Per Weiszer, in a recent ESPN podcast, Kirby Smart had this to say about COVID-19:
While Georgia has not released any data on any positive COVID-19 tests for football players, Smart indicated there has been some.
“We’re getting up to date information, day to day,” Smart said. “We do a great job of communicating who all has been involved. We’ve got guys over weekends that may have gone somewhere or been exposed. Contact tracing has worked really well as far as protecting guys. We’ve got a set of protocols that we follow.”
Smart said previously that if a player tested positive during workouts, that contact tracing will be used. The player also would be isolated.
He said keeping those in the “inner bubble,” including coaches and staff safe is a priority.
Smart praised Georgia director of sports medicine Ron Courson and staff.
“This recent spike in numbers, I do think that our staff has done a tremendous job,” Smart said.
Honestly, I would have been surprised if he had said there were no cases. I’m sure they’re on the mother. Let’s hope that’s enough.
If you’re wondering how safe it will be for programs with resources to face less endowed football teams, Marc Weiszer has a story about ETSU for you.
East Tennessee State will start required workouts on Monday, the first day allowed by the NCAA for those who start the football season on Sept. 5. Since Georgia opens on Sept. 7 against Virginia, it will begin its mandatory workouts next Wednesday.
ETSU players are being tested for COVID-19 using a PCR nasal swab. Most staff members have also had an antibody test.
The school has a 35-page plan for returning to athletic activity and also leans on guidance from the Southern Conference.
“I know from our conference’s perspective we’re going to have expectations that every school will have as we play one another and I anticipate that there will be common ground that we will need to come to with non-conference games as well,” Carter said. “It would not surprise me at all to have a conversation here in the near future with Georgia about their home game, what their expectations would be and we would have very similar expectations that we’re going to take care of one another and do everything we can and be good neighbors as we compete in a contact sport.”
Well, that depends on what your definition of “everything” includes.
Carter said how often ETSU players are tested is something “we’re still working on. Right now, we’ve had a cooperative with our ETSU Health program up here because we’ve not had a tremendous volume of people involved, the dollars involved I don’t think are grandly significant right now. We’ve been able to actually to utilize insurance and other methods to offset with that and partnerships we have with our medical school and other things.”
Still, Carter said that “everyone is bracing for a significant financial challenge,” with testing during the fall. Deep, thorough cleaning in the football weight room, locker room, sports medicine facilities and equipment room add to expenses as well.
Not exactly giving the warm and fuzzies there. Sure hope McGarity asks some penetrating questions when they talk and gets straight answers in response.
I favor the purpose of the PPP loan program, so, with the obvious exceptions of fraud and misapplication of funds in mind, I don’t get the PPP shaming that’s going on with regard to certain recipients. That being said, the irony here is so delicious, I can’t help but make an exception.
Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever see that level of disconnect approached again in my lifetime.
That’s just an appetizer for this week’s Playpen, though. Here’s the main course:
I know GTP has readers and commenters here who work in academia, particularly at colleges and universities. Fall semester is approaching. I’d love to hear from you folks on the preparations your institutions are making in light of the pandemic. Are you comfortable with what’s being proposed? Are there holes or flaws in the plans that leave you concerned? Is your place is ready? Do you have any insight into how that will mesh with athletic department operations at your school?
Most significantly, in light of all the above, how are you planning to do your work?
Thanks in advance for sharing.
And in Knoxville.
And lastly, you have three-star Ladd McConkey. He earned his offer from the Bulldogs late in the process after head coach Kirby Smart went to watch him play basketball. McConkey took a late visit to Tennessee, his childhood favorite school, but the Vols decided not to extend an offer.
Sources say McConkey took that personally, and the Bulldogs were able to easily secure his commitment after that.
… “They were pretty forthright with him. They told him that they had a couple of guys ahead of him on their board, and if those guys decided to commit, that there wouldn’t be a spot for him. He left the visit from Tennessee with a sour taste in his mouth. I honestly think that even if they had offered, he would have chosen Georgia. It meant a lot to him that head coach Kirby Smart believed in him enough to offer when he didn’t have any other big options.”
Smart isn’t the only one.
“He’s definitely a prototypical slot for Monken’s style of offense,” Brantley said. “He’s extremely, extremely intelligent. Playing QB will help him identify zones and know what’s going on in the defense. He will be able to get open in a man to man situation against any safety or linebacker, but he will also have the intelligence to know where to sit down in the soft spots in zone coverage.”
A good fit in Georgia’s offense with an Urnge chip on his shoulder? Gee, that sounds promising. And cold. Very cold.
Just curious — which SEC head coach do you think loses his job next, and why?
It’s a tougher question than you think. Several programs have just recycled. There’s the Jimmy Sexton factor in play with coaches like Boom (would South Carolina really spring for that buyout under the current economic conditions?) and Malzahn (ditto). There’s a group of programs that are stable — ‘Bama, LSU, TAMU, Georgia, Florida and Kentucky all come to mind in that regard. At UT, Fulmer seems too invested in the belief that Pruitt has things turned around and on the rise to make a move.
That leaves Derek Mason, but who knows what Vandy thinks?
Anyway, what say you?
UPDATE: Dennis Dodd posted his coaches’ hot seat ratings today. Top two SEC coaches:
Scale is zero to five. Smart is a zero, in case you’re wondering.
I’ll tell you one thing — if there’s a place for a Georgia player to carve a significant spot for himself this season, it’s at outside receiver. After Pickens, it’s wide open.
If Georgia plays a full schedule, Pickens is going to be a 1,000-yard receiver and there could be another guy who goes for over 800 yards. We tend to push against the latter because of the plethora of options. Robertson or a slot receiver might be the No. 2 option early on but you could see a guy like Rosemy or Smith making waves later on in the year. There’s just so much talent in this group now but it’s worth noting that the top-end guys appear to be on the younger side.
You’d think Robertson would have a real opportunity to shine. But it’s just as likely that one of the talented incoming freshmen nudge somebody more experienced aside to claim some significant playing time.
One thing I wonder about is whether Monken puts as high a preference on downfield blocking as his predecessors did (or, maybe the better way to put that is whether Kirby will want that emphasized as much as he has). We’ll see.
He’s concerned that college athletes can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.
Sankey, meanwhile, told senators that he worries about the time restraints on young athletes, already encumbered with class schedules and team functions, having to now fill busy schedules with NIL events.
He forgot to mention the time they’ll spend in tattoo parlors, blowing all that sweet NIL cash.
Seriously, is there a more porny (pornish?) player on Georgia’s roster than George Pickens?
WR GEORGE PICKENS, GEORGIA
Pickens should already be considered one of the 10 best wide receivers in college football after what we saw from him as a true freshman in 2019.
The Hoover, AL native produced an 88.0 receiving grade that ranked third in the SEC and 17th in the FBS last season. Standing at 6-foot-3, Pickens possesses excellent ball skills, and they were a big reason for his early success — his catch radius is massive, and he has the body control to snag any off-target throw.
Jake Fromm gave him 49 catchable targets in 2019, and he didn’t drop a single one of those. In fact, he had the third-most catchable targets without a drop in FBS last year.
Pickens managed to have all this success despite having to deal with Fromm’s relatively average arm talent. But now, he’ll have Wake Forest transfer Jamie Newman, who has one of the best arms in the country, throwing him the ball.
Fromm’s deep ball was lacking at Georgia while Newman ranked behind only Joe Burrow in deep passing grade in 2019. His touch is arguably the best in the nation, and that’s something Fromm quite frankly didn’t have much of. We believe that Pickens will put up even better numbers in 2020 than he did a season ago.
Especially when you throw in a little Newman for seasoning.
UPDATE: Moar porn.
— Sophomore wide receiver George Pickens, the team’s leading pass catcher last season who has been listed at 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, has added five to seven pounds.
“He’s not a college freshman anymore,” Smart said. “He’s stronger.”
When the biggest concern one can raise on the defensive side of the ball for the Dawgs is depth at nose tackle, that’s gonna be one nasty unit. And even that quibble is likely nothing more than a maybe. Crazy, crazy good.
Needless to say, I don’t see any surprises there. How about you?
Yeah, I’m surprised nobody has had the sense to kill this in the cradle yet.
‘What’s next for Paul Finebaum?’ is becoming a frequent topic of conversation, but one thing that appears to be gaining traction for ESPN’s star college football analyst is a sitcom based on his life.
Michael Smith of the Sports Business Journal first reported a potential sitcom for Finebaum back in February. According to SBJ, Finebaum and his agency CAA broached all four major networks about the possibility of creating a sitcom featuring his radio show as the focal point.
In a recent interview with Scott Fowler of The Charlotte Observer, Finebaum said the prospect of a sitcom is getting very serious. Although he didn’t mention the network or actor, Finebaum described the project as being in motion.
“There is a major Hollywood production company involved and already several writers are working on the script to be pitched to the major networks soon,” Finebaum told Fowler.
“The biggest news is a well-known actor is extremely interested in playing the lead. We did a call recently and it was fairly bizarre having a successful Hollywood actor asking me about me. He is considerably younger, so the idea is to set the sitcom at an early point in my career.”
Since they haven’t, let’s have some fun. Whom would you cast as Finebaum, early or late in his career? Don’t feel that you have to limit yourself to humans.