Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Devastating

Friday June 30, 2006

Randy Walker, the relatively young and innovative coach who got Northwestern football back off the mat and brought a new level of consistency and excitement to Evanston, is dead at the age of 52 from an apparent heart attack. Prayers are certainly with the Northwestern family.

Post Richt throws down the recruiting gauntlet

Thursday June 29, 2006

In February (or three years from now, whatever amount of time you wait to evaluate recruiting classes), we can hold Mark Richt to this statement in today’s ABH. “There’s no question that’s the most critical position that we have to recruit this year, offensive lineman and in particular offensive tackles.” Coaches often talk about general recruiting priorities, but you don’t often see someone put it out there like that. This class, for all of the quality players Georgia will get at other positions, will be judged a success or failure based on the quality of its offensive line signees. The two present commitments are an outstanding start, but there are a few prospects in the state who could really make or break this class. From the fan perspective, a recruiting class often becomes distorted based on the success of the staff to win one high-profile recruiting battle. This year, that one battle might be the one for offensive tackle Chris Little.

Aside…it’s encouraging to see the news from the same Marc Weiszer piece that Sean Bailey is coming along in his rehab. Of course there’s still a big gulf from straight-ahead sprinting to SEC-quality receiving, and we’ll see over the next two months if Bailey can make those strides. He might have quite a decision to make: does he redshirt and come back for a completely healthy senior season in 2007, or does he take the risk and come back this year if he’s cleared?

Post SEC TV? Good – but not great – idea

Tuesday June 27, 2006

With the Big 10’s announcement of their own TV network (wonder if it will be on channel 11), other conferences naturally have been asked their plans for television networks. The AJC reports that SEC-TV is “likely to become a reality”, and even Georgia has been approached about their own network. Of course the bottom line is viewership. Is there enough of an audience to support a 24/7 SEC or even UGA channel? Florida found that it could sustain such a channel, so the Sunshine network has become a nice outlet for local sports there.

As much as I would love a channel dedicated to SEC sports, a few concerns pop right to the front about this being an SEC venture.

I have a problem with the SEC or NCAA getting into the content distribution biz. This seems like a throwback to the days before Oklahoma and Georgia challenged the NCAA’s stranglehold on football broadcasts. Quasi-political organizations like the NCAA or the SEC must serve many masters, and the viewing public is way down on the list. Conference commish Mike Slive told the AJC, “One of the things that is attractive about (SEC-TV) is the potential for showing off so many of the other attributes of our institutions. Symphonies, convocations, major speeches — not just athletic events — could be shown to our fans.” Riiiiiiiiight. Sorry, Mike, SEC “fans” aren’t going to tune in for convocations. Bear Bryant’s observation that 50.000 people don’t show up to see a math exam applies here. They’d be more likely to watch the 1998 Alabama-Tennessee game.

But the conference must patronize the University presidents, and so its TV network would have plenty of token self-aggrandizing programming that is even more insipid than the endless “going pro in something other than sports” commercials. Fans will still subscribe because the one game they really do want to see makes it worth it, and they will suffer through the conference’s idea of well-rounded programming. Do us a favor, Mike. Conferences exist in their present form to serve athletics. The SEC is a powerful entity and marketable brand not because of its convocations but because of its first-class sports. It’s great the the conference has many members with outstanding academic reputations, but please don’t delude yourself that people will seek out SEC-TV for any reason other than sports programming.

In a region where conference membership is more or less homogenous, a conference network makes more sense. But in a region like the southeast, interests and rivalries are so interwoven among several conferences that a regional channel makes more sense than a conference network. For example, fans in Atlanta are probably more interested in UGA, Georgia Tech, and schools from Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, and the Carolinas. Fans in Memphis probably have different tastes and want to see teams from Mississippi, Memphis, Arkansas, Missouri, and so on. Instead of networks-by-conference, we need regional college networks. SportSouth before it got all Fox-ized was a good start, but drop the Braves and Hawks. Focus on college sports in the region. I believe, especially in the South, that demand exists to support such an idea.

I can see why the SEC might oppose a regional conference-neutral network. That network, done well, could become a virtual conference with quite a bit of clout of its own. So if we’re stuck with the idea of a conference network, ideally the SEC would lend its brand (for a nice royalty of course) to a private company that knows how to produce sports programming and then step aside. It’s how things work now among the individual sports. I’m just not looking forward to missing a good spring baseball game because SEC-TV has to show Kentucky’s graduation ceremony or missing a women’s hoops battle because the LSU wind symphony is in concert.

Post End-of-year wrapup

Friday June 23, 2006

Georgia’s elimination from the College World Series brought the sports year to an end for Georgia’s athletics teams. Summer is a dry, dry desert for fans of college sports. But we’re only about six weeks away from football practice (doesn’t seem that long now, does it?). As you’d expect after such a good year for so many of Georgia’s teams, the high points definitely outnumber the lows.

High Points:

  • SEC All-Sports Trophy.
    For the first time, Georgia unseated Florida as the SEC’s best all-around athletic department. It’s a paper award, but it speaks to the all-around strength of the University’s sports programs.
  • Gym Dogs dominance.
    They didn’t lose a meet in 2006 and handled the pressures of being #1 from start to finish while defending their national title. The Gym Dogs have been good before, but they are now set up for an incredible run. If health holds up, they’re looking at a dynasty.
  • SEC football title.
    Dawg fans lived without a conference title for 20 years. Now they’ve played for three titles since 2002 and won twice. D.J. Shockley and company defied the conventional wisdom that they should be down after losing Greene, Pollack, Davis, and Thurman and instead returned to the top of the SEC. Only a midseason injury to Shockley kept the 2005 season from being even better.
  • Diamond Dawgs to the College World Series.
    What a ride. Up, down, and then way up. The Diamond Dawgs seemed dead in the water around mid-April, but they put it together down the SEC homestretch to earn hosting rights for the NCAA Tournament. The momentum took them all the way back to Omaha with two dramatic postseason series against Florida State and South Carolina. Three trips to the College World Series in six years clearly marks the glory days for Georgia baseball.
  • Jennifer Dahlgren.
    Who? Jennifer Dahlgren. Just the Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, the best in the nation in women’s track and field. She won national titles in weight throw and hammer throw and set several SEC and NCAA records. Many didn’t notice, but women’s track at Georgia had probably their best year ever this year and finished ninth at the NCAA championships this spring.
  • Rolling in the cash.
    The Dawgs are just as successful at the bank as they are on the field. It might prove to be just a temporary blip, but Georgia made headlines as the nation’s most profitable athletic department. The recent strength of the football program as well as a restructuring of the seating priority system has donations soaring while expenses have been kept sane.

Low Points:

Apollo Creed
Georgia takes the field for the Sugar Bowl
  • Late-season collapse in men’s hoops.
    A respectable nonconference performance which included a nice rout of Georgia Tech had fans pretty pumped about the prospects for improvement over the dismal 2004-2005 season. Road SEC wins at Vandy and South Carolina gave the Dawgs their first taste of success away from home in years, and they were at or near .500 in the conference for some time. Entering February, talk of an NCAA Tournament bid was still very much realistic, and an NIT bid was safely in the bank. Georgia lost seven of their final eight games and even that NIT bid slipped away from them. The frontcourt collapsed often, and the guard play was far too inconsistent to carry the team. After a February 4th win at Vanderbilt, Georgia was 4-5 in the conference. Georgia dropped their next three games including an abysmal loss at home to Vandy, and Dennis Felton faced a minor backlash after getting on fans to appreciate what was going on in the program right as the season went in the tank.
  • Stunning Sugar Bowl loss.
    Georgia was living large after its SEC Championship beating of LSU. The Sugar Bowl was set up to be a coronation of Shockley and team in their own backyard. With BCS teams like Penn State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame out there, the choice of West Virginia as the opponent was almost a letdown. In short, it was every bit Apollo Creed vs. Ivan Drago, lacking only James Brown descending into the Georgia Dome during pregame. West Virginia knocked Georgia to the canvas in the first quarter, and the upset win is still causing ripples into the 2006 season. West Virginia is now positioned as a favorite on the national scene this year with Louisville as their only quality opponent. Steve Slaton and Pat White are now household names, and coaches flocked to Morgantown in the offseason to bask in the offense of Rich Rodriguez. Though a ten-win season is never a low point for a football team, the way the 2005 season ended shook the Bulldog nation. It was the outcome many national observers expected from the Boise State game.
  • Lady Dog injuries.
    Tasha Humphrey exploded onto the scene as a freshman, and with a pair of outstanding senior guards it was clear that only a little more frontcourt depth would place Georgia back among the nation’s elite teams. Coach Andy Landers added two big players to the post, and summer practices during 2005 saw a deep, talented team that could succeed against almost any style of play. Then the unthinkable happened. Not one, not two, not three, but four frontcourt players became unavailable for the season either through injury or attrition. The team was left with one frontcourt starter, one frontcourt reserve, a wing player thrust into the role of power forward, and zero depth behind that. After that lack of depth was exposed in the season opener against Baylor, it seemed like a promising season was all but gone. Instead, the Lady Dogs regrouped, made one of their more consistent runs ever through the SEC, competed with elite teams, finished third in the SEC, and advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. By the time the season ended with a heartbreaking loss to Connecticut, Georgia had turned this low point into one of the better stories that Georgia athletics has seen in years.

Post Tech still hasn’t sold out its opener vs. Notre Dame

Friday June 23, 2006
Home Sweet Home
Yes, that many Auburn fans really did get tickets.

Georgia Tech’s Bobby Dodd Stadium seats about 55,000 people. You would think that a name like Notre Dame coming to town (not to mention Miami later in the year) might cause demand for season tickets to go through the roof. Nope…remember, this is Tech. Tech will release 7,000 tickets for its opener against Notre Dame to the general public on July 1st. 7,000 tickets represents over 1/8 of this stadium. That is what remains after all season tickets, student tickets, comp tickets, and the visitor allotment have been handed out. To picture 1/8 of Sanford Stadium empty, imagine the visitor allotment for a big SEC game completely empty. Of course they will force those who buy one of these 7,000 tickets to purchase tickets to two other Tech games, ensuring sections of empty seats as people (surely most will be Notre Dame fans) eat those other tickets. Notre Dame will become the latest school to thank Tech for expanding its stadium to accomodate more visiting fans.

I’ll even pump Tech up here for a second (and then promptly shower). They haven’t missed a bowl game since 1996 (thanks to Chan’s uncanny ability to consistently achieve college football’s room temperature of 6 wins). They have played well in season openers lately against teams like BYU and Auburn. They beat Auburn and Miami last year. They have arguably one of the nation’s most exciting and gifted players at receiver. Have I mentioned that Notre Dame is coming to town? Yet tickets remain.

I shouldn’t be surprised. We’re all familiar with the three-game packages we had to buy to see Georgia and the various other marketing plans Tech has come up with for lesser opponents. Still…the words “tickets remain” and “vs. Notre Dame” should never appear in the context of college football.

Post World Cup antipathy

Wednesday June 21, 2006

Count me among those who wonder why there is such venom from (American) football fans whenever the World Cup comes around. I don’t mean indifference or even a mild distaste; I mean a full-on “get this queer sissy-boy Communist boring ‘sport’ back on the Mexican-speaking channels where it belongs.” I’ll admit that most of what I see is regional. Despite thriving youth soccer programs and top collegiate programs in the Mid-Atlantic and South, the hatred of the sport by a lot of the football fans is almost palpable. Georgia’s own Lewis Grizzard summed up the feeling of the typical Southern football fan, “If soccer was an American soft drink, it would be Diet Pepsi.”

It works the other way too. I know that during the World Cup overzealous soccer evangelists come out of the woodwork. These people are as annoying to me as they are to most. No, soccer is not about to take over the nation. No, we don’t have a duty to watch the Americans. No, people can have plenty of sophistication and education and still not get into soccer. It happens, so stop trying to convince America that it must accept soccer. I think that some of the venom directed towards soccer is brought on by these evangelists, but honestly – there’s not that many of them, and most of us just want to watch and ejnoy the World Cup in peace.

But nothing puzzles me like the sports fan who goes out of his way to tell you how much some other sport sucks. We all have sports we follow and don’t follow, but that’s not good enough. Tennis / soccer / hockey / NASCAR / women’s sports / curling is booooooooring. Its fans are stupid gay redneck snobs. You know how it goes. It’s not just football fans either. I’ve spoken with many women’s basketball fans who would love to see football go away (despite football’s role in providing most collegiate athletic opportunities for women).

I’m glad to see some other college football bloggers talking about the Cup and even being way more into it than I am. I’ve found a few more sites I’ll be reading regularly come the fall, and I’m sure that there are others I don’t even know about. It makes sense to me, because the atmosphere around even the worst World Cup game is every bit as good as what you get on an SEC football Saturday. If anyone should get the passion of the World Cup and appreciate the obnoxious and vocal crowds rivaling Baton Rouge on Saturday night, it seems like it should be college football fans.

Post Congrats to Shandon Anderson – World Champion

Wednesday June 21, 2006

Shandon contributed to Miami’s success in the NBA Finals and now has a championship ring. He’s put in a lot of time in the league since leaving Georgia as a star and the face of the success that Georgia had in the mid-1990s. He’s played for four teams in his NBA career and as a free agent might find himself on another roster next year. His tough defense off the bench makes him a pretty valuable reserve, and Miami’s bench was a big part of their ability to hold off Dallas. Congratulations Shandon!

Post Sidetrack – NBA Finals

Wednesday June 21, 2006

Tim Dahlberg probably doesn’t make a huge salary. Few journalists do, even those who work hard and become the best at their craft. I doubt that even the impressive job title of “national sports columnist for The Associated Press” bumps his salary close to the range of those he covers in the sports world.

What does that matter? Dahlberg’s latest column tries to take down Dallas owner Mark Cuban for his behavior during the NBA finals, but he can’t seem to keep an extraordinary amount of bitterness and jealousy over Cuban’s wealth out of the piece. He obsesses over Cuban’s wallet, and it prevents him from getting very far towards his point.

Go ahead. Read the column. Count the uses of “billionaire”. Marvel over the lengths Dahlberg goes to take a shot at “the big HD televisions that must line every wall in (Cuban’s) Dallas mansion.” Can someone please give this guy a raise so the wealth envy becomes a little less overt in his supposedly AP-worthy analysis of national sports?

The funniest line is the predictable, “Shouldn’t billionaires have deeper things to worry about?” Bill Gates spends a lot of time and money fighting global health issues, and Cuban is wrapped up in his basketball team. Uh, Tim…you’re a sports writer. Your job exists because a lot of people, Cuban included, find sports and entertainment a worthy investment of money and attention. If you want to mock Cuban for considering the performance of his multi-million dollar investment a “weighty issue”, go talk to your editor about covering Gates and AIDS in the developing world.

It’s unfortunate that Dahlberg’s screed is so diluted by this envy, because he gets so close to a decent point with which I could agree. Cuban let himself become the story in the NBA Finals, and it cost his team their edge and a title. This beautiful, talented team was second-best.

I know where Cuban is coming from. He is at his core a fan, his team is playing for the ultimate prize, and fans do what fans do in these situations – they become overemotional, superstitious, and jittery. If I were scrutinized for every outburst, nervous habit, or superstition during Dawg games, I’d make Cuban look like a wine-and-cheeser. I’m generally on Cuban’s side and love that he puts it out there on his blog and really seems to get this medium. It’s just so unfortunate that it blew up as it did in the Finals.

But of course he’s not just a fan, and as the series wore on and Dallas encountered some adversity, it seemed as if the team and even the Dallas fans began to take on the personality of the team’s owner. Any sense of composure Dallas had was shot by the end of Game 5. By that point in the series, everything from the Heat to the refs to Stern to the media were in the heads of the Mavericks – everything except their focus on playing the outstanding basketball that got them to the Finals and their focus on winning the title. The bottom of this descent into self-pity and distraction came after Game 6 in the form of loser Dallas fans who stuck around just to boo Stern as he conducted the awards ceremony.

Cuban is fond of saying, “right is its own defense.” If that’s true, then wrong is its own executioner. Cuban let Stern, the league, and the refs become the enemy over the past week instead of the Heat. If right is its own defense, what does the storyline and outcome of the NBA Finals tell us?

Post Boise State, a year later

Tuesday June 20, 2006

Boise State’s trip to Athens to begin the 2005 was seen as a possible watershed moment. More than a few people were calling the game the biggest in Boise State’s history. It was a chance for the wunderkind coach to take his scheme against a vulnerable old-guard program who had just lost no small amount of talent and leadership to the NFL. Favoring Boise State in this game was the fashionable off-season upset pick entering the 2005 season. The pressure was clearly on Georgia – how would they deal with the innovative and super-productive Bronco offense, and how tight would Georgia play if they found themselves in a dogfight in their own stadium with such an upstart? If Boise won, it would be a huge step towards legitimacy among the top programs after a near miss at the end of 2004 against Louisville.

I saw things a bit differently. Because of everything that was at stake, I thought a great deal more pressure was on Boise State not so much because of the quality of the opponent but because of the importance that they had placed on that game. I asked, “what does it mean if you come up short?” As it turned out, that pressure did them in, and the collapse was personified in the complete meltdown of quarterback Jared Zabransky. It was Georgia that put on the offensive dispay as D.J. Shockley demonstrated that he could handle the reigns of his team.

All that’s history now, but what a difference a year makes for Boise State. Hear that silence? That’s the hype for Boise State in 2006. Their high-profile head coach has left for Colorado (and will make for interesting storylines when he brings that team to Athens this year). Phil Steele includes the Broncos in his 2006 preseason rankings, but so far he’s the only one to do so. You won’t find them on anyone’s list of “it” teams anymore, and the great hope for the non-BCS conferences has moved on to others like TCU.

At best, Boise State is on the periphery of the discussion this year as observers wait to see if a new coach can continue the impressive run of relative success this decade. At worst, the consecutive losses to Louisville and Georgia deeply wounded the program. A chance to recapture the magic fell just short in the bowl loss to Boston College, and while the architect of the offense remains as successor, the guru is gone. Talent at quarterback and receiver is aging rapidly, and it will be interesting to see if the new staff can keep the players coming. Success can be fleeting and elusive for even the most successful programs. It’s infinitely more fragile for the programs taking risks to build something special from nothing.

I have nothing against Boise State. I enjoy(ed) watching them play and succeed. But the people who latched onto the Broncos as a representative of something bigger than they were put Georgia squarely in the crosshairs, and I can’t deny that I took a great deal of satisfaction from watching the Dawgs respond to the challenge as they did.

Last year everyone wondered if Boise State could beat Georgia and take the next step as a program. Now I wonder just how far that loss to Georgia set the Boise State program back and if they will ever recover to reach the level of expectations and optimism they had in the summer of 2005.

Post Diamond Dawgs stars don’t shine in Omaha

Monday June 19, 2006

Yep, the Diamond Dawgs made a quick exit from the CWS. There’s no need at this point to run down individuals, but many of the familiar names that propelled the Dawgs to Omaha didn’t have much to say once they got there. It’s not that they played poorly or were dominated. They played two quality teams very close and had to feel good about their chances of winning at least one of them. Described by Coach Perno as a team that relied on the big inning, Georgia managed only one multi-run inning in their two games and immediately gave those runs back.

Rice and Oregon State did what many teams over the past two months couldn’t: prevent Georgia from stringing hits and runs together in overwhelming scoring bursts. Such explosive innings helped Georgia avoid elimination against FSU and South Carolina in the postseason. In the final game of the season, three double plays were key in killing any momentum the Dawgs tried to create. The double plays “ripped our hearts out,” said Perno. “We had three big double plays at the worst times.” The final double play came on the last at-bat of the game in which Georgia had the winning run at the plate. Even down to the end, they were still in the game but just couldn’t come up with the big plays. Against the level of competition in Omaha, that’s the formula for a quick trip home.

The future? Georgia will have a good bit of turnover. That’s just the nature of college baseball. There is a nice core in place, and guys like Beckham and the freshman pitchers will be experienced vets next year. While Georgia should be proud of its second trip to Omaha in three seasons, the goals for next season should be humble but very clear: return to the SEC and NCAA Tournaments. For all their success since 2001, Georgia has only made consecutive trips to the NCAA Tournament once in program history (2001-2002). The CWS trip in 2004 was followed by a disappointing 2005 that was just a game or two away from the postseason. The highs have certainly been good, but it’s time to level out some of the lows and establish some consistency in the program. Even without knowing the makeup of the team heading into next season, I don’t consider those goals to be unreasonable for a program with Georgia’s recent success.

Given the limited scholarships and turnover due to the professional draft that completely changes college rosters from year to year, establishing continuity and sustaining postseason-quality success from year to year is one of the toughest jobs a college coach has, and it’s what separates the very best.

Post Definition of a senior leader

Monday June 19, 2006

Joe Tereshinski surely knows that he’s in a very tough fight to keep the starting QB job in 2006.  But in Sunday’s interview with the AJC, he comes across as nothing but calm, humble, and everything else you’d expect a guy to be after spending a few years under Mark Richt’s guidance.

Joe T. gushes with praise for those who came before him, knows how to approach the senior-led summer workouts, and talks about playing for the Dawgs as a true honor and priviledge.  With his family’s history, you might could excuse him seeing this opportunity as routine and his birthright, but he seems to relish each snap as one of us might if we were plucked off the street and given the chance of a lifetime to lead the Bulldogs.

Without even knowing what’s going on in Athens this summer, I’m encouraged knowing that seniors like this are getting the team ready.

Post Keeping the best in state

Wednesday June 14, 2006

Chad Simmons of UGASports.com reports that Georgia has added two defensive commitments to the football recruiting class of 2007. S John Knox and DE Justin Houston chose Georgia over offers from such schools as Auburn, Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and LSU. Each is rated among UGASports.com’s top 25 players at any position in Georgia.

The pair have known each other since third grade and wanted to play together. I especially liked that Georgia held its own with a few kids who were comparing academics with Georgia Tech. Word is getting out.

Post Not quite Eugene Robinson, but Diamond Dawgs take a hit

Tuesday June 13, 2006

Quite a day as we watched this story evolve.

First, the AJC reports that UGA relief pitcher Stephen Dodson has been arrested for underage drinking and theft. Bad, but not quite hanging out with hookers the night before the Super Bowl. But his fate will be the same.

Using data from the UGA Police Dep’t., we learn that Dodson and former UGA pitcher Johnny Dobbs tied one on over the weekend and tried to take a few souveniers from Foley Field. Their haul? Dodson got a $75 NCAA Tournament banner for his room and Dobbs got nailed for a $2 baseball. Priceless.

But as stupid as this prank was (and as we all remember that traffic sign or banner in our dorm rooms), it has cost Dodson a chance to participate in the College World Series. Coach David Perno has suspended Dodson, and he won’t make the trip with the team.

That’s a pretty harsh consequence for a drunken prank, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that this decision came from a bit higher up the University food chain and might have even overruled Coach Perno. Given President Adams’ current crusade against student drinking, the alcohol part of the story probably cost Dodson infinitely more than the “theft”.

Post Diamond Dawg pitching depth propels them to Omaha

Tuesday June 13, 2006

Sometime around the middle of the season the names Moreau, Holder, Dodson, and Leaver became as familiar to Georgia baseball fans as Westphal, Brown, Warren, and Fields. The emergence of those four freshmen gave Georgia real pitching depth, and suddenly they had the arms to sustain them on their late-season winning streak.

The advantage of that depth was obvious in the super regional against South Carolina. Though pitching didn’t matter much in Saturday’s game, it played a large role in the final two games of the series. Both nights, South Carolina was forced to stick too long with their starter because of a shaky bullpen. Georgia capitalized both nights as the Gamecock starters tired and then vulnerable relievers came in. Meanwhile, Georgia was able to turn to several dependable arms out of the bullpen to keep the games in hand before the Georgia offense took over each night.

I am especially happy to see the role that Bobby Felmy played in the two Georgia wins. Felmy has had his moments this senior season, including a huge game-winning RBI against Georgia Tech at Turner Field. But to be honest, he was struggling on offense by his standards. His two homeruns ignited Georgia’s biggest innings on Sunday and Monday, and his five RBIs were all critical to Georgia’s success.

11-0 all-time in Athens in elimination games for Georgia. Incredible. These cardiac canines found new life midseason after a weak SEC start left them in a big hole. From the SEC Tournament to both rounds of the NCAA postseason this far, Georgia has shown the same spirit to keep fighting and emerge on top. Now this show goes to Omaha, and there is no reason why they can’t win there also. One of the keys to surviving the double-elimination test in Omaha is having the pitching to get through that second and third game and advance to Championship Weekend. This year, that factor might finally be on Georgia’s side.

This is really an incredible time for Georgia baseball.  There have only been eight trips to the NCAA Tournament in program history, and four of those have come since 2001.  The program has made five trips to Omaha, and three of those have come since 2001.  The Dawgs were probably a single SEC win from making the tournament in 2005, so even the “down” years lately are better than the historical norms.  With a strong showing in Omaha, not many SEC baseball programs can claim as good a start to this decade as Georgia.

Post Satellite radio quagmire

Monday June 12, 2006

Very disappointing news. The ABH reports today that Georgia remains without a satellite radio deal and will remain one of the few holdouts for at least the short-term.

“We’re probably in the best position as that goes right now because we’re not locked in one way or the other,” says assoc. AD Alan Thomas from Athens, well within range of 960 WRFC AM and WGMG 102.1 FM. Thomas goes on to show how great this position is by noting that Georgia and Arkansas are the only SEC schoools still on the satellite sideline. Those foolish ten SEC schools who chose to serve their fan bases must be incredible suckers.

There are several sticking points. Will satellite deals in the future be arranged on a conference basis as TV deals are, or will they be handled by individual schools as radio deals are? Also, Georgia would like to make sure that any satellite partner carries the Georgia audio for all games instead of choosing one broadcast or the other when both schools are carried by the satellite network. That’s reasonable; we all expect to hear Munson, but it doesn’t seem like enough of a showstopper to keep Georgia off the satellites.

I’m especially frustrated because I’m in the market for satellite radio, and I am/was waiting on Georgia’s decision to influence mine. Georgia always seems to be behind the technology curve whether it be streaming media, online ticket ordering, or even Web sites (this very site was launched in 1995 partly out of frustration over Georgia’s meager online presence at the time). I guess I shouldn’t expect anything different on the issue of satellite radio. Georgia is approaching the choice of a satellite radio network as if they were signing away Herschel’s first-born.

Meanwhile, Georgia continues to pocket nice G-xtra subscription fees for those out-of-towners who want to listen in. And WSB/Cox, who look to renew their radio contract with the University soon, certainly won’t mind the lack of satellite competition for listeners for their only remaining sports programming.

TANGENT: I’ve been very grateful to the CSS network for doing a lot for University of Georgia sports. We watched with envy as the population of Florida supported the Sunshine Network, but the combination of Fox Sports South (or whatever they call themselves now) and CSS has done reasonably well to serve UGA fans. Given the passion and admitted provincialism of college fans in the South, I think a network dedicated to SEC and ACC sports could do well. I wonder what Fox has in mind with the recently-acquired Turner South network.