An ESPN-fueled buzz gathers around the Georgia Bulldogs

Isaiah Crowell hasn't yet played a down but casts a long shadow. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Isaiah Crowell hasn't played a collegiate down but casts a long shadow. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

More and more folks are thinking warm thoughts about the Georgia Bulldogs, and some of those folks work for ESPN. (Which makes their thinking significant, given that ESPN runs the part of college football Mike Slive doesn’t.) Citing cases:

Bruce Feldman of ESPN Insider lists Georgia as his No. 8 best-value choice to win the BCS title. (Link requires registration.) Not the SEC East, not even the SEC — the BCS.

By “value,” he means getting long odds in Las Vegas on a team that has a legitimate shot. Feldman notes that Georgia opened at 40-1 to take the BCS but is down to 25-1 already. Feldman’s rationale for including UGA:

If the Dawgs were still at 40-1, they’d probably be a spot or two higher on this list. I’m on record as picking them to win the SEC East. I expect QB Aaron Murray to emerge as a star and for Isaiah Crowell, the nation’s top-rated RB recruit, and a healthy Caleb King to boost one of the SEC’s worst running games. They have talent on the defense, and it’s Year 2 in Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

• Esteemed former colleague Mark Schlabach, also of the worldwide leader, has Georgia rated 17th in his post-spring Top 25. That’s up one spot from his post-Signing Day ranking, but the bigger news lies elsewhere. Schlabach now places the Bulldogs ahead of South Carolina, which he drops from 15th to 19th.

See, Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia has been suspended again. Which leads us to …

KC Joyner, also an ESPN Insider, puts Garcia’s presumed replacement Connor Shaw atop his list of shaky spring game performers. (Link requires registration.) I’m not sure how much weight should be placed on any spring game, but Joyner studied film and graded Shaw poorly.

All of which reinforces a notion that has been stirring these past couple of months: The team that finished 2010 by losing to Central Florida will enter 2011 as a team with buzz attached to it. Part of this has to do with the Dream Team. Part has to do with Georgia’s schedule: No Alabama, no LSU, no Arkansas — plus South Carolina and Mississippi State and Auburn at home. A bit of it has to do with Garcia and the Gamecocks.

Add it up, and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see the Bulldogs considered the favorite to win the East by the team SEC Media Days arrive. And I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see them actually go out and do it.

By Mark Bradley

652 comments Add your comment

barrie

May 12th, 2011
8:54 am

Jamaaliver

May 12th, 2011
8:54 am

ESPN is terrible. But their NCAA coverage and forecasting is generally better than their pro sports coverage.

Anything they say, though, should be taken with several grains of salt.

Mark Bradley

May 12th, 2011
8:55 am

Yep. Kudos, barrie.

Sean

May 12th, 2011
8:56 am

Maybe we should put their picture on the front of SI and declare them preseason No. 1 again…that seemed to work out well.

Not Disappointed!

May 12th, 2011
8:56 am

Morning Gents!

brandon

May 12th, 2011
8:56 am

let’s hope so.

RAMBLE ON!!!

May 12th, 2011
8:57 am

…and where did Mark Schlabach go to school?

me

May 12th, 2011
8:58 am

We have no RB and no WR’s. Bozo is still the offensive coordinator and we still have a Preacher as a head coach. BCS my butt.

Bo

May 12th, 2011
9:01 am

Caleb may be healthy come fall, but will he be eligible to play? Boo Malcome, you’re up.

AHS

May 12th, 2011
9:01 am

Look at Mark giving UGA some love this year! What’s the world coming to?

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 12th, 2011
9:01 am

That photo makes it look like Isaiah has some really long arms. That is good since the long arm of the law has been prevelant on this team for so long.

We (UF) Own UGA

May 12th, 2011
9:02 am

Hey Bark Madley,

Why not run a story on the soon to be announced losses of JUCO hype machine John Jenkins, bust RB Caleb King, and AJ Harmon due to academics. LOL

But hey, keep up that hope that Saint Richt will actually lead UGA to anything. I guess you’re still waiting for that pre-season 2008 National Championship ring to arrive in the mail for you?

UGA is irrelevant outside the South. Anyone with a brain knows that….

Just in Hughes ton

May 12th, 2011
9:02 am

what are y’all smokin?

pswole

May 12th, 2011
9:02 am

Its coming out this weekend or Monday that Caleb King failed to make the grades again.

Billyboy

May 12th, 2011
9:03 am

The dawgs are young and need to improve their offensive line. A win against Boise St pushes them to a top 12 team. With their schedule they have a chance to win the SEC if luck is on their side. However, this could be a 7 win season and bye bye to Richt. The Dawgs must have a fast start through South Carolina or its over and let’s find a new coach.

phil

May 12th, 2011
9:03 am

King isn’t going to be eligible to play. Aside from that, we were 5-6 last year. A cosmic leap to the top? That’s laughable, if not just plain stupid. We can’t beat Florida, for one thing….

FinanceBuzz

May 12th, 2011
9:03 am

Ah, you know summer is almost here. It’s the AJC’s annual “Pump Up the Prospects of UGAg Football!” The team that could not beat UCF with the latest Greatest Quarterback in the History of Football (TM) along with the Calvin Johnson Lite receiver, who is now gone to the NFL, is going to win the BCS?? Yeah. Typical AJC pro-UGAg hype. No wonder their circulation numbers keep dropping.

Supes

May 12th, 2011
9:04 am

They have to prove it on the field. None of that stuff matters. Win games and then you can speculate.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 12th, 2011
9:04 am

Using “buzz” in a Georgia headline is a new twist. Buzz and I are good friends though we can’t show it in public. Macots have to stick together.

Starring Kam Fong as Chin Ho

May 12th, 2011
9:04 am

The games are played on the field, not in the opinions of a bunch of buffoons that get paid to act like they know more than they do. I don’t give a rats keester what the opinions of ESPN are, I want to see improvement on the field.

Mark Schlabach

May 12th, 2011
9:05 am

@AHS…. the end.

Seth Emersons Bulldog Blog killed the anon posters

May 12th, 2011
9:06 am

What did the Guy in Orlando project the Dawgs to do this year because he was spot on last year.

Matt

May 12th, 2011
9:07 am

The road to the East goes through Jacksonville and the dawgs have shown they can’t win there.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 12th, 2011
9:07 am

Just wait until they try to paint his a$$ white. That’s what got me into trouble with Coach Richt. I figure if he’s going to spray paint my a$$ I should be able to spray some hair in a can on top of his head. Something that really made me sick last season was seeing that hair in a can right next to Coach Grantham’s doughnuts.

boots

May 12th, 2011
9:07 am

From your mouth to God’s ears.

AHS

May 12th, 2011
9:07 am

I was referring to Mark Bradley!

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:09 am

No 1 question. Has Crowell cleared all hurdles to enroll and become eligible to play come fall? No2. Somebody has got to open some holes for these guys. Hope won’t do it, nor talk. I do sense the defense will be better. Tons better, no, but much improved. WR still keeps me up at night ( just kidding)
But double team T. King and we could be in trouble. I rooting for them. We’ll see.

ryan

May 12th, 2011
9:09 am

Bozo changes out RB before one can get going so the worst in the sec for rushing will cont plus the secondary our safties are always terrible and always give up the big play when they need to hold…WR also need to step up now that AJ is gone…

frannie mae

May 12th, 2011
9:10 am

UGA’s O line stinks and Im sticking with Tarkenton.

Whisky Breath

May 12th, 2011
9:10 am

Mark, Ga can never say you don’t support the home team. We call this an effort to pump sunshine.
You have been taking lessons from Shultz, haven’t you? You are aware they got beat by UCF last January right? Thanks for pumping.

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:10 am

Darn Mark, I’m a slow typer. Where’s my post?

ManUp...

May 12th, 2011
9:11 am

Nope. Try again.

10 - 6

May 12th, 2011
9:11 am

UGA must score TD’s in BIG games and not let Grantham give the choke sign.

frannie mae

May 12th, 2011
9:13 am

UGA needs a bail out period.

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:13 am

Lot’s of questions. 1. Has Crowell cleared all hurdles to enroll and play Sept. 3rd? Who is going to open holes for these guys running the ball. Hope and a new coach is what we got now until we prove something. Defense will be better. How much, we’ll see. Better not let this Boise QB sit back and pump the ball and survey the field. Go Dawgs

Dawgtards Ahoy!

May 12th, 2011
9:15 am

One little itty bitty problem, as in…

Boise State 56
Georgia 17

Buh bye, Richt.

ormewood

May 12th, 2011
9:17 am

Considering the contract that ESPN has with the SEC, it’s in ESPN’s vested interest to pump up GA and most other SEC teams. No news here.

The Donny Rummey Show

May 12th, 2011
9:17 am

There are a lot of Knowns and Unknowns with UGA. The knowns are terrible. The unknowns could be nothing more but wishful thinking.

Adios, San Marco

May 12th, 2011
9:18 am

It’s kind of sad to see all the Dawg fans getting so excited this year (just like the year before, the year before that, etc.). How long is it going to take for UGA fans to realize that UGA is simply no longer relevant in the SEC? In the national picture, UGA isn’t even a blip on the radar, and hasn’t been since the preseason #1 ranking three years ago.

Sit back and be grateful for the six or seven wins you’ll get every year. Coaching genius Mark Richt may take you to 8-4 or even 9-3 occasionally, but another school will still win the SEC, meaning no BCS bowls and no top 10 final ranking. Most years, UGA will be very lucky to finish in the top 25, and only after a big bowl win over a nobody opponent.

It’s a different world now, and Dawg fans need to adjust their expectations downward to reflect reality.

Unfortunately nothing is going to change until UGA changes its third-rate coaching. That’s where the difference is, and that’s why everyone outside Dawgtard Nation just laughs at Dawg fans getting so excited year after year about what a great recruiting class UGA gets. It doesn’t matter how many blue chip high school players go to UGA, they simply don’t get the coaching they would get at Florida or Alabama, to name two schools whose programs are far ahead of UGA. And that’s not going to change as long as Mark Richt is in Athens.

Get your heads out of the sand and face reality. And mediocrity and irrelevance. 

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 12th, 2011
9:19 am

I understand Coach Richt just signed a contract for some new sunglasses this year. He sure looks cool over on the sidelines wearing shades. When the NCAA told Coach he won’t be able to make any more phone calls from his Ford F-150 I heard Coach Grantham gave him the choke sign. It may be a sign of things to come. I hear Coach Grantham is already being fitted for his new chair in the head coach’s office. It will have a doughnut dispenser.

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:19 am

Richt surviving this year will be up to Grantham and the D, not he or Bobo.

jeff c.

May 12th, 2011
9:20 am

You can’t win the BCS when you start 0-2

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:21 am

Anyone got extra’s for Tech/Western Carolina? Their ticket office told me I’d have to buy a block of 50. Who’s got 500.00 in this economy?

Whopper Dawg

May 12th, 2011
9:21 am

10 – 6 Central Florida – let’s not starting crowning anyone yet

DawginLex

May 12th, 2011
9:22 am

Good Morning everyone!!!

1.) no one knows for sure if Caleb King is out or not
2.) Several folks have said all along that Malcome/Crowell/Thomas would be the running back depth chart for 2011
3.) Being young but talented has its advantages-Ask Kentucky basketball fans
4.) Getting rid of the cancers and the all about me players is not a bad idea.

For those of you who TROLL/bash/post kindergarten stuff-Go right ahead and keep it up and we will keep laughing at you.

For the real DAWGS out there, view these changes as a positive/necessary fresh start/cleansing that is about 3 years past due.

Summit Dawg

May 12th, 2011
9:23 am

I can’t blame Ealey for looking out for himself…..after all, that’s what most recruits do on the road to the NFL…..I wouldn’t want to be in the offensive scheme (?) of St. Richt and BooBoo either….Now that Ealey’s gone and King may not make his grades…..what if Crowell gets hurt, or doesn’t live up to the hype…….Then, our running game is gone for sure, and BooBoo will be happy to build every play around Murray….as he does anyway!!!!!Wow…could be a big mess!!

GeoffDawg

May 12th, 2011
9:24 am

Forget the buzz. Fly under the radar and just go to work every day. Georgia doesn’t deserve much national acclaim right now but the pieces are in place to win it back if they don’t get ahead of themselves.

JB

May 12th, 2011
9:25 am

Morning Lex. What are you hearing about Crowell? Me thinks if there were red flags, it would be all over these blogs, especially with Ealey gone.

Russ, the Temporary Mascot

May 12th, 2011
9:26 am

I made a couple official visits with Coach this year and I hope it is going to help with our recruiting. We need some running backs that can stay out of jail. My job was to win over the recruit’s mama and I did that by sitting in her lap and letting her pet me. Unfortunately, I slobbered and drooled all over one mama and she threw us out. It was better than Big Bad Bruce, though, who had no bladder control.

Seth Emersons Bulldogs Blog Killed the anon posters

May 12th, 2011
9:26 am

@ DawginLex…… You need to purchase the leftover tickets along with Dawgstephen for the Boise game. You can sell them with free kool aid too. Good luck!