Archive for February, 2011

Ray Goff: Best option quarterback ever?

Ray Goff is entering Georgia's Sports Hall of Fame. (University of Georgia)

Ray Goff is entering Georgia's Sports Hall of Fame. (University of Georgia)

Generally speaking, Ray Goff doesn’t come in for many accolades these days from Georgia fandom. It still hurts too much to recall the depths to which the UGA football program sank during his time as head coach.

But with James Rayford Goff being inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame tonight at the Macon City Auditorium, I think we ought to take a few moments to acknowledge some of the high points in the Moultrie native’s career before he was tagged as “Ray Goof.”

Goff’s playing career at Georgia is interesting because during all three of his years on the varsity (this was still when freshmen couldn’t play), he shared snaps with Matt Robinson and was known mainly as the “runner” while Robinson was the “passer.” For many fans, the memory of that time is as my brother Tim put it: “If it was third and long they would bring in Matt Robinson to throw it.”

As Vince Dooley recalled in his 2005 memoir, …

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Second-half collapses, bucking the Gators and screaming freshmen

Greg McGarity offers dance lesson to UF officials. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Greg McGarity offers dance lesson to UF officials. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

First, whatever Mark Fox is doing at halftime … stop it!

Another game, another second-half collapse by his Dogs, followed by the obigatory “we got comfortable” or “we got complacent” or “we relaxed” or “we let the other guy back in the game” quotes from alleged team leaders Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins.

Perhaps Fox should just try changing everything about the way his team is approaching the second half, because the current plan just isn’t working and there’s been no sign of improvement.

Meanwhile, Georgia might not be able to beat Florida on the field or on the court these days, but Greg McGarity showed the Gator braintrust that “it takes two to tango,” as he put it when he bucked UF’s plan to hike the ticket prices for the annual Jacksonville football clash by $10. “We’re not ready to make that move yet,” he told the UGA athletics board Thursday. Bet that raised a few eyebrows in Gainesville. Go …

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Flash-mob hysteria, QB injuries and that other football

Why shouldn't Aaron Murray be able to enjoy a pick-up game? (AJC staff)

Why shouldn't Aaron Murray be able to enjoy a pick-up game? (AJC staff)

I was off Monday and away from the UGA blogosphere during the afternoon when the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it furor over Aaron Murray’s ankle set the Bulldog Nation atwitter — or, I should say, aTwitter.

So the ankle that “team sources” told a student journalist was broken in two places turned out to be merely sprained in a pick-up soccer game and no real threat to Murray’s status as Georgia’s starting quarterback. Stand down, Hutson Mason and Christian LeMay.

What was most interesting to me coming in on this flap after it was over was seeing some fans harumphing about how Murray was irresponsible and shouldn’t have been playing soccer or any other nonfootball sport where he risked injury, to begin with.

Listen, if you’re going to try and make bubbleboys out of UGA’s “franchise” athletes, you might as well also ban them from riding those scooters that are the preferred mode of transportation around campus for …

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Time to revise your vote for UGA’s greatest receiver?

A.J. Green makes a leaping catch for a first down in the 2009 game against South Carolina in Athens. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

A.J. Green makes a leaping catch for a first down in the 2009 game against South Carolina in Athens. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Amid speculation A.J. Green might be the top pick in this year’s NFL draft, our enterprising Web folks put up a photo gallery looking at candidates for the honor of best receiver in UGA history.

That’s a subject we’ve dealt with here before. Just before Christmas, I wrote that A.J. is, hands down, the best receiver I’ve ever seen play for Georgia, thanks to those circus catches, his running after the catch and, most importantly, his ability to go up high in double or triple coverage and still snag the ball in a clutch situation.

A couple of years ago, I raised the question of who was the Dogs’ all-time best receiver and threw out quite a few names, including Jimmy Orr from the Wally Butts era, Pat Hodgson, Charlie Whittemore and Lindsay Scott from the Vince Dooley years, Andre Hastings and Brice Hunter from Ray Goff’s tenure, Hines Ward from the Jim …

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Don’t blame fandom for Toomer’s Corner oaks poisoning

Let's keep the blame for the poisoning of the Toomer's Corner oaks where it belongs. (Associated Press)

Let's keep the blame for the poisoning of the Toomer's Corner oaks where it belongs. (Associated Press)

The temptation among some in this whole sorry Toomer’s Corner oaks affair is to shake their heads and say, “Those crazy Alabama fans,” or huff and puff about SEC football and its fans being out of control.

But it’s patently unfair to take the actions of one individual who uses his fandom for a college football program as an excuse for destructive behavior and lay them at the feet of the school or blame the intensity of big-time college football. Just as it makes no sense to take anyone who commits a shocking crime and somehow attribute it to his race or religion or make the leap to blaming it on society in general.

Remember the guy who threw security into a tizzy and briefly shut down the Atlanta airport a few years back by running down the “up” escalator, and how some idiots tried to use it as an opportunity to bash the University of Georgia simply because he was a Dogs fan …

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Good coaching hire a vote of confidence in Richt?

Kirk Olivadotti apparently is casting his lot with Mark Richt. (Washington Redskins)

Kirk Olivadotti apparently is casting his lot with Mark Richt. (Washington Redskins)

Assuming all goes as the Washington Post has reported, Georgia luring Washington Redskins assistant Kirk Olivadotti to Athens looks like a good hire.

It gives UGA another veteran coach with NFL ties and plenty of experience working with linebackers in the kind of defense Todd Grantham wants to run.

But to me the most interesting aspect of this impending move by Olivadotti is that he was the longest tenured member of the Redskins coaching staff, having worked under seven head coaches over the past 11 seasons (including Steve Spurrier), and yet he’s leaving to join a college coaching staff that might not still have jobs a year from now if things don’t improve quite a bit this season.

Talk about your leap of faith.

Either Grantham did a heckuva selling job on the turnaround under way with Mark Richt’s program or this guy really wanted out of D.C.

STINKING UP THE STEG

Wednesday night saw another …

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Is swing from pessimism to optimism justified for 2011 Dogs?

Will Aaron Murray make great strides in his second season as starter? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Will Aaron Murray make great strides in his second season as starter? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Maybe it’s the Dream Team, maybe it’s just the natural swinging of the pendulum, but some of the national media pessimism about Mark Richt’s program is starting to lift, just a little.

Take College Football News’ Brian Harbach, who earlier picked Georgia to finish ninth in the SEC in the coming season.

Now Harbach is taking another look and writes: “The more I pay attention to what Mark Richt has done this offseason, the more intrigued I become with their chances to jump up from a year of disappointment to an SEC East title.”

Harbach acknowledges that Georgia’s decline from preseason No. 1 over the past three seasons has been “clouding the perception of the program,” but putting that aside, he says, “there are more than a few reasons to be excited about UGA’s opportunity this fall and it is only fair to look at the other side of the coin to see the full picture of this Georgia …

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Dream Team aside, here’s a big reason to pull for Mark Richt

Mark Richt knows there's more to coaching than just winning. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt knows there's more to coaching than just winning. (Associated Press)

I first heard the story of James Eunice last Sunday when a post from UGA superfan Mark Dunbar showed up in my Facebook news feed.

Here’s what Mark passed along:

James Eunice, 17, from Valdosta, fell from a boat three weeks ago and drowned while duck hunting. He was found this Monday and his funeral was yesterday. James had been accepted at UGA, and his intention was to try and walk-on the football team. During the busiest time of his year, Coach Mark Richt sent a letter stating James had made the team, and a UGA jersey with his name on the back, was presented to the family.

One word came to mind and I added it as a comment to Mark’s post: Classy.

The story of Eunice is filled out by reports in the Valdosta Daily Times and Thomasville Times-Enterprise. Eunice had played baseball and football at Valdosta High School and had been accepted to the University of Georgia. He had contacted Richt about …

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Is it time for fresh blood in UGA’s Dawghouse?

Does the early death of Uga VIII mean changes are needed in the mascot line? (Associated Press)

Does the early death of Uga VIII mean changes are needed in the mascot line? (Associated Press)

The second straight premature death of an Uga mascot, this one after serving just six games, has prompted a lot of discussion both inside and outside the Bulldog Nation about what’s wrong with Sonny Seiler’s proud line of all-white English bulldogs.

As Matt Hinton of Rivals.com put it, “even for a breed with notorious cardiac and respiratory problems and zero tolerance for heat, the Ugas are beginning to resemble the mascot version of the royal hemophiliacs of Europe: Blue-blooded, inbred and increasingly feeble beyond function.”

The two words I’ve heard most from Georgia fans since Uga VIII’s death last week are “fresh blood,” as in a belief that Seiler needs to either abandon the current line that links back in circuitous fashion to the original Uga, give up on restricting the mascot’s job to only pure white bulldogs (one reason substitute Russ isn’t deemed qualified to be the …

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This isn’t how Isaiah Crowell should get the starting tailback spot

It's being reported Washaun Ealey has been suspended indefinitely. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

It's being reported Washaun Ealey has been suspended indefinitely. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Looks like the Washaun Ealey era at UGA, such as it was, may be coming to an end, and not because of the signing of Isaiah Crowell.

Rumors had been swirling the past 24 hours about Ealey’s status, and I’d just gotten off the phone with my son, who had heard third- or fourth-hand that Dogs football players were saying Ealey was going to be suspended, when I saw an online report by ESPN’s Mark Schlabach citing sources saying Ealey has indeed been suspended indefinitely from all team activities.

If that’s true and Ealey doesn’t return, it means UGA is looking awfully thin at tailback this coming season — especially so if Caleb King doesn’t get his academic house in order.

When I read Steve Hummer’s Sunday piece about the recruiting of Crowell, the bit about Mark Richt having the team line up minus a tailback and asking the recruit if he could see himself starting against Boise State in that …

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