bulldog Nation?

Ten wins? That’s generally considered a benchmark of a successful season these days and probably would satisfy most UGA supporters. Even nine wins might do it, depending in part, I think, on who Georgia beats. If wins over Florida and Georgia Tech are included in that number, it might be judged good enough to buy Richt more time.

But what if Georgia only …

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Is Mark Richt capable of making the ‘changes’ he says are needed at UGA?

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Mark Richt is talking about "change," but will it be too little too late? (University of Georgia)

Talking after the humiliating defeat to Central Florida in the Liberty Bowl gave UGA its first losing season in 14 years, Mark Richt tried to buck up support for his program among the Bulldog Nation with this assessment:

“There’s reasons why we ended up the way we did. We’ve got to make changes. We’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again in the future.”

But then he added: “When you start saying ‘change,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean personnel. … It’s more of how we go about our business. We’re going to improve. We’re going to get Georgia where it belongs.”

Richt didn’t spell out the “reasons,” but since the only staff change he’s chosen to make is in the strength and conditioning program, you’ve got to wonder if the weight of turning around a program that’s been sliding for three seasons now is being placed on the admittedly sturdy shoulders of Joe Tereshinski.

Granted, …

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