Daily Archives: December 1, 2017

Mixed message in Urnge

Loocee, you got some ‘splaining to do.

How do you give an “acting” athletic director a two-year deal?

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

“We’ll see you in Atlanta.”

Kirby Smart thinks his time served under Saban helps Georgia now.

This will be Smart’s seventh time being part of the SEC championship: Five times as an Alabama assistant and once as a Georgia assistant (in 2005). It’s his first time here as a head coach, leading sixth-ranked Georgia (11-1) against second-ranked Auburn (10-2).

The situations aren’t exactly parallel. But Smart granted that the experience of being in this game does help.

“The experience in those is invaluable,” Smart said. “Just being able to control the emotions. Having the kids understand it’s just another game, because if they don’t that’s when they make more mistakes. …

“I wouldn’t diminish the importance of it. I just think you’d better have a process, a routine that you go through. And the kids have been able to follow that.”

I see his point, but we heard how Smart’s experience managing the expectations that come with being tops in the CFP rankings would help Georgia keep emotions under control the first time his team faced Auburn.  That worked out well.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Lo, a savior has come!

Behold, children!

I love the conceit that a bunch of coaching candidates have been sitting on their hands all this time, waiting on Phil Fulmer to take control.

This is only gonna get better, right?

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

Metaphor of the day

Ho, ho, ho.

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UPDATE:  It’s easier to buy a tree when you get to your new home than it is to lug one half way across the country.

Jimbo Fisher has resigned as Florida State’s coach and will be named Texas A&M’s new coach, sources told ESPN. Fisher will not coach in the Seminoles’ regular-season finale against Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday. FSU officials plan to announce his resignation Friday afternoon.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“… an attitude of business as usual.”

Good Lord, these two paragraphs from the NCAA’s COI on Ole Miss:

That second especially is something else.

It looks like Freeze got off relatively lightly because the NCAA believed his story that he didn’t know what was going on, but, jeez, the NCAA is laying out a case that Ole Miss has been cheating for 30+ years — through not one, but two COIs — on an uninterrupted basis!  All that cost the school is a few more scholarships, some lost conference revenue and one more year of bowl ban.  If that doesn’t convince you that the death penalty will never be imposed again, I don’t know what will.

I hope like hell somebody has the fortitude to lay into Greg Sankey about this at his next press conference.  I’m sure he’ll try to BS his way out of it, but he deserves to squirm.  A 30-year old trend of cheating doesn’t go unnoticed.  It just gets ignored.

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Filed under Freeze!, The NCAA

The bomb drops on Ole Miss.

Now you know why the school stuck with Matt Luke.

After five years, the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions finally issued a ruling in Ole Miss’s recruiting scandal on Friday morning.

The core penalties, per a source close to Ole Miss:

  • An additional bowl-ban year (2018).
  • Because of that total two-year bowl ban, NCAA rules state Ole Miss players are now free to transfer elsewhere without sitting out a season.  [Emphasis added.]
  • Probation running concurrently with current probation for a total of four years.
  • Financial penalties.
  • A total scholarship reduction of 13 over a period of years. That’s in addition to the 11 over four years that Ole Miss self-imposed, which already meant three or four fewer scholarship players per year.
  • Every coach named in the NCAA’s investigation has received a show-cause (essentially an NCAA blackball for a period of time). That doesn’t include new head coach Matt Luke, who wasn’t named. Former assistant David Saunders’ show-cause runs for eight years. Former staffer Barney Farrar faces five.

It’s open season on Ole Miss players and the future pipeline’s taken a pretty severe hit, too.

Welcome to irrelevancy, fellas.  You’re gonna be there for a while.

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Filed under Freeze!, The NCAA

Urnge overload

Jesus, Tennessee football.

Knoxville without a head coach and an athletic director… this can’t possibly be accurate, can it?

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UPDATE:  Per Bruce Feldman, who’s pretty plugged in on this,

Word is the meeting with Leach and Tennessee AD John Currie lasted a few hours and went “very well,” SI has learned. And I’m told there would be genuine interest in the Vols job from the Wazzu head man. However this whole deal is complicated by the dynamic swirling around within UT’s leadership. We’ve heard from multiple sources there is a lot of in-fighting, finger-pointing and back-stabbing taking place amongst Tennessee brass. As SI reported earlier this week, there is a growing faction at Tennessee pushing to get Currie removed. Former Vols head coach Phil Fulmer is said to be one of those battling with Currie and that could muck up the process to reel in Leach[Emphasis added.]

That’s the one ingredient that had been missing to make this a perfect dumpster fire recipe.

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UPDATE #2:  Apparently it’s real and it’s spectacular.

Tennessee athletic director John Currie, who had been leading a disastrous Vols’ coaching search, has parted ways with the university after meeting with university officials Friday morning, including chancellor Beverly Davenport, sources told ESPN’s Chris Low.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

The sad poetry of “one game away”

This Will Leitch piece about Georgia on the precipice tomorrow has gotten a lot of praise, and deservedly so.  I urge you to take a few minutes to read it.  There’s one section in particular that resonates with me.  It’s this:

The closest Georgia came to that elusive national championship was in 2012. The Bulldogs played Alabama, of course, in the SEC championship game, and led most of the way. But with less than a minute left, they trailed by four, and Aaron Murray, one of the best quarterbacks in Georgia history, drove them down the field to try to become a legend in Athens. The winner of the game would play an undefeated but not well-regarded Notre Dame team in the national championship game. This was Georgia on the precipice.

I know that reciting the details of this play will make Georgia fans scream, but: Georgia had the ball at the Alabama eight with 16 seconds, no timeouts and the clock running down. Rather than spike the ball — potentially giving the Bulldogs two shots at the end zone — Murray ran a play, tossing a pass to current Kansas City Chief and truly dedicated Star Wars enthusiast Chris Conley, who, as he was falling down, caught the pass, almost out of instinct. With no timeouts, the clock ran out. Alabama had won another SEC championship (and would go on to destroy Notre Dame in the BCS championship game). Georgia was left on the outside looking in again.

Mentioning this game — let alone watching highlights of it — will cause any Georgia fan’s eye to begin twitching. I lived in Brooklyn with my wife and infant son at the time, on the 22nd floor of a high-rise apartment complex just across the Manhattan Bridge. When the clock ran out, I had to stop her from tearing the television off the wall and throwing it out the window onto innocent pedestrians below. It still hurts people here to even think about it.

But watch the play again, or, more specifically, watch the Alabama players and coaches celebrating directly afterward.

Look at that crazy Alabama coach jumping on top of his players after they’ve made the tackle of Conley. At Georgia’s darkest moment, look at the happiest guy on the field.

That man is Kirby Smart, then defensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide. He is now the head coach of Georgia. He’s the guy they fired Mark Richt for, the guy Georgia brass caused the whole rift to get here. He’s now the one who has them one game away.

I’ve already blogged about the key factors Georgia has to overcome to get a win tomorrow.  On paper, my biggest concern is whether the Dawgs can improve their line play enough to change the results from three weeks ago.

If I’m honest about it, though, line play isn’t really what makes me skeptical about a Georgia win.  Tomorrow’s game being exactly the kind of game that Georgia always comes up short in ever since New Year’s Day, 1981, is what makes me doubt.  Sure, there have been signature wins and conference titles, even a BCS game here and there, since then.  But inevitably, when Georgia’s faced that opportunity to win a game that would vault it into national prominence, it’s failed to seize the moment.

Dooley had them the next two seasons.  Goff’s 1992 outrageously talented team came up five points short against its two main divisional rivals to blow that season’s opportunity.  Jim Donnan’s 1997 squad beat Florida, only to face plant the next week against Auburn.

And then there’s 2012.  That one stung the most not just because there was so much at stake, but also because the Dawgs showed up and traded blows all game with Alabama, only to have a tipped pass go the wrong way.  That’s what Georgia football’s done for all these years and we’ve become inured to that.  It’s like the football gods looked at the program and said, “you got Herschel and that’s all you’re getting”.

So now there’s Kirby, Kirby Dancin’ Smart, who’s been on both sides of Georgia heartbreak, as the Alabama assistant in 2012 and the Georgia safety in 1997.  He’s the guy we’re asking to erase this feeling of inevitably falling just short at precisely the worst time.  Maybe he can, but he’s sure got a lot to overcome to get there.

It’s not about the Process tomorrow.  The Process is about building a program for the long haul.  That’s on track.  What the SECCG is about is finding out if those same football gods have been placated.  Have we served enough time wandering in the desert is the question and my heart doesn’t hold an answer for that as I type this.  I’ll watch the game consumed by equal parts of hope and dread.  That’s my birthright as a fan of Georgia football.

I will say this about beating Auburn.  If Georgia is crowned SEC champ tomorrow, it’ll feel like the Dawgs will play the rest of this season on house money.  For me, for once, defying the pessimistic expectations and seeing the team included in the ultimate consideration, to finally reach that seemingly unreachable stage, will be its own reward for sticking around and loving Georgia football for almost forty years.  Sure, if they get over the hump, I’d like a national title as much as anyone.  Who wouldn’t?  But for once, the trip itself, along with prospects for the future, would be enough of a reward for carrying this black cloud around for almost four decades.  Lord knows I’m ready to put it down.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Hey, somebody’s got a petard that needs hoisting.

If there’s ever a decision that deserves to be crapped on by the football gods, it’s the Big 12’s idiotic move to plop a conference title game on top of its regular season round robin schedule.

Friends, join me in rooting for TCU tomorrow.

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Filed under Big 12 Football

“I was so fiercely loyal to Georgia because that’s the job I took.”

Steve Hummer’s Q&A with Mark Richt has this particularly interesting exchange:

Q: Getting back to offensive play-calling, how satisfying has that been?

A: The best thing about that is for me the energy level that it takes and the competitive spirit that it takes daily. Even in spring ball, you’re going against the defense. In fall camp, you’re going against the defense. Week by week you’re going against the opponent. You’re competing. I think my natural competitive spirit comes out better than when you’re the CEO. I think it has been good for me. And I think it has been good for the coaches and players to see that part of me.

I guess raising money for the school and athletic department doesn’t get the competitive juices flowing.  Too bad the Georgia Way wouldn’t listen.

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Filed under Georgia Football