Archive for June, 2009

Talking football . . .

  (Hey. Just a note that this is my last post for a while. I’m on vacation until July 14. By then, we’ll be only about a week away from SEC football media days, to be soon followed by the start of preseason practice . . . and, before you know it, the trip to Stillwater. For now, here are a couple of stories I did on the impact of Georgia’s ultra-lucrative new marketing and media deals — this one about how some of the new money will be spent and this one about the effect on the fans.)

  Athens — About once a week in the quiet months between spring ball and preseason practice, a number of Georgia football players meet with beat reporters covering the team at the Butts-Mehre building.  Honestly, these sessions don’t generate much news. But here are a few things I picked up in this week’s availability:

 – Another voice expressed the view that the defense is motivated to redeem itself after last  year’s debacles.  “I feel we don’t get as much respect as we need …

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More buzz about Georgia-Florida and Jacksonville

   While University of Florida president Bernie Machen apparently is ready to extend the contract to play the Georgia-Florida football game in Jacksonville, Georgia is not at that point, UGA athletics director Damon Evans said Tuesday.

   Machen was quoted by the St. Petersburg Times as saying at Florida’s athletics board meeting Monday that he will meet soon with officials in Jacksonville and expects the game to remain there on an annual basis. Machen said he thinks Georgia is “leaning the same way we are” and the parties are “headed toward a meeting of the minds.”

   Not so fast, Evans basically replied.

   “We haven’t even sat down to have our internal meetings about that yet,” Evans said. “We will do that in the month of July.

   “We have not made any decision. . . . It’s not a big surprise that they [Florida officials] want to keep the game there. I guess they were able to come to their decision a lot faster. I just want to look at it hard, and that’s what …

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Kudos to Kupets, indeed

   “Oledawg” expressed the opinion here yesterday that Courtney Kupets should be a blog topic.  Quoting “Oledawg”: “Kudos to Kupets!”  Agreed.

    Kupets’ Georgia gymnastics career — she helped the Gym Dogs to NCAA championships each year she competed and won an unprecedented nine NCAA individual titles along the way –  was appropriately capped yesterday  with the Honda-Broderick Cup as the nation’s Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year. Click here for the story.

   She became the first UGA athlete to win the award in its 33-year history. And became just the second gymnast to win it. And joined a list of winners that forms a Who’s Who of women’s sports: track-and-field’s Jackie Joyner-Kersee, soccer’s Mia Hamm, softball’s Lisa Fernandez, basketball’s Candace Parker. . . .

   That’s company in which Kupets belongs.

   Her award was presented during a ceremony at Columbia University in New York, and Suzanne Yoculan, Georgia’s retiring gymnastics …

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Making the call on broadcasters . . .

  It wasn’t unexpected, but it was nevertheless momentous: Georgia’s official announcement  that Scott Howard succeeds Larry Munson as the voice of the Bulldogs.

  Maybe it seemed that already had happened, what with Howard having taken over play-by-play on road football games when Munson stopped traveling in 2007 and on home games, too, after Munson’s retirement early last season. But Georgia had not declared Howard to be Munson’s successor on a permanent basis until late Friday.

   “If I think back to the time I was sitting in the stands [as a UGA student], listening to Larry on my transistor radio, jamming my ear piece into my ear trying to hear the best I could,” Howard told me Friday evening, “it has been an interesting 20-something years in radio to get to this point.”

  For the first time in 44 years, the Bulldogs will enter a football season with someone other than Larry Munson as their first-string play-by-play radio announcer.

   There’ll never be another …

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With health and spirit, ‘we’ll be much improved on defense’

  A year ago, Georgia’s football team was preseason No. 1. A year later, that seems like a long time ago.

   So, minus Matthew Stafford and Knowshon Moreno, what is the general feeling about where the Bulldog program is today?

   Coach Mark Richt tackled that question this week (and you’re welcome to do so below).

   “I think in our building [the feeling] is very good,” Richt said. “We know we have a lot of guys who have been in our program for a while, you know, preparing for their opportunity.

   “I think fans really know your starters pretty good and know your signing class pretty good, and they tend to forget about everybody in between that’s working their tail off for their opportunity. I think we as coaches know we’ve got a lot of guys in that category.”

  Ask about any of the question-mark positions, and Richt mentions someone he sees as eminently capable of providing the answer.

   Defensive end? Richt thinks Rod Battle is capable of a big senior …

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Poythress to Seattle

  Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress was drafted by Seattle tonight, and he could not have been surprised.

   “The Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox have probably shown the most interest,” Poythress told me three days before the MLB draft.

   The Mariners grabbed Poythress, the junior slugger, with the second pick of the second round, No. 51 overall.

   It’s the second year in a row the Mariners have taken a UGA player high in the draft. Last year, they took relief pitcher Josh Fields in the first round.

  Poythress is the second person in his family to be drafted by an MLB team. His father, Richard, a shortstop, was taken in the 26th round by the Chicago Cubs in 1973, playing in their farm system until an injury ended his career.

   Also tonight, Georgia senior pitcher Trevor Holder was drafted by the Washington Nationals with the first pick of the third round, No. 81 overall. That was a big move up for Holder, who returned for his senior season after …

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Dogs’ unknown national champ, and seeking your football questions . . .

     Welcome to the last week of the 2008-09 sports year for UGA.  The final team still active is the track and field team, which will complete its season with the NCAA Men’s and Women’s Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Ark., Wednesday through Saturday.

     Georgia has the defending NCAA men’s champion in the javelin, Chris Hill, who will be trying to repeat.  Call him UGA’s unknown national champion.  I interviewed him last week for a story that ran in today’s paper. Click here for the story.  I found particularly interesting his comments about how Georgia’s ultra-successful Olympics-sports teams  support and motivate one another:  ”The gymnasts and the swimmers and the tennis players — those are world-class athletes. Just being around them is really cool, and nobody gets too much of the big head because national champions are pretty common [among the group]. . .  This type of atmosphere, where you’re expected to be on top, helps the …

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Team-by-team GPA’s

    University of Georgia athletes in all men’s and women’s sports had a cumulative grade point average of 3.01 for spring semester, the highest ever by the school’s athletes, the UGA Athletic Association announced Thursday.

   Of 508 student-athletes, 258 had GPA’s of 3.0 or higher for the semester.

   Thursday’s news release didn’t include a sport-by-sport breakdown, but that information was provided recently to the Athletic Association board of directors. Here, if you’re interested, are those details:

MEN’S SPORTS

Sport         No. of students     Spring semester 2009 GPA

Golf                       11                   3.28

Swimming              25                   3.13

Cross country        11                   3.05

Track                     52                   2.92

Football                122                   2.876

Baseball   …

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Georgia goes Nationwide

  Athens – Interesting, UGA getting into the pro golf business.

  Georgia’s agreement to host and operate a Nationwide Tour event for the next three years will preserve an Athens stop on the tour, showcase the UGA Golf Course and, if all goes well, produce profits that will be used for need-based scholarships for UGA students.

   “This is another illustration of the university’s continuing involvement and commitment to the Athens-Clarke County community,” UGA President Michael Adams said at a Wednesday news conference at the golf course.  “We think not only will this be a great sporting event, but a great economic development event for this region.

   “The Athens community will continue to have the visibility that the tour provides. I’m excited also about the exposure that I think the university will receive in the process. . . . We intend this to be a very strong town-gown partnership.”

   Adams said that, other than startup costs, the tournament …

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The scheduling game

   The scheduling game keeps getting more complicated —  and, to say the least, more expensive.

    For non-conference games on future home football schedules, Georgia will pay $875,000 to Louisiana (Lafayette) in 2010, $925,000 to New Mexico State in 2011 and $975,000 to North Texas in 2013.

   It’s the cost of getting games against teams that don’t require you to come to their place another year in return. Here’s my story on that topic.

   Meanwhile, an issue we’ve discussed here before —  the Atlanta Sports Council’s desire to have Georgia play a season-opening non-conference game in the Georgia Dome in 2010 or some other year — continues to percolate.

   There’s still nothing concrete . . . just a continuing desire by the Sports Council and its TV partner ESPN to put something together involving the Dogs, when/if possible.  Rumored opponents have run the gamut –- UCLA, Texas, Southern Cal, North Carolina, you name ‘em.

    Damon Evans, …

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On softball’s show and Knox’s transfer . . .

   Georgia’s softball team played two games on national television Sunday and put on a good show.  Hope you saw some of it.

   The youngest team in major-college softball -– 10 freshmen, eight sophomores, no juniors, two seniors –- was one of the last three teams standing in the Women’s College World Series.

   After beating Washington (and national Player of the Year Danielle Lawrie) 9-8 in a compelling, extra-inning marathon Sunday afternoon, the Bulldogs found themselves one victory from the WCWS finals.  Alas, they lost a Sunday night rematch to Washington and Lawrie, 9-3.

   So now it’s Washington vs. Florida in a best-of-three series for the championship.

   But the Bulldogs did their school proud in their first trip to the Women’s College World Series,  playing with tenacity and enthusiasm.

   A couple of other things from the weekend:

  – Georgia’s baseball team, clearly over-hyped when it climbed to No. 1 in the polls a while back, had …

Continue reading On softball’s show and Knox’s transfer . . . »