UGA, SEC making some noise as they struggle with the game day experience

Nobody needed to prompt the crowd to get excited when LSU visited Athens. (AJC file)

Nobody needed to prompt the crowd to get excited when LSU visited Athens. (AJC file)

OK, they’ve already loosened up on the replays and cut-ins from other games on the big video boards and are allowing the home school’s band to be amplified so they can be heard better throughout the stadium.

Now, the latest step in the SEC strategy to keep college football fans coming to the games instead of sitting back in the recliner with a beer and snacks and watching the game on a hi-def big-screen TV is to take a page from the ACC playbook. They want to try to get fans pumped up between plays by playing more recorded music over the stadium p.a. between plays and letting it run longer.

“They were able to do things in the ACC that we were not in the SEC,” UGA athletic director Greg McGarity told the Athens Banner-Herald. “The rules have changed now for 2014 where we’re able to utilize songs and music up until the point when the quarterback gets over the ball. That’s a big …

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Fan talk: What are your top sports moments you’ve seen in person?

Most unforgettable sports moment from 1965. (University of Georgia)

Most unforgettable sports moment from 1965. (University of Georgia)

With the Winter Olympics back, we’ve been treated to repeat viewings lately of one of the most celebrated moments in modern sports history, the spine-tingling ending to the Miracle on Ice. Watching the ending of that game produces a smiliar feeling to what Georgia Bulldog fans get rewatching Run-Lindsay or Hobnail Boot.

Every sports fan has those unforgettable top moments, but the best ones are where you were actually there to witness the miracle finish, championship celebration, or whatever it was. My son Bill, a UGA alum now in grad school at UNC, had one of those unforgettable sports experiences in Chapel Hill this week when he was among the howling crowd inside the Dean Dome as the Tar Heels upset their arch rival, No. 5 Duke. After the final buzzer, the fans stormed the court and then thousands mobbed Franklin Street, traditional site of such celebrations in the land of Carolina Blue.

My son called me a …

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Bulldog Nation’s verdict on Harvey-Clemons: Better now than later

One of the high points of Josh Harvey-Clemons' career at UGA: An interception against Tech. (AJC file)

One of the high points of Josh Harvey-Clemons' career at UGA: An interception against Tech. (AJC file)

It was pretty much inevitable, and better now than later.

That sums up many fans’ reaction Tuesday when UGA’s athletic department issued a terse announcement that junior defensive back Josh Harvey-Clemons had been dismissed from the team for yet another violation of team rules.

It’s safe to say almost no one was shocked by this turn of events. Disappointed, yes. But considering Harvey-Clemons opened and closed last season missing games due to two separate suspensions involving marijuana and was due to miss the first three games of 2014 in a continuation of that second suspension, this was no surprise.

The offseason consensus seemed to be it was only a matter of time until the talented player from Valdosta was gone from the UGA program.

What with UGA having the toughest disciplinary policies in the conference and several big-name players having been shown the door in recent …

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Fan talk: Is Mark Richt too loyal, plus special teams, stadium expansion, slowing down the hurry-up and basketball!

Should Mark Richt be quicker to get rid of assistant coaches? (Associated Press)

Should Mark Richt be quicker to get rid of assistant coaches? (Associated Press)

It was kind of a crazy week, what with an ice storm and an earth quake, but that hasn’t managed to stop the flow of Junkyard Mail. Let’s dip into some of it. …

Geoff from Marietta writes: Hi Bill, With the recent promotion of [Bryan] McClendon to the position of recruiting coordinator after spending a year without officially awarding the title to anyone, it has me contemplating the departure and phoenix-like re-emergence of our last one, Mr. Rodney Garner. Obviously, no one involved with Georgia football would go on record with their true thoughts about Mr. Garner but I was just wondering if you’ve been able to take the temperature of the program, so to speak. Over the past few years, we’d read story after story of recruits stating that they didn’t have much interest in Georgia because they hadn’t been contacted. At the time, it was portrayed as Georgia just being more selective and …

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How ’bout them special teams coordinators?

John Lilly will be the offensive special teams coordinator. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

John Lilly will be the offensive special teams coordinator. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

Greetings from iced-in Decatur! Hope you’re staying safe and warm during this winter storm, and along those lines I thought a topic that tends to get a lot of UGA fans “hot” might be a good one for today: special teams.

There were no classes in Athens yesterday, but the folks at Butts-Mehre stayed busy announcing a slight restructuring of the football coaching staff. The headline item was Mark Richt making Bryan McClendon the official “recruiting coordinator,” a post that had been vacant since Rodney Garner decamped to Auburn. But since McClendon was named national recruiter of the year by 247sports and Scout.com, had a hand in landing Georgia’s biggest signing day names, and is likely due for a hefty raise, that was one a lot of folks probably saw coming.

Besides, it likely won’t change much in the way UGA recruits, with Daryl Jones continuing in his current role as director of on-campus …

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Fan talk: Is sixth-best recruiting class in SEC good enough for UGA? (UPDATED)

Landing Lorenzo Carter, the state's top prospect, was big for UGA. (Associated Press)

Landing Lorenzo Carter, the state's top prospect, was big for UGA. (Associated Press)

I’ll be off the next few days, so let’s take an early dip into some Junkyard Mail, starting out with a fan who not surprisingly wants to talk about how national signing day went for UGA. …

Grady Bowers writes: Bill, I know that Mark Richt said he was “excited” about the recruiting class he just signed, and I gather from what I read online that most fans agree with him. I hate to be the yeah-but guy and yet I can’t get past the fact that while Georgia once again landed a consensus Top 10 recruiting class, it was only the sixth best in the Southeastern Conference. Are we really losing ground to the likes of Tennessee? If you can make me feel better about this situation, Bill, I’d be most grateful.

Well first, Grady, as I wrote in Wednesday’s Blawg, I tend to think the ranking of recruiting classes is an artificial and superfluous competition that doesn’t actually win you anything. Yes, I …

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Whose heart will some teenage boy break today?

uga arch redWell, 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 …

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Auburn’s not the only one with ‘unclaimed’ national championships

TrophiesOne 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 …

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Does college athletics need the union label?

Some Georgia players sported APU wristbands last fall.

Some Georgia players sported APU wristbands last fall.

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.

UGA's Kolton Houston would like the chance to be a union man. (University of Georgia)

UGA's Kolton Houston would like the chance to be a union man. (University of Georgia)

Not …

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Fan talk: Biggest concerns for 2014, defensive coaching changes, new wrinkles and more! (Updated)

Marshall Morgan was Georgia's most reliable special teams performer. (USA Today)

Marshall Morgan was Georgia's most reliable special teams performer. (USA Today)

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 …

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