Before we get too excited…

Chip Towers looks at the offensive line and goes full Debbie Downer on us.  A random sampling:

  • “The reality is, Georgia is unstable at tackle and therefore uncertain at guard. Some of the Bulldogs’ best guards were getting looks at tackle, the latter being a more critical position for pass protection. But each attempt to get better on the outside caused ripple effects throughout the line.

    Isaiah Wynn, the Bulldogs’ best left guard, also has proven to be their best left tackle. The same could be said of Greg Pyke and right guard and tackle.”

  • Center:  “The positive here is that Kublanow is rock solid as the starter coming out of spring practice, which wasn’t necessarily a certainty going in. The negative is that Georgia is really shaky behind him. There are plenty of good linemen to move into the position should Kublanow be needed at guard, like he was at the end of last season, or Uga forbid, have to come out of the game. But nobody else has come close to earning the coaches’ trust to make line calls and deliver on-target shotgun snaps without fail.”
  • “Meanwhile, Georgia’s two best guards overall, Wynn and Greg Pyke, were both playing tackle at the end of the spring.”

If Towers is correct about this, and I can’t really argue otherwise with him right now, then it’s hard to understate the importance of Tyler Catalina’s arrival.

The Bulldogs brought in a huge X factor at tackle when they secured the commitment of Catalina, a graduate transfer from Rhode Island. Georgia beat out the likes of Auburn and Florida for this 6-6, 235-pound FCS player who is said to be ready to step in and play in the SEC. As Smart said himself, you don’t recruit such a veteran player to “come be fourth spring.” So Catalina will figure into the competition at either left or right tackle. If Catalina can proves himself their best option at left tackle, it will allow the Bulldogs to move Wynn back to guard and possibly solve a lot of problems. If not, the shuffling may continue well into the fall.

I’m not saying Catalina’s the most crucial piece of Georgia’s puzzle to contend for the SEC East in Smart’s first season – after all, look at what Florida did last season with an even more discombobulated offensive line – but it sure would be nice if he could step in and plug a hole.  Considering the other question marks the staff faces in August, the less shuffling, the better.

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Filed under Georgia Football

All for one? Yeah, right.

If you couldn’t tell, I’m amused to no end by the college football commissioner talk that’s surfaced from a number of sources.  Aside from the consideration that making the game more NFL-like is the last thing it needs, the clamor for a CFB czar totally ignores the reality that the college game isn’t monolithic as pro sports are.  How much more “duh” can it get than this?

No one is going to give up their power. This is the biggest obstacle. You’re telling me that after the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12 fought to gain authority to write some of their own NCAA rules, they’re going to give control over to one person? We’re supposed to believe these conferences that negotiate their own futures through media deals are going to turn their fate over to one man or woman? Come on.

That one person would then need to create his or her own bureaucracy to handle 65 schools in the Power Five or 128 FBS schools. What type of power would a college football commissioner actually have? I’d love to see that job description — and that salary! If Larry Scott gets $4 million a year as the Pac-12 commissioner, what does the ultimate college football commish get to make?

Roger Goodell oversees 32 NFL franchises, all of which pool their lucrative TV rights together. The NFL owners paid Goodell $34.1 million in 2014 to be a figurehead. A college football commissioner would be pulled in far too many different directions and have to answer to many more people than in the NFL. Left unspoken by those who want a commissioner: Not many people really like how Goodell is using his power lately.

Not gonna happen.

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Y’all come back now.

I read Bill King’s weekend piece with interest, but nothing in there, from start…

Between a hike in the required donation to buy season tickets and an already planned ticket price increase to $50, Georgia Bulldogs fans face the prospect of paying considerably more for a rather uninspiring 6-game home schedule in 2017.

With the Dawgs’ two most enticing nonconference games coming on the road that season (at Notre Dame and Georgia Tech), the home schedule in Athens will consist of Appalachian State, Samford, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi State and South Carolina.

Sounds like a lot of noon kickoffs and no time for serious tailgating, Dawgs fans!

… to middle…

Meanwhile, as if to add insult to injury, at the same time as the announcement of the required Hartman Fund donation increases for Georgia Bulldogs Club members, the stadium improvements announced involve projects aimed at the players and recruits.  Again, the fans are ignored.

The athletic association said its next project at Sanford Stadium will be a new home locker room for the players and entertainment space for recruits on the west end of the stadium underneath the Sanford Drive bridge.

Not a word, however, about much-needed improvements directed toward the fans who provide that revenue, such as renovating the squalid restrooms along the dingy concourses on the North side of the stadium, or providing more water fountains so that ticketholders don’t have to miss the better part of a quarter standing in line for bottles at the overwhelmed concession stands run by poorly trained volunteer groups.

… to finish…

Yes, in order to win on the level that Bulldogs fandom is demanding, UGA is going to have to spend big money on player facilities and recruiting, in addition to ever-inflating coaches’ salaries.

But, unless they want to wind up in the business of just providing programming content for ESPN and CBS while the players perform in a less-than-full house, the folks in charge of Bulldogs athletics need to start paying as much attention to the fans as they do to the recruits.

… comes as much of a surprise.  After all, as King himself notes,

I have a feeling that’s because, in the wake of the 93K success at G-Day and the overall rise of optimism about the program, they thought they ought to strike now, while everyone’s in love with Kirby Smart. (Hope they’re still in love with him after this season, when it’s time to make those donations.) Chances are, if there had not been a change in coaches, we might not have seen that donation hike in what would have been the 16th year of a recently underachieving Mark Richt era.

Depending on your point of view, you can see this as gouging the most dedicated fans while Bulldog Nation is still in the honeymoon period with the new head coach, or simply keeping pace with what other schools in the SEC are doing. As the athletic department has been at pains to point out, UGA generally still will rank in the middle of the conference in what it asks fans to pay, even after the increases, which are the first hikes for the donations since 2005.

We fans are a means to an end.  Once, that end was merely about maintaining a healthy reserve fund.  All importing the Process has added to that goal is bringing a ruthless efficiency to maximizing the program’s resources.  Kirby is a firm believer in the importance of recruiting in that regard, and that, quite simply, is how decisions about where Butts-Mehre spends its money are going to be evaluated.  Fan friendly is a distant second.

I’m not here to say that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  After all, it’s pretty easy to argue that winning championships is the most fan friendly thing a football program can offer. But G-Day itself, with its emphasis on filling the stadium to impress recruits, was an obvious indication of the new direction.  When you’re a glorified prop, nobody really cares that strongly about how friendly the production was for you.

Which isn’t to say there won’t be some nibbling around the edges, some gestures thrown our way, when it’s convenient (and no doubt they’ll make a bigger deal out of those than they’re worth).  And, sure, if an existential threat crops up, they’ll respond.

But benign neglect of the average fan has been B-M’s mantra since the Mesozoic Era.  The idea that’s going to change now isn’t realistic.  If anything, we’re being asked to change seats and move a little farther back to accommodate the new man’s needs.

I’d end with this some sort of “it had better work” threat, but, hell, let’s face it, this program has survived and prospered plenty without things working.  If you’re a Georgia fan, take what you can get and enjoy it.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Hey, who let that rule in here?

Nick Saban, concerned.

Nick Saban, who contrary to perception does sometimes smile and make a joke, opened an SEC meetings press conference a couple years ago by doing just that.

“It always makes me nervous when there’s no issues,” said Alabama’s football coach. “Because then somebody creates one.”

Kinda like this.  He should know.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

I knew it was too good to last.

Damn it, KC Joyner.  First you give me hope, then you snatch it away.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Hanging together

Kirby and Boom, this year’s SEC buddy movie.

“I talk to Will a lot,” Smart said earlier this month. “We bounce ideas off each other of what he’s doing, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked. We always share information. He’s a very trustworthy friend when it comes to information when it’s not competitive information.”

If CBS grabs the broadcast of the Georgia-South Carolina game this year, I can hear the Verne gushing already.

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Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

When are time demands “undue”?

When you’re on Harbaugh time, of course.

The topic of satellite camps inevitably crosses over into the topic of undue time demands placed both coaches and student-athletes, especially in reference to Harbaugh’s decision to hold a week of spring practice at Florida-based sports factory IMG Academy.

Last week at its own spring meetings, the Pac 12 proposed a rule to prevent its own institutions from holding similar type events during the period of time traditionally deemed as “spring break” for colleges around the country.

The proposal was part of a 22-page report that, according to CBSSports.com, identified particular time demand issues for student-athletes, and included other smaller proposals such as forcing schools to designate “rest days” with no required athletic activities, as well as three days off per week during the offseason.

The SEC could follow suit and create its own parameters and restrictions on when and how student-athletes are allowed to be utilized during team offseasons, with the potential for much stricter language in an effort to help push the topic to the NCAA stage next winter.

“Undue time demands placed both coaches and student-athletes…”  You gotta love equating the two there.

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Filed under SEC Football