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Aaron Murray is No. 1 quarterback (PLUS: FULL DEPTH CHART)

(Updated 7 p.m.)

COLUMBUS –- The question that had consumed Bulldog Nation for months was answered Thursday: Aaron Murray is Georgia’s No. 1 quarterback.

The answer came when coach Mark Richt unveiled the Bulldogs’ post-spring depth chart, which shows Murray, the redshirt freshman from Tampa, ahead of Logan Gray, the junior from Columbia, Mo., at quarterback.

Richt cautioned that being No. 1 on the depth chart at this point “by no means” guarantees starting the season opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 4, but he conceded that it does represent a significant step in that direction for Murray.

“He’s in good shape, I’ll say that,” Richt said before speaking to the Chattahoochee Valley Bulldog Club here Thursday night.

Richt said Murray earned the No. 1 spot with his performance in spring practice.

“We see Murray ahead of Logan right now,” Richt said. “It’s just a matter of, on a consistent basis, [Murray] performed better than Logan at this point. That’s really all …

Continue reading Aaron Murray is No. 1 quarterback (PLUS: FULL DEPTH CHART) »

Richt dismisses arrested punter from team

Georgia backup punter Trent Dittmer has been dismissed from the team by coach Mark Richt as a result of his alcohol-related arrest in downtown Athens early Tuesday, UGA said Thursday.

Dittmer, 21, was arrested on a charge of public intoxication.

A senior walk-on from Cartersville, he  has never punted in a game for the Bulldogs.

Dittmer  is the third player to be kicked off the Georgia team this spring after an arrest, following outside linebacker Montez Robinson and quarterback Zach Mettenberger.

“The bottom line is, I want to do what’s best for this football team, and I want to do what’s best for the young men too,” Richt said.  “And sometimes if a young man loses his opportunity to play for your team, a lesson will be learned by him and everyone else who is watching.”

Athens-Clarke County Police spokeswoman Hilda Sorrow said the 2:30 a.m. arrest of Dittmer occurred after an officer heard a loud disturbance near the corner of Clayton and Jackson streets. She said the …

Continue reading Richt dismisses arrested punter from team »

Bulldogs ride off with a national championship

Thought you’d like to know . . . the University of Georgia won a national championship Saturday night.

The Bulldogs, for the third year in a row and the fifth time in eight years, won the national title in equestrian.

UGA beat runnerup Texas A&M in a tiebreaker to win the overall title at the Varsity Equestrian National Championships in Waco, Texas.

The victory continued the remarkable success of Georgia’s equestrian program, which in its brief eight-year history already has amassed more national team championships than any UGA sport except gymnastics (10), men’s tennis (8) and women’s tennis (also 5). (Tennis championships include indoor and outdoor.)

Twenty-three Division I and II college athletics programs compete in equestrian, which is classified as an emerging sport by the NCAA.

Georgia equestrian coach Meghan Boenig’s reaction to her team’s latest championship (from a UGA release late Saturday night):

“This was just an incredible day and, I believe, the most special, …

Continue reading Bulldogs ride off with a national championship »

UGA’s Pope headed to Wake Forest as assistant coach (and other notes)

  • Mark Pope left medical school for an entry-level position on Georgia’s basketball staff in hopes it would lead to a coaching job.  And it has.

Pope, the former Kentucky and NBA player who joined the UGA staff in a non-coaching capacity last year, is expected to become an assistant coach at Wake Forest any day now.

There were whispers at the UGA Tipoff Club’s end-of-season banquet Thursday night that Pope had accepted an assistant’s job at Wake Forest, and the Winston-Salem Journal reports the announcement will come next week “after he completes Wake Forest’s hiring process.”

Pope was not in attendance at the Georgia banquet.

“Mark has done a phenomenal job for us,” Georgia coach Mark Fox told the audience.

Pope was in his third year of medical school at Columbia when he persuaded Fox to hire him last year as operations coordinator, a $35,000-a-year staff position. That job, as detailed by colleague Steve Hummer in this excellent article on Pope earlier this year, is to …

Continue reading UGA’s Pope headed to Wake Forest as assistant coach (and other notes) »

Who’s No. 1 QB? Answer this week, Richt says (PLUS: more from G-Day)

(Updated 7 p.m.)

ATHENS – The G-Day game produced no immediate answer to the No. 1 question in Bulldog Nation: Who is Georgia’s  starting quarterback?

“I know everyone wants to know what’s going on, wants to know who the starter is, and I couldn’t name the starter right now if I wanted to,” coach Mark Richt said after Saturday’s intra-squad game. “I really don’t think I could.”

But Richt said hopes to have a new quarterback depth chart by the end of this coming week.

Between now and then, he and offensive coordinator Mike Bobo will review video of the quarterbacks’ performances throughout spring practice, which concluded with the G-Day game.

And Richt cautioned that whoever is No. 1 on the post-spring depth chart won’t be guaranteed of keeping the position into the Sept. 4 season opener against Louisiana Lafayette.

In the G-Day game, won by the “Black” team 17-7 over the “Red” team before a crowd of 38,742, strong-armed redshirt freshman Zach Mettenberger had the best …

Continue reading Who’s No. 1 QB? Answer this week, Richt says (PLUS: more from G-Day) »

Who’s had a great spring? Cordy Glenn, Bobo answers (with list of spring award winners)

I asked Mike Bobo after Georgia’s football practice Thursday to name an offensive player who’s had a great spring.

Bobo, the offensive coordinator, didn’t hesitate to single out . . . left guard Cordy Glenn.

So it was no surprise that when Georgia announced its annual spring football awards this morning, Glenn was tabbed as the offense’s MVP.

“I’d say Cordy Glenn has had an outstanding spring,” Bobo said Thursday. “Just outstanding, the way he’s worked, the way he’s competed.

“He’s had the right mindset every day: ‘I’m coming out to try to get better.’ He’s got tremendous talent, but just to see the improvement in him, the knowledge of what we’re doing. . . .

“Early on, obviously as a freshman, he had to depend on a lot of guys next to him to help him out. Now he pretty much knows what we’re doing, and he’s able to execute and then use his God-given ability to dominate. And that’s what kind of player we think he can be.”

Mark Richt this morning announced the full list of …

Continue reading Who’s had a great spring? Cordy Glenn, Bobo answers (with list of spring award winners) »

Backup tailback Dontavius Jackson: ‘I was, like, the peacemaker’ in taxi incident

Also see: Injuries sideline several Dogs as spring practice winds down.

And: How coaches divide up the Dogs for G-Day (with “Red” and “Black” team rosters).

ATHENS – Georgia backup tailback Dontavius Jackson said Thursday that he is the player Athens-Clarke County police described as the “peacemaker” in an alleged attack on a married couple in an Athens taxi last month.

“Yeah, I was in the cab. I was, like, the peacemaker,” Jackson said.  “But as far as in-depth, I’m not allowed to speak on it because it’s still under investigation.”

Police earlier this week said no UGA players were offenders in the incident but that one  player was in the taxi van at the time.  “The investigation revealed that [the player] acted as a peacemaker and tried to calm the situation,” the police statement said. Police had declined to name the player.

Jackson is a sophomore who played in four games last season, gaining 38 yards on four …

Continue reading Backup tailback Dontavius Jackson: ‘I was, like, the peacemaker’ in taxi incident »

With Robinson gone, Gamble shifts to outside linebacker (PLUS: practice notes)

(Updated 8:40 p.m.)

ATHENS — Georgia coaches were concerned about depth at outside linebacker even before one of their most promising players at the position, Montez Robinson, was kicked off the team last weekend.

So they tried to shore up the position at Tuesday’s practice by shifting Darryl Gamble there from inside linebacker, where he had worked exclusively this spring.

Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham and Gamble said they talked last week about cross-training Gamble, a rising senior, at outside linebacker.  “And with the situation that just came up, it’s obviously a natural fit now,” Grantham said.

The situation, of course, was that Robinson was kicked off the team after he was jailed Sunday on a misdemeanor charge of simple battery/family violence, his third arrest in five months.

The dismissal of Robinson left the Bulldogs with just three scholarship players at outside linebacker — Justin Houston, Cornelius Washington and Chase Vasser. Robinson and walk-on Reuben …

Continue reading With Robinson gone, Gamble shifts to outside linebacker (PLUS: practice notes) »

Hear, hear! Dogs have a new kickoff philosophy (PLUS: practice notes)

ATHENS – I’m guessing most of you will be happy to read this:  Georgia’s kickoff philosophy has changed.

Kicker Blair Walsh indicated Thursday night that the much-criticized directional kickoffs –- kicks aimed to a specific spot on the field –- will yield to more deep kickoffs.

“It’s not like it was here the past two years, directional-wise,” Walsh said. “It’s a lot more use of my talent, I would say. I was fine doing what they wanted me to do. I’m a team player. I can go along with it. But it’s a lot more use of the talent, and I’m happy about it. I don’t think there’s a restraint on me anymore.”

He stopped there, wary of “giving too much away.”

But you get the idea.

New assistant coach Warren Belin is in charge of kickoffs, a role previously held by Jon Fabris, one of three assistants dismissed in December. The directional kicks became a controversial topic the past two seasons, compounded when Walsh didn’t keep them in bounds or the coverage broke down.

Walsh also said …

Continue reading Hear, hear! Dogs have a new kickoff philosophy (PLUS: practice notes) »

Richt reclaims seat in quarterback, offense meetings (PLUS: practice notes)

ATHENS –-  Mark Richt says he might be a bit slower to answer his mail this year.

That’s because, for the first time in several years, Georgia’s head coach plans to make it a point to attend every quarterbacks meeting –- the almost daily, hour-long sessions at which the QBs meet with offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to review film and, during the season, game plans. Richt said he also will attend every offensive team meeting.

“Like I told Mike and the staff, I’m not in there to make them crazy at all,” Richt said Tuesday night. “But I’m in there because, No. 1, I do miss it and because I want to be able to add as much value as I can as we go.”

Richt’s increased involvement in the offense comes after a 2009 season in which the Bulldogs finished 75th in the nation in total offense (362.15 yards per game), 51st in scoring offense (28.92 points per game) and 99th in turnovers lost (28).

Richt said he stopped attending the QB meetings on a regular basis around the time he …

Continue reading Richt reclaims seat in quarterback, offense meetings (PLUS: practice notes) »

QBs, defense, Wooten share spotlight in Bulldogs’ first spring scrimmage

(Please click here for scrimmage statistics.)

ATHENS -– Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger put up good numbers but Logan Gray not-so-good. Caleb King and Washaun Ealey picked up where they left off last fall. Rantavious Wooten had a big day.

And the new 3-4 defense apparently made its presence felt at times, too, as Georgia’s football team held its first scrimmage of spring practice Saturday morning in Sanford Stadium.

“I’m pretty sore right now,” wide receiver Wooten said afterward. “The defense was bringing it.”

The 90-minute intra-squad scrimmage was closed to the public and media, but these were among the storylines, based on statistics provided by coach Mark Richt and post-scrimmage interviews:

  • The quarterbacks: Murray completed 10 of 15 passes for 125 yards, including a 40-yard touchdown throw to A.J. Green. Mettenberger completed 7 of 10 passes for 157 yards, including a 65-yard TD to a wide-open Wooten. Gray, though, completed only 6 of 14 for 37 yards. Murray and …

Continue reading QBs, defense, Wooten share spotlight in Bulldogs’ first spring scrimmage »

Quick stats from this morning’s UGA scrimmage . . .

(UPDATE: Click here for full report on scrimmage.)

ATHENS — Georgia just completed a closed scrimmage in Sanford Stadium. Here are “very unofficial” stats provided by Mark Richt:

PASSING

Aaron Murray: 10 of 15,  125 yards,  1 touchdown, 1 interception  (long pass of 40)

Logan Gray: 6 of 14,  37 yards,1 interception, 3 sacks (long pass of 12)

Zach Mettenberger: 7 of 10, 157 yards, 1 touchdown, 2 sacks (long of 65)

RUSHING

Caleb King: 6 carries for 79 yards (long run of 55)

Washaun Ealey: 9 carries for 64 yards (long of 23)

Carlton Thomas: 8 carries for 25 yards (long of 12)

RECEIVING

Rantavious Wooten: 6 catches for 146 yards (TD of 65)

A.J. Green: 1 catch for 40 yards and a TD (Green played limited snaps).

DEFENSIVE HIGHLIGHTS

Akeem Dent: 6 tackles

Bacarri Rambo: 5 tackles and an interception

Shawn Williams: Returned an interception 30 yards for a TD

UPDATE: Click here for full report on scrimmage.

Continue reading Quick stats from this morning’s UGA scrimmage . . . »

Richt ‘pretty certain’ Mettenberger suspension will be one game; Anderson moved to defense

(Updated 9:30 p.m.)

ATHENS -– Georgia coach Mark Richt said Tuesday night that he is “pretty certain” recently arrested quarterback Zach Mettenberger will be suspended for only one game — the Bulldogs’  Sept. 4 season opener against Louisiana Lafayette.

Richt is withholding a final decision in case there are any further police reports on the case.

“What I’m looking for is if there is any other report I can get my hands on,” he said after Tuesday’s practice. “A lot of times there is an initial report and then another one.”

Mettenberger was arrested by police in Remerton, Ga., near Valdosta, on March 7 on five misdemeanor charges: underage possession/consumption of alcohol, disorderly conduct, obstruction and two counts of possession of false identification.

UGA Athletic Association policy mandates at least a one-game suspension for an alcohol-related arrest, although Richt could impose more.

“I’m pretty certain it’s going to be a one-game suspension and all the other …

Continue reading Richt ‘pretty certain’ Mettenberger suspension will be one game; Anderson moved to defense »

Fox: No further postseason play; will meet soon with Thompkins

If you’re wondering:

  • You can close the book on Georgia’s men’s basketball season.

The talk about possibly playing in a third-tier postseason tournament such as the College Basketball Invitational (CBI) or CollegeInsider.com Tournament (CIT)?  Mark Fox doesn’t see that happening.

“This is it,”  he said a half hour or so after last night’s loss to Vanderbilt knocked his team out of the SEC tournament.

He had said earlier in the week that depending on how Georgia played in the SEC tournament, he might look into the possibility of a CBI or CIT berth. But the Dogs went 1-1 in the SEC tourney to finish the season 14-17.

“We’re not going to get an invitation somewhere to play,” Fox said, “and we don’t have a winning record. I think we’re done.”

  • Fox said he’ll be meeting soon with Trey Thompkins to discuss the sophomore forward’s thinking on whether to enter the NBA draft or remain at UGA.

“Trey is a very, very good basketball player, and I think he could get even better. I …

Continue reading Fox: No further postseason play; will meet soon with Thompkins »

‘This kid got us into 10 million homes,’ Mark Fox says of walk-on Connor Nolte

(For a look at the various subplots in Saturday’s Georgia-LSU game, click here.)

(Updated 9 p.m.)

ATHENS — For a guy who hasn’t played in a game, Connor Nolte certainly has generated a lot of attention for Georgia’s basketball program this year.

“This kid got us into 10 million homes,” UGA coach Mark Fox said Friday afternoon.

And the kid got Charles Barkley to Stegeman Coliseum this week.

Nolte is a Georgia walk-on from Alpharetta, a Milton High graduate who is sitting out this season after transferring from Furman.  He has a website, passersremorse.com, on which he posts a trick shot on the day of each UGA game. Game Day Trick Shot, he calls the feature.

Nolte

Nolte

Last month, he got Mark Richt to shoot a one-handed reverse free throw, which garnered more than 38,000 views on YouTube. Then last Saturday, he posted a crazy shot by Fox, who twice bounced the ball off the top of the shot clock and through the net from the stands.

ESPN’s SportsCenter picked up the Fox shot, giving …

Continue reading ‘This kid got us into 10 million homes,’ Mark Fox says of walk-on Connor Nolte »

Twelve things to know about tonight’s Georgia-Kentucky game

Twelve things to know about tonight’s Georgia-Kentucky game, which tips off at 8:04  in Stegeman Coliseum:

1. Georgia (13-14, 5-9 SEC) will be playing its eighth game this season against an opponent ranked in the nation’s Top 25 at game time. The Bulldogs are 3-4 in such games, including 3-1 at home. Kentucky  (27-2, 12-2 SEC) is ranked No. 3 in this week’s AP poll.

2. A Georgia win would complete a sweep of home games vs. SEC East opponents, following victories in Stegeman over Tennessee, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida.

3. A Kentucky win would clinch a share of the Wildcats’ 44th SEC championship.

Ricky McPhee

Ricky McPhee

4. It will be Senior Night, with Georgia’s three seniors — guard Ricky McPhee, forward-center Albert Jackson and forward Tyler Whatley — being honored in a pregame ceremony. All three will start, per coach Mark Fox’s practice of starting his seniors in their final home game.

5. McPhee, a former walk-on, has started every game  this season and leads the …

Continue reading Twelve things to know about tonight’s Georgia-Kentucky game »

A.J. Green’s goal? ‘Just to be an All-American.’ Then what?

(Updated 11 p.m. Saturday and 9 p.m. Sunday. A roundup of the weekend in UGA sports events has been added below.)

ATHENS — Let’s start with three morsels from a chat with A.J. Green:

– On his personal goal for the 2010 season, Georgia’s star receiver said: “I was just talking to Coach Richt, and it’d be nice to be an All-American. I believe if I would have stayed healthy [last] year, I’d have gotten that. So that’s my goal -– just to be an All-American.”

– As for Georgia’s quarterback competition, Green said: “I’m just going to work with whoever the quarterback is and try to make them better, try to make them look good and try to do everything I can do to help the offense out.” He did sort of marvel about the fact that in his third season at Georgia, he’ll be playing with his third starting quarterback.  “I never thought I would have three different quarterbacks,” he said. “All through high school, I had the same quarterback.”

– So, a reporter asked facetiously, does that …

Continue reading A.J. Green’s goal? ‘Just to be an All-American.’ Then what? »

Mock draft has Dogs’ Leslie as lottery pick in ‘11; list of injured football players

Like his dunks, Travis Leslie’s stock is soaring.

NBADraft.net has elevated the Georgia sophomore to a lottery pick in its latest 2011 mock draft.  The website has Leslie, a sophomore from Decatur, as the No. 12 pick in the ‘11 draft.

In the same mock, NBADraft.net has Leslie’s teammate and fellow sophomore Trey Thompkins as the No. 19 pick in the 2011 draft.

The website doesn’t contemplate either player entering the 2010 draft, by the way.

A few other notes this morning:

– UGA’s official list of injured players who will miss or be limited during spring football practice, which starts March 4: OL Justin Anderson (limited, shoulder); OL Austin Long (out, back);  DE Jeremy Longo (out, knee); FB Fred Munzenmaier (limited, shoulder); S Josh Murray (limited, shoulder);  WR Craig Sager (shoulder); OL Tanner Strickland (limited, shoulder); OL Trinton Sturdivant (out, knee).

–  ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the dean of NFL draft gurus, currently has seven SEC players going in the first round …

Continue reading Mock draft has Dogs’ Leslie as lottery pick in ‘11; list of injured football players »

Live from Georgia-Alabama basketball . . .

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An artist's rendering of a renovated Stegeman Coliseum with wider concourse and massive glass exterior wall

ATHENS — Hello. Hope you’re enjoying this beautiful day.

I’m in Stegeman Coliseum, where Georgia and Alabama are about to tip off.

Speaking of Stegeman: Thanks to all who shared their thoughts on the blog yesterday about the building and its upcoming renovation.  Several of you asked to see artist renderings of what the building will look like, post-renovation. I posted one above, showing the wider interior concourse and the massive glass exterior wall. I’ll try to get an exterior view and post it later. Here’s a link to the Stegeman story in today’s paper. I particularly liked the description of Stegeman by Georgia fan Jim Veal of Tucker, who in a recent blog fondly described the look as that of “a massive, white flying saucer that seems to have landed gracefully in the middle of campus.”

OK, to today’s game. . . .

Couple of pregame notes:  Georgia will be trying for …

Continue reading Live from Georgia-Alabama basketball . . . »

An $85 million year for UGA athletics, Albert Jackson’s status, and other notes

– The UGA Athletic Association’s latest financial projection is that it will generate $84.9 million in operating revenue for this fiscal year, up almost $5 million from the previous fiscal year.  Operating expenses for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, are expected to be $69.5 million. The rest of the revenue will go largely to debt payments and into reserves, with $2 million going to the university to support academic programs. Athletic Association reserves are projected to reach a hefty $60.2 million by the end of the fiscal year.  All of these figures come from financial statements provided to the Athletic Association’s board of directors.

– Look for Georgia center Albert Jackson, benched for Saturday’s basketball game against South Carolina after he was arrested Friday, to be back in action soon. “Albert is still with our group,” UGA coach Mark Fox said on the SEC teleconference,  “and we should see him back this week.” The Dogs play at Tennessee on Wednesday and at …

Continue reading An $85 million year for UGA athletics, Albert Jackson’s status, and other notes »

Talking with the QBs: ‘I believe in my heart I can win the job,’ Logan Gray says

(Third in a series.)

It’s been an interesting year for Logan Gray. The 2009 season started with many Georgia football fans calling for him to play more in relief of -– or in place of –- senior quarterback Joe Cox. And the season ended with rumors swirling that Gray would switch positions before spring practice, leaving quarterback for perhaps wide receiver.

Turned out, the calls for more playing time were unheeded and the rumors were overblown.

So after a 2009 season that saw him rarely on the field, Gray, who will be a redshirt junior in the fall, looks forward to a spring competition with Aaron Murray and Zach Mettenberger, both of whom will be redshirt freshmen, to succeed Cox as the Bulldogs’ starting quarterback. (Note: Recent signee Hutson Mason, the record-setting Lassiter quarterback, won’t arrive in Athens until the summer.)

Gray, Mettenberger and Murray met last week with beat reporters who cover the Bulldogs. I’ve previously posted  transcripts of the sessions …

Continue reading Talking with the QBs: ‘I believe in my heart I can win the job,’ Logan Gray says »

Talking with the QBs: Mettenberger sees key as ‘who can … take us to national title’

OK, on to the second in the series of interviews with the quarterbacks who’ll be battling this spring for Georgia’s starting job. . . .

The three candidates — Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger and Logan Gray -– spent some time last week chatting with the beat writers who cover the Dogs. Re-listening to those sessions as I transcribed them over the weekend underscored for me how interesting and important spring practice will be. (By the way, spring practice starts March 4 and ends with the G-Day Game on April 10.)

I posted a full transcript yesterday of the interview with Murray — if you missed it, please look for it here — and later today I’ll post the interview with Gray. For now, here’s the interview with Mettenberger, a strong-armed 6-foot-5 passer from Oconee County who (like Murray) was invited to the prestigious Elite 11 quarterbacks camp in high school and who (like Murray) was redshirted as a UGA freshman last season.

So what is your view of the quarterback …

Continue reading Talking with the QBs: Mettenberger sees key as ‘who can … take us to national title’ »

Da’Rick Rogers-Bacarri Rambo war of words (and other stuff)

Oct. 9 continues to loom larger. That’s the date of the Georgia-Tennessee football game, which became the most compelling on UGA’s 2010 schedule the moment Derek Dooley was named the Vols’ coach. Now, there’s the added storyline of Da’Rick Rogers, the Calhoun High wide receiver who broke a 7-month commitment to Georgia to sign with Tennessee last week, potentially playing against the Dogs and encountering UGA safety Bacarri Rambo.

Rogers and Rambo have been going at it a bit on Facebook and Twitter since last week.

It started with a Facebook status update by Rambo, who wrote: “Bacarri Rambo thinks [it] is messed up how all of UGA high school commitments back out on us but I’m telling you now when I catch you on the field I’m going to knock fire from you.”

Rogers responded Saturday on Twitter:  “Who is Bacarri Rambo?”

Then from Rambo on Twitter: “Tell Darick ‘pretty boy’ Rogers he doesn’t have to know me but I bet he will feel me!! Lol”

Then from Rogers: “don’t worry …

Continue reading Da’Rick Rogers-Bacarri Rambo war of words (and other stuff) »

Visits with UGA staff sold Oklahoma’s Stoops on hiring Willie Martinez

OK, it’s official now:  Oklahoma has confirmed the hiring of  Willie Martinez, the deposed Georgia defensive coordinator, as its defensive backs coach.

And Bob Stoops, Oklahoma’s head coach who is known as a defensive guru, seems pretty thrilled about it.

“Willie is an outstanding coach and someone with a tremendous background in our profession,” Stoops said in a statement.  “His experience is very impressive, and he will contribute a lot of very good things to our program. And not only is he a fine secondary coach, he’s a good recruiter with ties in Florida and a number of other places.”

Stoops traced his interest in hiring Martinez to past visits with the UGA coaching staff.

“Our staffs had been together exchanging ideas, and I was impressed with Willie,” Stoops said. “In those meetings,  you not only get a feel for how well someone knows the game, but their ability to communicate and interact with other people, and Willie was a guy that represented himself and his …

Continue reading Visits with UGA staff sold Oklahoma’s Stoops on hiring Willie Martinez »

Kirby Smart got $390,000 raise for rejecting Dogs, staying at Alabama

The ripple effects of Georgia’s long, expensive search for a defensive coordinator continued today when a $390,000-per-year raise was approved for Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart.

Smart, a former Georgia player, turned down the Bulldogs’  DC job four days before Todd Grantham was hired.

And today it became known how much it cost Alabama to keep Smart.

The compensation committee of the board of trustees of the University of Alabama System approved a new contract that will pay Smart a base salary of $750,000 per year -– more than double the $360,000 base salary he made last season. (Click here or here or here for more details from Alabama newspapers on the committee’s action.)

Smart is one of  three defensive coordinators to get hefty raises after declining Georgia’s overtures. Virginia Tech’s Bud Foster had an annuity added to his existing contract that will pay him an $800,000 lump sum if he remains with the Hokies for another five years. And LSU’s John Chavis

Continue reading Kirby Smart got $390,000 raise for rejecting Dogs, staying at Alabama »

Lakatos ‘mystery’ unraveled; UPDATED with contract info

(Updated 3:30 p.m.)

Georgia’s football program continued to rebuild its defensive staff  today, hiring a veteran assistant coach who will be making a major geographic shift in his career.

Scott Lakatos, hired as Georgia’s defensive-backs coach, has been on the staff at seven other colleges, all in his native Northeast.  He was the secondary coach at Connecticut the past six seasons and previously worked at Rutgers, Maine, New Haven, Syracuse, Boston University and Western Connecticut State, his alma mater.

So, you ask, what was the connection that led him from the Northeast to UGA?

“I’m sure there was a little bit of a mystery for everybody to figure that out,” Lakatos said this afternoon.

The answer: a long friendship with Todd Grantham, hired Friday as the Bulldogs’ new defensive coordinator.

Lakatos said he and Grantham have been good friends for  more than 15 years, meeting when Lakatos was a graduate assistant at Syracuse and Grantham a young coach at Virginia …

Continue reading Lakatos ‘mystery’ unraveled; UPDATED with contract info »

So is Grantham the guy?

All indications  continued to point Wednesday toward Dallas Cowboys assistant coach Todd Grantham as Mark Richt’s latest target for Georgia’s defensive-coordinator job.

What remained uncertain is whether Grantham would accept the job, and when he would feel free to do so.

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Georgia keeps running into complications in its search.  The complication with Grantham -– beyond his decision about whether to return to college football after 11 years of building a strong reputation as an NFL assistant –  is that his current team is still playing.  Would the  Cowboys tolerate a potentially distracting announcement –- or even potentially distracting negotiations –- as they prepare for Sunday’s playoff game at Minnesota?

Grantham hasn’t commented publicly on the Georgia job. Georgia also had no comment Wednesday, reiterating Richt’s refrain that he won’t comment until he has his guy.

But it does appear that Georgia has zeroed in one another …

Continue reading So is Grantham the guy? »

Curran’s last game? Costly OL injury?

Shreveport, La. –- Hello from Shreveport, where Georgia’s not-so-hot season will have a cold ending on Monday (mid-40s at kickoff, dropping into the 30s in the second half).

Georgia doesn’t expect a large contingent of fans at the game. About 7,000 tickets were sold from UGA’s 12,000-seat allotment, some of those to Texas A&M fans who were scrounging for seats after the Aggies sold out their inventory. But I did start to see some Georgia fans around town on Sunday.

Overall, the bowl expects a good crowd. Other than Georgia’s unsold seats, all of 49,000-seat Independence Stadium is accounted for. Texas A&M sold out its 12,000-seat allotment, and the bowl sold all of its 25,000. Texas A&M’s proximity to Shreveport helped sales. College Station is about a four-hour drive away, and closer than that are pockets of Aggies fans in east Texas.

The game is what it is, a 7-5 team vs. a 6-6 team, but there are some compelling storylines:

– Gonna be interesting to see how the Georgia …

Continue reading Curran’s last game? Costly OL injury? »

Chick-fil-A will at least consider Dogs

Talked with Gary Stokan, the president of the Chick-fil-A Bowl, tonight.

Projections that Georgia will be the SEC representative in the game are just that — projections. Stokan said he has no idea at the moment which SEC team will be in the game, what with half of the league — literally — sharing 7-5 records.

“It’s certainly going to be interesting this year,” Stokan said, “probably more than in any of the 12 years I’ve been doing this.”

But Stokan did say that Georgia’s upset victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday moved the Bulldogs onto the Chick-fil-A radar.

A week ago, the bowl had Auburn, Kentucky, South Carolina and Tennessee on its watch list of SEC teams. The Dogs joined the list Saturday night, Stokan said.

“We will take them under consideration for the Chick-fil-A Bowl, certainly,” he said.

The decision will come by Sunday (Dec. 6), bowl selection day.

The Chick-fil-A Bowl gets its choice of SEC teams after the BCS title game, the Sugar Bowl, the Capital One Bowl, the …

Continue reading Chick-fil-A will at least consider Dogs »

Kentucky star Randall Cobb ‘questionable’ for UGA

Randall Cobb – the Kentucky player whom Georgia frets the most — is “questionable” for Saturday’s game in Athens, UK coach Rich Brooks announced Wednesday night.

Cobb sat out Tuesday’s practice and could not complete all of Wednesday’s because of a bruised shoulder sustained against Vanderbilt last week.

Starting at quarterback against Georgia last year, Cobb ran the ball 18 times for 82 yards and three touchdowns, as well as completing 12 of 20 passes for 105 yards. He has been used primarily at wide receiver this season but also takes direct snaps at quarterback and returns punts and kickoffs. He is second in the SEC in touchdowns with 12 (7 rushing, 4 passing, 1 returning) and third in all-purpose yards (148.1 per game).

“He might be the most talented player in the Southeastern Conference today,” Georgia coach Mark Richt said earlier this week. “We know what he did last year. He just about single-handedly beat us himself.”

Despite Cobb’s dazzling game, Georgia managed to …

Continue reading Kentucky star Randall Cobb ‘questionable’ for UGA »