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Post On to Plan B

Tuesday March 31, 2009

ESPN reports that Mike Anderson will remain at Missouri, signing a new 7-year deal.

It’s hard to compare offers head-to-head with all of the different incentives that are separate from the base and guaranteed money, but it looks as if Anderson chose to remain at Missouri despite an offer speculated to be several hundreds of thousands of dollars higher from Georgia.

It’s certainly a bad blow, and the public rejection is egg on the face. No way to spin that. There are other quality coaches though, and the numbers reportedly involved in the Anderson offer have to be attractive to some of them.

Make no mistake, this isn’t a failure of effort. Georgia put their best foot forward and outbid Missouri. Offering over $2 million for a hoops coach is a serious indication of commitment to the basketball program and would make Georgia one of the higher-paying programs in the nation. That’s a good first step, but now it’s time to close.

As to who might be next on the list, there’s all sorts of speculation, but little of it can be believed. If the search firm and athletic department were this quiet up to now, they’re not suddenly going to publish a list of the next three guys to be contacted. A lot of the names you might hear will surface simply because opportunistic agents are trying to get their guys talked about.

And don’t forget Wednesday’s date…

Post Football ticket order deadline today

Tuesday March 31, 2009

Just a reminder…if you haven’t ordered or renewed your football season tickets yet, today’s the final day. It’s also the last day to order road game and extra home game tickets. All Hartman Fund donors have the ability to order Tennessee Tech, Vandy, Arkansas, and Oklahoma State tickets.

You can order/renew online at Georgiadogs.com.

Post Finally something concrete: Georgia offers Anderson

Tuesday March 31, 2009

You can tell the search firm hired to consult on the Georgia men’s basketball coaching hire was doing its job when the headline on the AJC this morning read, “UGA coaching search remains a mystery”. Chasing planes, sketchy rumors of meetings in Atlanta that never happened…it was a frustrating Monday trying to nail down hard information on what was going on with the search. Meanwhile, Alabama has a coach, Virginia announced their new coach on Monday, and Kentucky made a move for John Calipari of Memphis seemingly overnight. Was Georgia, after all this time, going to be left out?

Now Mark Schlabach of ESPN.com reports that Georgia has indeed offered Missouri’s Mike Anderson a deal somewhere in the $2 million / year range. Missouri’s counteroffer was expected to be only around $1.3 million per season. According to Schlabach, “Anderson spoke to Georgia athletics director Damon Evans on Monday…and is back home pondering his future.”

Now the questions begin:

Will Anderson wait to see if Memphis offers?
Will Memphis, a Conference USA program riding high in an NBA market on the flashy style of Calipari, look instead to someone with NBA ties or with at least as large of a personality as Calipari?
Will Missouri be able to dig deep enough to match Georgia’s offer?

There’s still plenty of uncertainty, but at least we know now that Georgia has identified and put their best offer out to their top target. Now, we wait…

UPDATE: Of course even this story has to be challenged. According to the AJC and Anderson’s agent, there is no offer yet though Georgia is interested. You can parse the words if you like – is this an agent playing games? Have Anderson and his agent been given the terms of an offer but nothing formal on paper yet? Clearly there is some understanding of what the offer would look like. “Georgia appears to want to make a commitment to basketball and Damon probably has the most to offer,” admits Jimmy Sexton, Anderson’s agent.

On it goes…

Post Biggest weekend in Athens since Thanksgiving

Monday March 30, 2009

With apologies to the Gym Dogs, it’s been several months since there’s been a sporting event in Athens with as much buzz as this upcoming weekend’s baseball series with LSU. Georgia remains at or near the top of the polls depending on whom you ask, and LSU is actually ranked ahead of Georgia by Baseball America.

Georgia has now swept consecutive SEC series and, most recently, took three games on the road up in Knoxville. Rich Poythress, though hitless on Sunday, finished the series 6-for-10 with four homers and 10 RBI.

LSU is currently in third place in the SEC right behind Georgia with a 6-3 conference mark. They’ve taken two out of three in all of their conference series to date.

Even before Georgia gets to LSU, they have a midweek home-and-home series with Clemson. The Tigers aren’t ranked, but they’re a respectable 18-7 and will be a quality midweek test.

If you want to get out to Foley Field and take in the games this weekend, act fast. The Saturday game is already sold out, and the other days aren’t far behind. Georgia set an attendance record earlier this year against Mississippi State, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see the mark broken again this weekend. The scene outside the stadium should be as good as it gets during the regular season with Kudzu Hill, the Left Field Lounge, and the visiting LSU fans mixing in.

  • Tuesday: Clemson – 7:00
  • Wednesday: @ Clemson – 7:00 (CSS)
  • Friday: LSU – 7:00
  • Saturday: LSU – 3:00 (CSS)
  • Sunday: LSU – 12:00

Post On the radar

Monday March 30, 2009

Quarterback prospect Nick Montana (yes, Joe’s his father) paid a visit to Alabama and Georgia last week, and the AJC’s Michael Carvell had a chance to discuss the visits with Nick. When asked what he found appealing about Georgia, Montana said,

If Georgia is turning out first-round draft picks like (Stafford) at quarterback, then I think anyone would take a close look at Georgia. They just put a lot of guys in the league. I also like that Georgia wins. They were ranked No. 1 at one point last year.

Lots to like about that quote. First, no knock on David Greene or D.J. Shockley, but quarterback has been the one position at which Georgia has historically struggled to develop high draft picks. Even a legend like Fran Tarkenton was only a third-round pick. Stafford is a surprisingly polarizing figure among Georgia fans, but he’ll also be the highest draft pick among Georgia quaterbacks since Johnny Rauch was selected with the second pick in 1949. One has to think that the stature of Stafford helped with Aaron Murray last year, and it even appeals across the country to someone like Montana. Good to see that changing.

The second bit is a nice wake-up call to some Georgia fans. Despite all of our kvetching and quibbling about what’s wrong with the Georgia program, the perception of the program hasn’t suffered as much as we might think. He also noticed Georgia’s preseason ranking last season. It seems like common sense that elite prospects would want to go to high-profile programs that win and are ranked high, but you’ll have to convince those who prefer that Georgia embrace the low-profile underdog role.

Will Georgia even become a finalist for Montana? Who knows at this point. His offer sheet is long and truly national, and he’s just starting the process. Right now it’s enough that Georgia has enough national standing to merit a visit and serious consideration from such a prospect.

It’s hard to mention Montana without Rice, and there’s a related story here. While Joe’s son begins the recruiting process with multiple offers from top programs, the son of the other half of the legendary Montana-to-Rice combination is walking on at UCLA this fall (h/t The Wiz).

Post Dominos begin falling

Friday March 27, 2009

That didn’t take long. Once Billy Donovan made clear that he was remaining at Florida, Anthony Grant went ahead and accepted Alabama’s offer.

It was a near-certainty that Grant would have been a top candidate at Florida had Donovan left. With his preferred job in Gainesville off the table for the time being, Grant went ahead and took the one offer he had.

Tonight’s activity at least takes the Alabama job and Grant’s availability out of play. If he was a “Plan B” candidate for Georgia, he’s not anymore. It’s pretty clear that Grant wasn’t Georgia’s first choice since they did little – on the surface anyway – to counter Alabama’s offer. Whether that will come back to haunt the Dawgs or if they are able to end up with a better fit remains to be seen.

UPDATE: Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com reports that “Alabama offered Grant a deal that was worth about $2 million per season.” If that’s the case, they overpaid. Look at pwd’s survey of salaries around the nation. $2 million gets you a coach with major program and deep NCAA Tournament experience, not a raw mid-major coach who hangs his hat on one NCAA Tournament upset win.

Will a $2 million deal for Grant now cause a readjustment among SEC and the top tier of national coaches? Or will this headscratcher of a deal remain an outlier? It’s easy to understand now why Georgia did little to come after Grant. It’s true that the Dawgs are willing to pay that kind of money for the right coach, but a coach with the risk of Grant doesn’t merit that kind of deal (yet). It’s not like Bama is known for its frugal spending when it comes to coaches, but Grant is no Saban.

Post Big blue wrench in the gears

Friday March 27, 2009

The addition of Kentucky to the list of schools looking for a basketball coach has been a possibility hanging over the process for a while now, and now it’s a reality. Billy Gillispie is out at Kentucky, and another opening serves to muddy the waters for those of us waiting to see which coach will end up at Georgia.

Whether or not Kentucky goes after Travis Ford at Oklahoma State or someone else, it’s still likely going to affect Georgia’s search. Even if Kentucky doesn’t hire someone from Georgia’s list, the domino reaction set off by the Kentucky hire could reduce or change the pool of available and interested candidates. It’s also likely to slow up the process since some candidates and agents will wait until after Kentucky moves before pursuing offers elsewhere.

Want another bit of uncertainty from a major program? People are beginning to ask about Jim Calhoun’s future after this season.

Post Kicking it through the end zone

Friday March 27, 2009

Yesterday in getting to know new scholarship kicker Brandon Bogotay, I posted that he tallied 20 touchbacks on 52 kickoffs. That’s a 38% clip. For a guy who’s supposed to be able to kick it through the end zone, that 38% rate might seem a little low. Someone on the DawgVent asked why we were using a scholarship for a kickoff specialist who only gets touchbacks around 40% of the time.

At the time I didn’t know whether 38% was low, high, or average. We know it was a sight better than we had last season. How would it compare to the competition around the southeast?

  • South Carolina (Succop): 25 touchbacks on 61 kickoffs…41%
  • Ole Miss (Sparks): 10 touchbacks on 72 kickoffs…14%
  • Florida (Sturgis): 12 touchbacks on 90 kickoffs…13%
  • Auburn (Byrum/Hull): 4 touchbacks on 48 kickoffs…8%
  • Georgia Tech (Blair): 5 touchbacks on 62 kickoffs…8%
  • Clemson (Buchholz): 5 touchbacks on 64 kickoffs…8%
  • Tennessee (Cunningham): 3 touchbacks on 40 kickoffs…7.5%
  • LSU (Jasper): 4 touchbacks on 76 kickoffs…5%
  • Georgia (Walsh): 4 touchbacks on 75 kickoffs…5%
  • Alabama (Tiffin): 2 touchbacks on 75 kickoffs…3%


  • Tennessee and Auburn had really, really bad offenses last year…sheesh. It can’t be said enough.
  • All-SEC placekickers (Colt David and Joshua Shene) didn’t handle kickoff duties.
  • A kicker who can get touchbacks more than 15% of the time seems to be pretty rare in these parts. I’ll leave it as an exercise to someone else to find out if 2008 was a down year for touchbacks.
  • If Bogotay can maintain his touchback rate at Georgia, he’ll be one of the best in the nation. If he is only half as effective at Georgia, he’d still likely be the best in the region.

Of course you have to have all sorts of caveats when comparing JUCO stats to those of SEC and ACC kickers. It’s not as poor of a comparison as high school stats and video though. You’re kicking from the same spot regardless of the college. We also don’t know what happened on the kickoffs that weren’t touchbacks. Were they shanks? Out of bounds? Line drives that were returned to the 40? Or were they also kicked deep but returned anyway?

Since touchbacks and kicking it through the end zone are actually not as common as we might have thought, we can’t forget that most of the time – even with the best of kickoff specialists – the coverage unit is still going to be just as important as the guy kicking off. I’m fine with not getting a touchback, but if we can at least get the ball close to or slightly inside the goal line, hopefully we’ll see far fewer returns like this next season.

Post Kickers get competition

Thursday March 26, 2009

Mark Richt joked at the end of the season that he’d go to “Poland or something to find a guy who can kick it out of the end zone.” San Diego is a little closer to home, but Richt wasn’t kidding when he said he’d bring in help for the kickoff difficulties.

Junior college kicker Brandon Bogotay has signed a letter of intent with the University of Georgia football team according to an announcement Thursday by Bulldog head coach Mark Richt.

While Richt says that he looks forward to Bogotay “competing on our kickoff, field goal, and extra point teams,” it’s likely to be on kickoffs where Bogotay gets his biggest opportunity. “I’m very comfortable with Blair (Walsh) as our extra-point and field-goal kicker,” Richt said after the Georgia Tech game. “It’s just that kickoffs have not really landed where they ought to land on a consistent basis.” I wouldn’t cast off Walsh into the Andy Bailey category just yet.

According to Marc Weiszer, Richt adds that Bogotay “has the capability of kicking the ball deep and that’s what we’re hoping to make sure we shore up.” Bogotay was 15-of-23 on field goals last year, and that’s exactly the same as Walsh managed in his first season. As another coincidence, both Walsh and Bogotay had a 52-yard kick as their longest field goal in 2008.

So if Bogotay is supposed to be the answer for kickoffs, you’re probably wondering how well he does it. He kicked off 52 times last season and had a total of 20 touchbacks. By comparison, Walsh kicked off 75 times last season and had just 4 touchbacks. Marc Weiszer also links to this video of Bogotay in action. (The kickoffs begin around 1:50 in.) Definitely impressive, but of course highlight videos never show the bad plays (if any). He obviously has the power to kick it through the end zone, and it’s important to note that, because it was junior college football, this footage shows him kicking off from the 30 yard line. Most footage of high school kickers has them kicking off from the 40 so you never know just how well it’s going to carry over into college.

A lot of people disagree with carrying three kickers on scholarship, but we also saw how frustrating and damaging it can be to shorten the field as the result of poor kickoffs. If this can fix the kickoff problem, it’s a scholarship well spent. And, again, Walsh still has plenty of potential as a placekicker.

Bogotay was also offered a scholarship by Hawaii. He’ll have three years of eligibility remaining.

Post “Otherwise, how do I know that they’re not looking at the best-looking girl in the stands?”

Wednesday March 25, 2009

Game operations is something that seems invisible and seamless to fans when it works, but teams spend a lot of time trying to make sure it happens that way.

In football, it usually has to do with getting the right personnel groups on and off the field. How often do we see a team have to waste a timeout because someone isn’t on the field for an extra point? Teams have to devote time to working out who should be ready to go when, how information gets communicated from the booth down to the players on the sideline and back, and they’ve even had to come up with the “get back coach” to keep the whole business from spilling over onto the field.

If you’re interested in that kind of thing, the NY Times looks at the amount of time and thought that goes into planning a simple basketball timeout. Do we sit on the bench or huddle out on the court? Which way do we face? Who handles the clipboard? Who keeps track of time? “U.C.L.A. has heard that Kansas players sit in specific order.” It’s as orchestrated now as a pit stop during a NASCAR race. (h/t Double-A Zone)

Post Less interesting?

Wednesday March 25, 2009

So about the complaints that the NCAA Tournament is somehow more bland without any huge upsets and a Sweet 16 loaded with top seeds? Ratings were up during the opening weekend.

Through Sunday, the 2009 NCAA Tournament is averaging a 5.4/12 overnight rating on CBS, up 6% from a 5.1/12 through the same point in ’08. Coverage on Sunday averaged a 6.4 overnight rating, up 10% from a 5.8 last year, and Saturday’s games averaged a 6.3 overnight, up 5%.

It’ll be interesting to see now if those ratings continue into this weekend where there are quality matchups across the board.

Post So will you have mommy issues on the out pattern or not?

Wednesday March 25, 2009

The San Francisco 49ers – you know the team with the pants-dropping coachwants you to look at this watch and relaaaaaaax….relaaaaaaaax…

In the latest issue (of SI), Georgia quarterback Matthew Stafford said his meeting with the 49ers included a psychologist who persisted about the impact of the divorce of Stafford’s parents when Stafford was in high school. According to Stafford, the psychologist told him as if it sounded like he had “unfinished business” concerning the divorce. Stafford said no, and then said he felt if he should be wondering how much he was being charged by hour for the psychoanalysis. Stafford compared it to the interviews with teams who asked him to script plays.

Hey, when you’re spending tens of millions of dollars, you get to kick the tires a bit, but you can’t blame Stafford for getting a little annoyed when Dr. Freud kept digging at the subject. Stafford’s reaction was great…Will Hunting would have been proud of this interview.

Post Such is college baseball

Wednesday March 25, 2009

The #1 team in the nation lost 8-5 on Tuesday night to…Wright State. These midweek games are good to have in your pocket come NCAA Tournament time, but it’s not the end of the world. A 7-run fourth by the visitors was enough to hand the Diamond Dawgs their first home loss.

Georgia might’ve been looking ahead to Wednesday’s first meeting of the year with Georgia Tech in Atlanta. With football and both basketball teams falling to Tech this year, it’s up to the baseball team to get Georgia back on the winning side of the ledger against their rivals. The forecast for Wednesday doesn’t look very promising though.

Post Grant’s Swoon

Monday March 23, 2009

While many potential coaching candidates coach on into the Sweet 16, the season has now ended for others. Predictably, rumors are starting to circulate, and we’re starting to hear rumblings about offers not only at Georgia but also at other schools with vacancies like Alabama. Specifically, a rumor was published overnight in which VCU’s Anthony Grant was allegedly offered the Georgia job.

This is the kind of stuff Paul is talking about when he warns of “multiple false starts.”

As denials go, UGA SID Claude Felton’s statement about Grant is about as strong as it gets. Ouch. Felton’s facts seem to line up…I saw Adams, Evans, and several other AD staff at the Gwinnett Arena on Saturday, and the UGA plane did leave the Gwinnett airport shortly after 3:00 p.m. headed to Nashville for the evening. Fine.

But naturally Felton’s words are nuanced, and even a clear statement like, “I can say with complete authority that neither Damon Evans nor Dr. Adams has ever had a conversation with Anthony Grant as of today, Monday, March 23” leaves the door open.

Has UGA (Adams/Evans) made contact? No.

Has Georgia’s agent (search firm) made contact with either Grant or his agent? I would expect that to be the case for all of the coaches on Georgia’s list. That’s what they do.

Has Georgia made a formal offer? Almost certainly not.

Has Georgia’s agent, through channels, tried to see what kind of a deal it would take? I could buy that.

As for what happens next, it could go several directions. One is that another school forces Georgia’s hand. It could be a peer like Bama, or maybe even VCU is working hard right now to see if they can get Grant to sign an extension. Another possibility is that the search firm has determined that Grant really is the best available and interested option right now, and they’ve begun discussions through channels while not yet to the point of an official interview or offer.

Georgia’s challenge now, if Grant really is a top candidate, is to keep Grant in play while several other likely candidates are still coaching and not available for official contact. They run the risk of being left with a smaller pool of candidates if some other schools move first, but they also run the risk of missing out on someone higher up the list if we jump at the first guy who shows interest.

Post Lesson: pick the favorites

Monday March 23, 2009

It was a football-related observation, but it holds true that the underdogs are usually underdogs for a good reason. The opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament is about the upsets and thrilling finishes for a lot of people, but in the end only Arizona (12 seed) and Purdue (5 seed) are the only Sweet 16 participants who weren’t seeded to advance this far. And it’s not as if Arizona or Purdue are exactly strangers to postseason basketball.

Dan Shanoff thinks this is “terrible for the NCAA Tournament,” but he’s wrong. It’s true that a lot of people watch the opening weekend for the unpredictability of it, but after that first weekend those teams that pull the upsets usually make for some pretty bad basketball.

We got the best of both world this year. There were plenty of close games and exciting finishes. But now we’re left with many strong teams and quality matchups. You’d rather see Memphis play Marquette instead of Missouri? Or UNC play Western Kentucky instead of Gonzaga? Fine…do it in November.

The tournament is about many things, but in the end it’s a mechanism for producing a national champion. To that end, I’d much rather see Villanova-Duke and Kansas-Michigan State at this stage instead of Dayton-USC. Novelty time is over, and the teams that don’t belong in the national title discussion have had their One Shining Moment and can claim to have been part of the process. The lack of a George Mason doesn’t mean that we lack reasons to tune in.