Here’s wishing everyone in the Bulldog Nation a merry Christmas and happy Hanukkah. I hope your holidays are full of joy and you get to spend them with family and friends. And for those of you traveling, please be safe. If your holiday gatherings are anything like my family’s, you’ll probably wind up talking Dawgs and getting some UGA-related presents. Along those lines, let’s help out someone looking for last-minute gift suggestions as we check the Junkyard Mail. …
Julia McKenzie writes: Bill, I’m among those folks who have left their Christmas shopping until the last couple of days and I still need to get something for my uncle and another gift for my Dad, both of whom are UGA alums and big Bulldogs fans. I don’t want to go the logo cap, T-shirt, jacket route because I know they’ve both got plenty of those. What can you recommend?
I’ve got two suggestions for you, Julia. First is the new, updated edition of “Damn Good Dogs! The Real Story of Uga, the University of Georgia’s Bulldog Mascots” by Sonny Seiler and Kent Hannon (University of Georgia Press, $34.95). Originally published in 2002 and first updated in 2006, this handsome coffee-table volume devoted to UGA’s favorite dogs is lavishly illustrated with more than 500 photographs, most of them in color, and tells the stories of all the Ugas and their adventures and has lots of great shots of vintage memorabilia. The new edition adds 80 pages about Uga VI, Uga VII, Uga VIII and super sub Russ. A portion of the proceeds from sales of the book benefit the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine. My other gift recommendation is the DVD set “1980 Dawgs: The Inside Story of the National Championship Season,” which exhaustively chronicles the greatest Georgia football season (and which I’ve written about before here). I think either would be a big hit with your uncle and dad.
Jesse Murrah writes: How do you think UGA’s schedule will be affected next year with the new additions to the SEC? And Chip Caldwell asks: When will we know the 2012 schedule? I thought it was supposed to be completed already.
A couple of athletic directors had indicated the schedule would be released this week but that didn’t happen. Apparently incorporating Texas A&M and Missouri, preserving traditional rivalries and working around nonconference deals has proved trickier than some thought. The conference issued an update this week saying it was working through the “final stages” of the 2012 football schedule, adding: “We’ll release it once it’s complete, but not before Christmas.” There are lots of rumors, though, including reports out of Missouri that Georgia will open its SEC schedule visiting the Tigers. That would move the Dogs’ traditional SEC opener, South Carolina, back into October. That actually might work in UGA’s favor, which is probably why folks in Palmetto State are grumbling about it. Meanwhile, there are competing rumors floating around about which SEC West team will go off Georgia’s schedule to make room for Missouri — Alabama or Ole Miss. Alabama would seem to make the most sense, since Georgia is owed a home game by the Rebel Black Bears, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Jim writes: Given the attention, or lack of, to special teams of Georgia this year and the fact that hiring a special teams coach would take away from the 10-coach limit of the staff, wouldn’t a simple fix to the problem be to name one of the coaches on staff as the special teams coordinator? Because special teams are an important aspect of a football game there should be a special teams coordinator just like there is an OC and DC. This would establish a chain of responsibility for mistakes by the special teams and a roadmap for correction.
Yes, since Mark Richt doesn’t seem likely to take on special teams responsibilities himself, as some head coaches do, naming one of the assistants to coordinate special teams work would appear to be a good idea. One thing’s for sure. Georgia needs to change from the way it approached special teams this season, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press documented recently, and Richt appears to recognize that. I liked this quote from him: “If we’ve got to put a bunch of starters on defense on some specials or starters at wide receiver or whatever you’ve got to do —tailback, I don’t care what position. We’ve got to get the best guys out there and understand how crucial it is.”
KSS writes: Where do you see the 2012 Dawgs finishing the year? Will they be a legitimate contender?
Georgia returns a lot of starters and the Dogs will probably be the favorite to take the SEC East again, especially if a couple of key players stick around instead of leaving early for the NFL and the Crimson Tide comes off what’s already another advantageous schedule. If a consistent running game can be established, yes, I think UGA could be a contender for the conference championship and beyond in 2012.
OkieDawg writes: Hey Bill, I read in the AJC that [Aaron] Murray, [Bacarri] Rambo and [Orson] Charles requested an evaluation of their projected NFL draft position. I have also heard rumors that [Cornelius] Washington and [Sanders] Commings requested an evaluation from the league. Can you confirm how many players have requested an evaluation and the possibility of each leaving?
Sorry, we don’t know exactly how many players have submitted their name, only those who’ve talked about it publicly, and that’s the group you’ve mentioned (though Murray isn’t really seriously considering it; he just wants to see how he rates, and that’s also likely with Commings).
Todd writes: While I count myself as a member of the Dawg Nation, the general sense that I get from the majority of our fan base is one of disinterest in the success that Matt Stafford is having in the NFL and I don’t understand it. I have followed his NFL career from his first year where Detroit won 2 games (after winning none the year prior) through this winning season and I have to say he has exceeded my expectations. He really has been worthy of the #1 overall pick in the 2009 draft but I hardly hear any Georgia fans talking about him. … With all the Tebow hoopla in recent weeks and the way Gator fans are crowing, doesn’t make sense when we have the better quarterback and I think he proved it Halloween weekend when they blew out the Broncos in Denver. Where is our pride in ole #7?
You’re right, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of Stafford fever in the Bulldog Nation, though I have heard from fans who’ve been following Stafford, especially this season. Overall, I think a lot of Georgia fans were disappointed that he left early for the NFL without first winning an SEC title in Athens and that perhaps lessened the enthusiasm for him. But I imagine that will change if Matt gets the Lions to the Super Bowl.
Travis Hill writes: Hey Bill, love reading your Blog. It’s like you are reading my mind as a fan. I am hoping and praying that we will be able to keep coach [Todd] Grantham in Athens for a long time. Coach Richt owes him big time. I am still worried about our special teams and our offense under [Mike] Bobo. I am not a Bobo basher. I wanted Bobo to succeed more than anyone. I thought Bobo was a great player for Our Dawgs. He is a great recruiter and QB coach. I just think that sometimes Bobo cannot adjust to defenses after they adjust to what we are doing. The LSU scheme was excellent in the 1st half, the players just did not execute. But I really question the coaches’ decision to keep kicking to the Honey Badger. I mean kick it out of bounds or directionally. I was just shocked. Thanks again for your writing. My crew is in Section 325 each and every year … and we are loud!
Yeah, the punting strategy — and special teams strategy, coaching and execution — left a lot to be desired in that game and over the entire season. As for Bobo, I think you may be right about him having trouble adjusting on the fly. When his game plan works, though, Georgia’s offense has been pretty awesome.
Garrett from Bainbridge writes: Hey Bill, I’ve been following your blog for a few years now and continue to enjoy reading it every week. I was wondering if you knew if there was a video made of the Larry Munson memorial service at Sanford Stadium and, if so, do you know where those of us who were unable to attend the service could find it online? I would greatly appreciate it if you could help me with this, as it killed me that I was unable to make the service in person.
I haven’t seen any video of the complete service show up online so far, but there are snippets. The official memorial video can be seen here, there’s a fan-made highlights video here and there’s a nice clip of the Redcoats playing “Georgia On My Mind” at the service here. Perhaps the athletic association ought to consider releasing a video of the complete memorial; it would make a good fund-raiser for a worthy cause.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg