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Late Night Dawg Bites: Random Thoughts Unrelated to Urban Meyer

Georgia
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This is a busy time of year, personally and professionally as well as athletically, and that set of circumstances lends itself to random half-formed thoughts. Sometimes, this causes me to make dated references and mathematical errors in the midst of instantaneous reactions; other times, it leads me to share a collection of nuggets such as these:

  • It is no secret that I am no fan of the Heisman Trophy, but college football’s most overrated award occasionally lurches uncontrollably into the correct result by anointing the student-athlete who actually has a credible claim to being the most outstanding player in the sport that year. It appears this will be one of the years in which the Heisman Trophy actually goes to the person whose performance on the field merits the accolade. That being the case, why are we engaging in the pretense that there are four “finalists” for this award? LaMichael James, Andrew Luck, and Kellen Moore have front-row seats to see Cameron Newton win the award he deserves to win. The only drama will be whether he breaks O.J. Simpson’s record for biggest landslide victory in the Heisman Trophy balloting. Cam Newton is the most outstanding player in college football this year; his receipt, vel non, of this award will not make the foregoing statement any more or less true, but ESPN’s silly hyping of this sillier award is unseemly. Recognize the guy for his achievements, but cool it with the dog and pony show, all right, Worldwide Leader?
  • An inconsequential math error in the final BCS standings has caused a bit of an uproar, resulting in descriptions of the situation as “dumbfounding,” questions whether the computer polls could “be intentionally manipulated,” and this claim by the fellow who caught the mistake: “The BCS owes us an entire system that is open, accountable and verifiable.” Why is this so? The deliberations of the NCAA Tournament selection committee are not open, accountable, and verifiable; neither are the deliberations of trial juries, grand juries, or the U.S. Supreme Court. Plenty of widely accepted and implicitly trusted results come to us from systems that lack openness, accountability, and verifiability from start to finish; in fact, rare is the system that provides those features throughout the process. Many perfectly reasonable college football fans dislike the BCS; I am one of them, in fact. The notion that we are “owe[d]” a wholly open system, though, is ludicrous, and the claim that we are entitled to any such thing is utterly hypocritical coming from anyone who does not make similar claims about much more important matters, or even about other NCAA-sanctioned sports. It was a minor math error that affected absolutely nothing. Fix it, forget it, and focus on the actual matter at issue.
  • In games decided by seven or fewer points, Central Florida went 1-2 in 2010, whereas Georgia went 0-3. In games decided by ten or fewer points, Central Florida went 2-3, while Georgia went 1-3. In the last four Liberty Bowls, the SEC representative has beaten the Conference USA champion by eight or fewer points, as the margins have gotten closer year after year. Something’s got to give.
  • Finally, friend of the blog Josh D. Weiss sent me some of his photographs from Tuesday night’s Georgia-Georgia Tech basketball game, three of which are visible below and the rest of which may be seen here:

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Dawgsports 2010 College Football Blogger Awards Ballot.

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Tim Riordan over at SBNation’s Buffalo Bulls blog Bull Run recently challenged those of us on the network’s college football beat to vote for a series of awards analagous to college football’s cavalcade of postseason awards, including the Heisman, Bednarik, Doak Walker, etc. I thought it was a fabulous idea. I quickly and enthusiastically volunteered.

Having now completed my ballot, I am reminded of the sage wisdom imparted to me as a teenager by the father of a good friend. This gentleman had fought against the Viet Cong alongside U.S. servicemen only to see his country overrun just the same. He then fled to America with his family but brought along a saying which he learned under far, far more harrowing conditions than the casting of a blogger award ballot. It is this: “The brave ones always die first.”

This ballot was, indeed, a killer. Seriously, have you ever tried to figure out who the best linebacker in the country is? The best punter? What about tight ends?There are hundreds of the S.O.B.’s running around out there on the college football landscape. Depending on the system, they have wildly varied responsibilities. And then, once I figure out who I’m voting for I just know that I’m going to get hit with the statistics I didn’t consider, the clutch performances I didn’t see, and the human interest stories that should have tugged at my heart strings.

It’s a gargantuan task. So, rather than cast a half-assed ballot for every category, I’ve cast a ballot in those categories about which I feel pretty strongly. In no particular order, here are my 2010 College Football Blogger Award choices:

Blogger Biletnikoff (best wide receiver): A.J. Green, Georgia. I’m a self-avowed homer, but it feels particularly good to make a homer pick that I find incredibly easy to defend. Unlike A.J. Green. Green did not make the 1st Team SEC list according to either the coaches or the conference media, I would assume because many of the voters looked only at the receiving numbers and said (and I’m quoting here) “Derp, not as many yards as Jones and Jeffery, derp de derp!” By my count, I watched Julio Jones play 7 games this season. Ditto for Alshon Jeffery. Neither demonstrated the ability to be absolutely uncoverable quite like Green. In the 8 games he’s played this season he’s averaged north of 95 yards and 1 TD per game, all the while catching passes from a first year starting quarterback. Honorable mention: Justin Blackmon, Oklahoma State.

Blogger Butkus (best linebacker): Justin Houston, Georgia. Again, homer pick. But Justin Houston finds himself playing the linebacker position for the first time in his football career and has responded with 10 sacks and just single-handedly won a rivalry game to get his team to bowl eligibility. The primary job of the outside linebacker in Grantham’s 3-4 is to create havoc. Nobody does that better than Justin Houston, who will soon be doing just that on Sundays. Honorable mention: Kelvin Sheppard, LSU.

Blogger Coach Award (best coach): Frank Beamer, Virginia Tech. How could I select a coach who began the season by losing a close one to Boise State and then going 0-for-James Madison? Because he’s 10-0 since then, including getting over the hump against Florida State. Chip Kelly and Gene Chizik have obviously done great things to get their teams to the BCS title game. But to make an academic analogy, those guys have helped already bright kids become the valedictorian. Beamer tutored Charlie Sheen’s nephew from Two and a Half Men and got him admitted to Northwestern. He has no Cam Newton, no Lamichael James. He has an above average quarterback, a decent running game, some bailing wire and an ACC title. After the first two weeks of the season I never would have forecast that. The ACC is not the best conference in college football. But Beamer managed to take a team that could have packed it in after only two games to the Orange Bowl. Honorable mention: Dan Mullen, Mississippi State.

Blogger Bednarik (best defensive player): Patrick Peterson, LSU. I enjoy watching Peterson play football as much as any other player in college football. He’s fluid in coverage, willing to come up and play vicious run support, and is even a danger on special teams. Peterson is a really special player who hasn’t gotten the credit he deserves.

Blogger Maxwell (best offensive player): Kellen Moore, Boise State. Moore’s numbers this season throwing the ball were video game quality:  3405 yards passing, a 71.5% completion percentage, and 33 touchdowns versus only 5 interceptions. Perhaps most  impressive was Moore’s consistency. He never complted less than 60% of his passes in a game this season, and his low number (60.5%) came in the first game of the season against Virginia Tech, a game in which he threw 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. There’s simply better passer in college football right now, and I have trouble envisioning any secondary containing him next season as a senior. Here’s hoping I’m proven wrong about Moore’s abilities next year in the Georgia Dome, but I somehow doubt that will happen.

Blogger Heisman (self-explanatory): Not Cam Newton. I don’t know how to say this other than to say it: I find the notion that Cecil Newton would require $180,000 for his son to attend Mississippi State but allow him to attend Auburn for free laughable, to the point that anyone who believes this to have been the case is either deluding himself (as I would if these kind of allegations were levelled against Aaron Murray, for example) or simply not very bright. Cameron Newton’s services were bought and paid for. Not by anyone employed by Auburn, but by someone willing to spend a lot of money to get a very good football player to attend Auburn.

Spare me the “Cam didn’t know” spiel. As an attorney I’m a big believer in the principle of “agency.” That is, when you choose to allow someone to represent you in an enterprise with the hope that you’ll benefit from it, you must also accept the responsibility when your agent acts to your detriment. Cam Newton was an adult during his second round of recruiting. He chose to allow his father input in that process. His father pimped out his services. I have no doubt that Cameron Newton will win the Heisman Trophy. I also have no doubt that he will eventually have to give that award back. Other than that, I abstain.

Your thoughts on these and Bull Run’s other postseason awards are, as always, appreciated in the comments.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Who wants a pan of brownies?

Georgia
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Ok folks so here’s the deal.

I am willing to bake a pan of my brownies and ship them to you.  Since I don’t usually make you this offer, you might guess there is a bit of a catch.  I’m not going to make a pan of brownies for each and every one of you.  I’m only making 1 pan of brownies here.  So that means y’all are going to have to work for it. 

I’m using the term “work” pretty loosely here.  In order to have a shot at the brownies – you have to help out that sweet little boy that needs a Service Dog.  Yep – you’ve got to contribute to A Dog for Deeds.  Then you have to tell me about it – so here’s how you do that – either use your Dawg Sports screen name when you donate, or let me know in the comments below.  I don’t care how much you donated, or how often you donate – the only requirement here is that you donate.  Donate .50 if that’s all you can do – fine by me.

I’ll put everyone’s name in a hat and then contact the winner for an address.  Brownies will come straight from my kitchen to your mouth. 

I admit to stealing the contest idea from Real Salt Lake and you may or may not think their prizes are better – but hey – you still get a shot at a pan of brownies.

So hurry up and donate and let’s get a very special dog for a very special boy.


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What Urban Meyer’s Retirement as the Florida Gators’ Head Coach Means for Mark Richt and the Georgia Bulldogs

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You’ll have to pardon me if I’m a little bit gun shy here; I bid a respectful farewell to Urban Meyer last December, after all, and he made me regret that show of decency . . . repeatedly. This time around, therefore, I come to bury Coach Meyer (metaphorically, of course), not to praise him.

In case you’ve been under a rock since around 2:30 this afternoon, Urban Meyer has resigned as the head coach of the Florida Gators. Yes, again, although it sounds a lot more real this time. Last year, Coach Meyer made his decision in the midst of a health scare, which can cause anyone to react erratically; this year, he seems to have realized the toll coaching has taken on him and responded appropriately after careful consideration. Going 7-5 will do that to a guy.

Jeremy Foley spoke of Urban Meyer as a guy who wanted to spend more time with the family that he loved. I could be crass and roll my eyes at such a statement after the infamous reversal following the “I got my daddy back!” exclamation of a year ago, but, if, after putting football ahead of faith, family, and health last December, Urban Meyer has re-ordered his priorities this Christmas, I say good for him, and better late than never.

This all could have ended very, very badly. After being taken to the hospital at the end of a pressure-packed 2009 season, Urban Meyer quit abruptly before reversing course just as quickly, and that decision ultimately could have sent his health into a downward spiral that concluded in a tragic denouement. Fortunately, if belatedly, he saw the light before allowing that to happen, and all we can do is wish Urban Meyer well. 2010 was his worst season as a head coach, but it did little to diminish the extraordinarily successful career preceding that disappointing, but not more than merely disappointing, ending.

Now it is time to look to the future.

I agree with Year2 that Dan Mullen will succeed Urban Meyer in Gainesville and Gus Malzahn will succeed Dan Mullen in Starkville. While Kirby Smart could prove to be the wild card that reshuffles the deck in that scenario, I strongly suspect that Jeremy Foley will be making a trip to Jacksonville to entice Coach Mullen back into the Florida fold while Coach Meyer’s former offensive coordinator is in town for the perhaps presciently named Gator Bowl.

There is no denying Coach Mullen’s credentials—I believe he should have been named the SEC Coach of the Year, given what he did with what he had—but it is hard to believe that anyone could be more successful than Coach Meyer was. Granted, it was hard to believe when Urban Meyer was hired at Florida that anyone could be more successful there than Steve Spurrier had been, but the recent resurgence of the Florida State program makes this a tough time for the Sunshine State Saurians to be in transition. The Gators could take a step back, however slight; given the fact that six of the last nine series meetings in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party have been decided by margins of seven or fewer points, a slight step back by Florida may be all the steps back we need.

If all goes according to Year2’s sensible prediction, that will send the SEC’s hottest coaching commodity, 2010 Broyles Award winner Gus Malzahn, to Mississippi State. If, as many suspect, Coach Malzahn is the true power behind Gene Chizik’s throne, the most exceptional autumn in Auburn history could be followed by the winter of the Tigers’ discontent, as Cameron Newton goes pro, the architect of the Plainsmen’s impressive offensive attack bolts for cowbell country, and the NCAA investigation continues. One small step back for Florida could be one giant leap to the rear for Auburn.

In short, it is too early yet to know for sure, but there is the distinct possibility that two of Georgia’s three biggest rivals are about to get worse . . . and Mark Richt is 9-1 all-time against the third. Skeptics have asked, somewhat sensibly, how the Bulldogs will be better in 2011. To that reasonable inquiry, I now respond simply: we don’t have to be better, as long as everybody else is worse.

We send our best wishes to the Meyers, congratulating Urban Meyer on a stellar career and hoping this Christmas season brings joy to his family and him as they begin this new chapter of their lives together. As we bid Urban Meyer farewell, though, we in Bulldog Nation should look ahead to a future that now appears just a tiny bit brighter . . . and we should appreciate the fact that it may not be entirely coincidental, after all, that Santa Claus wears red and black.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Urban Meyer stepping down as Florida’s coach, sources tell FanHouse. Press conference this evening…

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Urban Meyer stepping down as Florida’s coach, sources tell FanHouse. Press conference this evening to announce decision

I absolutely cannot vouch for the validity of this, but it’s out there, for what it’s worth. Personally, I’ll believe it when I see it. Actually, no, after last year, I won’t believe it until the new head coach is introduced.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Instantaneous Ill-Informed Roundball Wrapup: Georgia Bulldogs 73, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets 72

Georgia
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In a series notable for offering an overwhelming home court advantage, Mark Fox’s Bulldogs went on the road and claimed a 73-72 victory over in-state rival Georgia Tech in Alexander Memorial Coliseum. In many respects, the game was as even as the score indicated.

Both teams shot 44.3 per cent from the field, with each squad sinking 27 of 61 two-point shots. Georgia and Georgia Tech garnered ten fouls apiece, and the Yellow Jacket bench contributed 18 points, just four more than the Bulldog reserves added to the tally.

In other facets, though, the game was a mismatch. The Engineers dominated the boards, pulling down 43 rebounds to the Red and Black’s 30, and the home team hit ten of twelve free throws (83.3%) while the visitors struggled to go seven of 15 from the charity stripe (46.7%).

The Bulldogs benefited from twelve-of-22 shooting from beyond the arc (54.5%) as the Golden Tornado managed to get just eight of their 20 three-point tries to drop (40.0%). Perhaps most significantly, Georgia Tech turned the ball over twice as frequently as Georgia (14-7), and the Red and Black turned those steals into 15 points, more than offsetting the ten ticks put on the scoreboard by the Ramblin’ Wreck off of takeaways.

Despite their slow start, the Hoop Dogs overcame a 35-29 halftime deficit and stormed back to score 44 points in the second half, led by Trey Thompkins’s and Dustin Ware’s respective 21-point performances. Thompkins hit four of five free throws, while Ware went seven of nine both from two-point range and from three-point range.

Ware’s symmetrical shooting performance was a nice touch, as it allowed the fans of the home team to drown their sorrows with mental pictures of Jeri Ryan while the Red and Black faithful did what Bulldog fans do; namely, celebrate yet another victory over Georgia Tech in yet another sport.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Georgia Bulldogs at Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Basketball Game Night Open Comment Thread

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Mark Fox’s Hoop Dogs go on the road to a venue I recently visited for the purpose of squaring off against in-state rival Georgia Tech in a battle for Peach State bragging rights that could benefit the Bulldogs in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee. (Although, really, the selection committee’s machinations make the BCS seem coherent and transparent by comparison.)

If you can’t be at the Thrillerdome, join in the conversation in the comment thread. Your participation is welcome, so that it doesn’t wind up being just one guy talking to himself . . . not that such a thing would ever really happen, mind you.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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[Georgia Tech's] longest win streak against the [D]ogs was 10 games stretching from 1958-1961. As a…

Georgia
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[Georgia Tech's] longest win streak against the [D]ogs was 10 games stretching from 1958-1961. As a member of the SEC from 1932-1964, Tech dominated the [D]ogs with a 57-31 overall record. Since joining the ACC, Tech has actually posted a 15-20 record against the [D]ogs. The ACC era included a particularly brutal stretch where the [D]ogs defeated Tech 7 times in a row (Dominique Wilkins’ college tenure was right in the middle of this run). Paul Hewitt has yet to amass a winning streak against Georgi[a]. The last time Tech posted a winning streak against the [D]ogs was 1992-1994.

As usual, I had to correct their spelling and capitalization, but these are some interesting statistics on the hoops rivalry between Georgia and Georgia Tech.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Week 14 BlogPoll Ballot: Championship Weekend Produces Only Incremental Changes in College Football Top 25

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College football’s championship weekend is a bit of an oddity, as few teams are playing games yet most of the games that are played carry more than merely ordinary consequences. Only 15 of my top 25 teams were in action this past weekend, including just two of my top nine and just five of my top 16, so, when assembling this week’s rankings, I started from last week’s BlogPoll ballot and adjusted where circumstances warranted. These are the rankings thereby produced:

Here, in a nutshell, are my reasons for ranking the teams as I did:

  • Absent a reason to move a team relative to the squads around it, I left a team alone. For instance, the Sooners leapfrogged the Badgers because Oklahoma’s wins over No. 11 Oklahoma State and No. 19 Nebraska trumped Wisconsin’s win over No. 10 Ohio State.
  • There is still no comparison between Auburn’s resume and Oregon’s. Both teams went 9-0 against conference opponents, with the Tigers carding a thirteenth victory to set alongside the twelve collected by the Ducks. The Plainsmen beat No. 5 Arkansas, No. 8 Louisiana State, No. 14 Alabama, No. 20 South Carolina (twice), the Gator Bowl-bound Mississippi St. Bulldogs, the Liberty Bowl-bound Georgia Bulldogs, the Meineke Car Care Bowl-bound Clemson Tigers, and the BBVA Compass Bowl-bound Kentucky Wildcats, while Oregon defeated No. 9 Stanford, the USC Trojans, the Alamo Bowl-bound Arizona Wildcats, the Holiday Bowl-bound Washington Huskies, and the Music City Bowl-bound Tennessee Volunteers. The Ducks may well get the better of the Tigers in Glendale on January 10—I hope they do, as a matter of fact—but any blogger who’s still voting Oregon No. 1 at this point isn’t Addicted to Quack, he’s addicted to crack.
  • Yes, I continue to allow logic to dictate the sequence in which I have the three 11-1 Big Ten co-champions ranked. The Badgers, the Buckeyes, and the Spartans all have identical ledgers, both overall and in conference play, and none of them has a meaningful win against a team from outside the league. All other things being equal, Michigan State’s win over Wisconsin gets the Spartans ranked ahead of the Badgers and Wisconsin’s win over Ohio State gets the Badgers ranked ahead of the Buckeyes.
  • I considered ranking the Fresno St. Bulldogs after Pat Hill’s squad defeated the bowl-eligible Illinois Fighting Illini, but, since the West Coast FSU finished 8-4 and lost at home to the Hawaii Warriors, who went 10-3, I couldn’t very well include the Bulldogs in the top 25, and I wasn’t about to rank the Aloha State Islanders after they lost to the Colorado Buffaloes, so the idea of a third WAC entrant into the top 25 was a non-starter.
  • With Fresno State and Hawaii thus eliminated, the spot in the top 25 vacated by the Northern Illinois Huskies very nearly went to the Miami (Ohio) RedHawks, who upset NIU in the MAC Championship Game to run their record to 9-4. Unfortunately for Miami (Ohio), the Mid-American Conference champions’ 45-3 road loss to the Cincinnati Bearcats disqualified them from inclusion, so the last spot went to Connecticut, an 8-4 Big East co-champion bound for the most undeserved BCS bowl berth ever. Yes, I’m just as embarrassed about that ranking as you are.

As always, I welcome your constructive criticisms in the comments below, where I will be happy to answer any questions. I still have time to adjust my ballot in the event anyone states a persuasive case why I should do so.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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Please Lend a Helping Hand to a Fellow SB Nation Blogger

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Please Lend a Helping Hand to a Fellow SB Nation Blogger

Jeremy Mauss runs Mountain West Connection. He is a highly regarded colleague who has always been available to lend assistance when called upon to do so, and now he needs our help in a very personal and meaningful way this Christmas season.

Please click on the above link and read how you can help Jeremy’s son get a service dog. Thanks in advance for whatever aid you are able to offer.


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