Don’t cry for me, Butts-Mehre.

The Georgia Way ain’t dead yet.

UGA President Jere Morehead and athletic director Greg McGarity lauded the Georgia people for stepping up with donations to fund these projects. McGarity said the Bulldogs already have received $71 million in pledges — mostly coming from members of the relatively new Magill Society — toward the $93 million in football projects.

“There’s a strong commitment by our supporters of the football program, but winning helps,” Morehead said after the first of two days of meetings with the board. “… But keep in mind, we’ve still got to collect on all of those pledges. We need people to pay up.”

It’s not them, in other words.  It’s us.

Amazingly after the success of last season, they can still put Kirby’s needs on hold.

Of all the projects discussed Thursday, none included the expansion of Georgia’s weight room for football. In meetings all over the South since the end of Georgia’s SEC Championship football season, coach Kirby Smart has been telling donors of the Bulldogs’ facility improvement needs in that area.

McGarity acknowledged that it was on Smart’s wish list, but said UGA is taking a prioritized approach to projects.

“We have to finish the West End first,” McGarity said. “We feel good about what we’re doing. These things take time. We want to plan it the right way.”

Besides, their hands are tied.

McGarity said the athletics department needs to pay off the West end zone construction before moving on to the next project.

The reason for waiting, Morehead said, has to do with the bond-related covenants Georgia’s athletic association has entered into, which requires a certain amount of cash to be in a reserve at all times.

“We can only be so far indebted as an athletic association and meet our bond requirements,” Morehead said. “We’re always going to be prudent and thoughtful in how we do these things.”

This is what you get when you have an athletic department that’s convinced it can’t chew gum and walk at the same time.  And takes comfort in its limitations.

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UPDATE:  Here’s a perfect example of fiscal prudence, Butts-Mehre style.

Eight years ago, UGA opened a renovated football facility, which went less than halfway in building an indoor practice field. It was inadequate from the start, and five years later the school was already planning to finally get a full-scale facility.

The old one, just seven years old, was destroyed to make room. Millions of dollars basically wasted.

The new indoor facility, which opened last year, has drawn raves, and deservedly so. But it was also built without expanding Georgia’s weight rooms, or a training table, or a new team meeting room, and other things that people around the program say are still needed.

Not sure why this is so hard for some of you to understand.

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Politics and the art of broadcast consolidation

81Dog emailed me about this Wall Street Journal article, provocatively titled “How a weakened ESPN became consumed by politics”.  It begins with this:

John Skipper was furious.

One of his star anchors, Jemele Hill, had sent a tweet calling President Donald Trump a “white supremacist.” Mr. Trump’s supporters called for her to be fired. Prominent black athletes defended the anchor, who is African-American.

Sitting in his office last September, Mr. Skipper, then ESPN’s president, lit into Ms. Hill, according to people familiar with the meeting. If I punish you, he told her, I’d open us up to protests and come off as racist. If I do nothing, that will fuel a narrative among conservatives—and a faction within ESPN—that the network had become too liberal.

Mr. Skipper chose to spare Ms. Hill. Mr. Trump weighed in on Twitter: “ESPN is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers.”

The president’s tweet was hyperbolic, but it tapped into real anxiety at ESPN. What was the way forward for a company shaken to its foundations by the cord-cutting revolution?

Ooh, Mickey’s doomed!  Is there anything Disney can do?

Before some of you snowflakes get too carried away with the narrative here, it’s worth remembering that the WSJ is owned by Rupert Murdoch, who’s not exactly anti-politics himself.  Murdoch, I doubt you need to be reminded, owns Fox.  And Fox just so happens to be a significant competitor in the sports broadcasting world to ESPN.  Let Andy Staples give you an example of that:

This all seems to suggest that broadcast networks NBC, CBS and Fox may be even more interested in college sports than they already were. Meanwhile, ESPN will continue to attempt to dominate the sport. (And games purchased by ESPN are actually being purchased by Disney, which also runs games on ABC using ESPN personnel and branding.) The Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC could use their own cable networks as leverage as well by threatening to put the best games on those networks and demanding a higher subscription fee. (The ACC, which will launch its own network next year, won’t have this option because all its rights are owned by Disney/ESPN until 2036.) If even one streaming service such as Amazon Prime or YouTube Red decided to jump into the fray, the bidding could be frenzied. Dean Jordan, who has helped the ACC launch its channel with ESPN and who has worked with the Big Ten and College Football Playoff on media rights deals, believes the competition for rights could be fairly diverse in the next round.

I only see one entity referred to there as dominating.  As the Journal piece grudgingly admits about the WWL, “They have some enormous challenges but they have by far the best brand in sports…”  So what’s a little snotty political questioning between two rivals?

It’s even better than that.  The Murdoch empire is looking to sell a piece of Fox Sports and the front-runner for the purchase is Comcast.  However, there is another interested party.  Who might that be?  You guessed it.

The alternative to a Comcast/Fox deal is Disney buying the Fox properties, which would also boost the size of a TV sports empire by joining Fox’s sports properties with Disney’s national sports channels. The Disney-owned ESPN and ABC have TV contracts for the NFL, college football and basketball, MLB, the NBA, various soccer leagues, and other sports.

ESPN and the Fox regional sports networks “together would account for 30 percent of all affiliate fees for basic cable networks and RSNs and a massive 58 percent of affiliate fees for basic cable sports networks and RSNs,” S&P Global Market Intelligence said in a recent report that Comcast pointed out to Ars.

Either way, a Fox deal would produce a bigger programming giant that could demand higher fees from cable and satellite TV providers that buy access to sports channels.

Wrinkles, wrinkles everywhere.

The only politics any of these assholes are consumed with are the ones that make them the most money.  Buy into the nonsense narratives pushed by the likes of Clay Travis if you want, but realize you’re being played.

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Fox Sports Numbs My Brain, Political Wankery

Old wine in new skins

In my Notre Dame Observations post, I wrote,

As far as the venue goes, recently renovated Notre Dame Stadium is a pleasure. Wide concourses that are easy to navigate, clean efficient bathrooms and terrific sight lines are exactly how you do it. No advertising clutter inside and the sound system, while loud, didn’t assault the senses. Friendly staff, too.

So you can imagine the hope I felt reading this.

Georgia brought back much more from Notre Dame than a 1-point football victory last fall.

Josh Brooks, the Bulldogs’ deputy athletic director for operations, gave the UGA Athletic Association a slide-show presentation of additional improvements beyond the multi-million dollar West End enhancements coming to Sanford Stadium this fall. And Brooks credited Georgia’s experience playing the Fighting Irish in South Bend for several of the concepts being implemented.

Someone once said that hope may be the best of things, but that person never watched a game in Sanford Stadium.  Here’s what Butts-Mehre’s takeaway from Notre Dame Stadium amounts to:

At the University of Georgia Athletic Association Board of Directors Meeting, which took place at the Ritz-Carlton Reynolds at Lake Oconee, the board was shown renderings of visual enhancements to Sanford Stadium’s walls and columns. Deputy Athletic Director for Operations Josh Brooks presented images that displayed murals over the otherwise gray walls inside the stadium. The purpose of each image is to highlight Georgia’s history throughout the stadium.

Brooks said his staff got the idea after the program visited Notre Dame Stadium last September. The Bulldogs defeated the Fighting Irish 20-19 in that game.

To the left of the East end zone scoreboard, there will spaces to recognize Georgia’s four retired jerseys — Frank Sinkwich (No. 21), Charley Trippi (No. 62), Theron Sapp (No. 40) and Herschel Walker (No. 34). On the right side, there will be spots to honor Georgia’s national championships in 1942 and 1980.

Brooks joked that “there’s always room for growth” on the national championship side of the scoreboard, and “he’s got room for two but will gladly build a new one after three, four and five.” At Reed Plaza, the columns will be painted black and will honor the years of various conference championship seasons. Much like at Notre Dame, the columns will also have a replica photo of a program from that year to commemorate the season.

“We took a step back and thought how can we celebrate our rich history at Sanford Stadium and also warm the stadium up at the same time?” Brooks said.

On the 100 level at Sanford Stadium, Brooks pointed out the gray space seen throughout when walking through the concourse and through the concession aisles. On these various walls, Brooks said the plan is to paint historic moments equipped with quotes. One rendering showed a picture of Walker scoring a touchdown against Tennessee in 1980, with longtime broadcaster Larry Munson’s quote, “My God, a freshman!” depicted over it.

In addition, the giant Bulldog statue located at the East end zone will be moved to the Northwest corner of the end zone. The statue’s new location would make it more accessible to those attending games, Brooks said.

Maybe all that will distract you from thinking about how slowly the concession lines move.  You’ve got to take your improved game day experience where you can get it, peeps.

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Chip Towers has a question.

I ask you, DawgNation, does McGarity deserve a contract extension? A raise? Nothing?”

Which brings to mind this response…

Okay, forget about the fee for the gaming license.

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Just when you think the NCAA couldn’t possibly behave more contemptibly…

they go and do this.

A player battling epilepsy will not be able to play as a walk-on safety at Auburn because he uses a prescription for cannabis oil to combat his illness, according to WXGA-TV.

C.J. Harris was diagnosed with epilepsy as a sophomore in high school, and after his 14th seizure he was prescribed cannabis oil by his doctor, which has allowed him to live a seizure-free life since January 20, 2017.

The safety was offered a preferred walk-on spot at Auburn, according to WXGA-TV, but the NCAA will not allow him to play at the school because of the prescription for cannabis oil.

“I broke down,” Harris told WXGA-TV. “This is my dream. I saw everything lining up perfectly for me.

The NCAA does not allow athletes to inject THC. Cannabis oil contains THC, which would register on drug tests.

Harris is exploring junior colleges and NAIA schools to play football, and is also exploring alternative medicines so he could play football and pass a drug test, according to the report.

“You’re taking something away from a kid who’s worked so hard in his life to get there,” his father, Curtis Harris, said, according to WXGA-TV. “And you’re just taking it away because he’s taking a medication that’s helping with his disability.”

C’mon, dad.  It’s the NCAA.  Try not to act so disappointed.

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Early lines for games of the year

From South Point Hotel and Casino:

  • Georgia (-11) at South Carolina
  • Florida vs. Georgia (-15)
  • Auburn at Georgia (-3)
  • Georgia Tech at Georgia (-21)

I’m a little surprised Georgia at LSU didn’t make the list.

As you can see, Georgia is favored in every game on the board.  Every other SEC East team on the list is an underdog in at least one game:  South Carolina 1, Florida 3, Tennessee 1 and Kentucky 1.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

“Don’t make anything out of it because it’s nothing there.”

I’d say that quote would make a terrific epitaph for Greg McGarity’s tenure as Georgia’s AD, except it’s starting to sound like he’s not going anywhere, at least not any time soon.

Morehead was asked after Thursday’s meeting if he is planning on extending the contract.

“We’re not talking about anything but the current situation, but yes I have great confidence in Greg,” Morehead said. “He’s doing a tremendous job but you know we’re good where we are. …We haven’t had any of those kind of conversations.”

McGarity standing besides Morehead as the two answered reporters’ questions added: “There’s no urgency.”

“We’re in a good position,” Morehead added.

Later when the subject came up again with reporters, Morehead said: “Presidents operate on year to year contracts. I don’t think it’s a big issue.”

… Asked if he wants to be athletic director beyond his current contract, McGarity said: “I think it’s just the unforeseeable future, yeah. Yeah, I think so. So we’ll just see what happens. Trust me, we haven’t even talked about that in any way because it’s not urgent. It’s not an important matter. I think for the foreseeable future, I feel in great shape.”

Hell, why shouldn’t he?  Nice contact with little accountability — sweet gig, if you can keep it.

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