Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Dooley facing cancer, prognosis “excellent”

Thursday May 31, 2007

Former head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley had a procedure last week to remove a mass – originally thought to be benign – from his vocal cords. Things became much more serious this week when the tumor was found to be malignant, but they seem optimistic. Dooley himself has fought years of coronary issues, and his wife has battled breast cancer. We hope that Vince comes through this most recent health issue as well as he has the others.

From UGA:

Athens, Ga. — Former University of Georgia Director of Athletics and head football coach Vince Dooley underwent outpatient surgery to remove a tumor from his vocal chords on Tuesday, May 22.
Lab reports this week indicated the tumor was malignant, and he will begin radiation treatments some time in June. Dooley’s prognosis for a full recovery is excellent according to his tending physician.

Post What is it with Dawg fans and airports?

Thursday May 31, 2007

First we had Bulldog fan Shane Lassiter shut down the Atlanta airport en route to the 2001 game at Ole Miss.

Now we learn that the mystery tuberculosis patient currently occupying every spare minute of the news cycle is a University of Georgia graduate. Of course he is.

…he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in finance, and then attended University of Georgia’s law school.

Can the TSA give a required freshman seminar at Georgia on how to stay the hell out of trouble when flying?

Post ESPN2 sets Okla. St. and South Carolina kickoff times

Wednesday May 30, 2007

Sanford awaiting a night game
According to Marc Weiszer of the Banner-Herald, ESPN2 will broadcast Georgia’s first two 2007 football games against Oklahoma State and South Carolina.

The September 1st Oklahoma State game will start at 6:45.

The September 8th South Carolina game will start at 5:45.

The later starts in early September will be welcomed by tailgaters after a 2006 season where only one home game started after 3:30 and five home games started no later than 1:00. Improved campus traffic plans will get immediate tests from these late-afternoon kickoffs.

Georgia has had two high-profile season openers start in the late afternoon or evening recently. In 2005, the Boise State game kicked off at 5:30, and the Dawgs rolled to a win. Back in 2002, Georgia won a close game over Clemson that started at 7:45.

Post Dawgs add key linebacker commitment

Wednesday May 30, 2007
Christian Robinson
Christian Robinson
Photo: Rivals.com

We’ve been over just how thin the Dawgs are at linebacker, and it should come as no surprise that the position is a recruiting priority.

After a slow period of recruiting news that actually included a few decommitments, things have picked back up in the past couple of weeks. First there was the huge pledge by WR Tavarres King. On Tuesday, Georgia got the good news ($) from Greater Atlanta Christian LB Christian Robinson.

To give a little insight into Robinson, he received his offer from Georgia while on a mission trip to Africa ($) earlier this spring. After receiving offers from Georgia and South Carolina, Robinson was a standout at the Athens NIKE camp and soon received offers from LSU, Alabama, Clemson, and several other SEC and ACC programs.

Besides addressing positions of need, the commitments of King and Robinson are noteworthy for another reason: the Dawgs were up against some big-time pedigrees. King’s father Anthony was a tight end at Clemson. Robinson’s father Ken was a linebacker at South Carolina, and Christian has had other family play at Clemson. Georgia was able to convince these two top-quality prospects to remain in-state despite their family ties, and we look forward to welcoming Ken and Anthony and their sons into the Bulldog family.

Post Further relief on the way for postgame traffic

Saturday May 26, 2007

Much of the remaining non-reserved Georgia football parking is on East Campus where there are several surface lots and two large parking decks. Getting these cars back onto the Athens bypass after games often isn’t a pleasant experience. Cars have to be routed somehow through campus streets and eventually onto College Station Road.

The volume of traffic trying to get onto the bypass was so heavy that police directed many cars onto the ramp ordinarily used by traffic exiting the bypass where they would have to make a hairpin 180-degree turn at the top of the ramp to head west towards highway 316.

A better solution is on the way – a new ramp is being constructed that will provide a direct route from East Campus onto the bypass. The ramp will begin near the north side of the East Village Parking Deck and enter the westbound lanes of the bypass before the College Station Road exit.

The new ramp will only be used for emergencies and during special events like football games. The project should be completed within the next week or two.

This sounds like a great solution. Nothing will ever eliminate the headache of tens of thousands of cars trying to leave campus at once, but this idea should provide a nice release valve for some of the East Campus traffic.

Post Eliminate the redshirt?

Friday May 25, 2007

The whole “will Caleb King redshirt” question reminded me of this proposal I read recently at CFR.

Players are currently given five years in which to play four. With ever-shrinking scholarship numbers in football as well as the temptation to turn pro after three years, it makes sense to allow the player to participate in all five years of his eligibility. Simplify.

The current rule creates a complex but silly decision for coaches each fall as they must weigh the value of playing a true freshman versus the cost of burning that year of eligibility. Eliminate that decision and let the player contribute during the entire course of his eligibility. For those who would redshirt for traditional reasons (either to get a good start on academics or develop physically), the coach still has the option to play them sparingly or not at all. I like this proposal too.

True stars will leave after three years, but you’ll have received a full three years from them (instead of potentially wasting one year on the bench). Others will have a decision to make after their fourth season. They might be ready to go pro at that point, or they might be ready to graduate and move on. Still others will create a new class of player – the true 5th year seniors who will become the elder statesmen of the college game.

Post Meanwhile to our west…

Friday May 25, 2007

Georgia’s primary competition for Caleb King was Auburn, and at this point last summer it was still very much up in the air. Had King picked Auburn, yesterday’s news that he had qualified academically might not have mattered as much. A couple of Auburn signees have questionable transcripts, and grades might have been changed.

Nick Saban is already pushing the recruiting envelope at Alabama and might have committed minor secondary violations on a recent trip to Miami. For an Alabama program just emerging from the impact of significant scholarship losses due to probation, even a minor violation isn’t a good start for the new coach.

Post Georgia football and basketball got big news on Thursday

Friday May 25, 2007

What a double shot of good news yesterday for Bulldog fans.

Caleb King makes the grade

Caleb King
Caleb King
Photo: Rivals.com

Rumors began circulating and by mid-afternoon it was confirmed that highly-touted tailback Caleb King has qualified to play for the Dawgs next year, putting an end to one of the most-frequently asked questions of the spring. King told Chad Simmons of UGASports.com ($) that his brother told him the news at 5 a.m. (Personally, someone better be dying or dead if I’m being woken up at 5 a.m.) The family wisely met with GAC counselors during the day to double-check that King’s academic credentials added up. By mid-afternoon, his coach was confirming the news to the AJC, and Simmons spoke directly with King to get his reaction. Caleb topped off the day with his high school graduation. Not a bad Thursday.

King’s story is interesting all around. He earned his superstar-in-waiting reputation mostly as a junior and at last summer’s camps. After his junior season, he transferred from football powerhouse Parkview to Greater Atlanta Christian school for “academic and spiritual reasons“. An injury sidelined him for most of his senior season, but he has since recovered and even ran some track. He works with a trainer several days each week. He used the opportunity at GAC to focus on academics and end years of speculation about his grades. “I’ve been studying all the time, and it’s been totally business,” he told Simmons.

Then there’s the dynamic of his family. King’s brother (and guardian) Andre is out in front as more or less a spokesman for Caleb and the family. When King transfered to GAC last year, Andre handled the press. It was he who woke Caleb up with the good news yesterday. With meddling parents in the news, there are some who cast a suspicious eye on Andre’s involvement and presence in Caleb’s decision to transfer and during the recruiting process. But as a self-described “father-figure” to Caleb, Andre isn’t just some hanger-on. It will be interesting to see to what extent we hear from Andre down the road as Caleb’s college career gets underway.

Finally, there’s the “how do we use him?” question. It’s reported that King doesn’t plan on redshirting, and that decision heading into the season might be the next chapter in the Caleb saga. If King does play, he’s coming into a tailback situation with two established seniors plus the redshirt freshman Knowshon Moreno. In premature comparisons to Reggie Bush, it’s been speculated that King can be moved around and even used as a receiver at times. If King is that kind of versatile back, hopefully the staff can come up with more ways to use his ability than the Tyson Browning screen pass. If he really is good enough not to redshirt even with a deep backfield, make his role and freshman season meaningful.

Hoop Dawgs pick up a tremendous commitment

Trey Thompkins
Howard Thompkins
Photo: Rivals.com

You could almost hear Dennis Felton yell, “OH HELL YES!!!” from nearly halfway around the world. Felton, currently serving as part of Operation Hardwood in Kuwait, had to be thrilled to learn that his program had just picked up one of its most significant commitments in years. National top 20 forward Howard Thompkins chose Georgia over Florida and dozens of other programs. The 6’8″ Thompkins has the potential to have a Tyrus Thomas kind of impact on the Bulldog program.

Thompkins’ choice boiled down to this: he could have been the latest high-profile cog in the established Florida program, or he could be the cornerstone in the next step of establishing the Georgia program. A year away at Oak Hill Academy helped to tip the scales in favor of the hometown Dawgs; he had spent enough time away from home. He will return to Wesleyan this fall for his senior year, and then he’ll head a short distance up the road to Athens.

Though Louis Williams might technically be the highest-profile recruit signed by Felton, few expected Williams to ever set foot in Athens. If Thompkins arrives on campus without a hitch, he will be the biggest freshman addition to the program since Jumaine Jones. But as the Dawgs proved during the Jumaine era, one standout player doesn’t make a championship team. Felton continues to assemble the pieces of a complete team, and Thompkins is a dynamic addition to the future frontcourt. Now we’ll see if Thompkins’ commitment can have a “pied piper” effect and convince other top prospects to trust in Felton and the future of Georgia basketball. There are other big prospects in the 2008 class who are considering Georgia such as center Tony Woods. How good would a Thompkins and Woods frontcourt look when added to this year’s class of Price, Jacob, and Barnes? Along with Woods, I’m still holding out hope for an impact perimeter scorer. That final piece would give us a Georgia team that could compete with anyone in the nation.

Another angle to the Thompkins commitment comes from AAU land. Thompkins is a member of the Atlanta Celtics, an AAU powerhouse with a few alumni you might have heard of. But Georgia hasn’t been able to get more than the occasional sip from this deep well of talent in its backyard. If Thompkins is the first fruits of an improved relationship between Georgia basketball and the AAU programs in the state, Thompkins’ impact will be felt for years.

Post Welcome to 100 days

Thursday May 24, 2007

We’re 100 days away from kickoff…it seems like forever, but it’ll be here before you know it.

Post Pentacampeón!

Wednesday May 23, 2007

Georgia men’s tennis team won its fifth national title and first since 2001 on Tuesday in Athens. The Dawgs took a tightly-contested doubles point and then cruised in singles play to a 4-0 win over Illinois.

Senior Matic Omerzel clinched the win, and that was fitting as his match in last year’s national championship was also the deciding point. With the title, the Dawgs put the crowning accomplishment on a dominant undefeated season. I don’t know enough about college tennis to join the "best ever" discussion, but I do know that only an injury during last year’s NCAA Tournament kept Georgia from consecutive undefeated national championship seasons. Best ever or not, that’s a pretty incredible run in any sport at any time.

Though Dan Magill’s name is rightfully all over the tennis complex, Coach Manny Diaz has taken another step to cement his own legacy among the top names in the college game. This national title was his third – no other active coach has more than one title.

Now it’s on to the individual competitions where several Bulldogs stand a chance of earning even more hardware in singles and doubles play. John Isner will attempt to become the first player since 1998 to record a team, singles, and doubles national championship in the same season.

UGA men’s tennis - 2007 national champs

Post Poor Dan Magill

Wednesday May 23, 2007

One has to think that Dan Magill has mixed emotions today. The man is synonymous with Georgia tennis – his name is on the nation’s best collegiate tennis complex.

Yesterday, he watched his beloved Bulldogs win the program’s fifth national title on its home court. What a triumph.

Then only hours later on those very same courts, Georgia Tech’s womens tennis team won the school’s first-ever outright team national championship in any sport. Magill, as anyone familiar with Bulldog history knows, places proper emphasis on the rivalry with Tech. It had to hurt to see the Yellow Jackets win a title in anything, especially in Athens, and especially in the tennis complex that bears his name.

On the plus side, this lead paragraph on ncaasports.com this morning had to really annoy Tech fans during their first taste of a national title:

Georgia Tech University

Post More about an early football signing period

Wednesday May 23, 2007

With chatter about an early football signing period starting to increase, I wanted to think it through a little more. I can’t bring myself to entirely condemn the idea because other sports manage to get by with an early signing period, but something about it makes me doubt that it’s the best thing for football.

The chief argument for an early signing period usually reads similar to this: "by signing early, prospects could eliminate the pressure of the recruiting process and enjoy their senior years while focusing on academics and/or football." Sound about right? Packaged that way, it reads as if the intent is entirely altruistic, and who wouldn’t want to relieve these poor high school students from some of the pressure from the increasingly insane recruiting process?

In reality, you can tell who really benefits from an early signing period by those making noise for it: coaches and fans. Coaches and fans want the early signing period for similar reasons: make those commitments binding as soon as possible.

Forgive me if I don’t cry for the programs who are left in the lurch when a commitment changes his mind. If a prospect changes his mind at any time after the letter of intent is signed, the penalties are severe. An entire year of playing time is forfeited. There are no such consequences when a coach changes jobs or a program takes a different direction. The time before a letter of intent is signed is the only opportunity the student-athlete has for the next four or five years to reconsider his decision without a major cost. Why constrain that time period for the further benefit of the school?

There are some other minor questions that should be answered. Some of these are trivial, but I wonder if early signing period proponents consider them.

  • Pressure on a prospect could actually increase with an early signing period. The elite prospects can sign whenever they please; there will always be scholarships waiting for them. But for the marginal prospects, an offer might hinge on their willingness to rush their decision and sign early. You don’t think members of Grant Teaff’s AFCA would stoop to that level? Welcome to recruiting.
  • An early football signing period would have to be earlier than that of any other sport – possibly even before the prospect’s senior year. We would attempt to remove some pressure on seniors by placing more concentrated pressure on kids just out of their junior years, few of whom are 18.
  • The summer months aren’t dead times in the college and prep football worlds. Summer camps are critical evaluation opportunities for both the schools and the prospects. Would a signing period not long after the camps encourage more hasty and emotion-based decisions?
  • Is an early signing period really in the best interests of the school? By pushing the decision process before the senior season, is the chance of missing on a prospect greater?
  • Football is a senior’s game more than most other sports. It’s usually when the best stats are recorded, and the physical maturation of a high school football player is considerable from year to year. By signing before the senior season, a prospect could miss out on better offers that come from a solid senior season.

This is one area where I think college football has it right. Signing in early February allows the prospect to enjoy the 4+ remaining months in his senior year, focus on academics, and still take the time to make an informed decision. Schools are able to make decisions based on a complete body of work. Prospects are able to watch the most recent college season, know if their coach(es) will still be there the next year, and take official visits at their pace either during or after their own seasons. I don’t deny that there can be pressure throughout the process on those who commit early, but prospects who make it clear that their decision is firm seem to be more or less left alone. Those dealing with constant pressure to change their minds are often those who can’t say no or who leave the door open to the possibility that their commitment isn’t firm.

The world won’t end if we get a summer signing period in college football. I don’t necessarily mind attaching a stronger obligation to the verbal commitment, and an early signing period would do that. I just don’t see the idea solving any big, pressing problems, and I can see it creating a few minor ones. Someone would have to show me a real set of benefits to the student-athlete because the deck is already stacked enough against them.

Post Isner and #1 tennis Dawgs go for national title today

Tuesday May 22, 2007

Georgia’s #1-ranked mens tennis team, led by top-ranked John Isner, will face Illinois for the national championship this afternoon in Athens. The match begins at 3:00 and will be televised by ESPNU. You can also follow it online here.

Isner lost in team play at #1 singles for only the second time this year, falling 4-6, 4-6 to Somdev Devvarmann of Virginia, the #2 player in the nation. Isner beat Devvarmann earlier in the year, setting up a possible rubber match with everything at stake when the individual tournament kicks off in Athens later this week.

How good is Georgia? Just ask the Baylor coach who lost in the semis to Illinois.

“Georgia is way too good for everybody,” Baylor coach Matt Knoll said. “It is hard to realize how good they are. A guy like (Nate) Schnugg could be playing Davis Cup tennis one day. If we had gotten to the finals, we had no chance.”

Hopefully Knoll’s prophecy will hold true this afternoon. Georgia fell in last year’s national championship, but their #2 singles player was out with an injury. The Dawgs are at full force in this tournament and have lost a single point along the way. Illinois at #10 might be considered a heavy underdog in this match, but they’ve done all the right things so far to make it into the championship.

Related links:

Post Continuing to redefine commitment

Monday May 21, 2007

One of the pitfalls of beginning the college football recruiting season earlier and earlier is that some of your early commitments will take the 9-12 months until Signing Day to reflect on their decisions, and some might end up changing their minds. The process doesn’t stop, and the competition won’t stop trying to sway a commitment until the Letter of Intent is signed.

There are those who will use that fact to point out how badly we need an early signing period in football. As the good Senator points out, that’s almost entirely in the school’s interest and not the prospect’s. Get him signed before he changes his mind or sees how our next season goes.

College recruiting has provided us with plenty of head-scratching terms over the years including the oxymoronic "silent verbal" or the favorite "soft verbal" which has done as much as celebrity marriage to set the bar for "commitment" as low as possible.

Recent events have inspired a new term. Call it the soft decommitment. A prospect goes so far as to back out of a verbal commitment to look at other schools but also hasn’t eliminated that original school. Georgia has had two such "soft decommitments" in recent weeks: offensive lineman B.J. Brand and running back Martin Ward. Both committed to the Dawgs earlier in the process, but as Brand put it, "I made a real quick decision and I like Georgia a lot, but I just want to make sure of things. I still like Georgia a lot and they are still up there on my list, but I am going to look around a little bit before making my final decision." OK…I can buy that. At least they were honest about it.

On a commitment scale of 1-to-10 where 1 is "John Capel undecided" and 10 is "came out of the womb wearing his future school’s colors", this new area is somewhere around a 5. It’s different from a soft verbal commitment since Mr. Soft Verbal doesn’t want to go so far as to decommit and risk losing his offer. Just for fun, here’s the rest of the scale.

Football Recruiting Scale o’ Commitment:

10: Odd birthmark in the shape of his school’s logo. Coincidence?

9: Becomes a recruiting intern and starts calling other prospects

8: Solid commitment. Makes his decision and isn’t heard from until he signs at 8:30 on Signing Day and shows up on time in August.

7: Committed, but hasn’t cleaned out his cell phone’s contact list just yet.

6: The soft verbal: claims he is still committed but has other visits lined up "just to be sure of my decision."

5: The soft decommitment: officially backs out of a hasty early commitment but keeps his original school at or near the top of his list.

4: Genuinely undecided but doing his homework

3: Major life decision is heavily influenced by paddleboats.

2: Anyone have a coin?

1: "I committed to Ole Miss because I really felt at home there. Just as I did at LSU the week before, Arkansas the week before that, and Tennessee last month. Where am I visiting this weekend?"

Post A moment of clarity from Big 10 coaches

Monday May 21, 2007

It’s a paradox of college football that because so much emphasis is placed on the regular season we end up with a regular season that doesn’t reach its full potential. It’s not a big revelation that most schools approach their scheduling asking "how much can we get away with?" The first priority is wins, and strength of schedule is a secondary priority for most teams in major conferences. No one likes the games against cupcakes, but the all-or-nothing nature of the regular season rewards those wins provided they are balanced against a sufficiently strong conference schedule. Even where national titles aren’t at stake, an impressive win total still plays into bowl bids and their valuable paydays.

It’s to the point now that Big 10 coaches are willing to acknowledge (HT: Get the Picture) that playing an additional conference game is not in their best interests. The sure win over a cupcake is worth more to teams because it’s a guaranteed notch in the win column, and that means more bowl bids (and money) for the conference. Though the really compelling out-of-conference game isn’t rare, it is still the exception and noteworthy enough to be the subject of press releases.

I don’t blame them in the least. It’s rational behavior considering the incentives. The consequences of a single loss often far outweigh any benefit of playing a tougher-than-necessary opponent. Why play nine conference games when eight will do and get you to the Rose Bowl? You might get the luck of the draw and not have to face Ohio State or Wisconsin along the way – all the better. I’d love to see more conference games – I find it ridiculous and contrary to the point of a conference as anything other than a revenue-sharing entity that teams in these super-conferences don’t play more often. But as the sport’s popularity soars and fans continue to fill the stands, what is the incentive to make things more difficult?

What I don’t get is those who bemoan these weak schedules and not ask "why?" Why are teams not doing more with this 12th game? Why are fans glad to see an additional home game if it means a glorified scrimmage? Why don’t people take a closer look at the incentives driving this scheduling?