Archive for November, 2011

OK, so how long before Urban Meyer wins it all at Ohio State?

"All the best in your new position, ol' buddy." (AP photo)

"Today I speak for all Bulldogs: Best of luck in your new position, ol' buddy." (AP photo)

Knock me over with a sledgehammer: Urban Meyer told the Gainesville Sun that if Ohio State makes an offer, he’ll “have a decision to make.” Let’s take a leap of faith and say that Ohio State will make an offer if it hasn’t already, and that the Urbanator will decide he’d very much like to coach the flagship university of his home state. (Which would mean this latest Meyer retirement-from-coaching will have lasted a year, as opposed to a day.)

With that out of the way, we move to the next question: How long would it take Urban M. to win a national championship at OSU?

Consensus holds that Nick Saban is the best in his business by some distance, but that changes the minute Urban Meyer says yes to the Buckeyes. At worst, Meyer would be co-No. 1 with Saban, and I’m thinking Meyer is a hair better. Let’s face it: The Urbanator went undefeated at Utah.

Each has two national championships, …

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Heat Index: Warm moments for Tech, UGA and the Richts

Todd Grantham gives Mark Richt a manly handshake. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Todd Grantham gives Mark Richt a manly handshake. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

The Heat Check returns a day late after a two-week hiatus, but hey … a return’s a return! And we begin with those who’ll be involved in a game of some interest come Saturday noon.

Georgia: Champion of the SEC East, the winner of nine in a row,  the author of a rebound season. Think back to August: Would Georgia fans have taken all that and been happy? Sure they would. Heat Index: Mark Richt has gone from sitting atop the ol’ Hot Seat to sharing a warm moment with Mrs. Richt in front of 90,000 friends and neighbors.

Georgia Tech: Ranked in the Top 25, the winner of eight games after getting stuck on six last season, the author of a rebound season. Think back to August: Would Tech fans have taken all that and been happy? Yes, with a caveat. Heat Index: No Tech season can ever be ruled a complete success if the Jackets lose to Georgia.

Atlanta Falcons: They went to the no-huddle against Tennessee …

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Why Bama would be better off NOT playing for the SEC title

"Best of luck against Arkansas. Seriously!" (AP photo)

"Best of luck against Arkansas. Seriously!" (AP photo)

As we discussed in this space last week, Alabama might not play for the conference title even if Arkansas beats LSU on Friday. For Alabama to win the tiebreaker and qualify for the SEC championship game, No. 3 Arkansas would have to pass No. 1 LSU in the BCS standings, and there’s no guarantee the Hogs will do that.

And if I’m Alabama, I’m thinking I’d just as soon not play for the SEC title. If I’m the Tide, I’ve already got what I need.

Assuming Alabama beats Auburn on Saturday, the Tide would surely be sitting No. 2 in the BCS rankings with one week to go. But the team that represents the West in the SEC championship game would have to face Georgia, which hasn’t lost since Sept. 10, and would have to do it in the Georgia Dome. If you’re all but assured of a berth in the BCS title game, why risk losing?

Yes, we’ve come 180 degrees since 2007, when Georgia led LSU in the next-to-last BCS standings but was passed by the …

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The mighty Munson: A singular voice that will resonate forever

The man, the voice, the legend. (AJC file photo)

Larry Munson: The man, the voice, the legend. (AJC file photo)

He wasn’t the classic radio voice. On purely technical terms, he wasn’t the paragon of play-by-play, either. But such was the power of the mighty Munson personality that none of that mattered. You didn’t care if his calls were vague or his growl sounded like a Waring blender being jammed down a garbage disposal. You cared only that the man behind the microphone agonized as much over this particular football game as you did.

This isn’t to suggest Larry Munson wasn’t a pro. He was. But he was the amateur’s pro. There was no distance in him. He’d beseech the Georgia defense to hunker down – “One … more … time” — and he’d fret that a perfectly winnable game was unwinnable simply because that’s way of all fretters, and when the unwinnable game somehow got won the growl would raise hosannas as sweet as any bit of church music.

The idea of radio play-to-play was, in those long-ago days before every game found some …

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A soggy salute to the Georgia Bulldogs, SEC East champs

Branden Smith after a first-half interception. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Branden Smith returns a first-half interception Saturday. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Athens — On the dark night Georgia lost to South Carolina to slide to 0-2, the Bulldogs’ offensive coordinator went looking for spirits to lift. To his surprise, Mike Bobo found that spirits were unbowed.

“I’d tell them, ‘If we hang together and keep working, we’ve got a chance to be very good,’” Bobo said Saturday. “And every one of them said, ‘Coach, we’ve got a chance to be great.’”

As he spoke, Bobo sat in a chair in a locker room, the floor of which had been covered in plastic and doused with water. A nondescript game had ended with the Georgia Bulldogs champions of the SEC East for the first time since the distant year 2005.

“We grabbed water bottles and threw them around the room,” said wide receiver Marlon Brown, scorer of Georgia’s only touchdown this day, and even the 51-year-old head coach got in the soggy swing of things. Seeking to slide across the wet surface, Mark Richt made …

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Live from UGA’s clincher: Could Sugar be falling from the sky?

Georgia's last taste of Sugar. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Georgia's last taste of Sugar. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Athens – Overheard a fascinating conversation in the McDonald’s on Prince Avenue this morning, and I found it so fascinating I rushed to Ye Olde Stadium and started asking my colleagues if the gist of the conversation could in fact be true.

My fellow patron — didn’t catch his name, but he was wearing a Georgia cap, which I believe differentiates him from everyone else in town today — was speaking of Oklahoma State’s loss to Iowa State and saying it could clear the way for the Bulldogs to lose in the SEC championship game and still play in the Sugar Bowl. His reasoning: LSU and Alabama appear bound for the BCS title game, leaving the tied-to-the-SEC Sugar without a conference representative.

And this old eavesdropper put down his Sausage McMuffin and said, “Hmmmmm.”

Upon entering the press box, the first person I saw was esteemed colleague Tim Tucker, who’s the best person to see when you have a question about …

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ESPN confirms it: Matt Ryan isn’t the King of the Deep (Pass)

"Go long! I'll hit you -- or maybe I won't." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"Hey, go long! I'll hit you — or maybe I won't." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

For all of you who have said, “Matt Ryan doesn’t throw the deep ball very well” … well, you’re right. Peter Keating of ESPN Insider has compiled lists of the NFL’s best and worst deep passers, and the Falcons’ quarterback is among the latter. (Link requires registration.)

Aaron Rodgers of Green Bay, you’ll be not at all shocked to learn, is the league’s best on deep throws, which Keating defines as a pass of 20 or more yards. Rodgers averages 29.5 yards per deep-pass-attempt. Ryan averages a paltry 7.1 yards, which kind of defeats the purpose of a deep pass.

Keating’s numbers show that Ryan’s quarterback rating on deep balls places him fifth-lowest among NFL passers. The bottom four: Mark Sanchez, Jets; John Beck, Washington; Donovan McNabb, Minnesota and Curtis Painter, Indianapolis. Ryan’s quarterback rating on deep passes is 43.1, which pales alongside his mediocre rating of 83.0 on all …

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The SEC West tiebreakers: Hold your breath and count to five

"If I'm so great, how come I keep losing to Leslie Miles?" (AP photo)

"If I'm the world's greatest coach, how come I keep losing to Leslie Miles?" (AP photo)

The most intriguing team in the land isn’t the one that won The Greatest Game Ever Played If You Don’t Care About Touchdowns. It’s the one that lost. As it stands, Alabama has a better chance of winning the national championship than it does the SEC crown, and wasn’t it only 2007 — help me on this, Georgia fans — when we were told a team that doesn’t win its conference doesn’t deserve to play for the BCS title?

That was the reason given then for elevating two-loss LSU, which had lost its final regular-season game at home, ahead of two-loss Georgia, which hadn’t lost since Oct. 6, in the final BCS poll. Never mind that the Bulldogs entered the final weekend ranked ahead of the Tigers. But the same thinking mightn’t apply if it comes to a choice between one-loss Alabama and one-loss Anybody Else. (Oklahoma, Oregon, Arkansas, even Clemson.)

Alabama, see, has the aura of a champion, if not …

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Who saw Kimbrel-as-rookie-of-the-year coming? Well …

Gotta love the hermit-crab stance. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Gotta love the hermit-crab stance. (AJC photo by Hyosub Shin)

Not to say I’m smart or anything — we all know better — but I wasn’t surprised that Craig Kimbrel beat Freddie Freeman more than 2-to-1 in voting for the National League rookie of the year. (Kimbrel had 160 points, which is the maximum; Freeman, who finished second, had 70.)

I wasn’t surprised because having been a card-carrying member of the BBWAA since 1984, I’ve done this voting-for-awards thing and I know a bit about how baseball writers work. Maybe this gave me an unfair advantage, but when you’re as lousy at predictions as I am you need all the help you can get.

(A note: I haven’t done the voting-for-awards thing lately. The AJC decided a few years ago that its writers shouldn’t vote on yearly awards.)

Baseball writers look at numbers first. (Remember, a baseball writer can’t watch every inning of every team’s games.) When a baseball writer sees Freeman’s numbers, he/she thinks: “The guy hit .282 with 21 …

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Fourth-and-dumb? The numbers say Mike Smith got it right

Who knew that Mr. Smith majored in higher math? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Who knew that Mr. Smith majored in higher math? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

I’m not the world’s biggest numbers guy, but I do enjoy it when I find numbers that buttress my inexact gut feeling. These numbers come courtesy of Brian Burke, whose fairly fascinating data-powered site is Advanced NFL Stats. And Mr. Burke’s numbers tell us:

The odds actually favored going for it on fourth-and-inches in overtime.

Mr. Burke notes that “a typical punt from the 29 nets 38 yards,” giving the Saints the ball at their 33.” That translates to a Win Probability of 58 percent, which means the Falcons’ Win Probability would, by punting, be 42 percent. And if they go for it, which is, as we know, what they did? Writes Mr. Burke:

Conversions on fourth-and-1 are typically successful 74% of the time. But this includes all fourth “and 1″ situations, everything from a yard-and-a-half to go to an inch to go. For now, let’s stipulate that it’s 74%.

The total WP for the conversion attempt is: 0.74 …

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