Cox becoming Shockley for Bulldogs, with help from Shockley

There was D.J. Shockley, and now there is Joe Cox. They communicate often. As a matter of fact, Georgia’s last quarterback to start during his fifth and final season with the Bulldogs probably is calling or texting the current one right now.

Avoid this. Do that.

Whip the Gators, and don’t get stung again by You Know Who on the Flats.

“We talk maybe once a week,” said Shockley, a Falcons backup these days, but he still bleeds red and black. As a result, he is doing everything he can to turn Cox into his 2005 clone at Georgia.

Let’s pause to give those in the Bulldog Nation time to bark loudly for somebody to whom they owe much anyway. Shockley should have transferred early in his Georgia career to start elsewhere. Instead, he tossed the Bulldogs a gift by spending four seasons as David Greene’s backup.

Then came Shockley’s moment for the ages four years ago, when he completed 55 percent of his passes for 24 touchdowns and five interceptions. He led Georgia to an SEC title. He …

Continue reading Cox becoming Shockley for Bulldogs, with help from Shockley »

So why not Tubby, and what’s taking so long to call him?

   Goodness knows, Damon Evans is splendid as the athletics director at the University of Georgia. He’s bright. He’s engaging. He’s also persistent. In other words, he knows what he’s doing. But I’m here to help.

  With Evans and his search committee having trouble closing the deal on a replacement for fired basketball coach Dennis Felton, I have a suggestion. In fact, I have two suggestions.

  They are suggestions I’ve mentioned before in this space, and are suggestions that would match everything that Evans needs to turn his basketball program from less than mediocre into consistently good. He wants somebody who can coach. He wants somebody who can recruit. He wants somebody who is into developing the “student” as well as the “athlete” in student-athlete. He wants somebody with charisma.

  All together now . . . Tubby Smith. Remember that guy? He’s the former Georgia coach who did wonderful things at Tulsa before doing the same during his two seasons with the Bulldogs. He …

Continue reading So why not Tubby, and what’s taking so long to call him? »

UK basketball folks should step into Mr. Blank’s office

  Those in charge of Kentucky basketball say Big Blue followers need constant love from their leader beyond courtside.

  Wait a minute. Hasn’t that been the case forever around Lexington?

  Yep, and everybody knows it.

  So why did those Kentucky officials lose their minds two years ago and hire who they just fired? Billy Gillispie is a decent strategist but a private guy who’d rather hug his X’s and O’s. That translates into a nasty fit for a school whose basketball coach must become the Dalai Lama of the commonwealth while winning SEC and national championships.

  They got John Calipari, who relished his fans so much at Memphis that all of his practices were open to the public. Still, those Kentucky officials took Gillispie over Calipari the last time around before this one.

  Why?

  “It’s like when you were single, and you look at a pretty girl walking down the street, and it’s very enticing,” said Falcons owner Arthur Blank, an expert on hiring famously wrong before hiring …

Continue reading UK basketball folks should step into Mr. Blank’s office »

Time for UK folks and others to step into Mr. Blank’s office

   Those in charge of Kentucky basketball keep saying Big Blue fans need constant love from whomever becomes the next person to run their program.

  Wait a minute. Hasn’t that been the case forever around Lexington?

  Yep, and everybody knows it.

  So why did those Kentucky officials lose their minds two years ago and hire who they just fired? Billy Gillispie is a decent strategist but a private guy who’d rather hug his X’s and O’s. That translates into a nasty fit for a school whose basketball coach must become the Dalai Lama of the commonwealth while winning SEC and national championships.

  “It’s like when you were single, and you look at a pretty girl walking down the street, and it’s very enticing, because she’s very attractive, and she’s got this, that and the other thing,” said Falcons owner Arthur Blank,  an expert on getting a coaching hire famously wrong before getting it famously right. “Until you get to really know that pretty girl, you don’t know if she’s going to …

Continue reading Time for UK folks and others to step into Mr. Blank’s office »

Inspired Hawks still less than splendid Celtics

Whatever the Hawks are now, and whatever they will become during their sometimes uneven dribbling from goodness to beyond over the next few weeks, months and years, they owe it to a new enemy who will always be their old friend.

Keep this between us, OK? Doc Rivers wears green as coach of Boston’s famous basketball team, but he still has the Hawks flying around his heart.

“Always,” said Rivers, the former Hawks standout, acknowledging Friday night that he isn’t exactly displeased that Philips Arena has evolved into a noisy and lovely place this season for the Hawks with a mighty assist from his Celtics.

Rivers eyes danced with joy as he returned to the 1980s, while comparing the Hawks’ splendid past with their promising present and future. “I told some of our (Boston) guys, ‘Man, the way it is now is the way it used to be around here with Dominique (Wilkins) and Spud (Webb) and Mike Fratello, and they went, ‘Get out of here,’ ” Rivers said. “When people say this city doesn’t …

Continue reading Inspired Hawks still less than splendid Celtics »

Kiffin knocks Gators, so what’s the big deal?

Leave that man alone.

Well, this time.

The way things are going for Lane Kiffin, the self-inflicted tackling dummy during his first weeks as head football coach at the University of Tennessee, there will be a next time. There also will be a few more times after that.

As for this time, Kiffin was absolutely right to tell our Michael Carvell that he is done apologizing to Florida and everybody else over his erroneous comments about Gators coach Urban Meyer and his recruiting practices.

Remember? During a recruiting breakfast last month, Kiffin boasted to Tennessee supporters (note: Tennessee supporters) that Meyer tried to “cheat” and still didn’t get wide receiver prospect Nu’Keese Richardson. That’s because Richardson stiff-armed Florida down the stretch before sprinting to Tennessee.

It turns out that, contrary to what Kiffin told those Tennessee supporters (note: Tennessee supporters), Meyer didn’t violate an NCAA rule when he phoned Richardson during a recruiting trip to …

Continue reading Kiffin knocks Gators, so what’s the big deal? »

Somebody else rips baseball’s Big Lie on black players

Baseball’s Big Lie will continue this season, stretching from Turner Field, where Garret Anderson likely will be the only African-American for the Braves on opening day, to elsewhere in the major leagues, where the number of African-Americans overall in the game will continue its silly 30-year plunge from 27 percent to maybe eight percent.

This is disgusting. I’m talking about that plunge, along with Baseball’s Big Lie, which suggests: Courtesy of the hip-hop generation, featuring His Airness and the Falcons’ No. 7 in the recent past and the current likes of LeBron, Kobe and Dwyane, African-American youth couldn’t care less about that tired game of Jackie Robinson, Hank Aaron and the rest.

It’s just that C.J. Stewart is around to tell the truth. This former Chicago Cubs outfielder via the rough streets of Atlanta’s northwest side is in his second year of running an organization with his wife, Kelli, called LEAD (Launch, Expose, Advise, Direct). It gives free instructions on …

Continue reading Somebody else rips baseball’s Big Lie on black players »

Jackets ready to “spring” forward, make foes fall back

Last spring, when Paul Johnson was installing his triple-option offense and no-nonsense principles into Georgia Tech’s football psyche, the Yellow Jackets were listening to their new coach, but they weren’t comprehending.

Instead, they were rumbling, stumbling, bumbling. Courtesy of youth and inexperience everywhere, they had a frequently ghastly spring of botched handoffs, fumbled pitches and more than a few players running left when they should have been running right.

It didn’t matter. The Jackets still won nine of 13 games. They also whipped their Great Satan from Athens, and they did so between the hedges. I mean, if you’re the rest of the ACC or into barking, this is pretty scary when you think about it.

Camp Johnson II opens Monday with a slew of returning starters and several others who actually understand their coach’s wishes this time around.

“The main thing we discovered after last spring is that all [Johnson] wants from us is effort and consistency,” said Tech …

Continue reading Jackets ready to “spring” forward, make foes fall back »

Bobby Cremins: “We could have won the national chamionship”

   So you think you’re into March Madness, especially with the dribbling starting Thursday from Portland to Kansas City to Philadelphia? Well, you should move to the back of a growing line that is headed by the famous owner of floppy white hair in Charleston, S.C.

  There, you’ll find Bobby Cremins, the basketball coach at the College of Charleston via Georgia Tech. He prefers four play-in games to the NCAA tournament instead of the current one. He also would like to have the winner of the National Invitation Tournament receive an automatic bid to the Big Dance the following season.

  “I’ve thrown that around, and people laugh at it,” said Cremins, who nevertheless shrugs and says of this time of year, “I love everything about it. I love to watch, and I really love going to the games.”

  All you need to know is that Cremins has missed just one Final Four in person during the past 34 years. “And that was when I was going through my mid-life crisis with South Carolina,” he said, …

Continue reading Bobby Cremins: “We could have won the national chamionship” »

The Hawks are good, but just wait

Here’s a sobering thought, but only for the rest of the NBA: Despite much goodness this season for the Hawks, including their current streak of greatness with victories over the splendid likes of Detroit, New Orleans, Utah and Portland, they still have a long ways to go.

It gets better: They know it.

Said Joe Johnson, the Hawks’ extraordinary player who suddenly is operating at a level much higher than that, “We’ve got to get better in closing out quarters and in being aggressive and putting teams away when we’ve got them down. Those are things that we really have to work on.”

Let that sink in, especially since the Hawks have been adept at slaying the elite this season. Take Sunday at Philips Arena, for instance. With much help from Johnson’s 35 points, the Hawks won for a fifth straight time by cooling that previously hot Portland team with a 98-80 rout. They were energetic from start to finish against their long and athletic twins from the West.

As a result, the Hawks …

Continue reading The Hawks are good, but just wait »