Archive for January, 2011

Fran Tarkenton on 680 The Fan: UGA ‘is in in big trouble’

If you haven’t heard what Fran Tarkenton had to say regarding Mark Richt last Friday on 680 The Fan, you probably should. The most famous former Georgia Bulldog (non-Herschel division) eviscerated the Bulldogs’ coach and strongly suggested the program needs a new leader.

Francis T. began boldly — “What has happened over the last week with Georgia has been the most disturbing time I have seen in a long time; you know, people don’t want to look at reality” — and didn’t pause for breath. (A partial transcript is available at SportsRadioInterviews.com.)

Richt’s all-is-well press briefing of Jan. 4 apparently set Tarkenton’s teeth to gnashing. Concerning the announcement that Richt would re-immerse himself in the finer points of football, Tarkenton said this:

“Holy cow! Yesterday, where Mark Richt says, ‘I have been freed from administrative duties to spend more time on football.’ Then I quote him, he said, ‘The moves give [me] more time to study the game of football and be an …

Continue reading Fran Tarkenton on 680 The Fan: UGA ‘is in in big trouble’ »

Will the SEC rule again in 2011? Will UGA be a Top 25 team?

In 2006 and 2008 it was Florida. In 2007 it was LSU. Last year it was Alabama. Now it’s Auburn. Five seasons, five BCS titlists from the SEC. And now we ask: Will the run continue?

Early guess: Nope.

Looking to 2011, Auburn will surely lose its two best players — Cam Newton and Nick Fairley — to the NFL draft. Arkansas is losing Ryan Mallett, its best player. Alabama is losing Mark Ingram, Julio Jones and Marcell Dareus, perhaps its three best players. LSU could be losing its coach to Michigan. Florida has lost its coach to retirement. So who does that leave?

South Carolina? The Gamecocks will doubtless be favored in the SEC East, but they just went 9-5 and looked feeble in their two postseason losses. Mississippi State? Well, those Bulldogs seem the rising team in the West, but would you really count Mississippi State as a national championship possibility?

And what of Georgia?  As we know, these Bulldogs just had their first losing season since 1996 and have lost A.J. Green …

Continue reading Will the SEC rule again in 2011? Will UGA be a Top 25 team? »

Live via TV: Cam Newton and Auburn take on the … Ants?

So there I was, shoveling snow and ice off the driveway at stately Brad Manor, and a neighbor walks by with his dog. He says, “Why aren’t you in Phoenix?”

And I, suffering the effects of hypothermia, say, “What’s in Phoenix?”

And he says, “The national championship game.”

I felt slightly silly. (Mostly, though, I just felt cold.) But now, having been briefed by my neighbor, I’m ready to go. We’re going live here, and I’m picking Auburn, and I don’t think the game will be as high-scoring as advertised — few games ever are; remember the Saints beating the Falcons 17-14 two Mondays ago? — and my genius daughter (who takes, obviously, after her mother) has supplied the only reason necessary to root against Auburn.

“Their uniforms,” she said, “look like Army ants.”

And they do. And they’re funded by Nike. And Nike owns the world. As many reservations as I have regarding the Auburn Newtons/Louders, they’re small potatoes — obligatory Auburn agricultural joke — when viewed alongside …

Continue reading Live via TV: Cam Newton and Auburn take on the … Ants? »

Fair warning: I’m blogging live off the BCS game, and I like …

Even friendly Frosty is coming inside for the game. (Photo by M. Bradley. Snowman by Mrs. Bradley)

Even Frosty is coming inside for the game. (Photo by M. Bradley. Snowman by Mrs. Bradley)

Update: The live blog is now open for business and can be accessed here. Sorry to make you switch channels, as it were.

With this weather, you’re not going anywhere tonight — and if you are, the only place you should venture is the insane asylum. The BCS title game is on, so here’s what you should do: Watch your TV and hang out with me. (Figuratively speaking.)

We don’t usually do live blogs off games not involving a local team, but we’re making an exception for this one. Because Auburn is semi-local and Cam Newton is absolutely local and … well, because I just feel like it.

We’ll get going around 8 p.m. — toe-meets-leather time is set for 8:30 or thereabouts — and we’ll keep going until somebody has claimed the semi-mythical national title. (TCU, my heart bleeds for thee.) And I do want to offer one bit of terrible news for AU fans up front:

I think the Tigers will win.

That aside, I …

Continue reading Fair warning: I’m blogging live off the BCS game, and I like … »

GM Dimitroff on his rebuilt Falcons’ D: ‘I like where we are’

Brent Grimes applies some urgency to Greg Jennings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Brent Grimes applies some urgency to Greg Jennings. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jan. 3, 2009: The Falcons had lost to Arizona in Round 1 of the NFL playoffs. On the flight home, Thomas Dimitroff, the general manager who in 12 months had lifted a 4-12 team to an outrageous 11-5, knew what he had to do next.

The Falcons’ defense had been their undoing in the desert. Lawyer Milloy, the ancient safety, was culpable on two touchdown passes. Keith Brooking, the long-serving linebacker, was flummoxed on the third-and-16 reception that sealed the game. The D hadn’t been all that good that season — the Falcons were 24th among 32 NFL teams in total defense — but never was it as bad as in its final act.

In the main, the 2008 Falcons were able to scheme around defense liabilities, which were manifest and manifold. Going forward, Dimitroff knew scheming wouldn’t suffice. He could have taken half-measures — dump a few guys that offseason, a few more the next — but TD the GM isn’t one for …

Continue reading GM Dimitroff on his rebuilt Falcons’ D: ‘I like where we are’ »

In beating the regal Big Blue, UGA proves it’s big-time, too

Gerald Robins and Trey Thompkins: Some darn good Dawgs. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Gerald Robinson and Trey Thompkins: Some darn good Dawgs. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

ATHENS – We might have seen the eventual SEC champion here Saturday, and that team mightn’t be the one you’d think. The Georgia Bulldogs looked snooty Kentucky in the eye and weren’t overly impressed by what they saw. The Bulldogs, see, have reason to believe they’re the class of this league, and this result did nothing to dissuade them.

Said Trey Thompkins, surely the SEC’s best player: “We expect to play with teams like Kentucky and Tennessee and Florida. … We feel like we can play with anybody.”

Georgia beat Kentucky 77-70, and it was no home-court fluke. Georgia was the better side for 35 of the 40 minutes. It built an early lead, saw it disappear not long after halftime and then rebuilt it. It was just as Mark Fox, the canny Georgia coach, said it would be.

Here’s what Fox said he told his Bulldogs, who led by 11 at halftime: “[That] we were mature enough to play 40 minutes, mature enough …

Continue reading In beating the regal Big Blue, UGA proves it’s big-time, too »

Live from the Stegasaurus: Dogs and Cats in a big-time tilt

The red team warms in the foreground, the blue in the back. (Hi-def photo by M. Bradley)

The red team warms in the foreground, the blue in the back. (Hi-def photo by M. Bradley)

Athens — Not to put too fine a point on it, but Georgia needs to beat Kentucky. Yes, it’s early — actually, it’s the SEC opener for both — but the Bulldogs’ non-conference schedule did them no favors.

Georgia enters today’s game with an RPI of 59 (ESPN.com link requires registration), which is low for a team with legitimate NCAA tournament aspirations. It’s not that the Bulldogs lost a slew of non-league games — they were beaten only by Notre Dame and Temple — but that they didn’t beat anybody any good. (It didn’t help that Georgia Tech, which UGA shaded in Atlanta, has an RPI of 180, which is wretched.)

On the famous Joe Lunardi’s latest installment of ESPN.com Bracketology, he doesn’t have the Bulldogs in his field of 68. (Remember, the Big Dance gets bigger by three.) Nor does he list Georgia among his first four out, or his next four out. Lunardi has four SEC teams gaining entrance, …

Continue reading Live from the Stegasaurus: Dogs and Cats in a big-time tilt »

A musical shout-out to the Falcons from Hurricane the guitarist

Roger "Hurricane" Wilson on the left, Hubert Sumlin on the right. (Photo from Wilson's MySpace page)

That's Falcons fan Roger "Hurricane" Wilson wailin' on the left, the legendary Hubert Sumlin on the right. (Photo from Wilson's MySpace page)

The Falcons are preparing for the playoffs. This we know. What we also know: No playoff run is complete without musical accompaniment.

People have written songs — here’s one from 1979, suggested by famous reader Ted Striker via the invaluable Atlanta Time Machine – regarding the Falcons in the past, but these 13-3 Birds would seem to warrant an artistic flourish of their own. Into the breach, dear friends, steps Roger “Hurricane” Wilson of Kennesaw.

Mr. Wilson — I’d feel presumptuous calling him Hurricane, though he encourages the familiarity — is a bluesman of such note that his Web site includes testimonial quotes from Les Paul, who not only played guitar but invented several, and Hubert Sumlin. (If you’ve never heard of Hubert Sumlin, your life is incomplete. I advise you to stop reading this and click on his Wikipedia bio. Suffice it …

Continue reading A musical shout-out to the Falcons from Hurricane the guitarist »

A double whammy: Two touted Georgians spurn the Bulldogs

Xzavier Dickson dealt a mighty blow to the Bulldogs by choosing Bama. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Xzavier Dickson dealt a blow to the Bulldogs by choosing Bama. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Say what you will about the unseemly process of football recruiting, but the young men at the heart of it are expert trend-spotters. They know which program is Hot and which is Not Hot. On Wednesday two ballyhooed Georgians used the Under Armour All-America Game as the venue to announce they’d be making runs for the border, and there you have it.

The Georgia Bulldogs = Not Hot.

Xzavier Dickson of Griffin is bound for  Alabama. Quan Bray of LaGrange is taking his talents to Auburn. According to ESPN.com, both rank among the nation’s 25 best prospects. We should also mention that ESPN.com has Georgia’s 2011 recruiting class rated No. 8 nationally. We should also mention that Rivals.com has the Bulldogs 23rd, while Scout.com puts them 20th.

Yes, rankings can and will change. (And yes, recruits have been known to reconsider. Ask Da’Rick Rogers, currently enrolled at Georgia … er, Tennessee.) …

Continue reading A double whammy: Two touted Georgians spurn the Bulldogs »

Call me a heretic, but I do still wonder about these Falcons

Maybe you found this amusing. I thought it a bit much. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Maybe you found this amusing. I thought it a bit much. (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

A few words of preemptive self-defense: I picked the Falcons to go 12-4 and win the NFC South; I undershot slightly on the first part — they finished the regular season 13-3 — but was correct on the latter. I also picked them to play for the NFC title, which I think will happen. I’m just not sure they’ll win the NFC title.

The loss to New Orleans bothered me a lot. Super Bowl appearances are often prefaced by big-time December victories, and on Dec. 27 the Falcons flubbed their chance. Many among you will say, “What’s the big deal? They’d already beaten the Saints once and only lost by a field goal the second time.” The big deal, I submit, was in the meek way the Falcons performed.

The Saints controlled the game. They outgained the home side by 153 yards and had nine more first downs. (Factoid: Four of Atlanta’s 14 first downs came on penalties.) By the time the Falcons made their second first …

Continue reading Call me a heretic, but I do still wonder about these Falcons »