Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post Single-game tickets on sale Sept. 1

Monday August 31, 2009

From georgiadogs.com:

A limited number of tickets to four (4) football games will go on sale to the general public beginning Tuesday, September 1 at 9:00 a.m. Tickets will be available for purchase online by clicking here.

Games available and ticket prices are:

Oklahoma State ($100)
Arkansas ($45)
Arizona State ($60)
Tennessee Tech ($45)

All Oklahoma State tickets ordered can be picked up at the Gate N-12 at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Oklahoma, starting at 1:00 p.m. (CT) on the day of the game. When picking up Oklahoma State tickets at Will-Call, please present a photo ID to claim your tickets.

All other single game tickets ordered will be mailed out the week of September 7-11.

For more ticket information, please contact the UGAA Ticket Office at 1-877-542-1231.

Post Oklahoma weather not likely to be a factor

Monday August 31, 2009

From Mark Richt’s comments about the heat in Jacksonville to the hot conditions that gripped the south-central US for much of this summer, the role of weather has been a very minor storyline during the offseason.

Fortunately the summer heat has broken on the plains, and Stillwater is currently enjoying a nice preview of fall. Temperatures are expected to remain in the 80s this week with a very reasonable 86 degrees and only a slight chance for a summertime storm forecast for Saturday. Forecasters are expecting that temperatures “will remain below (normal) late week and probably into the Labor Day weekend.”

Stillwater forecast

Of course forecasts 5 days out can change dramatically, but the early read is that the weather should be just fine for the game and certainly nothing too extreme or out of Georgia’s comfort zone.

Post How many empty seats in Stillwater?

Friday August 28, 2009

An article this week in Tulsa World reports on Oklahoma State’s season ticket sales but avoids bringing up a reasonable conclusion: there seem to be over 11,000 unsold tickets for the Georgia-OSU game.

The math seems pretty simple:

  • The capacity of the renovated Boone Pickens Stadium is 60,218.
  • Oklahoma State has sold 41,593 season tickets so far. According to Tulsa World, that includes 8,668 student tickets.
  • “(AD Mike) Holder has predicted that OSU may reach a final (season ticket) total of more than 44,000.”
  • Georgia received an allotment of 5,000 tickets.

Are you with me so far? Even if OSU meets Holder’s expectations of 44,000 season tickets (again, including students), we’re at 49,000 tickets sold in a stadium that holds 60,000+. PWD guesses that 8,000 or so will be Georgia fans. Here’s the thing:

The Georgia date is designated by the OSU athletic department as this season’s premium game, meaning that OSU fans may attend only if they have purchased a season ticket. Except for the 5,000 tickets allotted to the University of Georgia, no single-game tickets are available for Georgia-OSU.

Granting that there will comp tickets for guests, band, and recruits and so on, dumping thousands of tickets still seems like a tall order in a week. Will OSU cave and make the single game tickets available to the public? Will T. Boone Pickens buy up the rest and distribute them to local charities? Or will OSU hold firm to its “premium game” policy and accept that its new showcase stadium will be at least 10% empty in front of a national TV audience? Somehow I expect those seats to be filled one way or another.

Post Big Cheese gets into coaching

Thursday August 27, 2009

The ABH catches up with former Bulldog offensive lineman Chester Adams. Adams, finishing up his degree at UGA, is the new offensive line coach at North Oconee HS. The feature goes into more detail about the circumstances and connections that led Adams to his coaching break, and it’s worth noting that Georgia’s Ray Lamb ended up making the match.

“I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” Adams said. “It is something that you love to do. And now that you are older, you want to come out here and show them how to do it.”

Post Lucky 13

Wednesday August 26, 2009

The preseason AP poll came out over the weekend, and I doubt anyone was suprised to see the Dawgs ranked #13. After all, #13 was Georgia’s position in the coaches poll released earlier this month. Even Phil Steele, who’s occasionally gone against the grain when it comes to Georgia’s outlook, pegged the Dawgs at #13. Georgia’s ranking in Chris Stassen’s preseason consensus, which annually aggregates the various preseason polls, is – wait for it – right there between #12 and #14.

What does #13 mean? Georgia’s #13 finish a year ago meant a 10-3 record, a second-place finish in the SEC East, and a New Year’s Day bowl in Florida. A year ago that was considered a disappointing result relative to the preseason #1 ranking.

Do you agree with the consensus that Georgia will finish 2009 in the same place they ended up last January? If the consensus is correct, Georgia’s three losses in 2009 would come against Oklahoma State, LSU, and of course Florida. Would that be a disappointment? Of course those aren’t the only three teams on the schedule capable of beating Georgia. Even Tennessee and Auburn, though down and sorting things out, are rivals with plenty of pride and firepower to present a challenge.

A 10-3 season might sound about right to a lot of people, but Kyle doesn’t buy it. I get where he’s coming from – the mid-teens isn’t really going out on a limb – but I also don’t see it as a given that the season will swing in one of two very different directions.

What is more likely to swing one way or the other are the expectations within the season.

Blutarsky had a great point a few weeks ago: if Georgia wins the opener, all bets are off. The Dawgs will have beaten a top 10 team on the road in front of a national TV audience. As much as many fans (and sadly even some coaches and players) would prefer to avoid the attention, pressure, and expectations of a year ago, there won’t be anywhere to hide should the team rise to the challenge in the first game.

Similarly, it’s pretty easy to guess how fans would react to a loss in the opener. Fire this coach or that (we can guess who’s likely to be at the top of the list). There would almost surely be a quarterback controversy. The South Carolina game would become a toss-up, and we’d see dire forecasts for a long, long season.

Either way, the preseason ranking and expectations are out the window as soon as we kick off next week.

Post Who’s afraid of the big, bad sprain?

Thursday August 20, 2009

I swear I’m knocking on a wooden bookshelf as I type this, but I have to chuckle a little bit when I read dramatic headlines like 6 key Dogs miss practice and discussions about an “epidemic of strained and pulled hamstrings.”

Last night we found out that starting center Ben Jones got a scare with an ankle injury. X-rays were negative, and it’s just a sprain. Jones wasn’t the only starting Georgia lineman battled injury – tackle Clint Boling had a few nervous days over the weekend before finding out that his wrist injury was also a sprain. Boling’s already back at practice.

Not to tempt fate, but the way things went last year Jones’ and Boling’s x-rays and MRIs would have come back with a break or a tear if this were 2008. So far the most serious injury suffered during camp seems to be a three-week knee injury to safety Quintin Banks. I don’t mean to make light of hamstring pulls and sprains – which can linger into the season and become chronic problems – but the news on the inevitable preseason injuries has been pretty damn kind to the Dawgs so far. Just the fact that we have more than one or two healthy defensive ends with which to practice is a big improvement.

When you consider Arkansas losing starting cornerback Isaac Madison for the year or Texas losing four tight ends to season-ending injuries or even Georgia’s own situation a year ago, it could be a whole lot worse. I got that same sick feeling we went through time after time last year when I first heard about Boling and Jones, and news of their favorable results brought a big sigh of relief.

I’m holding my breath for the next two weeks just like the rest of us, but I’m not going to lose any sleep over some hamstring pulls and a few sprains. If things can somehow keep up this way, we’ll see a lot of these green jerseys start to disappear the week before the season.

Post Ol’ Lady Luck and Richt’s Bulldogs

Thursday August 20, 2009

The 1980 national championship game was on ESPN Classic the other day. Someone on the message boards remarked how it seemed as if Georgia got all the breaks that day. No one was complaining, but it was true that most of the balls bounced Georgia’s way en route to the win over Notre Dame. The Dawgs were outgained and completed but a single pass, but good defense and a couple of opportunistic scores made the difference. “We’ve been a team of good fortune,” said Vince Dooley leading up to the Sugar Bowl, and that good fortune continued to the end.

Mark Richt’s standing after eight seasons has been a favorite topic this offseason. His accomplishments speak for themselves, but what’s ahead? Is that elusive national title still to come? Is he, as some have suggested, closer to the hot seat than we might admit? Some of the discussion I’ve seen chalks the talk about the lack of a national title up as a matter of luck and circumstance. Georgia’s had seasons under Richt just as good as those of teams that have gone on to play for the title, but the timing was just wrong.

Luck and circumstance can definitely play a role in a national title. Dooley tipped his cap to good fortune in 1980. We all remember Clint Stoerner’s fumble that contributed to Tennessee’s 1998 title. Florida plays in the 2007 Sugar Bowl and not for the national title without a huge upset of USC by UCLA. And of course there’s the avalanche of events at the end of the 2007 that allowed LSU to lose its regular season finale and still win the national title with two losses.

It’s one thing to grant the frequent role of luck and fortune in a championship season, but I hope that doesn’t lead us to just shrug off the pursuit of a national title as a whimsical spin of the wheel of fortune. In many cases this decade, the Dawgs have had the opportunity to make their own luck. Sometimes they have, and sometimes they haven’t. While the Dawgs haven’t had the best of luck getting to the national title game, they’ve still had plenty of breaks go their way during the Mark Richt era.


Why Georgia was unlucky: The one-loss season remains the best result from a Mark Richt team, and it’s true that several teams have made it to the BCS Championship with similar or worse records. But in 2002 Miami and Ohio State made it through the regular season unscathed, and Georgia had to “settle” for its first BCS bowl and first trip back to the Sugar Bowl in nearly two decades.

Why Georgia should consider themselves lucky: Really, this should be plenty:

Without that single play, Georgia doesn’t even win the SEC East. Much of the 2002 season went that way. We remember 13-1, the long-awaited SEC title, and how close Georgia came to a perfect season, but how close was Georgia to a much more ordinary season?

You can start with the very first game. Clemson, kicking against the wind, came up just short on a game-tying field goal. A week later, South Carolina fumbled just yards away from a winning touchdown. Then it was on to Alabama where a late Crimson Tide interception put Georgia behind and required a last-chance drive culminating with Billy Bennett’s heroics. Even the win over Tennessee, hardly something you’d credit to luck, was closer than many of us remember. The Dawgs raced out to a lead but had to hold on as the Vols took all of the momentum in the 4th quarter. Richt rolled the dice and pitched to Tony Milton on a late 4th down gamble to seal the win.

Auburn and even South Carolina fans might have felt as if the Dawgs had plenty of luck in 2002. Even though they came up short against Florida, what was remarkable about the season was how many times the Dawgs came out on top in close games. Credit Richt, Greene, a cultural change, or whatever you like – after losing those kinds of close games to South Carolina, Auburn, and BC in 2001, many more went Georgia’s way in 2002 than didn’t.


Why Georgia was unlucky: The Dawgs had a really good shot at knocking off eventual national champion LSU in Baton Rouge. A Georgia win would’ve put the Bulldogs down the same path that LSU took to the national title. It also would’ve put Ole Miss in position to win the SEC West and give the Bulldogs a more manageable opponent in the SEC Championship game. Though Georgia outgained LSU 411-285 and passed for 314 yards, three Georgia turnovers and three uncharacteristic missed field goals from Billy Bennett kept Georgia out of the endzone until Tyson Browning’s dramatic late game-tying touchdown on a 93-yard screen pass. A poor kickoff and a busted coverage gave LSU the opening to win a close 17-10 game.

Why Georgia should consider themselves lucky: It’s hard to consider good fortune in a three-loss season, but just getting to the Georgia Dome was a small stroke of luck in 2003. The Bulldogs finished deadlocked in the SEC East standings with Tennessee and Florida. With all other tiebreakers unable to settle the issue, Georgia’s higher BCS ranking earned them the trip to Atlanta. The quirk of that BCS-related tiebreaker made season-ending nonconference games with Georgia Tech and Florida State mean as much for Georgia and Florida as any conference game. Only after Georgia beat Tech and Florida narrowly lost to FSU did the Dawgs emerge as the SEC East’s representative to the conference championship game.


Why Georgia was unlucky: Even with Darren McFadden’s flashes of brilliance and 190 yards, Georgia’s midseason game against Arkansas seemed destined to be a boring midseason win for the #4 Bulldogs. A second quarter knee injury to quarterback D.J. Shockley made the game one of the pivotal points in the season. The Dawgs held on to beat Arkansas, but they’d drop their next two games and fall out of the national title picture.

Why Georgia should consider themselves lucky: Even with the injury to Shockley and a shocking end to the Auburn game that resulted in a home loss, the Dawgs won the SEC East and rebounded to win the conference title. They still needed help to win the division, and that help came from a very bitter foe. Georgia’s loss to Auburn on the heels of the earlier loss to Florida would have given the division to the Gators. It took Steve Spurrier’s Gamecocks to knock off Urban Meyer’s first Florida team and hand the Gators their third conference loss. The Dawgs made the most of their chance to win another SEC title, but they had to back in to the opportunity.

Even if Georgia had finished 2005 undefeated, the odds were slim to none that they’d vault past either Southern Cal or Texas for a shot at the national title. The eventual result – a conference title and a BCS bowl bid – was about as good as it was going to get.


Why Georgia was unlucky: Few teams in the nation finished the 2007 as well as Georgia. The Dawgs plowed through rivals Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech before providing Hawaii with a brutal reality check. The Dawgs rose so high that the remarkable chain of events during the final weeks of the regular season had Georgia in position to play for the national title if the final poll remained consistent. The pollsters insted vaulted SEC champions LSU ahead of Georgia and into the BCS Championship. It was a pipe dream for a two-loss team that hadn’t won its conference to play for the national title, but 2007 wasn’t your typical season.

Why Georgia should consider themselves lucky: A season that finished so strong nearly fell apart before it got going. On the heels of a shocking blowout loss at Tennessee, it was all Georgia could do to stay in the game at Vanderbilt and avoid a consecutive loss to the Commodores. Vandy built a 17-7 lead and held on for much of the game, but the Bulldogs drew even with just over 6 minutes remaining. Vanderbilt responded with an impressive drive, and for the second year in a row Georgia didn’t seem to have an answer as Vanderbilt drove for the game-winning score. The Bulldogs forced a season-saving fumble on their own 7 yard line and put together a drive for their own before Brandon Coutu won the game with a field goal at the final whistle.

Think about that point in the 2007 season had Georgia dropped to 4-3 with a loss to Vanderbilt and Florida still to come. Put it in the context on the heels of a 4-loss 2006 season. It’s simplistic to point to a fumble as the turning point which brought the team from the brink of a meltdown to a national title contender in less than two months, but that’s the way the breaks go in this game, isn’t it?

Post Sanity rules

Wednesday August 19, 2009

The SEC has revised their ticket policy. You can read the entire policy if you like, but it boils down to these points:

No Bearer may produce or disseminate in any form a “real-time” description or transmission of the Event (i) for commercial or business use, or (ii) in any manner that constitutes, or is intended to provide or is promoted or marketed as, a substitute for radio, television or video coverage of such Event. Personal messages and updates of scores or other brief descriptions of the competition throughout the Event are acceptable. If the SEC deems that a Bearer is producing a commercial or real-time description of the Event, the SEC reserves the right to pursue all available remedies against the Bearer.

Absent the prior written permission of the Southeastern Conference, game action videos of the Event may not be taken by Bearer. Photos of the Event may be taken by Bearer and distributed solely for personal use (and such photographs shall not be licensed, used, or sold commercially, or used for any commercial or business purpose).

So if you’re not planning on setting up your own personal TV, radio, or picture studio from inside the stadium, you’ll be fine. I haven’t seen the media policy, so I wonder if credentialed photographers have the same restriction about selling their photos.

An interesting aside:

A Ticket may not be used for advertising, promotion (including contests or sweepstakes), or other trade or commercial purposes without the express written consent of the SEC or its member institution.

If I had a pair of tickets to the SEC Championship and wanted to raffle them off to raise money for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, I’d be in violation of the policy without getting the blessing of the SEC.

Post Marketing or journalism?

Thursday August 13, 2009

By and large, the media deals announced by the SEC and the University of Georgia during the offseason are going to be great for fans. There will be more Georgia sports available on television to more people. The deal has even led to one of the nation’s largest cable operators carrying a channel they should have had in the first place. Online content will also be enhanced with the coming SEC Digital Network. All good news for fans.

But the money poured in has come with the expectation of access, and it’s put the conference and schools into competition with the media. The SEC released rules last week which amounted to the conference wishing the media good luck, in the words of Don Corleone, “as best as your interests don’t conflict with mine.” The same exclusivity that applies to whomever is broadcasting a game has been extended to the locker room and practice field where media will be prohibited “from posting video from games, practices and news conferences” in deference to the SEC’s agreement with XOS Technologies and the SEC Digital Network.

Why should fans care though? I think David Hale gets to the main concern:

They think you’ll be satisfied with the controlled information you are given from them — essentially replacing the media with a public relations firm….I’m guessing after your favorite team gets spanked by a rival, you’re not looking for the watered-down version of what happened. Perhaps you really don’t care where the information is coming from, but my guess is that you value quality journalism a lot more than they give you credit for.

UGASports.com publisher Steve Patterson goes down the same road when he warns about “nicely packaged productions from marketing companies.” The Mark Richt Show is a nice inch-deep review of the past game and goings-on within the program, but a sterile packaged presentation like that shouldn’t be a template for covering the program on a daily basis.

Patterson’s distinction between marketing and journalism is an important one. XOS Digital and ISP Sports answer to their clients – the SEC and the member schools. As with any marketing company, it’s their job to manage and grow the “brand”, and that’s not necessarily in line with the traditional role of the media. The UGA beat isn’t especially adversarial, but you can usually count on some healthy skepticism where it’s called for. It’s not so insidious as spin or covering things up, but what would a marketing partner of the athletic department gain by questioning things?

Patterson’s account of how this policy is being implemented at Georgia is especially troubling. A camera peeking over the shoulder of a reporter doing a one-on-one interview isn’t exactly value-added content. At best it’s tacky, and really it’s just insulting to journalists. Not only can’t the reporters post their own video; they’re now roped into providing the content for the school’s “exclusive” video product. The pushback by the beat writers after Monday’s practice was a very necessary reaction.

Now the SEC is reconsidering the rules, and you’d expect them to after hearing from 35 to 40 media outlets. But if this Dr. Saturday piece is correct, the rules that impact the fans the most are the least likely to change. Restricting credentials to full-time, salaried members of the media was a ridiculous idea to begin with, but the media shouldn’t be mollified just by lifting that restriction.

Obviously it’s still an issue in flux, and, despite warnings of draconian rules governing everything right down to your picture of the winning score on the scoreboard, it probably won’t affect your life that much on game day. But restrictions that impact how you follow your favorite team are likely to remain in place. Sources of news having that much control over outlets for that news is rarely a formula for quality coverage.

Post $2,000 per game?

Thursday August 13, 2009

Forbes raised a few eyebrows with their feature on the five most expensive college football tickets this season according to StubHub.

Right there at #2 is Georgia with tickets for all home games going for as much as $2,000 on StubHub.

I’ll take their word for it, but PWD recently had a much more realistic look at the aftermarket for Georgia tickets. Tickets for all home games start at under $200 and “season ticket packages start at $700.” If you pay $2,000 for a single game ticket, you and your money were going to be parted soon anyway.

That’s the aftermarket, but what’s the real price of a season ticket for those who ordered them through UGA? The minimum donation for a renewable season ticket remains $250. With the season ticket package an additional $240, that comes out to about $81.67 per game for the least-expensive season tickets. Of course donation levels go up to as high as $2,000 per seat in the Champion’s Club, but the most a renewable season ticket holder will pay for a lower level seat on the 50 is just over $100 per game once the $400 minimum donation is figured in.

If you were a new season ticket holder this year, it took you a minimum Hartman Fund point total of $4,205 to get going, so someone starting fresh spent a whopping $740.83 per game on tickets this year.

Post Time til impact

Wednesday August 12, 2009

David Hales answers a question today about the relatively quiet preseason Branden Smith is having. Hale brings us back to earth and notes that, “while most fans were expecting immediate results, (Smith)’s simply working on building a strong foundation.”

Smith has drawn Champ Bailey comparisons since Day 1. The two even chatted during the recruiting process. Smith, a potential star on both sides of the ball, would do well to have the same kind of career that Bailey had in Athens. So it’s worth remembering that Bailey, though he played often in his first year, didn’t even start at cornerback until the final two games of his freshman season. Champ’s first big game wasn’t really until the final game of the season where he had a couple of interceptions in a 19-10 win over Georgia Tech.

If the best cornerback of the post-Dooley era took a while to break the starting lineup, I’m not going to sweat Branden Smith flying under the radar in August. Few positions are as exposed as the defensive back, and it can be brutal for young guys. From Oliver to Allen to Jennings to Thornton to Wansley, I can’t remember any cornerback who didn’t take their lumps early in their careers.

Post All we can be?

Tuesday August 11, 2009

Army and Georgia are reportedly in talks to set up a home-and-home series about a decade from now. Army has already announced a deal to play Oklahoma in 2018 and 2020. They’d like to play a program of Georgia or Oklahoma’s stature once a year, so it looks as if 2019 would be the earliest this series could start.

If you’ve never been, West Point is a tremendous destination not only for the history of the area but also for the scenery. If this deal with Georgia is finalized, hopefully the game will be played at Army’s Michie Stadium and not moved to someplace like Yankee Stadium. Though the stadium only seats around 40,000 the campus, cadets, and location right on the bank of the Hudson River make it one of college football’s best settings and would be a great trip for Georgia fans.

West Point

Post “Somebody’s done a good job of keeping him prepared”

Tuesday August 11, 2009

As if Mark Richt’s (and now Mike Bobo’s) track record with quarterbacks needed any more validation, we get this observation from the Detroit camp:

Peterson described for me a play last week in which Stafford seemed to be locked onto his intended target at tight end, but then fired an exquisite no-look pass to a different receiver on the other side once Peterson broke on the tight end. “I was like, ‘OK, I see that’s the reason you’re a No. 1 quarterback,”’ Peterson said. “He’s well above the learning curve. Whoever has coached him up before he got to this level, somebody’s done a good job of keeping him prepared, because he’s very prepared.”

(h/t organizednoize on the DawgVent)

Post Nothing seems to bring out the hyperbole

Tuesday August 11, 2009

Like an article about kickoffs. Read the comments. Every other team kicks through the endzone, but our opponents regularly start on the 45. September 5th can’t get here fast enough.

Post Marking the start of the 2009 season

Monday August 3, 2009

With players reporting today, it’s the official start to the 2009 season and the beginning of preparations for the first game. Now it’s time to see whether things really are different this season, and intangibles like leadership will be put to the test on the field. For the next month, we’ll hold our breath every afternoon and cross our fingers that the inevitable injury reports aren’t causes to find the highest convenient point from which to jump.

If the season is getting going, that also means that the offseason is over. For what it’s worth, the Dawgs didn’t tally a single arrest during the offseason. A trio of players did earn suspensions and ultimately cost Tony Wilson his spot on the team, but those were incidents involving internal team rules. Of course a lot can still happen over the next month, but after a season in which the team saw ten arrests before and even during the season it’s been a dramatic (and welcome) change.

Will it make a difference? The next five months are all about finding out.