Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post I’ll see your Blackout and raise you a pair of white shoes

Saturday May 31, 2008

I guess you take your motivation where you can get it, but this fashion-based incentive used by the Lipscomb baseball team would make Billy Johnson proud:

White shoes theory: One of the questions from the media at the post-game press conference dealt with the Bisons white baseball shoes. It marked the first time the team had ever worn white shoes in a game, but it won’t be the last.

“Our players wanted to wear white shoes all year long,” Forehand said. “I told them I didn’t like white shoes and we weren’t going to do it.

“It started last year. I made a promise that if they made it to a regional they could wear white shoes. I guess we are going to keep wearing them.”

It worked – the Bisons upset top-seeded Georgia 10-7 in the opening game of yesterday’s Athens regional.

Billy White Shoes Johnson
Official footwear supplier of Lipscomb baseball

Post SEC ADs shoot down early signing proposal

Friday May 30, 2008

A day after the coaches voted 9-3 to recommend an early signing day for college football, the SEC athletic directors decided not to endorse the plan and will not send it on to the NCAA. The key sticking point seems to be the official visit: the plan would make those taking official visits ineligible to sign early, but the athletic directors did not want to diminish the importance of the official visit.

Post Play ball!

Friday May 30, 2008

The Athens regional kicks off today with Georgia playing Lipscomb at 3:00. It should be a wild weekend: three of the four teams made the trip to Omaha in their last postseason appearance. Here’s a link dump of news and info:


Television: CSS

Radio: 960 AM in Athens. 91.1 PM in Atlanta will have at least the Tech broadcast.

Online: Free audio and live stats here.



Single game tickets to attend the NCAA Baseball Athens Regional will go on sale starting at 1:00 p.m. Friday, May 30 at Foley Field. Single game ticket sales locations will be set up in the Foley Field Plaza, along the third base side on Rutherford Street and at the entrance to right field bleachers on Pinecrest Street.

Reserved Seat tickets are $12 and general admission tickets are $10.

Single game tickets will also go on sale at the Foley Field ticket locations beginning two hours before the first game each day.

Athens Regional
Image: Georgiadogs.com

Post A win for Auburn

Friday May 30, 2008

Georgia fans are losing a valuable online resource. David Ching will be moving to the Auburn beat.

The value of Ching’s blog wasn’t that it re-hashed what could be found on any newspaper’s site. He didn’t bring a stunning command of Georgia’s tradition and history or some amazing insight into the game of football. He had the commodity that separates pros from the amateurs – access. What made his blog unique was that he shared that access with us – he brought you inside, walked you around the practice field, and gave you the impressions and nuggets that would never make in the paper but were so important for fans. Just read the comments to his post breaking this news to understand the connection.

The guys running the online-only subscription sites know all about that. Patterson, Legge, Dasher, and the others who have worked with them found out quickly that interaction with their subscriber base was oxygen for their sites. Those subscribers expected more than you got from a newspaper, and those sites delivered in part with technology and multimedia but also by using their access as a jumping-off point to drive discussion, encourage feedback, and guide future content.

One thing Ching demonstrated was how easy it was for a relatively obscure newcomer to build a personal brand. I would wager that only guys like Towers, Strickland, and Kendall who have been around the beat much longer or write for the major papers have higher name recognition among the hardcore online Georgia fans. Ching’s blog was as reliable a resource as most newspaper sites, and I admit to reading his blog much more often than his online articles at the paper’s site.

Sorry if this reads like an obituary. David should know that his site was appreciated and will be missed by Georgia fans, and the few Auburn fans who can read will quickly find him as useful of a resource as we did.

Ambitious journalists covering Georgia should realize that there is a vacuum out there now. Hopefully someone will step in to fill it this fall. With many in traditional media struggling to figure things out, it’s great to see those who jump in with both feet, and it’s unfortunate when we see one of them move on.

Post Shocker: Coaches want to lock in commitments sooner

Thursday May 29, 2008

I’ve written before about an early signing period for college football. It’s not that it’s an awful idea or would ruin college football, but something about the motivation has always seemed a little questionable to me. I’m not surprised that the SEC coaches have voted to push the idea forward, but the coverage of this news I’ve read so far doesn’t do much to diminish my primary concern with the early signing period: we tend to hear a lot more about why this is great for the coaches and college programs than we do about benefits for the student-athlete.

That said, I don’t have much of a problem with the idea as endorsed by the SEC coaches. But at the same time, it really doesn’t address many of the reasons why people claim we need an early signing period. The key detail in the SEC proposal is that prospects would only be eligible to sign early if they don’t take official visits.

Think about what that condition implies. Aside from the "been a fan all my life" prospects who jump on their dream offer, why would a prospect want to forgo the official visit even if they only visit their chosen school?

To the kind of prospect whose commitment is that solid, it doesn’t matter when signing day is. The kid isn’t going anywhere and really isn’t receptive to other recruiting overtures because his intent is obvious. So the program has no need to "babysit" such a prospect during the final months of the recruiting process, and there isn’t much pressure or attention put on someone who makes his plans crystal clear in March or whenever he gets his dream offer.

The prospects for whom recruiting pressure, endless phone calls, and media attention are unpleasant realities are the undecided. These are exactly the prospects who should be taking their visits, thinking things over, and shouldn’t be rushed into "getting it over with." Once they do start taking visits, the SEC plan wouldn’t allow the high-profile undecided prospect to sign early anyway.

Who is speaking up for the student-athlete in this discussion? We’re getting no end of woe-is-us stories from the coaches, but forgive me if I don’t melt because some guy whose salary is pushing seven figures has to make a few extra phone calls. This is the one time in the process where the student-athlete holds a bit of the upper hand and when changing his mind won’t come with a substantial penalty. You can’t say that for the job-hopping coaches.

Tony Barnhart writes, "The rationale for the rule is that more and more players are committing early and would like to sign and avoid the final six weeks of recruiting." They would? How do we know? Barnhart had plenty of quotes supporting the coaches’ positions, but who is carrying the torch for the prospects claiming that they "would like to sign and avoid the final six weeks of recruiting?"

ESPN’s Chris Low makes a bit of a reach when he discusses the coaches’ motivations for the vote. (Emphasis added.)

One of the reasons most of the SEC coaches favor an early signing period is because so many prospects commit early and then hold everybody hostage as they look around in January and February.

That’s overstating it just a little, isn’t it? I admit to being familiar only with Georgia’s recruiting, but the Dwayne Allens and A.J. Harmons of the world seem much more like the exception than the rule for a given class. And the "hold everybody hostage" line is just over the top. While there are always those who love to play the game and string everyone along (again – they’d still be signing in February anyway under the SEC proposal), I just don’t recall a lot of the early commitments shopping around into January.

Bobby Petrino makes a quality point: "We got here in December and were able to change some minds of some young men in our state. Had there been an early signing period those kids might have been already signed." That’s an issue for the prospect as well. The college regular season is still ongoing in late November. Few, if any, personnel moves would have been made by this point. Prospects would still run the risk of signing with a school about to change the head coach or any number of assistants.

We’ve heard enough on the subject from the coaches. The next reasonable step seems to be getting a good sample of prospects candidly on the record. Would an early signing period really be something that they want? Would they be willing to give up the plum official visits if it meant that they could end the recruiting process two months early? Would they feel pressure to sign early if it meant that their scholarship offer depended on it?

Post I know I’ve seen this before somewhere…

Thursday May 29, 2008

If anyone still needs convincing that “The Celebration” was a paradigm-changing event, just watch this clip from – where else?.

Post CSS to cover the Athens regional

Wednesday May 28, 2008

Good news for those unable to make it to Athens for this weekend’s baseball regional. CSS has added coverage to their lineup, and they will broadcast all games through Monday (if necessary).

Post Recruiting character

Tuesday May 27, 2008

First, let’s straight away rid ourselves of the notion that Georgia and Mark Richt are immune from this discussion. It’s true that no Georgia player has been unloading firearms around Athens lately, but for the most part all programs are dipping into the same pool when it comes to recruiting top talent.

I struggle with a cynical response to all of this. Is it that coaches have a difficult time identifying character issues, or do they have a problem overlooking those issues? After all, if you pass on someone due to character issues, not only do you risk being "known as the person that denied Johnny a scholarship", but you also risk the prospect winding up down the road at a regional or conference rival. Then you get to answer that other question: why can’t you recruit top talent?

Like most, I find it hard to believe that coaches are/were using text messages or even evaluation visits to brush up on a prospect’s character. They’re not hanging out with the kid’s friends or observing how they approach schoolwork. The extent of communication or observation that would be necessary to get a real sense on someone’s character goes well beyond any reasonable limit. There are teachers who see these kids every day who don’t have a handle on the real character of many of their students.

Fulmer does make a valid point when he says that, "it’s hard sometimes to find out information about them because people aren’t completely honest with you about them." Recruits (and their parents) are increasingly savvy about packaging and parceling out information.

So what to do? Willingham mentions using a "service" to get information, but I’m not sure how far that goes. With the amounts at stake, I could almost see programs placing private detectives on retainer to do the digging. NFL teams do it. The only difference is the age of the players – there’s something borderline creepy about tracking an 18-year-old. You don’t want to be the first program caught snooping around its prospects, but are we not far away from the point where that becomes a necessity?

Post Favors doesn’t disappoint at TOC

Tuesday May 27, 2008

Derrick Favors is the top target of Georgia and most every other school for the 2009 basketball recruiting class. Even among some of the better players in the nation Favors stood out over the weekend at the Bob Gibbons Tournament of Champions.

Favors controlled the boards, blocked shots, pounded dunks, drove, hit short jumpers and ran the floor like few 225-pound big men in the world.

“He is at a different level,” (Dave) Telep said. “There are other elite players, but he is something special…There was some separation between him and all the other guys.”

Post Diamond Dawgs earn #8 national seed

Monday May 26, 2008

Despite losing four out of five games coming into the NCAA Tournament, Georgia’s regular season SEC championship was enough to earn Georgia the final national seed when bids were announced Monday afternoon.  Georgia will host a regional in Athens this weekend and, if they advance, will host a Super Regional on the subsequent weekend.

The Athens Regional

The good news – home field has been kind to Georgia in the postseason recently. Georgia hasn’t lost a postseason series in Athens in the 2000s though there have been several close calls.  The bad news – it’s a strong field.  Georgia won the SEC title.  Georgia Tech was a strong contender to host a regional.  Louisville won the Big East and made the trip to Omaha in 2007.

  1. Georgia
  2. Georgia Tech
  3. Louisville
  4. Lipscomb

The Lipscomb Bisons, champions of the Atlantic Sun conference, will be making their NCAA Tournament debut against the Bulldogs.  The Bisons have played three games against SEC competition (Vanderbilt(2) and Alabama), losing all three games.

Georgia Tech hoped to host a regional, but they finished just over .500 in a tough ACC which produced three of the top four national seeds.  Instead the Yellow Jackets will have to go through Athens if they hope to advance.  Tech took the season series from Georgia, but Georgia had the final word with a close win at Turner Field earlier in May. 

Georgia and Georgia Tech have done battle several times this decade during the postseason.  In 2001, the Bulldogs eliminated Tech in the Athens regional en route to the College World Series.  Tech returned the favor in 2002 by ending Georgia’s season in Atlanta.  The two teams met again in 2004 with a trip to the College World Series on the line.  Georgia swept two games from their rivals to take the Super Regional series and return to Omaha.  Jonathan Wyatt became a Bulldog legend with a decisive 2-run homer to clinch the series.

There’s even a connection with Louisville.  Former Bulldog pitching coach Roger Williams now holds the same position for the Cardinals, and some scuttlebutt holds that his departure from Athens was on less-than-pleasant terms.


Though no SEC team has been dominant this year, the depth of the conference was evident when the NCAA bracket was announced.  The SEC has two national seeds (#7 LSU and #8 Georgia), and nine SEC teams received bids – including Arkansas who didn’t even qualify for the SEC Tournament.  Ole Miss, Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, Alabama, and Vanderbilt are the other invitees.

Of national interest

  • How’d you like to be Arizona?  You earn the top seed in a regional, but you’re the only top seed sent on the road.  To Michigan.  In the interests of “geographical diversity.” 
  • We’ll have a new national champion.  Two-time defending champs Oregon State were left out of the tournament.  They are the first defending champion to miss the tournament since….Georgia in 1991.
  • As I mentioned above, the ACC has three of the top four national seeds.  Miami has been strong all year and won their first ACC title.  UNC has been the national runner-up in each of the past two seasons.  FSU is in the mix as always.

The schedule

Friday, May 30
Game 1: Georgia vs. Lipscomb, 3 p.m. ET
Game 2: Georgia Tech vs. Louisville, ~7 p.m. ET

Saturday, May 31
Game 3: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 3 p.m. ET
Game 4: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 7 p.m. ET

Sunday, June 1
Game 5: Loser of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 3, 2 p.m. ET
Game 6: Winner of Game 4 vs. Winner of Game 5, 6 p.m. ET

Monday, June 2 (If Necessary)
Game 7: Winner of Game 6 vs. Loser of Game 6, 7 p.m. ET

Ticket information

All-Session ticket will be available online starting Monday, May 26 at 2 p.m. and at the Athletic Association Ticket Office window or by calling 1-877-542-1231 (toll free) beginning Tuesday, May 27 at 8:30 a.m.

All-Session Reserved tickets are $60 with the all-session general admission price set at $50. Both All-Session ticket packages include a ticket to all Athens Regional games including Game 7 if necessary and provides fans with a discount off the individual game ticket prices.

All tickets ordered for the regional will be distributed via Will- Call. Patrons may claim their tickets prior to the regional from the Athletic Association Ticket Office on Thursday, May 29, between 9am and 4pm and again on Friday, May 30, from 8:30am until noon. Regional tickets will also be available for pickup at the Foley Field ticket windows beginning at 1pm on Friday, May 30.

For more information, visit www.georgiadogs.com and click on the link for tickets or call the Ticket Office at 1-877-542-1231. Visa, Mastercard and Cash are all accepted forms of payment.

Post 100 days

Thursday May 22, 2008

It’ll be here before you know it, and it’ll go by too quickly as it always does. So long as everyone stays well and out of trouble, we should have something worth anticipating this year. Countdown clock coming soon.

Post For one day, it’s 4 to 2 in Texas

Tuesday May 20, 2008

The night didn’t start well for the defending champions, but Georgia’s depth and experience shone through as the Tennis Dawgs came back to beat Texas 4-2 in the national championship Tuesday evening in Tulsa. The title was Georgia’s first at a host site other than Athens, and it’s the first back-to-back titles in the program’s storied history.

For the second straight round, Georgia dropped the doubles point. They also dropped the first singles match at #6. Facing a 2-0 hole, Georgia quickly bounced back with wins at #2 and #4 to level things at 2-2. From that point Georgia’s seniors took over to sustain the momentum and clinch the title. Luis Flores wrapped up his match at #3 without much drama to give Georgia the 3-2 edge.

The championship came down to #1 singles where former Longhorn Travis Helgeson had dropped the first set and was down a break at 1-2 in the decisive third set. Helgeson battled back, won four of the next five games, and broke his opponent twice to go up 5-3. As soon as Flores’ match ended, attention shift to Helgeson up 5-4 and serving for the win. He closed out Dimitar Kutrovsky 6-4, and the celebration was on.

The Dawgs were ranked high all year, and they had a ton of talent, so it’s not like this title came from out of nowhere. Still, Georgia was hardly the odds-on favorite after losing players like John Isner and Matic Omerzel. The favorite doesn’t always win: a heavily-favored Georgia fell to Pepperdine in 2006, and the Dawgs dispatched this year’s top-ranked team, Virginia. Georgia got key performances from its most experienced players, and the team’s depth helped them weather some midseason injuries and win important singles points further down the lineup. In the end, the black did it again.

Georgia’s championship will be re-aired on ESPN2 at 3:30 p.m on Thursday May 22.

Travis Helgeson
Travis Helgeson in his decisive match. Photo: AP

Post Tennis Dawgs break Virginia’s heart

Monday May 19, 2008

It seems silly to call a win by the defending national champion an “upset”, but what else is there? When the other team has been #1 all season and entered the tournament undefeated, an upset it is. The Bulldogs upset top-ranked Virginia 4-3 on Monday evening to advance to Tuesday’s national title against Texas in Tulsa, Okla.

The “middle of the lineup” came through for Georgia in the semifinals. The Dawgs dropped the doubles point to the nation’s top-rated doubles team but then got singles wins at #3, #2 and #5 to surge ahead. Virginia soon evened things up with wins at #1 and #6, but Jamie Hunt came from a set down at #4 to give Georgia the decisive win.

Georgia now finds themselves back in the position of the favorite as they prepare to defend their national title. The Dawgs beat Texas 4-2 in an indoor match back in February, but a lot can change in three months.

The rematch presents a couple of interesting storylines. First, there’s the opportunity to win back-to back titles. Though Georgia has five team NCAA titles to its credit (four outdoor, one indoor), they have yet to defend a title. Second is the doubles point. Texas has won that key point in its last six matches, but they dropped the doubles point in the earlier meeting with Georgia. The Dawgs showed against Virginia that losing the doubles point isn’t necessarily a death sentence, but it does leave very little margin for error in singles play.

The biggest storyline for the championship is the Texas connection to the Georgia program. Georgia #1 singles Travis Helgeson played at Texas before transferring to Georgia, and there does seem to be some bad blood or at least bitterness left over. Helgeson isn’t the first high-profile UGA transfer from Texas; Antonio Ruiz made the move in 2004. Ruiz went on to win the NCAA doubles championship with John Isner. Georgia’s Jamie Hunt, who clinched the Virginia match, is a Texas native.

The Dawgs and Longhorns will play for all the marbles Tuesday night at 7:00 on ESPNU.

Post A fun time of year

Monday May 19, 2008

Spring sports are wrapping up, and as usual the Dawgs are right in the thick of things.

  • “Georgia junior Justin Gaymon clocked the world’s third-fastest time to win his second straight 400-meter hurdles title during the final day of the SEC Outdoor Championships in Auburn, Ala., on Sunday.”
  • The men’s golf team “made a statement” with their convincing win at the NCAA Men’s East Regional.
  • The tennis Dawgs swept Ole Miss to advance to the NCAA semifinals. Top-ranked Virgina awaits in a rematch of last year’s national semifinal.
  • Georgia softball won the NCAA’s Chapel Hill Regional and will advance to a Super Regional later this month.
  • Last, but not least, the baseball team opens postseason play at the SEC Tournament this Wednesday as the SEC champion and #1 seed despite dropping two of three to Alabama in the final series of the regular season.

Post Odell Thurman looking for work

Monday May 19, 2008

The Cincinnati Bengals stuck with Odell Thurman through two years of suspension, but they released him on Monday. The Bengals claim that “Thurman has not fulfilled his expectations since being reinstated April 21, ” adding that “indications are that the Bengals weren’t pleased with his attendance in the offseason workout program that also includes the installation of a new defense with a new linebackers coach.”

A representative for Thurman questioned the timing of the release, noting that he had been back in Monticello, Ga. with his family after his grandmother’s recent passing.

Thurman had a “brief and tantalizing career” in Cincinnati as the Bengals’ site put it, but we wonder if any other team will take a chance on a promising player with a troubled history. Dallas, anyone?