Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Ron Franklin on the move again

Friday June 29, 2007

Ron Franklin is still the voice of college football on television to me. He and Gottfried together on ESPN Saturday nights were pure gold, even better than the Blackledge-Lundquist team on CBS. Though Gottfried has declined (to the point of ESPNU), Franklin still seems to be a quality man in the booth.

Now Franklin, already moved down the pecking order to ESPN2 games, has been reassigned to ABC regional coverage. That makes his chances of calling a Georgia game in the near future virtually nil.

In all of the Munson talk last week, someone (I will try to find a link) mentioned Franklin as a possible addition to the Georgia broadcast booth after Larry finally hangs it up. I thought that a bit of a stretch given his national TV gig, but as he gets pushed further and further down the list at ABC/ESPN, I have to admit that the idea sounds pretty interesting.

Read on about other changes to the ESPN/ABC lineup.

Erin Andrews…really…Saturday afternoon on ESPN? And Sean McDonough, still complaining about a Bryan McClendon touchdown at Vandy in 2005…hope you enjoy Friday nights.

Post Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting moves

Thursday June 28, 2007

The Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club will have its traditional late-July gathering again this year on Monday, July 30, but the location is changing this year.

The meeting is not at Colony Square. This year’s location is the Cobb Galleria Centre.

The program begins at 7:00 p.m. with social time beforehand.

Post Tech three-game packs available

Thursday June 28, 2007

I always feel a bit dirty after buying a Tech three-game package (hit the Georgia Sports Blog for details). But it’s not a bad slate this year, and they let you create a three-game pack from any of their home games. So I’ve got my Georgia tickets, my Tar Heel father can catch the UNC game, and I also picked up a pair for a Thursday night to see Virginia Tech who should be in the mood for a little payback.

I too was able to get into section 228 which is near the perch from which I saw Bryan McClendon write his name into my personal Bulldog Hall of Fame in 2005. Even as Tech struggles to fill their best seats, these seats (particularly those in friendly sections) will probably go quickly. You can follow GSB’s instructions to make sure that there is again plenty of Red and Black in the stands.

Post We do have this leaflet…

Thursday June 28, 2007

UGASports.com has a piece today looking back at UGA’s role in past NBA drafts. It’s a good read. But at first glance I had to think that something about UGA and the NBA draft seems as if it would rank just behind Famous Jewish Sports Legends on the "light reading" list. Hopefully that will change down the road.

Post Catching up

Thursday June 28, 2007

First, a bit of unsolicited travel advice:

Visit Nova Scotia. What an incredible place. You can just drive around the corner and come out at a spot like this:

Cabot Trail

Now, on to some of the Dawg news that caught my eye after a quick scan:

Munson cutting back

Count me among those who feel that Larry has earned the right to call as few or as many games, quarters, or plays as he wishes.

At the same time, we have to consider the role of the broadcast in the first place: telling the story of the game. John Kaltefleiter of the ABH took a little heat last week when he suggested that Munson was slipping badly in this area, but is that really news to anyone? "We’ve got a guy in the corner" has become the default call for any play now. But Munson isn’t there for that anymore…his presence is almost ceremonial like British royalty, and the fact that the broadcast team can so easily adapt to Munson’s reduced schedule this year is evidence of that. No one expects Roger Clemens to go 9 innings anymore, but it’s still a special thing to see him on the mound. The rest of the broadcast team is capable of picking up the slack.

To me, the question isn’t who replaces Larry. It’s who replaces Scott Howard when Howard moves into the lead role.

Mark Richt’s Summer Vacation

College football coaches don’t have much down time, but this time of year is about as close as it comes to R&R before the staff begins intense preseason preparations in a few weeks. Coach Richt and his family spent some of their summer recently checking up on a mission they support in Honduras. He kept a journal for UGASports.com, and they’ve put it up as free content. Read here:

Besides the virtue of the mission work itself, I find it admirable even in a "safe" situation like this that Coach Richt would engage the online community in such depth. He also took questions directly from the DawgVent. It goes with the understanding that these same people will be cursing him again after the next loss, so it’s very gracious of him to take the time to put these entries together and share this very important work.

Andy Landers’ June

First, thoughts and prayers are with the Landers family as Drew recovers from an automobile accident earlier this week. Unfortunately, the accident cost the life of a North Oconee coach, and we can’t begin to imagine the toll that has taken on that community and his family. The relatively good news from this tragedy is that the others in the car survived, and Drew seems poised to recover. It’s still touch-and-go for a while though, and Andy Landers can’t help but feel helpless as he watches and waits down at Grady.

It’s been a tumultuous month for Landers. The highlight clearly was his induction into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville. It was fitting that a large number of former players and friends were on hand to help him celebrate, because as he is so quick to point out they played a large role in building the program to this point. But make no mistake that it takes a special person to build and sustain an environment where such great players want to come and can excel. If you’ve ever heard him speak, he certainly doesn’t come across as shy, but he is modest when it comes to his own accomplishments. Had he blown his own horn or pulled some strings, he surely would have made the Hall of Fame much sooner.

He’s also completed a pretty significant shakeup of the staff. Cameron Newbauer filled the final assistant coaching vacancy. On the surface, the hire raises some eyebrows. He has very limited coaching experience, and all of his work to date is on the men’s side. He’s expected to help in recruiting. Cameron will no doubt draw comparisons to the chance that Landers took on Michael Shafer. With the changes to the staff complete, the three assistants are now much younger but not necessarily less experienced. Kim Hairston seems like a nice addition. La’Keshia Frett, recently 32, is now the senior assistant. Hairston and Newbauer both graduated college in or after 2000. Will the young staff be the injection of new blood that gives both team performance and recruiting a boost, or will they be an ankle weight to the program as they come up to speed?

Post Urban Meyer’s Blackberry wins a stay of execution

Tuesday June 26, 2007

…via the NCAA’s Double-A Zone blog:

Remember the restrictions announced back in April on text messaging and other electronic communications with prospects? Don’t relax your thumbs just yet.

The NCAA has received enough (30+) objections from member schools to force the Division I Board of Directors to reconsider three proposals at its meeting in August, and that text message ban is among them.

The issue might not be settled until January at the earliest.

The Board will have several options at its August 9 meeting: reaffirm the April decision, aquiesce to the override requests or adopt alternative legislation. If the Board reaffirms its decision, the matter will be settled by a vote of all Division I delegates present and voting at the January 2008 Convention in Nashville. The proposal is not effective until August 1, 2008. If the Board decides to adopt new legislation, it would be subject to another override period.

Another proposal among the three being reconsidered is the overhaul of the financial aid distribution rules for baseball. I touched briefly on the details of those changes here.

I’d have to agree with the folks at the Double-A Zone and argue that both proposals should be reaffirmed.

Post David Ching, Internet fugitive

Wednesday June 13, 2007

If you read David Ching’s blog (and if you don’t you should), you noticed last week that he live-blogged Columbus State’s appearance in the Division II baseball championship. You probably skipped over it if you’re just there for the Georgia stuff, but the posts were a great service to a local (Columbus) readership in a situation where TV and radio coverage was spotty or nonexistent.

It turns out that Ching was an outlaw.

Louisville Courier-Journal reporter Brian Bennett was tossed from the press box during Cardinal’s historic Super Regional performance over the weekend because he was blogging during the game. The NCAA decided to enforce a new policy in order to protect the broadcast rights of "the NCAA’s official rights holders".

Josh Centor has a really tough job. Being a public face of the NCAA must be right up there with IRS public relations and Georgia Tech football marketing in terms of its thanklessness. In the times I’ve seen his responses to some pretty controversial issues (including the football clock rules debacle), he’s always been professional, level-headed, and informative even when the critics of the NCAA aren’t. He has some quality thoughts on the subject while disagreeing with the policy, noting in particular that no one is going to prefer sporadic blog updates to a high-def ESPN television broadcast if they have that option.

For now, I agree with Deadspin’s observation that "the NCAA has now, by definition, given the proverbial guy in the basement better access to his/her readers than someone in their own press box." Just over on the DawgVent we see this very practice almost daily now as people provide running updates on everything from NASCAR races to Georgia’s national championship tennis match. The NCAA holds that blogs are a "live representation of the game", a concept I find pretty absurd unless you can type really, really fast. The Courier-Journal’s attorney is right on here: "Once a player hits a home run, that’s a fact. It’s on TV, everybody sees it. They (the NCAA) can’t copyright that fact. The blog wasn’t a simulcast or a recreation of the game. It was an analysis."

If you follow the NCAA’s memo and policy to its logical conclusions, every SMS message, phone call, or e-mail you’ve sent from a game describing the action is a violation of the rights of the official broadcast rights holders.

It was around 1998 that I remember seeing live fan reporting in action. A guy with a cell phone at Will Witherspoon’s press conference reported Witherspoon’s commitment to someone on the other end of the call who was in a Dawg chat room. Those people reading knew the news before anyone at the press conference had left the room. The immediacy (not to mention unlimited column-inches) of the Internet is a big problem for print journalists. They’ve responded with blogs and updates to their own Web sites between publications, and someone like Ching live-blogging a local event of interest is yet another innovative way for a print journalist to serve a readership looking for near-real-time information.

A properly credentialed journalist providing these brief updates to their readers should be encouraged instead of punished. They are doing nothing to diminish the value of the broadcasts. If anything, they are creating more exposure for and interest in the event, and it’s likely that a few of those readers will tune in to the broadcasts when they can.

UPDATE: As I hoped, Ching has his own comments up now. Read the whole thing. Two great points: 1) the rule was applied capriciously – no one cared if he live-blogged an event that ESPN wasn’t covering. 2) this is an issue fans should be interested in because it affects the quality and quantity of options for following their teams.

Post Hiatus

Wednesday June 13, 2007

They said it couldn’t be done, but I found a wonderful woman with better season tickets than mine. We’re set to be married this weekend, and this site won’t be high on my list of priorities for a couple of weeks.

I have some things set up to auto-post over the next couple of days, but after that it’s going to be quiet for several days.

Any relationship where Allen’s, Stegeman Coliseum, and the Dawgs play central roles can’t be that bad. Then again, we lost to Vandy the day after I proposed.

Post Looking back at preseason polls

Tuesday June 12, 2007

Doug over at Hey Jenny Slater has done the work of combining the preseason rankings to date. Southern Cal seems to be the favorite, and the Dawgs come in around the low teens. As the senator reminds us, a lot of these early preseason rankings don’t take into account the Paul Oliver news or any injuries and suspensions that might come up between now and the season.

Chris Stassen has been tracking this kind of thing for over a decade now, and it’s interesting to look back at Georgia teams over that time and see how they did relative to expectations.

Year Preseason Final Change
1997 10 +16
1998 24 14 +10
1999 15 16 -1
2000 9 20 -11
2001 25 22 +3
2002 9 3 +6
2003 10 7 +3
2004 3 7 -4
2005 13 10 +3
2006 16 23 -7

The overrated/disappointing season that most remember is 2000, and sure enough the eleven position slide from the preseason ranking is the largest drop on the chart. 2004 might also be considered a disappointment because the Dawgs were overshadowed by Auburn and even Tennessee, but a final ranking of #7 isn’t a bad year. Losses to Vanderbilt and Kentucky meant that the 2006 team also turned out to be "overrated", and it took that great finish to the season to only drop seven spots from the preseason.

It makes sense that the 1997 and 1998 teams were two of the most underrated Dawg teams. The 1997 team followed a 5-6 1996 team that itself followed the unspectacular end of the Ray Goff era. A 10-2 record and #10 ranking after all that shocked many of us. The Dawgs lost a lot of key players after 1997, and it was easy and reasonable to write them off in 1998. Richt’s first three teams were slightly underrated. Doug’s work seems to tell us that pundits aren’t particularly worried by last year’s slide, but it will be worth watching if the later preseason polls include a correction for Oliver and anything else that comes along.

Since the polls play a part in determining the national champion, it’s also worth looking at where the past eleven national champs started out.

Year Team Preseason Change
1996 Florida 4 +3
1997 Michigan 14 +13
1998 Tennessee 10 +9
1999 FSU 1 0
2000 Oklahoma 21 +20
2001 Miami 2 +1
2002 Ohio State 11 +10
2003 Southern Cal 11 +10
2004 Southern Cal 1 0
2005 Texas 2 +1
2006 Florida 6 +5

(LSU started at #14 in 2003 for those in the one-peat crowd.)

So as you might expect, you don’t have to start in the top 5 to win the national championship – just five of the last eleven did. Four champions started outside of the top 10. The teams that came the longest way to win the title (Michigan, Oklahoma, SoCal, tOSU, and even LSU) are all traditional powers who came off sub-par seasons. Of those teams, only SoCal did not have a four-loss or worse season before their national title.

I look at preseason polls a lot like qualifying for a race. You don’t have to start on or near the pole to win a race, but it does help. The further back you start, the more help you need in front of you and the more traffic you have to work through on your way to the front.

Post Dawgs get a commitment from Willie Martinez’s long-lost twin

Thursday June 7, 2007

Actually, the Dawgs got yet another verbal commitment yesterday from Ft. Lauderdale DE Jeremy Longo. Longo had offers from schools like LSU, Auburn, and hometown Miami. Not bad at all. He’s a teammate of another Georgia commitment, kicker Blair Walsh. Longo gives the Dawgs three defensive line commitments.

PS…Ching’s dead-on when he says that Georgia will hear the “doesn’t close well” griping from our own when the Dawgs have just one or two scholarships left on the table in January and other programs are getting the recruiting headlines. Like clockwork.

But just look at the separated-at-birth photos of Longo and his future defensive coordinator:

Jeremy Longo Willie Martinez

Post Like listening to a CD over a walkie-talkie

Thursday June 7, 2007

I have to agree with Kottke that YouTube sucks for sports highlights. Don’t get me wrong; I’m grateful for what’s out there and have spent hours looking at clips. It just seems like we’re where we were during the mid-1990s with internet audio. We were just so overjoyed to get something over our speakers that it didn’t matter if it sounded tinny, distorted, and dropped off every few minutes. YouTube is good enough to get the point across and show the red blob scoring against the orange-ish blob.

It’s especially bad with prospect videos, since so much of them are low-quality to begin with before you compress the hell out of them for YouTube. I was looking at the A.J. Green video that pwd had the other day and could barely follow the plays. And I have better than 20-20 vision.

So what’s next? The success of YouTube is obviously not due to the quality of the videos. It’s the simplicity of viewing, sharing, and embedding videos. That makes for an instantly viral site that has built up a good enough community around its brand to fend off knock-offs. The acquisition by Google doesn’t hurt either. Ideally, we’d want the ease of watching and sharing a YouTube video with HD quality which loads and streams nearly seamlessly. And a pony.

We’re still far away from that day both in terms of Internet bandwidth and client processing power – cable companies have enough issues just delivering their TV signals. There are services coming like Joost which are streaming video at higher qualities, but people can’t upload to them. Then there are the issues of ownership. Broadcasters might not care if some ultra-low quality clip of a game shows up on YouTube. But a service that offers HD-quality highlights and game clips might run into the "express written consent" folks.

Post We’re putting the band back together!

Wednesday June 6, 2007

It’ll be just like old times at Minnesota:

New Minnesota coach Tubby Smith has finalized his staff.

Ron Jirsa is the associate head coach, Saul Smith and Vince Taylor are the assistant coaches, and Joe Esposito is the director of basketball operations.

We just want to let Golden Gopher fans know to enjoy the next two seasons and then buckle up. Trust us.

Post Leonard Pope coming up big for Americus

Tuesday June 5, 2007
Leonard Pope
6’8″ with a heart to match

While it’s usually the negative that makes headlines (see Odell Thurman’s latest), several Georgia and NFL players are getting together for a very worthy project organized by Leonard Pope.

On March 1st, a tornado broadsided Americus and Sumter Regional Hospital . The hospital is damaged nearly to the point of requiring complete replacement. Pope, an Americus native, has pulled several Georgia and NFL friends together for the Leonard Pope’s All-Star Weekend to Benefit Sumter Regional Hospital and the Community on the weekend of June 15-16. Among those scheduled to participate are Anquan Boldin, Charles Grant, D.J. Shockley, Randy McMichael, and Danny Ware. Others, including Thomas Davis and Ronnie Brown, have recently joined the list, and there might still be others.

The weekend’s schedule:

On Friday (tentatively 8 a.m-4 p.m.), there will be a charity golf tournament at Southwestern Golf Links where golfers will get a chance to golf with the aforementioned celebrities in a four-man scramble. The cost will be $100 per person ($400 per team) and there will be prizes, lunch and more.

There will be a Black Tie Charity Dinner at the Pope Center on the campus of South Georgia Technical College on Friday ay 7 p.m. Tickets for this event will be $50 per person ($500 per table). The aforementioned players will be in attendance, along with a surprise Georgia celebrity as one of the main speakers for the event. There will be food, entertainment and a silent auction with many signed memorabilia from the players and other sports teams and celebrities.

On Saturday at 2 p.m., there will be a charity basketball game that will pit the NFL players and their friends against local Americus-Sumter and Southland legends. Local children will also have a chance to sign up for Leonard Pope’s 2008 Football Camp. Tickets will be $5 for adults and $2 for children. Children under the age of 5 get in free.

Related Links:

Post Izzy going to play football?

Monday June 4, 2007
No, not that Izzy.

In the excitement over commitments from two of the top receivers in the 2008 class, we forget that Georgia signed a couple of standouts this year. Walter Hill is a tall leaper who chose football over basketball and will give the Dawgs a big target. But the star receiver prospect last year in the state was Tift County’s Israel Troupe. Fans tempered their enthusiasm over Troupe’s commitment because he is considered a top baseball prospect, and we always had to consider that a lucrative MLB contract might keep him from playing football.

Chad Simmons of UGASports.com is reporting that Troupe has arrived on campus (along with nearly every other 2007 signee). Though the MLB draft is still a few days away and we won’t know his draft status for certain until then, Troupe taking the step to show up on campus is a great sign in terms of what he expects to happen. Unless something big happens on June 7th and 8th, it looks as if we can expect Troupe to play football for Georgia, and that’s great news for football fans.

Post Richt’s recruiting keeps rolling

Monday June 4, 2007

Just as I noted last week that the Georgia recruiting train was picking up speed again, the Dawgs added two more football commitments over the weekend.

Cornerback Makiri Pugh started things off on Friday afternoon. Georgia again went head-to-head with Clemson for a prospect and won, and they also beat out Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech. Pugh is from Charlotte’s Independence High School – a familiar name to Bulldog fans. After Robert Brannon, Mohamed Massaquoi, and Joe Cox, Pugh will be the fourth Dawg in recent years from this proud North Carolina program. Pugh is projected to be one of the top 250 players in the nation at any position according to Rivals.com, and you can get an idea of his talent by looking at his offer sheet.

I have to take a second here and single out Joe Cox. Here’s a guy who led the Dawgs to a comeback win over Colorado last year, but he ended the season positioned to be a career backup. Even though recent events have proven that Cox gets along with his teammates, Stafford’s promotion had to be a tough bit of news to take, and it might even be understandable for Cox to become a little disillusioned with the situation. But Pugh credited Cox (and Massaquoi too) with honest feedback that helped him choose Georgia. "Their feedback really matched up to the visit," Pugh said ($), and it obviously meant a lot that these two Independence alums could back up with their own experience what Pugh was hearing from the coaches.

The other commitment was a bit of a surprise. Griffin defensive lineman Toby Jackson, considered to be leaning to Alabama, announced his commitment to the Dawgs on Sunday evening. Jackson draws comparisons with former Bulldog Jonathan Sullivan for his ability to play defensive end and defensive tackle. Though Jackson committed to Georgia, don’t expect Alabama or even other schools like FSU to back off of one of the best defensive linemen in the state. With standout lineman DeAngelo Tyson already committed, Jackson would be another key piece in a potentially tremendous defensive line class.

Why is recruiting going so well? Everyone is pointing this morning to Loran Smith’s piece in the ABH about the "new Mark Richt" who is much more hands-on in recruiting this year. By cutting back on personal commitments and changing responsibilities within the program (Mike Bobo’s increased role stands out), Richt has been able to give things like recruiting much more personal attention. It’s not just recruiting, either. If you’ve been at a Road Tour event this spring, Richt seems much more comfortable talking about the bigger picture. He’s able to speak in depth about defenders. He wasn’t ever completely aloof when talking about the rest of his team, but it was clear and natural that his focus was on offense. That’s changing a bit.

And let’s face it: this time last year, Coach Richt was dealing with a very serious health crisis with his wife. The life-changing nature of cancer strikes even the most driven of us, and it is entirely reasonable and understandable that Coach Richt would have been distracted last summer.

The result is that a very solid recruiting class is coming together. There are several pieces to the puzzle. It’s a good year in-state at some key positions. Richt will also be the first to credit a very capable staff of assistants who do much of the heavy lifting. But there is no question that more and not less exposure to Mark Richt on the recruiting trail is a big plus to many of this year’s top prospects.