Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Buddy Johnson writes: Bill, I was happy to hear this week that Georgia and Florida State are in talks to play a neutral site game in 2016, probably the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome. I’d love to see the Dogs and Noles play again somewhere other than in a bowl game, and I’m sure Coach Mark Richt would be excited by the prospect. Do you think this might get derailed by all the talk about the SEC going to a nine-game conference schedule? I know UGA leaders have said that would mean the end of big-name nonconference opponents like Clemson.
Even if the conference decides to make the nine-game scheduling move, which is far from a fait accompli, SEC observers doubt the conference would be able to institute the change before 2017. But even if it did happen a year earlier, UGA probably still would be willing to sacrifice a cupcake win and a home game for the obvious benefits that come from a high-profile neutral site game like the Chick-fil-A. In addition to a nice paycheck, those games bring lots of national exposure, which helps with recruiting. I don’t know how excited Richt would be, however, as most coaches don’t want to face two BCS-level nonconference opponents in the same season, and Georgia already has Georgia Tech. I think fans would really get into it, though, probably much more so than they did with Boise State.
Dawgmaniac writes: Bill, I’m glad Todd Grantham didn’t let the traitor Will Muschamp get away with that crap about Florida’s six turnovers in last year’s game against the Dawgs all being self-inflicted. As Grantham pointed out, Georgia actually created six turnovers in that game. The Gators didn’t give the game away, the Dawgs took it!
I have two words for Coach Boom: Jarvis Jones. No. 29 racked up 13 tackles (five for loss), three sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries against the Gators. Jordan Reed didn’t just happen to drop the ball on his way to the end zone; Jones stripped it. Muschamp can try to spin it any way he wants, but the video doesn’t lie.
Jim P. writes: Bill, Got a question you can throw out for your readers. With the new SEC Network looking to fill up TV time 24/7/365, it will be looking for original programming. What kind of content might they like? I’m sure you’ll get everything from funny to very serious responses. Maybe they can have a reality show called “Girlfriends of Quarterbacks of the SEC” or “Cooking with Coaches Wives of the SEC” (to get that female demographic!) or “Girlfriends of Coaches of the SEC” (Oh, I forgot, Bobby Petrino is gone) or “Missionaries With Mark Richt,” “Oversigning Day With Saban,” “Whine and Cheese With Spurrier,” etc. I’m kidding, of course, with all of these. It’s fun to think of the possibilities, though. Do you believe some locally produced and syndicated shows (from all members schools) will be added to SEC Network, such as the “Dawg Report” on CSS? Or “SEC Tonight”? Any thoughts?
Some sort “SEC Tonight” is almost a certainty, and I’m sure the SEC Network probably will have school-specific shows like “Dawg Report,” too. What else would I like to see? Condensed repeats of the previous week’s games, like CSS does with Georgia’s games, for one thing. And the coaches’ shows, too. And, of course, more documentaries about the conference’s past along the lines of ESPN’s “SEC Storied” series. As for “reality” shows, the ones you jokingly suggest sound like fun, but I imagine what they’ll come up with will be more like the sort of up-close programs about individual teams, coaches and players that ESPN already does. Fans, what would you like to see on the network?
Brother Bruce aka Rugbydawg79 writes to ask if I’d help promote UGA’s rugby club team, adding: Appreciate what you do for our school! UGA rugby club is oldest club sport team at UGA —1967. Also, high school rugby is really taking off in the state of Georgia. With rugby in the Olympics in 2016, this will only grow.
Bruce, I’m not sure rugby is really the oldest club sport at UGA — I saw the first men’s soccer game between Georgia and Georgia Tech on Myers Quadrangle in November 1966 — but I’m always happy to give a nod to the national game of my mother’s homeland of Wales! (The Welsh feel about rugby the way Southerners do about college football. One of my Welsh uncles told me he was extremely proud of one of my female cousins for scheduling her wedding so it didn’t conflict with the national rugby team playing in a tournament! “Good religious girl,” he said. Sound familiar?) Anyway, all of the club teams at UGA deserve more recognition, whether it’s rugby, men’s soccer, lacrosse, competitive dance, powerlifting, wrestling, triathlon, cycling, wakeboarding or my own son and daughter’s choice: Ultimate Frisbee. Club sports are student-initiated, student-led organizations officially registered with the University, and the 1,600 or so students on 45 club teams who represent UGA mostly pay their own way in terms of uniforms, transportation, etc. I know this firsthand. We just paid for my daughter Olivia to travel with the women’s ultimate team to Nationals in Madison, Wis. next week. By the way, the team, known as Dawgma, is ranked No. 11 nationally. The men’s ultimate team also is going to Nationals, and among quite a few other UGA club teams excelling this year was the club-level tennis team, which won the national title over Florida! They may not be playing at the varsity level, but they’re all UGA athletes and deserve our support. Go Dogs! And, especially, go Dawgma!
Jax Dawg and Will in Newnan both wrote in to ask what I thought about the Matthew Thomas situation. He’s the highly ranked FSU linebacker signee who wants to be released from his letter of intent because he says he was pressured by his mother into signing with the school, and he’s decided he’d really rather go to UGA or Southern Cal. FSU has declined to release him without a more “compelling” reason, which means he either has to go through an NCAA appeals process or he can transfer, but he’ll have to sit out a season. Jax Daw asks: Bill, do you agree with FSU’s decision? Personally, I think it’s the right one, because the kid signed a letter of intent and he needs to learn that you’re bound by the legal documents that you sign your name to. Your thoughts?
It’s a tough situation for both the kid and Florida State. On the one hand, I see your point about players needing to live up to their obligations. And it’s true that FSU tearing up his letter of intent and letting him sign elsewhere might set a bad precedent. It’s one thing when a player makes such a request because of a family problem or some other hardship. But buyer’s remorse doesn’t really qualify there. His mother may have pressured him, but we’ve had a couple of high-profile cases in recent years where players ignored mama’s wishes and signed with the school they really wanted. No one forced Thomas to sign with FSU. And while a verbal commitment has become pretty much meaningless in college recruiting in recent years, signing on the dotted line still means something. On the other hand, a player might sign with a school because he wants to play for a particular coach, only to see that coach up and go elsewhere with no limitations. So to hold players to their letter of intent while coaches can come and go as they please is a bit unfair. I think the bottom line is this: Does FSU really want to force someone to play for them who has publicly stated he’d rather be elsewhere? While it might be a no-win situation, it seems like letting him go would be the lesser of two unattractive choices for the school.
Ted Pennel writes: Hey Bill, I know televised games will be with us always, but I get really bummed out when CBS televises the Dawgs. The games seem to be much more interrupted by TV commercials than ESPN. Too bad the SEC couldn’t push their weight a little (like the Masters) and put some reasonable restriction on commercials. It seems to really interrupt the flow of the game more than it should. I would appreciate your input.
I haven’t noticed CBS being any more obnoxious with its commercial breaks than ESPN, but I agree with you that the frequent TV timeouts interrupt the flow of the game. They’re particularly aggravating for those fans in attendance. I’ve spent many a TV timeout in Sanford Stadium fuming and waiting for the TV official to finally give the signal that the players can resume. But the conference isn’t likely to ever throw its weight around on this issue because they’ve accepted millions of dollars from the network in exchange for letting them carry the games, and the TV folks wouldn’t be willing to pay those hefty sums if they couldn’t turn a profit with all those ads.
Warren writes: Bill, Vince Dooley had a standard that the UGA teams must be competitive. That was not always reality but that is what he wanted. Baseball and basketball are not only not competitive but are an embarrassment. Will anything change as to improvement in the two sports if the coaches stay on? I think not. The basketball coach lacks the talent to play competitive basketball in the SEC and should have not been hired. He was hired by the former athletic director who was a football player. [David Perno] is burned out and has evolved into being a part of the good old boy system at UGA. What’s needed is a dose of poverty for UGA sports and then those in charge will wake up to the fact to prosper in fundraising you must have quality in all sports. When the president retires watch the fundraising department go south for he is the reason UGA has had such prosperity in fundraising. The athletic department does not have a clue and when they wake up it will be to late to recover before investing years to correct the error.
I disagree about one thing you said. Georgia’s Mark Fox knows how to coach basketball. He’s a good game coach, he develops his players and he takes care of them. His one glaring deficiency is in recruiting, and that might well prove his undoing ultimately. As for baseball coach Perno, I know a lot of folks think Georgia’s season finale Saturday will mark the end of his time at UGA, but I’m not convinced that’s the case. We don’t know yet what athletic director Greg McGarity will do. In the past, he’s said Bulldog coaches are judged on the basis of how they do in the conference and in the postseason. By those criteria, Perno might look like a goner. That’s what did in former Gym Dogs coach Jay Clark. But McGarity also has said he doesn’t judge coaches in a vacuum and that he takes injuries, personal hardships, etc. into account. The Diamond Dogs lost two players to devastating injuries in back-to-back seasons and that seemed to hit Perno particularly hard. I think that may weigh heavily in McGarity’s decision. And it doesn’t hurt Perno that, like McGarity, he’s an Athens native with a lot of community support. We should know soon whether that will be enough to win him a contract renewal.
Brady Johnson writes: Bill, I watched the ESPN report on Kolton Houston’s battle to rid a banned substance from his body and the NCAA’s highhanded refusal to reinstate him and I was outraged. I particularly found NCAA Mark Emmert’s arrogant attitude insufferable. What can fans do to help? Should we contact the NCAA on Houston’s behalf?
You’re right about Emmert, who coldly rebuffed UGA’s efforts to get Houston reinstated and said he was “surprised” the institution was making such a request. I don’t know whether members of the public contacting the NCAA directly will make any difference, but it couldn’t hurt. The contact information:
The National Collegiate Athletic Association , P.O. Box 6222, Indianapolis, IN 46206-6222 . Phone: 317-917-6222. Fax: 317-917-6888.
Meanwhile, a more immediate action fans can take is participating in an online petition on Houston’s behalf that a fan organized and which so far is approaching 3,500 signatures and attracting some media attention (which might well be the biggest factor in getting the NCAA to change its stance). You can sign the petition here.
Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season or UGA athletics? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg