Archive for July, 2012

105 players report for Georgia’s preseason football camp

The University of Georgia reported Tuesday night that 105 players reported for preseason football camp. That is the maximum amount allowed by NCAA rule. Unofficially, 76 of those players are on scholarship, which is nine below the NCAA limit.

The Bulldogs will undergo physicals and conditioning tests on Wednesday and several players will be taking final exams from summer semester. Then the first of 28 preseason practices will be held Thursday afternoon. UGA Media Day will be conducted at lunchtime Thursday. The season opener is Sept. 1 against Buffalo.

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Georgia’s Allison Schmitt becomes Bulldogs’ first swimmer to win individual gold

Allison Schmitt, who is a rising senior at Georgia, shows off her gold medal after winning the 200-meter freestyle race in record time Tuesday in London. (AP photo by Daniel Ocha De Olza)

Allison Schmitt, who is a rising senior at Georgia, shows off her gold medal after winning the 200-meter freestyle race in record time Tuesday in London. (AP photo by Daniel Ocha De Olza)

Georgia’s Allison Schmitt on Tuesday became the school’s first  swimmer to win an individual gold medal.

The rising senior from Canton, Mich., dominated the field in the finals of the 200-meter freestyle race, trumping the No. 2 finisher by nearly two full seconds with a time of 1:53.61. That eclipsed the previous Olympic record of 1:54.82 and Schmitt’s own American record of 1:54.40 (set in Olympic trials this year).

“It still hasn’t sunk in,” Schmitt told USA Swimming.  “I couldn’t be happier bringing home hardware to the USA, let alone a gold medal.”

Schmitt is a 15-time All-American, an eight-time NCAA champion and a five-time SEC champion at UGA. She was accompanied in London by Bulldogs swim coach Jack Bauerle.

“She just went out and did it,” Bauerle said in a UGA news …

Continue reading Georgia’s Allison Schmitt becomes Bulldogs’ first swimmer to win individual gold »

Georgia notified Penn State of its interest in 19 players

ATHENS — As it turns out, Georgia informed Penn State of its interest in 19 of the Nittany Lions’ football players. That’s according to a letter dated July 23 and sent to Penn State’s associate athletic director for compliance Matt Stolberg by UGA director of compliance Steve Flippen. The letter was provided to The AJC in compliance with an open records request.

The Bulldogs informed the Big Ten school of their “intent to contact” the student-athletes, then listed the following players in alphabetical order:

Adrian Amos, Deion Barnes, Justin Brown, DaQuan Davis, Jake Fagnano, Khairi Fortt, Jordan Hill, Gerald Hidges, DeQuan Jones, Eugene Lewis, Angelo Mangiro, Pate Massaro, Michael Mauti, Jamil Pollard, Silas Redd, Donovan Smith, Matt Stankiewitch, Trevor Williams and Michael Zordich.

Georgia had to send a written request to remain in compliance with NCAA bylaw 13.1.1.3.3. That rule states:

“An athletics staff member or other representative of the institution’s …

Continue reading Georgia notified Penn State of its interest in 19 players »

Marijuana charges dropped against UGA basketball player Donte Williams

ATHENS — Georgia basketball player Donte Williams told media gathered at Stegeman Coliseum on Monday that the marijuana charges leveled against him in May have been dismissed and vehemently proclaimed he does not do drugs.

Reporters came for a press conference to advance the Bulldogs’ upcoming 10-day trip to Italy for three exhibition games. But before that event got underway, Williams took a seat next head coach Mark Fox at a table on a podium in the Stegeman interview room and asked to make a statement. Following is what Williams’ said:

“I know everybody here is aware of the incident that took place on May 25th. First I want to apologize for bringing negative attention to the University and towards me team and towards my family. But I want the truth to be known that I don’t do drugs. Soon after the incident I took a drug test; passed my drug test. I came up here and passed my drug test and took another drug test for the court and passed that drug test. The case has been …

Continue reading Marijuana charges dropped against UGA basketball player Donte Williams »

10 Things: Connections, coaching pedigree led Kirk Olivadotti to Georgia

TEN THINGS ABOUT GEORGIA LINEBACKERS COACH KIRK OLIVADOTTI . . .

ATHENS — The most widely known personal detail about Georgia’s second-year linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti is the incredible battle his daughter Kasyn has waged since being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia shortly after the family’s arrival in Athens last summer.

To be sure, that situation dominates every waking minute of the Olivadotti’s lives. Kasyn, 5, is currently in what they call the “maintenance stage” of treatment. She undergoes chemotherapy at the hospital every 28 days, gets chemo at home once a week and takes numerous pills designed to fight the disease.

Olivadotti

Olivadotti

“She’s doing well,” said Olivadotti, who also has a 3-year-old boy named Kruz. “She’s still being actively treated, but she is going to start kindergarten this year and we’re all excited about that. In between being a cancer patient she’s just a 5-year-old. That ratio is getting ever better, …

Continue reading 10 Things: Connections, coaching pedigree led Kirk Olivadotti to Georgia »

Change of heart? Richt issues statement that UGA is ‘not pursuing Penn State players’

ATHENS — “Currently, Georgia is not pursuing any of Penn State’s football players. We wish Coach O’Brien and the players the best.”

That statement came from the UGA’s  sports communication office to beat reporters a little after 5 p.m. on Friday. It came as a raw statement without any context or explanation.

I happened to be talking to Christopher Lakos, one of Georgia’s associate directors of sports communications, just before the email was sent out. All he could tell me was the release was simply “a message Coach Richt wants to get out about something he’s been getting a lot of calls about.”

You’ll recall that Richt on Monday told reporters covering the annual Greater Atlanta UGA Days event at Cobb Galleria that the Bulldogs would in fact be interested in recruiting some of the Nittany Lions players. The NCAA, in its historic ruling against Penn State for covering up child sex atrocities committed by a former assistant coach, announced that Penn State players would be …

Continue reading Change of heart? Richt issues statement that UGA is ‘not pursuing Penn State players’ »

WR Tavarres King: Bulldogs in great shape, eager start preseason camp

Georgia flanker Tavarres King gets behind the Michigan State defense for 80 of his 205 yards in his final game of last season. He's eager for more of the same. (AP photo)

Georgia flanker Tavarres King gets behind the Michigan State defense for 80 of his 205 yards in his final game of last season. He's eager for more of the same. (AP photo)

ATHENS — For Tavarres King, the football season can’t get here fast enough. The last time we saw him in game action, he was running up and down the field at Raymond James Stadium to the tune of 205 receiving yards with an 80-yard touchdown. However, his personal highlights got lost in what ended up being a gut-wrenching loss to Michigan State in triple overtime.

“I’ve been extremely eager all off-season to get back out there to continue where I left off,” said King, a senior flanker for the Bulldogs. “It was an extremely high note personally, but not as a team. So we’ve been getting after it this summer. Guys have been participating in drills and workouts. We’ve had pretty much perfect attendance all summer. Everybody’s eager to get back on the field and tackle this thing.”

King and …

Continue reading WR Tavarres King: Bulldogs in great shape, eager start preseason camp »

Former UGA defensive back Chris Sanders dismissed at GMC

Former Georgia defensive back Chris Sanders has been dismissed from Georgia Military College, which will permanently block his passage back to Athens.

Sanders

Sanders

Sanders, a cornerback from Tucker, had expressed his desire to return to play for the Bulldogs next season. He was dismissed from Georgia along with two other players in late January for his involvement in an alleged theft from a teammate.

Bert Williams, head coach of GMC’s junior college football program in Milledegville, confirmed via text message Wednesday that he had dismissed Sanders from the program. Other than a violating of team rules, Williams would say only they that Sanders was kicked off for a “continuation of old ways.”

“Extremely sad,” Williams said.

Sanders came to Georgia with great promise. A two-way star who earned all-state honors at Tucker High, Sanders played in three games for the Bulldogs as a true freshman before a shoulder injury sidelined him for the season. He was expected to compete for …

Continue reading Former UGA defensive back Chris Sanders dismissed at GMC »

10 Things: Tight ends coach John Lilly hoping that talent trumps inexperience

A series on Georgia’s nine assistant coaches has been running over the summer. Following is the unabridged version of the one  I wrote on UGA tight ends coach John Lilly. It ran in print a few weeks ago but never made it online. Below you’ll find links to the others that have run so far. Kirk Olivadotti is up next week. So, for your perusal and commentary, here is . . .

An eye for football talent took John Lilly from an assistant high school coaching post in North Carolina to FSU and finally to Georgia. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

An eye for football talent took John Lilly from an assistant high school coaching post in North Carolina to FSU and finally to Georgia. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

TEN THINGS ABOUT JOHN LILLY

ATHENS — Georgia tight ends coach John Lilly had the luxury of having one of the most talented and experienced position rooms in Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall the past couple of seasons. All-star tight end Orson Charles was in there, along with senior Aron White and, at various times, Bruce Figgins.

But this year, all those guys have moved on to the NFL and Lilly finds himself having to replace 144 career catches …

Continue reading 10 Things: Tight ends coach John Lilly hoping that talent trumps inexperience »

UGA’s McGarity: NCAA ruling against Penn State ‘a gut check for everybody’

AJC columnist Jeff Schultz was at the Cobb Galleria covering Monday night’s Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting, now known as UGA Day. Here’s A  LINK to Jeff’s column from that affair. Below are some of the comments he got from the Georgia leaders on the Penn State sanctions handed down earlier today by the NCAA:

ATHLETIC DIRECTOR GREG McGARITY (to media before the main event):

McGarity said that he and his senior staff, about five or six people, studied the Freeh report when it came out to make sure they weren’t missing anything as it related to Georgia.

Reaction to penalties:

“I think it’ll take 48 to 72 hours to digest everything. I’m interested to read the documents to see all the information that’s there, other than just the high points. Like the president of Oregon State said, this like a gut check for everybody to make sure their house is in order. In all situations like this, whether it’s this or Southern Cal, it’s lessons learned.”

Was NCAA within …

Continue reading UGA’s McGarity: NCAA ruling against Penn State ‘a gut check for everybody’ »

10 Things: Georgia’s Bryan McClendon preparing young backs to play yet again

TEN THINGS ABOUT BRYAN McCLENDON . . .

ATHENS – If you’ve been the running backs coach at Georgia for the last few years, you’re permitted to be a little frustrated at this point. But Bryan McClendon, who has held that position for the Bulldogs since 2009, insists he is not.

McClendon has weathered the storms that came with having Isaiah Crowell, Washaun Ealey and Caleb King under his supervision. But he insists he’s neither beaten down nor disillusioned by their tumultuous tenures in Georgia’s backfield. He chooses instead to focus on the positives he believes remain for the future.

Georgia's fourth-year running backs coach Bryan McClendon, here with a suspended Isaiah Crowell before the New Mexico State game this past season, has had his hands full keeping the Bulldogs' backs in line. (AJC photo)

Georgia's fourth-year running backs coach Bryan McClendon, here with a suspended Isaiah Crowell before the New Mexico State game this past season, has had his hands full keeping the Bulldogs' backs in line. (AJC photo)

“I tell people all the time, we’ve met our quota for headlines,” McClendon said with a laugh. “Hopefully anything else that is written about us will be in …

Continue reading 10 Things: Georgia’s Bryan McClendon preparing young backs to play yet again »

UGA withholding comment until later today on Penn State ruling

Like everybody else I suppose, I was fascinated and a bit overwhelmed by the news out of Penn State this morning. Jeff Schultz offered his opinion on the ruling and people have been commenting on it on AJC.com all day.

When this whole sordid story first broke, I wasn’t sure if the NCAA would weigh in or whether it would even have the authority to do so. Obviously we found out the answer to that with this morning’s stern  rulings.

To summarize, Penn State was:

  • Fined $60 million (approximate amount of one year’s football revenue), which will be used to endow a fund for child sex victims;
  • Given a four-year bowl ban;
  • Had 40 scholarships taken away over four years;
  • Vacated wins since 1998;
  • Gave current Penn State players permission to transfer without losing eligibility.

Penn State signed a consent form accepting all the terms, so that is pretty much that.

Obviously, sanctions of this magnitude will have far-reaching effects. It is sure to change the safeguards and checks and …

Continue reading UGA withholding comment until later today on Penn State ruling »

Video: Wrapping up Georgia’s appearance at SEC Football Media Days

Following is a video chat I had with Brian Clark of CineSport late Thursday wrapping up SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., and Georgia’s involvement in it. The Bulldogs were picked to win the SEC East and placed six players on the media’s preseason All-SEC team.

Continue reading Video: Wrapping up Georgia’s appearance at SEC Football Media Days »

Mark Richt, Ole Miss coach respond to Steve Spurrier’s schedule shot

HOOVER, Ala. – In a jab at Georgia’s schedule earlier this week, South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier offended Mississippi’s football program. Said Spurrier: “If I made the schedule, Georgia would be playing LSU, and we’d be playing Ole Miss.”

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze fired back on Thursday as SEC Media Days concluded: “2013, I think they’re on our schedule. We will circle that date and look forward to maybe changing his perspective on Ole Miss football.”

Georgia coach Mark Richt also was asked about Spurrier’s comment that he’d prefer to play UGA’s cross-division schedule rather than South Carolina’s.

“I’m sure there will be a year he’ll be thankful for the schedule he has,” Richt said.

FULL AJC COVERAGE FROM DAY 3 OF SEC MEDIA DAYS:

Continue reading Mark Richt, Ole Miss coach respond to Steve Spurrier’s schedule shot »

Richt, Bulldogs address perception of being an undisciplined team

HOOVER, Ala. – Georgia was picked to repeat as SEC Eastern Division champions and return to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship game for a second straight year. But that wasn’t the most prevalent topic of discussion for the Bulldogs during SEC Football Media Days on Thursday.

Team discipline was the topic du jour for coach Mark Richt and the three players he brought with him to the Wynfrey Hotel. With the recent arrest and subsequent dismissal of tailback Isaiah Crowell, the Bulldogs stand to have five starters miss games this season due to disciplinary problems. That does not the count the dismissal of four other players for team-policy violations or academic shortcomings.

Richt has been out of the public eye and line of media since the Crowell news broke on June 29. So the majority of questions he fielded from beat reporters had to do with the impact disciplinary actions have had on his team for 2012.

“We’re certainly going to have an expectation for how …

Continue reading Richt, Bulldogs address perception of being an undisciplined team »

Alabama vows to avoid 2010-type complacency

HOOVER, Ala. -- For the second time in three years, Alabama enters the football season as the defending national champion. Crimson Tide players still cringe at the complacency that followed their 2009 national title and contributed to  a three-loss season in 2010. They vow not to have a similar letdown this fall after winning last season’s national title.

“Coach [Nick] Saban said ‘no complacency’ [in 2010] … but for some reason we just didn’t buy into it,” center Barrett Jones recalled during Alabama’s appearance Thursday at SEC Media Days. “It’s not going to sneak up on us this year. We know that we have to, if anything, work harder this year than last year. We have a lot of guys from that 2010 season, and we all had a bad feeling from that season and don’t want to feel that way again.”

Said tight end Michael Williams: “We saw what can happen, what complacency did to us. We’re very determined to not let that happen to this year’s team.”

Saban said this team has had “a …

Continue reading Alabama vows to avoid 2010-type complacency »

Dooley: ‘You’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore’

HOOVER, Ala. — Tennessee coach Derek Dooley sounded a bit of a warning to the rest of the SEC in his Media Days appearance Thursday.

“I know the SEC has enjoyed taking advantage of our tough times,” Dooley said. “But there’s a nice mood on our team right now that you’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore.”

Tennessee has gone 11-14 (4-12 SEC) in Dooley’s first two seasons as its coach. The Vols were 5-7 (1-7 SEC) last season, including their first loss in 27 years to Kentucky.

“It definitely was a lot of frustration, especially after the loss to Kentucky,” said Tennessee offensive lineman Ja’Wuan James, who attended North Gwinnett High. “We all just came together as players and talked about it and said, ‘We’re on a mission this year to bring Tennessee back to what it used to be.’ … We’ve been working all offseason so we can do that.”

Dooley obviously is encouraged:

“I feel better today about where we are as a program than at any point since I’ve been …

Continue reading Dooley: ‘You’re not going to have Tennessee to kick around anymore’ »

UGA coach Mark Richt: ‘We don’t recruit bad kids’ (UPDATED)

UPDATED THROUGHOUT . . .

HOOVER, Ala. — I’m going to have a lot more for you a little bit later, but for now I’m going to give you just the high points and raw quotes from the beat-writer’s session with Georgia coach Mark Richt here at SEC Football Media Days this morning.

Richt will address the full media contingent here at the Wynfrey Hotel later today. Players Jarvis Jones, Abry Jones and Tavarres King are also here and I talked to them as well and will share their thoughts as soon as I can get around to it.

Now for Richt . . .

>>>As you might expect, the conversation was dominated about team discipline. We hadn’t had a chance to talk to Richt about Isaiah Crowell’s dismissal since it happened on June 29. So he talked about that and about the perception that there is a lack of discipline at Georgia.

On having to kick Crowell off the team: “Well, no decision to dismiss a guy from the team is an easy decision. It’s always tough because I care very much about all these guys. …

Continue reading UGA coach Mark Richt: ‘We don’t recruit bad kids’ (UPDATED) »

Watch: SEC Media Days press conferences

Continue reading Watch: SEC Media Days press conferences »

Preseason All-SEC team includes six UGA players

HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia has six players on the preaseason All-SEC teams picked by the media.

The selections were revealed this morning at SEC Media Days.

Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones and safety Bacarri Rambo made the preseason first-team All-SEC defense, while nose guard John Jenkins made the second team.

On offense, quarterback Aaron Murray was chosen as second-team preseason All-SEC, while wide receiver Tavarres King and linemen Kenarious Gates made the third team.

Arkansas’ Tyler Wilson was picked ahead of Murray as the first-team quarterback.

Other first-team preseason All-SEC picks included South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and Arkansas running back Knile Davis, both of whom are returning from injuries; Tennessee wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers; South Carolina defensive lineman Jadeveon Clowney and LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu.

OTHER COVERAGE FROM DAY 3 OF SEC MEDIA DAYS:

FULL AJC …

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Media vote: Georgia will win SEC East

HOOVER, Ala. — Georgia will win the SEC East and lose to LSU in the SEC Championship game again this season.

That’s according to the annual preseason media poll, announced Thursday at SEC Media Days.

Georgia received 132 votes to win the East, followed by 72 votes for South Carolina and 12 for Florida.

LSU drew 139 votes to win the West, followed by 72 for defending national champion Alabama and six for Arkansas.

If the media is correct in both divisions, that would set up a rematch of last year’s SEC title game. And the outcome would be the same, too, according to the preseson media poll.

LSU received 129 votes to win the SEC championship, followed by 65 votes for Alabama and 14 for Georgia. Five other teams got six votes or fewer to win the conference title, including one unfathomable vote for Mississippi.

“I hope the media is right [on its SEC East pick],” Georgia coach Mark Richt said. “I was looking at the record of picking the eventual champion, and it wasn’t …

Continue reading Media vote: Georgia will win SEC East »

It’s UGA’s turn at SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. – Good morning from the The Wynfrey hotel and Day 3 of SEC Football Media Days. Today, UGA gets its turn in the spotlight.

Media Days concludes with four teams, including Georgia, on stage. First up this morning: Alabama. Followed by Tennessee, Ole Miss and UGA.

Georgia, like all teams, will be represented by three players. Quarterback Aaron Murray will not be among them. UGA associate athletic director Claude Felton said Murray, who represented the Bulldogs at Media Days last year, was excused because of his attendance at back-to-back quarterback camps. He was an instructor at the Manning Passing Academy last weekend in Louisiana, and he then headed to the Elite 11 camp in southern California.

Georgia will be represented at Media Days by linebacker Jarvis Jones, defensive end Abry Jones and wide receiver Tavarres King.

Check back to ajc.com throughout the day for full coverage of the Bulldogs.

FULL AJC COVERAGE FROM DAY 2 OF SEC MEDIA DAYS:

Continue reading It’s UGA’s turn at SEC Media Days »

LSU QB Mettenberger says ‘God had different path’ than UGA

HOOVER, Ala. – A short time ago I had the pleasure of having a semi-exclusive interview with LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger before he began to make the media rounds here at the Wynfrey Hotel. A couple of LSU beat writers and I were able to spend 10 minutes talking to Mettenberger in the Buckingham Room here soon after he and his coach and teammates arrived for SEC Media Days.

Mettenberger is, of course, a former Georgia player who was dismissed from the team shortly before pleading guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery in the spring of 2010. He grew up in Watkinsville, Ga., as a huge Georgia fan and his mother has worked in the Bulldogs’ football office for 10 years.

Now he finds himself as the starting quarterback for national championship-contender LSU. You need to know nothing more than the fact that the Tigers chose to bring him to Media Days despite Mettenberger having never started a game to know how they feel about him.

I’m writing a story that will …

Continue reading LSU QB Mettenberger says ‘God had different path’ than UGA »

Auburn welcomes VanGorder back to the SEC

HOOVER, Ala. — Brian VanGorder, former defensive coordinator at Georgia and, more recently, with the Falcons, is a welcomed addition to the Auburn staff, head coach Gene Chizik said. Chizik hired VanGorder from the Falcons this year to be the Tigers’ defensive coordinator.

“It’s been a great transition with Brian,” Chizik said at SEC Media Days today. “We go back a long ways. Philosophically, we’re on the exact same page with what we believe in defensively and what we think is the right mixture of a lot of different things, coverage and front-wise.”

VanGorder is one of two former UGA defensive coordinators on the Auburn staff. Willie Martinez was hired as the Tigers’ secondary coach after working at Oklahoma the past two seasons.

On a different topic from Chizik:

Having coached for four years in the Big 12 –- two as an assistant at Texas and two as head coach at Iowa State — before taking the Auburn job in 2009, Chizik said SEC opponents should not …

Continue reading Auburn welcomes VanGorder back to the SEC »

Kentucky: Coach Joker Phillips says he’s feeling no heat

HOOVER, Ala. – Kentucky coach Joker Phillips is known as a serious-minded fellow. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a sense of humor.

Asked the dreaded hot-seat question during SEC Football Media Days on Wednesday, the third-year coach had a quick comeback.

“I’m not sitting down right now, so there’s nothing hot up here,” he said with a laugh.

Turning serious, Phillips said he doesn’t pay attention to such distinctions.

“I don’t have time to listen to that stuff,” said Phillips, who is 11-14 since succeeding Rich Brooks in 2010. “All we have time to do is think about doing the things we need to do to get back to the level we want to. I don’t have time to think about other things. . . . If I do I’m losing time I’ve got to sell the great state of Kentucky and what we have to offer.”

The Wildcats finished 5-6 this past season and missed a bowl game for the first time in six years. However, they finished the season strong, winning two of the last four and beating Tennessee in …

Continue reading Kentucky: Coach Joker Phillips says he’s feeling no heat »

Mississippi State: Ole Miss is one thing, rest of the West another

HOOVER, Ala. — Dan Mullen has established a reputation in Mississippi for being kind of in-your-face with regard to Mississippi State’s primary rival, the Ole Miss Rebels. The Bulldogs are 3-0 against the Rebels during Mullen’s tenure, and State has erected billboards all over the state proclaiming their superiority.

Mullen’s favorite?

“I think the neatest one was the ‘Three in a Row,’” Mullen said at SEC Football Media Days on Wednesday. “It was [a picture of] our three Miss Mississippis in a row. It had all three of those young ladies with their crowns on. I think that was a pretty cool one.”

The reality is, outside their dominance of Ole Miss, Mullen and Mississippi State haven’t had much more about which to brag. While the Bulldogs are 3-0 against the Rebels, they’re 0-12 against the rest of the SEC West.

Mullen was asked Wednesday if he felt his program was closing that gap on the powers in his division, Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn and LSU.

“I mean, we’ve had an opportunity …

Continue reading Mississippi State: Ole Miss is one thing, rest of the West another »

Muschamp: Keep Georgia-Florida in Jax; ‘Coach Dooley never complained about it’

HOOVER, Ala. — Will Muschamp, Florida coach and former Georgia player, got the obligatory question at SEC Media Days about whether the Georgia-Florida game should remain in Jacksonville.

Yes, he said unequivocally, citing the tradition and the special setting along the St. John’s River.

Then he added: “Coach Dooley never complained about it being there.”

Georgia was 17-7-1 against the Gators in Jacksonville during Vince Dooley’s 25 years as head coach. Since Dooley’s final season as coach in 1988, Georgia is 5-18 vs. the Gators, including 5-16 in Jacksonville (2-3 in the past five years).

MORE COVERAGE FROM DAY 2 OF SEC MEDIA DAYS (MORE TO COME ALL AFTERNOON):

FULL AJC COVERAGE FROM DAY 1 OF SEC MEDIA DAYS:

Continue reading Muschamp: Keep Georgia-Florida in Jax; ‘Coach Dooley never complained about it’ »

Coaches’ sideline behavior a ‘point of emphasis’ for SEC officials

HOOVER Ala. — SEC director of officials Steve Shaw was first up on Day 2 of SEC Football Media Days and there was much to discuss with regard to rule changes in 2012.

First and foremost is the change on kickoffs. For safety reasons, the placement of the ball has been moved up from the 30- to the 35-yard line. Shaw said the move was made in order to induce “more touchbacks, less collisions.”

However, touchbacks have also been moved up for the offensive team from the 20- to the 25-yard line. So defensive-minded coaches aren’t necessarily inclined to readily give up those five yards.

Florida coach Will Muschamp, for instance, said the Gators are discussing alternatives.

“We have talked about some sky kick situations,” Muschamp said. “We’re looking at directional kicking the ball with height and see if we can pin them back a little further.”

They’ve also instituted a rule that protects the receiver when the kicking team attempts an onsides kick with a high …

Continue reading Coaches’ sideline behavior a ‘point of emphasis’ for SEC officials »

Spurrier has no qualms about this quarterback (and more from Media Days)

HOOVER, Ala. -- Famously tough on his quarterbacks, South Carolina coach Steve  Spurrier clearly is fond of the Gamecocks’ current starter at the position, former Flowery Branch High star Connor Shaw.

So much so that he brought Shaw, a junior, with him to Media Days.

“Our sports information guy, he said, ‘Coach, this is the first year since you’ve been at South Carolina that you brought a quarterback to this media day,’” Spurrier said.

“I said, ‘That’s right, isn’t it?’”

Each team brings three players, and Spurrier said he selects the Gamecocks’ delegates based on their ability to “represent our university and our football program in a first-class manner.”

Shaw seems untroubled by Spurrier’s reputation for being hard on quarterbacks. Shaw called his coach “pretty much a perfectionist.”

“I knew coming in that he critiques his quarterback hard, but that’s what you expect as a quarterback,” Shaw said. “In order to get better, you have …

Continue reading Spurrier has no qualms about this quarterback (and more from Media Days) »

Vanderbilt’s James Franklin insists there’s no bad blood with Georgia

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin didn’t bite when asked by a reporter to comment on the “bad blood” between the Commodores and Georgia.

Franklin and Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham had to be restrained from fighting following the Bulldogs’ narrow 33-28 win in Nashville last October.

“We have tremendous respect for all the programs in the conference, all the coaches, all the players,” Franklin said. “Our focus is on South Carolina. That’s who we’re opening the season with and that’s all we’re really going to talk about. . . .

“I will tell you this: You play Vanderbilt, you better be ready to play from the beginning of the game to the end. That’s whoever it is.”

The Commodores return 17 starters from last year’s 6-7 team, which lost to Cincinnati in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. They open the season against South Carolina in Nashville on Aug. 30 in a Thursday night game televised on ESPN.

teresting to see in August how he’s throwing accuracy …

Continue reading Vanderbilt’s James Franklin insists there’s no bad blood with Georgia »