UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity held another one of his periodic live chats Wednesday afternoon at Georgiadogs.com, and while much of it was your usual generic administrator-talk, there were some interesting tidbits scattered throughout the half-hour session.
On the subject of scheduling, McGarity said UGA is “anxiously awaiting” the release of the 2015 conference schedule, which “should be announced before the May spring meetings in Destin.”
Asked if he thought the new four-team College Football Playoff would mean an even bigger push for a nine-game conference schedule in the SEC, and whether this would help the SEC get more teams in the playoff, McGarity said, “Not in my opinion, because eight SEC games allows each school to determine their own strength of schedule. One size doesn’t fit all.”
A fan noted that “this year’s [Georgia home] schedule has the right mix” but next year’s home nonconference schedule “is weak” and that “three of seven home games against weak opponents isn’t appealing when it comes time to write that big check for tickets. … we can do better than Charleston Southern, can’t we?” To which McGarity replied: “I am confident that we will play a big-time nonconference opponent periodically, in addition to our annual rivalry game with Tech. We are working hard on this as we speak.”
And to another fan who said, “May I suggest, Notre Dame?” the Georgia AD said: “We’d love to have that opportunity!”
On a subject covered recently here in the Blawg, a fan who was worried about the increased use of “piped in” music at games said he thinks the Redcoat Band “should play a major role in getting the crowd fired up.” McGarity replied: “We are working hard on the right blend of live and canned music for football games. No, we won’t be able to please everyone, but we have an opportunity to do certain things that will get our crowd excited in a proactive manner, rather than in a reactive manner.”
He also confirmed that “we are planning to make improvements to our sound system,” and when a fan asked whether there are any plans to update the wi-fi capability inside Sanford Stadium, McGarity said: “Absolutely! Our partners at AT&T and Verizon are full-speed ahead for the 2014 season!”
What with officials at SEC schools trying desperately to upgrade the game day experience to boost attendance, a couple of fans took the opportunity to lobby for specific upgrades. One asked about replacing “the 1980 Zenith TVs that you can’t even see” in the stadium with LCD screens, adding, “I mean, if we have to wait in line for 30 minutes to simply get a Coke, I would like to be able to see the game.” McGarity replied: “That is on our list of things to do this year or next year, depending on annual funds available.”
And to a fan who asked, “What is the chance the men’s restroom on the north side, bridge end (around section 103), could be renovated to include entry and exit doors?” McGarity promised, “We will get on that right away! Thank you for bringing it to our attention! I just made a note of this.”
Naturally, a couple of folks brought up the subject of an indoor practice facility (an obsession with some fans), but they didn’t get much satisfaction. McGarity said an indoor facility is “on our wish list” but “we have other essential projects at various facilities that have a higher priority at this time.”
Asked about the new SEC Network signing a deal with Dish Network, McGarity noted that was good for distribution but added: “we need to get DirecTV on board since that’s my cable provider at home!” (Mine, too.)
He also said, “We are working with our partners at Nike to create a more ‘silver’ silver for the Dawgs’ silver britches” but pooh-poohed the idea of mixing up the road uniform with black or red britches, noting: “We have the best uniforms in college football, and our one experiment in Atlanta wasn’t very popular” (a reference to the infamous Power Rangers uniforms against Boise State).
And in a view that wouldn’t be popular in Tuscaloosa, McGarity said he “is confident” the NCAA will impose limits on the size of football staffs “sooner rather than later.”
Also, in a bit of a surprise, when asked what is his favorite all-time UGA victory, the head Bulldog said: “The 2013 women’s NCAA Swimming & Diving Championship would rank right up there with the best moments of all! There are really too many to single out, but that one was special.”
SPRING FOOTBALL PREVIEW
Mark Richt and his staff previewed the upcoming spring practices and announced a few position changes Wednesday. Here’s a quick summary of the major personnel moves (with my parenthetical comments):
J.J. Green is moving from the now-crowded tailback corps to cornerback (a good move that makes sense since he originally was recruited as a cornerback or receiver); Quayvon Hicks is moving from fullback to the decimated tight end position for spring, with the idea of becoming more of an H-back come fall (another good move since Hicks showed he can catch and seemed to have lost some momentum at FB after starting out strong in the first couple of games last year); and rising junior John Theus is moving from right tackle, where he’s played the past two seasons, to the left tackle spot (let’s hope the former 5-star prospect gets more consistent and lives up to his potential there while being the key protector of QB Hutson Mason).
Also, here’s hoping that Richt is being overly cautious in his estimation that Todd Gurley will be very limited during spring practice. It’s interesting that, in contrast, offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said he plans to “push” Gurley in the spring because “that’s the only way you can get better.”
You have to wonder if the Dogs’ star tailback is getting a bit of the good cop/bad cop treatment from the coaches.
NEW REDCOAT UNIFORMS
If you’ve seen one of those pictures of a new Redcoat Band uniform circulating on social media sites, the official word is: They’re for real.
Assistant Director of Bands Brett Bawcum told me this week the new uniform will be introduced this fall, the first complete overhaul of the band’s outfits since 1995, “though there have been a couple of supplementary purchases of the 1995 uniform over the years.”
The UGA Athletic Association recently approved a special allocation for the purchase of new band uniforms, estimated to cost $243,000.
The new design returns the trademark “Super G” to the uniform and also includes the traditional Redcoat Band logo, which has been a mark of the Redcoat Alumni Band. It also pays homage to the Redcoat Band uniform design worn from the 1950s to early ’90s with three diagonal white West Point-style stripes on the right. The left side includes the UGA Arch on a black sleeve and partial front separated from the red by a diagonal, which is a nod to the 1995 version. The design is the result of a collaboration between staff, professional uniform designers and current students, Bawcum said.
From a fan’s viewpoint, the most notable differences will be the one black sleeve, the “wings” over the shoulders, and the red bands on the hat being much narrower. An all-black version of the uniform will be worn by the drum majors.
The new Redcoat uniform, produced by Demoulin Brothers and Co. of Greenville, Ill., will first appear at the Georgia-Clemson game on Aug. 30.
SPEAKING OF CLEMSON …
Usually it’s the Dawgs that enter season-opening Georgia-Clemson games hampered by missing suspended players, but the shoe was on the other foot this week with Dabo Swinney’s announcement that four Tigers will miss this year’s game after being suspended for violating team rules.
The suspended players: defensive end Corey Crawford and offensive lineman David Beasley, both returning starters, along with offensive lineman Shaq Anthony and cornerback Gary Peters, both backups last season but expected to compete for starting spots this year.
Of course, Georgia isn’t going to enter that game unscathed. Wide receiver Justin Scott-Wesley is expected to serve a one-game suspension on a marijuana-related violation from last fall. (Josh Harvey-Clemons originally was to miss the Clemson game on suspension before getting kicked off the team.)
Plus, of course, we still have spring break and the summer to get through — and if past history is any indicator, JS-W might not be the only UGA player who misses the rematch with the Tigers.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg