Archive for October, 2014

Lewis Grizzard Wednesday: Lewis On The NCAA

Lewis was ahead of this time when it came to his hatred of the NCAA…

Georgia On Probation 

My alma mater, the University of Georgia, has been placed on probation by the National Collegiate Athletic Association for recruiting violations within its basketball program.

Georgia gave a prospect a T-shirt. It is against the NCAA rules to give a prospect anything, even a T-shirt.

Georgia gave a friend of another prospect a ride to a restaurant and then to his hotel.

It is also against NCAA rules to give a friend of a prospect anything, even a four-mile ride.

A T-shirt here, a pair of shoes there, a ride for a prospect’s friend and Georgia’s Athletic Department and the enitre school suffers the embarrassment of probation.

“I know the charges were minor,” a member of the Athletic Department told me. “But nobody outside the inner circle really pays attention to the details and so people think we are buying and selling kids like we were slave holders.”

What was the Georgia coach supposed to do when the prospect’s friend asked for a ride? Tell him to walk and probably lose the prospect because he turned his friend out on the street?

We’re talking big-time college basketball here, where millions of dollars and extended contracts are on the line. If a tall kid who can dunk with both hands asks for a T-shirt, you give him a T-shirt.

I’m not defending my school, here. Georgia knows the rules, yet Georgia broke the rules, as silly as they might be, and they got caught and they got punished and that’s the name of that tune.

But the NCAA is like the IRS. They go after you, they get you, with even some help from college coaches who turn each other in, some standing on their pedestals claiming piously “We will bring these cheaters to their knees.”

Horse dung. They turn each other in for strictly selfish reasons. You get you r rival in trouble with the NCAA and the NCAA takes away a few of its scholarships, and all of a sudden you’re beating his brains out and you become a genius with a fat raise.

College basketball players are shaving points for gamblers and are going to jail for it. Millions are being handed out for television contracts, big-time coaches are getting rich and the NCAA is worrying about a high school kid getting a free T-shirt?

I don’t have a solution for all this idiocy, but I know how I wish college basketball and footall worked.

Whack Hyder, who coached basketball at Georgia Tech before he got sick of recruiting and quit, had the idea years ago.

“What I would like to be able to do,” said Whack, “is to put a sign on the bulletin board in the PE department that said, `Any student desiring to try out for the men’s basketball team, report to the gym at 4 o’clock.’

“I play with the kids who happen to come to my school. You play with the kids who happen to come to yours.”

Thus, recruiting becomes a thing of the past. The sport purifies itself and all the athletes get are a pair of shoes, socks, a jock, and an opportunity to have a little good clean fun.

What Todd Gurley’s Response Should Be



Taking The Show On The Road

I’m excited about getting down to the Cocktail Party.  My wife has been under the weather, but she is healed now and we are ready to go.  We are dropping the baby off with Grandma, and we are looking forward to a fun grown up weekend.

Anytime you can see the Dawgs play is a glorious thing, but the trip of Georgia-Florida weekend is extra special.

Since my freshman year in 2003, I’ve been to every game except 2009 and 2011, when I was so pissed off at the previous years’ results I refused to go back down.

The games are fun.  The atmosphere in the stadium is so unique.  There ain’t nothing better than walking out of there victors.  And there is nothing worse than walking out a loser.

The tailgates are fun.  Sometimes, a little too fun.

Ok, most times.

Ok, every time.

Everyone has their own traditions and things they do every year.  Things you look forward to.

This year, our normal crowd has been whittled down.  Many of the regulars and friends you might only see at the GA/FL tailgate aren’t going down this year.  New jobs out of state, babies, and other obligations are keeping many of our crew off the banks fo the St. John’s River.

Don’t worry.  Granite and I will do our part.  What seems like we do every year, Granite and I will leave SSI early Saturday monring, meet up with everyone in our caravan at the gas station on the Jekyll exit, and then caravan together to our tailgate spot in one of the sketchiest places in the state of Florida.

And I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I’m traveling around the state with work the rest of the week, and heading out early Friday morning to SSI.

I’m going to go ahead and pack my bags tonight.  I’m ready to get down there.

Are you?

Go Dawgs!


All About The Florida Buy In

Fans of Georgia SHOULD be concerned with the game this weekend.  As I’ve said all week, I’m hoping for blood, but I’m expecting a battle.  The last few seasons have been full of hatred and hard-hitting games.

In 2011, Florida had 14 penalties for 106 yards. Georgia had 4/22.   In 2012, Florida was 10/92 and Georgia was 14/132.  Last year, Florida had 7/70 and Georgia was 6/45.  There have been a lot of penalties in recent games, so expect intensity.

I was watching the end of the last three games on YouTube yesterday, and something stuck out to me.  Georgia had the ball last to milk the clock in all three victories.  And in each of the final drives from the last three games, when the game was on the line, Florida had penalties to help move the chains.  Undisciplined play and bad offense.  The hallmark of a Will Muschamp team.

People say that past performance does not necessarily predict future results.  But I think looking at the past and trends give you an idea of what to expect.

These games are always tough.  When Georgia had a superior team, as has been the case many times in recent years, Florida has won more often than not.  When Florida had a superior team, Georgia has kept it close.  The 2001, 2007, 2008, and 2009 games are the only games in the Richt era the Cocktail Party has been decided by more than a touchdown.

In 2002, Florida won by 7.  2003, Florida by 3.  2004, UGA by 7.  2005, Florida by 4.  2006, Florida by 7.  2010, Florida by 3 (OT).  2011, UGA by 4.  2012, UGA by 8.  2013, UGA by 3.  In these 10 games, the average margin of victory by either team has been 5 points.

I can tell you a couple of reasons to be afraid of this game, and I just have to look back to previous Florida games as to why we should be concerned.

Think back to the 2005 game.  Georgia’s best offensive weapon was hurt and unable to play in the game.  Georgia would have won that game had D.J. Shockley played.  But, he didn’t, and Georgia’s offense only managed 10 points.

In 2005, Florida used their bye week to incorporate new wrinkles in their offense.  Urban Meyer and Dan Mullen came out with a fullback and tight end, and completely caught our defense off-guard.  What happened?  Florida scored two touchdowns and held on to win.

This year, Florida will bring a new starting QB in and you have got to think Treon Harris will be armed with some wrinkles and tricks up his sleeve. Florida’s defense is legit and will make it difficult to score on them.  If their offense gets a spark with a new QB…

After the heartbreak of 2005, it was expected that Georgia would take a step back and be in rebuilding mode in 2006.  The 5-0 start and top 10 ranking was deceiving, and Tennessee exploited the Dawgs on prime time TV.  The next two weeks after the humiliation of getting hammered by Tennessee, Georgia lost to Vanderbilt and barely hung on to Mississippi State.  The Dawgs entered Jacksonville humiliated, wounded, and starting a true freshman QB.  Though darker days would be in the future, at the time this was the most adversity Coach Richt had faced while he was in Athens.

The Gators on the other hand were a top 10 team looking to bigger aspirations.

Georgia played an inspired game, and lost by a touchdown.

Of course in 2009, a superior Gator team had their way with a hapless Georgia team.

So this game really is Will Muschamp’s Waterloo, much like it was for Coach Richt in 2011.

If the Gators buy in to their coaching staff and circle the wagons for Muschamp, The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will go as we have seen many times in the past.  If the players quit, then we should see a similar game to what happened last time Georgia played a beleaguered coach while they were marching on to higher goals.



Georgia Needs To Make A Statement In Jacksonville

Like I said last week, I would happy with a one point win Saturday, but I really want blood.

Georgia is beginning to get the attention of the national pundits as a contender for the playoff.

I know this is a rivalry game, both teams will play hard, the Gators will play for their coach, blah, blah, blah. I’m not thinking we will go down there and step on their throat, although I’d love to see it. I am expecting another too close for comfort game.

But really. If the Dawgs are truly in the conversation for bigger plans outside another Florida bowl in early January, this is a game that Georgia not only needs to win, but needs to win big.

Rivalry game or not, a team with the talent this Georgia team has should beat a hapless team like Florida convincingly. If it was Georgia vs. Team X without the name on the uniform, the expectation Georgia should have is win this game walking away.

It needs to happen for our psyche.

But it also needs to happen to prove Georgia is ready to play and be mentioned among the elite.


About that Point Spread, Pt. 2

NOTE: I couldn’t find the lines for the 2001 and 2002 Georgia-Florida games, and I didn’t feel like spending a ton of time looking,  so my research is incomplete.  But I’m sure Georgia didn’t cover those games so the point remains the same.

2003:    UGA -2; #4 UGA lost 13-16 to #23 Florida. Lost, Lost ATS.

2004:   UGA -6; #10 UGA won 31-24 over unranked Florida. Won, Won ATS.

2005:   UGA +4; #4 UGA lost 10-14 to #16 Florida. Lost, Pushed ATS.

2006:   UGA +13; unranked UGA lost 14-21 to #9 Florida. Lost, Won ATS.

2007:   UGA +7; #20 UGA won 42-30 over #10 Florida. Won, Won ATS.

2008:   UGA +6; #8 UGA lost 10-49 to #5 Florida. Lost, Lost ATS.

2009:    UGA +14; unranked Georgia lost 14-41 to #1 Florida. Lost, Lost ATS.

2010:    UGA -1: unranked Georgia lost 31-34 to unranked Florida. Lost, Lost ATS.

2011:     UGA -2: #22 Georgia won 24-20 over unranked Florida. Won, Won ATS.

2012:    UGA +6; #10 Georgia won 17-9 over #2 Florida. Won, Won ATS.

2013:    UGA -3. Unranked Georgia won 23-20 over unranked Florida. Won, Pushed ATS.
Since 2003, Georgia is 5-6 against the Gators.  Someone asked me last week how Georgia has done against the spread in Jacksonville, and I had to look back and see.  Surely, we weren’t very good against Vegas.

Georgia has done better than I thought, going 5-4-2 ATS.

Including this season, Georgia has gone into Jacksonville ranked higher than the Gators on 5 occasions.  In Coach Richt’s career, Georgia has gone to Jacksonville with 0 or 1 loss 7 times.

While the series won/loss record has become even in recent years, it has been pretty close ATS also.

So what does this 12 point line mean?

It means Georgia should win.  Look to Vegas.  That should be all the analysis we need.



About That Point Spread, Pt. 1

Depending on the sportsbook, Georgia is listed at somewhere around a 12 point favorite over the Gators.  Obviously the biggest point spread in quite sometime.

I, like many of you, had a major freak out moment on October 9 when the Gurley news broke. That date was also my wife’s birthday, and we had planned a dinner and movie date night to celebrate. My phone was constantly buzzing during Gone Girl (which, by the way, is a good movie). She finally told me to put the phone up.  That was actually a good thing.  I didn’t wallow in despair all night.

I had a feeling that Georgia would rally around each other and win against Missouri.  I didn’t expect them to win like that, but I thought they would pull it out.   I then expected Georgia to come out flat the rest of the way; Richt does his best when his teams are in a corner, but I incorrectly thought that he has finally run out of rabbits to pull out of his hat. 

Another reason I felt better about Missouri heading into that game is that Vegas didn’t move the line.  Georgia was in the neighborhood of -3 before the Gurley news, and stayed at -3. So that told me that Vegas knew something we all didn’t.  And as they say on 960 The Ref, those Casinos just don’t build themselves.

Georgia was again in the -3 neighborhood on the road against Arkansas.  I would think with Gurley, that line would have been bigger.  It didn’t matter, as Georgia covered the spread with ease.

Which takes me to the Florida game.  The Dawgs are laying 12.  When If the Gurley reinstatement news comes out, it will be interesting to see how the line moves.

If it jumps up, that would make sense and make me feel even better about the game.

But if it stays at 12, then it tells me one of two things.  One, it would say that even without the best player in college football, Vegas thinks that the Dawgs should handle the Gators.

Or…if it still stays the same, does that mean that Vegas already knew that Gurley would be reinstated?  Vegas knows. They always know.





NCAA HAS To #FreeGurley

So my Twitter feed has been blowing up this morning on the news that UGA has sent its reinstatement request to the NCAA.  It appears the school has uncovered all the evidence it needs and will be at the mercy of the NCAA to determine if the 2 game suspension was enough.

I think this means Gurley will be back for the Florida game.  Why would the NCAA not approve his reinstatement?

Think about it.  The NCAA has lost its battle in the court of public opinion.  There are probably more people out there that view President Obama more favorably than the NCAA.  That organization has been kicked around so much lately, would they really want another black eye on their already tarnished reputation?

Georgia suspended him for two games.  Why would the NCAA further punish him?  They don’t need anymore arrows slung their way.



Time To Start Hating The Gators

It is never too early to start hating the Gators, and we have a bye week to hate them extra.

Currently, Coach Richt is 46-24 against Auburn, Florida, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Clemson and South Carolina.

1/3 of the losses to the main rivals have come at the hands of the Gators.  Coach Richt is only 5-8 against Florida, but Georgia has gone 5-5 in the last 10 games. It now has a chance to go 6-5 over the last 11. The narrative in Jacksonville has changed. It is glorious.  Sure, there were some stinkers in there, but the Dawgs have now erased the nightmare that was the 1990s. The ghost of Steve Spurrier is forgotten.

If Mark Richt never gets his National Title, one thing he can hang his hat on is the ability to beat his rivals, and for also turning around Georgia’s fortunes in the Cocktail Party.

The largest margin of vicory for Georgia over that span was the 2007 victory. Georgia overwhelmed the Gators 42-30 in one of the most fun football games I’ve ever attended.

The 2004 game was a closer game than it should have been. The lame duck Zook Gators put up a good fight but David Greene and company over matched the Gators 31-24.

The 2011 team won a hard fought game and was just the tougher team, fighting a 24-20 win.

In 2012, the most important win for Coach Richt in the series, two heavy weight teams slugged it out with Georgia winning a close 17-9 game over the #2 ranked Gators and all but clinched the SEC East and a trip to the de facto National Championship game against Alabama in the SEC Championship Game.

Last season, the injury-riddled Georgia team raced out to a 23-3 halftime lead over the injury-riddled Florida team, then had to hold on to a 23-20 win.

The last three games, the margin of victory for the Bulldogs has been a combined 15 points.

Needless to say, the games have been tough. Even when Georgia was losing a lot this decade, the Cocktail Party has been a low-scoring, close affair. 9 times since 2002, the game has been decided by a touchdown or less. The 2007 game was the most lopsided victory for the Dawgs with 12 points, and 2009 and 2009 were big wins for the Gators, winning 49-10 and 41-17, respectively.

I’m a child of the 1990s, so I’m not going to complain for one minute about the close games victories. A win is a win. I’ve been to Jacksonville 9 times since my freshman year in 2003. 4 of those times I’ve walked out of Alltel Stadium a winner. It makes the long, hung over drive home Sunday much better those 4 times than the 5 times you lose.

I don’t expect the Gators to roll over and take a whipping without a fight November 1. The only thing they can hope to do this season is ruin their rivals’ season. So any W is going to be sweet.

But I must say, I want to destroy the Gators. I want to beat them unmercifully. I want this to be an huge ass whippin’. Because during this stretch of wins, the only thing Georgia hasn’t done was whip the Gators like they have whipped us so many times.

Last year was the year for payback. It didn’t happen.

This season, I want blood.

I want Florida fans to ask themselves the same thing I have (and you all have too at some point) leaving Everbank Field/Alltel Stadium:

Why do I keep coming down here?

I want it to hurt.


Ugly Duckling Turns Into Beautiful Swann

One of the most shocking things about the 2013 defense was the lackluster play of Damian Swann.  I pegged Damian Swann to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Thomas Davis and other elite defensive backs.  Last season, the entire defense was disappointing, specifically the secondary, and specifically Swann.

Remember back to 2012, Jarvis Jones was the playmaker and superstar.  But it seemed that whenever Jones or Rambo weren’t making a big play, it was Swann.  It felt like he was always falling on a fumble, causing a fumble, or getting a timely pick.  In 2012, he had 4 INT and 2 fumble recoveries, with 2 forced fumbles.

Last year, we needed the big play pop from someone since Jarvis Jones had left, and Swann was the logical choice to be that playmaker on defense.   Instead Swann was quiet as a church mouse.

Fortunately for the Georgia defense, and Swann himself, he is having a big senior year.   He already has 3 INT through 6 games and 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.  The playmaker from 2012 has already matched his impact from that season…and we are only halfway through 2014.

In a league filled with defensive stars, it was announced that Swann was awarded the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.

The kudos and recognition for Swann are very much deserved.  If the defense continues to play well, we should look back at the end of the year and place a lot of credit on the role #5 is playing.