Bulldog Bites: Pondering Keith Marshall and ranking SEC coaches and greatest UGA players

Would you redshirt or play a healthy Keith Marshall in 2014? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Would you redshirt or play a healthy Keith Marshall in 2014? (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

The good news out of Georgia’s spring practices is that tailback Keith Marshall is “a lot further along” than running backs coach Bryan McClendon expected in coming back from knee surgery.

Although he’s not participating in any full-contact plays, Marshall is going through the running drills and practicing hard, like he doesn’t want to take that possible medical redshirt that the coaching staff’s been considering if the back isn’t fully recovered by the start of preseason camp in August.

On the one hand, having the Dogs’ one-two punch of Todd Gurley and Marshall back together leading a loaded running back corps sounds like the best possible outcome for Mike Bobo’s offense, especially with an offensive line that might still be trying to gel as the season starts.

But with Brendan Douglas back and talented five-star recruits Sony Michel and Nick Chubb coming in this summer, there are some Bulldog observers who wonder if the program might not be better served by Marshall taking that redshirt year. After all, it would give him more time to get stronger and would provide class separation between him and Gurley, who might well leave for the NFL after this season.

Right now, McClendon said, “the plan is to see how far along he is, and then do what’s going to be best for him. That’s priority number one. We’re going to do what’s best for him. That way everybody will be able to sleep good at night.”

If Marshall’s not 100 percent by August, the redshirt would appear to be the best option for both player and team. But if he’s ready to go, should there be any consideration to holding him out a year?

If you were the Georgia coaching staff, what would you do with a healthy Marshall — play him or save him?

RANKING THE SEC COACHES

Should Georgia's Mark Richt rank ahead of LSU's Les Miles? (AJC file)

Should Georgia's Mark Richt rank ahead of LSU's Les Miles? (AJC file)

Athlon Sports has come up with its ranking of SEC football coaches for 2014, noting that “wins are a telling and important statistic, but they don’t provide a complete picture of how successful coaches are. Winning 10 games at Alabama is different than winning 10 games at Kentucky.”

The idea, they say, is if you start a program from scratch, which coach would you hire?

Not surprisingly, Alabama’s Nick Saban ranks No. 1 on Athlon’s list, followed by South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, whose Gamecocks have been remarkably consistent over the past four years. At No. 3 is fast-rising Gus Malzahn of Auburn, who’s only been a head coach at the FBS level two years. And then at No. 4 is UGA’s Mark Richt, a spot ahead of LSU’s Les Miles (which might raise an eyebrow or two).

Says Athlon: “Richt has experienced his share of ups and downs in Athens, but he has been one of the nation’s most consistent coaches since his hire in 2001. Over the last 13 years, Georgia has averaged 9.7 wins a season under Richt. Additionally, the Bulldogs have recorded three top-five finishes in the final Associated Press poll and claimed at least a share of the East Division title six times. The only thing missing on Richt’s resume is a national championship. The Bulldogs have not played in a BCS bowl since the 2007 season, but the new playoff format should help this team, especially with more spots in elite bowls open to the SEC. Also, the addition of former Florida State defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is an upgrade over previous defensive play-caller Todd Grantham, which should bolster Richt’s chances of winning a SEC title in the next few years.”

After that, the rest of the Top 10 goes like this: Missouri’s Gary Pinkel, Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze, Mississippi State’s Dan Mullen and Tennessee’s Butch Jones. Then comes Florida’s Will Muschamp, Arkansas’ Bret Bielema, Kentucky’s Mark Stoops and Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason, who will be in his first season at the school this year.

I know the small but vocal contingent of Bulldog fans who loathe Richt and think he’s what’s holding back the UGA program will argue he’s ranked way too high. Personally, I think Athlon has him in about the right spot, though I question Malzahn being as high as he is after one season at Auburn and think perhaps the Mad Hatter should be higher. What do you think?

GREATEST GEORGIA BULLDOGS?

Charley Trippi only the fifth greatest Georgia Bulldog? (Associated Press)

Charley Trippi only the fifth greatest Georgia Bulldog? (Associated Press)

Another ranking worth discussing is Sporting News’ list of the 10 greatest Georgia Bulldogs football players.

Of course, as SN notes, “With Georgia, all you need is one name: Herschel. The Heisman Trophy-winning running back is the game’s greatest and everyone who watched him knew it.”

No argument there. But the rest of the list behind Herschel Walker has some interesting choices. After UGA’s other Heisman winner, Frank Sinkwich, at No. 2, the list then goes like this: 3. David Pollack, 4. David Greene, 5. Charley Trippi, 6. Bill Stanfill, 7. Champ Bailey, 8. Terry Hoage, 9. Jake Scott and 10. Kevin Butler.

My immediate reaction was disbelief that Pollack and Greene were ranked ahead of  Trippi, who some folks think ranks at least even with Sinkwich, if not ahead of him. After all, he’s in both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is regarded by many as the greatest all-around athlete ever to play at UGA.

And no Fran Tarkenton??!! Looks like a bit of a generational thing going there with whoever compiled the list, having Pollack and Greene that high.

I also think two-way iron man Bailey (another candidate for UGA’s greatest athlete) should be higher on the list. And while Greenie is one of my all-time favorite Bulldogs, a good case can be made (and I made it a few weeks ago) that Aaron Murray should rank ahead of him now among Georgia quarterbacks.

And if you’re going to stipulate that a kicker has to make the list, you can’t do better than Butler, but should he really rank ahead of the likes of Garrison Hearst, Hines Ward, A.J. Green, Knowshon Moreno and Scott Woerner?

What do you think of the Sporting News list? Who would you rank higher or lower? Who’s on the list but shouldn’t be, and who was overlooked?

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

146 comments Add your comment

SBC Pastor

April 2nd, 2014
11:09 am

Fran Tarkenton should definitely be on that list, somewhere in the top 5. David Greene was good, but Aaron Murray was better.

P-Man

April 2nd, 2014
11:23 am

I agre about Fran Tarkenton. And Scott Woerner. And Garrison Hearst. Gosh, there have been so many great players, it’s tough to pick a top 10. Top 20 might include Bob McWhorter, Lindsay Scott, Eric Zeier, Terrence Edwards, Fred Gibson, plus those you mentioned in the article.

I think Richt is ranked about right, but agree that Les Miles should be 3rd and Malzahn 5th. Using their criteria, Chizik would have been highly renked, but didn’t last. Let’s see what Malzahn does over the next few years. If the success continues, then a high ranking is justified. If not…

Columbus Dawg

April 2nd, 2014
11:57 am

Bill, I see you used the word loathe to describe fans who are tired of seeing the same old shortcomings from Mark Richt. I don’t know ANY Georgia folks who “loathe Richt”. However, I do know plenty of them, and you need to look around because it is not a small group, I’d say about half the Dawg Nation and growing, who are of the opinion that Coach Richt needs to step it WAY up. Now, that being said, I actually believe that things fell his way after Christmas of 2013. Jeremy Pruitt has changed the landscape at UGA much like the hiring of a new head coach. He was able to sign a good class, with stud running backs that will help make a difference this season. Get the OL ready to roll, and there will not be a beat missed on offense. There are a lot of reasons to be optimistic about 2014. Coach Friend is following the lead of the new defensive coaches, like Rocker said, “If you produce, you’ll be out there”.

Bulldog_Greg

April 2nd, 2014
12:05 pm

No way they should redshirt Marshall, unless it’s his idea. Remember Moreno only played 2 seasons thanks to someone wanting to redshirt him. Running backs typically only have so many carries and then injuries take over. If I’m Marshall I leave even if you redshirt me so why throw away a season. I play him and the stud freshmen.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
12:35 pm

So Bill at least we agree that SOMETHING is holding the program back? That’s progress. I just don’t know who else to blame other than the guy who is charged with the responsibility of leading that program. That’s just me though.

I’d have Richt about 7th after Saban, Spurrier, Miles, Malzahn, Pinkel and Sumlin. I know some of the guys on that list haven’t accomplished what Richt has accomplished but my main criteria is what coach would I rather have on my sideline to help my team when an upcoming game. Taking that in to account the guys on my list are running laps around Richt. And some of the upstarts not on the list are probably better coaches than he is too. We just haven’t seen enough out of them to confirm it. Butch Jones gave us all we could handle last year.

And for the last everloving time, nobody “loathes” Richt. It’s you Kool Aiders that always have to try and make this so personal. He’s a great guy, great husband, great father. You name it. He’s just not a great football coach. The fact that you Kool Aiders can’t seperate these all these things is a serious problem. Probably a bigger problem than Richt himself.

Good day.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
12:35 pm

That should say ” win” an upcoming game.

dawggirl

April 2nd, 2014
12:37 pm

Have to agree with Bulldog Greg on Marshall. I still cringe at how we only got two seasons out of Moreno. I actually am not sold on Marshall jumping, he’s a very good student and very dedicated to being a STUDENT athlete. But nothing’s guaranteed.

SimpleDawg

April 2nd, 2014
12:45 pm

Walker, Sinkwich, and Trippi are 1-2-3…. After that, we have another 10 – 12 players that could fill 7 spots.

My choices are Hines Ward, David Pollack, Champ Bailey, Terry Hoage, Stanfill, Greene, Hearst.

Trippi and Hearst both should’ve been Heisman winners. Pollack and Stanfill were both dominant defensive players in their eras. Hines Ward and Champ Bailey were the 2 most versatile players on any team. And, Greene and Hoage were such smart players, who were always cool and calm under fire, and each maximized his talents to the highest levels.

Fran Tarkington and Aaron Murray should be considered also, but ………

ARdawg

April 2nd, 2014
12:47 pm

If Marshall is 100%, play him. No question. I think he deserves a legitimate shot to play if he’s only 90%

Top Row Dawg

April 2nd, 2014
1:03 pm

These ranking columns are fun. My understanding is that you have to be All American to make it to the College Football Hall of Fame. If that is case, then David Greene is not going. If your not in the CFHOF then you can’t be in the top ten.

While Fran Tarkenton is the greatest Pro QB for UGA, and while he is in the CFHOF and the PFHOF, I still can’t get past the fact that he threw more interceptions than TD’s while at Georgia. Not going tp put him in top 10.

I’m going with Herschel, Sinkwich, and Charlie in the top three. I’ll go with our only Lombardi Award winner, David Pollack, and our only Outland Trophy winner, Bill Stanfill to round out the top five.

There is probably a good point to be made for Hines Ward and Champ Bailey once they make it to the Pro Football HOF but Hines was never an all american. Champ was twice and he is our only Bronco Nagurski award winner. I’ll go with Champ at #6. Hines is top 20, but not top 10.

Who is our only Doak Walker award winner, Garrison Hearst. He was All American twice, so he gets #7. Not really ranking them much past Herschel, he could be #4.

For the last three, I’d say our first All American, Bob McWhorter. Four time all Southern Conference. Then I would go with I’d go with two other members of the CFHOF, Jake Scott and Terry Hoage. Both two time All Americans who still hold Georgia and SEC records for interceptions. Scott was Super Bowl MVP too.

So, Butler, Greene out, McWhorter, Hearst in. Tough leaving Butler out as he was two time All American, the leading scorer all time for the Chicago Bears, and the Sporting News All Century team. case could be made for Butler in, my feelings would not be hurt. McWhorter gets bonus points for being 4 term mayor of Athens and 35 year Law Professor at Georgia.

Mutely

April 2nd, 2014
1:08 pm

No Buck Belue, without him there is no National Championship.

too young to know

April 2nd, 2014
2:11 pm

SCOTT WOENER for sure is in the all time greatest. Certainly, we have 3 # 1s. Walker, Trippi and Sinkwich. Two Heisman winners and all played on a NC squad.

Beyond these three immortals, the rest are also great. Many, many are being overlooked. Mike Wilson, for example. To me, AJ Green was no better than Terrell Edwards. Buck Belue cannot be overlooked dueto his W/L records and titles.

Go dogs

ALB-dawg

April 2nd, 2014
2:31 pm

If you ranked the players the way some people rank coaches, there would only be players from the 1980 roster on the list.

NoAxeToGrind

April 2nd, 2014
2:50 pm

Tarkenton should definitely be on the list. Number 2 after Walker. The Mad Hatter should be ranked ahead of Richt. Freeze should be ranked higher as well; both Ole Miss and State are difficult places to win. Interesting Richt has not been to a BCS bowl since 2007 considering all the know-it-alls keep harping about what great recruiting classes he has had. Lastly, there are a lot of people I loathe but Richt is not one. I would be careful about the verb I choose to use if I were you, but, then, you are a company man. Right King?

Class of '98

April 2nd, 2014
3:23 pm

Pollack should be #2. No disrespect for Sinkwich and Trippi, but the early 1940’s the true studs were wearing fatigues and rifles, not football uniforms.

That’s why I never brag about UGA’s national championship in 1942.

There have only been two 3-time consensus All-Americans at UGA. Their names are Walker and Pollack.

Bill King

April 2nd, 2014
3:30 pm

Hey, Class of ‘98:
Read up on Charley Trippi. His college football career was interrupted by service in WWII. And Sinkwich was in a Marine uniform when he accepted his Heisman Trophy.

Bill King

April 2nd, 2014
3:32 pm

Top Row Dawg:

Nicely argued!

WDE

April 2nd, 2014
3:46 pm

Top Row Dawg that was a great post however there are a couple of problems with it..you used facts and logic and if you continue down that road on this blog it can only lead to ruin…really good points.

Thomasville, Ga

April 2nd, 2014
3:46 pm

Mark Richt is a fantastic mentor for these young men and he has been a great coach for Georgia. I would like to see a little more “go for the throat” menatlity on the field from him but if he did that, he wouldn’t be Mark Richt. Mike Bobo is a different story. He tends to be very conservative on his play calls especially when they have a lead. I’m not saying “can the guy” yet but if he has a showing like last year, it may be time for more change at UGA.
I think Matt Stafford should be on this list somewhere. Arron Murray is a great quarterback but Stafford is better. I thik Murray’ character is way ahead of Stafford but that’s not the topic. Both of them should place ahead of Greene though.
Marshall should take the year to get healthy and improve his draft status. He is a great running back with a ton of potential but he will draft behind Gurley, no doubt. If he takes a year, it will improve his chances… unless he gets injured again.
Anybody else excited about the defense for next season?

Get The Picture

April 2nd, 2014
4:19 pm

(1) Hershel Walker, (2) Charley Trippi, (3) Frank Sinkwich, (4) David Pollack, (5) Hines Ward, (6) Jake Scott, (7) Bill Stanfill, (8) Terry Hoage, (9) Scott Woerner, (10) Champ Bailey, (11) Arron Murray, (12) Ray Goff.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
5:03 pm

ALB-Dawg, if players went 8 years without contributing anything significant to the program all the while cashing huge pay checks you’d be exactly right.

Keep making excuses. Whatever floats your boat. I just don’t want to hear any whining when people like me are still asking for a change 2 or 3 years from now. You Kool Aiders are getting exactly what you’re asking for.

iamlistening

April 2nd, 2014
5:37 pm

So if Auburn doesn’t get fluke plays against Georgia and Alabama, would Malzahn still be ranked third? Saban, Miles, Spurrier, Richt, Sumlin, Malzahn… Robinson. The guys ahead of Malzahn are darn good coaches. One season should not propel a guy ahead of coaches that have proven they can sustain good teams. My only struggle was placing Sumlin ahead of Malzahn.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
6:36 pm

I wouldn’t put Richt in the same conversation with Saban, Miles or Spurrier. Saban is Saban. Miles put together a nice little season in 2011 and actually won something fairly recently. Spurrier has recently won 11 games 3 seasons in a row, which Richt has never done. I think those 3 are the top tier and then its second tier after that.

My 8 year old nephew wasn’t even born yet the last time Richt won anything.

LHardingDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:18 pm

After the last post by the resident “village idiot”, I’m out of here.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 2nd, 2014
8:23 pm

Miles has played for 2 national titles winning 1 and in 2011 he beat 8 top 25 teams 3 of them were top 5
teams

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:28 pm

1. RICHT HAD 7 TOP FINISHES IN 1ST 13 YEARS
SABAN 4
SPURRIER 3
2. DJ IS TOP 5 ALL TIME UGA PLAYER. WON ALL BUT 1 GAME IN THE REG SEASON, WON THE SEC CHAMPIONSHIP
3 AMURRAY WASN’T BEST QB ON HIS OWN TEAM, METT AND MARSHALL WERE BETTER. AMURRAY DOESN’T RANK ON TOP 10 UGA QB LIST FOR WIN %.
4. JARVIS JONES SHOULD BE ON TOP 10 LIST

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:32 pm

HOW ANYONE CAN SAY 4 TOP 10 FINISHES IN 1ST 13 YEARS (SABAN) IS BETTER THAN 7 (RICHT) IS IGNORANT. SPURRIER DID HAVE 8.

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:33 pm

IS IT FAIR TO COMPARE SABAN IN YEAR 16-20 AS A COACH TO RICHT’S IN YEARS 1-13? NO

HotDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:35 pm

Definitely subjective. I get kind of bored with all the different best/greatest lists nowadays…..It’s been argued over and over and over and over. Like lazy radio hosts who use them to fill airtime.
It doesn’t matter who I like best or you like best.
Though, at times, it may be frustrating to have people outside a program consider themselves as experts in the matter.

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:38 pm

POLLACK SHOULD MOVE UP, AT LEAST NO 2 ALL TIME, HE WAS 3 TIME ALL AMERICAN AND WON AN SEC CHAMP AND TEAM WON 42 GAMES WHILE HE WAS THERE.

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 2nd, 2014
8:41 pm

top 10 finishes are better than 4 National Titles at 2 different schools

ok

its about time to layoff the kool-aid

HotDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:46 pm

Marshall needs to play this year if takes him to be ready by game 4 or even later if team is in contention for sec and nat.champ.
If he redshirts and seperates himself from gurley, he will be entering time frame of our new Fall freshmen running backs. How will that make possible 2015 running back recruits, who are still deciding on school, feel?

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:48 pm

K MARSHALL RANKED 13 IN SEC IN YPC VS RANKED TEAMS IN 2012, AND 15 IN TD’S.

NOT IMPRESSIVE, BETTER AS A RECEIVER OUT OF THE BACKFIELD, HAS A LOT OF SPEED, CAN’T BREAK TACKLES, AND HAS NO POWER.

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:48 pm

gtcaryd

April 2nd, 2014
8:50 pm

I still say Scott Woerner had as much to do with the 1980 NC as Herchell did.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
8:51 pm

Good point about Miles in 2011 Flat. The day that Richt puts together a season like that is the day that pigs fly. He hasn’t beaten three Top 10 teams in the past 5 years combined, let alone in a single season.

See ya Lhardingdawg. Sorry the truth hurts so bad.

HotDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:51 pm

If he wants to redshirt, I would absolutely allow him to do so.
But I don’t get the feeling he wants to redshirt.

HotDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:52 pm

NO NEED TO YELL DUDE

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 2nd, 2014
8:53 pm

4 National titles > 0

4 National title appearances > 0

4 SEC Championships > 2

dude ya crazy

April 2nd, 2014
8:55 pm

COMPARE SABAN’S 1ST 13 YEARS TO RICHT’S, RICHT WINS.

HotDawg

April 2nd, 2014
8:57 pm

Gtcaryd….I agree about your ‘80 assessment and S. Woerner. That was a great TEAM, not just one player. Scott Woerner is absolutely one of the greatest.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
9:01 pm

Top 10 finishes? LSU had two losing seasons in a row right before Saban got there. Alabama went 6-7 the year before Saban arrived. Richt, on the other hand, inherited a roster chock full of NFL talent upon his arrival at Georgia. He deserved credit for maintaining but its not a fair comparison.

You Kool Aiders love to whine about luck. Richt might be the luckiest coach in the SEC.

DawginCalifornia

April 2nd, 2014
9:02 pm

DUDE, GREAT COMMENTS

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 2nd, 2014
9:02 pm

Saban’s first 13 years were at Michigan St then went and turned an abysmal LSU program around then went and turned around an abysmal Alabama program around

DufusDawg

April 2nd, 2014
9:03 pm

Dude knows his stuff, spot on

Flat Tire doesnt live in Delusionalville Ga.

April 2nd, 2014
9:07 pm

Why dont you compare Sabans last 7 seasons to Richts last 7 seasons

DufusDawg

April 2nd, 2014
9:08 pm

Agree about comparing straight up, look at where Nick Saban was after his first thirteen seasons as a Head Coach. What did Saban accomplish in that time frame? Finished in the top 10 40% less often than Mark Richt. Richt’s 40% better than Saban. It really is simple, 7 is more than 4.

Coach Richt had finished in the top 10—- 54% in his first thirteen years
Saban did it——- 31% in Saban’s first thirteen years.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
9:08 pm

LSU: 3-8 in 1999 and SEC Champs in 2001.

Alabama: 6-7 in 2006 and 14-0 in 2009.

Yeah, Richt could do that.

And I’m the tooth fairy.

dawgfan

April 2nd, 2014
9:10 pm

Yeah because Saban had all the resources at Michigan State that Richt has had at UGA.

And I’m Elvis Presley.

DufusDawg

April 2nd, 2014
9:11 pm

dude’s right, can’t compare Saban’s years 16-20 to Richt’s years 10-13, not oranges to oranges. saban had more experience during his last 4 years, than richt had had in his entire career.

let’s let richt get to 20 years, like saban is right now, THEN compare.