Archive for May, 2012

Spurrier makes another bid for attention

"Look at me!" (Associated Press)

"Look at me!" (Associated Press)

It’s obvious why Steve Spurrier wants to change the way division champions are determined in the SEC: Last year his team won all its games against teams from the East but lost a couple to the West, which allowed Georgia, which lost to South Carolina but beat all its Western opponents, to take the Eastern division.

Generally, South Carolina under Spurrier fares better against its Eastern Division brethren than it does against teams from the SEC West. So Spurrier only wants to count games against the East in determining the division winner.

For some strange reason, LSU’s Les Miles supports that view, saying, “I’m for the Western Division deciding the Western Division champion and the Eastern Division deciding the Eastern Division champion.” Apparently it comes down to the fact that Miles doesn’t like the fact that LSU plays Florida every year while Alabama plays Tennessee. Or something like that. It’s hard to tell with the Hat.

Georgia’s …

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Fan talk: SEC expansion, Richt’s contract, outdated offense and more!

Did Mark Richt get the contract terms he deserves? (Associated Press)

Did Mark Richt get the contract terms he deserves? (Associated Press)

It’s been a while since we’ve checked out the Junkyard Mail, so let’s get right to some of your letters. …

Jackie Logan writes: So, Bill, if all this talk about Florida State and/or Clemson jumping to the Big 12 comes to pass, what do you think are the chances the SEC decides to expand again to 16 teams? And if so, who should the conference go after besides Virginia Tech?

I’m hoping the SEC doesn’t have to expand again, because I frankly don’t think even the addition of Virginia Tech to the conference would increase the TV revenue enough to make up for it having to be split 16 ways. You’re right, though, that the Hokies are the natural target for the SEC, should it come to that. In fact, I thought they would have been a better 14th team instead of Missouri. When it comes to a 16th team, if you take Clemson out of it (and, frankly, I think they’d be much more comfortable in the SEC than in the Big 12), the …

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Which game is bigger for the 2012 Dawgs: South Carolina or Florida?

Which is more important, beating Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks or winning two in a row over Florida? (Associated Press)

Which is more important, beating Steve Spurrier's Gamecocks or winning two in a row over Florida? (Associated Press)

A recent SportsNation poll conducted by ESPN.com put this question to fans: If you could only watch one SEC game next season, the game that was absolutely the must-see game in the league, which one would it be?

The winner, not surprisingly, was again Alabama-LSU, same as last year, with 42 percent of the vote. But the No. 2 pick, drawing 27 percent of the 10,000 votes cast, was the Georgia-South Carolina game on Oct. 6 in Columbia.

There’s no doubt the game between the Dawgs and Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks is a big one, and probably the toughest on Georgia’s less-than-challenging 2012 schedule.

But is it the most important game for Mark Richt’s team this season?

ESPN’s Chris Low seems to think it is, saying the game in Columbia “has as much or more riding on it for Georgia as any season in recent memory, and it’s always a pivotal contest. Until last season, the …

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Is expansion really going to benefit UGA and other SEC members?

sec-pinwheel-logojpg-f806e20b1171f261So, I’m back from vacation and taking note of what’s been going on over the past week while my family was celebrating a high school graduation. …

Amid a disappointing showing so far in postseason play by UGA’s spring sports teams and the apparent hiring of a new gymnastics coach, the Bulldogs football program picked up a new director of on-campus recruiting (at last), lost former Dawg Tony Gilbert from its strength and conditioning staff, and continued to struggle to unload single-game tickets for Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Vandy while still peddling a few single season tickets as well.

Ah, but there appears to have been good news on the SEC front, with the conference signing a deal with the Big 12 for a New Year’s Day bowl that will match their champions if they’re not in a new four-team playoff and other conference representatives (most likely the next highest-rated teams) in the likely event both conference champs are in the playoff. This sounds like a win-win situation …

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Fan talk: Moving the Redcoats, O-line, Bobo and more

It’s high school graduation week for my UGA-bound daughter and so I’ll be on vacation and away from the Blawg. But to give you some Bulldog topics to chew over while I’m away, let’s go straight to the Junkyard Mail. …

Word is the Redcoats are on the move again. (University of Georgia)

Word is the Redcoats are on the move again. (University of Georgia)

Andy Mashburn writes: Bill, thanks for keeping the Bulldawg juices flowing during the offseason. Always enjoy reading what’s on the mind of the Bulldawg faithful! What are the chances of placing the Redcoat Band back in the student section? I read that the purpose of putting the Redcoats in the end zone was so that the stadium as a whole could hear them better. Personally, I loved the effect of the Redcoats in the student section with the college students. Seemed to add to the overall college atmosphere and experience of Sanford Stadium. In my opinion, they look a little lost and weak sitting in the end zone. Actually, I would even like to see them sitting a little higher in the student section. …

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Pooch kicks: Hungry defense, fullback challenge, rethinking Vandy

Todd Grantham keeps reminding his defense of the four losses last season. (University of Georgia)

Todd Grantham keeps reminding his defense of the four losses last season. (University of Georgia)

Georgia’s defense returns nine starters from the unit that ranked No. 5 nationally last year, but looming early-season suspensions apparently have a lot of folks taking a wait-and-see attitude, as an ESPN.com poll shows the Dawgs coming in fourth in a “best defense” vote, behind South Carolina, Alabama and LSU.

Still, as ESPN’s Edward Aschoff notes, “at full strength, this defense will be a handful, especially with one of the best linebacking corps in the country” and a potent starting secondary.

But I’m glad to see that Todd Grantham and his crew are reminding their troops there’s still much room for improvement. Rising senior linebacker Christian Robinson told ESPN that this spring the players dwelled on the 35 points given up to Boise State, the 45 to South Carolina, the 42 to LSU and the 33 to Michigan State — all losses.

“We’re not perfect, so when we go in our meeting …

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New game plan needed for Saturdays at Sanford

Will this scene from last year's New Mexico State game become more common at Sanford Stadium? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Will this scene from last year's New Mexico State game become more common at Sanford Stadium? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Last week, the UGA Athletic Association sent out a note to Bulldog Club members offering the opportunity to purchase additional single-game tickets to three home football games — Buffalo, Florida Atlantic and Vanderbilt — as well as single nonrenewable season tickets.

One of my brothers was interested in getting some seats to the Vandy game, so I called the ticket office to place an order. Before I could tell the guy what I wanted, he eagerly inquired, “How many for Buffalo can I sell you?”

I got the feeling they’re just a little anxious about unloading seats to that Sept. 1 game.

And that may not be the only Saturday this season when we’re facing the prospect of empty seats beyond the few thousand in the student section that have been going unused for some time now.

With only the two Tennessee schools and Ole Miss coming to Athens from the SEC and a …

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Fan talk: Coaching changes and Dogs vs. Gamecocks

Jay Clark in happier times with the Gym Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Jay Clark in happier times with the Gym Dogs. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Replacing a legend is nearly always a thankless job, but new head coaches rarely step into a more difficult situation than Jay Clark did following on the high-heels of Suzanne Yoculan.

Yoculan built the Georgia program into a national power, winning 10 national championships, including five consecutive NCAA titles to cap off her incredible career.

The drop-off during Clark’s brief tenure, unfortunately, was just as dramatic, with the Gym Dogs missing the NCAA tournament completely one year and never making it to the final six.

It’s a shame, especially since Clark was Yoculan’s longtime assistant and was instrumental in those championships. If Yoculan had gone ahead and hung it up when she first announced her retirement in 2007, instead of coaching two more valedictory seasons, it’s entirely likely that Clark, her designated successor, would have begun his head coaching career at UGA with two national titles. …

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Michael Adams era a mixed bag at UGA

Michael Adams with two of the positives he brought to UGA: Greg McGarity and Mark Richt. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

Michael Adams with two of the positives he brought to UGA: Greg McGarity and Mark Richt. (Curtis Compton / AJC)

I know the general knee-jerk reaction among Dawgs fans at the impending retirement of UGA President Michael Adams is pure elation. As soon as the word spread on Facebook and Twitter Wednesday afternoon, the hoorahs erupted.

But while Adams may have deserved those boos that would chorus from the stands whenever he took the field, assessing him as the leader of the state’s flagship university is much more of a mixed bag.

Yeah, he meddled initially in athletics too much. On the plus side, he did push for Jim Donnan to be fired, enabling Georgia to get Mark Richt as head coach. Whatever you think of Richt in recent years, there’s no denying he knocked the lid off for the slumbering UGA football program.

As was so often the case with Adams, though, there was more to the story than that. After the firing it came out that Adams also had cut a secret $250,000 side deal with …

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Are Dawgs a legitimate preseason Top 10 team?

sic em spirit shirtAnd now begins Mark Richt’s 2012 challenge: Managing high expectations for his team.

ESPN’s “College Football Live” has released its preseason poll, and five SEC teams are in the Top 10, including Georgia at No. 6. USC is tops, with LSU No. 2 and Alabama No. 3, Oregon No. 4 and Oklahoma No. 5. Behind Georgia in the Top 10 are Florida State, South Carolina, Arkansas (the voting took place before the fall of Bobby Petrino) and Michigan.

ESPN SEC blogger Chris Low thinks “Georgia seems a little high at No. 6. I think the Bulldogs will be very good, and they’re my pick to win the Eastern Division this season. But I don’t know that they’re the sixth best team in the country. To me, Georgia and South Carolina are just about dead even. Both teams should be nasty on defense again, and both teams have experienced go-to players on offense. At the end of the day, the Bulldogs have the best chance to get to Atlanta because they have the easier schedule and don’t have to play Alabama, …

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