Archive for the ‘Chattin' with Bradley’ Category

Live from Athens: Another big Auburn game for Richt

Auburn fans await the Tiger Walk. I await their leaving. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Oblivious to traffic customs, Auburn fans eagerly await the Tiger Walk. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens – If we had to rank the five biggest wins of the Mark Richt Era, two would involve Auburn. The breakthrough clincher at Jordan-Hare Stadium in 2002 would be No. 1, natch, and the upset of the fifth-ranked Tigers four years later would be, I submit, No. 5. (Behind the Verron Haynes game in Knoxville, the Gator Stomp game in Jacksonville and the 2005 SEC championship over LSU.)

I mention this because a victory tonight would be huge for Georgia. It would make no impact on the BCS standings, but it could serve to jump-start the end of a season gone flat. And it would be huge because to lose to Gene Chizik in Year 1 after losing to Lane Kiffin in Year 1 would be unthinkable.

This is one of those games I figured Georgia would win when I made my predictions back in May, but Georgia isn’t as good as I thought it would be and Auburn is a tad better than I assumed. I’ll stick with the …

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Live from Tech: Recalling the (awful) ACC title game

Seven days after Reggie Ball called a loss (his fourth) to Georgia “just another game, dog,” he played a dog of a game in Jacksonville. He threw 29 passes. He completed nine. He threw two interceptions. His team didn’t score a touchdown and lost the ACC championship game to Wake Forest 9-6.

We mention because Georgia Tech again plays Wake Forest today, and pretty much everything has changed. Ball is gone. (Indeed, he didn’t play another game for Tech after the Wake loss.) Chan Gailey, who arrived in Jacksonville calling it “a business trip,” was given the sack not quite a year later. And the Jackets are again poised to return to the ACC title game. And this time they’ll win.

In the cold light of hindsight, those two egregegious losses were the best thing that ever happened to Tech. There was a ceiling on Gailey’s achievements, and even if the Jackets had won the 2006 conference championship and reached the Orange Bowl, they’d have been back to the old seven- and eight-win …

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Live from New Orleans, having flown in on Falcons 1!

Behold the boarding door of the official Birds' bird. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Travelers, take note. This is the boarding door of the official Birds' bird. (Photo by M. Bradley)

New Orleans – This is my 20th trip to this city, and it’s the first time I’ve everbeen borne here on an aircraft bearing feathers on its side. Yes, as fate and AirTran would have it, I flew in on Falcons 1.

Now, you’re asking if A.M. Blank flew the plane and Rich McKay served complimentary beverages in first class. (Believe it or not, I wound up in first.) The answer would be no. It was a standard flight with the exception of the paint on the fuselage. And that paint, you should know, was kind of a pain.

Our pilot — I believe he said his name was Capt. Over, though he might have said his name was Ted Striker — announced on boarding that the excessive heat we were experiencing came from having the top of the aircraft painted black. So now you know: Paint your bird a dark hue and you wind up feeling like a basted turkey on Thanksgiving.

Speaking of turkeys: I give the Falcons no …

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Live from hot Jax: Only 30 (of 32) writers pick the Gators!

This is not what it seems. The sweater is orange. It's a Gator dog. (Photo by M. Bradley)

This is not as it seems. The sweater is orange. It is, of all things, a Gator dog. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Jacksonville — It was raining when I boarded the plane at Hartsfield-Jackson at 7:45 a.m. It is not raining here, unless you count sweat beads. Here it’s hot. Here it’s hot even by Florida standards. And, speaking of sweat …

Your genius correspondent managed to leave his glasses in Tim Tucker’s rental car at the stadium, necessitating another walk to/from distant Lot P. This marks the second time in 13 months I’ve left my glasses in a rental car, and the first was in Tempe, Ariz., where it was only 97 degrees and we were parked even farther away.

But enough about this perspiring writer. Let’s talk about other writers. The Florida Times-Union asked 32 writers, some of whom might actually have seen Georgia play in the past five years, for a prediction. (None of the 32 were from the AJC, you should know.) Thirty picked the Gators. The two exceptions: Matt Hayes of Sporting …

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Live from Nashville: Resistible force meets movable object

Twenty minutes before kickoff. I kid you not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The stands at Memorial Stadium 20 minutes before kickoff. I kid you not. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Nashville – First off, it’s chilly. Forty-three degrees and overcast at present (9:23 Central Time). The few Georgia fans who gathered for the Dawg Walk were wearing coats, scarves, gloves and stocking caps. And they still didn’t look warm.

Speaking of cold … Vanderbilt has the nation’s 108th-best (or, put another way, 13th-worst) passing offense. Lucky for the Commodores that a truckload of magic elixir has just pulled into town. The top passing performance by an SEC quarterback this season was Ryan Mallett of Arkansas on Sept. 19. The third-best was by Stephen Garcia of South Carolina on Sept. 12. The fourth-best was by Jonathan Crompton of Tennessee last week. Guess the common denominator.

You got it. Willie Martinez and his defense.

Say this for Willie: He has single-handedly rearranged the standings of every SEC fantasy league. If you simply drafted the quarterback playing …

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Chattin’ with Bradley: The Falcons play by the Bay post-bye

When last I saw the Falcons, they were soggy and sad. It was two weeks ago in Foxborough, and nothing much had gone right. The Patriots had run the ball and thrown the ball and hogged the ball, and the Falcons had done none of the above.

But now, two given Sundays later, the Birds are about to play again. They’re in San Francisco, and I’m at home in Vinings Estates. But, through the magic of the ol’ cathode-ray tube, I plan to monitor all developments and comment thereupon. And I welcome you to join the fun, such as it might be.

I’m thinking the Falcons win. I’m thinking they’ll put both the lessons learned in New England and the subsequent bye week to good use. I’m thinking the 49ers might well be 3-1, but they’re not really in the Falcons’ league. (I’m speaking competitively; as we know, both clubs hold franchises in something called the NFL.) I’m thinking it’ll be 24-17 Birds.

But I have, as we know, been wrong before, and I confess up top that I’m not in tiptop shape. Team …

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Live from Tallahassee: A big end to a big day for Tech?

A statue of Papa Bowden points the way ... to the exit? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Outside the stadium, a statue of Papa Bowden points the way … to the exit? (Photo by M. Bradley)

Tallahassee – The PA system at Doak Campbell Stadium hasn’t cranked up yet, but this has the makings of a big day/night for the Institute sometimes sneeringly called the North Avenue Trade School. Georgia Tech will enter here with the best chance it has ever had to beat Florida State in the state in the Florida. And, not that Tech fans ever pay much attention to that college in Clarke County, but …

Georgia got trampled in Knoxville.

Win tonight and the Jackets don’t just set up a game for the ACC Coastal lead next week at Bobby Dodd Stadium; they also stamp themselves, rather clearly, as the best program in Georgia. The hated Bulldogs are 3-3 for the first time under Mark Richt; the Jackets would be 5-1 if they beat the Seminoles.

And they should beat the Seminoles. FSU is areel. The first word in the headline of the stadium edition of the Tallahassee Democrat was “distractions.” …

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Chattin’ with Bradley: LSU trucks into Athens; I’m here, too!

Even LSU's equipment trucks are impressive. (Photo by M. Bradley via iPhone)

Even LSU's equipment trucks are impressive to behold. (Unprofessional photo by M. Bradley via iPhone)

Athens – I’ve come around on LSU this past decade. I used to think this was one of those wannabe programs, but two BCS titles can change a guy’s mind. I like LSU now. I like the band. I like Mike the Tiger. I even like Les Miles. That doesn’t mean I root for the Tigers — I get paid not to root — but it’s always fun to see LSU play. It’s a big-time program again, and by definition every game involving a big-time program is a big-time game.

Georgia, as we know, has been a big-time program for a good long while, and whenever two big-time programs meet it’s a game of national prominence. I’ve covered four of Richt’s five meetings with LSU, and I remember something vivid about each game.

The Skyler Green catch that beat the Bulldogs in 2003, coming on the heels of the careening catch-and-run by Tyson Browning. Justin Vincent ripping through Georgia’s defense in the Dome later that …

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Live from New England, and the Dirty Bird is in the house!

Traffic at 9:39 a.m. That's D-Led's hand on the wheel. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Traffic at 9:39 a.m. That's D-Led's steady hand on the wheel. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Foxborough, Mass. — Before I make this sound like a Peter King coffee nerd post, let me stipulate: I do not drink coffee. As a rule, I do not go to Starbucks. But I went this morning because I was given a $10 SBUX gift card by the nice folks at the Marriott at Copley Square. So I used it on green tea, a low-fat slice of bread and a banana. And when I turned to leave, I saw …

Dan Reeves.

I said hello. I also said, “I remember covering one of your teams up here. I also remember you personally inventing the Dirty Bird that day.”

He laughed. “Long time ago,” he said. And it was.

It was Nov. 8, 1998. The Falcons came to New England 6-2 but still largely unloved back in the A-T-L and largely unproven in the eyes of the national media. They came to the old stadium off  Route 1 and won 41-10, and O.J. Santiago — not Dan Reeves — unveiled the Dirty Bird in the end zone that afternoon.

And I remember …

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Chattin’ with Bradley: The rain, the Falcons and other things

I can’t promise that Falcons-Panthers will be half as entertaining as last night’s Georgia-Petrino tilt. I wish I could, but some things are beyond even my control. So, if things get dull, you can amuse yourselves by reading through the 2,365 comments (at last count) the Bulldogs’ defensive struggle with Arkansas prompted. Pay particular attention to those calling for Joe Cox to be benched even as he was tying a school record for touchdown passes in a game.

Turning to the pros … I’m at the Dome now, and I’d like to say a word on the Dome’s behalf. There are autumn Sunday when it’s bright and shiny outdoors and folks are moved to say, “Look at this weather. What do we we need a roof for? Football’s meant to be played outside!”

This is not such a day. The weather of the past week has been enough to prompt my new neighbor Noah to say, “Man — does it always rain this much down here?” And it poured this morning. It’s starting to clear now, but still … thank goodness for that …

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