Archive for the ‘Focal’ Category

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 underestimate league …

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 one-hopper. In the past, …

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 to embrace that criticism and just listen to …

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 wise as he’s throwing over …

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

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 up against Texas, Texas A&M …

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

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 Southern …

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

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 for …

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

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 …

Continue reading Football season arrives with annual SEC Media Days gathering »

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 …

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

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 …

Continue reading Isaiah Crowell chooses FCS school Alabama State over JUCO route »

UPDATE III: Georgia TB Isaiah Crowell dismissed after weapons arrest

Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman last season, was expected to start for the Bulldogs this fall.

Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell, who rushed for 850 yards as a freshman last season, was expected to start for the Bulldogs this fall. (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

UPDATED: CROWELL DISMISSED FROM TEAM

ATHENS – Georgia tailback Isaiah Crowell has been dismissed from the team following his arrest early Friday morning on three weapons charges.

Georgia coach Mark Richt made the announcement in  short news release sent out by UGA Sports Communications at 5 p.m. on Friday.

“We have a dedicated and committed group of men who are working hard to prepare for the coming season,” Richt said. “Our total focus will be directed toward the team and this effort.”

Crowell, a sophomore from Columbus, was booked at 3:37 a.m. on charges of possessing a concealed weapon, having a weapon in a school zone and having an altered ID mark on that weapon. His bond, originally set at $7,500, was raised to $9,500 late Friday morning. According to booking records, Crowell was released early Friday …

Continue reading UPDATE III: Georgia TB Isaiah Crowell dismissed after weapons arrest »

Video: College football approves four-team playoff

The university presidents and chancellors who oversee the BCS agreed Tuesday, at a meeting in Washington, to introduce a four-team college-football playoff beginning in the 2014 season. Check out this CineSport video for details on the playoff and comments from the chairman of the BCS presidential oversight committee:

Continue reading Video: College football approves four-team playoff »

Kelley Hester gets women’s golf job at Furman, Dogs tab USC assistant

ATHENS – Kelley Hester, Georgia’s women’s golf coach for the past five years, didn’t stay unemployed for long. The UGA graduate landed the head coaching job just up the road at Furman, she confirmed Friday.

Meanwhile, it appears that the Bulldogs have tabbed Josh Brewer to replace Hester as the Lady Dogs’ coach. Brewer, 36, has been assistant women’s golf coach at Southern Cal since 2009 and was a men’s golf assistant at Indiana before that. Brewer played golf for the Hoosiers from 1995-98.

Hester was informed by athletic director Greg McGarity on May 31 that her five-year contract, set to expire on June 30, would not be renewed. The decision came as a surprise to many as the Lady Bulldogs finished the season ranked No. 9 in the nation by Golfstat and No. 12 by Golf Week, had two All-Americans and had signed the best player in South America. However, Georgia failed to advance to the NCAA Golf Championships for a third consecutive year.

Hester will begin her new job on July 1 …

Continue reading Kelley Hester gets women’s golf job at Furman, Dogs tab USC assistant »

Georgia Bulldogs sharply focused on 2012 football season

Sorry for the delay in getting some of this out to you guys. Hope you saw my STORY and BLOG from the Pigskin Preview on Tuesday at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in Macon. If not, you can read them HERE and HERE. Meanwhile, here’s more of what was said from the UGA contingent at the Pigskin Preview down in Macon yesterday:

JUNIOR QUARTERBACK AARON MURRAY

On walkon FB Merritt Hall, who is listed as starter heading into summer camp . . .

“He’s a crazy dude, that’s for sure. He reminds me of somebody like Ben Jones in that he’s just a crazy football player that’s dirty and ready to put his head in the pile and just knock people around. That’s the kind of fullback that you want, somebody that’s not afraid of contact, who’s just going to fill that hole and get it open. Whatever linebacker shows up first, he’s taking their head off. I’m excited about it him. I know we have some other guys, Zander [Ogletree] and the guy who just got here who’s a freshman [Quayvon Hicks]. Hicks is a …

Continue reading Georgia Bulldogs sharply focused on 2012 football season »

Raises coming for UGA football coaches Mark Richt, Todd Grantham

Georgia is expected to step up with more years and more money to keep Mark Richt and Todd Grantham together to lead the Bulldogs' football program.

Georgia is expected to step up with more years and more money to keep Mark Richt and Todd Grantham together to lead the Bulldogs' football program.

ATHENS – The Georgia Athletic Association end-of-the-year board meeting is scheduled to get started tomorrow morning at the Ritz Carlton Lodge on Lake Oconee. Actually, current and emeritus members will gather there to socialize tonight, then commence with business first thing in the morning.

And I’m expecting a lot of business to be conducted. UGA so far has offered only a very vague agenda for the meeting, which lists things like “AD’s Report,” “New Projects” and “Financial Update” and the like. But the most important item of business isn’t spelled out there and we all know that it’s going to take place (likely during AD’s report).

Georgia is expected to finally reveal the details of football coach Mark Richt’s new five-year contract. Legal representatives for both Richt and the university have been dickering over the final …

Continue reading Raises coming for UGA football coaches Mark Richt, Todd Grantham »

NCAA golf and tennis underway at UGA, softball on Friday

ATHENS — I’m over here in the press box at the Dan Magill Tennis Complex watching the No. 6-seeded Georgia women take on 11th-seeded Texas in the first round of the NCAA Tennis Championships. The Lady Bulldogs won the doubles point, so it’s 1-0 and Georgia is up a set at all six singles positions.

Georgia Tech’s women’s team played earlier today and lost to No. 9 California 4-0. That ends the Yellow Jackets’ season at 16-12. The men get underway tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’ll take this opportunity to catch you up on some other news happening in and around Athens and UGA sports.

I dropped by the UGA Golf Course before here to catch the end of the NCAA Athens Regional. Georgia is hosting 12 other teams in that event, with the top five advancing to nationals. They’ll play 36 more over the next two days to determine which teams advance.

The Bulldogs had a so-so day, closing strong to finish at 4-under as a team and in fourth place. But they were shown up by some visitors, including …

Continue reading NCAA golf and tennis underway at UGA, softball on Friday »

Opportunistic Gamecocks best Bulldogs in pitcher’s duel, 3-0

ATHENS – Alex Wood didn’t make many mistakes. But when he did, South Carolina made him pay.

Georgia’s crafty left-hander had allowed only five base runners and one solid base hit all night when Gamecocks third baseman L.B. Dantzler turned on an inside pitch and launched it off the top of the scoreboard in right field for a home run and 1-0 lead in the seventh.

South Carolina scratched across another run in the eighth on a two-out single by Evan Marzilli — the inning ended with Marzilli getting thrown out at second base — and scored again on a two-out, two-strike squeeze bunt in the ninth. It was was a stunning display of opportunism at its finest.

On the flipside, Georgia left nine runners on base, stranded the bases loaded in the sixth and left empty-handed after getting back-to-back singles to start the ninth. It was the epitome of wastefulness.

Therein was the difference. Two-time defending national champion South Carolina 3, Georgia 0.

“We never answered all day,” Georgia …

Continue reading Opportunistic Gamecocks best Bulldogs in pitcher’s duel, 3-0 »

UGA pitcher Alex Wood relishes matchup against defending champion Gamecocks

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Alex Wood has been like a block of granite at the front of the Bulldogs' rotation. (AP photo)

Redshirt sophomore pitcher Alex Wood has been like a block of granite at the front of the Bulldogs' rotation. (AP photo)

ATHENS — For no other reason than the opportunity to see Alex Wood pitch in what will likely be his final home start as a Georgia Bulldog, Friday night would be a great time to come to Foley Field. But then throw in the added element of opponent and stakes, and it’s understandable why tonight’s game against South Carolina is already sellout.

Wood, a redshirt sophomore left-hander from Charlotte, is arguably the SEC’s best pitcher. Tonight, the reigning SEC Pitcher of the Week is on the hill against the No. 4-ranked and two-time defending national champion Gamecocks (37-12, 16-8 SEC). The Bulldogs (28-21, 12-12) not only need to win this game but at least one more to enhance their position to qualify for the SEC tournament and ultimately for an NCAA tournament at-large bid. After this weekend’s three-game series, a Teusday game against East Tennessee State …

Continue reading UGA pitcher Alex Wood relishes matchup against defending champion Gamecocks »

Diamond Dogs must shake off Tech loss, get busy in SEC

Georgia's Friday starter Alex Wood (6-1, 2.64) is a big reason the Bulldogs believe they can get this weekend's series against No. 4 South Carolina off to a good start. (UGA photo)

Georgia's Friday starter Alex Wood (6-1, 2.64) is a big reason the Bulldogs believe they can get this weekend's series against No. 4 South Carolina off to a good start. (UGA photo)

ATHENS — Tough loss for Georgia last night to Georgia Tech. On a designated “staff night,” in which the Bulldogs planned on getting innings for several midweek pitchers, they simply could not come up with enough quality innings and fell 8-6. Seven pitchers gave up seven walks and Georgia’s late rally came up short. Here’s a link to Ken Sugiura’s GAME REPORT.

“We pitched poorly tonight, and I take the blame for that as we just can’t do that this late in the year,” said Georgia coach David Perno. “We wanted to keep guys fresh for the upcoming South Carolina series, but we needed to do better tonight.”

In case you’re keeping count — and you can bet these two teams are — that’s the third consecutive season the Yellow Jackets have gotten the edge in the three-game series. Georgia leads the overall …

Continue reading Diamond Dogs must shake off Tech loss, get busy in SEC »

Georgia ‘peaking at right time’ after capturing 34th SEC tennis title

The Georgia Bulldogs and coach Manny Diaz just added more SEC hardward to their crowded trophy case. (UGA photo)

The Georgia Bulldogs and coach Manny Diaz just added more SEC hardware to their crowded trophy case. (UGA photo)

Georgia is good in tennis. Everybody knows that. But sometimes it’s hard to truly appreciate the level of success the Bulldogs enjoy in that sport.

Georgia’s men’s team captured their 34th SEC championship this past weekend in Starkville, Miss. Just let that number wash over you for a few seconds. Then think about this one: The title was the 14th for coach Manny Diaz. That’s one more than the legendary Dan Magill, for whom Georgia’s vast tennis complex is named.

“Last night on the bus ride home it kind of hit me — I mean, 34, my Lord,” said Diaz, still groggy after rolling in at nearly 2 a.m. Monday. “It’s a lot of championships and just a whole lot of guys who made it happen. And I was thinking about Coach Magill. In my mind, this was for him.”

Magill, 91, was Diaz’s coach at Georgia and Diaz served as his assistant for many years.

As it often has, Georgia’s …

Continue reading Georgia ‘peaking at right time’ after capturing 34th SEC tennis title »

Gym Dogs still making transition to Life After Yoculan

Following a legend such as Suzanne Yoculan, who won 10 national championships, has proven difficult Georgia gymnastics coach Jay Clark. (AJC photo)

Following a legend such as Suzanne Yoculan, who won 10 national championships, has proven difficult Georgia gymnastics coach Jay Clark. (AJC photo)

Suzanne Yoculan reflects on her early years as Georgia’s gymnastics coach and laughs. She is best known today for her 10 national championships at UGA but she was known for a lot of other things when she started out in the mid-1980s.

“I used to throw shoes across the room,” Yoculan says incredulously. “I would take my shoe off and wing it across the room at a girl because I was mad at her for something. I’m not kidding. I learned a lot those first few years.”

Yoculan shared that experience to illustrate how much there is for young coaches to learn. Yoculan points out that her successor at Georgia, Jay Clark, is also a young coach and is having to learn on the job. For that reason, she said, fans need to be patient with him.

“He hasn’t taken his shoe off and thrown it across the room,” Yoculan quipped, “so already he’s doing better …

Continue reading Gym Dogs still making transition to Life After Yoculan »

It’s Red vs. Black as UGA’s annual G-Day gets underway

ATHENS – Greetings from Sanford Stadium on an absolutely gorgeous Saturday afternoon. It’s 75 degrees and there isn’t a cloud in the sky that I can see from the South side press box.

The teams just came on the field to start their warmups for the 3 p.m. start. The Red Team, featuring the No. 1 offense, is dressed in red jerseys. The Black Team, featuring the No. 1 defense, is in white jerseys. If you’re unable to be here for the game, you’ll be able to watch a television replay at 5 p.m. this evening. In the meantime, the Georgia Bulldog Radio Network is broadcasting the game so check your local networks to listen in.

There’s been a lot going on in Athens all day. The baseball team is playing Ole Miss up at Foley Field. There was a fundraiser for Kasyn Olivadotti — the 4-year-old daughter of UGA linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti — who is battling Leukemia (check the Kasyn Cares Fund at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to see what you can do). And there was a flag football game …

Continue reading It’s Red vs. Black as UGA’s annual G-Day gets underway »

Richt gets big laugh out of Spurrier’s latest jab

Athens – South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was in midseason form when he talked to ESPN’s Chris Low in a wide-ranging spring practice interview this week in Columbia.

The barbs were flying for the Gamecocks’ outspoken coach, and both Georgia and defending national Alabama were zinged in the process.

Asked about having to play the Bulldogs in October now rather than in the second game of the season under the previous schedule, Spurrier couldn’t resist taking a shot.

“I don’t know, I sort of always liked playing them that second game because you could always count on them having two or three key players suspended,” Spurrier said.

Informed of Spurrier’s remarks after Georgia’s practice Thursday evening, coach Mark Richt just laughed.

“How ’bout that; I think that that’s funny,” Richt said after a hardy chuckle. “That sounds like Steve.”

What makes it particularly funny is Spurrier has been so lax on discipline. His previous quarterback Stephen Garcia was suspended five times …

Continue reading Richt gets big laugh out of Spurrier’s latest jab »

UGA’s Haack ‘exhausted with jubilation’ after watching Bubba Watson win Masters

UGA golf coach Chris Haack (middle) with UGA alums Angie and Bubba Watson during the UGA Stadion Classic in Athens in April 2011. (Photo by Bulldawg Illustrated)

UGA golf coach Chris Haack (middle) with UGA alums Angie and Bubba Watson during the UGA Stadion Classic in Athens in April 2011. (Photo by Bulldawg Illustrated)

ATHENS – Bubba Watson wasn’t the only one shedding tears of joy after the UGA graduate tapped in a one foot putt to win the 76th Masters golf tournament. One hundred miles away, Georgia golf coach Chris Haack and his longtime assistant Jim Douglas ended up in a tearful embrace in the living room of Haack’s Bogart home.

Haack, Douglas, some of Georgia’s current and former players and some extended family from Roanoke, Va., gathered there to watch the final round of the Masters on Easter Sunday. With Watson, a 2000-2001 Bulldog letterman, starting the day three shots off the lead, it began as a casual hope-fest. But when Watson bagged victory on the second playoff hole, it ended in a full-fledged bark-a-thon.

“It was pretty intense; it was crazy; a great time,” said Haack, his voice still hoarse and raw with emotion an …

Continue reading UGA’s Haack ‘exhausted with jubilation’ after watching Bubba Watson win Masters »

Sophomore safety Marc Deas latest Bulldog to quit, seek transfer

ATHENS — Georgia’s roster took another hit on Saturday.

Marc Deas, a redshirt sophomore safety from Kississimee, Fla., has decided to quit the team due to lack of playing time and is seeking a transfer, coach Mark Richt said after Saturday’s scrimmage.

“I talked to him yesterday and he said he just wasn’t getting the opportunity for playing time he’d hoped for,” Richt said.

Deas joins defensive lineman Derrick Lott, who made a similar decision on Friday.

That makes 11 players who have quit, been dismissed or are facing suspension since Georgia’s Jan. 1 bowl game.

More to come later. . . .

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No new surprises for Georgia as second spring practice underway

ATHENS – Back at “The Butts” today covering Georgia’s second spring football practice. There’s not a lot of new info but I’ll supply some quick updates. In the meantime, I’ll clean out my notebook from yesterday’s first practice:

  • Yesterday I reported that Georgia’s No. 1 offensive line starting out is LT Kenarious Gates, LG Kolton Houston, C David Andrews, RG Chris Burnette and RT Watts Dantzler. For what it’s worth, the second line looks like this: LT Mark Beard, LG Dallas Lee, C Hugh Williams, RG Hunter Long and RT Austin Long. So you’ve got a walkon at center and brothers playing side-by-side on the right.
  • Same players wearing green: WR Rhett McGowan, WR Chris Conley, OT Xzavier Ward, OT Zach DeBell, OLB Sterling Bailey.
  • Linebacker Ramik Wilson was not at practice for the second straight day due to a “a personal, private issue,” according to Richt. He was not ready to divulge the reason for Wilson’s absence but did say it was not a disciplinary situation. We’re supposed to …

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