Archive for November, 2011

Blue Eyes Crying In the Rain

I don’t know why, but I like Rick Neuheisel.  It might be the fact he stood up to USC when he came to UCLA.  It might be has blond hair and blue eyes like me. 

I have some old stand bys I always cheer for other than UGA.  It was Akransas when Houston Nutt was there.  I also cheered for Texas Tech when Mike Leech was there.  I pull for Navy.  I also pulled for UCLA.

Why the love for Neuheisel?  I can’t say.  UCLA does not fit the Grit Tree mantra of “All things Georgia, All things Southern.”  It is a wierd affinity I have, I know.  I can’t understand it.

So when UCLA announced that Coach Neuheisel would not be back in 2012, the rain outside matched the mood in my heart.  Uchee suggested I listen to Sweet Caroline to cheer me up and remember the good times I had over the last 4 seasons pulling for UCLA.  Granite, though, shared with me this song that fits the mood:

Happy Trails, Rick Neuheisel. 



Stand By Your (Coach)

I will admit, like Tyler Dawgden, I was worried the morning of September 4.  I thought, after seeing the team get out classed by Boise State in the Dome, the Dawgs would be bad again in 2011.  I thought by the time the calendar came around to the Florida game, Rodney Garner would be the interim Head Coach.   I am a Richt guy.  I have been loyal to Coach Richt for years, even when folks had already jumped off the bandwagon.  But on September 4, 2011 I had resigned myself to think that on November 28, 2011, this blog and others would be filled with posts about possible replacements.

 Richt is as solid the UGA Headcoach as ever, and 4 months to the day the team was embarrassed by Boise State, UGA will go back to the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship for the 4th time in 11 seasons.

I spend a lot of time in the car.  I have a lot of time to think, and my thinking time is where I come up with a lot of ideas for posts.  I usually have my thoughts in order and then put  the fingers to the keyboard.  When someone famous dies, most newspapers have an obituary prepared to run.  The obit that the AJC had last week for Larry Munson has been prepared years in advance.   If Queen Elizabeth dies tomorrow, the obituary by and large has already been written, etc…

I had already come up with the points I wanted to make in a post titled “The Rise and Fall of Mark Richt at Georgia”. 

Those thoughts are now gone away. 

Then the team lost to South Carolina in an all too familar way. We outplayed the Gamecocks, but yet found a way to lose.  I though the team had it in them to still win 9 games, my personal goal to retain Richt, but it looked bleak.  There was no leash and plenty of rope.

But the team never quit.  The Coaches never quit.  And it gave me great pleasure to see on ESPN last night, the NCAAF had a tab labled “Firings” last night on the bottom line, and Mark Richt was not on that list.

Coach Richt took a big gamble in sticking to the no huddle, hurry  up offense.  When most folks were ready to send Bobo off, he stood by his young OC and said the strategy would work.  And it has. 

Les Miles will win SEC Coach of the Year.  He deserves it.  Steve Spurrier has also done his best work in years.  But Mark Richt should get consideration for 2nd place.  He has done a tremendous job, and now the UGA football program is back on the right track.  Regardless of what happens in Atlanta Saturday-the Dawgs are playing with house money-the future looks bright.


A Closer Look at the UGA Defense: Comparing to Alabama and LSU

Two things are for certain:  LSU and Alabama will play in the BCS National Championship Game and UGA’s Defense is awesome.  The Georgia Defense has come such a long way from the latter days of the Willie Martinez regime and Bryan Evans’ reign of terror.  The defense is the best its been in years, and now when the offense leaves the field, it is fun again to see this unit wreck havoc. 

But, watching the national media, it seems that they are-shocking-not giving the Dawgs proper credit.  I watched College Gameday and saw Herbie, when talking about the UGA defense, throw up a graphic showing all the bad offenses we have played during the 9 game winning streak (made no mention of how the defense did well against South Carolina).  When discussing the Dawgs on Gameday Final, Mark May said that UGA wouldn’t face a running game like LSU had.  I guess Marcus Lattimore, Michael Dyer and whatever Georgia Tech has doesn’t count Mayday. 

To those detractors, I have this to say, and excuse the French:  Bullshit.

Alabama, LSU and Georgia have played 5 common opponents.  41% of our “weak” teams have also played LSU and Alabama.  LSU played Kentucky so if you include that, 50% of the teams on our schedule LSU played also.  But for the purposes of this discussion, let’s just look at how UGA, Alabama and Georgia compare on defense.  Now, LSU does have trips to the Jerry Dome against Oregon and to Morgantown to face WVU.  I won’t bang on LSU.  But Georgia played ranked in the top 10 Boise State and ranked Georgia Tech out of conference.  What about you, Alabama?  Don’t hate on UGA’s schedule when LSU and Bama have played similar crappy teams!

I looked at the boxscores for each of the games, and have Teams A, B and C listed below.  I also highlighted who “won” that category for that game.  Check in the comment section for the key.  But if you take away the team and just look at the stats, you’ll see that UGA compares very favorable to what LSU and Alabama did against the same competition.  You can’t help who you play, you just have to go out and TCOB.  And Georiga has done that.  (NOTE:  I got this idea from listening to Chris Brame on 960 the Ref, so I can’t take sole credit for this idea, only the research)

Check the first comment for the key.


Rivalry Week Locks

The Grit Tree had a horrible week last week.   As always, we’ll try and do better this week…


Alabama -21

Nevada +1.5

South Florida -3


A few things are constant-Stanford and LSU always cover, and teams that are coming off a big win tend to be flat the next week.  Since there is no Navy this week, I will go with my other stand by:  Pretty Blue Eyes will cover against a flat USC team on their path to the Pac-12 Championship game.

Notre Dame at Stanford (-7)

Arkansas at LSU (-13)

UCLA (+14) at USC


Give me Miami of Ohio +9 tonight.  They won’t win but I like the points. (from Tuesday; he got it)

Temple -17 vs Kent State

Mixing it up, give me Tulsa +3 vs Houston


Stanford -7

Oregon -28

Virginia +4.5


Michigan -7 v. Ohio state

UGA -6 at Tech

Va Tech -4 at UVA

James Frankin is a

terrible person, cheap coach, and the black Lane Kiffin.  And I feel for Lane Kiffin after typing that.  Thanks to the Senator for linking to an article in yesterdays Tennessean.  Here’s what Mr. Franklin has to say in regards to people calling his team dirty and making so called chop blocks.

“When you get into that discussion, it’s when you’re trying to hurt somebody,” Franklin said. “That’s what dirty is. Our kids are just trying to play real hard. They’re not trying to hurt anybody. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Nope, not trying to hurt anybody.

But getting an attitude and blaming others for your problem doesn’t end with Mr. Franklin.  His O-Line coach and players chime in on the situation.

Sophomore lineman Wesley Johnson said Vanderbilt is cut blocking — trying to take out a defender’s legs — about the same as last season.  “Every team in the country is taught to cut. “I think people have started to take notice because we’re playing a lot better. They’re looking for a reason to point out things we’ve done wrong. We’re not doing anything against the rules. We’re just playing aggressive. If (defenders) are chasing the ball and the whistle hasn’t blown, we’re going to block them. So no, we’re not dirty. Nobody has tried to injury anybody.”

Offensive line coach Herb Hand said the low hitting he teaches is also utilized by defenses to take on a block or to tackle the ball carrier.  “That’s part of the game,” Hand said. “The biggest part in doing it is proper hat placement and making sure you’re not hitting from behind. You can’t ever cut a guy when someone is already making contact with them. But if you want to learn about cut blocks, go watch Navy and Army play. They’re going to cut you, and that’s part of the game.”

So Josh Jelesky didn’t make a dirty hit from behind in the 4th quarter of the UT game, he just had his head in the wrong place…behind the UT lineman’s leg and twenty yards behind the play.

As for why Vanderbilt linemen are diving at opponents’ legs as opposed to doing more blocking from the waist up, left guard Ryan Seymour said it sends a message. “A cut block is just an intimidation factor,” Seymour said. “It’s one more time the defender has to stand up, so it’s making an opponent more tired. We’re going to keep doing what our coaches want us to do. But, obviously, we need to be smarter with our cut blocks away from the ball.

So while we watch Mr. Franklin visit high schools in a helicopter, charge after opposing players, pitch a hissy fit after games, and teach his players to dive for the knee remember he’s sending a message.  This isn’t your white collar and silver spoon Vandy, this is the new Vanderbilt and they deserve your respect.

Very Important Tech Game This Year

Kensington and I disagree on most topics and one that we disagree on is the imporatnce of the Tech game.  He says Tech is one the most important games on the schedule. 

But I think the Tech game is just another game.  Yes, it is a rivalry game.  Yes, if the Dawgs lose to Tech, we have to read all the comments from Tech fans all year about how great they are and it just feeds the inferiority complex that Tech has.  Since they have no exploits on the gridiron to brag about, Tech fans brag about how great their school is, how smart they are, and how much money they are going to make.  The last time I checked, the University of Georgia hanging in my office still means something, especially in the field I am working in.  The whole “future boss” gimmick they have is just sad.   

But in reality, there are several games on our schedule that are more important than the Tech game.  Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina and Auburn are all more important as far as SEC Championship implications are concerned.  The SEC Championship is the goal.  I like to take the Pete Carroll approach.  When Carroll was at USC, he said the team’s goal was to win the Pac 10 and go to the Rose Bowl every year.  IF things break right and you play in the National Championship, then even better.  USC played in the Rose Bowl in 2002, 2003, 2006-2008.  Played for BCS National Championship in 2004 and 2005.  Coach Richt has stated similar goals.  He said what you can control is the SEC, and that is the goal.   More often than not, if you win the SEC, aim to go to the Sugar Bowl, you stand a good chance to have special things happen after that.  A victory over Tech is icing on the cake, but it does nothing to make sure the Dawgs win the SEC.

As a fan, would you rather go 12-1, win the SEC and lose to Tech, OR would you rather go 8-4, go to Outback Bowl but beat Tech?  The difference between Tech and UGA is that I think Tech values the 2008 win against UGA more than the 2009 ACC Championship.  I would think that UGA fans would value a championship season over a season when we beat Tech. 

But this year is different.  We NEED to beat Tech, and not because they are the instate rival.  One, they are ranked, and if you want continue getting the program back on track, you have to reverse the trend of losing to ranked teams.  Simple.  Also, as I said last week, there is a huge difference between 9 win season and a 10 win season.  If UGA beats Tech, it secures a 10 win regular season, which is pretty damn good.  If the Dawgs lose to Tech, then you lose to another ranked team, stand a good chance of losing the SEC Championship game, and then the Bowl game is a crapshoot.  Coach Richt has a great record in Bowl Games, but as we see every year, the best team doesn’t always win the bowl game.  Bowls are based on emotion and if a team is disappointed to be there or not.  If you are not in a major bowl, then it is hard to question the motivation of a team, and that affects the outcome.

The Dawgs NEED a win Saturday.  You don’t know the bowl opponenent yet, and the LSU/Arkansas/Alabama game UGA will be a double digit underdog no matter who from the West we play.  The past nine games were each must win games in order to save Coach Richt and get to Atlanta.  Saturday is must win to gurantee and secure 10 wins, put an exclamation point on the season, and MOST importantly, secure and gurantee that UGA’s program is back on the right track and on solid footing.



This is the time of year when we think of those things that make us most thankful. I am blessed to have an amazing wife, great family, and the best friends in the world. I’m thankful to have seen my little sister get married on Saturday to a great guy. I’m also thankful to have listened to our Dawgs win the East that same day. I’m thankful to have good health, a good job, and a good church. I’m thankful for technology. Most of all, I’m thankful to have a Savior who sent his Son to free me from the bondage of sin so that I may spend eternity with him in Heaven.

Today, amidst the long list of things I am thankful for, I am most thankful that I am a Georgia Bulldog. See, by being a Dawg, born and bred, I grew up with Larry Munson being OUR announcer. As I heard someone put it this morning, no matter which team you pull for, everyone loved Larry. Since I grew up a Dawg, I didn’t have to love somebody else’s play caller. I got to love OUR play caller. And that’s worth a lot. Whether you wear jean shorts, lack a few teeth, wear orange 7 days a week or are only good at basketball, you loved Larry. Bulldogs didn’t have to enjoy listening to someone else. We have something that absolutely no one else can claim – the greatest announcer of all time. And nobody loved OUR Dawgs more than Larry. You could tell it in his voice. He was the greatest of a dying breed.

Larry has helped shape many a Bulldog. He’s the main reason I am nervous every time our Dawgs tee it up between the Hedges. He’s why Kentucky and Vandy scare me every year. He’s why a chip-shot field goal seems so tough. He’s why marching down the field for a game winning drive is akin to General Lee leading the Rebs uphill in the snow against a million Yankees. To Larry, it was always an impossible task. And when our Dawgs came through, the moment was one of pure magic. Nobody could do it like Larry, and no one ever will again.

Larry Munson was a staple in my home growing up, as was the case with so many of you. We would have the game on our television set with Larry on the radio. I would listen to Larry on my earpiece when I went to games. Larry is at the forefront of every great UGA memory I have. I’ll never forget where I was when Michael Johnson caught that pass from David Greene to beat the stupid Auburn Tigers, and I’ll never forget Larry bringing that to us. I’ll never forget stomping Tennessee with a Hobnail Boot. I wasn’t around for Run Lindsay, Run or the hundred thousand mile kick, but I’ve heard them both a thousand times.

There are thousands of Bulldawgs who could give better accounts of Larry than I. But this Bulldog will miss Larry as much as any of them. As I write this, I’m looking at a picture of Larry and myself in front of a rural farm pond in middle Georgia. I’m lucky enough to have his signature and a personal note on that picture. It’s proudly framed in my office. That day, as a 16 year old kid, Larry and I ate pulled hog on a picnic table on a cold December morning and talked one-on-one for about 45 minutes about everything in the world. It was a young man’s dream come true. For that 45 minutes, Larry made me feel like I was the most important person in the world. There were others around, and he would occasionally shake a hand or say a small hello, but he would turn back to me and continue talking. I’ll never forget that time I spent with him that cold December morning. It was a Friday, and I remember vividly listening to Larry on the radio the next day call the Dawgs home to victory over the team he hated the most, the Yellow Jackets from North Avenue. My dad was jealous that I was able to corner Larry for that long. I’m still not sure why he gave me that audience, but it was a day that will be etched in my memory forever. That day was a turning point in my Bulldog development. 

If there was a Mount Rushmore of the University of Georgia, Larry Munson would be proudly carved in the middle of that monument. He was, simply put, the greatest of all time.

Thanks, Larry.