Archive for April, 2009

Larry Munson, Hall of Famer

  “Run, Lindsay, run!”

   “Oh, look at the sugar falling out of the sky!”

   “We just stepped on their face with a hobnail boot and broke their nose! We just crushed their face!”

   Larry Munson’s soundtrack comes to mind because on Monday night he’ll be inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame.

    Munson won’t travel to Salisbury, N.C., for the ceremony, but he has videotaped an acceptance message to be played in his absence.

   Wes Durham, the Georgia Tech and Falcons radio play-by-play man, and Tony Barnhart, ajc.com’s “Mr. College Football,” will be on hand to accept the award for Munson.

   “It’s an honor that is obviously richly deserved,” Durham said yesterday.  “Larry is an icon in this business.

   “He is one of a handful of guys in this country who brought the passion and pageantry of college football to life on the radio. His style is one that can’t be replicated.”

   Barnhart, by the way, is working on a book with Munson, scheduled …

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On Stafford’s dollars, Dogs in the Dome and other stuff

  About  Matthew Stafford’s contract:   As you might have heard, it calls for more guaranteed money ($41.7 million) than any contract in NFL history — more than any contract signed by Peyton Manning or Tom Brady, among others. If you find that incredulous, no argument here.  In the next round of collective bargaining, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and some owners plan to push for economic reform that would redirect money from unproven draft picks to proven veterans and establish some form of rookie wage scale.  Stafford’s contract will become the league’s Exhibit A in that battle, supplanting Matt Ryan’s deal ($34.75 million guaranteed) with the Falcons last year.  Of course, it  must be noted that the owners — the same folks demanding new restraints — are the ones giving the runaway rookie contracts.

 

  About Mark Richt’s mention to the Augusta Bulldog Club of a remotely possible 2010 UGA non-conference game in the Georgia Dome:  That stirred a lot of fun speculation on …

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Asher Allen ignored NFL projection

  Learned something interesting in a conversation with Asher Allen on Monday.

  Remember back in December when he and several other UGA underclassmen petitioned the NFL’s advisory board for a projection of their draft status?

   Well, when Allen surprisingly announced in January that he would enter the draft, he said he hoped to be a second-round pick but declined to say what round the advisory board had forecast for him.

   “I don’t want to get into that,” the Bulldogs’ junior cornerback said at the time.

   Here’s why:

   Allen told me Monday that the league’s advisory board actually projected that he would be a fifth- to seventh-round pick.

   “At first, I was, like, ‘What are you looking at?’” he said. “I didn’t know if they had the right paper.”

   But as he asked questions he realized, he said, that the advisory board tends to give underclassmen a conservative, “worst-case-scenario” projection so as not to overly encourage them to leave school.

   “Knowing what all was …

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Reflecting on UGA’s draft . . .

  Very interesting NFL draft for the Bulldogs.

  All three UGA players who turned pro early obviously knew what they were doing, at least in terms of their draft stock.

  Matthew Stafford was correct that there was nothing he could do in a senior season to improve his draft position. Can’t improve on the No. 1 pick, of course. And his record contract — $41.7 million guaranteed – beat the NFL push toward new rules to  shift money from rookies to veterans.

  Knowshon Moreno, you might recall, entered the draft without even asking the NFL advisory council for an assessment of his draft potential. He went higher (No. 12 to Denver) than almost any “expert” had forecast. The consensus had been that he’d go in the 16-21 range.

  Asher Allen surprised a lot of folks when he, like Stafford and Moreno, opted to leave school early for the draft. But he became a solid third-round pick, only slightly lower than his most optimistic hope.

   “We were kind of hoping Asher would sneak into …

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The Dogs and the draft . . .

  Thought you might like to talk some NFL draft today. . . .

  Any questions about whether Matthew Stafford would be the No. 1 pick were answered at 11 p.m. Friday, when the UGA QB agreed to (very) lucrative terms with the Detroit Lions. So he’ll be the first Bulldog in 56 years to go No. 1.  And just the fourth Bulldog ever to go No. 1. And the highest-paid rookie in NFL history. I’d say his time in Athens proved quite rewarding, even without a championship.

   Here’s my latest story, written in the wee hours of the morning, on Stafford-to-Detroit

   OK, let’s move on.

   Stafford knows where he’s going, but  quite a few of his former Georgia teammates are eager to find out today and tomorrow.

   Next up will be tailback Knowshon Moreno.  The AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter has Moreno going No. 31 to Arizona – the next-to-last pick of the first round – in his mock draft. Many other mocks have Moreno going No. 21 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Philly would please Moreno, who is …

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Off-field behavior exemplary for Bulldogs . . . so far

Georgia has a clock in its weight room counting down the hours and minutes until its football season opener at Oklahoma State on Sept. 5. It should have another one that started counting up from the end of spring practice.

Traditionally that is about the time when football players start getting into trouble. You may recall that the Bulldogs had a ton of trouble last year. By the end of football season there had been 11 arrests involving players (not all the charges stuck, by the way). The majority of those arrests took place between this point and the start of preseason camp in August, when players typically have more free time and a less structured schedule.

That’s why quarterback Joe Cox got up before the team after this past weekend’s G-Day Game to urge his teammates to be extremely diligent about staying out of the police blotter.

“We’ve had problems, as well as a lot of teams across the country have had problems starting at this point, with guys getting in trouble,” Cox …

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Wrapping up spring football . . .

   Athens – The last morsels from Georgia’s spring football practice:

                                                                             * * *

   Bryan Evans had a nice interception in the G-Day game — one week after sustaining a concussion in another scrimmage.

  Aside from the concussion, it was a very good spring for Evans, who got notably burned a few times at cornerback early last season but has gained teammates’ and coaches’ confidence at safety.

  ”There are still things I have to learn, but I think I’ve kind of shown the team what I can do back there at my new position, so I’m excited about that,” Evans said.  “It was a new opportunity for me — just to go out with a clean slate. I just wanted to gain their trust.”

  Evans, who will be a fifth-year senior in the fall, said he has found that he actually prefers safety to his long-time cornerback position.

   “It is more comfortable for me,” he said, “because I’ve always been a person that likes contact. I’m …

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Five things to watch on G-Day

  ”It went real fast,” Mark Richt said. Not sure his players would agree with that assessment of time, but spring practice is almost over at Georgia. There will be a brief session in shorts today, then the G-Day game on Saturday, and that’s it.

   Here’s my list of top five things I’ll be watching on G-Day:

  1. Carlton Thomas at tailback. Ask a Georgia player which teammates have impressed/surprised them the most this spring, and you’re likely to hear about Thomas, the small, shifty tailback. It’ll be real interesting to see what he does against the No. 1 defense on Saturday and maybe a bit surprising, given all the talk, if he doesn’t dazzle a bit.

  2. The debut of the freshmen quarterbacks. It’ll be the first time playing in Sanford Stadium – not counting a couple of closed scrimmages with no one in the stands – for Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger. Bulldog Nation is eager for a first glimpse of them between the hedges, and they know it. Will one or both seize the …

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Catching up on the receivers . . .

 

   With Wednesday’s word that Kris Durham is headed for shoulder surgery – and won’t play again until 2010 – it was time to revisit the issue of who, aside from A.J. Green, will catch passes for Georgia this year.

  For all the talk this spring of replacing Matthew Stafford at quarterback and Knowshon Moreno at tailback, there’s the large matter of replacing Mohamed Massaquoi’s 58 catches last season at wide receiver.

  Durham might have been a significant part of the answer, although, granted, he caught only 13 balls last year. Mark Richt said Durham would have been “a big part of what we’re doing” and “at least in our top four” receivers, and his loss “definitely puts a hole in what we would have had.” Durham will have surgery on his torn labrum next month,  take a redshirt season in 2009 and play in 2010 as a fifth-year senior.

   Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo  frets the loss of Durham’s experience and admits he’s concerned about finding the numbers he needs at …

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Countdown to G-Day, Part II

   Athens — At Georgia football practices, Matthew Stafford is gone but not forgotten.

  As the Bulldogs practiced in blustery conditions on Monday, “we were, like, ‘this is how Stafford’s going to have it every day,’” coach Mark Richt said.

  You know, Detroit weather.

  ”I guess Detroit plays inside,” Richt clarified. “Oh, he might not go to Detroit. But if he went to Detroit. . . .”

  The Lions, of course, have the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

                                                                      * * * 

  Will be real interesting to watch Carlton Thomas, the 5-foot-7, 170-pound tailback, on G-Day.

  He, by all accounts, has impressed teammates and coaches this spring.

  “He’s a little bit like [former Bulldog] Tyson Browning,” Richt said, “because he’s not a real big guy and he can make people miss.  He runs with more power than Tyson did.  He’s not as fast as Tyson was, but the agility and change of direction [are] very similar.  That’s probably the …

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Counting down to G-Day …

    Athens – Georgia’s spring football practice is down to its final days – a Wednesday practice, a Friday practice, then the G-Day game on Saturday.  That’s it. 

    There was ominous word Monday that rising senior split end Kris Durham has a shoulder injury that might – repeat: might – require surgery. Durham is listed No. 1 on the depth chart at split end,  and with the Dogs already facing the considerable task of replacing NFL-bound Mohamed Massaquoi, they can hardly afford a major injury at the position.

    Durham didn’t seem to know – or want to say – what to make of his injury at this point.  He said he’s waiting to find out the diagnosis and will talk to coaches and others to evaluate the information and decide what to do. Mark Richt said the shoulder might be handled with rehab or might require surgery – “I don’t know for certain what’s going to happen.”

   One thing for certain: You won’t see Durham on the field in the G-Day game.

   You will see A.J. Green, and in …

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Football! Basketball! Baseball! A Monday sampler …

  Athens – OK, before we start another week, let’s clean out an overfull notebook from last week. . . .

  – UGA President Michael Adams sat in on interviews with five candidates for the basketball coaching job and said he was extremely impressed with Mark Fox.  But Adams stressed that the hiring decision was purely athletics director Damon Evans’. “What I did was sit back and listen,” Adams said. “Damon conducted the interviews. I don’t think I asked any candidate more than two or three questions.” Adams said he was there to show the importance the institution places on the job.  ”I felt it was my role in this process to demonstrate the university’s commitment to basketball,” Adams said. “It’s why we built the [practice] facility we built, why we were willing to pay what it took to hire the right coach.”

  – There was no quibbling over salary when Evans made his offer to Fox.  “Six years at $1.3 million is not bad, is it?” Evans said. “I thought about hiring myself as the …

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Georgia’s hiring of Fox quick, unexpected

Well, that one came out of left field, at least for me it did.

I didn’t start getting strong indications about Nevada’s Mark Fox until late in the afternoon Thursday and I initially discounted them. As the night wore on, it grew more and more plausible and the pieces started coming together. It took a while to get the hire confirmed but, once I looked into just who this guy was it started to make a little more sense. Now whether he’ll make a good fit for Georgia, I’ll let Mark Bradley and our other columnists opine on that. All I can say for now is what everybody else is saying – “didn’t see that one coming.”

It appears Fox is at least the fifth person approached about the job, or at least among five. Georgia is known to have had extensive talks with Missouri coach Mike Anderson before he Anderson decided to remain with the Tigers, who offered him a new seven-year contract at $1.6 million a season. The Bulldogs or their representatives also had preliminary discussions with …

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Purnell, Haith may not be only candidates for UGA

Word is the Bulldogs are going to talk to Clemson’s Oliver Purnell and Miami’s Frank Haith in Detroit. That’s just who we know about right now. Surely there will be others on Damon Evans’ to-do list in Motown. They could be still waiting on Baylor’s Scott Drew, whose team plays Penn State in the NIT finals tonight. Other names that have been discussed here — Xavier’s Sean Miller and Butler’s Brad Stevens, to name two — remain possibilities.

So would you want to see Georgia get Purnell or Haith? Some of those other guys? What about an assistant coach from one of the powerhouse programs? Let us know what you think?

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Murray and Mettenberger spring into action

   Athens — As their former classmates complete their final semester of high school, Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger are immersed in their first semester as college students — and their first spring as college football quarterbacks.

  By all accounts, they are doing fine in spring practice with Georgia, showing flashes of the skills that earned them prep accolades and college scholarships.

   “Both of those guys have had their moments this spring,” Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo said. “But most of all with those two young guys, I’m impressed with their composure, coming out to practice and not really being rattled when they should be in high school.”

   They graduated from high school one semester early — Murray from Tampa’s Plant High and Mettenberger from Oconee County High — and enrolled at UGA in January. That made them eligible for spring practice.

   “They may not know what they’re doing yet,” Bobo said, “but they’re stepping in there and taking charge, …

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What hoops coach should Bulldogs target now?

Wow, what a day was Tuesday. It started out well, with me thinking Georgia was moving quickly toward settling on a new basketball coach. It ended very late, with John Calipari going to Kentucky for an obscene amount of money (later confirmed to be 8 years for $31.65 million), Mike Anderson deciding to stay at Missouri and Georgia left sitting there red-faced without a coach.

Based on the information I’m getting, I don’t think Wednesday is going to be a very productive day for the Bulldogs either. Not a lot of moving and shaking planned is my understanding. In the meantime, Georgia AD Damon Evans is set to leave for Detroit and the Final Four on Thursday morning. So if anything is going to happen on the coaching search, I’d bet now it’s going to come down up there.

So the million-dollar question is — maybe that should be $2 million — who IS going to be the Bulldogs’ new coach. It’s a good question, and a hard one.

I honestly don’t think even Evans even knows at this point. I …

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