Archive for July, 2012

Missouri: Tigers expect ‘electric atmosphere’ for Georgia in ‘The Zoo’

HOOVER, Ala. — Missouri coach Gary Pinkel’s message at SEC Football Media Days was pretty similar to the one delivered by Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin a couple of hours earlier. That is, the Tigers aren’t intimidated about now having to play eight SEC opponents versus Big 12 opponents.

“I’d be real disappointed if we were intimidated,” said Pinkel, who has coached Missouri for the past 11 seasons. “We played in a pretty good league ourselves. We understand how it works. Everybody’s wondering how Missouri is going to do in the SEC. Everybody’s going to be analyzing us. That’s going to be the case every week we play. …

“We’re new. We have to prove ourselves and earn respect, and that’s what we’re going to work hard to do.”

The Tigers have proven they can succeed on a high level. They’ve won double-digit games three times under Pinkel, including a 12-2 mark in 2007 when they were in the BCS discussion until late in the season.

Missouri is used to going …

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South Carolina: Spurrier would prefer Georgia’s schedule

HOOVER, Ala. – The question was about the perceived advantage of the open date on South Carolina’s schedule before the Gamecocks’ Nov. 10 game against Arkansas. But South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier veered in a different direction with the answer.

“You think I make the schedule?” Spurrier said from the podium at SEC Media Days. “If I made the schedule, Georgia would be playing LSU, and we’d be playing Ole Miss.”

The schedule says otherwise, of course — South Carolina at LSU on Oct. 13 and Georgia vs. Ole Miss in Athens on Nov. 3.

Spurrier didn’t make more of the issue, quickly moving on by saying: “Not complaining about that other part I mentioned there.”

But he had made the point, not for the first time, that South Carolina’s cross-division schedule is more imposing than Georgia’s. Last month, at the SEC meetings in Destin, Fla., Spurrier proposed that such schedule inequities be remedied by counting only intra-division games in determining the SEC …

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Texas A&M: Aggies excited — not intimidated — about SEC challenge

HOOVER, Ala. — Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin was first on the podium among the SEC coaches at SEC Football Media Days on Tuesday. The Aggies’ first-year coach was poised and well-spoken and said the word “excited” a lot, which was to be expected.

“This makes it real,” Sumlin said to a ballroom packed with media. “What first made it real for me is when we had our first head coaches meeting back in March. When you closed that door behind you, you knew it was real then. But walking into this room and seeing the number of people in this room, you know the kind of league you’re in. It’s a different size and scope for football.”

Sumlin, who turns 48 on Aug. 3, has enjoyed a rapid rise through the head-coaching ranks. He comes to A&M from Houston, where he coached for four seasons. That was his first head coaching job and he led the Cougars to a 35-17 record and three bowl games. They were 13-1 this past season, narrowly missing a BCS bowl only because of a 49-28 loss to …

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Mike Slive talks playoff and a lot more at SEC Media Days

HOOVER, Ala. — SEC Media Days kicked off this afternoon with Mike Slive, who became the league’s commissioner 10 years ago, delivering his annual state-of-the-conference address:

A few quick highlights from Slive’s comments:

  • On this summer’s approval (finally) of a college football playoff, which will begin in 2014: “It’s no secret the SEC has supported a four-team seeded playoff, the four best teams, for several years starting in 2004, when an undefeated Auburn, the SEC champion, was left out of the national championship hunt. Now we have a four-team playoff.  I’m often asked whether the new format is good for the SEC. The answer is unequivocally yes, and it’s good for college football at the same time. . . . We are now able to provide student athletes and fans with a championship playoff format that not only protects the best regular season in sport, but enhances it.”
  • Slive said much work remains to be done on details of the playoff. “That includes the plan …

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Football season arrives with annual SEC Media Days gathering

Birmingham — I’m here at SEC Football Media Days with AJC colleagues Jeff Schultz and Tim Tucker. We’ll be providing you online coverage all afternoon. Schultz already has posted one of his infamous “Digi-Blogs.”

The actual event doesn’t get started until 1:30 p.m. EST when Commissioner Mike Slive gives the state of the SEC address — they take this stuff very serious — but the Wynfrey Hotel is already abuzz with activity. According to the SEC, more than 1,100 media professionals have been credentialed for this year’s festivities, which is a record.

Of course, foremost on the agenda this year is the expansion of the league to 14 teams. New members Missouri and Texas A&M will both meet the press today. I wrote a story that you can LINK TO HERE previewing this year’s event and reviewing all the work that has gone into adding these two programs over the last nine months.

One of the highlights of this event is the annual polling of the media, who pick a preseason All-SEC team and …

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‘Do-it-all Dog’ Richard Samuel coming through for Georgia again

It looked like Richard Samuel's career at tailback was going to take off when he broke off this 80-yard touchdown run against Arkansas in 2009. (AP photo)

It looked like Richard Samuel's career at tailback was going to take off when he broke off this 80-yard touchdown run against Arkansas in 2009. (AP photo)

Athens – Richard Samuel has a reputation for being the ultimate team player for Georgia, and deservedly so. Since arriving in Athens as a 17-year-old in 2008, he has been asked to change positions — and accepted those requests — three times due to depth issues on one side of the ball or the other.

As the page turns to 2012, Samuel is coming to the rescue again. With the recent dismissal of tailback Isaiah Crowell, Samuel is going to be asked to pick up the slack at that position this fall. Samuel had his mind set on playing fullback this fall, but now he will work “primarily” at tailback, according to offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, especially in the early going.

“I don’t think too much about it,” said Samuel as he signed autographs during Countdown to Kickoff at UGA this past Saturday. “Back in the spring I was …

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Georgia’s first 3 games picked up for television; 12:21 p.m. kickoff for opener

Athens – Fans will be able to catch Georgia’s first three games of the season on television.

That was the news that emerged Monday with the SEC’s release of the league-wide TV schedule. It was uncertain where television might fit in with two of the Bulldogs’ first three games being against Buffalo and Florida Atlantic.

  • The SEC Network picked up Georgia’s Sept 1 opener against Buffalo and has set the kickoff for 12:21 p.m.;
  • ESPN2 will carry the highly-anticipated opener against SEC newbie Missouri at 7:45 p.m. on Sept. 8;
  • Comcast Sports Southeast (CSS) will televise the Bulldogs’ Sept. 15 tilt against FAU at 7:30 p.m.

The first three games of the 2012 Georgia football season will be televised by the SEC Network, ESPN2, and CSS according to a league-wide scheduled released Monday by the Southeastern Conference office.

Georgia already knows its Oct. 27 game with Florida in Jacksonville will be televised by CBS at 3:30 p.m., as usual. The other games will be determined the SEC’s …

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‘Countdown to Kickoff’ unites Georgia Bulldogs and their fans

ATHENS – I just returned from the annual Countdown to Kickoff extravaganza over at Georgia’s Woodruff Practice Fields. I’ve been before but haven’t been in several years. Now that I have a 5-year-old boy, I figured it would be a good time to go back.

AJC photographer Johnny Crawford was there and posted a great photo gallery here on the AJC website. If you missed my hotlink you can see it HERE. I’ll add a few crappy pics from my iPhone below shortly to illustrate the difference in an amateur and a pro.

Former Georgia quarterback David Greene shows his son, Jordan, the proper way to shake a hand. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

Former Georgia quarterback David Greene shows his son, Jordan, the proper way to shake a hand. (AJC photo by Johnny Crawford)

It looked like a very good turnout and they’ve really perfected the layout and routine of the event. For fans, you can’t ask for better access to the players. It’s a very relaxed environment and you can spend some time chatting up the players, current and former.

I saw a bunch of both and spoke to a few. Among the former Bulldogs I saw — in addition to …

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New title comes along with raise, contract extension for D-coordinator Todd Grantham

It doesn't sound like Todd Grantham's new title of associate head coach is going to add many new responsibilities outside of coordinating Georgia's defense. (AP photo)

It doesn't sound like Todd Grantham's new title of associate head coach is going to add many new responsibilities outside of coordinating Georgia's defense. (AP photo)

Athens – That Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham received a new three-year contract and $75,000-a-year raise this year has been well-documented. What hasn’t been, however, is that he also received a title change as well.

In addition to defensive coordinator, Grantham now is also the Bulldogs’ associate head coach. Georgia didn’t make an announcement or anything to that effect.  The title simply appears below his name and above Grantham’s bio on page 22 of the recently-released 2012 media guide.

Grantham was asked on Friday what the new role would entail for him. It doesn’t sound like much if anything will change. Here’s his convoluted answer:

“As far as the new title — and the salary, too, for that matter — obviously I’m appreciative of President Adams, Mr. McGarity and Coach Richt for …

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Bobo: Georgia’s offensive issues extend beyond tailback

RECRUITING: GEORGIA PICKS UP 2 COMMITMENTS AT ‘DAWG NIGHT’

Athens — To hear Mike Bobo enumerate Georgia’s deficiencies on offense is to realize that the Bulldogs problems on that side of the ball go much deeper than the recent dismissal of tailback Isaiah Crowell. Tailback, it seems, may be the least of their issues.

“Going into fall camp it’s going to be about trying build our identity, you know, who we are,” said Georgia’s offensive coordinator, who met with reporters Friday at Butts-Mehre Heritage Hall. “We lost three guys off the offensive line and we’re still trying to find those five to seven linemen that are going to play and help us. We lose our top two tight ends, we lose our top fullback, one of our running backs is now gone and [defensive coordinator Todd] Grantham’s trying to steal one of our receivers. So there’s some parts that we’ve got to replace offensively.”

Georgia’s coaches all returned from vacations this past week. The Bulldogs host their annual …

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UGA places league-leading 128 on SEC spring honor roll

Georgia led the SEC in representatives on the conference’s spring-sports academic honor roll, which was announced by the league office this week.

Georgia had 128 student-athletes on the list, more than any other school.

UGA athletic director Greg McGarity cheered the news, which he said should not be drowned out by reports of other athletes who have gotten in trouble.

“Here are 128 student-athletes who are doing things the right way, and that is a big deal,” McGarity said Thursday. “They should receive as much attention as those who get in trouble. The fact is, 99 percent of college athletes do things the right way, but the 1 percent who do wrong tend to get more attention.”

To make the SEC’s spring-sports honor roll, athletes in baseball, equestrian, golf, softball, tennis and track and field must have at least a 3.0 grade point average for the preceding academic year or a cumulative 3.0 GPA.

Here are the UGA representatives on the SEC’s spring-sports academic …

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Who are Georgia’s Top 10 football players of all time?

Coming up with No. 1 on a list of Georgia's 10 greatest players is easy. But it gets increasingly hard as you move down the list and can produce arguments what will last into the night. (AP Photo)

Coming up with No. 1 on a list of Georgia's 10 greatest players is easy. But it gets increasingly hard as you move down the list and can produce arguments what will last into the night. (AP Photo)

So as I mentioned on social media yesterday, I’ve been working on a summer project for the AJC in which one of the assignments was to name the 10 “most memorable players” in Georgia football history. Do you have any idea what a maddening and pretty much impossible task that is?

You can say a lot of things about the Bulldogs, but they have produced a lot of great players in their 120-year football history. And I don’t use the term “great” lightly. In all, they’ve had 68 All-Americans and 12 Bulldogs have been inducted in the College Football Hall of Game.

It was so hard to limit to just 10 players that I finally turned to Facebook and Twitter and just kind of threw it out there to get the opinions of Georgia fans. As is usually the case when you present something to the Bulldog …

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Georgia linebacker Brandon Burrows decides to return to team

ATHENS — In a year in which the Georgia Bulldogs have seen their number in a continuing state of dwindle, they finally got to add one on Monday.

Brandon Burrows, a redshirt sophomore linebacker from Marietta who quit the team just last week, asked for and was granted a reinstatement on Monday.

Burrows

Burrows

“I’m actually on my way back to Athens right now,” said Burrows, reached via cellphone Monday night. “I’ve just been thinking about it and praying about it a lot. It was weird because, while I was thinking about it, I got a call from Coach [Rodney] Garner and we talked about a lot of things. He was saying I owed it to myself, being fully healthy and not redshirted, to play here and prove to myself I could do it. And I really agree with him. I think I would have being doing myself an injustice if I left in such a manner. So I talked to Coach Richt about it and he’s, of course, as caring and understanding as they come.

“I just can’t put into words how thankful I am to be back and …

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Vince Dooley says losing Isaiah Crowell ‘best thing to happen’ for Bulldogs

ATHENS – Isaiah Crowell getting arrested and kicked off the team may have been a blessing in disguise for the Georgia Bulldogs.

So thinks former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley. I was interviewing Coach Dooley on Monday for another project I’m doing for the AJC when the subject of Crowell came up. Crowell, a rising sophomore and former 5-star recruit who was the Bulldogs’ leading rusher last season, was dismissed by head coach Mark Richt following Crowell’s arrest on felony weapons charges. Crowell has since transferred to Alabama State, an FCS program in Montgomery, Ala., and started classes on Monday.

That chain of events may help the Bulldogs in the long run, Dooley contends.

“I don’t want to put any pressure on them, but losing that guy may have been the best thing to happen to them,” said Dooley, who coached the Bulldogs to six SEC championships and one national title in 25 seasons. “It was a bad-apple type thing, if you ask me.”

“Bad apple” was the …

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Isaiah Crowell chooses FCS school Alabama State over JUCO route

In a decision that will surely surprise some, ousted Georgia running back Isaiah Crowell has decided to transfer to Alabama State University.

Alabama State coach Reggie Barlow confirmed Crowell’s transfer in a phone conversation Thursday evening. He said the rising sophomore has already registered for classes at the Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) school in Montgomery, Ala., and will begin classes on Monday. Pending the outcome of his court case on three weapons charges, Crowell will play football for the Hornets this fall.

“We’re going to show him how we do things and let him turn the page,” said Barlow, the Hornets’ coach since 2007. “We’re giving him an opportunity to start over.”

Crowell was dismissed by the Bulldogs this past Friday, just 13 hours after he was pulled over and arrested at a road block. He was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor after a 9-mm Luger handgun with a scratched-off serial number was found underneath the …

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Updated: Isaiah Crowell retains high-profile Atlanta attorney, heads to Alabama State

UPDATE: Alabama State head coach Reggie Barlow confirms Isaiah Crowell’s transfer to FCS school. New story coming soon . . .

Isaiah Crowell is transferring to Alabama State University and the ousted Georgia running back has retained high-profile Atlanta criminal defense attorney Steve Sadow to represent him on weapons charges.

Crowell, a rising sophomore, was dismissed by the Bulldogs this past Friday. He faces two felony weapons charges and one misdemeanor charged after a 9-mm Luger handgun with an defaced serial number was found underneath the driver’s seat of the 2005 Mercury Grand Marquis he was driving.

Reached by telephone Thursday, Sadow said he will be representing Crowell “pro bono,” which means he won’t be charging for his services. Sadow has represented such high-profile clients as the rapper T.I., and defended former Georgia basketball player Tony Cole on a rape charge, which was eventually dismissed.

Sadow said he reached out to Crowell via social media after …

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Legal experts: Isaiah Crowell faces 5 years in prison but probation likely

ATHENS — From all accounts, Isaiah Crowell is facing up to five years in prison and/or probation on the felony weapons charges that landed him in jail this past Friday.

The Georgia running back was dismissed from the team by head coach Mark Richt approximately 15 hours after an unregistered handgun was found under the driver’s seat of his car at a road block. Crowell was taken to Athens-Clarke County jail and was charged with possession of a weapon with an altered identification, possession of a weapon in a school zone [UGA] and possession of a concealed weapon. The first two charges are felonies.

Crowell

Crowell

As of Monday, Crowell did not have a court date and has not filed a notice of legal representation, according to court records and officials.

“I’m not aware of any court date at all at this point; I’m not even aware that it has been assigned to a judge yet,” said Ken Mauldin, district attorney of the Western Judicial Circuit, which covers Oconee and Athens-Clarke …

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