Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Dillon Brinson writes: Hey Bill, I really enjoy reading your Blawg. Due to suspensions, injuries and lack of experience in the secondary, any chance the coaches will move Malcolm Mitchell back to defense at least for the opening game, kind of like last year?
While the Dogs’ secondary will be thin to start out the season and such a move would certainly be in keeping with Mitchell being named this week to the watch list for this year’s Paul Hornung Award, given annually to college football’s most versatile player (previously won in 2011 by two-way Georgia player Brandon Boykin), I doubt the Georgia coaches are seriously considering loaning Mitchell to the secondary this year. Mitchell will be expected to take up some of the load in the receiving corps previously handled by the departed Tavarres King. Plus, Mitchell is coming off arthroscopic knee surgery that kept him out of spring practice. And, lastly, his brief tenure on the defensive side last season didn’t produce the sort of dividends that would call for his continued use as a two-way player. I think he’s best left concentrating on getting back into shape to lead the receivers and perhaps working on getting the kinks out of his up-and-down tenure so far as a kick returner.
Sgt. Christopher Stephenson of 25th Combat Aviation Brigade at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii, writes: Mr. King, Aaron Murray has always had the stats but hasn’t gotten the wins that counted the most to rank him with the greatest college QB’s of all-time. So by chance considering if Murray breaks the UGA and SEC QB records and wins the BCS National Championship this year, which is in reach, would he be considered the greatest UGA/SEC QB of all-time? If not, where does that place him in the history books as a great college QB?
Next question, I love our traditional uniforms, red jerseys and silver britches. But I would like to see some variety without altering the power G. I would love to see the Dawgs in white jerseys, white helmets, silver britches and white socks. Sort of like a “white out” game. Or perhaps like the Falcons do when they play the Saints and wear their throwback black jerseys, I also would like to see the Dawgs switch their home uniforms to the black jerseys or throwback 1980 uniforms when Auburn comes to Athens every other year. That would be awesome in honoring a great rivalry. What do you think Bill? And is there any more talk of more uniform combinations?
Interesting question about Murray. Certainly, winning an SEC and BCS championship on top of breaking all those records would make a very strong case for Murray being at least in the conversation for the greatest UGA quarterback, if not the greatest all-time SEC QB. But what if he winds up owning all those quarterbacking records but doesn’t manage to lead the team to a conference or national championship? Where, then, would he rank among UGA quarterbacks? Higher than David Greene or Fran Tarkenton, who did win the SEC, or Buck Belue, who wasn’t a record-breaking QB but did lead the Dawgs to a national championship? Would Murray’s career numbers rank him above the supremely talented (but also championshipless) Eric Zeier and Matt Stafford? I think without a doubt Murray will finish his career as UGA’s most productive quarterback. However, while “greatest” is a pretty subjective designation, I’d venture a guess that without a championship Murray’s case to be considered the best ever would be a little shaky.
As for the uniforms, that’s always a hot-button issue with fans. I know the players would love to change it up some but there’s a faction of fandom that gets apoplectic over the idea. A white helmet with the power “G” was actually considered by Vince Dooley when he first revamped the Georgia uniform in 1964. I wouldn’t object to the Dawgs wearing one as a one-time special occasion thing. And the suggestion about reviving the black jerseys for whenever Georgia plays Auburn in Athens has been made before by Blawg readers, and I think it’s a cool idea. I wouldn’t even mind the occasional return of the black or red britches on the road with the white jerseys (never with the red jerseys). Generally, though, I think UGA’s standard uniform is pretty awesome and doesn’t need a lot of supplementing.
Jimmy in Albany writes: Bill, I recently read a story about Fran Tarkenton that I’d never heard before. It seems that when the Bulldogs opened the season at Texas in September 1958, they were losing 7-0 in the fourth quarter when they fielded a punt on the 5-yard-line. Tarkenton says that up to then Wally Butts was talking about redshirting him, but that he noticed after Georgia got the ball back that starting quarterback Charley Britt was still sitting on the bench, so the 18-year-old Tarkenton, who was the third-string QB, just strapped on his helmet and ran on the field without the coaches’ knowledge and inserted himself in the lineup. Tarkenton proceeded to march the Dogs down the field for a touchdown and then waved off the kicker and threw for one of the first 2-point conversions in the first season the NCAA allowed them. Texas eventually won the game, he said, but Tarkenton started the next week’s game. And we all know he went on to lead Georgia to an SEC championship the next year. Bill, is this story true or is Fran the Man embroidering history a little?
Jimmy, I first saw that story when it ran back in May in the Saporta Report, along with a video of Tarkenton telling the story. I asked leading Georgia football historian Patrick Garbin if he was familiar with that story, and he replied:
“Yes, I’ve heard the story of Fran’s celebrated first varsity game at UGA, even discussing it in a couple of my books. However, it is likely just that — a story. It seems that Fran is the only one who recollects that he inserted himself in the ’58 Texas game, or the fact he was supposed to be redshirted. Several years ago, I spoke to a player who had been in the huddle when Fran came in (I’m pretty sure it was end Jimmy Vickers) and he laughed at the mention of Fran inserting himself, indicating the quarterback had exaggerated the account over the years. Personally, I’ve always heard Butts sent in Tarkenton primarily because starter Charley Britt had fumbled three or four times in the game, and trailing 7-0 and in desperate need to move the ball out of deep inside his own territory, Butts was confident Tarkenton — the better ball-handler — wouldn’t fumble. There are other “holes” in the story, like Tarkenton didn’t actually start the next game vs. Vanderbilt as the story goes — Britt did. In fact, after Tarkenton led Georgia to its touchdown and Texas then went up 13-8, the starter replaced Tarkenton under center for the final few minutes of the game because Britt was considered the better passer. Nevertheless, whether exaggerated or not, it makes for a great story and adds to the legend of a true Bulldog great!”
Chris Pugh writes: I always hear how coaches like Nick Saban gets flight time on Bama’s plane or some coaches get issued a car to them. Does Mark Richt get anything like that?
He does indeed, Chris. As part of the new five-year contract signed last year, Richt gets a number of perks, including two cars with insurance for each. He also gets compensation for radio and TV shows, payment for operating the Mark Richt Football Camp, equipment compensation from Nike and can win various bonuses, plus he is allowed to earn money from outside endorsements from the likes of Ford and, of course, Carpets of Dalton!
Ron Olliff writes: Bill, With all the talk of going to a 9-game schedule in SEC, there is one big issue that seems to be overlooked. Playing 9 games will cause the Fla-Ga game to go home and home. If not, both schools will never have more than 6 “home” games a season while everyone else would have 7. This is a big economic disadvantage for both schools. What say you?
Considering the scheduling permutations if the SEC goes to nine conference games can give you a headache, especially since every other season conference teams would have five road games, but the bottom line is that, yes, if Georgia and Florida choose to continue playing each other in Jacksonville every year, they’ll have one less conference home game than other SEC schools. But that’s already the case with the eight-game schedule. A lot of folks think that a nine-game SEC schedule would prompt UGA and UF to move the game back to the campuses to compensate for that or that they might alternate playing the game in Athens, Gainesville and Jacksonville — MrSEC.com even drew up examples of how that would work. In the end, I think the decision on whether to stick with Jacksonville or not will be based on which option affords the two schools the greater opportunity to make money.
In response to my recent Blawg about when is a good age to first take your kids to a Georgia football game, a couple of readers make the case for starting them out very young. Dan writes: Bill, I took my son to his first game when he was not yet 3 years old. He was the proud owner (and constant wearer ) of a UGA replica uniform complete with helmet and shoulder pads. When we get to the game as the Dawgs run on to the field his eyes got as big as saucers and he looked at me and said “Dad, they all have uniforms just like mine.” A precious memory that I will never forget. My two grandsons are 2 and we will be looking for excuses to take them to games next year.
And Tim Kirksey writes: Bill, Here’s a picture of my grandson, Cooper, at his first Dawg game this past season. He was nine months old at the time; the game was Georgia Southern. He didn’t turn 1 until the end of January! And his mom says he attended the Outback Bowl vs. Michigan State the previous January — three weeks before he was born!
Thanks, guys. I think in the end it depends on the child. Some are ready to sit through a college football game when they’re still preschool age and others can’t sit still long enough to watch a game even when they’re old enough to drive!
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