Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Struggles in opener don’t necessarily forecast troubles ahead

Sunday August 25, 2002


The Dawgs show nothing on offense and face a 15-2 deficit until Herschel is unleashed. Georgia struggles to a 16-15 win in Knoxville against a Tennessee team that would finish 5-6. It took a fumble (caused by Nate Taylor) on the goalline to prevent a Tennessee win. Georgia bumbled to four fumbles (two were lost) and ten penalties in a sloppy opener.


Tennessee travels to Syracuse in a tougher-than-usual opener, but Cuse was no national power…they’d finish win an OK 8-4 record that year. New QB Tee Martin showed he was no Peyton, going 9-of-26 on the day. Syracuse took the lead with a few minutes left, and the Vols needed to orchestrate a last-minute drive to set up a game-winning FG. The Vols defense was shredded by McNabb and the Orangemen for 445 total yards.

I saw a lot of predictions for a long season for the Noles based on last night’s opener. Fans of those two undefeated national champions profiled above probably also didn’t make Jan. 1 reservations after those openers.

Make no mistake, the Noles have a lot of concerns…the lack of a pass rush down the stretch from the DL left their zone defense wide open. They say the most improvement comes between the first and second games. I’d wait a little while to write off the Noles yet.

Post Is self-policing the answer?

Monday May 27, 2002

So the Ole Miss chancellor has suggested that the SEC police itself concerning violations of NCAA rules. It would be a good start, but the membership and direction of such a body would have to be very closely scrutinized.

In the current climate of the SEC, only South Carolina and Vandy have been without an NCAA investigation or sanction concerning the football program since 1987, and several have been nailed multiple times. Fair or not, the prima facie implication with that kind of track record is a conference out of control, an administration ineffective to reign in its membership, and a climate where a win-at-any-cost mentality rules.

The conference is at a crossroads. The impending retirement of Roy Kramer gives the chance for reform in a truly positive and different direction in terms of academic and regulatory reform. While the performances on the field have been the best in the nation and the conference is among the best in nearly every sport, the core is rotting away from the inside. Academic integrity is an oxymoron, runaway boosters threaten to derail the legitimacy of entire universities, and fans incapable of separating the contests of sport from real life are relishing the next program to go down. The hint that the SEC may promote from within indicates that the conference membership is content with the status quo; bulging purses have made it easy to reenlist for more of the same.

The SEC is nothing but its membership. If the twelve schools and its presidents, chancellors, and athletic directors believe that things are OK as-is, that will be reflected in their choice for the next commissioner and their lack of support for Robert Khayat’s initiative for reform. Cynics among us see that as the exact course of action we can expect over the summer as Kramer retires and a great chance for a new direction is missed.

Post Dawgs and Gators in prime

Thursday May 16, 2002

Dawgs and Gators in prime time. People are already correctly predicting the ugly scene that will be inevitable when the Cocktail Party gets extended by three or four hours.

Post UGA Softball heads for the

Thursday May 16, 2002

UGA Softball heads for the NCAA Regionals. The program has come a long way in just a few years of existence. On Sunday, the team (which began play in only 1997) reached a level that the mighty football program has yet to see since the SEC went divisional – the SEC championship game.

Post A really interesting concept from

Saturday April 20, 2002

A really interesting concept from Major League Baseball. For $4.95 per month, users will be able to download 20-minute videos almost immediately after games which feature all hits, runs, and relevant plays in a game. These condensed games are not just highlights – all of the game’s action is preserved. You can still see how a game develops, check and see how your roto players are doing, and watch the games of contenders in your team’s division in about an hour.

I would love for the SEC to offer something like this. How much of a football game is actually action? Again about 20 minutes. The rest is huddling or cleaning up after a tackle, etc. For $4.95 per month, would you pay for a service which offered every minute of football action in the SEC for a given weekend (about 20 minutes per game or a few hours total) and not miss a play? I know I would. Bring it on.

Post Gym Dogs just miss a

Saturday April 20, 2002

Gym Dogs just miss a miracle
After a season of injuries and setbacks, the Gym Dogs survived from meet to meet, won the SEC championship, and last night came within a hair of taking the national championship. As it turned out, Alabama turned in a great performance of their own to place first, but Georgia left it all on the mats. Pulling things together this year might have been one of Suzanne Yoculan’s best coaching jobs, and the story of the 2002 gymnastics season is one of the better ones to come out of Athens in some time.

Post Something that didn’t come out

Sunday April 14, 2002

Something that didn’t come out of the Athletic Board meeting this weekend – unless every news story passed over it in favor of the expansion of Sanford, there was no news on the longterm plans for the basketball program. What a good chance to capitalize on the success of Jim Harrick and show some foresight. But nothing except a ticket price increase. Not even a basic commitment to renovate Stegeman Coliseum. We know Harrick and all coaches meet privately with the athletic department to bring these kinds of concerns; let’s hope he had more success there than these reports from the public Athletic Board meetings.

Post The hot topic today is

Sunday April 14, 2002

The hot topic today is the proposed expansion of Sanford Stadium discussed by the Athletic Board this weekend. The issue of course is how to add capacity without disrupting Sanford’s open west end and the view from the bridge on Sanford Drive. Though, as Coach Dooley says, enclosing the west end “may happen at some point,” that kind of major project should only happen when a few questions are answered:

  • Is the expansion driven by demand for renewable season tickets? It doesn’t sound like it. Part of Dooley’s justification for the current expansion is that “just from the visitors standpoint alone, there’s a lot of demand.” Building an expansion to satisfy single-game tickets and nonrenewable season tickets is also questionable. Though the added gate revenue will help, the brunt of the cost will likely be borne by the GEEF contribitors. Until the ranks of the GEEF members swell to the point where demand is edging out single-game ticket sales, pursuing a larger expansion will leave the funding for the project with uncertainty and will almost surely guarantee a less-than-capacity stadium for all but the biggest games where visitor and single-ticket demand makes up the difference.
  • Where will all those people park? President Adams says today that the University is continuing to build parking decks to handle the job. While we’ve known for some time that the master plan includes ringing the campus with additional parking decks, that’s hardly an optimal solution for a tailgating-crazy fan base.
  • What other projects will be required? A west expansion will almost surely put the capacity over 100,000. Access to the stadium and flow inside is already cramped. The ongoing work on the east access should help somewhat, but what other work to the concourses and approaches to the stadium will be required in order to handle an additional 15,000+ people?
  • What of the Tate Center? Any serious expansion to the west stands will dwarf the Tate Student Center and will present some interesting engineering challenges in order to support the upper deck. Will the student center be integrated into the expansion?

And of course there is the question of the bridge. All of these factors add up to show us that this isn’t your run-of-the-mill adding of seats and will be a major commitment of resources in order to make it happen – it could be one of the larger capital projects taken on by the Athletic Association in its history.

Post Steak and lobster are on

Friday April 5, 2002

Steak and lobster are on the line in Saturday’s G-Day game. Injuries have turned this into little more than an exhibition, but still there will be fans who use this as their measure for setting expectations for the 2002 season.

Post Way to go Terry College.

Friday April 5, 2002

Way to go Terry College. A lot of the faces in the front of the classroom that I knew are still there and I know they are a big part of improving the national reputation of UGA’s b-school.

Post Wait til next year? It’s

Thursday March 21, 2002

Wait til next year?

It’s conventional wisdom that next year’s hoops team will be preseason Top 15 and continue the improvement begun by Coach Harrick in 2001. There is no question that the talent level will be the highest in some time.

First we have to get the freshmen in. Turner and Johnson must make grades/scores and with the NCAA/academic problems we’ve had for three seasons now, I’m nervous until they get here.

I have heard great things about Wilkins coming around this year in practice, most people have. If so, that’s fantastic because he was not a difference-maker at NCSU. That team got better adding Josh Powell (one I wish we could have kept in GA). Damien must, must, must find his most productive role on the team before he becomes the catch-all answer to depth. We have heard the gushing that he can play four of the five positions – show us that he can master one first.

Arnold is supposed to be an instant impact guard. So was Dean. Coach is right that it’s unfair to judge Dean since he was added midseason, so one would expect a good bit of offseason improvement there as well.

Think about the weaknesses of this year’s team.

Inside depth. Good, Turner and Johnson if qualified will improve that situation if only through sheer numbers.

Outside shooting. That is not a forte of Wilkins unless he is a completely different player from a year ago. Ezra has become almost too much of a set shooter and more inconsistent as a result. He is one of the best post-up guards out there but we rarely get to see that element of his game anymore because of a lack of other options outside. Wright has come on somewhat, definitely better than a year ago. Jarvis becomes ordinary outside the arc. Dean we’ll see about. So it looks like the burden of a consistent outside shot for next year falls on either big improvements from Dean and Ezra or on the freshman shoulders of Arnold.

Point guard depth. How often did that rear its head down the stretch? If you are looking to Arnold for help there, fine, but I think in fairness to him only expect him to help out at either our outside shooting or at point guard. Getting both would be a bonus and I’m sure Arnold would not back down, but it’s an awful lot to ask of a freshmam in the SEC. Does Dean get more training here? Is it the right role for Wilkins who historically has looked to pass as a second option?

Should Turner and Johnson get in, we will finally have a good collection of bodies inside, and Georgia will have no shortage of wing players. Then guard play besides the known minutes at PG from Rashad is our biggest glaring weakness for next year. Where will points on the perimeter come from, and who will protect and distribute the ball off the bench? Those are significant questions that will determine how much the team improves.

Just adding players to a good mix of role players does not make the whole automatically better. The coaching change notwithstanding, adding Jumaine Jones to the 1997 team did not make them better. Roles became disrupted, it was the end of Michael Chadwick. As promising as Turner and Johnson seem to be, I like a lot of the things that Jonas Hayes brings to the table and hope his role can be preserved. That’s Harrick’s job next year – to make the whole better from more and better parts. It’s not a given.

Post SEC Bracketology. Just taking a

Thursday February 28, 2002

SEC Bracketology. Just taking a stab at the SECT brackets using today’s standings – so much can and probably will change on Saturday that this is just an academic exercise, but here it is. The lack of separation is incredible – Alabama as #1 in the West is about the only seed not subject to change despite having played 15 of 16 games.

Post Thank God for Rashad. For

Thursday February 28, 2002

Thank God for Rashad.

For the second straight game, Rashad Wright hit THE shot when his team was facing a loss. He didn’t just hit the last shot, he hit the last two. Down 67-65, Wright drove into the lane and hit an off-balance shot to tie the game at 67. And then the three-pointer – it was everything you don’t want in a shot. It was a leaner, he wasn’t squared to the basket, it was in traffic – and he swished it.

Wright carried the team in the first half. The offense was very slow getting going, and it was only foul shots and a burst of points from Wright that kept the Dawgs in the game. When the Dawgs decided to become more active on the defensive end, the offense finally woke up. There were some great extra passes to find the open man, and the Dawgs had a 27-6 run to close the first half.

The offense in the second half was rough. Had Rashad’s prayer been off-center, we’d be focused squarely on a 23-point second half. Around the eight-minute timeout, the Dawgs led 62-57. Until Wright’s flurry of five points in the final minute, the Dawgs had managed only three points in the meantime.

In those points, we find the stories of this season: first, there are the problems of depth and inconsistency we knew about from the beginning. The quality of competition is excellent in the SEC this year, and teams from Auburn to LSU to Vandy have found ways to scare if not outright beat Georgia. The Dawgs are far from invincible. At the same time, we have seen the moments of individual and collective excellence that show the progression of this team from “gutsy” (used to patronizingly describe a 10-20 team in 2000 which played well but usually came up short) to “dangerous” (used last season when the Dawgs played any and all comers and won their share) to the verge of being called…..”champions”. Yes, if the Dawgs can follow through and beat Tennessee, they will at worst be co-champions of the SEC East.

Post Georgia basketball signee Wayne Arnold

Tuesday February 26, 2002

Georgia basketball signee Wayne Arnold is used to winning championships. His Berkmar team has won consecutive state titles largely due to his contributions. That streak may or may not end this season, but Arnold has had to focus on mastering life off the court during his senior year. The death of his mother earlier in the season has far overshadowed basketball. School Sports has a nice look at Arnold’s frame of mind as his high school career comes to an end.

Post It’s hard to read the

Wednesday February 20, 2002

It’s hard to read the media sometimes. Harrick can get left off of a list for National Coach of the Year, but then some just and good recognition can follow right behind it. Jarvis Hayes has made Dick Vitale’s all-newcomer team. Vitale, to his credit, has been talking up Harrick and this Georgia team since early January.