Since 1995 - Insightful commentary on the Georgia Bulldogs

Post A way-too-early glance at the 2010 schedule

Wednesday September 30, 2009

The addition of Idaho State finalized the 2010 football schedule yesterday. We’ve got plenty of football left to play this year, but we’ll take a quick look at the 2010 slate while it’s still fresh on our minds.

Date Opponent
9/4 Louisiana-Lafayette
9/11 @ South Carolina
9/18 Arkansas
9/25 @ Mississippi State
10/2 @ Colorado
10/9 Tennessee
10/16 Vanderbilt
10/23 @ Kentucky
10/30 Florida (Jax.)
11/6 Idaho State
11/13 @ Auburn
11/20 BYE
11/27 Georgia Tech
  • The biggest change will be moving the Kentucky game from November back to the late October spot it occupied during the 1990s. One word: horses.
  • Georgia will play 11 straight games before a bye week. That’s not unprecedented, but it’s never easy. That’s the trade-off for moving the Kentucky game.
  • Your home schedule will be UL-Laf., Arkansas, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Idaho State, and Georgia Tech. Excited yet? Without a major turnaround from either Arkansas or Tennessee, the Tech game might be Georgia’s only chance at a home game against a ranked opponent next year.
  • You hate to assume things this far out about the relative strength of conference opponents, but it’s hard to complain about an SEC West schedule that avoids LSU and Alabama.
  • It’s nice to see the schedule spread out so that there will be two home games in each month. That means there’s really no road game gauntlet next year; the Dawgs will play no more than two consecutive games away from home. Sticking a road game in front of Florida isn’t ideal (see last year), but it’s also not a trip to Death Valley. Coming home to play Tennessee following two road games and a trip to Colorado might be tough, especially if the Vols are much improved, but the Vols will be coming off a tough road game of their own at LSU.

It’s not going to win the respect that the 2008 and 2009 schedules did, but if the Dawgs can win the games, not many will care. There are still two non-conference opponents from BCS conferences, so there’s not really anything about which to apologize. The SEC schedule looks favorable at first glance, but that didn’t help Georgia much in 2006 when they avoided Alabama and LSU but still went 4-4 in conference. You’ve still got to play the games.

Your thoughts?

Post Idaho State added to 2010 football schedule

Tuesday September 29, 2009

No, not Boise State. Idaho State. The same program that has lost 50-3 to Arizona State and 64-0 to a Bradford-less Oklahoma team so far this year.

The University of Georgia and Idaho State University have scheduled an minterconference football game to be played in Athens, Ga., on November, 6, 2010.
The two teams will play in UGA’s Sanford Stadium. Located in Pocatello, Idaho State is a member of the Big Sky Conference. It will be the first meeting between the two schools.

“minterconference game” is a typo in the press release, but that’s just what this game is…a palate-cleanser following the Cocktail Party. Georgia’s 2010 nonconference schedule is now complete and looks thusly:

  • Sept. 4: vs. Lousiana-Lafayette
  • Oct. 2: @ Colorado
  • Nov. 6: vs. Idaho State
  • Nov. 27: vs. Georgia Tech

Georgia also replaces LSU with Mississippi State on the SEC rotation. I don’t think we’ll be winning any “toughest schedule” awards in 2010, but that’s fine with me and Jeremy Foley.

Post 10 questions – Arizona State

Tuesday September 29, 2009

1. How close is the Georgia offense to qualifying for 501(c)3 status as a charitable organization?

2. Would you rather be a Cal or Miami fan this week? If there’s one thing to be said for Georgia’s opening game loss, it got the disillusionment out of the way quickly.

3. Does Arizona State have another formation on offense besides the three-wide shotgun or another running play that doesn’t go off-tackle? The reverse off that running play was a nice wrinkle late in the game, but credit to Georgia’s defense for staying mostly at home and turning a potential big play into a gain of just four yards.

4. What’s happened to the fullback position? Yes, Munzenmaier scored Georgia’s second touchdown, but that’s been the highlight of production from the group so far. Chapas and Munzenmaier have a combined 8 yards rushing, and Chapas has a total of 25 receiving yards. The position is never going to be a source of gaudy stats, but it has been a lot more visible in recent years. It’s a bit out of character for the fullbacks to be noted more for getting stuffed in short yardage situations.

While we’re at it, Chapas has been a bit of a lightning rod this year with problems on kickoff returns. It’s his job to tell returners to bring the ball out of the endzone. Communication was also an issue against Arizona State with two shaky results on kickoffs, one of which allowed the ball to bounce before it was fielded. I’m not putting all of the kickoff communication issues on Chapas – clearly Boykin needs to scream like a centerfielder if he’s going to field the kick.

5. Is the Iron Bowl shaping up to be one of the most interesting games in the SEC this year? Not to knock LSU or Ole Miss, but tell me you’re not getting more and more curious about seeing the Auburn offense collide with the Alabama defense. (Of course we said the same thing about the Arkansas offense heading into last weekend.) Auburn will have their chance to claim the title of top contender with back-to-back games against Ole Miss and LSU at the end of October.

6. Speaking of Auburn, is anyone still upset that Chizik got the nod over someone like, say, Turner Gill?

7. Were we spoiled by Stacy Searels? That Georgia was even able to field a competent line in 2007 was a miracle. Last year was mostly a wash due to the significant injuries, but the offense was still very productive. There was always a question how good Stafford and Moreno made the line look, but nearly every preseason preview of the 2009 Bulldogs listed the offensive line as a strength that would help the new quarterback and tailback find their way.

The pass blocking has been mostly adequate though Cox has taken several big hits. Run blocking has been a little less successful, and that shows up in Georgia’s relatively poor rushing numbers. “This game in particular wasn’t one of the best ones of the year (for the offensive line),” said Mark Richt after the Arizona St. game. They’re trying different alignments with Glenn lined up at left tackle in place of the injured Sturdivant, but even reliable linemen like Jones and Boling have had their issues this year.

9. So a turnover doesn’t automatically have to lead to a score? Georgia’s first turnover left the Sun Devils with only about 40 yards to go for their first score. Though the Bulldog defense faced a short field, they twice had a chance to stop ASU on third down but didn’t. It has to be deflating to keep getting put in those situations, but I don’t recall many, if any, instances where the Bulldog defense held their own after a bad break. The Oklahoma State field goal before halftime is the only one I can think of. On one hand, you had to grant that the defense was being put in tough spots. On the other hand, geez, guys, make a stop every now and then.

That’s what makes the fourth quarter defense all the more impressive. ASU started two drives in Georgia territory – one as the result of a punt return and the other of course after Cox’s second interception. Both drives resulted in three-and-outs. Neither led to points. The two drives combined led to a net of three yards, and ASU even went backwards on their final drive. Though they’ve deservedly been put through plenty of criticism this year, whether at the end of the South Carolina game, the fourth quarter at Arkansas, or the fourth quarter Saturday night, the defense has stepped up when they’ve absolutely had to.

10. For whom should Mark Bradley make the case to fire this week?

Post Was A.J. in or out?

Tuesday September 29, 2009

Lord knows I’m glad A.J. Green is on our side, but am I the only person who doesn’t accept this photo that’s going around as clear and indisputable evidence that Green’s right foot was on the ground? The perspective of the photo (looking down) makes it look as if the toe meets the grass, but that’s not consistent with the lighting and the shadows. There’s still a couple of inches of clearance under his right foot which is cocked back slightly inside. The overhead replay was more convincing; it showed a pretty clear bounce where he tapped his toe in-bounds. I just don’t think we’re seeing that in this picture (not to get all Oliver Stone back-and-to-the-left about it or anything).


Post Early start looking likely in Knoxville

Monday September 28, 2009

Georgia’s October 10th game at Tennessee is one of four games being held for a six-day selection. The networks will have until next Monday (Oct. 5th) to sort out the schedule.

As expected, CBS chose to put the Florida @ LSU game in the prime time 8:00 p.m. start. The four possibilities for Georgia’s game time involve the usual 3:30 CBS slot and a trio of broadcasts starting around noon:

  • CBS: 3:30 ET
  • ESPN: Noon ET
  • ESPNU: 12:30 ET
  • SEC Network: 12:21 ET

The other games that will fall into three of those slots are Alabama at Ole Miss, Auburn at Arkansas, and Houston at Mississippi State. The Alabama-Ole Miss game especially looks like a strong challenger for the coveted 3:30 spot.

Post Ole Miss hits the reset button

Friday September 25, 2009

One of the small pleasures of the football season is watching the typically unpredictable nature of every season turn the conventional wisdom on its head. The power polls, bombastic predictions, Heisman candidates, and what-if scenarios get blown up and regenerated every week. The lesson every time is to let the season play out, but what’s the fun in that? It was especially enjoyable to watch Tommy Tuberville get taught that lesson. In October of 2006 Tuberville, with Auburn undefeated and ranked #2, got caught up in worrying about the BCS and promptly got blown out by Arkansas. Georgia would do their part to keep Auburn out of the BCS a few weeks later. Damn, that was fun.

On to this year. We’ve already seen BCS-buster and Oklahoma slayer BYU go from favorite to forgotten. Now it’s Ole Miss’s turn. The ink was barely dry on this Glenn Guilbeau article in the Shreveport Times talking about the high rankings enjoyed by the SEC and the SEC West in particular when Ole Miss laid their egg in Columbia last night. I guess the SEC West *had* three teams ranked in the top 10.

It was always unrealistic to expect the SEC West to finish with three teams in the Top 10 (hindsight is great!) when they all play each other. No matter how good LSU, Ole Miss, and Alabama are, there are three losses to be had when those teams play the round-robin divisional schedule. Even that ignores LSU’s games with Florida and Georgia and, as it turns out, Ole Miss’s game at South Carolina. Throw in a resurgent Auburn team, and the difficulty of remaining unblemished and highly ranked is that much tougher. The polls might exalt the SEC and the SEC West right now, but the reality of the conference schedule has yet to hit.

About Ole Miss…they’re getting killed this morning, and it’s for good reason. They just didn’t play well and made some strange coaching decisions. That said, a lot of the reaction is predictably overboard. They still have the pieces to be a quality team and the schedule to finish with a record that gets them back to a New Year’s Day bowl. It’ll show a lot about them whether they realize they still have a lot to play for and are able to regroup. The best thing about the loss is that it comes against an SEC East team, so they’ll still be able to determine their own fate in the SEC West.

That said, I have to pile on left tackle Bradley Sowell’s comments.

“I’m glad it’s gone,” Rebels left tackle Bradley Sowell said of the high-intensity spotlight, “so we can just get back to basics and win ballgames.”

I don’t think you’ll hear that from an LSU or Alabama player if they lose. Unfortunately I did hear a lot of that sentiment from Georgia players and fans in the aftermath of the 2008 season. That’s just not a winning attitude.

Post Has Figgins’ ship already sailed?

Friday September 25, 2009

The good news (at least from Bruce Figgins’ perspective): The athletic department decided that redshirting this year would count as “time served” for Figgins’ six-game suspension.

We raised the question back when Figgins’ suspension was announced whether or not he’d have to serve the six games if he decided to redshirt. He was going to miss the early part of the season anyway recovering from shoulder surgery, and a redshirting in 2009 might allow him to get back into top form in time to play a complete 2010 season. There was some discussion whether the redshirt went against the spirit of the suspension, but this week’s decision put an end to the uncertainty. It’s now up to Figgins and the coaches: return in the middle of this season with a senior season to follow in 2010 or redshirt and have two years of eligibility remaining.

The bad news: The suspension might have already had its biggest impact on Figgins’ future regardless of when he returns. At the beginning of the season the position was pretty wide open. Aron White was the only returning tight end with any experience, and he had just three receptions a year ago. That window of opportunity might be closing though as Georgia has three emerging young tight ends, and the position looks to be in good shape. As David Hale points out, the tight ends are already just two receptions shy of last year’s total for the entire season. White is a dependable receiver with good hands, Orson Charles just gets better and better, and Arthur Lynch is gaining situational experience. Whose playing time diminishes in order to get Figgins back on the field?

If there’s a niche where a return by Figgins might have the biggest impact, it’s in blocking. It’s not that Charles (or White for that matter) are blocking liabilities, but their strengths are as receivers for now. Lynch, who considers blocking his strong point, might not be quite ready yet – certainly no knock on a true freshman. If the offensive line play continues to be average, the coaches might look to use a blocking tight end more, and Figgins could fill that role. It would also give the coaches the option to use more two tight end sets while keeping both a strong blocking and receiving option on the field.

Mark Richt has a lot on his plate between now and the Vandy game (Figgins’ earliest possible return), and will worry about it then. “I think a lot will have to do with where we are and where everybody is at that time,” Richt said.

PS…if you’re able, read Anthony Dasher’s conversation with Lynch over at UGASports.com (subscription required). Lynch talks about everything from his homesickness (“…there was definitely a time when I wondered if I made the wrong choice…”), his resolve (“I’m the one who chose to come here and I don’t regret it a bit.”), his relationship with his mother (“She taught me to be a good person…”), and of course his approach to playing the game (“That’s the way I was brought up, to just go out there and fight, go out there every day and work my butt off, fight and play with a passion….I take pride in my blocking”). He comes across as a guy that’s already matured a great deal as a true freshman a long way from home.

You’ll also want to catch David Hale’s Q&A with Orson Charles. Again, tremendous maturity and self-awareness from a true freshman. When he scored his first touchdown at Arkansas, Charles said, “Thank you God for putting me on this team.” I think a lot of fans were saying that too.

Post Comcast shortchanging Atlanta SEC fans

Thursday September 24, 2009

It was announced with some fanfare over the summer that Peachtree TV would be Atlanta’s affiliate in the new SEC Network.

For Comcast’s Atlanta customers, this deal has been a loser and a step backwards. The SEC Network on Peachtree TV has only been showing up in standard definition. A lot of people are wondering what’s going on. Peachtree TV has apparently been bombarded with enough questions about this topic that they’ve put up an FAQ about it:

SEC games are shot and aired in native 1080i high definition. Not all providers carry Peachtree TV in HD. You will need to check with your cable or satellite provider to see if it is available to you. Please note: Comcast airs Peachtree TV in HD only during Primetime hours for Braves games coverage.

From the information Peachtree TV has given, the ball is completely in Comcast’s court. And it’s true, Comcast does activate an HD feed of Peachtree TV for Braves games (channel 802 in my area). Channel 802 is nothing but a test pattern on Saturday afternoons.

It’s an especially swift kick in the groin knowing that I can change channels and find good old Jefferson-Pilot broadcasts of ACC football in glorious HD. Regional broadcasts of SEC games along the Jefferson-Pilot / Lincoln Financial network were in HD last year. The return of the games to standard def, new-and-improved branding and all, isn’t a move in the right direction.

Again, this isn’t a matter of limited HD capacity which keeps channels like ESPNU-HD unavailable. Comcast is converting much of the Atlanta area during the fall over to a digital signal which will allow for greater capacity and additional HD channels very soon (better late than never). But in the case of Peachtree TV, the capacity is already there on channel 802.

Considering the ads Comcast is running touting the most SEC coverage available, this halfhearted effort to carry the SEC Network isn’t acceptable. If you’re a Comcast customer in Atlanta, consider contacting them through any of these methods.

PS…the AJC warns us that this weekend’s game with Arizona State won’t be on basic Comcast cable. ESPNU is part of the Sports and Entertainment package which, I must admit, is well worth the $5 per month. Fork it over even if ESPNU won’t be in HD yet.

Post Thank you, sir, may I have another?

Thursday September 24, 2009

How about this performance by an offense:

212 total yards.
208 yards passing.
4 yards rushing (net of 35 gained, 31 lost).
2 fumbles, 1 lost.
2-11 on 3rd downs.
4 sacks surrendered.
5 drives of 3 plays or less.
Avg. starting position: own 29.
No drives started in opponent territory.

Sounds like they went up against pretty good defense, doesn’t it? That’s what Georgia was able to do to Arizona State in last year’s game at Tempe.

The defense isn’t magically going to turn it around, but something approximating last year’s effort shouldn’t be too much to ask especially since we’re back on home turf. Of course last year’s defense started out much stronger with a big outing at South Carolina and Arizona State before the wheels came off against Bama. Can this defense come up with anything close to what they were able to do in the last meeting?

It’s also worth noticing that Arizona State had to start every drive last year on their side of the field. Georgia had zero turnovers and didn’t allow any kickoffs back across the 50. The Dawgs, meanwhile, blocked a punt and recovered a fumble in opponent territory to put the game away in the 2nd quarter. More of that would be nice, too.

Post UGAAA board keeps WLOCP in Jax and approves two facilities projects

Wednesday September 23, 2009

The big news would have been a decision to disrupt the tradition of the Georgia-Florida game in Jacksonville, but the UGA Athletic Association Board of Directors approved Damon Evans’ recommendation to negotiate for a continuation of the series at its current location through 2016.

The ABH also notes via its Twitter feed that “the team will begin flying direct from Athens to Jacksonville,” cutting out the bus trip to Atlanta and making the overall trip that much shorter.

In addition to the WLOCP news, funds were approved “to develop plans for two facility enhancement projects.” Both fit into a master plan outlined by the Athens Banner-Herald a year ago.

Basketball fans will be glad to hear that one of the projects was “a Stegeman Coliseum concourse renovation and expansion.” Anyone who’s been inside the Coliseum could tell you how badly this project is needed. The inside seating area has been addressed over the years and isn’t all that bad, but the concourse and entryway haven’t received much more than a coat of paint and new signage. The rationale behind the project is laid out well by PWD here – note the use of glass walls in the conceptual drawings that will widen and brighten up the concourses.

The project is also a sign that a tear-down or major renovation of Stegeman isn’t coming any time soon, but we knew that. This news follows through on Dennis Felton’s claims last year that “Damon Evans wants to renovate Stegeman sooner rather than later.”

The other project is “a project behind the north stands of Sanford Stadium that would provide a multi-function amenity supporting both the game day event and the campus on non-event days.” The idea of “Reed Alley” has been talked about for over seven years now, and it was part of the plans for the 600-level expansion of Sanford Stadium earlier this decade. The idea involves improving the area between the stadium and Reed Hall, using it as a wide pedestrian mall connecting East Campus Rd. and the Tate Center during the 359 days without football, and then using it as a wide open lower-level concourse on game days with vendors and such. The 600 level was built with this area in mind, and this project will be finishing off the vision.

Reed Alley
Location of Reed Alley

Post Improvements to gameday trash management

Wednesday September 23, 2009

The University is taking steps to address the North Campus trash problem, but it’s still going to come down to people doing the right thing:

The university plans to distribute 12,000 trash bags in parking lots and around campus this Saturday before the Georgia Bulldogs play host to the Arizona State Sun Devils in a 7 p.m. kickoff. Volunteers from the Fellowship of Christian Athletes will walk through tailgating areas distributing trash bags and encouraging tailgaters to bag their trash and deposit it in an appropriate receptacle. The number of disposable trash boxes on North Campus will be increased to 400 from the previous 250, and over the entire campus to 1,500 from the previous 1,200. Several large roll-off dumpsters will be placed strategically around campus for tailgaters to dispose of their bagged trash.

Additionally, the firm that contracts to clean the campus on Sundays following a football game – American Stadiums – will send crews on an initial sweep through North Campus during the first quarter of remaining games this season to pick up trash already collected and set aside by tailgaters.

The number of Port-a-Johns available on campus also will be increased, particularly in the North Campus area, which has been problematic.

Those are necessary and welcome actions – there really won’t be much excuse for people not to clean up after themselves. You can be certain that every media outlet is standing by to do a story on the state of campus come Sunday morning, and a lack of significant improvement will just bring more scrutiny and tighter restrictions.

The real test of these measures will come the following week when LSU visits. Fortunately that’s a 3:30 kickoff. Arizona State will be a decent first run, but it should be a lower-key tailgate than South Carolina or LSU especially if the predicted rain materializes this weekend.

Post 10 questions – Arkansas

Tuesday September 22, 2009

Yes, it’s kind of late for postgame thoughts, and most everything has been said. We’ve been dealing with a little bit of rain over the past couple of days, but we’ll go ahead and wrap this up.

1: What kind of a weekend was it where a 10-point loss is a triumph, and a double-digit win by a road underdog leaves the victors grumbling?

2: Is everyone who was waiting for the Arkansas game to provide some clarity satisfied? What if, all along, the identity of this year’s Georgia team was there in the first two games? The only twist has been the health of Joe Cox in the opener. At this rate, I almost expect to head to Jacksonville and find at least one article proclaiming that now, finally, we’ll get a chance to see what this Georgia team is made of.

3: How many preseason assumptions have been shaken? Are the offensive line and defensive tackles the strengths they were supposed to be? Is Joe Cox able to do anything beyond the dreaded “manage the game”? Are the kicking woes sorted now after signing a Californian with a big leg?

4: Was anyone else surprised that Arkansas chose the field goal in the 4th quarter? The strategy was sound; it brought the game back to a one-possession defecit for the Razorbacks. Put the decision in the context of this post last week from the Senator. Petrino has a track record of not only going for it on 4th down but getting a fair number of his touchdowns on those attempts. Mallett, ridiculous whining about a late hit aside, had scrambled to put Arkansas in a 4th and 4 situation from the Georgia 6 with nearly 8 minutes left.

5: Was Miami or LSU the bigger beneficiary from the weekend’s biggest upsets? Miami, doing just fine on their own, looks even better after FSU’s drubbing of BYU. LSU’s struggles at Washington in the season opener raised a few eyebrows, but the Huskies handed Southern Cal the Trojans’ annual upset loss. Washington isn’t turning the clock back yet to 1991 (or even 2000), but a tough win over the Trojans makes a competitive showing against an SEC school seem like much less of a fluke or as big of a red flag for the Tigers.

6: How big were Richard Samuel and Caleb King in pass protection? It gets a little lost in the offense’s fireworks and the results they had carrying the ball, but several times the Georgia tailbacks stood their ground as the last line of defense for Joe Cox. The line, again, didn’t have its best day (and we’re not just talking penalties), but some big blocks from the running backs helped to ensure that Cox often had enough time to make his reads and throws.

7: Is “pooch kickoff specialist” now a scholarship position at Georgia?

8: Was there a more overblown play from the weekend than Eric Berry’s impact with Tim Tebow? Everyone else calls them “tackles”. It was the solid kind of hit you’d expect from an all-American safety. It wasn’t a decleater or anything that would leave Tebow or anyone else eating through a straw. From the reaction you’d have thought the collision produced antimatter, and the world can now enjoy free and limitless energy thanks to a T. Boone Pickens consortium founded to harvest the results of the play. Berry’s interception was a much tougher and more impressive play.

9: What did Georgia do differently on defense in the 4th quarter? It might’ve been an odd quirk that Arkansas was kept from scoring in the second quarter, but Mallett and the Arkansas offense in general were much less effective towards the end. Certainly Georgia had an advantage of an opponent in come-from-behind mode, and that meant even more passing. Whether it was the effect of Arkansas pressing, conditioning, or even Georgia being more battle-tested, the Dawgs were able to get more pressure. The sequence of Butler’s punt, a sack, and a three-and-out put Georgia in position to seal the win. We’ve seen plenty of examples, even from this game, of the offense, defense, and special teams combining for spectacular meltdowns. That set of events late in the game was an example of what can happen when it all goes right. It was a nice change and a great way to end the game.

10: Was that the upper bound for “Fluless Joe” Cox? TSK has some thoughts about Cox’s progression and concludes that the efficient performance against South Carolina is probably more in line with what we can expect from Cox. One thing that has helped Cox and the offense in general is the emergence of a diverse set of options beyond A.J. Green. Michael Moore has proven that his strong finish to 2008 was no fluke. King adds a speedy option to stretch defenses. Now the tight ends are getting in on the scoring. The backs aren’t as involved in the passing game, and there are depth concerns behind the trio of Green, Moore, and King, but those are quibbles at this point with what has become an effective passing game.

Joe Cox is in for one heck of a welcome from the home fans this weekend.

Post Strange stat of the night

Sunday September 20, 2009

Arkansas got 38 of their 41 points in the 1st and 3rd quarters. They managed just a combined 3 points in the 2nd and 4th quarters. Is that depth? Conditioning? Dumb luck?

Post For once Adams doesn’t go far enough

Thursday September 17, 2009

UGA President Michael Adams gave fans what amounted to a stern talking-to this morning and warned Bulldog fans to clean up after themselves in the wake of another trashed campus following Saturday’s game.

“There are other things we can do [if the situation doesn’t improve],” Adams said. “I don’t want to start arresting people or have a heavy police presence. We simply ask people to spend a little more time to maintain our campus.”

Adams’ warnings sound menacing, but “a heavy police presence” is already noted in everything from open container citations to parking enforcement. If UGA and Athens-Clarke County police are going to be so involved in those other areas of game day crowd control, why isn’t it appropriate to include them as part of a solution to a chronic littering problem on campus?

His plea is definitely called for and appropriate, and he’s correct that “the students and alumni of the university are demanding some changes in behavior.” Whether the problem is alumni, students, or nonstudents just coming to Athens for the party, the reaction of disgust this week has been pretty universal. But why shy away from enforcement on this issue with so many fans, students, and alumni in your corner?

Photo: AJC

Post Welcome to Georgia basketball, Mark Fox

Thursday September 17, 2009

New Georgia basketball coach Mark Fox has done a lot of things right since arriving in Athens. He’s reached out to fans. He’s hired a staff that makes sense. He’s kept attrition to a minimum and convinced the team’s best player to remain on board. Leading up to his first season he’s done everything a reasonable fan could ask to get fans interested in the program.

But even Fox is not immune from the biggest stumbling block plaguing Georgia basketball coaches for decades: convincing the talent-rich state’s best players to play in Athens. Fox recognized this imperative right away, and his staff reflects it. The job of changing perceptions and preferences isn’t an overnight job though, and early results are proving how difficult the task will be. On Wednesday Fox lost one of his first high-profile recruiting battles as McEachern’s Trae Golden picked SEC foe Tennessee over the in-state Bulldogs.

Golden, a guard, is the nation’s #55 player according to Rivals.com. He originally committed to Ohio State but started to look around earlier this year. It didn’t hurt Tennessee that Golden’s AAU teammate Jordan McRae was already a Tennessee commitment.

Is Golden’s commitment a cause for alarm? Of course not. Golden wasn’t a make or break recruit, and the Dawgs have other point guard options coming in this year. It is a reminder though that the job of turning around the Georgia program is, at least in the short term, going to be an arduous and occasionally disappointing process even for someone making all of the right moves.