A different kind of envy and jealousy

You know what Paul Johnson’s dream job is?  Kirby Smart’s.

The new dynamic, of course, for Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson is that for the first time in his nine seasons with the Yellow Jackets, the Georgia coach on the other sideline will be Kirby Smart. Johnson isn’t sure what that could mean for the rivalry.

“I have no idea, we’ll see,” Johnson said. “I’ll have a better idea in a couple of years I guess. They’re always going to have good players. The place recruits itself. That’s not going to change for sure. It will be interesting to see how they do. It would be hard to say until we watch them play.”

“The place recruits itself.”  Could there be anything more Chantastic for the genius?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Gettin’ started.

Fall camp is just around the corner, oh impatient ones.  It’s about damned time, right?

Here’s the list of start dates for all SEC programs:

EAST DIVISION

Florida: August 3. First game: September 3 vs. Massachusetts
Georgia: August 1. First game: September 3 vs. North Carolina in Atlanta
Kentucky: August 4. First game: September 3 vs. Southern Miss
Missouri: August 4. First game: September 3 at West Virginia
South Carolina: August 1. First game: September 1 at Vanderbilt
Tennessee: August 1. First game: September 1 vs. Appalachian State
Vanderbilt: August 4. First game: September 1 vs. South Carolina

WEST DIVISION

Alabama: August 3. First game: September 3 vs. USC in Arlington, Texas
Arkansas: August 4. First game: September 3 vs. Louisiana Tech
Auburn: August 2. First game: September 3 vs. Clemson
LSU: August 3. First game: September 3 vs. Wisconsin in Green Bay, Wis.
Mississippi State: August 1. First game: September 3 vs. South Alabama
Ole Miss: August 7. First game: September 5 vs. Florida State in Orlando
Texas A&M: August 8. First game: September 3 vs. UCLA

At least Georgia goes first.

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Filed under SEC Football

Name that caption, motley crew edition

An alert reader passed this on to me.

Of course, have at it in the comments, but I can’t help observing that the last part of Bauerle’s caption is noteworthy as to whom it doesn’t mention.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Name That Caption

“I’m worried about the 280-to-300-pound guys…”

If you’re looking for the silver lining in the dark cloud that is Georgia’s current defensive line situation, Smart’s got one for you:

“The good thing is we don’t play an LSU, Arkansas type that’s just going to break your neck, but we do have to play fast-tempo teams.”

On top of that, most of the offenses Georgia will face before season’s end don’t deploy particularly productive rushing attacks.

After the opener, the Bulldogs will face only one opponent — Tennessee on Oct. 1 — that ranked in the national top 40 in rushing offense last season before taking on Auburn and Georgia Tech in November.

Sure hope some of the true freshmen have developed by then, and maybe Jonathan Ledbetter, of whom Smart says “it’ll surprise everybody” when they find out how many games he’s suspended for, will be reinstated.  In the meantime, fingers crossed.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The days “when the Big 12 was the Big 12”

Er, wut?

That financial focus is especially the reality for the Big 12, which was born as a merger of two defunct conferences (the Southwest and the Big Eight); which lost members to three other leagues during the past several years of realignment…

The Big 12 is an amalgam forged out of failure.  It has no historical tradition as such with which to wrap itself in, something that makes it different from its four other P5 peers.  That means it feels even less restraint in its current money chase, which is why this strategy doesn’t sound as implausible as it might at first glance.

The most important data point in favor of Big 12 expansion, said Neal Pilson, a media consultant and former CBS Sports president, is the massive rights extensions the Big Ten reportedly struck with Fox, ESPN and CBS, which would nearly triple that conference’s annual rights revenue (not including the Big Ten Network), to nearly a quarter of a billion dollars…

For that reason, Pilson advised the Big 12 to take a page from the Big Ten’s playbook. Much as the Big Ten, a traditionally Midwestern league, recently added Rutgers and Maryland to plant its flag near several East Coast population centers, the Big 12, whose members reside in Great Plains states and Texas (and West Virginia), ought to invite Connecticut to join, Pilson said.

“Having Texas and Oklahoma and the other major Big 12 schools playing in the Northeast would create additional revenue opportunities and make it a more attractive conference in terms of new sponsors and a better linear television deal,” Pilson said.

Again, if you’re a fan of college football —  and if you’re reading this blog, that’s a pretty good indication you are — you recognize that one of the sport’s greatest strengths is based in its regional appeal.  If chasing “a better linear television deal” is to be the Big 12’s new raison d’etre, I’m not sure what that says about that conference’s long-term survival chances.  What depresses me, though, is the worry that this turns out to be the canary in the coal mine for the sport as a whole.

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Filed under Big 12 Football

Kirby Smart’s uncharted territory

One thing over the past few decades Georgia hasn’t done particularly well is get great seasons out of true freshman quarterbacks.

Even so, starting a true freshman quarterback in the SEC is tough, given the nuances involved.

“If you look over the history of the league, it hasn’t happened very often – especially when you talk about the first game of the season,” head coach Kirby Smart said.

Only three times since 1990 has Georgia started a true freshman in 50 percent or more of its games during a football season – Eric Zeier (1991), Quincy Carter (1998) and Matthew Stafford (2006). David Greene and Aaron Murray both redshirted their first years on campus before starting four consecutive years.

Carter was the only quarterback of the three who earned the job going into his season-opener, although he was two years removed from high school and playing minor league baseball before heading to college.

Carter had success throwing the ball in his first season, totaling 2,489 yards and 12 touchdowns en route to earning SEC Freshman of the Year honors. Zeier earned six starts to total 1,984 yards and 7 touchdowns. Stafford, who made seven starts in 2006, struggled the most out of the three as he amassed 1,749 yards, 7 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

And, boy, from the best start of the three did Carter’s Georgia career end well.

None of which is to say Kirby doesn’t know what’s at stake over the next month as he evaluates his options at the most important position on the field.  The quote above indicates that he’s well aware of what kind of chance he’d be taking if he decides on Jacob Eason as the starter against North Carolina.

The question Smart has to ask himself and answer, just as we all will, is whether Georgia’s staff has the chops to overcome history and justify taking that kind of risk by coaching Eason up sufficiently to, if not succeed wildly, at least avoid being a liability.  Keep in mind it’s a decision he’ll have to make based purely on his own instincts and professional judgment, because throughout his time at Alabama, that’s a call he never watched Nick Saban make.

Since Nick Saban joined the Alabama football program in the spring of 2007, he has never started a true freshman quarterback. Things such as “seniority” and “earn it” have always been mantras in Saban’s process. It’s not that Saban wouldn’t ever consider starting a true freshman quarterback, but the two things he values the most in his quarterbacks (playing smart and limiting turnovers) are difficult to grasp for a guy who was playing high school football months earlier.

For all the attention we’ve paid to Georgia’s quarterbacks, especially after Eason’s G-Day performance, this is the aspect of the choice we may not have fully contemplated.  It’s a big deal, perhaps as much a definer of Smart’s early career as anything he’ll take on, both for what it will say about his decision to hire Jim Chaney as well as his skill in program building through talent evaluation and development.

Keep in mind that when Richt took his leap with Matthew Stafford, it came in the wake of the program’s most successful run in a quarter century.  Smart, in contrast, is making that call cold, and while, sure, he starts off in a honeymoon phase with the fan base, if the quarterback choice blows up in his face, he’ll soon find out that the fan base’s experience over the past five years has made most of us far more willing to question whether the head coach knows what he’s doing than we used to.

There’s a lot at stake, and we’ll be watching.  No pressure, Coach.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“Take their heads out of the game”

A University of Georgia researcher suggests that football rules need to focus on two things in an effort to reduce head injuries:

“When you combine a three-point stance with running a long distance, it results in the most severe head impacts,” said Schmidt, who studies concussions in the college’s department of kinesiology. “So that points toward a need for rule changes that emphasize the combination of the two if we’re going to reduce head impact severity.”

She also suggests that focused coaching would help.

Because the study focused on high school players, who have a tendency to change positions throughout their time on a team, she suggested coaches and administrators emphasize good tackling techniques by teaching proper head and body positioning.

Shockingly, no mention made there about targeting penalties or replay officials.  Eh, scientists.

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Filed under The Body Is A Temple