Ten@10: VanGorder, Martinez, UGA’s last two DCs, reunite at Auburn

Willie Martinez coached alongside Mark Richt at Georgia for nine years. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Willie Martinez coached alongside Mark Richt at Georgia for nine years. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

THE TEN AT 10

1. Looks like Willie Martinez is coming back to the SEC. The former Georgia defensive coordinator, so vilified his last couple of years in Athens, is joining new Auburn defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder as defensive backs coach for the Tigers. Nothing is official yet but there are multiple reports Martinez was in Auburn on Monday, including THIS ONE by Charles Goldberg of The Birmingham News. It will be the fifth time the two men have coached together, including hitches at Boca Raton (Fla.) High School, Central Michigan, Central Florida and Georgia.  Martinez, 48, resigned as defensive backs coach at Oklahoma in January. He was fired as Georgia’s defensive coordinator in December of 2009.

Of course, this means the Bulldogs’ last two D-coordinators will be conspiring against them in November (and on the recruiting trail well before then). That continues a long tradition of Georgia coaches ending up at Auburn and vice-versa. Last time we checked the conference-expansion gurus are still planning to continue the “Deep South’s Old Rivalry” at least one more year.

2. As expected, Georgia reported a secondary violation because of head football coach Mark Richt’s nationally-televised comments about Josh Harvey-Clemons on ESPNU on national signing day, according to documents obtained Monday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution via open records laws on Monday.

To recap, Harvey-Clemons announced on TV at 9:15 a.m. he was signing with Georgia and actually appeared to sign something. At 9:45 a.m., Richt answered questions about Harvey-Clemons’ addition an ESPN reporter in Athens, also on live television. According to UGA’s report, Richt realized at 11 a.m. that Georgia still had not received Harvey-Clemons’ signed letter-of-intent and immediately reported that to compliance. Athletic Director Greg McGarity’s letter of explanation to SEC Commissioner Mike Slive, dated the next day, noted that UGA finally received Harvey-Clemons’ faxed letter-of-intent at about 8 a.m. on Feb. 2 and that the time and date listed next to Harvey-Clemons’ signature was 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 1.

All of which means very little. Though Georgia admitted to a violation of NCAA Bylaw 13.10.2, McGarity asked Slive “for relief of prescribed penalties” due to the “de minimis” nature and “mitigating circumstances” of the violation. De minimis is latin for “so minor as to merit disregard,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

3. Meanwhile, I filed an update this past weekend on the on-going disciplinary troubles in Georgia’s secondary. I learned this past Friday that UGA’s Office of Student Conduct is reviewing the domestic violence/simple battery case against cornerback Sanders Commings to determine whether it is a violation of the school’s conduct code regarding “physical abuse” and if it needs to be dealt with on the university level. Interestingly, though, the interviews available so far from that investigation indicate the school’s inquiry may do more to help Commings’ legal case than hurt it. The arraignment for the Bulldogs’ senior start is scheduled for March 22.

As for dismissed defensive backs Nick Marshall and Chris Sanders, each of them has landed (or will land) at junior colleges. Marshall already is enrolled at Garden City Community College in Kansas and Sanders plans to enroll at Georgia Military College in Milledgeville in April. Both players are hoping Richt and team members will allow them to return next year, according to their respective head coaches. Wide receiver Sanford Seay, who was also dismissed for being involved in the same theft incident as the other two players, has not determined his next move, according to reports.

4. Georgia’s men’s basketball team has a chance to win three SEC games in a row for the first time since knocking off Ole Miss, Kentucky, Mississippi State and Arkansas in four consecutive days to win the 2008 SEC Tournament in Atlanta. The Bulldogs (12-12, 3-7 SEC) are coming off a stunning win over No. 18 Mississippi State in overtime in Starkville this past Saturday. They beat NCAA Tournament bubble team Arkansas in Athens this past Wednesday.

Now the Bulldogs visit South Carolina Wednesday night and it appears to be the most winnable game so far. The Gamecocks (9-15, 1-9 SEC) are currently last in the league. But coach Mark Fox isn’t expecting an easy go of it. “South Carolina has already played Kentucky twice, already played Florida twice, and then had Vandy and Alabama at home,” he noted. “So I think their schedule has been really hard. I think they’re like us, a group that’s continuing to get better and continues to play a little better each week. I’m sure we’ll see them at their best on Wednedsay night.”

5. Several Bulldog players are starting to assert themselves as we enter the last third of the regular season. Gerald Robinson Jr., who was named SEC Player of the Week, seems to have been willing the Bulldogs to victory the last couple of weeks. His offensive and defensive plays down the stretch were the difference against State. Also, freshman Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who hit the game-deciding 3-pointer in OT, is starting to display the all-around skills that made him a five-star rating. Also, Donte’ Williams and Nemanja Djurisic are creating some post offense and a still-hobbled Marcus Thornton has proven to be defensive and rebounding force.

6. Speaking of Georgia basketball, I ran into former Bulldogs Carlos Strong (1992-96) the other day refereeing youth basketball games in Oconee County. It was wonderful to see the 6-foot-8 forward in action at Herman C. Michael Park as he lent his talents to the 7- and 8-year-old kids there. He’d blow his whistle if they traveled or double-dribbled, take a second or two to show them how to do it correctly, then hand them back the ball.

A former McDonald’s All-American from Athens’ Cedar Shoals High, Strong played professionally in the NBA, CBA and Europe and hasn’t been out of professional basketball very long. Now he’s running the “Carlos Strong Skills & Drills Basketball Camp” through Oconee County Parks and Recreation Department. He also recently returned to classes at UGA where he is finishing up his degree in child and family development. Strong told me hopes to coach on a full-time basis in the near future.

7. In women’s hoops, Anne Marie Armstrong, a 6-foot-3 junior from Norcross, was named SEC Player of the Week on Monday based on her work in Sunday’s 76-63 win over Vanderbilt. The former Miss Georgia Basketball scored a career-high 23 points on 11-of-16 shooting and played all 40 minutes against the Commodores. Armstrong’s honor comes on the heels of teammate Krista Donald being named SEC Freshman of the Week the previous week.

8. Speaking of Donald, she didn’t play in the Vanderbilt game after having some major dental work done, meaning that the Lady Dogs were at less than full strength for a game yet again this season. Women’s basketball publicist Mike Mobley shared an amazing stat with me this week regarding the team’s struggle to stay healthy this season. Injuries, illnesses and the like have forced Lady Dogs to miss a combined 158 individual days of practice this season. That tally does not include losing 6-4 Marisela Rodriguez sitting out the season due to a pre-existing knee injury.

All told, coach Andy Landers said he has had what he expected to be a full complement of players for just four practices since November.The only Lady Bulldogs not to miss a workout due to a health condition are Jasmine Hassell, Khaalidah Miller, Tamika Willis and Danielle Bennett. “We’re calling those four our ‘birthday party ponies,’” Landers quipped. “They’re healthy as horses so we ride them hard for two hours every day.”

Here’s the good news: Georgia (19-6, 8-4 SEC) appears to be at full strength heading into this week’s critical games against South Carolina and Florida. The No. 21-ranked Lady Dogs are currently tied with South Carolina for third in the SEC.

9. Baseball starts on Friday with season opener against Presbyterian at Foley Field. It looks like it’s going to be a good year for the Diamond Dogs as coach David Perno brings back what might be the most experienced team of his tenure. Eight position players and eight pitchers are back from the team that reached the NCAA Regional Finals in Corvallis, Ore., last year. And they should have a strong starting rotation built around all-star right-hander Michael Palazzone, who was 10-5 with 3.14 ERA in 2011. But Georgia is already having to overcome some injury problems in the bullpen. Tyler Maloof, who had 18 saves in 19 opportunities this past season, has been shut down since early fall with a back muscle issue. Perno is not certain when Maloof can get back but best guesses are mid to late season.

10. THIS & THAT: Kudos to Seth Emerson of The Macon Telegraph for going the extra mile(s) and tracking down former Georgia basketball players Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins with the L.A. Clippers at Charlotte’s Time-Warner Cable Arena. For his trouble Emerson gained some nice insights into the lives of the two NBA rookies and their feelings about how the Bulldogs are doing without them. . . . Rusty Mansell of Dawgs247.com got in touch with former Georgia signee Chris Mayes, a defensive lineman out of Griffin’s Spalding High, and reports that Mayes will enroll at Georgia in January. Mayes also said he’s going to redshirt this coming season so he will have three years of eligibility remaining at UGA. . . .

The No. 4-ranked Georgia men’s tennis team plays host to Georgia Tech Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Lindsey Hopkins Indoor Tennis Center. The Bulldogs lost to the Yellow Jackets last year, breaking a 24-match winning streak. . . . The Georgia Gym Dogs moved up to No. 4 from No. 6 in the national rankings after knocking off No. 3 Arkansas this past Friday. Anybody else just noticing that the NCAA Gymnatics Championships are going to be held at Gwinnett Arena April 20-22? . . . The No. 10-ranked Georgia softball team is playing host to five teams in the 9th annual Georgia Softball Classic starting Friday. . . . Former Bulldogs Brian Harman, who’s now a pro, teamed up with an amateur to tie for first in the Pebble Beach Pro-Am last week. Harman finished 20th individually. . . . The current men’s golf team opens the spring season in the Puerto Rico Classic this weekend. . . . The No. 11-ranked women’s golf team was in the lead in Puerto Rico on Monay after All-American Marta Silva Zamora and teammate Emilie Burger each carded opening-round 66s. . . . The Georgia swimming and diving teams compete in the SEC Championships in Knoxville beginning Wednesday.

653 comments Add your comment

62-39-5

February 14th, 2012
10:11 am

McDawg

February 14th, 2012
10:15 am

Chris Mayes!!!

Dawg58

February 14th, 2012
10:17 am

Enter your comments here

Biggin

February 14th, 2012
10:18 am

I love your Ten@10. Really wished you still covered recruiting so I could still read your Ten@10 on recruits.

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:24 am

Martinez coaching the defensive backs at Auburn?

I think Murray just threw another TD

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

bucket

February 14th, 2012
10:27 am

Getting Mayes in early is going to be a big boost for the defense for 2013 since UGA is going to lose alot of starters after this season. The “violation” in the JHC saga is so crazy that I can’t believe it is still being talked about. Everyone who was watching ESPNU that morning would have made the same assumption that Richt did. In my opinion it would only be a big deal if the young man was actually wavering or decided to go elsewhere.

BornADawg

February 14th, 2012
10:27 am

Good article Chip! Thanks for all the updates! Go DAWGS!!

Bigdsel

February 14th, 2012
10:29 am

Well it should be an interesting game against auburn

TDF

February 14th, 2012
10:30 am

Please take recruiting back from carvell

kybodawg

February 14th, 2012
10:31 am

with van gorder and willie at auburn they need to get together with bobo and go over the playbook before the game because im sure they already know run up the middle and throw it 50 yds on 3rd and 1 anyway.

DawgByte

February 14th, 2012
10:33 am

LOL – Auburn is surely doomed now that Martinez has joined their staff!

bucket

February 14th, 2012
10:33 am

I actually thought Martinez was a pretty good position coach @ UGA. UGA sent some pretty decent secondary guys to the NFL during his tenure. Make no mistake, both he and Van Gorder are going to be coaching out of their minds next year when the Dawgs roll into Auburn. I wouldn’t be expecting another 45-7 outcome for the Dawgs.

lanier

February 14th, 2012
10:36 am

good piece by Seth Emerson

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:37 am

bucket

This is a huge mistake by auburn. Martinez was HORRIBLE at Oklahoma and it only took Stoops 2 years to figure it out. BVG will mask some of it but this guy is clearly in over his head.

Atlanta Gator

February 14th, 2012
10:37 am

Sorry I haven’t posted much lately, fellas, but I did come across a Rivals.com article that I thought might be of interest to Dawgs fans:

http://footballrecruiting.rivals.com/content.asp?CID=1331208

The University of Georgia football program is listed as one of the ten most under-performing college football programs in the country based on the high quality of its recruiting classes relative to the on-the-field results. Mark Richt recruited four top-10 recruiting classes over the five years 2006-2010, and produced only one end-of-the-season top-20 ranked team from 2007-2011.

Those of you Dawg bloggers who know me from me past AJC blog posts, know that I am not a partisan fan who posts merely to stir the pot and get a nasty reaction. I’m an Atlanta resident, and I regularly follow UGA and Tech sports teams (well, UGA mostly, because of the SEC and rivalry ties to Florida). I was originally a relatively strong advocate for Coach Richt because I thought he was a good guy who tried to do things the right way in running a Division I football program. I am increasingly convinced that regime change will be necessary before UGA competes at the highest levels of Division I-FBS football again.

Top Row Dog

February 14th, 2012
10:39 am

The best sports news in Atlanta always comes from UGA.

Pro teams inconsistent, Tech teams non existent. Georgia Teams always ranked and have garnered 27 NCAA championships compared to Georgia Tech’s 1.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
10:40 am

DawgByte

February 14th, 2012
10:35 am

Carvell is the worst writer for the AJC. join my movement by sending him and his editor emails weekly for him to be fired!!

dawgfan

February 14th, 2012
10:40 am

Martinez was a good DB coach but in over his head as a DC. If Auburn needs an OC we’d be happy to help them with that as well.

Atlanta Gator

February 14th, 2012
10:44 am

That should read THREE end-of-the-season top-20 ranked teams.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
10:44 am

Atlanta Gator

February 14th, 2012
10:37 am

First decade as a coach, dont think anyone has everyone won a NC in that short a time. Even Satan ahd to pay his dues to get there. Most dont get a chance to start their career with a high powered SEC team like Richt did. Most start at small dinky schools and work their way up and by then have become accustomed to the joys and pains of coaching college football. He had to learn it the hard way in the SEC as opposed to a smaller school. He has this team poised for greatness for these upcomming years.

Atlanta Gator

February 14th, 2012
10:47 am

TDF—-Well, Mark Richt is clearly going to coach the Bulldogs in 2012. What are your expectations for 2012?

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:50 am

atlanta gator

I see your point and the facts do support it. The facts also support richt coming in and winning an SEC title in 2002 and again in 2005

Despite the youth on the OL, I expect this to be Richt’s best team ever at UGA. The defense will be totally lights out.

My expectation is 12-0 or 11-1 and play LSU/Bama/Ark in the Dome.

anything less and I will be upset.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
10:51 am

Atlanta Gator

February 14th, 2012
10:47 am

A great year. Could see stumbles either at Mizzou, SC, or UF but outside that I dont see a very tough year for us. Could win em all, but I could see 11-1 going to SECG to play against either Arky or LSU again.

trupert

February 14th, 2012
10:52 am

Glad to see Willie get another job. We keep hearing about all the special talent at Auburn on the defense that hasn’t showed up???

We will find out if Chizik has really brought in any talent over the next two years.

I just hope Vangorder and Martinez can do something to clean up the Auburn defense and put an end to all those dirty headfirst hits. It wasn’t as bad last year but they still did it on several plays.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
10:54 am

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
10:50 am

Great post couldnt agree more!

Michael Adams

February 14th, 2012
10:58 am

Oklahoma finished 79th in pass defense for 2011 – hence, WM is gone! OU’s secondary was awful…..as was it’s coach!

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:00 am

The University of Georgia football program is listed as one of the ten most under-performing college football programs in the country based on the high quality of its recruiting classes relative to the on-the-field results.

Well I for one am shocked.

Top Row Dog

February 14th, 2012
11:02 am

Thanks for the endorsement of CMR Atlanta Gator. You think we need to change after finishing season ranked 9 of 11 years and averaging almost 10 wins a year. I remember the (Keep Ray Goff) chant that night in Sanford Stadium in 1995.

While it may be true Georgia was unranked twice, those seasons included us having to start a rookie QB twice. The impressive stat is that CMR has always won 10 games with a returning QB. He HAS managed to finish 2nd and 3rd in the final NCAA polls, and FSU has fallen off the NCAA map since he left there. I’m sure you as a UF fan would love to see him go. He may not have a winning record against you guys, but he has a winning record against all other SEC teams (maybe 1 down with LSU now). Recruits seem to feel he is able to get it done. Clemons had to fight his Gator grandad to come up here. Saturday night at the Landing was fun last year.

Anyway, I sure like our chances this year especially since Muschamp has never won in Jacksonville. Best to be concerned about your own inadequacies.

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:08 am

Just to add to Atlanta Gator’s post. Of the other 9 schools who have underachieved, 8 of them have fired their coach. UGA is about to give their coach a raise and an extension. Try to figure that one out.

RT

February 14th, 2012
11:09 am

Many high school coaches CANNOT stand Carvell.

AltamahaDawg

February 14th, 2012
11:09 am

Why would you say he was horrible at Oklahoma? Everything I read from that departure indicated that he was actually quite respected on that staff, was responsible for several recruits (that were condidering NOT coming now that he was gone) and everybody knew he was just leaving because Stoops was making room for his brother. Martinez was considered a guy who had multiple opportunities, including a couple of DC jobs. So what does “horrible” and they finally figured that out come from?

TDF

February 14th, 2012
11:12 am

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:08 am

Hey moron what coach has won a title in first decade as a coach????

STFU you clown, you have never had a clue of what you are talking about and still wont for the forseeable future.

flo-ri-duh

February 14th, 2012
11:12 am

Where Auburn will be strong is not the defense but the offensive line. They had two incredible OL recruiting classes back to back. Unfortunately UGA is still working on that. Martinez almost cost Richt his job but he is a good recruiter and, along with, Van Gorder, will try to cherry pick Georgia like Saban is doing. Georgia must win this year to protect their recruiting borders. Kirby Smart will be a head coach some where within two years. If Saban flees to Texas for more cash and easier recruiting. Smart will be Bummers next head coach.

RxDawg

February 14th, 2012
11:12 am

I really hate the format of this blog…. when I post a lenghty thoughtful response and it just disappers… yeh I want to punch my screen.

bitter michael cravell

February 14th, 2012
11:12 am

I resemble that or those “remarks”——–just because I only spend 2 hours a week at work on recruiting

issues!!!!please how long does it take to copy stuff off the —-WIRE—-hahahah trolls

————PS i need my sleep——-besides my daddy runs the AJC———-loooser trolls

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
11:13 am

GTBob

Are you really comparing Richt to the coaches and results at OleMiss, notre Dame, UT and UCLA??

I thought you went to Tech and were supposed to be smart??

Boom Boom

February 14th, 2012
11:14 am

Welcome back Willie, it’s going to be nice playing against your DB’s for a change. Did the Boomer Soomers ask you to leave to? How does someone who suxs as a coach keep getting jobs? I am in the wrong line of work.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
11:14 am

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:08 am

Extension = recruits mind at ease that he will be there for their whole career. How do you not get that??? You have to be the dumbest nerd fan.

Go find a coach that doesnt have that security and ask him how hard it is to recruit with that hanging over the program.

bitter michael cravell

February 14th, 2012
11:14 am

im also smarter than a 5th gradder—————–trolls

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
11:15 am

altamaha

His defensive secondary got lit up repeatedly this year and last year.

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:20 am

Are you really comparing Richt to the coaches and results at OleMiss, notre Dame, UT and UCLA??

Yes I am. He had much better recruits then those places which makes his underachievements worse.

Top Row Dog

February 14th, 2012
11:20 am

I am sure GT Bob would love for us to change coaches. 1-10…………..

This list is one Georgia Tech will never make because it is not hard to finish better when you recruit at number 75. (or whatever your recruiting ranking was, does anyone even bother to keep track?)

Keep Paul Johnson!!!

You guys crack me up.

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:21 am

Hey moron what coach has won a title in first decade as a coach????

First decade as a head coach? There are plenty.

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:22 am

I am sure GT Bob would love for us to change coaches. 1-10

Frankly it should be 0-11 and none of the games should have been close at all.

DawginLex

February 14th, 2012
11:23 am

He won the SEC 2 times in 11 years and finished ranked in the top ten numerous times and won over a 100 games.

He has unfinished business but underachieving is a ludicrous term to apply to Mark Richt.

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:26 am

He won the SEC 2 times in 11 years and finished ranked in the top ten numerous times and won over a 100 games.

What has he done lately? Does he get a free pass for his whole career because he got off to a good start?

Rationale

February 14th, 2012
11:27 am

Well, the one thing about Martinez, is under Van Gorder, he will improve as a defensive coach.

By the way, GTBob, I like it when people are bluntly honest. It just kind of eliminates the argument. Also, this is meant as a positive statement, not as a sarcastic one. I have always been a UGA fan first, and a Tech fan, second. Except in 1990 when Tech won the championship. Only time I have ever pulled against UGA. I even remember I was in Gatlingurg at the time of the game. Mixed emotions, on pulling against UGA, but proud of Tech at the time.

joe t

February 14th, 2012
11:27 am

Richt is a cancer. Our program is too “good”. Richt turns good football players into good men which translates into losses on the field. I, for one, would rather see a 12-0 team of reprobates than a 9-3 team of good guys. Sorry, but its the truth.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
11:28 am

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:20 am

Once again you have no clue what you are talking about. We also play in the SEC which 2 of those do not so those are way worse underachievement that you cant win with a top recruiting class in the pac 12 or as being an idependant when you schedule all 12 of your games with 80% being cupcake games. Yea but Richts is still worse right???? hahahahahahah man you are stupid.

TDF

February 14th, 2012
11:29 am

GTBob

February 14th, 2012
11:21 am
]
Name one FBS D1 coach to win a NC in his first ever decade as a coach. not first decade with a team but first decade overall as a coach