Thursday July 28, 2011
There was a time a few years back where shoulder injuries were the Bulldog medical equivalent to traffic violations. You didn’t leave Athens without one. Unfortunately our favorite malady rears its head again just before preseason practice gets going.
UGA announced today that RFr. inside linebacker Brandon Burrows will miss the 2011 season after surgery next week on his right shoulder.
With the new strength and conditioning program in the spotlight, the program was clear to point out that the surgery will be to correct “chronic shoulder instability.” That’s fine, but a chronic problem might have been addressed during his redshirt season while Burrows was already recovering from knee surgery. It’s just speculation, but you have to guess that something more recent exacerbated that shoulder condition.
We wish Brandon the best in his recovery and look forward to seeing him back in action. It’s been nearly two years since the ACL injury that ended his high school career, so he must be frustrated and more than ready to get out there.
Wednesday July 27, 2011
As Seth Emerson reported on Monday,
The four-year-old daughter of new inside linebackers coach Kirk Olividatti has been battling leukemia, Richt announced. Olividatti’s wife Keely hasn’t left the hospital for 30 days, the head coach informed the crowd; she spoke to Richt on Monday, and agreed that Richt could make the daughter Kasyn’s fight public.
You can imagine the incredible strain on the family. Mrs. Olividatti has been by her daughter’s side the whole time as they fight through chemo treatments and their inevitable complications. The Olividattis also have a son back at their home in the Athens area. Coach Olividatti has worn out the highways between Atlanta and Athens managing to do his job while attending to his family now spread out over 60 miles.
If something like this has to happen to a family, it’s a small bit of grace that it happened here. Mark Richt’s assistants are generally loyal for a reason. We learned that during last season first-year assistant Warren Belin was given leave to travel to his dying mother each week. There is an incredible support system that has already sprung into action to aid the Olividatti family during their ordeal.
It also helps that Georgia is in close proximity to one of the nation’s top hospitals for pediatric cancer. The relationship between CHOA and the Georgia football program was already strong, and the Olividattis can at least take solace in the knowledge that Kasyn is receiving the best possible care.
If you’re wondering how you can help, stay tuned.
Wednesday July 27, 2011
It’s usually the SEC taking criticism for its scheduling, but this week it’s Big 10 and Big 12 schools whose scheduling philosophies are in the news.
Fans looking for future opponents for a home-and-home series can probably scratch Michigan from their prospect list. Wolverine athletic director Dave Brandon doesn’t plan on playing any non-conference road games other than Notre Dame. (h/t Dr. Saturday)
I don’t believe we can or should go on the road for non-conference games when we can put 113,000 people in our stadium.
Brandon’s doctrine allows for an exception: the occasional neutral-site game like next season’s opener against Alabama in Dallas. But such games aren’t road games; Michigan will split a large payout that will more than compensate for the lost home game. The Wolverines are currently obligated to a game at UConn in 2013, but Brandon is also trying to get that moved to a larger venue with, of course, a higher payout.
Pointing out the obvious financial advantage of hosting as many games as possible is one way to frame a light nonconference schedule. There are much less graceful ways too. (h/t Blutarsky)
Texas Tech had to drop a team from the nonconference schedule because the Big 12 wanted to play a round-robin conference schedule. That team just happened to be non-BCS heavyweight TCU. Tubs, of course, admitted that Tech dropped TCU because TCU “isn’t the type of team we need to play now.”
Georgia’s new approach to scheduling following the “Florida model” is nothing to brag about. It’s also not that rare. When home games mean over a million dollars in revenue and the process values absolute record above all else, it’s good to see other teams from the far corners of the nation be honest about the way they approach the schedule. It might not produce the most entertaining matchups, but it does reflect the incentives at play in major college football.
Wednesday July 20, 2011
We’ve had some fun over the past week noting the complete lack of reporting leading up to last week’s announcement of sanctions against Georgia Tech football and men’s basketball. For Georgia fans sick of reading overblown stories about a lineman transfer or the departure of a recruiting assistant, it was hard not to comment on the contrast.
To be fair, this is not about the AJC. Not at all. They’re not the only ones on the Tech beat. Atlanta has 75 different Kings, Kangs, Doctors, and Misters of college football hanging around, and none of them were on this. Atlanta’s sports talk stations couldn’t be bothered. And with TV sports all but outsourced now, you can forget about them breaking any kind of investigative story.
The Senator was right last week to frame this as a bigger issue than laziness at the local paper. Investigative journalism is tough, especially when you have no reason to think anything is out of the ordinary. No one at Tech resigned, there were no self-imposed sanctions announced, and the program went on as if they had done nothing wrong because that was (and remains) their posture on the allegations. About the only way to fall into a story under those circumstances is through a leak. Leaks and loose lips are hardly rare around athletic programs, but this process seems to have been as under the radar as you can get.
In contrast, LSU’s sanctions yesterday came after a well-documented, if not especially scintillating, investigation. In that case, there had been self-imposed sanctions. The staff member involved in the allegations resigned abruptly with his role in the allegations a matter of record at the time of his resignation. Those of us who really weren’t paying attention to LSU might not have been aware of an investigation and pending sanctions aside from the separate Willie Lyles saga, but the reporting had been done.
There’s an interesting case going on up in North Carolina right now. I won’t bore you with the ins and outs of Michael McAdoo’s reinstatement case, but in the context of this post the relevant angle is this:
Unlike honor court cases, state Superior Court proceedings are public, and that required McAdoo to produce the paper at the heart of the academic violations, as well as records of the honor court and NCAA proceedings. Message board commenters on Pack Pride, a sports website devoted to rival N.C. State, seized on the paper, finding several examples of plagiarism.
That’s right: some of the more damning evidence of plagiarism wasn’t found by the school’s own processes or even the local Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill media. It was rival message board denizens with a little too much time on their hands and access to the same public documents anyone else could have read. As the folks at DBR wondered,
It’s also worth asking why PackPride.com embarrassed the entire local media. This was not brain surgery, and you can’t say that it’s because of cutbacks. It’s as simple as googling and using a site like scanmyessay.com. The N&O ultimately did use it, but only after basically being embarrassed into it.
The Andrew Sullivan piece referenced by Blutarsky concluded that, “as it is, most newspaper coverage isn’t much better than a basic wire service.” At least the Atlanta media had the excuse of apparent normalcy at Tech. That wasn’t so in North Carolina where the McAdoo case was very much in the public eye and the documents in question already in the public domain. As Blutarsky observed, developments like this aren’t really worthy of celebration. More than anything, it’s the sad degredation of a resource whose value used to be much greater.
Wednesday July 20, 2011
I was willing to let the Tech infractions story come and go last week. After all, I’m sympathetic to the gripes. The initial violation (on the football side anyway) was sketchy. As the institute’s president admitted, it’s likely that the eligibility issue would have been resolved quickly had Tech done things the right way and acted immediately and honestly when the possible violation was brought to their attention.
I was also willing to let the players have their say. Having an accomplishment like a conference title removed from the record naturally provokes an emotional response from those who worked to make it happen. Relax, guys. No one is coming for your rings.
But it’s becoming evident that the program just can’t let it go. And it’s evident that this attitude starts at the top. Paul Johnson right in this respect: no one can take the memories of the accomplishment away, demonstrating how toothless the concept of vacating wins really is. And no one is coming for his ring either (again with this strawman). We pointed out that going forward Tech is in as good of a position as they could expect to be. They don’t face any kind of operational restrictions going forward other than the probation which simply requires them to do things by the book – the same requirement any school has. There is no bowl ban, no restrictions on recruiting, and no loss of scholarships. LSU – a school lauded by the NCAA for their cooperation – could only hope to be positioned as well after hearing their own sanctions.
Johnson’s subsequent tantrum directed at the NCAA though is something I’d expect from an irrational blind-loyalist fan and not from someone charged with teaching his players larger lessons about accountability. Tyler does a good job of dealing with one of Johnson’s most absurd points. Of course Tech gained an advantage by playing Thomas at the end of the year. The ACC championship win, in which Thomas’s long touchdown played a big part, meant millions of dollars for the school. Put another way, is there any way the absence of the team’s best (and only effective) receiver wouldn’t have been a disadvantage?
There’s a common theme in Johnson’s and Sean Bedford’s gripe: the verdict is not fair to everyone who worked so hard and did things the right way. Bedford states:
I have a hard time grasping the notion that one of the proudest moments in my life (and the lives of every other individual that was a part of the team and program in 2009) is apparently worth $312 in your eyes. If that truly is the case, I’d be happy to provide you with that same amount of money (cash or check, your choice) in exchange for the reinstatement of the title my teammates and I earned through our blood, sweat and tears.
It’s understandable why Bedford would lash out at the guys meting out justice at the end of this investigation. But his questions shouldn’t stop with the “pencil pushers” he belittles in his response. He’s right that this all started over a mere $312. Evidently one of his teammates thought so little of everyone’s “blood, sweat and tears” that he was willing to throw it all away over $312 in clothing. Evidently those responsible for the stewardship of his program would put such a promising season at risk by sweeping such a small violation under the rug with the season’s three biggest games looming.
Heather Dinich sums it up: “instead of accepting the penalties and moving on, Georgia Tech has taken the Bedford approach – win as a team, lose as individuals.” Be mad at the NCAA if you like, but your anger should really be directed at the teammates and administrators who let you down.
Tuesday July 19, 2011
Check the release for all of the information. Here are highlights:
All Hartman Fund contributors got Boise State tickets. If you received a refund in the past week with an odd amount, it was a refund for the difference between the section you ordered and the section for which you qualified. The cutoffs were:
- Club Level – Patrons with a score of 104,600 or higher.
- Mezzanine Level – Patrons with a score of 45,001 or higher.
- Lower Level – Patrons with a score of 14,000 or higher.
- Upper Level – Patrons with a score of 100 or higher.
There are still a few tickets left for this game: “A limited quantity of Boise State upper level tickets at $55 each will be made available to the general public at 9 am on Monday, July 25. Please visit georgiadogs.com at that time, if you have an interest in ordering additional game tickets.”
After several years of a cutoff score for new renewable season tickets, the bar was set much lower this year. “2011 Hartman Fund donors, who contributed a minimum of $250 per seat, placed a season ticket order and had a cumulative score of 500 or higher, will receive adjacent renewable season tickets.”
For home single game tickets, there were no single-game tickets available for South Carolina or Auburn. All other single-game ticket requests were filled for Hartman Fund donors.
Season tickets will be mailed the week of August 8th.
All requests by Hartman Fund donors for Tennessee tickets were filled (incredible!). Cutoffs for all other road games, as well as Florida, will be announced at a later time. Away tickets will be mailed separate from season tickets as usual.
Friday July 15, 2011
It’s not every day that an ATP World Tour event is held in your neighborhood. With the Atlanta Athletic Club set to host next month’s PGA Championship, the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships have moved a few miles south to Peachtree Corners and the Racquet Club of the South. The stadium and the neighborhood look great, and we’re excited about having 40,000 drop people by over the next week.
Qualifying will take place on Saturday and Sunday with the main draw starting on Monday the 18th and continuing through Sunday the 24th. The complete schedule is here. Unfortunately most of the weekday action takes place during business hours, but there will be plenty of chances to drop by both this weekend and next.
Mardy Fish, John Isner, and Lleyton Hewitt headline the 32-man singles event. Even Nicolas Mahut, Isner’s first-round Wimbledon opponent for the past two years, will be there. But Isner isn’t the only Bulldog coming to Norcross. Recent alum and co-captain of last year’s team Drake Bernstein will also be part of the field. Wil Spencer, a rising senior on the current squad, will compete this weekend for one of the four wildcard spots in the draw.
You can find ticket information here. Drop me a note, and I should be able to pass along some deals on tickets.
Friday July 15, 2011
Georgia placed eight players on the 2011 SEC Coaches Preseason All-SEC Team announced yesterday. Six players merited first-string mention, and two others were named to the second team. Brandon Boykin was named both to the first team (as a returner) and the second team (as a cornerback).
- Orson Charles
- Cordy Glenn
- Aaron Murray
- Blair Walsh
- Drew Butler
- Brandon Boykin
- Ben Jones
- DeAngelo Tyson
- Brandon Boykin
Georgia’s eight selections were fourth-most in the league. It’s up from six a year ago, and it equals the nine preseason all-conference selections in 2009. One trend continues from last year though. For the second year in a row, Georgia has no defenders on the first team. It’s an improvement that Tyson and Boykin made it on the second team this year; the Dawgs placed no one from defense on the preseason all-SEC teams.
Justin Houston emerged last year to earn first-team postseason honors, but he was the only Bulldog defender to make the coaches’ postseason all-conference team last year. Will Boykin or Tyson elevate their game to become first-teamers at the end of this year, or will someone else emerge this season to become one of the best in the league? If the defense is going to take the step forward we expect in Grantham’s second year, it’s going to take more than a pair of second-teamers to get it done.
Friday July 15, 2011
The NCAA released its public infractions report on Georgia Tech Thursday. You can read the full report here. A few thoughts and questions based on the report…
First – basketball. The violations were deemed “major” in the eyes of the NCAA, “were also not inadvertent,” and “provided the men’s basketball program more than a minimal recruiting advantage.” With that in mind, does Tech now have cause to reduce the massive buyout due Paul Hewitt? I would imagine that someone at Tech is digging through the contract now to see how the compliance clauses read. Hopefully that person doing the digging is a better counsel than the one who gave the football program such poor advice.
“It is almost always the cover-up…”
Back to football. Of course the story is less about the $312 in improper benefits and much more about Tech’s response. Everyone from the legal counsel to the athletic administration to the compliance office contributed to a decision to willfully ignore the possibility of an ineligible player. As Tech’s president admitted, “it appears (the ineligible players) would quickly be reinstated” had Tech acted more aggressively and moved to declare them ineligible as soon as they were aware of a problem. But that timeline put Tech up against their three most important games of the year: the rivalry game with Georgia, the ACC championship game, and subsequently their first BCS bowl game.
Was it worth it?
No one will admit that it was. But if Thomas was a factor in Tech winning or not winning the 2009 ACC championship game, it becomes an interesting call. That game was an exciting display of offense, and both teams needed all of their weapons. A 70-yard touchdown pass to Thomas was a huge play in the third quarter. He finished with only two receptions, but there’s no questioning his impact in the game. Instead of heading to a BCS bowl, Clemson fell all the way to the Music City Bowl.
Tech lost two of the three games for which Thomas was retroactively ineligible, but they won the one that paid off. There’s no telling in which bowl Tech would have played had they lost the ACC title game, but no other bowl is close to the payout or exposure that comes from a BCS bowl. If Tech isn’t required to pay anything but the $100,000 fine, that’s a relatively small investment for a BCS payout.
It might seem tough to have to vacate a conference title, and four years of probation sounds ominous. But none of those penalties are constraints on the program going forward. There is no loss of scholarships, no postseason ban, no requirement to repay the gains of their violations, and no reduction in recruiting contact. Should there be? The program might have to whitewash their conference title, but the memory will remain of an exciting last-minute triumph and a trip to the BCS. On the other hand, I can’t get past the fact that all of this was over freaking $312. When you think about breathless stories of major violations, you think about cars, reckless boosters with envelopes full of cash, and sketchy six-figure “donations”. $300 is a rounding error in most of the infamous college scandals.
It’s worth pointing out that Tech’s penalties were similar to those self-imposed recently by Ohio State. The Buckeyes also vacated their wins using ineligible players and accepted probation. Ohio State vows to fight penalties with any teeth like the loss of scholarships or a postseason ban. If the Tech decision is any indicator, will Ohio State have anything to worry about? Of course the cases aren’t analogous from the value of improper benefits to the number of student-athletes involved to the school’s cooperation with the investigation. But in the end both cases involved programs playing ineligible players.
What can Georgia learn?
Tech did what many Georgia fans urged Mark Richt to do last season: play your best receiver anyway. Georgia was tipped off to the possibility of an improper benefit. While the NCAA took its time to rule on the case, the frustration was building each week. Georgia made the tough and unpopular call to keep Green on the shelf while there was still uncertainty. The news ultimately wasn’t great for Green, but he served his suspension and that was the end of it for he and Georgia as far as the NCAA was concerned.
The Dawgs face a situation now where two incoming student-athletes possibly received improper benefits. The severity of Tech’s penalties were ultimately about their response (or lack of response) to evidence of an improper benefit. Georgia will consider that precedent when deciding how to proceed with Jones and/or Caldwell-Pope. If there’s any uncertainty, I would expect them to be declared ineligible until the NCAA is able to decide otherwise.
Where was the media?
I asked this earlier, but it still amazes me. When you think about the concentration of college football media that passes through or resides in Atlanta, how could this story have slipped through until the day when the NCAA came forward to announce sanctions? Look at all of the actions that occurred just on the football side of things:
- You had the NCAA notifying Tech of a possible violation in November of 2009. They conducted interviews in November and December.
- In September of 2010, Tech’s president got a notice of inquiry from the NCAA.
- In December of 2010, Tech received a notice of formal allegations.
- Tech responded to the allegations in March of 2011.
- The school appeared in front of the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions in April 2011.
All of that, and the story stayed under the radar until today. I have to take my cap off to Tech for keeping it quiet, but even they couldn’t have done it without the complicity of a lazy media. It’s not the first time this year the Atlanta media have been caught asleep at the wheel.
The lack of media attention wasn’t necessarily a good thing for Tech. When the A.J. Green story broke last year, Georgia’s every move was open for scrutiny. They had no choice but to play it safe and by the book. Had there been a brighter spotlight on the Tech program, might they have been forced by the exposure to make the tough but wise call to shelve Thomas for the Georgia game? They still would have lost to Georgia, but they’d still likely also have their ACC championship banner.
Thursday July 14, 2011
Far be it from me to take much delight* in Georgia Tech facing an NCAA investigation. If it turns out to be street agent type of stuff, it’s the same kind of thing that could happen to any program, and we’re right in the middle of two Georgia student-athletes facing questions about improper benefits themselves.
What gets me is this: Atlanta is home to one of the more significant newspapers in the Southeast. It’s also home to two sports talk radio stations and major market television stations. Several regional and national college football pundits are based here. And we’re just finding out about an NCAA investigation into a BCS-level program on judgement day? That’s some good work. But I’m sure that if you wanted Brent Benedict’s thoughts on the situation, the Atlanta paper could have that for you by close of business today.
* If it turns out that Tech’s wins from the 2008 season must be vacated, it will mean that it’s been over 20 years since Tech beat Georgia without ineligible players.
Thursday July 14, 2011
When I talked about the depth at running back last week, I was pretty dismissive about the idea of Richard Samuel being part of the solution. Never say never, I guess. We have to remind ourselves that this is all conjecture for now, and Samuel’s cryptic Tweets could as well be about choosing which model of scooter to buy.
Bernie has some thoughts about what this means, and they all make sense. We can analyze the heck out of this idea not only for what it means for the tailback situation but also for what it has to say about the linebackers.
I think this has a lot less to do with Crowell than with what’s after Crowell. We’re about as tense over Crowell’s adjustment to the college game as we would be driving in Bolivia. If he doesn’t come out of the gate averaging 150 yards per game, cardiac units across the state will be busy. Take it for what it’s worth, but Crowell’s talent has apparently shown up in Athens along with whatever adjustment issues might go along with them. We’ll at least have to wait a few games before knowing whether it’s time to pass the torch to the next high school tailback prospect.
Assuming for now that Crowell will actually step in to and keep the starting role, there has to be a plan for those 10 or 15 carries that come when Crowell is out of the game. Most of us would be nervously OK seeing what Thomas and Malcome can do. The tailback is also usually in on passing plays too, and a bulked-up Samuel could be a very valuable piece of the protection puzzle rather than an undersized Thomas or the freshman Malcome who is still learning the ropes. I think we’ve seen Samuel’s limit at tailback. And to be honest, it wasn’t bad. By that I mean I’d be as comfortable with him getting some of those carries as Thomas or Malcome until Ken shows what he can do. That’s not saying a lot, I know.
There’s necessarily a question of opportunity cost. If Samuel moves back to offense, he’s not a linebacker. Is that a big deal? The consensus when he moved in the first place was that he was better suited as a linebacker and had showed a lot of promise at the position in high school. But after a redshirt year during which he was able to dedicate himself to working as a linebacker, the coaches still saw fit to moved a newly-converted safety (a position with plenty of its own depth issues) ahead of Samuel on the depth chart. That’s not to say that Samuel hasn’t cut it at linebacker – he hasn’t played a live down yet. But you don’t consider a move like this for someone you see as more essential to one position than another.
What if Crowell isn’t the answer, you ask. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that Samuel or any other tailback on the roster would be a solution. Georgia would be in a tough spot. Teams weak in the backfield might be able to compensate with a spread passing game, but the second and third-best receivers on this team might be a pair of tight ends. The 2003 blueprint is fine, but it required an exceptional defense.
There are other answers: Branden Smith’s role is always good for discussion, and he’s surely good for more than jet sweeps. And if Nick Marshall is that serious of a threat in a “wild dawg” formation, he could do something with the ball in his hands. But those are short-term solutions in limited roles. With questions at receiver and a defense that’s still on the rebound, Georgia could really use that standout tailback. Right now, even with Samuel’s position up in the air, it looks as if there’s still only one candidate for that role.
Tuesday July 12, 2011
If you tried to order football parking passes yesterday, you know all about the technical problems with the process. More on that in another post.
But season passes for parking decks (along with per-game RV parking) remain on sale, and three of the four decks are still available. The price for a parking deck pass is $120 – not bad at all for a guaranteed and sheltered parking spot. It’s certainly cheaper (over the course of a season) than any of the municipal or private lots and decks around downtown or campus, and you don’t have to join the mad dash first thing in the morning to claim any of the sparse open free parking around the periphery of the campus.
It’s sad that this is what it’s come to when so many of us remember just pulling up anywhere on campus, but those days are long gone.
Tuesday July 12, 2011
Benedict a Hokie
Brent Benedict is headed to Virginia Tech. As always we wish him and any transfer well in the Corleone sense, and heading to a school we’re not likely to face is a lot better than had he decided on, say, Florida. His progress will be interesting to track if only to see just how far he can come back from his high school injury. I’ve heard outlooks on his recovery ranging from “ready to contribute” to wondering if he’ll ever see a down of live action. The accepted story is that the transfer had less to do with his recovery, but I’m not so sure. Him landing at another major program doesn’t necessarily indicate that the recovery is further along than we might have thought; a lot of programs would be willing to take a flyer on a lineman with his attributes and skill.
A couple of weeks ago Marc Weiszer noted that Georgia had 77 scholarship players following the attrition of this off-season. Of course that number was reduced by one on Friday when news broke of Caleb King’s ineligibility. UGASports.com has a breakdown by class showing the number after King’s departure to be 77. At any rate, the Dawgs are well under the 85 scholarship limit.
It’s tough to get a read on the impact of losing King. On one hand, he wasn’t a consistent producer. His averages were fine – when he was able to play – but his great and impactful moments were few and far between. His contribution to the 2009 win in Atlanta puts us squarely in his corner, but he never came close to sustaining that level of production. It’s tough for a guy who’s been suspended and in and out of academic trouble to be much of a leader or mentor, so I’m not as bothered about losing the experience of a senior as I otherwise might be.
If there’s anything close to a consensus on King, it’s that his departure just adds fuel to the preseason meme: thin, no margin for error, what have you. It’s a drum we’ve beaten here too: Georgia’s 76 or 77 scholarship players are just one or two more than what’s allowed USC, a team on major probation. (As Weiszer points out, Florida’s numbers are even lower.)
There’s hand-wringing over the fact that the guys in place now pretty much have to produce in order for Georgia to avoid disaster, but that’s really not a huge development. With the exception of Sturdivant, a lot of the guys you’d list as crucial to Georgia’s hopes for a rebound season are still with the team. What’s changed is that the safety net is gone beneath those players. But few teams are able to sustain a championship run relying on reserves at more than a couple of positions. This lack of depth might have an impact down the road, especially along the offensive line, but another solid recruiting class could mitigate some of those problems.
Speaking of Caleb King, he plans to enter the NFL’s supplemental draft. As Seth Emerson points out, someone in academic trouble probably wouldn’t make the best transfer candidate.
Friday July 8, 2011
It’s no consolation to Arkansas fans, but Ohio State has officially vacated the 2010 season and taken other actions as self-imposed sanctions for major NCAA violations. Those sanctions will likely only be the starting point as the NCAA continues to investigate the case.
Friday July 8, 2011
Rumors from Athens along with not-so-cryptic tweets from the man himself indicate that Georgia senior tailback Caleb King will be academically ineligible to play next year. Unless this is some elaborate in-joke pulled by King and some of his teammates, the news isn’t good.
Early session summer grades aren’t official yet, so there likely won’t be any imminent confirmation coming from the program.
UPDATE: Georgia has released a statement, with comment from Coach Richt, confirming that King is ineligible for the upcoming season.
Back in February, we discussed the issues facing Georgia’s top two returning tailbacks:
We’ve seen Georgia have to turn to the fullback position in recent years to find that “just in case” tailback. A rotation of Crowell, Malcome, and Thomas wouldn’t be a much better situation. Whether for injury, endurance, or production, Georgia has frequently had to dip deep into its stock of tailbacks. I’d much rather that next option be someone of King and/or Ealey’s experience and ability. The receiver position is going to be thin enough next year; culling the roster of tailbacks isn’t going to help much.
Ealey’s departure came as most expected. King was having a good spring and summer, but he left himself in a tremendous hole following fall semester. If he was ineligible for the bowl, that means he didn’t complete six hours in the fall. NCAA rules required that a player must complete 18 hours in the previous academic year to remain eligible for the next year. You can see that anyone who doesn’t meet the six hours requirement in December has quite an uphill fight in the spring and summer. Further, the NCAA requires a certain amount of progress towards a degree. Entering his fifth year, King would have had to complete 80% of his coursework towards a degree in order to be eligible.
There will be plenty of fan backlash at King for becoming ineligible, and it’s unbelievable that he’d let it get to this point when he’s on the cusp of a productive senior season. Georgia’s tailback situation is dire. The only returning experience is Carlton Thomas. Ken Malcome will get his first taste of action as a redshirt freshman, and I wouldn’t overlook him. And of course there is Isaiah Crowell. As if enough expectations weren’t already heaped on the true freshman, there are no alternatives now.
(No, Richard Samuel isn’t moving back.)
There’s no sugarcoating the depth situation and lack of experience. If you have to draw hope from somewhere, you can look at 2003. Cooper, Lumpkin, and Browning weren’t much more experienced than the current group. Lumpkin was rated highly – perhaps not to Crowell extremes, but he was still a 5* prospect in 2003 and the #2 back in the nation behind some guy named Bush. You can think of Malcome as similar to Cooper – down to the power running style. And there’s the waterbug, the smaller quick back who won’t run anyone over but who can make things happen with a little room. Thomas-up-the-middle is a favorite criticism of Georgia’s offense, but Carlton can still bring something to the position as Tyson Browning did.
Of course that 2003 team was helped by one of the nastier defenses I’ve seen at Georgia. The 2011 defense has a ways to go before it can start bailing out a struggling offense. Reports are positive about Crowell’s progress during summer, and hopefully he can have the kind of impact (and durability) such that the other two backs are more than enough for support roles. That’s best-case and almost the only case in which Georgia can have a potent running game. Is it likely? Anyone claiming to know at this point is selling you something. But as attrition continues along the offensive line, you’d feel a lot better with a few backs who knew the SEC ropes.
And somehow Janzen Jackson is eligible to play this fall.