Monthly Archives: March 2009

“It’s old news.”

USA Today’s Ray Glier reviews Behind the Hedges: Big Money and Power Politics at the University of Georgia, which centers on the Michael Adams-Vince Dooley power struggle, but sounds like it turns over a lot more rocks than that.

See if this doesn’t get your blood boiling:

Among the details in the book:

• The school spent $138,000 for Adams’ presidential party in New Orleans when Hawaii played Georgia in the Sugar Bowl following the 2007 season, with $28,000 spent on a party Adams hosted at a popular New Orleans bar, Pat O’Brien’s. The money came from the school’s athletic association, according to the author, who reviewed previous reports of the party in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

• Don Leebern, a millionaire member of the state’s Board of Regents and an Adams’ ally, asked Dooley to make gymnastics coach Suzanne Yoculan an associate athletics director because the gymnastics coach at Alabama, a Yoculan rival, had a similar title. Dooley refused, and Barbara Dooley said in the book her husband’s decision to buck Leebern helped get Dooley pushed out as athletics director.

Yoculan’s gymnastics teams have won nine national championships. She and Leebern have a personal relationship.

• The book looks at the $250,000 Adams paid in a side deal to Donnan. The payment was never approved by the athletics board, and the audit by Deliotte & Touche said there was an effort to conceal the payment from the school’s athletics board.

• The audit report, which is included in the book, found that Adams’ family and friends received tickets to the presidential box at home football games under the guise they were major donor prospects to the university. The audit said Adams might have violated IRS tax code on taxable fringe benefits.

• Dooley said Adams wrote a letter to a high school basketball recruit taking credit for the hiring of Georgia basketball coach Jim Harrick and calling Harrick a “long-time friend.” Dooley wanted to hire Mike Brey, the current Notre Dame coach, who was at Delaware. Brey cooled to the job. Later, Dooley said Brey told him he was so put-off by Adams during an interview that he could not work for Georgia.

Let’s just hope nobody gives Mike Anderson a copy of the book.

And the most telling paragraph in the piece?

Whitt, the book’s author, died in January of a heart attack. He had been urged to write the book by former U.S. Attorney General Griffin Bell, a prominent Atlanta attorney and Adams critic. In the book, Bell, who has since died, said Adams used the athletics vs. academics angle to thwart any pressure from the Board of Regents and saved his job.

Let’s see, pissing off powerful people and hiding behind athletics bashing doesn’t strike me as the best recipe for success.  The release of this book is bound to stir up some powerful feelings.  We’ll see how long Adams can go with a “no comment”.

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You can take your head away from his butt now.

Things aren’t going swimmingly with the I-formation package at Florida’s spring practice.

”That I-package, I’m not sure how long that will be sticking around here,” Meyer said. “You want to have it in, but like I said four years ago when I walked on this campus, we don’t really have an offense. It’s an offense based on what we have, so we can run [the I-formation] all we want, but if the players struggle . . . we won’t run [it].”

Urban ain’t stupid.  Getting Tebow under center to make NFL scouts calmer is one thing.  Screwing up Florida’s offense is another.

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Turning the battleship around

Yeah, I know there are a ton of injuries, and, yeah, I know it’s just a spring scrimmage, but after you read a quote like this, you realize there’s a lot of work ahead shoring up the team psyche in Athens.

… A few big plays, including a 75-yard touchdown from Aaron Murray to Vernon Spellman, turned the tide after a strong start defensively, and cornerback Prince Miller said he was disappointed in how his team responded.

“I know on our end, we gave up some big plays,” Miller said. “We could have been better about being more vocal, being a team. Guys had good efforts, just overall we need to learn to be a team and fight through it.”

Even the head man noticed.

“I thought it was relatively even, kind of back and forth,” Richt said Monday. “We’ve got a long way to go yet, but we also saw a lot of good things. We’ve got to be able to handle adversity a little better on both sides of the ball. Things don’t always go the way you want in football, and you’ve got to be able to recover.”

None of this is to say that the situation is hopeless – far from it.  At least there’s general recognition that it’s a problem area that has to be addressed.  But for all the talk about being underdogs, having chips on shoulders and players leading themselves, it takes time (and a healthier team) to change bad habits and attitudes.

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Tuesday morning buffet

This, that and the other:

  • Jeremy Longo goes down. I guess we’re about to find out how many defensive ends you need to play a G-Day game.
  • Even better, from the same article we learn that the Dawgs are getting a head start on next season’s injury list, as incoming offensive lineman Austin Long underwent back surgery that will keep him out at least until bowl practice.
  • Spoilsport.
  • Houston Nutt, trend setter?
  • As far as  GPOOE™-related rants go, this is a pretty good one.  I particularly liked the coining of the term “Tebowism” – that’s got some potential.
  • This is definitely not cool.  On the plus side, at least he’s not a current player.
  • The NCAA may be about to find out that when it comes to a cash-strapped state weighing the benefits of hosting the rowing finals versus bringing in a significant new revenue source, it’s not much of a choice.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Recruiting, The Blogosphere, The NCAA, Tim Tebow: Rock Star

Amateur athletes and the trickle down theory

Hey, I’ve knocked Andrew Zimbalist when he’s said something off base, so it only seems fair to give him credit when he gets something right.

The New York Times published a roundtable yesterday called “March Money Madness” that explored the question of paying college athletes.  Zimbalist points out the folly of these payment proposals – the vast majority of college athletic programs lose money, so adding this cost on would only serve to put them further in the red – but also notes that there are fixes that should be made to treat the kids more fairly.

It’s a point made by more than one of the participants in the discussion, but it seems more than a little crappy that some of these kids aren’t fully compensated for the cost of going to college but find themselves limited by the demands of their programs and by the amateur rules to go out and make a few bucks to cover the shortfall.  No, I’m not advocating a Rhett Bomar car dealership situation here, but it seems like some more effort could go into finding a satisfactory way to make sure kids that are generating revenue for their schools aren’t winding up in a financial hole as they contribute to that.

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The road to Bogotay

As the header and yesterday’s post indicate, there’s a lot about the signing of Brandon Bogotay that intrigues me.  My focus in the prior post was a look at the statistics behind the move; today, I’m more interested in the psychology of the decision.

As for what I mean by that, take a look at this post of David Hale’s from last Friday.  It’s a riff off of a post I did that in turn was a riff off a post of Bruce Feldman’s about how there’s a trend line running against head coaches with more than a few years’ experience at the same school winning a BCS title game.  What we both responded to was Feldman’s speculation as to why that trend is occurring, particularly this passage:

I’ve always thought that coaches, like most other professionals, get better with added experience, but there are certainly other elements that can fly in the face of that: People do tend to get complacent; the message might no longer be fresh; maybe a coach’s enthusiasm isn’t quite what it once was when there was more determination to prove you belong.

I asked how much of this might apply to Mark Richt and thought I saw something in his recent comments that made me think he recognized the possibility of this.  I had several commenters who didn’t find this line of thinking applicable to the Georgia program.  While all we could do here was speculate about the speculation, David was able to utilize an advantage over us – access to ‘da man.  He up and went to Richt and asked him about Feldman’s train of thought.

And found, somewhat to his surprise, that Richt believes there’s some merit to it.  Here’s the quote that got my attention.

“There’s been years where I’ve said, ‘Men, I know what you’re going to do, I know how you’re going to do it, I’m not going to have to insult anybody’s intelligence to say we’re starting from ground zero,'” Richt said. “But this year, I said I don’t particularly care if anybody’s feelings get hurt. We’re going to pretend like we’ve never done it before, and we’re going to make sure we do it the Georgia way. That’s the mentality with the staff and with the players and myself.” [Emphasis added.]

And that’s what leads me around to the Bogotay signing.

It started with the decision to cut Dexter Moody loose after Moody signed his LOI but then had some issues turn up that gave the program second thoughts.  In prior years, we’ve seen this process with other kids take some time to develop – in several cases so that Richt personally could develop an exit strategy that involved placing the kid at another SEC program – which allowed the rumors to fly, the media to dig and the fanbase to squirm a bit.

Not this time around, though.  In a move so coldly efficient as to be almost Sabanesque in its execution, Moody was shown the door, put out on the porch and had the door locked behind him before anyone knew what was going on.  Moody was released from his LOI without being placed at another school, which gave Georgia the reason to refuse to comment on what happened.  The media didn’t dig into what the cause of the problem was until after Moody was released.  And the fanbase essentially shrugged its shoulders.

That’s just the first part of the story.  Like virtually everyone I spoke to about that decision, I expected that Richt would use the open scholarship slot to reward a deserving walk on senior and then use the scholly on next year’s class.  Instead, with no hint that the move had been in the works, Bogotay became the newest member of the incoming class of 2009 recruits.

And look how quickly it all came together.  Moody was released from his LOI on March 16th.  Ten days later, Bogotay is added to the fold.  That’s a short period of time, especially when you consider how Bogotay’s “recruiting” went.

… Bogotay still had another year of eligibility remaining at Grossmont College in El Cajon, Calif., and his coach didn’t send out any footage of the kicker, assuming he would return for his sophomore season. Bogotay decided to send out some tape on his own.

“He might have heard that Poland comment,” Richt said. “I can’t tell you how many times we watched that video.”

It didn’t take long for Richt to decide Bogotay had what Georgia was missing a year ago, but Georgia wasn’t the only school interested. Bogotay had visited Hawaii a week earlier and had interest from several other schools, too, so Richt decided it was time to pull the trigger on a scholarship offer.

That’s some fortuitous timing.  That’s also a head coach who’s focused on a particular problem and made a decision to address it as efficiently as he could.

Color me very pleasantly surprised.  Three months ago, I was fretting over Richt’s apparent willingness to see last year’s disappointment as little more than the result of a tough schedule and a rash of injuries, instead of digging deeper and seeing the implosions in the Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech games as symptoms of something longer term and more problematic.  I don’t know that the Richt of three months ago says the same thing to David Hale, or deals with Moody or the kicking situation in the same way.

So to me it looks like we’re seeing the emergence of another Richt persona.  Not “evil Richt” or “hip Richt”… I dunno, “ruthless Richt” sounds too harsh… but there’s definitely something going on here that’s different.  All I know is that were I a Georgia player or coach who heard the head man talking about an area of the team that needed to improve and I played or coached in that area, I sure would be listening more carefully than maybe I did in times past.

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Some thoughts about the Bogotay signing.

It’s only natural, I think, in light of the signing of Brandon Bogotay, to take a look back at Georgia’s kicking game from last season, statistically speaking, and try to evaluate what motivated the coaches to add a third scholarship kicker to the team.

First off, it’s fair to say that Georgia’s kickoff game in 2008 was subpar.  The Dawgs ranked 94th in kickoff average, at 59.62 ypk, almost nine yards per kick than the national leader, South Carolina.  Georgia was 80th in touchbacks, and 92nd in touchback percentage.  As for opponents’ return yardage, Georgia was 75th, at 21.66 ypr.

So when you net return yardage from kickoff average, what you’re left with is a typical starting point for Georgia’s opponents at their own 32 yard line.  For comparison’s sake, Georgia’s opponents averaged 61.97 ypk and Georgia’s kickoff returners on average gained 21.1 ypr.  That works out to a net of almost 41 yards per kickoff, which means the average starting point for Georgia’s offense after a kickoff was somewhere between the 29 and 30 yard lines.

Sure, there’s a net difference there that favored the teams the Dawgs faced off against, but a three yard difference in starting position doesn’t strike me as being as dramatic as I might have thought.

And what about our favorite bugaboo, the out of bounds kickoff?  Well, I think you can step up the description of the performance in that category from subpar to truly bad.  Georgia ranked second in the country in OOB kickoffs, with nine.  But whatever significance you might want to draw from that is lessened by the fact that the worst team nationally in OOB kickoffs last season was Florida.  That sure didn’t seem to affect the Gators much, did it?  On top of that, Georgia’s opponents were generous themselves in kicking the ball out of play, as they ranked 115th nationally.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that the stats most likely don’t tell the entire story.  It’s hard to say how much this affected Walsh’s – and the team’s, by extension – psyche.  And you have to wonder how much all of this played into the decline of Walsh’s field goal kicking as the season wore on.  We’ll always speculate how differently the Florida game might have gone if Walsh had made all of his FG attempts in the first half.  But it’s also not unreasonable to question if Bogotay, even if he’s appreciably better than Walsh at touchbacks and keeping kickoffs in play, will have as much of an impact as we might expect.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Phil Steele gets random.

The Diet Mountain Dew man has a page up at his site that’s a fun read.  It’s simply a list of odds and ends that he labels “Interesting Tidbits”.  My favorite thing there is the “Sacks in Conference Games” blurb – of the 461 conference games in 2008, only nine featured results where neither team recorded a sack.  Who knew?

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Looking for something to read?

If you’re looking for something to thumb through for a little while, Georgia’s 2009 Spring Media Guide is out.  The link is here.

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That’s gonna leave a mark.

Here’s a scary thought:  Rennie Curran says one of his goals is “being more violent in my tackling”.

Gulp.

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