Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Clarett didn’t sink Ohio State and Jim Tressel, but Pryor did

Maurice Clarett after snatching back a Miami interception in the Fiesta Bowl. (AP photo)

Maurice Clarett after snatching back a Miami interception. (AP photo)

Ohio State got away with one high-profile recruit who was trouble. Maurice Clarett won the Buckeyes a BCS title and stamped Jim Tressel, two years removed from Youngstown State, as the hottest coach in the land. Ohio State upset Miami in overtime in January 2003 — the freshman Clarett scored the winning touchdown — and the program of Woody Hayes and Hopalong Cassady and Archie Griffin was again No. 1.

Clarett never played another collegiate down. He wound up leaving school after filing a false police report. (It involved a car he’d borrowed from a Columbus dealership.) In 2006 he landed in jail after pleading guilty to charges including armed robbery.

Clarett was trouble, but from an OSU standpoint he was worth it: He lifted the Buckeyes to a championship and didn’t get the program on NCAA probation in the process. In the merciless world of big-money football, that constitutes a victory. And if he went on to …

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Live from the ballyard: The Braves try to even a big series

The ceremony honoring stars of the Negro Leagues was most moving. (Photo by M. Bradley)

The ceremony honoring stars of the Negro Leagues was most moving. (Photo by M. Bradley)

I’m here at the ballyard. About to watch Jair Jurrjens, who hasn’t lost this year, oppose Joe Blanton, who could lose at any moment.

The Braves missed a chance last night. They came from 3-0 down to take a lead against Cole Hamels, only to spit it back. Sunday’s game offers Roy Halladay against Tim Hudson, so that won’t be easy. Today’s the game you figure the Braves should win. But sometimes figuring doesn’t pay.

As I type, the Braves and MLB are honoring former stars of the Negro Leagues. Of the eight, four are in wheelchairs. This is the weekend of the Civil Rights Game, and the Braves will wear replica uniforms of the Atlanta Black Crackers in today’s game; the Phillies will wear replicas of the Philadelphia Stars. And Ludacris and Jermaine Dupri will perform afterward.

And with that — I’m not feeling loquacious just yet — I open the floor for questions, comments and moaning about Dan …

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Washaun Ealey: From UGA freshman star to yesterday’s man

Washaun Ealey on his big night against Georgia Tech. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Washaun Ealey at work against Georgia Tech in 2010. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

A year ago, Washaun Ealey’s departure from Georgia would have been big news. Today it’s news, but not nearly so big. A year ago, Ealey was the freshman who ran down a Top 10 Georgia Tech team at Bobby Dodd Stadium. In the days since he’d become the guy who kept getting suspended, and then, not incidentally, the guy who’d been rendered almost irrelevant by the tide of time.

Ealey led Georgia in rushing last season, which guaranteed him nothing once Isaiah Crowell signed his letter of intent. In a cruel way, a 21-year-old junior-to-be had already become yesterday’s man.

There were moments when you thought Ealey would be, if not the next Herschel Walker, then maybe the new Musa Smith. Ealey can hit a hole and break a tackle. But he became more a liability than an asset last season by fumbling twice on the goal line and via his vehicular misadventure in the parking garage.

Then he managed to get …

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Another Monday morning at the airport, 9 1/2 years later

For some reason, I felt like buying newspapers today. (Photo by M. Bradley)

For some reason, I felt like buying a bunch of newspapers today. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Chicago — It was a Monday morning at the airport, and I was recalling a Monday morning at the same airport. The date was Sept. 17, 2001.

It was the day commercial air traffic resumed in this country, and I was headed to Philadelphia for a Braves’ series. (Baseball had stopped playing, too.) It was a morning when no one knew what to expect. There wasn’t much conversation at the gate. My flight was half-full. Everyone aboard eyed those nearby very closely.

That trip would eventually take me to New York (via train) and to Ground Zero — the immensity of which could not be conveyed via TV — and ultimately to the old Shea Stadium where the Braves faced the Mets in the first sporting event in New York after Sept. 11.

As grim as the ruins of Lower Manhattan were, everything after was somehow uplifting. Just seeing a firefighter on the subway made me gawk as if he was Michael Jordan. Seeing the …

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Live from G-Day: Red and Black in a huge collision of hues!

An action shot of the Alumni Game, which I must admit I didn't follow. (Photo by M. Bradley)

An action shot of the Alumni Game, which I must admit I didn't follow. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Athens — For the record, this is my third consecutive G-Day game. To be honest, I recall very little about the scrimmages of 2009 and 2010. I remember Joe Cox hitting A.J. Green on a flea-flicker on the first snap two years ago, and I remember Zach Mettenberger outplaying Aaron Murray and Logan Gray last spring. But that’s about it.

My point being: Not only do spring games not count, they barely register. You aren’t facing Boise State or even Louisiana-Lafayette on this given Saturday; you’re staring at yourself. Anybody who gets really excited — or really discouraged, and here I’m thinking of Georgia Tech’s wretched display in April 2008, Paul Johnson’s first spring — over an intrasquad tilt needs to lie down and think cool thoughts. (Apologies to the late great Satchel Paige.)

Today at Sanford Stadium there’s no quarterback derby to handicap, and the guy who figures to start at …

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Leslie leaves UGA, and Mark Fox is (almost) starting over

All hail the head basketball Bulldog. (AP photo)

All hail the head basketball Bulldog. (AP photo)

Even as Georgia was making its (sometimes halting) run toward its first NCAA tournament as an at-large entry since 2002, it was easier to view this team as more a last vestige than a new beginning. Five of the six contributing Bulldogs had been signed by Dennis Felton, who hasn’t coached since January 2009, and now four of those are gone.

Travis Leslie made it official Tuesday: He’s staying in the NBA draft. (Whether he’ll actually get drafted remains uncertain.) Fellow junior Trey Thompkins had already declared himself gone, and here’s where we delve into subtraction. Georgia will will begin its third season under Mark Fox without four of its top five scorers and without its top four rebounders. A team that averaged 68.8 points has just seen 43.4 of those walk out yonder door.

Had Thompkins and Leslie returned, the Bulldogs would have been a Top 10 team next season. Without both, Georgia will do well to finish fourth in the …

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Georgia State should take Dip; KSU needs (the other) Matta

Dip Metress: He's a basketball master who works in Augusta. (AP photo)

Dip Metress: He's a basketball master who has done great work in Augusta. (AP photo)

It must be noted that Georgia Tech isn’t the only school in the metro area in need of a basketball coach. It’s only one of three. Georgia State fired Rod Barnes. Kennesaw State fired Tony Ingle. Which makes Atlanta the hoops vacancy capital of the world.

Toward that end, I offer two more bits of advice. (I’ve already done my bit to help Dan Radakovich at Tech.) Here’s who GSU and KSU should target:

Georgia State shouldn’t look beyond the state border. Dip Metress — his given name is Darren, and his last name is pronounced “ME-tress” — is 170-51 over seven seasons at Augusta State and has taken the Jaguars to the NCAA Division II tournament five seasons running. Three of those seasons yielded a run to the Elite Eight, and last night Augusta State fell just short, losing to Anderson 75-73 in overtime in the Southeast Regional final.

We know Metress can coach because he developed the big man …

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Tech fires Hewitt: He had it all, and then it all went away

The last stand: A 16-point loss in Greensboro. (AP photo)

The last stand: A 16-point loss to the Hokies in Greensboro. (AP photo)

Question: Over the 11 years Paul Hewitt worked at Georgia Tech, which program had more losing seasons — his or Georgia’s?

Answer: His.

If anyone still needs to know why Hewitt had to go, there it is: His teams finished under .500 five times in 11 tries, and it’s tough for a program in a big-time conference to have even one outright losing season. Georgia has had four over that span, and that’s counting the 2002-2003 season that is now recorded as 0-8 after NCAA sanctions but was 19-8 on the floor. That’s a Georgia program that worked under three different coaches (four if you count interim Pete Herrmann) and beneath the thundercloud of an NCAA investigation and subsequent probation.

Scoreboard: UGA four losing seasons (one after forfeits); Tech five losing seasons. Amazing.

Hewitt had made a big deal of his five NCAA appearances lately, saying (incorrectly) that only Duke and North Carolina had been to the …

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Double bummer: Georgia blows big lead, bigger opportunity

Mark Fox after a missed free throw. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Mark Fox after a missed free throw. (AJC photo by Jason Getz)

Mark Fox said he still feels his Georgia Bulldogs belong in the NCAA tournament, and after citing the numerical reasons he offered this: “If I don’t call that timeout and the ball goes in, you don’t ask that question.”

And that’s the point, sorry to say.

Given the chance to dissolve all doubt, Georgia authored a collapse that makes us wonder if this team is as good as its record. The Bulldogs led what was billed as a Big Dance play-in by 14 points with 6:44 remaining, and they wound up losing to a team with an RPI 44 places worse for the second time in seven days. If you can’t hold so big a lead in so huge a game, do you belong in the NCAA tournament at all?

Said Trey Thompkins, the Georgia forward: “It’d be nice [to make the NCAA], but it’s out of our hands. I can’t tell you whether we’re in or whether we’re not.”

Georgia scored its 49th point with 6:01 left in regulation. Eleven minutes later, it would finish with …

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Pick the Final Four! Win fabulous prizes! It’s another Fiasco!

BradleyTopper

Pretty cool graphic, wouldn't you say? You'll be utterly shocked to learn that I had nothing to do with it.

Our story begins in 1987. I had, as was the custom even then, made my Final Four picks in the Atlanta Journal & Constitution, and they turned out, as was and remains the custom, not so hot. And I got a letter — anyone remember letters? — from a reader saying, “You obviously know nothing about basketball.”

That sentence stuck in my mind, such as it was/is, along with another, this one spoken by then-AJC copy editor Gerry Overton, who said: “I really haven’t followed college basketball much this year, but it’s every red-blooded American’s duty to fill out an NCAA tournament bracket.”

And that, one year later, was what I did: Took two thoughts — one from a snippy reader, one from an esteemed colleague — and decided the guy who obviously knew nothing about basketball should have a little contest to see who did. Thus, in March 1988, was Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco born.

It …

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