Well, it’s here. That day so many college football fans view with a somewhat intoxicating mix of joy and anxiety, sort of a combination of Christmas morning and final exam time rolled into one.
Who’ll live up to their virtually worthless verbal commitment, and who will flip at the last minute? Will the most wanted names on UGA’s big board fax that all-important signature over to Butts-Mehre … or somewhere else?
As I said to a friend Tuesday evening, “Tomorrow we’ll find out whose heart some teenage boy has broken.”
But, sounding a rare note of pragmatism amid all the strong emotions that characterize this annual rite of passage, my friend answered, “Your heart can only be broken if you let someone break it.”
Me, I’ve never subscribed to the notion that signing day is the most important date on the college football calendar.
I recognize there are plenty of people who disagree with me, and many of them pay big money to keep on top of all the twists and turns of every recruiting
One of the more absurd stories in a pretty absurd week was the news out of the Loveliest Village on the Plains that Auburn is considering padding its football resume by recognizing as many as seven more teams from its past as “national champions.”
Up to now, the Tigers have only flown championship flags over Jordan-Hare Stadium for their 1957 and 2010 teams, which were pretty much consensus national champions. But, prompted by several other schools like Texas A&M, Minnesota and Ole Miss suddenly discovering previously unclaimed national championships, Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs announced he’s considering doing the same for the 1910, 1913, 1914, 1958, 1983, 1993 and 2004 teams.
While it’s true most of them were recognized as national champs by someone, they’re for the most part polls that don’t exist any more or retroactive rankings cooked up decades later by some revisionist football wonk.
Still, Jacobs said in a report by 247Sports’ Auburn Undercover blog, “If
As many of us in the Peach State have been chilling out this week, the biggest news in college athletics, aside from those last desperate recruiting visits, has been Northwestern football players teaming up with the United Steelworkers to try and get a union for college athletes off the ground — a move hailed on social media by several of Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs.
Calling the NCAA “a dictatorship,” Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter laid out the case for the proposed College Athletes Players Association at a news conference in Chicago. He wants college athletes to be considered “employees” of their schools since they generate all that revenue. “How can they call this amateur athletics when our jerseys are sold in stores and the money we generate turns coaches and commissioners into multimillionaires?” Colter asked.
Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …
KennyDawg writes: Bill, I enjoy your balance of devout fandom and evenhanded criticism when it comes to our beloved Dawgs. Coming off this past season, I’m naturally disappointed with the record and who we lost to, but I’m mindful that few teams could have done better suffering the string of injuries we had, and I’m proud of the big wins that the team came up with (South Carolina, LSU, Florida, Tech!). Looking ahead, I’m of course concerned with the need for rapid improvement on the part of our secondary but hopeful that Jeremy Pruitt will turn that around. So the D is not my biggest worry. I’m concerned about whether (Mark) Richt will finally get serious about fixing our stinking special teams!!! Marshall Morgan did great last season and the punting was OK (when they weren’t blocked). Our kickoff coverage was mostly solid, except when it
Between the disappointing ending to a once-promising season and the offseason juice provided by an exciting hire on the defensive side of the ball, you can’t blame fans of the Georgia Bulldogs for bouncing back and forth in a sort of manic depressive state so far this winter.
Optimism, pessimism — the Bulldog Nation has reasons for both. For example …
Three reasons Georgia should make the inaugural four-team College Football Playoff:
1. A complete season of a healthy Todd Gurley, Keith Marshall, Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley. Even with the loss of SEC record-meister Aaron Murray, the Dogs’ talent at the offensive skill positions is kind of mind-boggling. Despite all the injuries that kept many of them out for multiple games or the remainder of the season in 2013, Georgia had one of the most dangerous and prolific offenses in the country. If all those guys somehow manage to stay healthy in 2014, look out!
It’s been a busy week in Athens, starting out with the whirlwind departure of Todd Grantham and rapid arrival of his replacement, Jeremy Pruitt. Then there was the loss of the rest of the defensive staff (after a bit of last-minute wavering on the part of defensive line coach Chris Wilson), resulting in some grad assistants having to hit the road as recruiters along with Pruitt, and the revelation that Josh Harvey-Clemons will miss the first three games of next season.
Let’s see what readers have to say about all that in the Junkyard Mail. …
Jim P. writes: Bill, It’s only January and we already have Justin Scott-Wesley and Josh Harvey-Clemons suspended for games in 2014 (please correct me if I’ve missed others). Who knows if the kid driving with the suspended license (Shaq Wiggins) will miss any games? It might be time for Hutson Mason and other soon-to-be seniors to call
What a difference a day and a half can make.
Mark Richt entered the offseason presiding over a program that had failed to live up to its early-season promise, stumbling to an 8-5 record in part because of an inexperienced defense that didn’t seem to get any better as the season progressed. Despite strong sentiment among fans and boosters for a shakeup on the defensive staff, Richt said he didn’t anticipate any changes, touting the benefits of “continuity” — an idea that didn’t exactly sit well with much of the Bulldog Nation.
Then, suddenly, Richt’s program didn’t even have continuity, as two of Georgia’s more embattled assistants left. First, defensive backs coach Scott Lakatos quit for “personal” reasons, and then defensive coordinator Todd Grantham jumped ship Sunday to join Bobby Petrino at Louisville. With the dead time in college football recruiting about to end, the Dogs
You’ve probably seen that UGA has confirmed reports that Todd Grantham is leaving to take the defensive coordinator’s job under Bobby Petrino at Louisville. The words “getting while the getting’s good” immediately come to mind.
Lots of speculation on possible replacements, with former Texas DC Manny Diaz mentioned by a lot of folks. I just hope the search doesn’t drag out like it did when Grantham was hired. With signing day for recruits less than a month away, having someone already on board would be a big plus.
And at least other schools won’t be able to continue telling recruits, “Well, you know Grantham’s likely to be gone next year anyway.”
So, feel free to celebrate, vent, speculate, whatever …
Got something you want to discuss concerning the Dawgs? Or a question you want the Junkyard Blawg to tackle? Email me at
Let’s get straight to some Junkyard Mail. …
Terry D. writes: Bill, I couldn’t help but notice Scott Lakatos, who oversaw our miserable secondary, announced his departure from the UGA staff the very same day Greg McGarity was having his annual sit-down/evaluation with Mark Richt. I know Richt previously had said he didn’t anticipate any staff changes — continuity rules! — but the timing here is awfully curious. What do you think, coincidence, or did Greg put pressure on the head coach to make a change?
Coincidence, I think. Yes, the secondary was the most disappointing area of this year’s team and it’s true that Georgia’s defensive backs showed little progress over the course of 13 games, at least a portion of which could be laid pretty fairly at Lakatos’ feet. But McGarity made it clear this week in his interview with the AJC’s Chip Towers that he doesn’t get into the hiring
Some of the earliest predictions on college football’s preseason Top 25 have Mark Richt’s Georgia Bulldogs in or just outside the Top 10, which is lower than last season’s Top 5 preseason poll position but a lot better than the Dogs finished the season — unranked.
The highest credible ranking I’ve seen so far comes from Jerry Hinnen of CBSSports.com, who has Georgia at No. 10. Hinnen’s reasoning: “Aaron Murray’s gone, but Todd Gurley isn’t, and the Bulldogs seem to play their best defense when expectations are lower. (Having up to 10 returning starters on that side of the ball should help, too.) If the Bulldogs’ collection of injured receivers can return to full strength in 2014, this is still the likely SEC East favorite.”
ESPN.com’s Mark Schlabach puts the Dogs just a notch lower, at No. 11. Says Schlabach: “Nothing seemed to go right for the Bulldogs in the