Archive for February, 2010

Fox trumps Richt, makes SportsCenter “Top 10″ with trick shot

(Updated 10 a.m. Monday)

You might recall the basketball trick shot that Mark Richt made last month, garnering more than 36,000 views on YouTube. It was a nifty enough shot: a one-handed, no-look, backward free throw.

Now, Mark Fox has topped that effort, making ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10″ plays-of-the-day Saturday with a trick shot of his own.

Here’s the back story. Connor Nolte, a Georgia basketball walk-on who is sitting out this season after transferring from Furman, has a blog called  passersremorse.com. He records trick shots and posts one on his blog on the day of each game. Richt’s was featured last month.

Saturday’s featured shot was Fox making what Nolte called “quite possibly the hardest game day trick shot yet”: Shooting from the stands behind the basket at Stegeman Coliseum, Georgia’s basketball coach bounced the ball off the top of the shot clock and through the net.

He made the shot twice.  “Back-to-back jack,” he said.

The folks at ESPN got word of this, …

Continue reading Fox trumps Richt, makes SportsCenter “Top 10″ with trick shot »

A.J. Green’s goal? ‘Just to be an All-American.’ Then what?

(Updated 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday. A roundup of the weekend in UGA sports events has been added below.)

ATHENS — Let’s start with three morsels from a chat with A.J. Green:

– On his personal goal for the 2010 season, Georgia’s star receiver said: “I was just talking to Coach Richt, and it’d be nice to be an All-American. I believe if I would have stayed healthy [last] year, I’d have gotten that. So that’s my goal -– just to be an All-American.”

– As for Georgia’s quarterback competition, Green said: “I’m just going to work with whoever the quarterback is and try to make them better, try to make them look good and try to do everything I can do to help the offense out.” He did sort of marvel about the fact that in his third season at Georgia, he’ll be playing with his third starting quarterback.  “I never thought I would have three different quarterbacks,” he said. “All through high school, I had the same quarterback.”

– So, a reporter asked facetiously, does that mean …

Continue reading A.J. Green’s goal? ‘Just to be an All-American.’ Then what? »

UGA names special-teams coaches, assigns player positions on defense (updated)

(Updated 9 p.m.)

ATHENS – Georgia coach Mark Richt has assigned special-teams coaching duties on the Bulldogs’ reconfigured staff, and defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has assigned new positions to numerous defensive players.

– Coaches first: Richt said that Warren Belin will coach the kickoff-coverage team, Bryan McClendon will handle the punt return and block units, and John Lilly will coordinate special-teams meeting and practice schedules. All of those roles previously were handled by Jon Fabris, fired in December. Richt said Lilly will continue to coach the punt team and Tony Ball the kickoff-return team, as they did last season.

Georgia’s approach to kickoff coverage, as you know, has drawn much criticism the past couple of years.  Richt said Belin coached the unit for eight years at Vanderbilt. The Commodores ranked  No. 2 in the SEC and No. 29 in the nation in kickoff coverage last season, while Georgia ranked No. 12 in the SEC and No. 117 in the nation. In 2008, …

Continue reading UGA names special-teams coaches, assigns player positions on defense (updated) »

Bobo on fallout from Dogs’ five-loss season: ‘I think it’s lit a fire in everybody’

ATHENS — Georgia’s offensive coaches, unlike three of their defensive counterparts, kept their jobs after last year’s five-loss season. But the offensive staff feels the heat, too.

Listen to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, talking to reporters in a conference room at the Butts-Mehre building Thursday:

“Anytime you struggle as a football team and lose five games — which is not acceptable, we know it’s not acceptable — you’re going to soul-search for what we can do better. The first thing we can do better is block better, take care of the ball better and not turn it over, and [by doing those things] we’re going to be better immensely as an offense. Those [things] sound simple, but basically [it's] getting back to basics of what this program and this offense was built  on when we first got here — a good run game, good play-action game and those fundamental basics of playing good football and taking care of the football.

“You’re always searching for answers, and anytime you lose …

Continue reading Bobo on fallout from Dogs’ five-loss season: ‘I think it’s lit a fire in everybody’ »

Dogs’ Bacarri Rambo calls truce in feud with Vols signee Da’Rick Rogers

ATHENS –  Bacarri Rambo is ready to call a truce in his much-publicized war of words with Da’Rick Rogers.

“I’m going to try to be the better man,” Rambo said this afternoon, “and just let that die down and not say anything to him.”

UGA safety Rambo and Tennessee signee Rogers  went at it on Facebook and Twitter earlier this month after Rogers, the  heavily recruited wide receiver,  reneged on his verbal commitment to Georgia and signed with the Vols.  The exchange started with a Facebook update by Rambo, who wrote that it “is messed up how  all of UGA high school commitments back out on us but I’m telling you now that when I catch you on the field I’m going to knock fire from you.”  Rogers responded on Twitter: “Who is Bacarri Rambo?” Then Rambo returned the volley, and back and forth it went.

Rambo said today he didn’t intend the exchange to get personal.

“I mean, I wasn’t really directly talking to him,” Rambo said. “It was just something I was saying, like, I was shocked …

Continue reading Dogs’ Bacarri Rambo calls truce in feud with Vols signee Da’Rick Rogers »

Will UGA star Trey Thompkins consider entering this year’s NBA draft?

ATHENS — Several folks have inquired on the blog about whether Trey Thompkins will consider entering this year’s NBA draft.

The answer appears to be: Maybe, but not yet.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Thompkins, UGA’s sophomore forward,  said Wednesday, “just because I want to take care of this season before I let anything else come to mind.”

He did not seriously consider the NBA draft after his freshman season because “I knew personally I wasn’t ready.” But after making significant strides as a sophomore, will he face a more difficult decision?

“I don’t know,” Thompkins said. “Once I think about it, then it might be [more difficult]. But I haven’t really given it much thought yet.”

When he gets around to deciding on the draft, Thompkins said the promise of a resurgent Georgia program will be a factor.

“Yeah, because I want to be known as a guy who helped the program go from where it was to where it will be,” he said.

The 6-foot-10 Thompkins is the SEC’s second leading …

Continue reading Will UGA star Trey Thompkins consider entering this year’s NBA draft? »

Colt McCoy had big praise for UGA’s Aaron Murray

I know you don’t need any convincing that Georgia’s quarterback competition will be a hugely interesting story line of spring football practice. But, just for the record, ESPN’s Joe Schad includes it as one of his Top 10 Story Lines to Watch in spring football nationally.

To be precise, it comes in at No. 5 on Schad’s list posted today on ESPN.com:

5. Georgia Quarterback Competition: (Georgia begins March 4)

Former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy once told me Georgia redshirt freshman Aaron Murray was one of the most impressive players he’s ever seen. Murray and classmate Zach Mettenberger each have a shot to beat out athletic junior Logan Gray. Murray is a complete prospect. Mettenberger is a pocket-passer with a howitzer arm.

So McCoy told Schad that Murray is one of the most impressive players he’s ever seen. That sort of fuels the anticipation for G-Day, doesn’t it?

Schad’s No. 1 story line to watch in spring football,  by the way: Florida QB John Brantley replacing Tim …

Continue reading Colt McCoy had big praise for UGA’s Aaron Murray »

Derek Dooley’s starting salary at UT: 150 times his dad’s at UGA

Vince Dooley’s salary in his first year as Georgia’s head football coach? $12,000.

Derek Dooley’s salary in his first year as Tennessee’s head football coach? $1.8 million.

Tennessee, which hired Vince’s son last month, finally got around to announcing his contract terms this afternoon:  a six-year deal at $1.8 million per year.

That’s, oh, 150 times what Vince Dooley made in his first year at UGA in 1964 –  and more than triple what he was making in his 25th and final year as the Bulldogs’ coach in 1988.

Vince Dooley often has joked that his wife, Barbara, never lets  him forget that he quit coaching just as the salaries were about to explode.

“I spent 25 years as a head coach and had gotten my salary from $12,000 my first year to $500,000 with everything thrown in when I decided it was time for me to retire,” he said last month. “Barbara has always reminded of that. She says, ‘What kind of guy leaves a job when he’s just about to start making big money?’”

Derek Dooley’s …

Continue reading Derek Dooley’s starting salary at UT: 150 times his dad’s at UGA »

UGA ranked ahead of North Carolina — in, of all things, basketball!

David Paschall’s lead on a story in the Chattanooga Times Free Press today grabs your attention:

Georgia officially became a college basketball powerhouse Monday, passing North Carolina in the latest Ratings Percentage Index standings.

David is having some fun there, given the defending national champion’s plummet in the RPI and elsewhere. But it’s true: The Bulldogs rank 89th in the latest RPI, and the storied Tar Heels rank 92nd.

How crazy is that?

Georgia (12-13, 4-8 SEC)  plays at Vanderbilt on Thursday night. The Dogs, as you know, are still winless in true road games this season. North Carolina, by the way, is 14-13, 3-9 ACC.

A few other notes:

– Much has been made recently of the soaring salaries of defensive coordinators in the SEC. Finally, an offensive coordinator got a big raise. Auburn boosted Gus Malzahn’s salary 43 percent to $500,000. He still lags far behind the SEC’s four highest paid assistants, all defensive coordinators: Georgia’s Todd Grantham

Continue reading UGA ranked ahead of North Carolina — in, of all things, basketball! »

UGA ranks No. 6 in nation in football attendance

The University of Georgia ranked No. 6 in the nation in football attendance last season, according to figures released this afternoon by the NCAA.

Georgia averaged 92,746 per home game, selling out the season in Sanford Stadium.

Nationally, the NCAA said almost 48.3 million fans attended college football games last season –- 48,284,767 to be precise, down about 1 percent from the record 48.8 million in 2008. The decline was college football’s first in five years. The figures include all  regular-season and post-season games in Divisions I, II and III.

The NCAA’s Top 10 in average home attendance for the 2009 season:

1. Michigan 108,933

2. Penn State  107,008

3. Ohio State 105,261

4. Texas  101,175

5. Tennessee  99,200

6. Georgia 92,746

7. LSU 92,489

8. Alabama 92,012

9. Florida 90,635

10. Nebraska  85,888

According to the NCAA figures, Georgia Tech ranked 40th in home attendance with an average of 51,584. That was an average increase of 4,095 over the previous season — the …

Continue reading UGA ranks No. 6 in nation in football attendance »

Mock draft has Dogs’ Leslie as lottery pick in ‘11; list of injured football players

Like his dunks, Travis Leslie’s stock is soaring.

NBADraft.net has elevated the Georgia sophomore to a lottery pick in its latest 2011 mock draft.  The website has Leslie, a sophomore from Decatur, as the No. 12 pick in the ‘11 draft.

In the same mock, NBADraft.net has Leslie’s teammate and fellow sophomore Trey Thompkins as the No. 19 pick in the 2011 draft.

The website doesn’t contemplate either player entering the 2010 draft, by the way.

A few other notes this morning:

– UGA’s official list of injured players who will miss or be limited during spring football practice, which starts March 4: OL Justin Anderson (limited, shoulder); OL Austin Long (out, back);  DE Jeremy Longo (out, knee); FB Fred Munzenmaier (limited, shoulder); S Josh Murray (limited, shoulder);  WR Craig Sager (shoulder); OL Tanner Strickland (limited, shoulder); OL Trinton Sturdivant (out, knee).

–  ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the dean of NFL draft gurus, currently has seven SEC players going in the first round of …

Continue reading Mock draft has Dogs’ Leslie as lottery pick in ‘11; list of injured football players »

‘What was it Coach Dooley used to say about a Saturday in Athens?’ Mark Fox asks

Athens – For three consecutive Saturdays, Georgia’s men’s basketball team has celebrated notable victories in Stegeman Coliseum — a 72-58 upset of nationally ranked Vanderbilt on Feb. 6, a come-from-behind 66-61 win over South Carolina on Feb.13 and a come-from-even-farther-behind 76-70 victory over Alabama yesterday.

“What was it Coach Dooley used to say about a Saturday in Athens?” coach Mark Fox asked after the latest win.

What Vince Dooley often said in the locker room after Georgia football victories at Sanford Stadium, longtime  sports information director Claude Felton recalled, was:  ”It’s great to be a Bulldog on Saturday night.”

(The same sentiment was contained in a letter that Dooley’s defensive coordinator, the late great Erk Russell, reportedly wrote to his players before the 1980 season. “There ain’t nothing like being a Bulldog on Saturday night –- after winning a football game,” Russell wrote.)

Anyway, Saturdays have been kind to Fox’s team this …

Continue reading ‘What was it Coach Dooley used to say about a Saturday in Athens?’ Mark Fox asks »

UGA rallies from 13 points down to beat Bama

UPDATE: Please click here for the full game story.

ATHENS — Georgia came roaring back from a 13-point second-half deficit and defeated Alabama 76-70 at Stegeman Coliseum this afternoon.

The Bulldogs trailed 52-39 with 11 ½ minutes to play but went on a 22-8 run to take a 61-60 lead with four minutes to go.

A key  3-pointer by Dustin Ware put Georgia up 68-63 with just over a minute to play, and Ware’s two free throws with 40 seconds to go gave Georgia a 72-65 cushion.

Trey Thompkins put up big numbers for Georgia: 21 points and 17 rebounds. Travis Leslie scored 16.

The win was Georgia’s first since 2008 against an SEC Western Division team. The Bulldogs had lost 11 in a row to West teams, going 0-4 previously this season and 0-7 last season.

Full story on ajc.com soon  . . .

Continue reading UGA rallies from 13 points down to beat Bama »

Live from Georgia-Alabama basketball . . .

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An artist's rendering of a renovated Stegeman Coliseum with wider concourse and massive glass exterior wall

ATHENS — Hello. Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful day.

I’m in Stegeman Coliseum, where Georgia and Alabama are about to tip off.

Speaking of Stegeman: Thanks to all who shared their thoughts on the blog yesterday about the building and its upcoming renovation.  Several of you asked to see artist renderings of what the building will look like, post-renovation. I posted one above, showing the wider interior concourse and the massive glass exterior wall. I’ll try to get an exterior view and post it later. Here’s a link to the Stegeman story in today’s paper. I particularly liked the description of Stegeman by Georgia fan Jim Veal of Tucker, who in a recent blog fondly described the look as that of “a massive, white flying saucer that seems to have landed gracefully in the middle of campus.”

OK, to today’s game. . . .

Couple of pregame notes:  Georgia will be trying for …

Continue reading Live from Georgia-Alabama basketball . . . »

A chat with new linebackers coach Warren Belin

(Updated)

When Georgia recently hired Warren Belin as a linebackers coach, it didn’t specify whether he would be responsible for the inside or outside linebackers in the Bulldogs’ new 3-4 defense.

Inside, Belin said Friday.

New defensive coordinator Todd Grantham will coach the outside linebackers.

“Todd and I will be working really together with the linebacker corps, [but] I’ll be focusing on . . .  the inside linebackers,” Belin said.  “There may be times in certain drills I may have to work with the outside linebackers as well.”

Completing what he called a “whirlwind” first full week on the job in Athens, Belin spoke with reporters on a conference call, his first media availability since being hired to complete the Bulldogs’ revamped defensive coaching staff.

Although acknowledging that inside and outside linebackers are distinct positions in the 3-4 defense in terms of skill sets, Belin said the core philosophy for both groups will be the same: “doing a great job with …

Continue reading A chat with new linebackers coach Warren Belin »

What do you think of Stegeman Coliseum?

UPDATE: Here’s a link to the story on the changes coming to Stegeman.

I’m writing a story for Saturday’s paper on the $12 million makeover that Stegeman Coliseum will get before next basketball and gymnastics season -– wider, brighter concourses; soaring glass exterior walls; more restrooms and concessions stands; a modern look for a 47-year-old building.

So let me ask you a few questions if you don’t mind:

From what you’ve heard, what do you think of the planned changes?

What do you like, or not like, about Stegeman today?

Do you agree, or disagree, with the decision to spend $12 million on renovations rather than, say, $100 million on a new arena?

Or are you just concerned about the team on the floor?

Thanks for your input.

Continue reading What do you think of Stegeman Coliseum? »

Mark Richt celebrates 50th birthday today

Happy birthday, Mark Richt.

Georgia’s football coach, born Feb. 18, 1960, in Omaha, Neb., turns 50 today.

Well, that decade flew by. Richt was 40 when named Georgia’s coach on Dec. 26, 2000.

Mark Richt

Mark Richt (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Remember the other candidates interviewed for the job? Then-NFL assistants Chan Gailey and Ray Sherman and then-Southern Mississippi coach Jeff Bower. If my math is correct, Gailey has had four jobs while Richt has been at Georgia.

This will be a year of milestones of sorts for Richt. The 2010 season will be his 10th as the Bulldogs’ coach. He already is the dean of SEC coaches in terms of longest tenure at his current school.  Check out this AJC photo gallery of Richt through the years.

My friend Marc Weiszer of the Athens Banner-Herald celebrates Richt’s 50th birthday with a blog post this morning that offers 50 Richt facts picked up from covering him over the past seven seasons.  Some of my favorites from Marc’s list:

4. The guy is meticulous. …

Continue reading Mark Richt celebrates 50th birthday today »

Dogs’ Lakatos ranked best DB coach hire — ahead of Oklahoma’s Martinez

Mark Richt’s new hires continue to draw applause.

Tom Dienhart, senior college football writer for Rivals.com, lists what he considers the nation’s best position-coach hires of this off-season.

SCOTTLAKATOS250_215UGA

Scott Lakatos

He ranks Georgia’s Scott Lakatos as the best hire among defensive-backs coaches, calling the former Connecticut assistant “an adept teacher and well-respected tactician.”

A familiar name gets an honorable mention in Dienhart’s best-defensive-backs-coach-hire category.  None other than Willie Martinez, Oklahoma’s new DB coach.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s Warren Belin gets an honorable mention as best new hire among linebackers coaches –- behind N.C. State’s hire of Jon Tenuta.

(If you’re wondering, defensive coordinators who double as position coaches weren’t considered. So no mention of Georgia’s other linebackers coach, DC Todd Grantham.)

Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.

Continue reading Dogs’ Lakatos ranked best DB coach hire — ahead of Oklahoma’s Martinez »

‘Hartman Fund’ deadline passes; contributions ‘very similar’ to last year

The deadline passed at midnight Monday for University of Georgia fans to make their annual “Hartman Fund” contributions for the right to buy football season tickets. While a final tally won’t be determined for a week or two, UGA associate athletics director for external operations Alan Thomas said late Tuesday that he expects contributions to settle at about the same level as last year.

“It’s pretty fair to say the numbers are very, very similar to 2007 and 2009 [at this point],” Thomas said. “We’ll have much more specific numbers within two weeks.”

The number is fluid because, face it, contributions that arrive a few days after the “deadline” are not going to be turned down. And season-ticket holders who don’t make the minimum contributions necessary to keep their seats are contacted before their accounts are closed.

Thomas said that as of “right this moment,” about $20 million to $21 million in contributions have been booked. He said another  $2 million to $3 million usually …

Continue reading ‘Hartman Fund’ deadline passes; contributions ‘very similar’ to last year »

An $85 million year for UGA athletics, Albert Jackson’s status, and other notes

– The UGA Athletic Association’s latest financial projection is that it will generate $84.9 million in operating revenue for this fiscal year, up almost $5 million from the previous fiscal year.  Operating expenses for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, are expected to be $69.5 million. The rest of the revenue will go largely to debt payments and into reserves, with $2 million going to the university to support academic programs. Athletic Association reserves are projected to reach a hefty $60.2 million by the end of the fiscal year.  All of these figures come from financial statements provided to the Athletic Association’s board of directors.

– Look for Georgia center Albert Jackson, benched for Saturday’s basketball game against South Carolina after he was arrested Friday, to be back in action soon. “Albert is still with our group,” UGA coach Mark Fox said on the SEC teleconference,  “and we should see him back this week.” The Dogs play at Tennessee on Wednesday and at …

Continue reading An $85 million year for UGA athletics, Albert Jackson’s status, and other notes »

Talking with the QBs: ‘I believe in my heart I can win the job,’ Logan Gray says

(Third in a series.)

It’s been an interesting year for Logan Gray. The 2009 season started with many Georgia football fans calling for him to play more in relief of -– or in place of –- senior quarterback Joe Cox. And the season ended with rumors swirling that Gray would switch positions before spring practice, leaving quarterback for perhaps wide receiver.

Turned out, the calls for more playing time were unheeded and the rumors were overblown.

So after a 2009 season that saw him rarely on the field, Gray, who will be a redshirt junior in the fall, looks forward to a spring competition with Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, both of whom will be redshirt freshmen, to succeed Cox as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. (Note: Recent signee Hutson Mason, the record-setting Lassiter quarterback, won’t arrive in Athens until the summer.)

Gray, Mettenberger and Murray met last week with beat reporters who cover the Bulldogs. I’ve previously posted  transcripts of the sessions with …

Continue reading Talking with the QBs: ‘I believe in my heart I can win the job,’ Logan Gray says »

Talking with the QBs: Mettenberger sees key as ‘who can … take us to national title’

OK, on to the second in the series of interviews with the quarterbacks who’ll be battling this spring for Georgia’s starting job. . . .

The three candidates — Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray -– spent some time last week chatting with the beat writers who cover the Dogs. Re-listening to those sessions as I transcribed them over the weekend underscored for me how interesting and important spring practice will be. (By the way, spring practice starts March 4 and ends with the G-Day Game on April 10.)

I posted a full transcript yesterday of the interview with Murray — if you missed it, please look for it here — and later today I’ll post the interview with Gray. For now, here’s the interview with Mettenberger, a strong-armed 6-foot-5 passer from Oconee County who (like Murray) was invited to the prestigious Elite 11 quarterbacks camp in high school and who (like Murray) was redshirted as a UGA freshman last season.

So what is your view of the quarterback …

Continue reading Talking with the QBs: Mettenberger sees key as ‘who can … take us to national title’ »

Talking with the QBs: Aaron Murray sees improved passing accuracy as key

Just got around this weekend to transcribing full interviews with the three quarterbacks who this spring will battle for Georgia’s starting job.

Re-listening to the interviews, which Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray did a few days ago with the beat writers who cover the Dogs, underscored how interesting and important spring practice will be.

I’ve already quoted a few remarks from the interviews, but I’ll post full transcripts here.

Let’s begin with Murray, who was rated the nation’s No. 3 quarterback prospect as a senior at Tampa’s Plant High School and was redshirted as a UGA freshman last season.

So what’s your view of the quarterback competition?

Murray: I view it as, it’s pretty much anyone’s job to take right now. I’m looking forward to this spring. . . . It’s my goal to get that position. I’m going to work as hard as I can and try to work as hard as the other guys, but I know they’re going to be going out there too aiming for that job. It should be fun. …

Continue reading Talking with the QBs: Aaron Murray sees improved passing accuracy as key »

NCAA moves to toughen already controversial excessive-celebration penalty

You hear about the move by the NCAA Football Rules Committee this week to further toughen the unsportsmanlike-conduct/excessive-celebration penalty?

The penalty, which stirred much controversy hereabouts when it was incorrectly called on Georgia’s A.J. Green against LSU last season, will get tougher in the 2011 season if approved by one more NCAA committee.

Basically, the change would make unsportsmanlike conduct a live-ball foul, meaning, for example, that a taunting gesture en route to a touchdown would nullify the score and be penalized from the spot of the foul.

The change would not impact penalties for celebrations in the end zone after a score, such as the one against Green, because those dead-ball fouls would continue to be assessed on the ensuing kickoff or extra-point/two-point conversion attempt.

Of course, the problem with the Green penalty was that it never should have been called. The SEC said two days later that video evidence did not support the flag, which came …

Continue reading NCAA moves to toughen already controversial excessive-celebration penalty »

Another SEC defensive coordinator joins $700,000 club

$700,000-plus appears to be the new going rate for defensive coordinators in the Southeastern Conference.

South Carolina’s Ellis Johnson had his annual compensation doubled to $700,000 yesterday when the executive committee of the school’s board of trustees approved a contract extension that adds two years to his contract (through 2013).

That makes Johnson one of four SEC defensive coordinators who’ll make at least $700,000 this year, joining Georgia’s Todd Grantham ($750,000), Alabama’s Kirby Smart ($750,000) and LSU’s John Chavis ($700,000).

Only one SEC defensive coordinator made more than $450,000 last year.

Smart and Chavis got  raises of $390,000 and $250,000, respectively, after being pursued for the Georgia job. Johnson got his $350,000 raise after reportedly being offered the Tennessee DC job by new Vols coach Derek Dooley.

Georgia is paying Grantham, who spent the past 11 years as an NFL assistant, about $425,000 more than it paid former defensive coordinator Willie …

Continue reading Another SEC defensive coordinator joins $700,000 club »

New start for Dogs’ defense: ‘In a sense everybody is a freshman’

Athens — Georgia’s defensive players seem excited and energized –- but still pretty much in the dark –- about the transformation to new coordinator Todd Grantham’s 3-4 scheme.

Some defensive tackles are wondering if they’ll become defensive ends, and some defensive ends are wondering if they’ll become linebackers.

“All we know is, we are putting on an audition for everything,” Cornelius Washington said. “So we do the best we can and let the coaches make the coaching decisions.”

Washington appeared in all 13 games (and started one) at defensive end last season, showing a knack for pressuring the quarterback. He seems to have  the makings of an outside linebacker in the 3-4.

But he said he hasn’t been told what position he’ll play or when a determination will be made.

He added that such uncertainty could be good for the team right now.

“I feel like it lets everybody have an audition, lets everybody at least be able to show what they can do,” Washington said. “I don’t feel like …

Continue reading New start for Dogs’ defense: ‘In a sense everybody is a freshman’ »

New LB coach Belin gets 1-year, $190,000 contract

Newly hired Georgia linebackers coach Warren Belin will get a one-year contract at a salary of $190,000, UGA said this morning.

Belin, a 20-year coaching veteran who coached linebackers at Vanderbilt the past eight years, was hired by Georgia on Friday.

He essentially replaces John Jancek, fired on Dec. 2, on the staff. Jancek’s base salary last year was $163,000.

Belin was the final hire to replace the three defensive coaches fired in December.  Todd Grantham got a three-year, $750,000-a-year contract when hired away from the Dallas Cowboys as defensive coordinator and Scott Lakatos a one-year, $180,000 contract when hired from Connecticut as defensive-backs coach.

Belin will coach either the inside or outside linebackers in the Bulldogs’ new 3-4 defense, but UGA hasn’t yet specified which group Belin will oversee.  Grantham will coach the other linebackers group.

Please follow me on Twitter for the latest UGA news and notes.

Continue reading New LB coach Belin gets 1-year, $190,000 contract »

Let’s talk football: Murray on arm, Samuel on LB move, Mettenberger on improvement

Athens — Let’s talk some football this afternoon.

I’m at the Butts-Mehre building, planning to talk with a number of UGA football players. Hoping to chat with Richard Samuel about his move from tailback to linebacker, with Logan Gray about whether he intends to remain at quarterback for the duration, with Aaron Murray about whether his arm is 100 percent after last fall’s tendinitis, and others.

I’ll post updates through the afternoon. Please check back.

————–

UPDATE 1:

Richard Samuel seems very happy about the move to linebacker.  ”I feel like I’ll be more comfortable, be able to play more freely at linebacker,” he said.  He said coaches pretty much left the decision up to him about whether to remain at tailback or move to linebacker.

He said his biggest problem at tailback was blocking. “I couldn’t block correctly and keep a good pocket for the quarterback,” he said. With the play of Caleb King and Washaun Ealey at the end of last season, “my future wasn’t looking too good …

Continue reading Let’s talk football: Murray on arm, Samuel on LB move, Mettenberger on improvement »

Travis Leslie vs. John Wall for SEC’s top dunker (and other notes)

I have a story in Wednesday’s paper (and right here) about the remarkable improvement in UGA basketball player Travis Leslie from last season, when he struggled on and off the court, to this season, when he has become something of a YouTube and ESPN sensation for his high-flying, gravity-defying dunks.

This isn’t mentioned in the story, but Leslie is one of six candidates for “best dunker in the SEC” in a fan poll currently on the conference’s Website. You can vote here. Last I looked, Leslie was running second in the vote, behind only Kentucky guard John Wall.

A couple of comments included in the Leslie story spoke volumes to me:

From Dave Neal, veteran SEC broadcaster: “In the 15 years I’ve been doing this, I can’t think of a player as exciting around the basket as Travis Leslie has been this year.”

From UGA coach Mark Fox on his first meeting with Leslie last spring: “When we got a chance to meet him . . . and realized that he would do what we asked him to do, we felt he …

Continue reading Travis Leslie vs. John Wall for SEC’s top dunker (and other notes) »

More SEC signees from Georgia than any other state, by far

MrSEC.com has done some numbers-crunching that quantifies this state’s status as a football recruiting hotbed.

The website counted 65 recruits from Georgia who signed with SEC schools last week, including the 14 Georgians among UGA’s 19 signees. Every SEC school except Mississippi State signed players from Georgia.

No other state came close in terms of the number of players signing with SEC schools.  The next largest number was from the state of Florida: 46.  Then 37 from Mississippi and 36 from Alabama.

In all, SEC schools signed  305 players from 23 different states, MrSEC calculated, with 21.3 percent of the league’s total signees coming from Georgia. UGA signed players from only three states: Georgia (14), Florida (4) and South Carolina (1).

Go here for much more data on the topic. Interesting stuff.

Continue reading More SEC signees from Georgia than any other state, by far »