Archive for January, 2010

Tech loses its chief recruiter, and that’s a major loss

Bringing football players to Georgia Tech isn’t easy. The competition for Georgia players is wicked, and not just from the state’s flagship university. All the heavy hitters come here to poach, and Tech has to fight twice as hard just to hold its own.

Other considerations: Paul Johnson’s spread option has further siphoned the pool. (Tight ends need not apply, since Johnson doesn’t deploy any, and receivers aren’t apt to be overused.) Al Groh just arrived as defensive coordinator, and recruiting for the 3-4 is a bit different. And this being Tech, there’s always the calculus requirement.

Giff Smith was landing players at a high rate by Tech’s standards, which shouldn’t be confused with Rivals.com’s rankings. Tech is never apt to duel Florida or Texas or  Georgia for space in the top 10 — the famed class of 2007 was rated only 18th nationally by Rivals and contained no 5-star signees — but that class  powered the Jackets to the 2009 ACC title.

Trouble is, three of those …

Continue reading Tech loses its chief recruiter, and that’s a major loss »

Bobby Cox on retirement: ‘Won’t hit me until the last game’

A pregame ceremony: Bobby Cox hates these. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A pregame ceremony: Bobby Cox absolutely hates these. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Bobby Cox tries not to think about it. It’ll be tough, given that everybody will be asking from now until October. And the man who hates doing even an on-camera interview cringes — really, he cringes – at the thought of going into St. Louis, say, and being handed a parting gift in a pregame ceremony staged by the Cardinals.

“I didn’t want anything to do with that type of thing,” he said Tuesday. “My preference was always to just announce [his retirement] after the season, but then I figured, ‘If I don’t do it now [meaning make the announcement on Sept. 23, 2009 that 2010 was to be his final season], I’d probably keep managing — somewhere else if not here.”

As it stands, this is it. One more summer and then sit back and wait for the call from Cooperstown. And do lots of traveling, spend time with the many grandchildren, offer the Braves an opinion on baseball whenever they ask. “I’m still going …

Continue reading Bobby Cox on retirement: ‘Won’t hit me until the last game’ »

Six years later, the Falcons finally manage to hire Tim Lewis

This one looks a little odd. The Falcons pushed aside the Hall of Famer Emmitt Thomas as their defensive backs coach and — as reported Monday by esteemed colleague D. Orlando Ledbetterhired Tim Lewis, who has been fired three times in six years. But the Falcons don’t see it as odd. The Falcons have, you should know, liked Lewis for a long time.

Indeed, the Falcons interviewed Lewis for their head coaching vacancy in January 2004 and seriously considered hiring him. (More seriously than they considered Lovie Smith, who would be named the NFL’s coach of the year in 2005 and would take Chicago to the Super Bowl the next season.) Rich McKay, who headed the search, and Arthur Blank thought Lewis was smart and committed and organized, but they had one problem.

He’d just been fired by Bill Cowher as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator.

If you’re looking for a guy to replace the famous Dan Reeves, it’s a tougher sell to your paying public if said guy has been canned by his previous …

Continue reading Six years later, the Falcons finally manage to hire Tim Lewis »

ESPN Rumor Central: Tuberville ready to move … to UGA?

File this one under Silly Season Speculation, but I present it in the interest of keeping you, dear readers, fully informed. And that’s why I’m here! To serve! To bring every noteworthy nugget to you who Need To Know!

OK, where was I?

Oh, yeah. From the Rumor Central of ESPN.com’s Insiders comes this: “TTU job a stepping stone for Tuberville?” (Link requires registration.) And you’ll never guess where those presumed stones are said to lead.

For your edification, I present the item in its entirety:

“Will Tommy Tuberville retire at Texas Tech? Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman sure doesn’t think so. Tuberville has yet to sign his contract, and the buyout he has to pay if he were to break his contract isn’t high enough — in Bohls’ opinion, anyway.

“[Writes Bohls:] ‘Personally, I would have had Tuberville agree to a larger buyout. After all, he probably would be the Tennessee coach if he had waited a week instead of saying yes to Texas Tech.’

“Tuberville seems very happy …

Continue reading ESPN Rumor Central: Tuberville ready to move … to UGA? »

Two astute bloggers help dumb ol’ me assess the Hawks

A Smoove swoop. Note absence of swooners in the background. (AJC phto by Curtis Compton)

A Smoove swoop. Note absence of swooners in background. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Hawks, it’s safe to say, have been better than most of us envisioned. But now, the season’s midpoint having just passed, the discussion changes. Is better good enough?

Because I know you tire of my bloviation — heck, I tire of my bloviation — I’ve decided to give you folks a slight break. I’ve enlisted the help of two of the best Hawks bloggers around: Bret LaGree of Hoopinion and Jason Walker of The Human Highlight Blog. (I would encourage you to patronize both sites; I do.)

Question No. 1: Are the Hawks legit contenders?

LaGree: “The Hawks have turned the East into a four-team race and they’re not necessarily the fourth team in that race. Obviously the path to the NBA finals would be much easier if they draw Boston in the second round than if have to go through Cleveland and Orlando. Even though the Hawks would not be favored in a seven-game series against either Cleveland or Orlando, …

Continue reading Two astute bloggers help dumb ol’ me assess the Hawks »

Wrong about Favre? An epic fail enables me to rest my case

I’d been hearing it lately: “Ready to admit you were wrong about Favre?” And I admit I was almost – almost, I said — wavering. The man I’d described as the most overrated athlete of our time had had a brilliant regular season. I didn’t see that coming. I didn’t think he had anything left. And now he stood one game from a Super Bowl, and the thought of a two-week ESPN Favre-fest was enough to turn my stomach.

But I held out hope. Even when the Vikings had the ball in field-goal range, I keep saying to myself, “He can still mess this up.” Lo and behold, he did. Which is why Brett Favre is …

The most overrated athlete of our time.

The Vikings kicked the Saints all around the  Superdome but neglected to win the game. Favre had much to do with that — a blown handoff on the goal line, a forced interception in the second half, an unbelievable INT inside the final 20 seconds of regulation in a tie game. Even after a splendid season, the Favre I know and loathe blew it at the …

Continue reading Wrong about Favre? An epic fail enables me to rest my case »

Tough loss at FSU, but Tech again shows its potential

Here we see four Jackets: All freshmen, all good. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Here we see four Jackets: All of them freshmen, all good. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

I caught a lot of grief for suggesting back in December — it was the day Georgia Tech first played Florida State — that the Jackets “should have a splendid chance of reaching the Final Four.” On cue, Tech lost to the Seminoles, prompting one and all to question my eyesight and sanity. (And by “all,” I include myself.)

You know by now Tech has again done what has become a Tech tradition — it lost another winnable game to Leonard Hamilton and his ‘Noles. It missed as many free throws (11) as it sank. It made 20 turnovers. It ended the game with a turnover when a 3-pointer would have won. By checking The Hive, I know what many observers are already saying, and I’m thinking you have some idea what this observer is about to say. But here I’m going to disappoint you.

I don’t think this FSU game was a failure. When one good team plays another good team, one of them’s going to lose. It helps if you’re …

Continue reading Tough loss at FSU, but Tech again shows its potential »

So much for R&R: Urban Meyer to coach spring practice

When the definitive biography of Urban Meyer is written (not by me, I believe it’s safe to say), the bizarre doings and undoings of Dec. 26-27, 2009, will be a footnote. The man who quit and then decided instead on a leave of absence says he’ll take a bit of time off after Signing Day. But apparently nothing more.

Meyer said Saturday he plans to coach his Gators in spring practice. If that’s indeed the case — with Meyer, any declaration must carry a disclaimer — then there seems no chance he won’t coach Florida in the 2010 season. And if he coaches Florida next season, that restores some semblance of order to an SEC East in deep-dish flux.

You’d have to say Florida is again the prohibitive favorite to take the division and play for the SEC title. And you’d have to say those reports of the Gators being in disarray after Meyer’s volte-face would, in the blush of recent developments,  seem overheated. Doesn’t seem to be hurting recruiting, does it? (Rivals.com ranks Florida No. …

Continue reading So much for R&R: Urban Meyer to coach spring practice »

Todd Grantham: ‘I understand who UGA fans want to beat’

Todd Grantham briefs the media, admits meeting Jessica Simpson. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Todd Grantham briefs the media, admits meeting Jessica Simpson. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens – Let’s stipulate that one or two folks on this planet care deeply about how the Dallas Cowboys fare on given autumn Sundays. But even at the highest level of pro football, there’s a difference in passion between that found in the college game, and this was reflected on, of all places, AJC.com.

A guy (blush) asked readers to submit questions for Todd Grantham. Within 12 hours came more than 350 suggestions. Yes, some were impertinent, but the majority were detailed and incisive, and that says all you need to know about the interest/scrutiny Georgia’s new defensive coordinator will encounter.

And Grantham, to his credit, welcomes it. (At least he did Friday, though it must be noted his first in-person media briefing came well before a Grantham-coached Georgia defense has lost a game.) “That’s the reason I wanted to take this job,” he said. “I understand the passion. I understand who …

Continue reading Todd Grantham: ‘I understand who UGA fans want to beat’ »

Audience participation: Got a question for Todd Grantham?

I’m headed to Athens on Friday for Todd Grantham’s first media session. (In case you’ve been living on a satellite, he’s Georgia’s new defensive coordinator.) I have some questions in mind –  “When you were with Dallas, did you ever meet Jessica Simpson?” — but I thought I’d be interactive about this and ask if any of y’all had any.

Understand: I’m not promising I’ll ask them all, or even a half-dozen. But I’ll try to squeeze in one or two, and I’ll let you know what he says in response. And I, being my generous self, will give you credit.

I’m leaving about 9 a.m., and the session is at 11. So if there’s something you’d like to offer — “Coach TG, will recruiting change now that Georgia will be playing the 3-4?” — please avail yourselves ASAP. As always, I thank you in advance.

Continue reading Audience participation: Got a question for Todd Grantham? »