Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Gym Dogs go for three-peat

Thursday April 26, 2007

Good luck to the Gym Dogs in their quest for three consecutive national titles. The championships begin this afternoon at 3:00 ET in Salt Lake City.

You can follow scores and NCAA championship news here.

Post Lady Dog assistant Brenda Hill departs

Thursday April 26, 2007

Georgia assistant Brenda Hill has been named the new head coach of the Winder-Barrow girl’s basketball program, the ABH reports today. Hill, as most know, is the mother (and high school coach) of Georgia All-American Tasha Humphrey. Hill also has another daughter of high school age, and her new position will allow her to coach Mimi and spend more time in the area with both of her daughters.

The opening presents Coach Landers with an opportunity to go in several different directions. Does he go after a young female assistant with recent experience in the game and the WNBA? La’Keisha Frett was such a person when Landers brought her on a couple of years ago. Does he go back to someone like Hill with strong roots in the Georgia high schools? Or does he go for more experience? Former Lady Dog Susie Gardner resigned as Arkansas’ head coach after this past season and was just hired as an assistant at Florida. While Gardner might not be available anymore, there are similar experienced assistants and even former head coaches who might consider a job alongside the Hall of Fame-bound Landers.

The opening is also a chance to take stock. An evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the program, something that all coaches do after a season, could point him towards the kind of assistant who might fill the biggest need of the program. Katie Gilbert is an outstanding tactician and handles much of the team’s game preparation. She needs to focus on that role. Frett is still getting her feet wet both as a coach and a recruiter. As tempting as adding another former player might be, having two on the staff who are learning on the job might be a bit much.

These opportunities can also be bobbled. After longtime assistant Michael Shafer left for Richmond in 2005, the Lady Dogs had a brief but failed experiment with a former Clemson assistant. They were fortunate enough to find Frett willing to come on board on a temporary basis, and she earned a permanent position from it.

I believe the program most needs help in recruiting. If there’s another Michael Shafer out there, find him (or her)…easier said than done. Whether that means hiring a proven recruiter or hiring an experienced coach who can help with the details of the program as Landers turns his attention to improving recruiting, there is an imperative to increase the talent level. Brittany Carter was a great pickup from the in-state talent this year, but several others left the state, and it’s not a one-year thing. Landers himself admits, "We have got to do a better job. In the last couple of years, we have stumbled, and we have just got to do a better job."

While there’s plenty to be proud of about the state of the Georgia program, few are satisfied with being "just" a Sweet 16 program, and that is more or less the state of the program right now. They are certainly one of the top 15 programs in the nation and arguably one of the top 10. Landers is chief among those who demand better. He aims to make Georgia again one of the three or four programs at the top. This opening created by Hill’s departure is his chance to give the program the shot in the arm it needs to bring in more of the type of talent it takes to reclaim the program’s membership among the nation’s elite.

There has been no comment from Hill or the program yet.

Post Olson comes through in biggest baseball win of the season

Wednesday April 25, 2007
Matt Olson

"Matt Olson just absolutely killed us," Georgia Tech’s Danny Hall said.

When a Tech coach can say that about a Georgia player, that Dawg earns a special place of esteem here. Olson led the Dawgs with 6 RBI last night in a 10-7 win over Georgia Tech at Turner Field in front of over 21,000 fans. He got the scoring going with a bases-clearing 3-run double in the first inning and then added key insurance runs later in the game as Tech made pushes to cut into the lead. His 5th-inning home run extended Georgia’s lead to 7-3, and Tech wouldn’t come within three runs again. Olson finished with a single, two doubles, a home run to dead center, and a stolen base.

Georgia hasn’t had a great season. Without an incredible turnaround, they seem unlikely to qualify for the SEC Tournament as one of the league’s top eight teams. They seem even less likely to earn an NCAA Tournament bid. With those goals slipping away, kudos to Coach Perno and the guys for coming through in one thing they can still win: the season series with Georgia Tech. Tech took the first game of the season series 8-2 in Atlanta last week, and it wasn’t pretty. Georgia’s response at Turner Field was very encouraging. It wasn’t the cleanest of wins; Tech made plenty of mistakes – including walking the first three Georgia batters – and the Dawgs had some shaky pitching of their own at times. Josh Fields closed the game and induced a game-ending double play with the tying run on deck.

We’ll take the win. When the biggest problem this year has been offensive production, a nice outburst against your top rival in front of one of the biggest crowds to see college baseball this year is tremendous. Georgia is now 5-1 against Tech in the annual benefit game at Turner Field for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and they are 14-9 overall against the Yellow Jackets since 2001.

Olson reminds us that a win over Tech last year started a 12-game winning streak. A repeat of that streak is almost Georgia’s only shot for a postseason at this moment.

The Dawgs won’t have much time to enjoy the win, and the one-game winning streak will be tested immediately. Georgia travels to play Western Carolina tonight to make up a game canceled by weather earlier in the season. They lost 3-1 to the Catamounts back in March. Then it’s off to Kentucky for a weekend series with the Wildcats. UK isn’t as strong as they were last year and are just a game and a half in front of Georgia. With series coming up against strong Vanderbilt and Mississippi State teams, Georgia has to get some results in Lexington to have any chance.

Tech and Georgia are scheduled to meet again on May 9th in Athens to decide the season series. Watch that day for rain, a cloud in the sky, or even an especially good episode of Battlestar Galactica. If you’re at all familiar with this series, you know that the scheduled game in Athens has been conveniently canceled a couple of times in recent years.

Post Parrish: SEC dusts off the robes

Tuesday April 24, 2007

Sportsline’s Gary Parrish points out today that recent changes among the SEC’s men’s basketball coaches have left the league with only one minority coach, Georgia’s Dennis Felton.

I won’t even address his suspect stretch to link another bizarre Arkansas personnel decision with a conference-wide backlash against minority coaches.

But I will ask this question: does such hysteria when a minority coach is fired make programs more or less likely to take a chance on a minority coach in the future?

(Don’t tell Parrish, but it’s even worse than it appears. Three of the four vacant SEC women’s basketball coaching positions this spring – all formerly held by women – went to men.)

Post Disjointed thoughts about the draft and “favorite” players

Tuesday April 24, 2007

Ching has some guesses today about the NFL Draft positions of Georgia’s draft candidates. His analysis seems to indicate that four Dawgs (Moses, Johnson, Milner, and Taylor) are likely to be drafted and a couple of other guys have an outside shot. No big surprise there. It seems to be one of the larger groups we’ve had recently headed for the post-draft free-agent route.

I’m not going to get into the draft very much. I’m much more interested in the Georgia angle, and that’s about it. I look forward to following the pro careers of our Dawgs.

Here’s where I try to weave the draft talk into some other thoughts. Wish me luck.

Fans either consciously or otherwise have their "good guy" and "bad guy" lists. It’s a lot easier to be honest about it with pro athletes – there is much greater access to them, they’re drawing a huge paycheck, and you’re not kicking around a college kid. Sometimes the choices are obvious. Hines Ward is Mr. Good Guy. Few Georgia fans have Quincy Carter on their "good guy" list.

We are often toughest on our own though. Florida fans spent the past four years counting the days until Chris Leak left. The story of Miles Luckie sticks around in my head: he caught no end of criticism from Georgia fans for being undersized and out of place, but he emerged as an All-SEC center.

That brings me back around to the draft. Two names on Ching’s list of possible Bulldog draftees stand out to me: Martrez Milner and Danny Ware. Others on the list like Johnson, Moses, and Taylor are benign at worst. Taylor finished well, Moses not so well, but they go into the draft generally remembered as good performers and decent guys. If you ask Georgia fans about Milner though, they’re likely to bring up the drops first. Martrez surely had some of the most high-profile drops in Georgia history since Terrence Edwards. It’s almost as if the drops erase the great catches, the big plays, or the fact that he was our leading receiver by every measure in 2006. I expect that some Dawg fans are surprised to see him as a likely draft pick.

Many Georgia fans mocked Danny Ware for declaring for the draft or at the very least scratched their heads wondering how the third-string tailback could think he was NFL material. He hasn’t exactly vaulted himself into the first day of the draft or anything, but Ching’s crystal ball still has Ware as a possible late-round pick or at least a likely free-agent signee. Considering that the backfield was going to become even more crowded this fall with the availability of Moreno and King, I think Ware made the best possible choice if he hoped to have at least a shot at an NFL roster. Time will tell of course.

Post Flashback: G-Day 2001 (Richt’s first)

Monday April 23, 2007

Georgia fans will give you endless excuses why we never draw more than 20 or 30,000 people to the spring scrimmage. After all, other teams draw 50,000 or even more for their scrimmages. You’ll hear about Masters weekend or sometimes Easter weekend or the weather or Richt’s tendency to play the scrimmage as vanilla as possible. It’s always something, and that’s just fine with me.

Let’s be honest. You’re watching a scrimmage. You have no emotional stake in the outcome. Your greatest concern is that everyone remains healthy. The only reasons for going are to spend a day in the ol’ college town, stock up at the bookstores, entertain the kids, and sit a lot closer to something resembling football than you otherwise could in the fall. Football practice is boring once you get over the novelty, and that’s why I’m glad that most Dawg fans usually can find better things to do when G-Day comes around each year.

Over 92,000 Alabama fans had nothing better to do on Saturday than to attend A-Day in Tuscaloosa just to be a part of Nick Saban’s first public appearance on the Bryant-Denny sideline. Fans actually used words like "historic" to describe a football scrimmage. Far be it from a sportsblogger to play the "obsessive to the point of unhealthy" card, but damn. The coverage of the crowd also serves to remind the rest of us that Alabama football fans are similar to Kentucky basketball fans in that same kind of arrogantly annoying way. We don’t enjoy them being down as much as we would, say Auburn or Florida, but just know how insufferable they’ll be if Saban actually does do something there.

Someone on the DawgVent asked what the turnout was for Richt’s first G-Day game back in 2001, and I came across this recap from UGASports.com. If ever G-Day was set up for a huge crowd, it was that day. You had a triple-shot of hype: Richt was bringing his shiny FSU offense to Georgia. G-Day returned to Sanford Stadium after skipping a year due to that infamous sewer leak. Finally, fans got their first look at quarterback phenom David Greene. Despite all of those things that might have made G-Day 2001 ever so slightly more interesting than usual, I’m very glad to say that only 20,445 showed up in Athens on that day.

We’ve known for years that it’s a quirk of these spring games that some unusual suspects can steal the show. Georgia has had Johnny Brown, Ronnie Powell, and even Jason Johnson – the heros of spring games past. 2001 was no different. With several players held out due to injury, you need to dust off a media guide to follow the recap.

Much like 2006, the quarterback position was a question mark and a big area of interest. It was clear by that point that Quincy Carter was long gone. Cory Phillips, the caretaker quarterback of the 2000 season, was given the opportunity to win the position. Fans were eager to get a look at redshirt freshman David Greene after hearing the hype during his redshirt season in 2000. Matt Redding didn’t last long at quarterback after the spring. He’d be tried at linebacker and eventually left the program. Neither Greene nor Phillips looked very impressive against the first-string defense, though Greene threw two touchdowns. Coach Richt would not name a starter until the week before the 2001 season.

Incumbent tailback Musa Smith was held out of G-Day 2001, so the running game wasn’t really on display. Even Jasper Sanks was out. Georgia’s leading rusher that day was the forgotten Bailey, Kenny. Kenny spent some time as a reserve tailback before trying his luck as a defensive back later in his career. You can’t mention G-Day during this era without mentioning Ronnie Powell. Powell scored the game’s lone rushing touchdown and averaged over 10 yards on his four carries. Lurking down among the running backs was a fullback named Verron Haynes.

The receiving stats were particularly interesting. The top two receivers in the game became known more for leaving Georgia than for anything they did in Athens. Durrell Robinson came to Georgia as a partial qualifier, made a few receptions in 2000, and was off to junior college not long after this spring of 2001. Robinson became one of the nation’s best JUCO receivers and committed to West Virginia before dropping off the face of the earth. Tavarus Morgan also left Georgia during 2001, and he settled as South Carolina State where he had a decent career. Standouts Randy McMichael, Terrence Edwards, and Damien Gary didn’t have stellar performances, but that’s not unusual for G-Day.

Georgia’s leading tackler that day? Safety Burt Jones. Jones would go on in his career to become (quite seriously) one of the best cover guys Georgia has had on special teams in some time. Right behind Jones was safety standout Terreal Bierria who scored eight tackles and was involved with two interceptions. The defense tallied four interceptions overall.

Sophomore Billy Bennett was the game’s leading scorer. He connected on five field goals (a sixth was blocked) in a foreshadowing of his record-setting six field goal performance that was to come much later in 2001 during the streak-breaker game at Georgia Tech.

How in the world did only 20k show up for that?!?!

Post Weekend in review

Monday April 23, 2007

Georgia claimed three SEC titles this weekend. Men’s and women’s tennis followed up their regular season titles with tournament titles. The women beat Florida for the title and ended Florida’s run of five straight SEC titles. Women’s golf also brought home team and individual championships. Unfortunately, the men’s top-ranked golf team finished just sixth at the SEC championship.

With a little more than a month remaining in the regular season, things continue to look grim for the Diamond Dawgs. They dropped another SEC series, losing the final two to Arkansas in Athens after winning on Friday. Stephen Dodson continues to be the lone bright spot; he’s pitched consecutive complete games for Friday night wins. The bad news is that the home stretch features series against several of the SEC’s better teams such as Vanderbilt and South Carolina. At this point, I’m just hoping we can salvage something from the two remaining games with Tech, including tomorrow night’s Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta benefit game at Turner Field.

Coming up this week:

  • Baseball: vs. Georgia Tech, Tuesday 7:00 (@ Turner Field)
  • Baseball: @ Western Carolina, Wednesday
  • Baseball: @ Kentucky, Friday-Sunday
  • Gymnastics: NCAA championships, Salt Lake City, Utah. The GymDogs will try for their third consecutive national title against hometown favorite Utah and a Florida squad that has been unbeatable so far this year. Thursday-Saturday.
  • Football: NFL Draft, beginning Saturday

Post UGA starts Tate 2 construction, central campus revitalization

Friday April 20, 2007

It’s been about a year and a half since University of Georgia students approved a fee to construct "Tate 2 ", an expansion of the Tate Student Center at the heart of campus. (Students of my era can relate to a fee for a building – the SPACENTER, now the Ramsey Center – which wouldn’t be finished until we were long gone.) After a delay, groundbreaking finally took place on the project on Thursday.

Tate 2 concept drawing

Though the plans have been scaled back a bit, the concept is still the same. The first phase will be to build a 500-space parking deck in the lot (N11) below the bookstore and adjacent to the Tate Center. Once that parking deck is completed, it will become operational as the Tate Expansion is constructed on top of it. If you think about the landscape in that area, it makes sense…there’s a big slope from the new Student Learning Center down to Tanyard Creek (the location of the Dawg Walk), so the top of this "underground" parking deck will be at ground level for the bookstore and Student Learning Center.

The project will transform the area that has become, thanks to the Dawg Walk, the "front door" to Sanford Stadium. Once the parking deck is completed, the remainder of the parking spaces in Dawg Walk Land will be converted into green space as part of a rehabilitation of the Tanyard Creek area. Original plans even included a "Dawg Walk Overlook" on top of the new parking deck next to the Tate Expansion. You have to see the conceptual drawings to really understand the project.

For those of us used to a sea of asphalt from the bookstore down to Gate 10, it will be a big chance to the central part of campus. The hulking Student Learning Center has already changed the look of the area, and this new development will take the next step. The original plans also call for a future "Alumni Development Center" along Lumpkin Street which will join with the Tate Expansion to mirror the SLC and create a plaza from the Baxter/Lumpkin intersection through to Sanford Drive.

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably more concerned with the impact on football than you are with the aesthetics of the campus master plan. The first obvious impact is parking. Once the project is completed, there will be a shiny new 500-space parking deck to replace the spaces lost to the new Tate Expansion and the green space along Tanyard Creek. In the meantime, those spaces at the site of the former UGA police headquarters and Stegeman Hall (lot N11) will be unavailable. While most of us don’t dream of parking that close to Sanford Stadium, the temporary loss of those spaces will probably push some of those with prime reserved spots further out into campus. The lot leading up to the stadium where the Dawg Walk takes place will remain until the deck is ready.

The broader impact to football fans will be to the gameday experience. If this is done right, I think the changes will eventually be very positive. The green space planned for the area could become a popular gathering area, assuming of course that UGA doesn’t claim it first as a "family-free-friendly" zone or allow the corporate tailgates to take over that prime space in close proximity to the stadium. Currently that entrance to the stadium is a massive parking lot in a bowl bordered by a creek that more closely resembles a drainage ditch. The Dawg Walk should be enhanced as fans can enjoy the plaza and not have to navigate parked cars in order to join in the experience.

Post Dawg autograph session on Saturday

Friday April 20, 2007

I generally don’t do companies’ promotions work for them, but seven outgoing Georgia football players will be selling autographs at the Mall of Georgia on Saturday April 21st from 1-3 p.m.

Tra Battle, Ray Gant, Dan Inman, Quentin Moses, Mario Raley, Danny Ware, and Des Williams will be signing at the mall’s lower level in the Nordstrom Wing. Autographs will be $15 per player, four for $50, or all seven for $80.

Post Five top players from the SEC’s bottom four teams

Thursday April 19, 2007

While I’m in Top 5 mode, I was going through some of last year’s games on the Tivo. We all know that the SEC’s best teams are flush with talent. What makes it especially tough is that even the bottom teams have exceptional playmakers. Here are five players I consider to be some of the best in the conference from the teams we usually consider the bottom four of the league. They struggle for exposure as better teams get the good TV slots, yet they still turn enough heads for conference and even national recognition. Behind Burton and Woodson, Kentucky shed their usual bottom four status for third place in the SEC East last year. With those two back, can they stay out of the lower half of the division again and earn a second-straight bowl bid?

1. Earl Bennett, receiver, Vanderbilt. Vandy producing a talented player is nothing new. Jay Cutler notwithstanding, most of their star talent has been on defense – particularly at the linebacker and secondary positions. There has been the occasional offensive standout like Todd Yoder. But rarely have the Commodores had a weapon on offense like Bennett. He has had at least 75 receptions in each of his first two seasons – the first SEC player to ever do so in back-to-back seasons. His 82 receptions last year were an SEC-best, and I remind you that he increased his reception total without Cutler under center. He’ll surely be the focus of opposing defenses this year, and we’ll see if he can take advantage of a nationwide drain at the receiver position in order to pick up some national honors.

2. Andre Woodson, quarterback, Kentucky. A year ago, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks was in trouble. The program had slid from some modest success, and most assumed that Brooks was on his way out. The Wildcats’ turnaround in 2006 was one of the biggest stories of the year in SEC football, and it was topped off with wins over Georgia and Clemson. One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround was the maturation and improvement of quarterback Andre Woodson. Woodson’s own turnaround was just as dramatic. Kentucky passed for just 169 yards per game in 2005 and threw an incredibly low six touchdown passes. The situation was so grim that Woodson was in a battle with the unknown Curtis Pulley for the starting job. Woodson quickly ended the competition in 2006 by throwing nine touchdowns in the first three games of the season. He finished the year as the SEC’s leader in total offense. A lot of credit for his improvement belongs to position coach Randy Sanders, exiled from Tennessee. Woodson’s transformation was so complete that he now merits national attention.

3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, tailback, Ole Miss. Ole Miss is becoming Transfer U. Quarterbacks Schaeffer and Snead got the headlines, but Indiana transfer Green-Ellis in 2006 became just the third Ole Miss tailback to rush for over 1,000 yards in a season. With Schaeffer settling in as a dual-threat quarterback, Green-Ellis might have a chance for an even bigger 2007 behind Michael Oher and a decent line.

4. Titus Brown, DE, Miss. St. Brown has been a solid performer on a defense that had been led on the front seven by guys like Deljuan Robinson, Michael Heard, and Quinton Culberson. Brown led the Bulldogs in sacks with 7.5 and was fifth in the SEC. He was third in the league in tackles for loss. It’s Brown’s defense now, and the second-team all-SEC performer will anchor the line as a senior. Without the presence of Robinson and Heard up front, it remains to be seen if Brown can remain as effective. He’ll be the focus of protection schemes. Derek Pegues might be the most exciting player on the MSU defense, but Brown is the difference-maker.

5. Keenan Burton, WR, Kentucky. Woodson’s improvement didn’t happen in a vacuum, and the reliable Burton was a big piece of the puzzle. His 77 receptions, 1,036 receiving yards, 1,845 all-purpose yards, and 13 touchdowns led the Wildcats in 2006. He ranked second in the SEC just behind Bennett in receptions per game and behind McFadden in all-purpose yardage. His 13 touchdowns last year were second-best in the SEC also behind McFadden. Burton, along with top tailback Rafael Little, decided to return for a senior season. Those two plus Woodson give Kentucky a lot of returning experience and talent at three key skill positions and should give Wildcat fans plenty of reasons for optimism on offense and a chance to do as well or better in 2007.

Post OMG! No more txting 4 U!

Wednesday April 18, 2007

The NCAA’s tomes governing permissible contact between a prospect and a coach have been behind the technological curve. Traditional methods of contact such as phone calls or face-to-face meetings have been successfully regulated. Even e-mails and faxes have been regulated to some extent. But coaches have found loopholes in the rules and can send (and receive) text messages with the frequency of a sugared-up pre-teen. Isn’t that right, Coach Nutt? Most coaches, whether they admit it or not, can work a Blackberry in their sleep now. Let’s not put all of this on coaches – you’d be amazed how many text conversations are initiated by the prospects.

For the coach, the technology is a mixed blessing. You have the ability to contact your prized prospects at any time with brief, casual messages using the kids’ prefered method of communication. But that same ease of communication applies to your competition. You don’t want to be second to congratulate the guy (or girl) on a great game, and the immediate access means that you are tethered to the technology lest your rival develop an advantage. Some prospects live for the constant attention, but most find it intrusive.

With all that in mind, the NCAA Division I management council has recommended "a ban on all electronically transmitted correspondence, including text messages, between coaches and recruits." E-mails and faxes would be exempt because they are covered under existing guidelines. The NCAA intentionally used the broad brush of "all electronically transmitted correspondence" in order to cover the pace of technological change that can adapt faster than the ability to regulate it. "The reality is that it does keep us a little bit ahead of the curve, for now," said committee chair Kate Hickey.

Coaches naturally are concerned that the ban would eliminate a channel of communication that is familiar to the prospects and their families. Kids communicate through text messages, and being able to relate to how they communicate goes a long way for a coach. Many kids have given up e-mail entirely. I think most coaches though will secretly breathe a sigh of relief – you can’t put the genie back in the lamp, but they might at least get some sleep now.

The AP article is correct that enforcement of the ban will be challenging. I imagine that if anyone gets busted it will be because some annoyed prospect turns in a coach who won’t leave him alone.

The NCAA will decide the fate of the ban at its April 26 Board of Directors meeting. If adopted, the ban would take effect in August.

It’s worth noting the other proposed rules change in that article. Currently, student-athletes may not try out for a professional team if they are enrolled. This seems absurd. We’re trying to graduate student-athletes, but we force those with professional aspirations to drop out of classes for what amounts to a job interview. In a wise change, the committee passed a recommendation "that would allow athletes to receive money from pro teams to make a 48-hour trip. Or they could also pay the bill themselves and not be bound by the time limit." The only gotcha, which seems fair, is that the kid would not be allowed to miss class for the tryout. Adopting this change seems even more important to me than the text message ban.

Post Five things college football could do without this year

Wednesday April 18, 2007

Last week I mentioned five things that Georgia football could do without this year. Why stop there? College football is a great sport, but even it has its warts.

1. Knee-jerk rules changes like 3-2-5-e. This is low-hanging fruit since the process to rescind this failed experiment is now complete. But the almost universal distaste for the changes had a few additional undertones. The first is a growing irritation with television advertising. More than a few fans noticed that fewer plays didn’t mean less advertising. We know that these huge television deals help to fuel the beast. Advertising has always been there, but the scrutiny and backlash brought on by the new rules really put ads into the spotlight. The second is the realization that college football isn’t the NFL, we like it that way, and we should resist attempts to package it up into three-hour blocks.

It seems as if the next target of the rules committee laboratory is the play clock. 25 seconds isn’t good enough. Now coming out of timeouts, we’ll have a 15-second clock. Nick Saban and others have suggested adopting the NFL’s 40-second clock. I understand the rationale regarding the 15-second clock, but all of this tweaking has me asking, "exactly what is so wrong with college football that we’re suddenly treating it like a beta software release?" The game between the whistles is fine. The postseason? That’s another story.

Mark Gastineau

2. Ballin’. Since the days of Mark Gastineau, celebrating a sack has become an art form. That art took an ugly turn last year worthy of an NEA grant. Is there anything more awkward-looking or out of place than a 6’4" defensive end in full pads simulating a basketball jump shot? The ballin’ celebration, started by the New York Giants, trickled into college football last year. Let’s hope it died as quickly and completely as the Giants’ 2006 season. Is air guitar next?

3. Wake Forest and Georgia Tech in the ACC title game. It was a nice story and surely a special run for the few fans of those schools, but the crowd at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville for the ACC Championship game more closely resembled what you’d expect for a high school marching band exhibition. With a four-loss FSU team winning the title in 2005 and Wake taking the trophy last year, the conference badly needs to produce a contender again. The addition of Miami, Virginia Tech, and Boston College was supposed to turn the ACC into the next superconference while decimating the Big East. While the ACC does have a bigger upside and has two huge dormant programs in the state of Florida, it’s Big East football enjoying the higher profile. Will shakeups at FSU, Miami, UNC, and NC State change that?

4. Tuesday morning football. It’s easy for a fan of a major BCS-conference program to take for granted the value of a televised game. There is another tier of programs who must market themselves not only to recruiting prospects but also to pollsters. Such is life for the mid-major: does a team win ten games if no one sees them? Boise State is hardly an unknown now but will play nearly half of its 2007 games on days other than Saturday. Fans and the traditional campus gameday environment become secondary to the small chance of exposure. As fans of schools who can count on at least regional TV coverage for most our Saturday games, we can’t be too quick to condemn smaller programs for jumping at a national television slot no matter the time or day. Still, it’s not a positive development for a sport that draws so much of its appeal from the Saturday gameday experience.

5. Premature BCS politicking and whining. Call it the Tuberville Effect, but it’s almost given that a coach who starts complaining about their position in the BCS during October is sure to lose and lose soon. This goes for fans too though. Eight or nine undefeated teams in mid-October does not mean OH MY GOD WE HAVE A BCS CRISIS!!! Teams will lose. They always do. I’m certainly no fan of the BCS, but college football invariably reduces a huge mess in mid-season down to a much more structured picture by year’s end. Chill and let the process play out as it does most every year.

There’s also plenty that college football could use more of, and we’ll get to that next time.

Post Thoughts are with the Hokies today

Monday April 16, 2007

At least 20 are dead in a Virginia Tech campus shooting.

Post Weekend roundup

Monday April 16, 2007

Georgia is king (and queen) of the SEC in tennis. The men clinched the conference title over a week ago and finished out the regular season with an unblemished record by beating Tennessee. The women followed suit this weekend with their own conference title.

Gym Dogs

As expected, Georgia had little trouble breezing through the Denver regional to earn another trip to the national championships to defend their back-to-back titles.

The news wasn’t all good: senior Ashley Kupets’ career was ended with an achilles injury.


If the Diamond Dawgs were going to have some kind of miraculous turnaround to the season, winning a series against another struggling team like Alabama would be a good start. Scratch that plan. Georgia dropped two of three to the Crimson Tide over the weekend. They fell 5-3 on Sunday after loading the bases in the eighth and ninth innings. Perno sounds helpless. "I don’t know about this team. Nothing is happening when we need it," he said.

Saturday’s 7-6 loss was especially painful; they led 6-5 before heading to the bottom of the ninth with closer Josh Fields on the mound. Dodson’s stellar Friday night was the lone bright spot of the series. The Dawgs are now 5-10 halfway through the SEC slate.

If there’s anything to salvage from this season, it’s the season series with Tech. The two teams meet on Wednesday in Atlanta.

Post Putting the “Tech” in Virginia Tech

Friday April 13, 2007

A pretty cool project going on in Blacksburg: when Beamerball has its players flying around the football field this fall, several players will have helmets outfitted with accelerometers and wireless transmitters to record impact forces. 300,000 of the 1.5 million traumatic brain injuries nationwide each year are to athletes, and football has more of them than any other sport.

Though the system will collect and store the data for research, it will also provide some real-time feedback that can alert team doctors to signs of trouble before a player notices a problem or if a serious impact is missed during the hectic action of a game.

“We have a pager that alerts me when we receive a high head acceleration,” (team physician Dr. Gunnar Brolinson) said. “We set the pager at 98g – an impact of 98 times the force of gravity at the Earth’s surface – . We think that’s a fairly significant head acceleration.”

Brolinson noted that if he’s alerted to such a blow to the head of a player, then he watches the player for signs of a concussion.

One very interesting result so far is the common-sense finding that different positions receive different impacts, and that might lead to additional equipment refinements.

Brolinson said that so far the study of Virginia Tech’s football players has turned up some interesting and useful data, the most notable being that different positions apparently sustain different types of blows.

“Linemen sustain frontal blows. They’re usually low impact blows, but there are lots of them. Wide receivers receive fewer blows, but get higher blows when they happen. Linebackers sustain higher accelerations than linemen.”

Brolinson said that he thinks the data developed by the instrumented helmets may lead to changes in football equipment. “One of the things that may come out of this research, as we start to understand the blows, is position specific helmets. A lineman may need a different helmet from a wide receiver,” he said.

The work should have applications across athletics, in the military, and even in automobile safety.

(HT: Engadget)

Here’s Charles Johnson about to provide a data point to QB Sean Glennon:

Charles Johnson in CFA Bowl
Photo: UGASports.com