Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post The Richts could use a good Upside-Down Cake recipe

Friday February 29, 2008

Georgia coach Mark Richt was presented several pineapples by Athens-Clarke Mayor Heidi Davidson on Friday to celebrate the Bulldogs’ victory over Hawaii in the Allstate Sugar Bowl. The pineapples were given to Davidson by Honolulu Mayor Mufi Hannemann to make good on their friendly wager on the game.

The pineapples were immediately taken from Richt and smashed on the sidewalk by Marcus Howard.

Post Don’t go over the middle on the way to the punchbowl

Friday February 29, 2008

Former Bulldog safety Thomas Davis is getting married. If you check out the wedding Web site, you’ll see some very familiar names among the wedding party. I’d love to see video of when the garter is thrown into that group. Congratulations to Thomas and his lovely fiance.

(Post title blatently stolen from the DawgVent.)

Post Spring depth chart shows a young line

Friday February 29, 2008

Back in January I picked three things I thought might work against the Georgia football team in 2008. One of those was the offensive line. The 2007 line weathered the storm to become a very competent unit despite a new position coach, three freshmen on the first team, and very little depth. In 2008 the line will face a new set of challenges starting with the replacement of the two seniors who anchored the 2007 unit.

The release of the spring depth chart shows why I singled out the line.

77 Trinton Sturdivant (6-5, 293, So.)
78 Josh Davis (6-6, 293, RSo.)
61 John Potts (6-3, 285, RFr.)

72 Vince Vance (6-8, 320, Jr.)
54 Tanner Strickland (6-5, 328, RFr.)
66 Micky White (6-3, 331, RSo.)

63 Chris Davis (6-4, 292, RSo.)
76 Ben Harden (6-3, 310, RFr.)
74 Kevin Perez (6-3, 270, RSo.)
61 Ben Jones (6-3, 300, Fr.)

60 Clint Boling (6-5, 290, So.)
79 Justin Anderson (6-5, 328, RFr.)
73 Chris Little (6-6, 330, RFr.)

75 Kiante Tripp (6-6, 270, RSo.)

The youth of the line jumps out at you immediately. Vance is the only upperclassman in the group, and even he is just entering his second year of the program. No Georgia lineman has more than a year’s experience on the field.

Depth at the tackle position is also hard to miss. You have three scholarship players, and only Sturdivant has significant experience. The situation isn’t as bad as it seems: we know Boling can play tackle if necessary, and others will surely cross-train at tackle this spring.

The good news is that Boling, Sturdivant, and Davis form a solid core for the unit. Davis has an adjustment learning the center position, but he came on nicely at guard last year. And though it’s young, there is talent in there. The depth chart doesn’t include incoming freshmen (except Jones who has already enrolled), and we saw last year how true freshmen can help in a pinch. The job for Searels and his line is as big if not bigger than it was last year, but it’s not an impossible task.

The talk of the weight room so far has been Kiante Tripp. He’s up to 290 lbs. and instantly draws comparisons to Chris Terry, a converted defensive lineman who blossomed at offensive tackle. Tripp’s position change last summer caused a stir, but he saw only very limited reserve action as he adjusted to his new position. Obviously much more is expected of him in 2008.

We can be certain that the depth chart is sure to change even before G-Day. The "starting" offensive line going into spring in 2007 was Josh Davis, Vince Vance, Velasco, Adams, and Chris Davis – at center.

Post It was a ho-ax

Wednesday February 27, 2008

You probably remember that Georgia conceded the removal of the Sanford Stadium hedges in order to host soccer events for the 1996 Olympics. The field had to be widened at the corners to meet specifications, and the hedges were in the way.

Sanford Stadium during the 1996 Olympics

That decision produced a minor outcry, but officials reassured the public that replacement hedges would be grown offsite and ready. In fact, they claimed, the existing hedges were facing trouble from parasites and would need to be replaced anyway. With those assurances, Georgia fans were placated, and the new hedges did indeed grow back in thick and full…until the 2000 Tennessee game.

It looks as if they pulled one over on us.

At a recent roast for former Athens mayor Gwen O’Looney, the conspiracy that reached all the way to the top of the Athletic Department and University was revealed:

While supporters said (O’Looney) brought a new openness to government, she was a party to at least one white lie. Former University of Georgia President Chuck Knapp recalled bringing an Olympics official, "a Middle Eastern potentate," to Sanford Stadium to convince him to play soccer there at the 1996 Atlanta games.

The official loved the stadium, but there was a catch.

"There is one minor problem," Knapp quoted the official as saying. "You’ll have to remove those bushes."

O’Looney, Knapp and former football coach Vince Dooley, after consulting UGA horticulturalists, made up a fib that nematodes, a parasitic roundworm, had struck the famous hedges, and they had to be cut down.

Apparently Dooley was still living the lie two years later at a University Round Table in 1998:

The athletic director recounted the uproar among alumni over the advent of women’s Olympic soccer in the stadium and the quest to cure the hedges of killer nematodes infesting the famous privet.
”We sent a couple of nematode experts over there,” he said. The hedges were removed and regrown with cuttings. ”We replaced them with Hedges II,” he said.

Post Duke rides off into the sunset

Tuesday February 26, 2008

The ABH is confirming that tight end NaDerris Ward will leave Georgia after this semester. His likely destination is a PAC 10 school closer to his home in California.

Ward said the health of his grandmother, Hazel Brown, is the main reason behind the transfer. She has bone cancer and will undergo surgery next month, he said. Ward lived with his grandmother in Oakland, Calif., when he played for McClymonds High School.

“She got diagnosed during my first semester at the university, and I’ve just been trying to keep on pushing and working out and going to school,” Ward said. “It’s just been bothering me a lot. When I found out she needed to have another surgery, I just wanted to be closer to her. It’s hard being that far away from my family.”

We wish him well and understand the need to be with family at this time.

Ward’s transfer makes the signing day defection of Dwayne Allen to Clemson that much more significant. Tight end is suddenly a position of need for the Bulldogs.

Post No, Tennesseans pretty much want to watch football

Tuesday February 26, 2008

Michael Adams had some comments in a Chattanooga Time Free Press look at the "arms race" in college athletics and a new fundraising drive at Tennessee. Adams has made headlines not only for his playoff proposal but also for speaking out against the increased commericalism in college sports.

“I do believe there are some (athletic) programs that are heading toward a cliff, and I’m not sure these kind of increases in spending can be sustained,” he said.

Georgia is not one of those programs.

“We are very fortunate at the University of Georgia to have a loyal fan base that allows us to remain on the plus side of the ledger and to actually have a surplus of funds (in the athletic program) even though we don’t use any taxpayer dollars” (Adams) said.

While the article touched on the struggles of smaller programs like UTC and their reliance on student fees to fund athletics, academics like former UTC Chancellor Bill Stacy have their heads in the clouds.

“But I also long for the day when Tennesseans are as eager to see a poetry reading or hear an academic lecture as they are to go to a football game,” he said.

Post Hoops update

Tuesday February 26, 2008

Not many people expected a favorable result from a road swing to Kentucky and Vanderbilt, and the 0-2 result is no surprise. While we can take some pride in being in position to win at Kentucky or leading after a half in Nashville, losses continue to pile up. It’s becoming very much like the 2004-2005 season where the Dawgs were often competitive but usually ran out of gas against deeper and more talented SEC teams. While this Georgia team is a bit more talented than the group that went 2-14, the results are looking similar.

After a home game against Florida, Georgia gets three opportunities against struggling SEC West teams. Can they break through with road wins at Auburn and LSU? Can they prey on the road woes of Ole Miss?

Florida comes to Athens on Wednesday in the unique position of being both the two-time defending national champion and also a bubble team. The Gators are just over .500 in the league, and their nonconference resume isn’t particularly impressive. With the spoiler role one of the few things left for Georgia, making Florida sweat the postseason would be a small consolation.

Speaking of the postseason, I think there are only three SEC teams who can feel certain of a bid at this point – Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State. Kentucky, Florida, and Arkansas all have good chances thanks to conference records above .500, but those three teams also have plenty of warts that make them classic bubble teams.

SEC Men’s Power Ranking

1. Tennessee: Welcome to the top of the mountain.
2. Kentucky: Got a big win over Arkansas to keep NCAA hopes alive.
3. Miss. St.: Survived against South Carolina.
4. Vanderbilt: There’s no place like home, but will that matter against Tennessee?
5. Arkansas: Missed a chance at Kentucky to solidify their postseason position.
6. Florida: Tough four games to finish the season. Are they on the bubble?
7. South Carolina: Took MSU to overtime.
8. Auburn: Holding their own against the dregs of the SEC West.
9. LSU: Impressive win over Ole Miss. This could be a dangerous SEC Tournament team.
10. Ole Miss: The freefall continues.
11. Georgia: Need to turn effort into wins.
12. Alabama: And still only a game out of third place.

Lady Dogs

As we enter the final week of the SEC season for the women, the postseason picture is becoming clearer. The top four seeds – LSU, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and Kentucky – are more or less set. Georgia’s win over Auburn combined with Auburn’s loss at Ole Miss have the Lady Dogs in good shape for the #5 seed. That means that the Lady Dogs would be playing on Thursday for the first time since 2004, but they should have an easy path to a quarterfinal meeting with Kentucky.

Georgia had some business to take care of on Sunday before they could look at the standings. After a 30-point loss at Auburn early in January, the Lady Dogs came out in Sunday’s rematch determined to show that the loss was a fluke. They quickly built a double-digit lead thanks to a 2-3 zone that made Auburn star Dewanna Bonner a non-factor for much of the first half. With Auburn unable to hit from outside, the zone was able to choke off the interior.

A 6-0 run to close the first half brought Auburn to within 13 points and gave them some momentum, but Georgia built the lead back to as many as 21 points with 9 minutes left. When it looked as if Georgia might be headed for a 30-point win of their own, Lady Dog turnovers fueled a 17-2 Auburn run that closed the lead to just six points with only three minutes left. A Tasha Humphrey baseline jumper stopped the bleeding, and Georgia was able to hit free throws down the stretch to seal the win.

Congratulations to Tasha Humphrey who became Georgia’s #2 career scorer in Sunday’s win. She doesn’t have much chance of matching Janet Harris’s 2,600+ career total, but few players in SEC history have been in that class. Humphrey has passed such Lady Dog legends as Teresa Edwards, Katrina McClain, and Kelly Miller, and it seemed as if she showed up on campus scoring 20 PPG and pulling down 10 rebounds.

SEC Women’s Power Ranking

1. LSU: In control of the SEC, but UConn too much to handle.
2. Tennessee: Coasting.
3. Vanderbilt: Auburn should be their final tuneup before the postseason.
4. Georgia: Tough to beat when they get offense from the guards.
5. Kentucky: Put a scare into LSU, but offense remains a problem.
6. Auburn: Two straight losses have them looking at a .500 SEC record and the postseason bubble.
7. Ole Miss: Nice home win over Auburn highlights a 2-0 week.
8. Florida: Unforgivable home loss to South Carolina.
9. Miss. St.: Tough to close with Tennessee and LSU.
10. South Carolina: Proving to be pesky.
11. Arkansas: And to think that this team was ranked once.
12. Alabama: Sacrificial lamb for the eventual #5 seed.

Post Oklahoma wins eight football games in February

Monday February 25, 2008

The NCAA has reversed its decision to vacate Oklahoma’s eight 2005 wins. Despite the use of two ineligible players for the entire 2005 season, Oklahoma’s “cooperation was a significant factor” in the NCAA’s revised penalty. Consistent? Arbitrary? Who cares?! 8-4 lives again.

So celebrate, Sooner fans – you are now officially allowed to remember that 42-14 win over Okie State, but unfortunately the 45-12 beating from Texas stands too.

Post A smart move

Friday February 22, 2008

Anthony Dasher of UGASports.com reports that Georgia receiver Israel Troupe is not on the 35-man Georgia baseball roster and will focus on football. For someone hoping to make an impression during spring practice and get on the field next fall, that’s the right choice.

Post Big East breakup chatter

Friday February 22, 2008

The Big East has always been a bit of a Frankenstein conference with its membership changing depending on the season. Dick Weiss has some interesting thoughts about whether the Big East has grown too large for its own good.

Though the scope of the article is mainly about basketball, Weiss speculates than when commissioner Mike Tranghese retires, “we project this league will break up and go back to normal size with the seven football schools — excluding Notre Dame — going in one direction and the eight basketball schools forming their own league”. From a football perspective, you have to wonder what that will mean for emerging football programs at schools like Cincinnati and Connecticut who are enjoying the exposure of playing in a BCS conference as they make a name for themselves. Will a school like UConn be pulled in the direction of football or basketball?

Post Watching the Sampson fallout

Friday February 22, 2008

It looks as if today’s the day: Kelvin Sampson could be out at Indiana.

As a Georgia fan who suffered through the end of the truncated 2003 season, what matters to me is the fallout. Will Indiana pull out of the postseason as a preemptive measure? It’s a promising season for the Hoosiers, and they’re very much in play for the Big 10 title. Or is Dan Dakich the next Steve Fisher (h/t Deadspin)?

Several players are threatening to walk out if Sampson is removed. Though that’s probably just raw emotion at this point, will there be any attrition either from the current roster or the current recruiting class if there is a change? Will there be sanctions for a program that his historically kept its nose clean?

Post A battle Fulmer doesn’t really want to get into

Friday February 22, 2008

I know that the Internet has turned the whole "never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel" aphorism on its head, but I still don’t know if it’s the wisest move for Phil Fulmer to get into a war of words with columnist John Adams.

Make no mistake, he’s in a fight to remain in control of the program. Let’s not forget that early in the 2007 season things were so shaky in Knoxville that former players had to take out a full-page ad in support of Fulmer. Though a much-needed win over Georgia placated the masses, an embarrassing loss at Alabama got the torches fired back up. Had the Vols not pulled out close wins against South Carolina, Kentucky, and Vanderbilt and won five straight games to win the SEC East, there’s no telling how ugly things might have become.

Now with his offensive mastermind gone to Duke and arguably his best recruiter gone to Oklahoma State, Fulmer is left to rebuild his staff with a new quarterback while fending off increasingly loud dissenters like Adams.

You can tell that Fulmer is struggling to keep it together when he goes right to the "doing it for the children" defense of his program. That’s often the last refuge of a coach who has little else to lean on.

It’s a mistake that while defending his character and leadership he seems most secure in his on-the-field record. Every coach is a mentor. Every coach wants to see his players graduate and go on to wonderful careers in law enforcement. He isn’t feeling heat because of his track record educating and mentoring his players. Since Linda Bensel-Meyers came forward, the portrayal of the Tennessee football program as anything but a football factory is good comedy, and Tennessee fans were more than willing to look the other way while things were going well.

Tennessee might have won more games than 95% of other teams as Fulmer says, but he is feeling heat because the perception is there of a program in decline. Though they have three SEC East titles in the 2000s, they haven’t won an SEC title since 1998. They haven’t been in the national title picture since 2001. Fulmer might want to think twice about inviting criticism of his on-field performance. Coaches aren’t replaced in the SEC because they don’t mentor well enough.

UPDATE: In the meantime, we have news about another future Knox County sheriff’s deputy.

Post Let’s play two

Friday February 22, 2008

Congratulations to Georgia Tech. On the eve of the start of college baseball, they found a way to have a college basketball game rained out. They will try to reschedule the game, but it might have to happen after the regular season and before the conference tournament.

You almost feel sorry for these fans, but then you remember that they were going to watch Tech basketball.

Once the PA announcer told fans in a less-than-half-filled arena that the game would hopefully be rescheduled and to hold onto ticket stubs, Tech fans Jeff Reeves and his son Lee were not amused.

They drove five hours from Demopolis, Ala. After Lee’s first chance to see a Tech game was drowned out, he said, “It sucks.”

Paul Hewitt’s joke that the team “finally caught a break” at home makes me wonder if this rainout came via the Crash Davis method.

Crash Davis
You want a rainout?

Post Practice facility measures up

Thursday February 21, 2008

Two basketball programs – one a titan and one…not so much – have recently opened new showcase practice facilities with much fanfare. Each looks very impressive and should be assets to those programs both in player development and in recruiting. Since Georgia’s own facility opened less than a year ago, it’s worth taking a look at how Georgia’s investment stacks up against Duke and SMU. Sure, $30 million is an impressive amount to put into a building, and the place looks great, but when you see Georgia’s facility relative to similar projects, you really can appreciate the athletic department’s commitment to these programs.

Note: Remember that Georgia’s facility also includes significant space for the nation’s top gymnastics program; not all of this investment is for basketball.

SMU Crum Center

SMU: Crum Basketball Center

  • Cost: $13 million
  • Area: 43,000 sq. ft.
  • Dedicated practice courts for men’s and women’s programs: Yes
  • Connected to arena
  • Other: "Players’ locker rooms and lounges, a fully-equipped training and rehabilitation room with in-ground hydrotherapy pools, a state-of-the-art strength and conditioning room, an on-site laundry facility, coaches’ offices and conference facilities for both programs, coaches’ locker rooms and film editing rooms"
  • Quotable: "This facility is as nice as any basketball facility in the country! I designed UNC’s locker room, weight room and practice gym…..and "The Crum" is nicer!" – SMU coach Matt Doherty
Coach K Center

Duke: Michael W. Krzyzewski Center for Athletic Excellence

  • Cost: $15.2 million
  • Area: 56,000 sq. ft.
  • Dedicated practice courts for men’s and women’s programs: Kind of. The facility includes two adjacent full-sized courts.
  • Located next to arena, connected by underground tunnel
  • Other: Weight room, banquet room, academic support center, "legacy locker room" for former players, film rooms
  • Quotable: "We didn’t cut corners but we didn’t go crazy. We were able to be very efficient with our money and time." – Duke associate athletic director Mike Cragg

Georgia: Coliseum Training Facility

Stegeman Practice Annex
  • Cost: $30 million
  • Area: 120,000 sq. ft.
  • Connected to arena
  • Dedicated practice courts/space for all programs: Yes
  • Other: Locker rooms, training areas, student-athlete lounges, film rooms, coaches’ offices, conference rooms, meeting/banquet space
  • Quotable: "Once we had drawings to show (recruits) that it would be a spectacular facility – it started to make an impression." – Dennis Felton

Which facility is the best doesn’t really matter to me. I’ve been in Georgia’s – it’s incredible, and I’m sure that the others are visually stunning as well. What’s important is that Georgia has given these programs an investment at least on par with a basketball program with the tradition, following, and fundraising ability of Duke.

Post Six minutes

Wednesday February 20, 2008

With 6:29 remaining in last night’s game at Kentucky, Sundiata Gaines drilled his only three-pointer of the night off an inbounds pass.  The shot completed an 11-3 run and cut Kentucky’s lead to 55-52, and it looked as if we were in for another close finish.

For the next six minutes plus, Georgia went scoreless.  Georgia’s only points the rest of the way were a Swansey three-pointer with 12 seconds left and the game more or less decided.  Kentucky won 61-55.  Here’s what happened over those six minutes:

  • Woodbury missed a three-pointer
  • Gaines missed a three-pointer
  • Zac Swansey missed a three-pointer
  • Terrence Woodbury missed a layup
  • Kentucky threw up a desperation three-pointer with the shot clock running out, and Ramel Bradley got the offensive rebound and basket over Swansey
  • Albert Jackson mishandled a Gaines pass…turnover
  • Gaines missed a shot
  • Bliss tried taking the ball at three defenders and came up empty
  • Gaines missed a three-pointer
  • Humphrey missed a shot

Keep in mind that over that span Kentucky made only one shot themselves.  The Dawgs had six straight possessions with the score 55-52 and a chance to tie or cut into that deficit.  Much like the Vanderbilt game and several other recent conference games, the Dawgs got themselves in a position to earn a win and then shut down.  Fatigue is certainly a factor; Gaines had nothing at all on his shots at the end.  But patience on the offensive end and better use of personnel like Corey Butler might have made a difference even in the face of exhaustion.

Credit to the Dawgs for coming back off the ropes after starting down 20-4.  The recognition that the 2-3 zone wasn’t working saved the game, but the switch to man might have cost the Dawgs later in terms of energy at the end.  The Dawgs did play much better defense, especially in the second half, but the early hole proved to be too much.

In the end, it was a familiar story:  good effort, in a position to win, come away with a loss.