Wednesday August 21, 2013
The 2013 football schedule doesn’t start for another week, but the big news today is the release of the 2014 SEC schedule. We knew that the conference would stick with an eight-game schedule, so the only real question was whether another SEC West opponent would replace LSU. That turned out to be the case. Rather than a return trip to Baton Rouge, Georgia will pick up Arkansas and head to Fayetteville.
Here is Georgia’s 2014 slate:
Aug 30 – vs. Clemson
Sept 6 – BYE
Sept 13 – at South Carolina
Sept 20 – vs. Troy
Sept 27 – vs. Tennessee
Oct 4 – vs. Vanderbilt
Oct 11 – at Missouri
Oct 18 – at Arkansas
Oct 25 – BYE
Nov 1 – Florida
Nov 8 – at Kentucky
Nov 15 – vs. Auburn
Nov 22 – vs. Charleston Southern
Nov 29 – vs. Georgia Tech
Dec 6 – SEC Championship
A few observations:
- Everyone’s first analysis is to check who a team avoids from the other division. Georgia misses Alabama, LSU, and A&M.
- For a new quarterback, it’s as close to an ideal schedule as you can get. Four of the first five are at home. Though Clemson and South Carolina will pose tough challenges, there’s at least a bye week before the trip to Columbia.
- The long road trip is back. We’ve seen long stretches away from home like this before (2009 most recently), but Georgia will go from October 4 through November 15 without a home game.
- The long road trip includes one tricky stretch. Missouri and Arkansas might not be the toughest teams on the schedule, but they represent a haul during the middle of the year. It’s not as if the Dawgs will be driving all the way out there, but those are two extended road trips after four straight games. It’s just something to watch. As for the fans…might as well spend a week in Branson, I guess.
- South Carolina opening with an SEC game isn’t new – they just opened at Vanderbilt last year. But in 2014 they’ll start with a Thursday home game against Texas A&M – the inaugural game on the new SEC Network. (Go ahead and start writing the post-Clowney-and-Manziel-era pieces now.) While Georgia will have a bye on September 6, the Gamecocks will host East Carolina.
- Both Georgia and Florida preserve their bye week before the WLOCP.
- Georgia should be fairly pleased with their schedule, but of course not everyone will be happy. Florida will face LSU and Alabama from the SEC West in 2014.
- 2014 will be the first time that the Dawgs will play Auburn and Georgia Tech in Athens in the same season.
- Don’t get used to this schedule – we’re still a couple of years away from anything resembling a permanent schedule and a decision on eight or nine conference games.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
It’s a ticket kind of day around here.
The Vols have released single-game tickets to the general public. You can find them here. Tickets are $80/ea. You can select your seats – Georgia sections in the upper deck are usually GG and HH.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
With the season just a couple of weeks away, we’re starting to get news about changes to the game day experience. We haven’t heard anything new about tailgating, parking, or traffic flow, and we’re not expecting significant changes in those areas. We’ll pass along anything that comes up.
One thing that is changing is how you enter the stadium – no more tearing of ticket stubs.
All reserved seat tickets are bar-coded and will be scanned for entry at all gates. UGA Student tickets will continue to be loaded onto their UGA ID Card and only accepted at Gates 1, 3 and 4A.
Few transitions are seamless, so fans are urged to get to the South Carolina game a little early to avoid a crush at the gates.
Going to scanning will allow fans to transfer tickets online (through official UGA partner StubHub). While UGA hasn’t announced details of that process yet, StubHub does this with other teams, and we expect that things will be similar for Georgia. Look for an e-mail from UGA soon with specifics.
There is one obvious issue with the StubHub system: there will still be the original tickets out there. These aren’t counterfeit tickets – these are once-valid tickets that have been transfered online and inactivated. StubHub’s system works like this: “The barcodes on the tickets you currently have will be invalidated and tickets with a new bar code will be issued to the buyer.” It’s easy to imagine a number of inactivated tickets floating around the secondary market, especially for bigger games. There needs to be some way outside of the StubHub system – apart from at the gate – to verify whether a ticket is valid.
Thursday August 1, 2013
Preseason polls might not be accurate, but they do establish pole position for the race to the national title. If that’s the case, Georgia should be happy to start the season at #5 in the USA Today coaches’ poll. They won’t have far to climb in order to contend for the national title if the season unfolds favorably.
That’s the good news. The bad news is that Georgia must face four top 13 opponents during the regular season – three of them in September. Georgia’s first two opponents, South Carolina (7th) and Clemson (8th) are also in the top ten.
The SEC placed six teams in the poll, and none was lower than 13th. (Alabama-1, Georgia-5, A&M-6, South Carolina-7, Florida-10, LSU-13) The conference has half of the initial top 10. Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, and Tennessee also received votes but did not crack the top 25. Only Missouri, Kentucky, and Auburn received no votes.
We’ll see some shakeout among the top 10 right away. Georgia faces two top 10 teams and adds Florida at the beginning of November. Alabama and Texas A&M are set to meet as well. Later Oregon will play Stanford, and Clemson will close with South Carolina. Ohio State and Louisville are the only preseason top 10 teams not to face another top 10 team during the regular season.
Monday July 22, 2013
One of the themes of last week’s SEC Media Days was the pace of play as it relates to player safety. Several coaches had already made their preferences known, so this wasn’t exactly new ground. Still, it was a chance to get most everyone on the record.
Auburn’s Guz Malzahn, as you’d expect, spoke strongly in support of his up-tempo approach. “We completely believe in pace,” he began. Malzahn even turned the issue around, pointing a finger at defenses who try anything they can to slow things down.
We need to look at the guys on defense that are faking injuries to slow down these pace teams.
He’s right that there will be gamesmanship, but I admit that his line about fake injuries rubbed me the wrong way. The last time Georgia faced a Malzahn offense over at Auburn, we were treated to the Auburn crowd – praised for their “sophistication” by Gary Danielson – booing a Georgia player struggling to get off the field after taking a helmet to the knee. We come down on the side of the up-tempo teams, as Malzahn and Mark Richt do, but for some reason we can’t too worked up over Malzahn’s objection.
Monday July 8, 2013
One of the more interesting members of Georgia’s 2013 signing class is Brendan Douglas. Douglas was a late addition to the class, committing in the week before Signing Day. He got the conversation going for a couple of reasons: first, it was a chance to take a commitment away from Tech at the 11th hour (that phone call with Paul Johnson must’ve been pleasant.) But there was also the curiosity over the interest in a running back unknown to all but the most hard-core of recruitniks.
We didn’t even know what position Douglas played. Many initial reports had him as a fullback, and Rivals had him pegged as the nation’s #5 fullback. The offer of another fullback seemed strange. At the time, Zander Ogletree was still on the team, and Georgia also had underclassmen Hall and Hicks with experience at fullback.
But as the spring went on, coaches made it clear that Douglas is slotted to play tailback. Certainly that has to do with Georgia’s tailback depth – Bobo admitted that a true freshman – either Douglas or A.J. Turman – could see time this year out of necessity. Whether a fullback or a tailback, Douglas seems like the kind of guy who can find a role somewhere, even if it’s initially on special teams. He made news at an Augusta-area combine back in March, and we’ll let the Columbia County News-Times fill in the details:
The star of the day was Aquinas standout and University of Georgia signee Brendan Douglas. He won nearly every competition, posting some astonishing numbers such as a 40.5 inch vertical jump (Michael Jordan’s was 44 inches), a 10 foot, 2 inch broad jump (the top broad jump at UGA’s Pro Day this year was 10 foot, 3 inches), and he powered out 37 repetitions of 185 pounds on the bench press.
All of that is to set up a link to this post over at Football Study Hall (FSH): The run game renaissance and the return of the fullback. Now the fullback has never been marginalized in Mark Richt’s offense to the extent that it was elsewhere, but the points about finding new uses for “versatile” and “hybrid” players apply. Georgia has experimented with some of this versatility, but it’s mostly been with the tight ends. We’ve had Charles flexing outside, and Figgins moved to the backfield, and the H-back concept goes all the way back to the Shannon Mitchell days. But as FSH admits, finding these kinds of players at tight end isn’t easy. While Georgia has relied, and still does rely, on walk-ons at fullback, we’re also seeing an increased use of scholarship players at the position.
It caught my eye in May when Mark Richt mentioned the possibility of Gurley and Marshall in the backfield at the same time. Richt also emphasized that they’d have a fullback in as a lead blocker. That got more than a couple of people wondering how it would look. Certainly the wildcat is a possibility, and it’s a familiar set for Georgia. In a callback to the Shannon Mitchell days, the lead blocker could also be an H-back allowing for a traditional two-back shotgun set.
FSH identifies another possibility: the diamond. The diamond allows for a quarterback and three backs, including one or more fullbacks. It could certainly work with two tailbacks and the fullback that Richt described. Georgia used the pistol formation at times in 2012, and the diamond wouldn’t be a huge stretch from there. We don’t know exactly what the coaches have in mind for the backfield, but we’re encouraged to at least see the wheels turning. As the Bulldogs (and everyone else in the SEC) ponders how to deal with someone like Clowney, FSH identifies a role for the fullback:
As a response to spread tactics, defenses are playing quick and powerful athletes at defensive end but playing lighter and less physical players at linebacker. Consequently, while the defensive ends can be a load for the tight end to block, it’s not as difficult for a physical fullback with any meaningful size to cut block or lead block into those defensive ends. It’s certainly not that difficult for a good fullback to open lanes against the smaller, anti-spread linebackers and safeties when leading through a hole.
Now we don’t expect Douglas to be put out there right away by Game 2, but signing a player like that makes more sense down the road when you look at defensive trends. As FSH puts it, “These fullback/halfback players can free up an offense to feature explosive offensive weapons without losing physicality and committing the cardinal football sin of being ‘soft.’” We’ll be watching how a player like Douglas (whether nominally a tailback or fullback) fits in alongside the backfield of Gurley and Marshall and, later, alongside Chubb and Michel.
Thursday May 2, 2013
The SEC and ESPN introduced the SEC Network this afternoon in Atlanta. As word of the announcement had been leaked for some time, neither the announcement nor many of the details were a big surprise. There will be a lot of games and a lot of money, though specific financial terms and other specifics were not discussed. We got a few minor details:
- The deal will run for 20 years, through 2034.*
- The network will not mean additional Thursday night football games. Commissioner Mike Slive declared, “we’re a Saturday league.” Amen.
- CBS will still have the first pick of games with the rest to be distributed by a “content board.” But while CBS will still have the big game, the SEC Network will run games that overlap the 3:30 time slot.
- AT&T U-verse is the only carrier currently signed on to carry the network, but negotiations are underway with everyone else. You can be sure that more agreements will be worked out over the next year.
- The aim for distribution is nationwide, but initial emphasis will be on widespread coverage in the SEC footprint.
- There will be 1,000 sporting events broadcast each year – 450 on the network and an additional 550 online. The network will carry 45 football games – three per week.
* – this is way off-topic, but you start to wonder what the product will look like in 20 years. Will athletics be one of the few physical remnants of universities that will have otherwise moved online? Will safety concerns transform the game of football into something far different? Will some of this money begin to trickle down to the student-athletes and bring a whole other set of equity questions that reshape college athletics? Will the success of these major conference networks further pry apart the top schools from the rest of the NCAA?
Tuesday April 23, 2013
It was Anthony Dasher’s birthday yesterday, but he gave us a present with a lengthy interview with athletic director Greg McGarity ($). The interview is behind the paywall, but it’s really worth a read if you’re a UGASports.com subscriber.
The questions come from UGASports.com subscribers and touch on everything from the future of the baseball program to shuttered concession stands inside of Sanford Stadium. Will Georgia join the football staffing arms race? What are the expectations for the competitiveness of the basketball program? It’s a comprehensive survey of topics of interest to Georgia fans.
If you’re itching for an indoor facility or want to see Georgia’s drug and alcohol policy scaled back, you might not like McGarity’s answers. I give him credit for his candor – some of the questions are fairly pointed, and McGarity doesn’t avoid them.
Fans might be frustrated with the lack of a grandiose facilities construction plan or impatient over the direction of the baseball and basketball programs, but McGarity stresses that the lines of communication are open. This quote was in response to a question about the football game day experience, but it applies to just about any concern a fan might have. McGarity, in our experience, is often quick to respond.
But it’s important for fans to let us know where they are experiencing problems. We want to be responsive. If someone is having a problem with a certain area, let us know and we’ll certainly try to address it. We may not be able to solve it, but it will certainly have our attention.
Wednesday April 17, 2013
There’s an interesting item from Marc Weiszer in which Mark Richt touches on both sides of the debate over adding a ninth conference game.
At the macro level, the money says to go to nine games. The fans want it, and the TV contracts will demand it. The payouts will more than make up for any home games lost. Richt realizes this and admits, “If we go to 16, I can’t imagine us not going to less than nine games. I think we would have to go nine.”
But there are incentives at the individual level, too. Richt is a coach who gets to keep his job by winning games. His incentives reward wins and titles, not impressive schedules. He’s likely to resist things that make his job tougher, so it’s reasonable that he resists supporting an additional conference game.
I voted against it because if we have nine, plus Tech and then if we want to do something like Clemson like we did this year, you’re talking about 11 out of 12 games that are pretty stout.
We know that even the head coach answers to someone, and the larger interest will eventually win out. The coaches will come along reluctantly. Still, some of those same incentives that govern Richt matter for the school. More wins mean better bowls, larger payouts, and happier fans who donate more money. How do you get there while taking on an additional conference game? Your conference schedule might be set, but you still have three games with which to play. As Richt noted, an out-of-conference rivalry game leaves you with little flexibility.
Unfortunately I expect that it will come at the cost of aggressive nonconference scheduling. There is little incentive to play anyone of note in those remaining games because an SEC team is still going to end up with a respectable strength of schedule, especially with an additional conference game. There are a few things that could make teams go against their best interests in scheduling those remaining games:
- Rules: The Big Ten is doing away with games against FCS teams. Similar steps by other conferences or even at the NCAA level would affect scheduling (or cause a rush by under-qualified FCS schools to join the FBS.)
- TV Money: Networks, who are now in partnership with several conferences, will put a lot of pressure on schools to schedule games that provide attractive matchups for programming.
- Neutral site games: Did you notice the price of Georgia-Florida tickets this year? They’re not done rising. Neutral site games are money-making machines for top-level teams.
- Ego: Remember who the decision-makers are. As silly as it is to attach notions of manhood to schedules perceived as weak, it works.
Is the Tech game untouchable in the world of nine conference games? I’d like to think so, but let’s ask the Aggies and Longhorns. If it came down to it with nine conference games, would you prefer to keep the Tech series so that interesting nonconference games are less frequent, or would you rather drop the series if it meant a larger variety of quality opponents?
Tuesday April 16, 2013
While Georgia’s men’s basketball star announced for the draft yesterday, the senior class of the women’s program had three players selected in last night’s WNBA draft. Jasmine Hassell was taken in the second round (21st overall) by defending champs Indiana. Jasmine James (Seattle) and Anne Marie Armstrong (Atlanta) were selected back-to-back in the third round.
Hassell, James, and Armstrong were part of an accomplished senior class that played in four NCAA Tournaments. They reached the Sweet 16 twice and were an overtime loss away from the Final Four this year.
These three draft picks make 16 Lady Dogs drafted in the last 13 years. Georgia’s three draftees are the most for the program in a single season since 2001 when Kelly Miller, Coco Miller, and Deanna Nolan were all selected in the first round.
Tuesday April 16, 2013
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope has decided to take the plunge and enter the NBA Draft. We enjoyed watching him develop and play, and he’s given us no shortage of great moments in his two seasons. He’s been an ideal representative for the University. Selfishly I would’ve loved for him to stay another year. Not that it matters, but I think he made the right call.
Would Caldwell-Pope had improved with another year? He definitely had things to work on. His ball-handling sometimes caused him problems. He could be better at driving rather than settling for the jumpshot (but if you could shoot like he can, you’d take the jumper too.) He wasn’t much of a threat to leave after his freshman season, but his decision to stay paid off: he became a much more complete player with improved defense and patience to go along with the shot that was there from the beginning. I can believe that it was a tough decision. If he improved this much from a year ago, what would one more year do?
It’s not as clear that another season would have paid the same dividends. He’d be working on growth in some specific areas against defenses whose first priority would be to deny him the ball. We had already started to see some of this by the end of the season, but it didn’t take much scouting to figure out that you could dedicate one or even two defenders exclusively to locking down KCP. To his credit, and to our amazement, he still put up impressive numbers. Still, that defensive strategy led to stretches and entire halves in which KCP struggled to score, and it was all the rest of the team could do to stay in the game until KCP found his stride.
With Georgia’s outlook and personnel for next season roughly unchanged, it had to be easy for Caldwell-Pope to envision an entire season that looked like the last month of the 2012-2013 season. He’d be harassed as the primary target for every opposing defense – nothing new, but also not particularly fun. It’s reasonable that he’d put up similar numbers, but that’s not the kind of growth that would elevate him from his current draft outlook to a sure lottery pick. It’s hard to focus on specific elements of your game when the team finds itself in survival mode night after night and needs you to score by any means necessary.
Caldwell-Pope leaves Georgia as the reigning SEC Player of the Year. With even a comparable season it’s less likely that his stock would be as high as it is now. He’d have the benefit of instant name recognition, but the competition might be tougher to repeat as SEC POY. Eight SEC schools have signed members of ESPN’s top 100 prep players, and Kentucky’s class alone will produce several likely candidates. He’s going out on top, at least individually.
Of course his departure will affect next year’s team. The Dawgs struggled to put points on the board even with KCP on the court. The funny thing is that his position, shooting guard, is one of the deeper and more talented spots on the roster for Georgia. Kenny Gaines had his moments as a freshman, and incoming guard Juwan Parker is a 6’4″ scorer. But while we can expect important contributions from both Gaines and Parker, it’s asking a lot for either to become a 15+ PPG player right away. Georgia must still deal with a limited skill set on offense among the frontcourt players, and that’s where the biggest gains would have happen. You need guys like Morris, Williams, and a healthy Thornton to step up. You need Djurisic to be more consistent. The Dawgs can still sign up to two players during the spring, and they might even dip back into the JUCO ranks as they did with Florveus.
Thursday April 11, 2013
As Michael Adams’ time as the University of Georgia’s president draws to a close, there will be no end of retrospective pieces. The Red & Black has an overview of Adams’ influence on the football program and specifically his role in hiring Mark Richt.
There’s mention over the struggle between Adams and Dooley, and Dooley avoided the opportunity to score a shot on the outgoing president. Dooley provides some perspective on Richt weathering the storm of 2010 and 2011, and both he and Richt have positive things to say about Adams’ replacement, Dr. Jere Morehead.
Thursday March 28, 2013
Georgia’s lack of an indoor practice facility seems to come up every few years – usually when weather has forced a change of plans for the football team. It’s back in the news this spring after two events. First, Aaron Murray’s spring break work at Oklahoma left him impressed with the Sooners’ facility. That, and a little rough early spring weather, led to a lighthearted (and unsanctioned) PR campaign last week.
Then on Saturday, stormy weather forced Georgia to postpone a scheduled spring scrimmage to Tuesday. That’s no big deal, but several important recruits were in town to observe the scrimmage. The canceled scrimmage changed the day’s plans which gave coaches more time to meet with prospects in person but also took away the central attraction of the day for some. When a prospect remarked ($) that “they need an indoor facility,” fans reacted to a disapproving comment from a recruit and joined the call for a facility.
If you’re one of the people wanting this done yesterday, the good news is that the project might soon be in reach. If you’ve thought of an indoor facility as a waste of good money, the good news is that the price tag need not be as steep as we thought a few years ago.
An indoor facility has been in the works since the Donnan years. It was one of the first things Richt talked about when he got to Georgia. We hear every so often that it’s in the works and a top priority, but here we are a decade later still without one. The same points come up each time, so hopefully a little Q&A will cover most of the background – what’s involved with an indoor facility, why after all this time is Georgia without one, and what would it take to make it happen?
Does Georgia really need an indoor facility?
Depending on whom you ask, an indoor facility is anything from an immediate need costing Georgia recruits and precious practice time to an extravagant monument to the excesses of college football. I think it comes down squarely in the “nice to have” category. Yes, it’s inconvenient to alter the practice schedule, especially during the tight timetable in the season when lost days can’t be made up. It’s also unfortunate to disappoint recruits who might’ve been looking forward to watching a practice.
Recruiting ends up being one of the biggest reasons to have an indoor facility. They’re supposedly heavy artillery in the facilities arms race, and being able to hook up a game console to the display inside your facility is all part of the package designed to impress and awe prospective players. Schools still manage to sign highly-ranked classes without such a facility, but we can’t deny the wow factor.
The actual usefulness to a team is less clear. There’s one obvious use case: practicing during bad weather. There will be other uses – individual workouts, a site to host Pro Day, and even other teams can take cover there. Reality seems to be that the facilities don’t get used as much as we’d expect.
UGA officials have talked about building an indoor practice facility for years, but when UGA administrators toured other universities that have such indoor facilities, they found that the schools’ football teams rarely used the expensive buildings. Instead, the biggest user seemed to be the schools’ track teams, said UGA athletic director Damon Evans. “Football hardly ever utilized the facility,” Evans told the board of directors of the athletic association.
So there’s a cost / benefit analysis to be done. A lot of other programs have decided that what few benefits come from a facility are worth the costs. Of course some of these programs haven’t been the best stewards of their checkbooks.
If there’s even a small need and most other schools have one, why doesn’t Georgia have one yet?
Short answer: given the scope of what Georgia planned for its indoor facility (more on that below), there have been higher priorities for its capital budget. The athletic association has responsibilities to all of its programs, and we’ve seen some impressive projects like the $30 million Coliseum Training Facility. Even when it comes to football, other projects have been more important since Mark Richt became coach. There have been very visible projects like an expanded Sanford Stadium and some improvements out of the public eye like improved outdoor practice fields.
Most recently the athletic association completed a $40 million expansion of the Butts-Mehre facility that primarily benefits the football program. When it came down to it, Mark Richt supported this expansion over a separate football facility.
After seeing other schools’ facilities, UGA football coach Mark Richt said he’d rather have the Butts-Mehre expansion than the indoor football field, said UGA President Michael Adams, who also is chairman of the athletic association board.
What’s the big deal? How much could it cost to put a roof over a practice field?
An “indoor facility” can can cover anything from a simple $6-7 million covered field like Georgia Tech just built to a $26 million facility at Michigan. The range comes from what you want out of the building. Putting a roof over 120 yards of turf is relatively inexpensive. It’s when you think bigger that the price tag goes up.
Georgia and Mark Richt think bigger. Even nine years ago, Richt had a pretty clear vision of a multi-use facility that would be far more than just a covered field.
Richt spoke in detail about a comprehensive facility that he said would include an indoor track and would benefit other teams and the band during inclement weather….It would include a weight room on the bottom floor, administrative offices on the second floor and a third-floor dining hall that would be part of the university dining system.
As you can imagine, that kind of building wouldn’t come cheap. Texas A&M completed a nice facility in 2008 that combined an indoor practice facility with an indoor track at a cost of $35 million. Georgia has braced itself for a big-ticket facility for a while.
Athletic officials considered an indoor facility more than four years ago when Jim Donnan was coaching the Bulldogs. The pricetag then was in the $25 to $30 million range. The cost now would be significantly higher especially with the scope of the project that Richt talked about.
Wait – didn’t we just build an indoor something or other?
Sort of. That $40 million improvement and expansion of the Butts-Mehre building took care of a lot of needs. The weight room was addressed. There’s a lot more meeting and office space. There’s even a large turf-covered area that can be used for walk-throughs and can be re-purposed for large gatherings. The only things it isn’t: a full-length covered field and an indoor track.
I can’t see Georgia throwing away a $40 million project just to build it all over again in a standalone football facility. The good news is that the Butts-Mehre expansion allows the scope – and cost – of an indoor practice facility to be pared back to something that’s more likely to get done sooner than later. Schools like Auburn, Clemson, and Virginia have all recently unveiled new facilities that came in under $20 million.
The bad news is that it might require going back to the drawing board. Georgia’s ambitious facility has been the plan for over a decade now. Would the stakeholders (especially Coach Richt) support a facility that’s pared down to “only” an indoor field? Would the athletic association open the wallet for something that’s not exactly multi-use and might exclude an indoor track? Those discussions to revise the existing plans need to take place before Georgia can start building.
Even so, isn’t Georgia sitting on a pile of cash? Why are they being so stingy?
It’s true – Georgia has about $68 million in reserve funds as of last fall. That doesn’t mean that it’s idle cash. It’s foremost a safety net against any kind of downturn. Properly invested, reserves can also provide interest income to cover some of the minor upkeep projects that we hear about every year.
With annual expenses now over $88 million, the current reserves are about 80% of a year’s spending. That might seem like a lot, but let’s consider the Tennessee situation: the perfect storm of a poor economy, declining support of a poor flagship football program, hefty buyouts for coaches, and $200 million in debt has led to reserves dipping under $2 million and an operating deficit. Georgia’s not nearly in that situation, but it’s not hard to imagine the strain a sustained downturn in football could put on the bottom line.
It’s worth mentioning again that Georgia hasn’t avoided spending on facilities projects. From the 600 level and Reed Alley at Sanford Stadium to the Coliseum Training Facility to the Butts-Mehre expansion, there have been several high-dollar additions and improvements. There are even more smaller projects like the Stegeman Coliseum renovation and new scoreboards. Annual expenses have gone from around $72 million in 2010 to $88 million now. Good financial management isn’t a bad thing.
Where would it go?
Location matters, and that’s been at the heart of some of the decisions that have been made. Real estate is limited in and around the Vince Dooley Athletic Complex. Building a full-length indoor field in that area would require the expensive relocation of something like Foley Field or the Spec Towns Track, or it would cost the football program at least one of its four outdoor practice fields. Losing an outdoor field isn’t optimal, and it’s one of the reasons why the Butts-Mehre expansion only included a short stub of indoor turf – there just wasn’t the room to go bigger.
Most plans then call for any new facility to be built out on South Milledge by the soccer and softball complex. Though the hilly terrain out there would add to the site preparation costs, there’s plenty of room for a facility and parking (even for scooters!). The downside is that the remote location reduces the utility of an indoor facility. A practice couldn’t just be relocated next door for inclement weather – there would be the same logistical steps as there are now when a practice gets moved to the Ramsey Center. The facility would be several miles away from training areas, the main football offices, and all of the other amenities added to Butts-Mehre.
TL;DR: So what’s the outlook?
If you’d like to see an indoor facility, the good news is that there aren’t many higher priorities remaining. There’s a $5 million plan for Foley Field, but that’s already in the fundraising stage. Sanford Stadium won’t be expanded any time soon, but it could always use some improvements. As far as major capital projects (>$10 million) go, the indoor facility looks to be next in line.
Because of the Butts-Mehre expansion, we expect plans for this football facility to be scaled back to a building that could come in around $15 million. That does mean starting from square one and a revision to the master plan, and that will take some high-level approval from the athletics board before we even draw up plans. They don’t exactly meet every week, so it could be later this year for an indoor facility to become an agenda item.
Location seems locked in on South Milledge. That will give the building all of the room it needs, but it will also isolate it from the rest of the football facilities and make it slightly less useful than a building that’s adjacent to the existing practice fields. That’s the trade-off of getting all of the other items on the wish list.
The final hurdle will be fundraising. The athletic association isn’t eager to increase its debt load, so most – if not all – of the money for this facility would come from private sources. With that in mind, a $15 million target looks a lot more attainable than $30-40 million. Still want an indoor practice facility? Send that check to 1 Selig Circle…
Monday March 25, 2013
Georgia’s women’s swimming and diving team rolled to its fifth national title over the weekend, posting 477 points to runner-up Cal’s 393. The team features Olympians Allison Schmitt and Shannon Vreeland, but a team accomplishment like this requires contributions up and down the roster. The highlight of the meet was the 400-yard freestyle relay which broke the NCAA and U.S. Open records.
The national title is Georgia’s first NCAA team title since 2009. That means it’s the first team national title under athletic director Greg McGarity, who was appointed to the job in August 2010. That merited the AD joining the national champs for a celebratory dive into the pool.
Tuesday March 19, 2013
Georgia’s 2012-2013 basketball season ended up having quite a bit more life than I expected, but it still ended just short of a shot at postseason consideration. Mark Fox has patroled the Stegeman sidelines for four years. The NCAA Tournament bid in 2011 was the high point, but the process of rebuilding the program has been slow going. Have we reached a plateau, or will there be a payoff to patience in and a commitment to a coach?
Getting Georgia back to the postseason is going to be about the players. With Caldwell-Pope’s return for next season still up in the air, Georgia might have to find answers elsewhere. One player like Caldwell-Pope can elevate a program, but we learned this year that the rest of the cast must do its part. There was some nice progress from the freshmen in the backcourt. The frontcourt remains a liability. If Georgia is going to continue to show progress next season, there are significant holes to fill.
Though no team from the state of Georgia is headed to the 2013 tournament, there are 25 student-athletes participating who called Georgia home. I don’t mean to suggest that Georgia would be a contender if they built a team around this list – there are players here from high-major starters to minor program benchwarmers. There are also several good players from Georgia who are on teams that didn’t make the tournament. But good recruiting starts at home, especially in a state like Georgia. Will Kentavious Caldwell-Pope be a rare exception, or will some of these home-grown impact players start to pick Georgia and lead Fox’s program to the postseason?
||Powder Springs (McEachern)
||4.8 pts / 3.4 reb
||Fla. Gulf Coast
||Conyers (Rockdale County)
||14.0 pts / 4.4 reb
||Cochran (Bleckley County)
||12.8 pts / 7.2 reb / 1.6 blk
||Savannah (Urban Christian Academy)
||12.6 pts / 3.1 asst
||1.2 pts / 1.1 reb
||Atlanta (Pace Academy)
||0.4 pts / 0.4 reb
||Austell (Oak Hill Academy)
||Waynesboro (Burke County)
||1.8 pts / 1.6 reb
||Fla. Gulf Coast
||Atlanta (Montverde Academy)
||DNP – transfer
||Smyrna (Hargrave Miliary Academy)
||10.5 pts / 4.7 reb / 2.6 asst
||Atlanta (Oak Hill Academy)
||15.3 pts / 3.8 reb
||12.1 pts / 4.3 reb / 7.2 asst
||Rentz (West Laurens)
||12.5 pts / 5.8 reb / 2.4 asst
||Atlanta (Woodward Academy)
||0.8 pts / 0.7 reb
||DNP – injured
||12.7 pts / 10.7 reb
||Hinesville (Liberty County)
||5.9 pts / 1.8 reb
||4.8 pts / 3.8 asst
||Atlanta (Southwest DeKalb)
||7.8 pts / 4.6 reb
||Marietta (Whitefield Academy)
||6.3 pts / 3.9 reb
||Atlanta (Miller Grove)
||Has not played since Nov. 15
||Atlanta (Miller Grove)
||2.2 pts / 1.1 reb
||9.5 pts / 3.7 reb
||2.4 pts / 1.4 reb