Archive for July, 2011

I like UGA and LSU in the SEC, but I might be a minority of one

Only one team has a grasp on this series. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

One team has a grasp on this series. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

In advance of the SEC’s Media Days, I offer a refresher. Faithful readers will have seen this already, but you latecomers (or vacation-goers who happened to miss it) should be aware: This is how I envision the conference in 2011.

East

  1. Georgia
  2. South Carolina
  3. Florida
  4. Tennessee
  5. Kentucky
  6. Vanderbilt

West

  1. LSU
  2. Alabama
  3. Arkansas
  4. Mississippi State
  5. Auburn
  6. Ole Miss

A couple of caveats: I think Georgia and South Carolina will both finish 10-2, but the Bulldogs will win the division on the basis of beating the Gamecocks in Athens on Sept. 10. I also think the rest of the assembled media in Hoover, Ala., will see it somewhat differently. Here’s my guess — it’s a prediction of a prediction, a first even for me — of how the official SEC preseason poll will look:

East

  1. South Carolina
  2. Georgia
  3. Florida
  4. Tennessee
  5. Kentucky
  6. Vanderbilt

West

  1. Alabama
  2. LSU
  3. Arkansas
  4. Mississippi State
  5. Auburn
  6. Ole Miss

A couple more notes: I struggled …

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OK, so we love college football. But WHY do we still love it?

Caleb King no longer plays for Georgia. Tech is no longer the 2009 ACC champ. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Caleb King: No longer a Bulldog. Tech: No longer the '09 ACC champ. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The SEC’s annual Media Days — the biggest football conference needs three calendar days just to accommodate all the blather — convene Wednesday in Hoover, Ala. The ACC stages its (two-day) convocation this weekend in Pinehurst, N.C. This means we’re not that far from actually getting to watch the One True Sport, the game we Southerners know and love.

One question, though. Should we love it?

For college football, 2011 has already been an annus horribilis, which is Latin for “lousy year.” And yes, it’s only July. We’ve still got the 2011 season to go. Maybe things will get better. They could scarcely get worse. In calendar 2011 we’ve seen:

• The 2004 BCS titlist (Southern Cal) stripped of its crown, largely because of an investigation into the financial arrangements of Reggie Bush, the 2005 Heisman winner.

• The 2002 BCS titlist (Ohio State) stripped of iconic head coach Jim …

Continue reading OK, so we love college football. But WHY do we still love it? »

Heat Check: Tech makes NCAA see red; Donnan’s in the red

"Do you know who invented the tunnel screen? Guy named Ponzi." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"Know who invented the tunnel screen? Guy named Ponzi." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Monday Heat Check begins with a cold case that got hot 20 months later. I believe you get the drift.

Georgia Tech: Its defenders insist the punishment doesn’t match the (admittedly small) violation and that the NCAA chose to make an example of Tech. In both cases the defenders are correct, and in both cases they miss the point. The Jackets failed to do what an NCAA member institution is expected to do. There are a lot of silly ways to wind up on four years’ probation, but this might be the silliest. Heat Index: When you have to give back the only outright ACC football championship your program has won in two decades, you might as well change your nickname to the Polar Bears.

Georgia Tech’s legal advisers: Not exactly the Dream Team, eh? Surely there’s someone in Atlanta capable of doing as Ed (The Terminator) Tolley keeps doing for the Georgia Bulldogs, which is to take a ticklish …

Continue reading Heat Check: Tech makes NCAA see red; Donnan’s in the red »

Tech AD Radakovich still has a job; for that, he’s a lucky man

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Demaryius Thomas holds a list, but you'll note it's not a list of infractions. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

The strongest sanction in the NCAA arsenal — and we should stipulate this was one sanction not levied against Georgia Tech — is the “show-cause” penalty. When a coach is found to have committed egregious violations (two examples: Dave Bliss and Kelvin Sampson), he’s banned for a number of years and any member institution seeking to hire him during that span must convince the NCAA it has good reason.

I mention this because I’ve been thinking: If the NCAA said, “We want you, M. Bradley, to show cause as to why Dan Radakovich should remain athletic director at Tech,” I’m not sure I could.

This isn’t easy for me to say. I like Radakovich. Until Thursday, I rated him among the brightest stars in his industry. But the department Radakovich heads turned what should have been a one-week tempest into a 20-month ordeal that has yielded four years’ probation, a $100,000 fine and …

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An embarrassing day for Tech, which hates embarrassment

"See this? Not any longer." (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

"See this? Not any longer." (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It’s an embarrassing day for Georgia Tech, and Tech alums don’t like being embarrassed.

The Jackets have been forced to vacate the 2009 ACC title, have been placed on NCAA probation through 2015 and have been fined $100,000 — what is this, the NFL? — to boot. We can extrapolate from this that the NCAA likewise doesn’t take kindly to embarrassment.

The NCAA has found that “staff members” not only failed to contribute to an investigation but also sought to cast enough doubt on the allegations that they couldn’t be proved. In plain English, the NCAA believed Tech tried to cover up. And the NCAA hates cover-ups way worse than it hates violations.

Update: In offering Tech’s response to the NCAA’s findings, both president Bud Peterson and AD Dan Radakovich insisted there was no intent to influence anyone’s testimony to the NCAA. Indeed, Radakovich admitted it was he who had spoken to coach Paul Johnson about the NCAA’s …

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UPDATE: Tech vacates 2009 ACC title, gets 4 years’ probation

Let the record reflect that Buzz the Bee declined to comment. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Let the record reflect that Buzz the Bee declined to comment. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

UPDATE: Georgia Tech has to vacate its 2009 ACC championship and has been placed on probation through 2015 by the NCAA. Tech has also been fined $100,000.

First, let me emphasize that Georgia Tech folks are being very quiet about this. Nobody in any official capacity wants to speak ahead of the NCAA’s teleconference at 3 p.m. (Tech president Bud Peterson and AD Dan Radakovich will offer the Institute’s response at a 4:30 briefing.) That said …

I have attempted to sniff around. And here’s what I’ve been led to believe:

• Nobody is getting fired.

• No scholarships will be lost.

• There will be no postseason ban.

Let me also emphasize this: Tech folks are expecting a significant hit. And now you’re asking: If the significant hit doesn’t take the form of firings/scholarships/bans, what could it be?

The only things that spring to mind — and let me stress this is me speculating — are …

Continue reading UPDATE: Tech vacates 2009 ACC title, gets 4 years’ probation »

NCAA to Auburn’s Chizik: ‘It ain’t over until we say it’s over’

"Hey, wait a second! I have a bunch more questions to ask!" (AP photo)

"Hey, wait just a minute! I have a bunch more questions to ask the speaker!" (AP photo)

Perhaps you’re wondering about the state of the NCAA’s investigation into Cam Newton’s short time at Auburn. Apparently the Auburn coach is, or at least was. According to Pete Thamel of the New York Times, Gene Chizik has been given cause to wonder no longer.

Writes Thamel:

Julie Roe Lach, the NCAA’s vice president for enforcement, made a presentation to the group [of SEC coaches at their convocation at Destin, Fla.], which included every men’s basketball coach, football coach and athletic director in the conference. When she opened up the room for discussion, Auburn’s football coach, Gene Chizik, raised his hand first.

He peppered Roe Lach with a flurry of questions about the NCAA’s investigation into Cam Newton and why the NCAA had not publicly announced that the investigation was over. Chizik complained that the inquiry’s open-ended nature had hurt Auburn’s recruiting …

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The Falcons might actually go to camp. What’ll happen then?

"Throw a screen pass? Are those even legal?" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"A screen pass? Are those even legal?" (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

The Falcons might go to training camp on time. Should that happen, it would prompt the question: What the heck was the lockout all about, anyway? But that’s not among the issues we’re here to ponder today. These are.

1. If Julio Jones isn’t really good right away, will that mean Thomas Dimitroff’s give-a-lot-to-get-one-man draft strategy was wrong-headed? If Julio Jones is really good right away, will that mean Roddy White’s tender sensibilities get ruffled? (NFL rule of thumb: No. 1 receivers tend to have tunnel vision.)

2. If Julio Jones is really good right away, will we be able to tell? Or will Mike Mularkey’s offense remain the ponderous thing it became last season? Is Mularkey the guy to oversee a quick-strike attack this would seem to have the capacity to become, or is the only thing he shares with the mad scientist Mike Martz a set of initials?

3. What happens if, under the new collective bargaining …

Continue reading The Falcons might actually go to camp. What’ll happen then? »

Remember the NASCAR race Atlanta lost? It went … not well

Oddly enough, traffic flows freely on the Bruton Smith Parkway in Georgia. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Oddly enough, traffic flows freely on the Bruton Smith Parkway in Georgia. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

You’ll recall that the annual spring NASCAR race at Atlanta Motor Speedway became the new summer NASCAR race at Kentucky Speedway, which sits 40 miles from Cincinnati off I-71. About this piece of highway, Bruton Smith — who owns, conveniently enough, both AMS and the Kentucky Speedway –  said on Speed TV:

“I’m trying my best to get the governor [Kentucky's Steve Beshear] to understand that Interstate 71 sucks. That is the worst interstate highway I’ve ever been on. I think it’s a disgrace to the great state of Kentucky to have something like that.”

As Terry Blount of ESPN noted, Bruton Smith spoke those words three hours before the Saturday night race. Imagine what he must be thinking now.

One of the Busch brothers won the inaugural Sprint Cup Event at the Kentucky Speedway, but nobody will remember which. Everyone involved was so appalled by the road conditions that …

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This just in: Jair Jurrjens isn’t nearly as good as we think he is

The radar gun clocked this pitch at 35 mph. (AP photos)

Here we see the exceedingly average Jair Jurrjens pitching to contact. (AP photo)

Jair Jurrjens won’t be starting the All-Star Game, and for that we should be grateful. Otherwise the best pitcher in the National League would stand revealed as a fraud.

We know this because Drew Sharp of the Detroit Free Press tells us so. Sharp writes that, had Detroit not shown mercy and traded the young hurler to the Braves for Edgar Renteria in October 2007, “he’d be nothing more than a .500 pitcher dueling against more powerful American League batting orders.”

More Sharp, addressing the possibility of a Jurrjens All-Star start, which was dashed Monday by that new Atlanta nemesis Bruce Bochy: “It could prove quite illuminating to see how a guy who pitches to contact, barely getting the radar gun to nudge a little north of 90 miles per hour, would fare against a possible 2-through-7 batting order of Curtis Granderson, Adrian Gonzalez, Jose Bautista, Josh Hamilton, Alex Rodriguez and …

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