Archive for January, 2010

Lucky UGA didn’t hire Big D’s offensive coordinator, huh?

Well, it could have been worse. Georgia could have hired the Cowboys’ secondary coach. Or its offensive coordinator. Or Wade Phillips. Or Jerry Jones.

On the plus side, Todd Grantham’s defensive line sacked Brett Favre three times — actually, two of the sacks were by linebackers, but let’s not quibble — and held Adrian Peterson under 100 yards rushing. (Under 64 yards, to be precise.) On the minus side was … well, everything else. The Vikings scored 34 points. Favre threw four touchdown passes, three to to Sidney Rice.

If you’re Georgia, you don’t mind. Grantham gets to report to his new job — coordinating Georgia’s defense — this week, as opposed to after Signing Day, which would have been his start date would have been had Dallas reached the Super Bowl. In sum, he gets to go recruitin’. And this is the Most Important Recruiting Class ever, at least until next year.

From a Bulldog perspective, it would have been nice had the Dallas D given a better account of itself two days …

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Josh Smith: From draft bust to coach-killer to All-Star?

Josh Smith is becoming a top player. Next up: Top chef? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Josh Smith is becoming a top player. Next up: Top chef? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

He entered the NBA in 2004 having already been tabbed by Jay Bilas as a potential bust. He worked his first five professional seasons having been labeled a coach-killer. To his credit, Josh Smith is close to shedding old labels and affixing a new one.

All-Star.

He has had better numbers in seasons past, but never he has played better. He’s averaging 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocked shots and 3.7 assists against 2.1 turnovers. (The latter two are career bests by some distance.) He has made 51 percent of his shots. (Also an apex.) And if you see those stats and they don’t quite say, “All-Star” to you … well, hear this endorsement from the coach Smith was supposed to have slain.

“I think he’s close,” Mike Woodson said. “If we continue to hang in there and win, we could have three guys. Al Horford is close [and Joe Johnson is a lock]. That would be unbelievable, especially for Smoove …

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Vince Dooley’s game plan: ‘I might subtly wear orange’

"Over here we'll have orange hydrangeas." (AJC photo by Joey Ivansco)

"And over here we'll be planting orange hydrangeas." (AJC photo by Joey Ivansco)

Vince Dooley held a teleconference today to discuss … well, you know what it was to discuss. The highlight: The greatest coach and greatest athletics director Georgia has ever had conceded that, on Oct. 10, 2010, he will be pull against Georgia.

“Luckily, we have a private box,” he said. “I’ll have mixed emotions, but it’s going to be hard pulling against my family. I had my family before I came to Georgia. It will be a quiet pulling for my son. But I’m glad we have we do have the private box; my wife will be more vocal.”

You could say Vincent J. Dooley has had an overstuffed life: Quarterback at Auburn, SEC head coach at age 31, national champion as of Jan. 1, 1981, and now father of Tennessee’s head coach. Of Derek Dooley, Vince said: “We’re very happy, very proud. It’s a wonderful opportunity. And it’s special because it’s in the conference.

“I wish it was not at a school so close and …

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Strange but true: A Dooley now coaches the Big Orange

The intrepid Dooley men: David, Daddy and Derek. (Special to the AJC)

The always intrepid Dooley men: David, Daddy and Derek. (Photo special to the AJC)

A strange postseason (Urban Meyer, Mike Leach, Jim Leavitt) led into a stranger week (Lane Kiffin), capped by the strangest of days: Georgia and Georgia Tech hire defensive coordinators hours before the son of the Bulldogs’ greatest coach becomes the new lord of Rocky Top.

Thus does Tennessee move from one coaching scion to another, with this difference. Lane Kiffin was, is and will forever be a brat, and he traded on his dad’s name — he even brought Monte Kiffin to Knoxville to coordinate the defense that was the one and only good thing about Li’l Kiffy’s one and only band of Volunteers — to get the Vols’ job. Derek Dooley has always made his own way.

He played at Virginia, walking on as a wide receiver while his famous dad was still coaching Georgia. Vince would retire as coach after the 1988 and, while still the Georgia AD, would try to attend as many Cavalier games as possible the next few …

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The question: Did UGA or Tech make the better hire?

"I got my guy," PJ says to CMR, and vice versa. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

"I got my guy," Johnson says to Richt, and vice versa. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Yesterday neither had a defensive coordinator. Now Georgia has hired Todd Grantham and Tech has landed Al Groh. Even though it’s not a zero-sum game — both programs can and should profit — the confluence of events makes the question fairly irresistible:

Who made the better hire?

We’d have to credit Tech for running the smoother search. (This falls under the heading of “Duh!”) The Jackets dumped Dave Wommack last Friday and landed a new man within eight days, which put Paul Johnson five-plus weeks ahead of Mark Richt. As was reported in this space last week, PJ locked in on Groh from the start.

But process isn’t our concern today. Product is. And the belief here is that Grantham will do more for Georgia than Groh will for Tech.

Understand: Groh is an upgrade. He’s also 65. He served as his own defensive coordinator last season at Virginia, which isn’t the same as working for someone else. He …

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Bradley’s Buzz: For 2010, SI has Tech 8th, UGA 22nd

Will Georgia again outrun the Jackets in 2010? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Will Georgia again outrun the Yellow Jackets in 2010? (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

You’ll never guess who’s No. 1 in SI.com’s college football power rankings for 2010. Actually, you will. Alabama is the easy choice, same as Florida was easy in preseason 2009. (And who was preseason No. 1 in 2008? Why, Georgia.) But the top spot isn’t why we’re here. It’s to focus on the locals, both of which appear in Andy Staples’ Top 25.

Georgia Tech is No. 8. Georgia is No. 22. I’d say that’s too high for the former, about right for the latter.

I reserve the right to amend my opinion in light of developments — if, say, either one finds a defensive coordinator, or if Herschel Walker forgoes his MMA dreams to reclaim that fourth year of collegiate eligibility — but I’d say, as of Jan. 14, 2010, that Tech will dip slightly in 2010 and Georgia will rise a bit.

My take on Tech: It won’t be bad on offense — quoth Paul Johnson: “I’d be stunned if our B-back doesn’t gain 1,000 yards next season” …

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Who’s the bigger rat – Bobby Petrino or Lane Kiffin?

Watching Lane Kiffin’s wretched introduction at Southern Cal last night — delayed 45 minutes by traffic, it should have been canceled to spare everyone involved–  the thought occurred: “This guy is the biggest rat I’ve ever seen.”

Then, a bit later, another thought: “Wait a minute, son. Didn’t we in Atlanta happen across a rodent of our own not long ago?”

Well, yeah. His name: Bobby Petrino. He fled the Falcons in same harum-scarum manner that Kiffin left K-Town. And that terrible memory got me to thinking: “Kiffin or Petrino — who’s the bigger rat?” Here’s where I attempt to answer myself.

Category: Truthfulness. Petrino reaffirmed to Arthur Blank the day before he headed over the Ozarks, “You’ve got yourself a coach.” According to Tennessee AD Mike Hamilton, Kiffin at least informed him last weekend that he’d be interested in the USC job. Bigger lying rat: Petrino.

Category: Manliness. Petrino left without facing his players. He had a type-written note left in their lockers …

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Misunderstood Kiffin: He’s even worse than we thought

Having watched, via streaming video, Lane Kiffin’s introductory briefing at Southern Cal — delayed 45 minutes by L.A. traffic; imagine that — I’ve reached the following conclusion:

The man is misunderstood.

I’d thought he was a bigger jerk than he is an idiot. Turns out he’s just as big an idiot as he is a jerk.

His explanation for the rage expressed in Knoxville over his exit from Tennessee was epic in its denial: “As I look at the reaction, I said, ‘You know what? They’re upset we’re leaving because of what we’re doing. If we weren’t doing something right, they wouldn’t be upset.’ ”

I have sympathy for the folks in Knoxville. I have only scorn for the powers-that-be at USC. A proud program has given Eddie Haskell the keys to the family Bentley. They know full well what Kiffin is — he worked there, as you know — and hired him anyway. It will be great fun watching him destroy Troy.

And he will. He can’t coach. I’m not sure what he can do, but coaching isn’t it. And he’s so …

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Who gains from the SEC’s turmoil? Alas, not UGA

The SEC East is in flux in a way nobody could have envisioned on Christmas Eve. Urban Meyer resigned and recanted and is said to be relaxing. Tennessee has no coach. Kentucky has a new coach. Vanderbilt … OK, there’s the one constant.

With so much in motion, the moment seems ripe for a stable program to make a bold move upward in 2010. That program would not seem to be Georgia.

Having searched for six weeks, the Bulldogs don’t have a defensive coordinator or a defensive staff. They’ll enter next season with a new quarterback, the result of having left Aaron Murray to redshirt. (A wise choice in most years, but not necessarily in the worst season under this head coach.) Worse still, there’s a growing feeling across the South that Mark Richt is a year away from feeling the big heat.

From MrSEC.com, usually a clearinghouse of conference links, came this post-Kirby-Smart post from John Pennington, its headline reading: “Smart Stays; Richt In Trouble.” Pennington’s argument isn’t …

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PJ on GT’s D-coordinator: ‘We’re going to have one’

Paul Johnson's morning briefing: No news but good fun. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Paul Johnson's morning briefing: No news, but still good fun. (Photo by M. Bradley)

No major news was forthcoming at Paul Johnson’s season-ending media session this morning. He didn’t introduce a new defensive coordinator, but he seemed to suggest that it won’t be long now.

As ever,  the session was steeped in entertainment value. (PJ, as you know, cannot say, “Good morning,” without applying the arch PJ twist.) Some snippets:

On Georgia Tech’s search for a coordinator: “It’s going good. We’re going to have one sometime. I just want to make sure it’s the right fit … I’ve got some scenarios in play; it’s just a question of what I decide to do and then finalizing it.”

On whether a candidate’s preferred defensive scheme would be a deal-maker (or deal-breaker): “I’m a bottom-line kind of guy. There are a lot of ways to get there … I don’t care if it’s a 3-4 or an eight-man front or a 4-3.”

On last season’s defense: “We gave up enough big plays to last a decade.”

On whether he’d …

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