Archive Page 2

A Rivalry Built On Hate

The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party is something that is very unique in college football.  Annual neutral site games are a rarity.  It is truly a sight to behold.  Regrettably, I won’t be making the trek down.  Getting down to the Golden Isles, seeing old friends you haven’t seen since the last year’s game, and reliving your youthful college days for a weekend is a blast.   The game falling on actual Halloween and a two year old is keeping me at home.   I’ll look forward to getting back down soon.

I did a personal ranking of the best SEC rivalry games a few years ago, and ranked the WLOCP in at #3, behind LSU-Alabama and the Iron Bowl.

Georgia (in)famously lost 3/infinity at one point, but to Mark Richt’s credit (and Will Muschamp’s discredit), Georgia won 3 in a row in the Cocktail Party.  Though Coach Richt is still a meager 5-9 in this rivalry, and is 5-6 in the last 11.  the narrative of Georgia losing so much in the 1990s is finally gone the way of the Dodo.

This rivalry is not built on a quest for championships.  Only three times-and I am counting this Saturday but only loosely- in Mark Richt’s tenure has the Cocktail Party directly decided the winner of the SEC East, or rather I should say the team that would control its own destiny.  Sure, Florida has played the role of spoiler (2014), or Georgia needed to win the game to survive and advance (2011) to keep its Division hopes alive.

In 2008, Georgia got whipped by Alabama, Florida lost to Ole Miss, and both teams came in with one loss with the Florida game as the deciding game for control.  In 2012, Florida was undefeated (and had actually helped UGA out by beating Carolina), Georgia lost badly to the aforementioned South Carolina and pulled out a gutsy win to be in the driver’s seat.

And finally, this Saturday.  Georgia comes in with two conference losses.  Florida comes in with just one.  If Georgia wins, they still have to get past Auburn and Kentucky, while Florida just has Vanderbilt and South Carolina.  Even losing this game, Florida has an easier path to Atlanta, but would require scoreboard watching.

And while I publicly have jumped on the anti-Richt bandwagon, I am not going to cheer against the Dawgs or hope we lose for the sake of making change easier.  If we win, I’ll be as happy as anyone!

This is different than the recent LSU-Alabama games or the Tennessee-Florida games of the 1990s and early 2000s. When LSU and Alabama play, the division and National Championships are on the line.  The Tennessee-Florida game was the de facto SEC East Division Championship game for many years.

The Georgia-Florida game hasn’t had championship implications for both teams many times recently.  Yet it is still a heated rivalry game.  Why?

I hate Florida.

We as a collective Bulldog Nation hates Florida.

Florida hates Georgia.

This game is built on a foundation of pure hatred.  I’ve said before that hate is a strong emotion, and it is something we shouldn’t hold in our hearts.

But I make an exception for the Gators.

This rivalry is about more than championships.

It is about hate.  Pure and simple.


Will We See Something Different?

If there was one thing I was concerned about from day 1 with Schotty’s play calling, it was if the offense got to a point where it was struggling, could his NFL mind be creative enough to figure out a way to mix it up?  I said so before fall camp, and even the day he was hired.

Here is what I wrote on January 8:

Can a NFL mind have the capacity for abstract thought?

Look at Sony Michel as an example. He is a special back. I think Chubb is the man, but Michel is a special, unique talent. He is not the kind of back you want to run behind a fullback between the tackles every time he touches the ball. But he is a dangerous weapon. Bobo found ways to utilize his talents-giving him sweeps in motion, Wildcat runs, lining him up as the slot receiver and throwing him the ball, etc.

Will Schotty know how to use guys that aren’t the cookie cutter ‘pro-style” guys he finds in the pros?

….I don’t know if that will be the case with Schotty. Time will tell. But I saw enough of LSU play to know that an NFL offensive mind can have trouble changing things up to make the offense work.

Georgia has been very secretive with the media this year.  All we heard last week was that Georgia was going to get back to the basics last week, and wait until yesterday to install the Florida plan.  But in the bye week, can our offense put in a few wrinkles to mix it up?

Clearly, with Lambert struggling and Nick Chubb injured, something needs to be different.

Like I said back in January, and we have seen this to be true, Sony Michel is a special player.  But he is not built to be an every down between the tackle back.  Sure, he can break a long run up the middle, but considering his injury history, he is just not built to run the ball up the middle 20 times a game. That is not a knock against him, that is just the truth.

It has been ten years since Georgia went to Jacksonville and lost to Urban Meyer’s first Florida team.  If you’ll remember, Florida was struggling the first year under Meyer’s spread offense.  What did Florida do against us?  They used the bye week, incorporated the tight end and full back, and zoomed out to a quick 14-0 lead.  And that was all the offense the Gators needed with an injured D.J. Shockley.

Florida has a top 20 defense nationally in total defense, scoring defense and is #21 in rushing defense.  The good news is that Georgia’s defense isn’t far behind.

I always go into Jacksonville thinking we are going to win.  This year, I am skeptical. I am going into the Florida game with as low expectations as I’ve had twice, one time being the 2009 game when they had Tebow, Harvin, Spikes, etc. and we had Joe Cox.  The only other time I thought Georgia would be run off the field was 2007.

The reason Georgia has lost, more often than not, is because the inability to score touchdowns and settle for field goals. Couple the fact that Georgia has not kicked well in Jacksonville, and Marshall Morgan’s erratic kicking (9/14 this year), this does not bode well for Georgia and an offense that is struggling to find its way. Settling for field goals in Jacksonville, and making them, has been a struggle throughout Richt’s tenure.

Year Kicks Made/Kicks Attempted
2014 0/1
2013 3/3
2012 1/2
2011 1/3
2010 1/1
2009 1/1
2008 1/3
2007 0/1
2006 0/0
2005 1/3
2004 1/1
2003 2/3
2002 2/4
2001 1/2
TOTAL 15/28-53.6%

So if Georgia has to settle for 3 instead of 7, and then doesn’t make the 3, it will be a long afternoon on the Banks of St. John’s River Saturday.

So this goes back to my original point-Georgia will have to do something different on offense.  I don’t know what that will need to be, but hopefully some imagination and creativity has been sparked during the bye week.


Good, Bad and Ugly From Missouri

I am doing this from my phone, so apologies in advance for typos…
I’ve been in a negative place for the past week, so let’s start with the good. After all, we did win. 
The Good

You can quantify this with “Yeah, but, it was Missouri and their offense stinks.”   Yeah, but, the defense played very well. Missouri’s offense does suck, but Georgia looked like they should against that team. Anytime you hold a team to 21 yards rushing that is a good thing.  Missouri completed a few big passes over the middle but that is par for the course. Very pleased with the defensive effort. 

Terry Goodwin had a nice day catching the ball and returning punts. 

We’ll get to Greyson Lambert in the bad and ugly parts, but he did complete 71% of his passes. So there is something nice. 

And the offense converted third downs and won time of possession. 

The Bad

Special teams is a mixed bag, again. 

Lambert is just not comfortable. He stares at his receivers like a teenage boy looking at a Playboy for the first time.  Georgia got beyond lucky the pass wasn’t ruled an interception, because it should have been one. 

The play calling didn’t help much. If he receiver screens weren’t working, don’t do it. That is textbook definition of insanity. 

Having Branden Douglas run east to west doesn’t work. And when he was running hard, you then mix it up and lose 5 yards. 

The Ugly

I ran into a few Missouri fans after the game and over heard them say “I was hoping we didn’t get embarrassed, but that was worse.”
I felt like I was watching an Iowa game. Look, from time to time-especially in the SEC-there are going to be low scoring defensive battles. Especially with teams that have good defenses and questions on offense and specifically at quarterback. But damn.  With that said, in the context of everything  else we’ve seen this season, that was just an ugly game. All the way around. 

One group to be very happy for

Sure, Saturday night’s game was probably only fun to watch for people with a football appreciate like Gene Stallings, and Georgia very likely set offensive back to the stone ages, but there was a very important group within the program to be extremely happy for.

The defense.

I don’t care who you play. Any time that you hold an opposing offense an entire game without a score – especially when they START a drive at your one-yard line? That’s a heck of a night.

As much as this team’s offense has been maligned as of late, the defense has bore a heavy load of it as well. Except in their case, they were supposed to be a cornerstone of this team along with its now-injured potential Heisman Trophy Candidate.

It hasn’t been fun for this defense the past two weeks – and two pretty good offenses exposed some weak spots during that time. And yes, I know Mizzou’s offense is not on the same level. But a game without a TD is a game without a TD.

Going into an off week, momentum is everything. This group has it on defense.

I’m not guaranteeing they will slow Florida down…but they’ll at least head to Duval with a strong wind at their back.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg

Keys to Victory

Look at what happened on offense, defense and special teams the last two weeks, and do the opposite. 

Time Has Come For UGA and Mark Richt To Part Ways

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark

Hamlet, Act I, Scene IV

This is going to be a long one, so buckle in…

I’ve never been one to put an edict on “Georgia should do X…”  To me, that is short-sighted.

I’ve always said you know it when you see it.  After the 2011 season opener against Boise State, I was near despondent.  After the South Carolina game the following week, I was encouraged, even in defeat.  I saw things that were positive.  The 2006 season wasn’t nearly as disappointing as the he record-with losses to Kentucky and Vanderbilt-would indicate. There were things that were encouraging and positive.

In 2010, a team that had a losing season actually was an improved team from the 2009 team.  Though the results didn’t show it on the field, I saw a team that was getting better.

In 2013, though the results on the field weren’t spectacular, you saw a team ravaged by injury play hard and not give up.  That was encouraging.

Something was there.  You knew it when you saw it.

Something just isn’t right anymore in Athens.  You just know it when you see it.

The time has come for Mark Richt and the University of Georgia to separate.  Things are broken.

I don’t say this lightly.

If you agree with my sentiments, then you also have to acknowledge a few things, otherwise you are not being completely honest with yourself:

  1. I want to make something crystal clear: Mark Richt is not a bad coach.  He is not the best coach in the SEC.  But he isn’t awful.  He has been good enough.  He has been great.  But he hasn’t been great enough, often enough.  We clamor for championships, but we clamor for championships because of the success his leadership has brought on this program.  But with success comes expectations, and expectations have not been met.
  1. And I want to make something else clear: his success wasn’t entirely front loaded. The early years with the Davids and Shockley weren’t a flash in the pan.  The last ten years since the last SEC Championship, Georgia went 88-37 (70.4%), including 4 top ten finishes, two top 5 finishes, and two SEC East Division crowns (and should have been a third, had it not been for injuries in 2013).  Not Alabama level of success, and not the level of the first five years, but let’s be honest. Many other programs would love to trade places with UGA during the past 15 years-and even during the past 10 years.  I can think of a few that wouldn’t:  Oregon, Ohio State, Florida State, Alabama, LSU and Auburn.  What other programs since 2006 would not trade places with UGA?  I can’t think of many.
  1. Overall, Coach Richt has done a tremendous job against the top rivals, with the exception of Florida, but the tide in that series has turned.
  • Georgia Tech: 12-2
  • Tennessee: 11-4
  • Auburn: 9-5
  • South Carolina: 9-6
  • LSU: 4-4
  • Alabama: 3-3
  • Florida: 5-9
  1. If we make a change, odds say that the short-to-long term will go not go well. How many coaching changes have sudden improvement?  I can count three major program coaching changes where the old guy who was successful at one point left and the new guy came in had quick, sustained success.  LSU with Saban-Miles, FSU with Bowden-Fisher, and Ohio State twice, with Cooper-Tressell-Meyer.  I didn’t include Auburn because I said sustained success, and they are not winning it in 2010 without Cam Newton and the cheating it took to get him there.  The 2013 season for Auburn was a fluke stood up on miracle plays, and the last two seasons have proved that.

Alabama, the program we all aspire to be, spent ten years from Gene Stallings to Nick Saban wandering the desert.  From 1997-2006, Alabama had 4 losing seasons, two 7-5 and one 6-6.  It only ended ranked three times in ten years.  Alabama’s record in those ten years was 67-55 (54.9%).  It went through 4 coaches-five if count Rich Rodriguez canceling-before Mal Moore landed Nick Saban.  Oh, and there was the whole NCAA probation issue, too.

USC is a dumpster fire right now.  Tennessee is a mess.  So is Miami.  So is Texas.  It took Michigan to get through the aforementioned Rodriguez and Brady Hoke before they got their Michigan Man.  After starting 2-4 this season, including losing to Illinois and BYU at home, do you think Nebraska wishes they had Bo Pelini and his 9-4 records?

If you say you want a change, and I am saying that, change does not necessarily mean instant success.  It did at Georgia once, when Richt replaced Donnan, and we reasonably can’t expect that to happen again.  It doesn’t happen that often.  The cupboard isn’t bare here like at other places, but also programs fall in the same funk and it is hard to get out of it.  Which leads me to…

  1. Do we really think Greg McGarity is competent enough to make a good hire? Face it, when was the last great hire UGA has made?  Mark Richt.  If we want to go from good to great, what have we seen in any other sport that makes us think this administration is capable of doing so?   Pat Forde said in his column that the right coach at Georgia could win a National Title.  The wrong coach can go 7-5.  We just need to be prepared for that (strong) possibility.  And be there for each other. And finally…
  1. Unless things get really, really bad this season, Mark Richt isn’t going anywhere. He just signed a contract extension thru 2019.  $4 million per year for the next 4 years is $16 million.  Plus about a million bucks a year per coordinator who each have 3 year contracts.  That is up to about $20 million.  Plus other assistants and we are probably talking a total in the $25 million ballpark.  Plus, having to take down all the pictures of him in Butts-Mehre!  And let’s say you wanted to buy out a current coach.  Plus, give them a $3 million per year salary.  For an athletic department that is tighter than a tick with the dollar, and who is going to solicit private funds for half the cost of the IPF, dropping probably $50-60 million on a new coach to replace Mark Richt will be a hard decision for the bean counters to justify.

I read what Paul Westerdawg wrote, and I mostly agree with his sentiments.  I started college during the peak of the Richt era.  As a close friend told me yesterday, we had our youthful exuberance of football during his regime.  My last year in college was 2007.  I had a pretty good run.

I was in high school when I really started following UGA football closely.  I asked my brother-in-law, who was a big fan, why Georgia would fire Jim Donnan.  At the time, I didn’t understand.  Georgia was always ranked and won games.  He said, “Programs like Georgia can do better than 8-4.”

What Coach Richt has done has made us want more than 10-2.  Under Coach Donnan, there were several inexplicable games a year that kept us from being great.  Under Coach Richt, there are just one or two.

But if someone asked me why I would want a new regime, I would respond in similar fashion as my brother-in-law did to me 15 years ago with, “Programs like Georgia should be the bride, not always the bridesmaid.”

I want to make another point clear:  I could care less about Mark Richt being a Christian. I am one.  I am glad he is.  But unlike many, that has never been a major point of my support for him.  I liked him because he was a winner.  Because he went about his business the right way.  Because there was consistency.  Because every season, as foolish as it was, every season there is HOPE that this could be the year.  We have been so close so many times.  I want Mark Richt to hold the trophy up and say “I did it!”

But instead of hope that we can win it all, this hope has been replaced by anxiousness.  Every time a ball is snapped for a field goal, a punt is fielded, a pass is thrown, we are thinking, “I just hope nothing goes wrong.”

Georgia is better than this.  Damnit, Mark Richt is better than this.

We are no longer hoping for success.

We are hoping things don’t go wrong.

Be honest.  When Tennessee scored twice in about a minute and half Saturday, did you think we were going to win that game?  I didn’t.

Can Mark Richt fix things?  Sure he can.  He’s done it before.  Do I want to be proved wrong?  Damn straight.  But do I care?

I’m not so sure.  But I am tired of seeing what I’ve grown accustomed to seeing.  15 years is a long time.  We’ve had some good times.  More good times than bad.  Some great times.

But not enough great.

I wish, I really do, that the end of the season or in a year or so, this post comes back and bites me in the ass.  I would love to be wrong.  I’ve been defending this regime, ardently, and been proved wrong more often than being proved right.

15 years, this should be figured out.  It needs to be someone else’s turn.

In my last post, I used the Lewis Grizzard quote, “If you ain’t the lead dog, the scenery never changes.”  After 15 years of looking at a dog’s ass, it is time to take a chance to see if the scenery looks a little different.

Now, I’ll be in my seat Saturday night.  I’ll cheer loud like we are going to win the National Title.  And don’t misunderstand me.  I am not going to take cheap shots at Coach Richt.  I am not going to say things like he doesn’t care about winning, or that he is a terrible coach.  I am not going to be mean spirited, like Bill Shanks. I am not going to hope we lose; I will continue to passionately and feverishly support this team.

We need hope again.  And right now, hope is nowhere to be found.

Something is rotten in the state of the Bulldawg Nation.

I don’t have confidence that Coach Richt can give us hope again.

It is time for someone else to bring that hope back.


…it is a melancholy of mine own, compounded of many simples, extracted from many objects, and indeed the sundry’s contemplation of my travels, in which my often rumination wraps me a most humorous sadness.

 As You Like It, Act IV, Scene I


The rift is easy to find. Just mention among a group of Georgia fans, even amongst family, and the opinions will land on both sides of the aisle when the question…that question…is raised: “Should Mark Richt be fired?”

I’m not what you’d call a “Disney Dawg,” but I didn’t want to set a torch to everything, either. I’m a proud alumnus of UGA, but I also believe that you can support something even if you don’t back those in charge.

For me, and probably for others, the time of crossover came Saturday afternoon.

I’m not naive. Firing a coach and/or his coaching staff isn’t exactly cut and dry. And its much, much more touchy because of the fact that due to Richt’s persona, a lot of people in this state think highly of Mark Richt due to his faith and off-field approach – it’s not too different from why so many fall over themselves to insist Tim Tebow deserves to play in the NFL.

Richt likely won’t be fired at the end of this year or before that. And that call will come be determined by how much more Georgia’s Athletic Board wants to live with 9-3-type seasons.

But Georgia didn’t just lose a game..or an incredible player to injury on Saturday. It lost a significant part of its fan base.

The crowd that defended Richt? There’s one less leg to stand on now. Yes, coaches don’t control players fumbling or dropping passes…but Saturday’s loss happened due to a lack of focus, and that falls squarely on the shoulders of the head coach. Is it fair? No. But that’s the nature of sports. The head coach gets the good and bad.

You can only hold out hope for so long that ‘next year’s recruits’ will get things to another level. Since when did a single player become larger than the program?

And as for ‘but who will you get?’ to replace Richt? Yes, there’s a risk. But it’s worked out ok for Clemson and Florida so far.

Richt may not load up the moving trucks at the end of this year. But when that time comes, Oct. 10 2015 will be marked as the beginning of the end.

Go Dawgs!

Lugnut Dawg



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