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Post 2009 media coverage coming into focus

Friday July 31, 2009

Lots to talk about on the media front lately…

Dowdle takes over postgame

First, Chuck Dowdle, retiring from WSB-TV in Atlanta, will be handling the postgame locker room interviews. The locker room was previously the domain of Loran Smith, but Loran’s not going anywhere; he’ll still be on the sideline and present the pregame show. Personally I miss most of the locker room show walking back to tailgate, but it might be interesting to see if those who listen notice a different style to the softball (and quirky) questions coaches and players usually get after a game.

SEC Network

It’s a bit of old news, but the affiliate list for the regional ESPN-produced SEC “network” continues to grow. The partnership was officially unveiled at SEC Media Days last week, but we’ve been following many of the details for a while now. One update is that the early games will kickoff at 12:21 p.m. ET with coverage starting at noon.

As expected, there will be a Macon affiliate added to bring the total of Georgia markets served to six:

  • Albany: WALB
  • Atlanta: WPCH (Peachtree TV)
  • Augusta: WRDW; My 12
  • Columbus: WXTX; WTVM, WLGA
  • Macon: WGXA
  • Savannah: WTGS

You can see the current nationwide list of affiliates for the “SEC Network” here. The impressive breadth of the network will reach as far as Phoenix, Chicago, and New York – at least for football games. Since this “network” is a confederacy of independent stations, the advice to “check local listings” will still have to apply, especially when it comes to programming beyond football. I would hope that those stations that aren’t specifically listed as football-only would have to carry the entire package, but you never know.

SEC Digital Network

Down the road the conference will be adding an SEC Digital Network which looks to be a Hulu.com for the SEC fan – video archives, highlights, replays, press conferences, and news. It’s just vapor for now but could easily be a winner if it lives up to its billing. Will I eventually be able do things like watch the 1976 Georgia-Alabama game?

Comcast adds ESPNU

We knew it was coming, but I turned on my TV last night to finally find ESPNU added to the Comcast lineup (ch. 298 in Gwinnett). No HD yet, but hopefully that will be added by the season. It’s already happening in other areas of the country. Even the JP games were in HD, and no one wants to take that step backwards. Within the next week, Comcast subscribers should also gain access to the ESPN360 web site and the online content there.

Post Getting to know the Oklahoma State offense

Friday July 31, 2009

With a trio of weapons like Zac Robinson, Dez Bryant, and Kendall Hunter (not to mention probable All-American tackle Russell Okung clearing the way), you’re going to be hearing an awful lot about the Oklahoma State offense leading up to the season opener. Dismiss the buildup in “HAHA 35-14 2007 WE’VE HEARD THAT BEFORE” style if you like, but at the very least the experienced playmakers on the OSU offense are going to leave the much less experienced Georgia offense with very little room for error.

Put it this way: the Cowboy offense averaged 29 points in their losses last year and never scored fewer than 20 points. If the Georgia defense can’t hold them well below that average, the pressure will be on Joe Cox and the Georgia offense to be both efficient and productive out of the gate in Cox’s first start since 2006.

The Georgia Sports Blog started it off with a look at the matchups in the trenches when OSU has the ball. It’s a formidable line, especially at tackle, but he noted that Georgia should have the advantage in the interior. Chris Brown added to the discussion yesterday with a look at the Cowboy scheme and what plays are most effective. He observes that, despite the spread and the notoriety of a high-profile QB and WR, they are still very much a run-first team and led the Big 12 in rushing with over 3,000 yards in 2007 (and 2008).

Does pwd’s confidence in Georgia’s ability to stop the run hold up against a productive running game? If you put any stock in the 2007 game it does. Georgia held OSU to 70 rushing yards (99 yards total by the running backs). That’s not a shutdown on the Ron Dayne or Javon Ringer level, but it was a quality result against a team that would prove to be productive on the ground.

As pwd points out, that same job is easier said than done this time against a pair of senior offensive tackles, one of whom is a sure first-round NFL pick next year. The positive news is that a healthy Rod Battle has done it before against Oklahoma State. He and Marcus Howard were relentless in 2007 and helped lead the Georgia defense to record five sacks. Battle is back and healthy, but Howard of course is long gone, and Justin Houston won’t be available.

All of this leads me to think that the biggest challenge facing the Georgia defensive ends might be as much containment as it is pure pass rush. Even if Owens and Atkins are effective up the middle, Oklahoma State will test Georgia’s ends, linebackers, and secondary with the speed option and zone read. We’ll find out quickly whether Georgia’s tackling woes could be cured during the offseason.

Containment is just as important against the pass – with a mobile quarterback like Robinson, it’s going to be tough to affect him just from a push by the tackles. There are few things more demoralizing for a defense than watching a quarterback scramble out of a sure sack only to run for a first down or buy extra time to find his receiver.

Brown notes that “The Cowboys’ best pass play last year was often ‘Just throw it up to Dez'” and stresses the need for OSU to find a bit more diversity in the passing game. We saw this in action two years ago. Georgia did a fair job keeping Adarius Bowman from breaking out in 2007 (4 catches, 65 yards, 1 TD). OSU’s leading receiver that day was actually TE Brandon Pettigrew (7 catches, 85 yards). No other player caught more than one pass. This year, though, Pettigrew is gone, and expected TE replacement Jamal Mosely was arrested during the summer and might be suspended. For the Cowboys to find much diversity in the passing game, they’re going to have to turn to some receivers who put up fewer than 20 catches last season.

Post More ticket cutoffs announced

Thursday July 30, 2009

Information about new season tickets and a few specific games was released earlier this month, and now we get a little more information. Three games still don’t have cutoff levels determined, but here’s what UGA had to say about the rest of the games:


Renewable Season: Contributors who ordered and have a cumulative score of 4,205 or higher will receive adjacent renewable season tickets.


South Carolina: No single game tickets are available because South Carolina receives the maximum allotment for visiting team.
Arizona State: All contributors who ordered with a cumulative score of 18,050 and higher will receive tickets.
LSU: All contributors who ordered with a cumulative score of 32,500 and higher will receive tickets.
Tennessee Tech: All contributors who ordered will receive tickets.
Auburn: No single game tickets are available because Auburn receives the maximum allotment for visiting team.
Kentucky: All contributors who ordered with a cumulative score of 10,000 and higher will receive tickets.


Oklahoma State: All contributors who ordered with a cumulative score of 4,000 and higher will receive tickets.
Arkansas: All contributors who ordered will receive tickets.
Tennessee: All contributors who ordered with a cumulative score of 21,950 and higher will receive tickets.

Cutoffs for Vandy, Tech, and Florida tickets are still to be announced once UGA gets their allotment from those schools and allocates them. More information (and faculty/staff cutoffs) here.

Post Don’t put away the pitchforks and torches just yet

Friday July 24, 2009

Yes, Steve Spurrier (or, more accurately, the South Carolina ballot) was the one who made the unforgivable omission and didn’t include Tim Tebow as their first-team quarterback. It’s really pretty sad to watch this play out with a mealy-mouthed apology and actually attempting to correct the “mistake”.

Pat Forde has a good point…when we talk about credibility and the coaches’ poll, we’re usually talking about the secret ballot stuff and transparency. But even if the ballots are public, does it matter that they’re really being filled out by an SID or the director of operations or anyone but the head coach whose name is on the ballot?

Anyway, hopefully Tebow will issue absolution and we can move on with our lives. But before we do…Tebow (or anyone else) wasn’t a unanimous choice by the media either. Just as bad, one media ballot named Ole Miss their choice for SEC champion instead of Florida. We look forward to the investigation.

And by the way…why was Julio Jones a unanimous pick by the coaches and not A.J. Green? Huh? HUH?

Post And then what?

Thursday July 23, 2009

I’m kind of looking forward to Friday afternoon after every SEC coach has denied voting Tim Tebow anything but Supreme Lord and Master. Anyone want to lay odds on a reporter calling for the ballots to be published?

As Chris Low points out, the coaches might be the wrong people to be asking.

Post You’d think this was all planned or something

Wednesday July 22, 2009

Talking about whether Georgia really did still have open slots in its 2010 recruiting class, we speculated yesterday that “at this stage that Georgia knows exactly whom they’d like to take those remaining scholarships, and those few know who they are.” Sure enough, not 24 hours have passed and two more commitments have come out of the woodwork. They’re both significant.

The first was Florida athlete Nickell Robey. Robey was one of Georgia’s top cornerback targets, and he got his family’s blessing to commit after visiting last weekend for Dawg Night. He’s the cousin of Bulldog tailback Carlton Thomas and, like Thomas, could be considered on the small side for his position. At 5’8″ and 165 lbs., he’ll draw comparisons to Tim Jennings, but Robey’s offer sheet was much longer than Jennings’. Everyone from Virginia Tech to Florida had offered Robey before he settled on the Bulldogs.

Robey’s commitment was followed this morning by word from SW DeKalb defensive end T.J. Stripling. Stripling, rated the nations #28 player by Rivals.com, stands 6’6″ and had offers from almost all of the area’s top programs. Some had expected a commitment from Stripling a few weeks ago when SWD teammate Kendrun Malcome committed to Georgia, but Stripling chose to wait. In the meantime, Georgia received a commitment from defensive end Dexter Morant, and many assumed that the Bulldogs were finished at the position with four DE commitments. The Dawgs had room though for one of the nation’s top players, and it’s possible that one or two of the five DE commitments could end up at either defensive tackle or even linebacker.

The Dawgs now have 18 commitments, and all but five are on the defensive side of the ball, and there might be more defenders yet to come. If nothing else, the Dawgs should have one hell of an intramural basketball team with defensive end commitments going 6’5″, 6’6″, and 6’7″.

Post Sorry, Bronco, preseason polls aren’t going anywhere

Wednesday July 22, 2009

If it’s time for the annual preseason polls, it must be time for the annual griping about preseason polls. This year BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall adds a “philosophical” objection.

“I don’t think it’s possible to pick, nor do I think philosophically there ought to be a preseason poll, period,” BYU head coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “There shouldn’t be a preseason conference poll nor a preseason national poll. Maybe after game six, then possibly there would be enough information to make a determination. The rest of it is just speculation, things to talk about that don’t matter much until we know something.

Given the way we decide our champion, it should be no surprise that college football fans obsess over polls. The body of the previous season is barely cold before the media start lining the teams up for the next season. Why? Well, yes, lists and rankings are easy pieces to bang out, but fans eat it up. We line up to buy our Steele, Athlon, and Lindy. We know they’re guesses, but who cares? Even if you delay official polls, nothing at all is going to derail the fans’ appetite for polls or the industry that feeds it. There will just be two fewer polls in a sea of dozens.

Mendenhall and others so set against preseason polls should try this exercise: halfway through the season, sit down and jot down your rankings. (No peeking!) See how much they differ from the rest of the polls which have had six weeks to adjust. My guess is that the two sets of rankings will be almost indistinguishable.

The AP poll after week 6 of the 2008 season had a top 5 of Oklahoma, Alabama, Missouri, LSU, and Texas. Eventual national champion Florida wasn’t even in the top 10. What is it about delaying the poll a few weeks that’s supposed to give us a better read on the season versus the preseason polls? At least the preseason AP poll had both national championship participants in its top 5.

Post The downside of filling up early

Tuesday July 21, 2009

A list of Georgia football offers for the class of 2010 might challenge the team limit of 85 scholarships much less the limit of 25 for a single class. Many of those offered will simply choose to go elsewhere. But as a class with limited room fills up, some find their spots taken and their offers no longer valid.

Take the case of Texas cornerback Kacy Rodgers. A week or so ago he was down to Florida and Georgia. Suddenly this week he commits to Miami without even visiting. Sudden change of heart? More likely Georgia and Florida both sent signals that Rodgers no longer had a spot waiting for him. It’s part of life in college sports, happens with every program every year, and we usually don’t hear about it because the communication is smooth.

Things can go very wrong when the communication breaks down. That seems to have been the case with QB/WR Devin Burns from Carver High School in Columbus. Burns received an offer from Georgia during the spring, but of course the recruiting outlook has changed much since then. Burns came to Athens along with several other top prospects over the weekend, and he intended to commit. The Georgia coaching staff flubbed communicating the fact that Burns’ spot had been taken, and the Georgia coaches were left in the embarrassing position of scrambling to rescind the offer before Burns had a chance to commit.

The fallout has been severe: the Bulldogs are “banned” from recruiting Carver according to Carver coach and Auburn alum Dell McGee. McGee has been in contact with the Georgia coaches who admitted their screw-up, but his ban remains in place for the time being. The ban won’t hurt Georgia much this year, but Carver usually has several D-1 quality prospects, and that will be the case again next year.

Complicating things is the NCAA rule that June 1st – July 31st is a quiet period for recruiting. That means that only on-campus contact is permitted with prospects. That’s why on-campus camps are so important – it gives the coaching staff a chance to evaluate and have contact with prospects that would otherwise be against the rules. For that reason, contact with prospects during this time either has to happen on-campus or indirectly through high school coaches. On the other hand, the prospect may call almost any time he likes. Burns confirmed his offer in late spring, but McGee admits that Georgia “didn’t know about (Burns’) intent to commit.” Communication during this quiet period hasn’t been clear in either direction.

Mark Richt is doing what he has to in this case and admitting complete fault in the face of an emotional reaction by the Carver coach. We’ve talked about “bans” before when it was Spurrier getting the boot, and ultimately it’s the relationship with the school that matters. The outcome here will likely be that Georgia gets a bit of egg on their face, Richt and staff cowtow, and the ban is lifted after a while. Just as it makes little sense for Georgia to alienate an in-state high school, it also doesn’t make much sense for the high school to shut out a top 10 program for very long.

McGee for his part did a bit of overreaching in his assessment of Georgia’s recruiting. He assumes that “Georgia still has scholarships left. It isn’t like they ran out of scholarships. That wasn’t the case.” While we’ve all done the math and figured out that Georgia still has a few slots left without public commitments in the 2010 class, it’s also reasonable at this stage that Georgia knows exactly whom they’d like to take those remaining scholarships, and those few know who they are. Georgia wouldn’t rescind a scholarship if it didn’t have a firm grasp on the numbers and how the last few commitments will go. “They ran out of scholarships” is exactly what’s going on, and at least Georgia is dealing with the cleanup now instead of oversigning and cutting the kid down the road.

Post SEC storylines in 140 characters

Monday July 20, 2009

SEC Media Days get underway this week, and the coaches will take time from counting TV money long enough to meet the press before we get into the serious business of preseason camp. The headlines across the conference are familiar enough to anyone who’s been around during the offseason, but hopefully there will be a few new good ones to come out of the week.

To get ready (and maybe save you some time later in the week), here are the obvious story lines for each program in convenient Twitter-sized bites:

Alabama: Avoiding a drop-off. Schedule sets up. Defense is stout – 1992 stout? Julio is a star – can McElroy deliver, and is losing Andre Smith that big?

Arkansas: Holy schedule. Is Mallett really the next big deal? Michael Smith healthy = a must. Offense seems primed; can they stop anyone?

Auburn: Bigger impact: Chizik or Malzahn? What can be made out of Kodi Burns and the offense? Seven defensive starters back, but only one Auburn a preseason all-SEC?

Georgia: Replace Stafford and Moreno? Is Cox up to the job? Leadership, injuries, offensive line, defensive ends. AJ Green and who else?

Florida: ZOMG TEBOW – unanimous? Forget the spread option – the entire defense is back. If they can stay hungry and protect TT, what can stop them?

Kentucky: Hartline meh. Trevard Lindley, Micah Johnson yay. Veteran OL. How to make the most of Randall Cobb? Success = another minor bowl.

LSU: Hey, remember us? QB play could make or break the season. Can Chavis bring back the defense? Reloading on the DL. B-R showdown with Florida.

Mississippi: Huge expectations. Snead is the real deal, but can anyone protect him like Oher? DL looks decent, but after that…

Mississippi State: How quickly can Mullen change culture? Not much expected right away, but maybe they can score occasionally now. Uh, oh: Anthony Dixon FAIL?

South Carolina: Putting all hope in Garcia. Spurrier in twilight, or does he still have it? Norwood’s 34th season. Replacing McKinley and the Cooks.

Tennessee: Kiffin & Co. How far can they ride Berry? If only Berry could QB and throw to himself. Welcome absence of subpoenas.

Vanderbilt: How do they follow up a bowl win? QB position unsettled – shocker. 9 starters back on a good defense, but D.J. Moore tough to replace.

Post What do the preseason All-SEC lists say about Georgia?

Friday July 17, 2009

The coaches’ preseason all-conference teams are out, and Hale has the complete list. The nine Georgia representatives are pretty much who you’d expect, though some fans probably might be surprised to see Prince Miller and Rashad Jones get mention. (You shouldn’t be.) Florida’s 16 representatives were far and away the most, and LSU, Alabama, and Georgia were all pretty close at the top of the list. Though Georgia had nine players receive preseason honors, only two (Green and Curran) were first-teamers. But that’s not a surprise, is it?

On the whole, the lists more or less validate what we’ve known about the team. On defense, the representatives are the defensive tackles, Curran, and the returning defensive backs. Georgia’s questions at defensive end, two new starters in the secondary, and hit-or-miss play at the other linebacker spots are familiar offseason story lines. Green’s first-team selection was expected, and the three other representatives on offense are all offensive line starters. It’s that offensive line that drew my attention.

Georgia has two second-teamers and a third-teamer on the preseason lists. Not bad – only Florida is better represented (with two first-teamers and a second-teamer, not to mention a TE). Before you note that Sturdivant might be underrated because of his injury, he didn’t make the preseason lists at all last year *before* his injury. He had a great freshman season, and his ability to perform with any competency at all made the 2007 season possible. But he was still a freshman.

For the first time in several years, we’re able to talk with confidence about both depth and quality experience on the line. That’s an improvement and worth something. It should be a very solid unit (health permitting of course), and we know they will be well-coached. If Georgia had decent lines given the circumstances of the past two seasons, how good can they be with a bit more experience, health, and depth?

That said, does the absence of first-team candidates (and this is all-SEC, let alone all-American) lead anyone to think that we might be building this line up a little too much as the strength of the offense? I don’t mean that they’ll fall apart – we’ve seen too much from the projected starters to know better. I mean that a lot of us are depending on this line not only to protect and maximize the production of Cox but also to clear the way for a muddled group of tailbacks. Are they to that point yet, and is it possible for the line to do everything we need of it without at least one dominant all-SEC first-teamer? It doesn’t take a Ciron Black to have a good line, but do you need those kinds of stars to make the line the “brick wall” that will allow the rest of the offense to come along?

Of the projected starters, I think Boling is the most likely to make a postseason first-team list. As a junior he’s one of the most experienced of the group, he’s remained healthy, and (again depending on the rest of the line holding up) he’s starting off at a position where he’s done very well. Others like Glenn and Jones are definitely coming along, but as sophomores it’s probably too soon for them to vault to the top of the conference. As for Sturdivant and Vance, we’re all holding our breath waiting to see how they come back from major injuries.

Post Landers gets contract extension

Friday July 17, 2009

It’s not as if his status were up in the air, but Andy Landers received a three-year extension taking his contract through 2014.

Post Cutoff for new season tickets announced

Wednesday July 15, 2009

It’s going to take a cumulative Hartman Fund score of at least 4,205 to become a new Georgia season ticket holder this year.

This year’s cutoff of 4,205 is less than half of last year’s 10,651, but it’s still the second-highest cutoff ever. Even as recently as 2007, it only took a cumulative point total of 1,991 to get new season tickets. Even with a decline in Hartman Fund contributions of roughly 11%, season ticket turnover wasn’t expected to be much more than the normal 2 or 3%, and demand is still relatively high.

Much more and preliminary info on single game tickets at the Georgia Sports Blog.

Post Gold medal Bulldogs

Monday July 13, 2009

Congratulations to Trey Thompkins and Ashley Houts who both earned gold medals as members of world championship teams over the weekend.

Thompkins and Team USA beat Greece to win the FIBA under-19 world basketball championship. If a basketball gold medal seems like a non-story, these current U-19 players were barely drawing breath when the US won its last U-19 gold 18 years ago. The USA finished the competition at 9-0; all other nations lost at least two games.

Thompkins played in all nine games and averaged 10.6 PPG and 5 rebounds per game while shooting over 54% from the floor. His most productive game was an earlier outing against Greece where he put up 22 points on 10-14 shooting. He followed that up with a near double-double against Puerto Rico.

Houts helped Team USA win the World University Games, and the team clinched the gold with a convincing win over Russia. Like the men, the women ran through the tournament field undefeated.

Houts started three of the seven games and averaged just over 19 MPG – a far cry from the 39+ minutes she averages in college. Houts put up 8.3 PPG on very solid shooting: 52.6% overall and 47.1% from behind the arc. She can’t be happy with her assists-to-turnovers (11 to 14), but she did add 12 steals on the defensive end.

Post The marching band agreed to yield

Friday July 10, 2009

Nice article in the ABH today about progress on the Redcoat rehearsal area at the back of the intramural fields. The field is more or less done, and the band will begin using it for preseason work next month. Sharing the Butts-Mehre practice fields with the football program has always made things a little tight, and this new facility should solve that problem. As with all of our recent athletics facilities, it should end up being first-rate and every bit as good as the group that uses it. The hedges are a great touch.

Fundraising for the facility continues. If you’re interesting in contributing, just hit this link. The Redcoats thank you.

Redcoat practice field

Post 24 freshmen on campus for Ole Miss

Friday July 10, 2009

That’s the good news. The bad news? That means that over a third of the 37 signees aren’t on campus. Included in those yet to report are highly-regarded signees Bobby Massie and Jamar Hornsby. In the case of Massie and others, academics are at issue. Hornsby has some additional problems you might have heard about.

On the Georgia front, the only 2009 signee not working out on campus is Kwame Geathers, and he’s expected to join the team Real Soon Now™ which has been SOP for the arrival of pretty much every member of the Geathers family over the past few years.