THE TEN AT 10
1. Upon hearing Monday’s announcement that Georgia coach Mark Richt decided to create annual team awards named for Frank Sinkwich and Charley Trippi, I had two initial thoughts: One, good idea, Coach Richt; and, two, how did the Bulldogs not already have awards named for those guys?
Of course, they’re considered two of the greatest Bulldogs of all time. Sinkwich was the 1942 Heisman Trophy winner and was the star on the Bulldogs’ national championship team of that year. He is famous for playing most of the 1941 season with a broken jaw. And Trippi won the Maxwell Award as the nation’s best back in 1946 and is generally considered one Georgia’s best overall athletes of all time. Appropriately, Richt announced that, starting with this coming season, the Sinkwich Award will be go to “Georgia’s toughest player” while the Trippi Award will be presented to Georgia’s most versatile player.”
“Frank Sinkwich had to be tough by playing seven games with a broken jaw in 1941,” Richt said. “By winning the Heisman Trophy, he was also a great player. I have always heard that Charley Trippi was the most exciting player of his time. It must have been a special experience to see these two great Georgia players compete on the field. It’s appropriate to have two awards honoring Sinkwich and Trippi, both of whom were great players, graduates of the University and always willing to give back to their alma mater.”
I turned to the greatest UGA historian of all time, Dan Magill, to make sure there hadn’t been something already named for Sinkwich or Trippi before now. Now in his 90s, Magill could not recall it if there was.
“But I think it’s great even if it’s a repetition,” Magill said. “They were the best two backs we ever had at Georgia, in my opinion. Trippi was the best all-around athlete we’ve had. He could play anything. He was a great baseball player. And Sinkwich was tough. They didn’t make them any tougher.”
Had they been around then, that Herschel guy might have received both awards.
2. Looking back at this past season, I’m sure everyone would agree that cornerback/running back/kick returner Brandon Boykin would have won the Trippi Award going away. In fact, maybe they should consider giving him a trophy retroactively. He can put it next to the Paul Hornung he just won.
I’m not as confident about who would’ve been the Sinkwich recipient, but I’d say Ben Jones was a good candidate, with Isaiah Crowell running a close second (kidding). Jones, the Bulldogs’ grizzled senior center barely missed a snap despite playing banged up throughout the year. Let’s hear what y’all think.
3. Speaking of greatness, many have predicted that for Georgia football player Keith Marshall. But members of the selection committee for the Watkins Award believe Marshall has already achieved it.
The freshman running back from Raleigh, N.C., was named the winner of the Watkins Award in a black-tie ceremony in Los Angeles this past Saturday. The Watkins Award, which has been presented annually since 1992 by the National Alliance of African American Athletes, is basically the Heisman Trophy for young, talented African-American athletes who, “by their example, help promote high academic standards and a commitment to community service.” Marshall was, of course, the No. 1-rated running back prospect in America by several recruiting service while also maintaining a 4.3 grade-point average at Millbrook High. Marshall graduated early and is already enrolled at UGA.
4. I’m not sure how reliable his sources are — in this case freshman signee Jordan Jenkins – but my esteemed colleague from McClatchy Newspapers, Seth Emerson, writes that rising sophomore Ray Drew will be moving to defensive end this spring to shore up depth there and make room for the glut of outside linebackers coming into the program.
“He’s gonna get moved to end next year, so it’ll be me, [Josh Harvey-Clemons], Jarvis [Jones], Cornelius [Washington] and Leonard Floyd at OLBs,” Jenkins told Emerson. “Me, Jarvis and Cornelius are the heaviest of the OLBs.”
Makes sense. Drew (6-foot-5, 263 pounds) saw limited action in only six games last season while playing behind the All-American Jones and Washington, who are both back. Meanwhile, Georgia lost 11-game defensive end starter DeAngelo Tyson to graduation and have only Derrick Lott and Garrison Smith coming back with any experience behind senior Abry Jones.
Jenkins also told Emerson that Harvey-Clemons (6-5, 205) may get some looks at safety. Also, Georgia coaches hinted on national signing day that they are considering a number of position changes heading into spring practice. It’s slated to begin March 19 so stay tuned.
5. I had a great conversation earlier this week with former Georgia basketball coach Pete Herrmann. Hermann was, of course, an assistant coach for Dennis Felton and took over as the Bulldogs’ interim head coach after Felton was fired with 12 games left in the 2008-09 season. A longtime assistant in major college basketball, Hermann, 63, could have easily retired and kicked back. Instead, he decided take on the considerable task of resurrecting the basketball program at little Young Harris College in North Georgia.
I’d say it’s going pretty well. In their second season under Hermann’s leadership, the Mountain Lions are 20-4 heading into Tuesday night’s game against Southern Wesleyan. The season ends for Young Harris with Thursday’s game at North Greenville.
“The best thing about it is we’re doing it with a bunch of Georgia kids,” said Herrmann, whose team is 14-0 at home this season. Made up entirely of Georgians and a;; freshmen and sophomores except for one junior, the Mountain Lions are led by Stephenson High graduate Frank Adams, who is averaging 20.7 points per game.
6. Back at Georgia, things aren’t going as well for men’s basketball coach Mark Fox. Fox is enduring some of the trials and tribulations that have traditionally come with Bulldogs’ basketball. With this past Saturday’s 61-52 home loss to Vanderbilt, Georgia fell to 12-14 overall and 3-9 in SEC play. The last time Georgia won just three conference games was the season Hermann ended up taking over for Felton.
Fox’s Hounds will be trying to grab their fourth conference victory on the road against LSU on Wednesday night. The Tigers are coached by Fox’s close friend and former boss, Trent Johnson, who knows all too well what Fox is going through. LSU won just five conference games combined the two seasons before this year’s 16-6/6-6 campaign. The Tigers won the league in Johnson’s first season (2008-09).
“I think he’s done an exceptional job when you start to looking at how young they are and what they lost,” said Johnson, who had Fox as an assistant at Nevada. “They lost probably 75 percent of their scoring if not more. And look at who they’ve played, beating Notre Dame, playing Cal, playing Cincinnati, playing Kentucky twice, Vanderbilt twice , Florida twice, you go on down the line. Watching them play Vandy, in terms of how hard they play, the amount of shots they got and could have scored on, anybody who knows basketball, they look at that team and they they know they’re playing their tails off.”
7. I’m sure it was no surprise to anyone that Vanderbilt’s John Jenkins was named SEC Player of the Week in basketball. Georgia fans saw him pour in 28 points and make 6-of-8 3-point shots. In the previous game, he scored 26 points against Ole Miss on only five shots (four 3s, 12 free throws). To summarize, for the week the 6-4 junior shot 81.3 percent from the field, 83 percent from 3-point range and 85.7 percent from the foul line. Pretty efficient, huh?
8. Remember, this is the first year the SEC is playing without divisions in men’s basketball (until next year, more than likely, but that’s another story). So if the season ends with the standings as they are now, Georgia will finish 11th. Since the top four finishers get first-round byes, that means that the Bulldogs will play the 10 p.m. first-round game against the No. 6 team in the SEC Tournament. As of today that team would be Alabama.
9. Had a guy slamming me on Twitter for not giving the equestrian team enough coverage. So here you go, buddy: The No. 3-ranked Georgia equestrian team completed a sweep of No. 1-ranked Auburn this past Saturday — on The Plains, no less. According to the UGA Sports Communications report, the teams rode to an 8-8 tie (I don’t know what that means), but the Bulldogs were able to edge them 1,564.25-1,562.75 in the raw score (I don’t know what that means either). UGA’s Carly Anthony claimed her ninth MVP of the season in equitation on the flat (Google it), and Megan Hawkins claimed MVP honors in horsemanship. Georgia improves to 8-1 while Auburn drops to 7-2 so — and I’m editorializing here — I fully expect the Equestrian Dogs to pass Auburn in the rankings and contend for another national championship. As my Twitter friend points out sarcastically, “they’ve only won five national titles.”
10. THIS & THAT: Georgia’s No. 4-ranked men’s tennis team lost a hard-fought match to No. 1-ranked Southern Cal in the semifinals of the National Indoor Championships in Virginia, then proceeded to get stuck in the snow on the drive back to Georgia. Thankfully, they made it back safely returned to unseasonably warm temperatures in Athens. The spring schedule starts Monday with a home match against Furman. . . . The Georgia baseball team got off to a solid 3-0 start with a rain-drenched sweep of Presbyterian this past weekend. The Diamond Dogs play host to Georgia State on Wednesday at 5 p.m. and have Winthrop in for a three-game set beginning Friday. Of course, Georgia doesn’t play away from home but once in its first 22 games and that one is against Kennesaw State at the Gwinnett Braves’ Coolray Field. . . . The NFL combine begins Wednesday.