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Jacksonville Radio Personality Goes Sleazy, Assassinates The Character Of New UGA D-Coordinator Pruitt

rick ballou

(NOTE: This piece was written on Thursday morning.  It was put on a back burner and left as a draft in the hopes that no major outlets would even pick up the claims made by a Jacksonville radio host regarding defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s move from Florida State to Georgia.  Now that The Orlando Sentinel has followed up the story with FSU folks shooting down the slanderous comments, we’re posting it.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also picked up the story.)

 

I don’t know Rick Ballou.  I don’t know his morals.  I don’t know his history.  I don’t know if he gives to charity.  I don’t know if he obeys all traffic signals.  I might have done a phoner on his radio show at one time or another — I know I’ve been on his station — but that hardly gives me any insight into the man’s character or his personal life.  I do know his co-host from radio and he’s always been a very solid guy to me.

But Rick Ballou?  No clue.

What does give me insight into Ballou’s character is the fact that he went on the radio Wednesday and smeared the character of former Florida State and new Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  That tells me that Ballou is — what’s the word I’m looking for? — ah, yes, a jerk.

Yeah, we live in a world where passing out rumors is considered “reporting.”  Even rumors about public figures’ private lives.

Yes, those of us in the media gave away our souls long ago.  Most of us are willing to talk about anything and everything if we think it’ll draw in one more listener or reader.  There are enough bad apples in the media to spoil our whole dang bunch.

And, yes, you the consumer — many of you at least — lap it all up like mama’s gravy.

That doesn’t make Ballou’s statements any less sickening to me.  He claimed that Pruitt is a man “who loves the nightlife,” “who loves the ladies,” and who “made himself available” while in Tallahassee.  The man on-air with Ballou even said, “wow,” twice as Ballou went a helluva lot farther than he ever should have.  We’ll not link to his out-of-bounds claims because…

They’re none of Ballou’s damn business.  

They’re none of our damn business.  

And they’re none of your damn business.

Naturally, this character attack on Pruitt took off like wildfire on Twitter and a number of websites — Florida State-centric sites in particular — have picked it up and chuckled about it.  ”Ha, ha, alleged dirt on someone.  Hooray!”  For that reason, we felt someone should fire a shot back across Ballou’s bow.

Personally, I’d like to hire a PI to trail the radio host and all the other folks yukking it up over this crap to see just how morally upstanding they are.  We’re all human.  I’m guessing Ballou’s flubbed a few things just as I have and just as you have.  Being a sinner myself I tend not to throw stones regarding the alleged moral shortcomings of others.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I enjoy throwing stones at the stone-throwers.  That’s not very Christian, either, but at least those folks are asking for it.

What Pruitt did or didn’t do is between him and those around him.  Not some radio honk from Jacksonville or some internet hack like myself.  Or some gossip-monger like yourself if you’re into all this trash.

There’s a rumor now being kicked around simply because Ballou broadcast it.  An angry FSU fan — upset that his wubby-dubby D-coordinator split a week after winning a national crown — actually broadcast rumors regarding another man’s personal life.  One week earlier, Ballou would’ve defended FSU’s coordinator had some Gator fans made similar scandalous claims about the man.  Of that you can be sure.  After all, did we hear Ballou share any of these rumors while Ballou was still a Seminole coach?  Of course, not.  Which proves our point.  The guy’s a fan and not an objective member of the media.

Need more proof that Ballou is nothing more than a footy-pajama-wearing Nole backer?  That’s his photo in the Florida State hat at right.  He also posted this third-grade-level tweet when Pruitt’s departure became official.

Now, it’s funny to us that whenever a coach leaves a school, the jilted fans and and some of the media who cover that school always start to whisper that the coach only left because a) he was having an affair, b) he was drinking way too much, or c) both.  If I had a dollar for every stinking time I’ve received an email claiming that “Coach X was sleeping around” I’d be a millionaire.  Always when a guy leaves.  Always from the hometown fanbase.  Always, always, always.  And it’s usually malarkey.

My personal views on this kind of “reporting” haven’t changed much over time.  Go back to Bobby Petrino’s downfall at Arkansas and you’ll find that this site never tsk-tsk’d the man for having an affair.  We focused on the fact that Petrino pushed for the hiring of his mistress which could have gotten the school into legal trouble and — to be honest — could have gotten AD Jeff Long fired for the lack of oversight in his athletic department.

So in our view, the reality of the current situation is this: Georgia just hired a darned good defensive coordinator from national champion Florida State.  That man has an SEC background from his days as both an Alabama player and coach.  According to Pruitt, his reasons for joining Mark Richt’s staff were clear:

 

“In 2003 I was a high school football coach at Fort Payne (Alabama) High School and I brought some prospects over here to Georgia and I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Richt.  That was the first time I ever met him, and when I walked out of that room 30 minutes later I was wowed.  My father looked at me and said, ‘That’s what college football is all about.’  I said right then and there if I ever had the opportunity to work for him that I wanted to be a part of his staff.”

 

That’s good enough for us.

As for Ballou and his blatant jackassery?  He owes Pruitt and his family a very public apology.  The radio host’s Twitter feed states that he’s the “dad of 2 beautiful little girls.”  Makes you wonder.  If his daughters grow up and become public figures, ya think Ballou would want some talking head broadcasting nasty rumors about their personal lives?

Put $20 on “No way!” for me.

Just because we in the media have microphones and keyboards doesn’t mean we know how to use them.  And being in the media sure as hell doesn’t mean we’re good people.

Thanks for making us all look a just little bit sleazier, Rick.

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UGA’s Richt Talks 16th Team, 9th Game

gfx - they said itMark Richt was asked at the Touchdown Club of Athens about the possibility of the SEC expanding its in-league slate to nine games.  In answering, he brought up expansion of another kind:

 

“I wouldn’t be shocked to see the teams go to 16 one day.  I’m not hearing any rumors.  Don’t start any kind of, ‘Coach Richt said this,’ but I wouldn’t be shocked to one day see us go to 16.  If we go to 16, I can’t imagine us not going to less than nine games.  I think we would have to go to nine…

These other schools (who have their biggest rivals inside the SEC) have nine but they’re not going to have that 10th game that is a team that is BCS-quality or ACC-quality or whatever you want to say.  I wouldn’t be shocked to see that happen.  I voted against it because if we have nine, plus (Georgia) Tech and then if we want to do something like Clemson like we did this year, you’re talking about 11 out of 12 games that are pretty stout.”

 

Georgia ends every season against Georgia Tech, just as South Carolina plays Clemson and Florida plays Florida State.  Kentucky also has an annual out-of-conference rivalry with Louisville.

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Richt’s Singing To A Recruit Again

Anything for an edge.

Last year, Georgia’s Mark Richt called 4-star safety prospect Tray Matthews on his birthday and sang “Happy Birthday” to him.  (Hopefully not in a faux-Marylin Monroe voice.)  According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Richt did the same thing this week when Matthews’ birthday rolled back around:

 

“My coach called me from lunch and said, ‘Hey, Mark Richt and them want to holler at you…

Coach Richt said hello and started singing again.  He tried to hit a real high note this time.  It was so funny.  I mean, he tried real hard to get that high note.  And I will give him the benefit of a doubt… He did all right signing…

It means a lot for Coach Richt to do that.  They don’t do it for every recruit.  It shows me how much they want me.  I’m blessed to have the opportunity to have good coaches around me, and to be committed to the University of Georgia.”

 

How many SEC coaches will start singing “Happy Birthday” to their top recruits?  Half of them?  All of them?

If it works, it works.

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Recruit Talks Nice-Guy Richt And All-Business Saban

Running back Kenyan Drake was a Georgia native.  But that didn’t stop him from signing with Alabama this past February.  In The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today, Drake tells Michael Carvell that had Mark Richt not been on the hot seat during his recruitment, the star would have had a harder choice to make with regards to Tide versus Bulldogs.

But more interesting are his comments regarding the personalities of the two coaches leading the programs – Richt and Nick Saban.  Asked which non-Bama coach was the nicest, Drake said:


“Probably Coach Mark Richt.  He was a very genuine guy.  I’m not saying anybody else wasn’t genuine.  With Coach Richt, he was really down to earth and he really showed that he really cares not only about you being a potential student-athlete, but also as a person.  He comes across in a caring manner which makes you feel really right at home.  He’s a pretty good father figure.”


But when asked which coach was not the nicest, Drake tabbed the man he actually signed with.  Sort of:


“Well, I wouldn’t say not the nicest, but I would have to say Coach Saban.  But I’m not saying he was not the nicest.  He’s really straight-forward.  You know what I mean?  I’m not saying he’s mean but I’m not saying he’s ‘buddy buddy’ with you, either.  He’s very businesslike.  I’m not saying Coach Richt isn’t businesslike but they have two different personalities.  Coach Richt is really caring.  I’m not going to say Coach Saban isn’t.  He’s just real straight-forward, to the point and if it’s not like this, then there’s no other way.  With Coach Mark Richt, I feel like he’s more lenient.”


These, of course, are the opinions of one teenager who tried to handle the questions with as much grace and class as possible.  Clearly, he didn’t want to insult either man.

That said, it seems that Richt’s “nice guy” personna and Saban’s “all business” reputation are deserved… at least in the view of Drake.

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Nkemdiche Has Georgia In His Top Five

Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche from Loganville, Ga., has moved Georgia into his top five.

That wasn’t the case until Nkemdiche took a visit to Georgia last month.

“That visit was really the first time I got any one-on-one time with Coach (Mark Richt),” Nkemdiche told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I went up there, I had a great talk, and we’ve been talking a lot since then. I feel like I have a good relationship with Coach Richt. I think he’s a good man.”

Nkemdiche still has plenty of good schools on his list. He told the AJC Alabama, LSU, Ole Miss and Clemson round out his top five. Nkemdiche also mentioned South Carolina, Florida and Florida State as schools of interest.

Nkemdiche could return to Georgia in the next month. He say he may attend a practice at Alabama and Georgia this spring.

“I’ve got good vibes about Georgia,” he said. “I feel like Coach Richt really likes me as a person and a football player, and I really like Georgia. It’s close to home and they played good on defense last season.”

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“Moose” Johnson Commits To Georgia

Georgia has received a commitment from defensive tackle DeAndre “Moose” Johnson from Northgate High School in Newnan, Ga.

Johnson told Georgia coach Mark Richt of his decision on Tuesday.

“Coach Richt was really excited when I told him that,” Johnson said. “He said he couldn’t wait for me to get back up there so he could give me a hug. It made me think that he really wanted me and everything.”

Johnson is Georgia’s seventh commitment for the class of 2013.

Johnson received offers from such schools as Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest. Georgia Tech was Johnson’s second choice behind Georgia.

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Grantham And Franklin Get Into It After VU-UGA Game

Will Muschamp wasn’t the only SEC coach to go a little nuts on Saturday night.  Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham went off in the immediate aftermath of the Bulldogs’ 33-28 win at Vanderbilt.  When James Franklin mentioned to him that one or more Georgia players had said something “inappropriate,” Grantham snapped.

“I love our players,” Grantham told reporters when asked about the incident.  “I’m going to stick up for my players.  Everybody’s competitive.”

Sticking up for one’s players is fine, but Franklin seemed to be calm and composed while Grantham appeared to go haywire.

In the slow motion video below — which leaves Grantham looking like a cross between Bigfoot and Ed Orgeron — you’ll see the coach unleash a flurry of obscenities at Vandy’s coach.  You’ll also see players separate the two men:

Franklin made it clear in his own postgame press conference how he has respect for Mark Richt.  And how Mark Richt is a classy.  His emphasis on Richt makes it clear he can’t say the same for everyone associated with Georgia.

But what’s more interesting from Franklin’s statement is his declaration that Vandy’s not going to be a pushover any longer.

“At Vandy we are gonna compete with class and we are gonna play with class.  And we’re gonna coach ‘em with class…

I have tremendous respect for Coach Richt and that program.  He’s been a class act guy the whole time I’ve known him and watched his team play.  Let me make sure I address that about Coach Richt…

What happened at the end is we had a very, very tough, emotional game.  And some things were said that I didn’t thinks was appropriate.  I tried to find Coach Richt to address it.  And I couldn’t find Coach Richt and I happened to have a discussion with one of their assistant coaches.  That didn’t go well.  And I apologize that things escalated from there.

But we’re also gonna fight.  I want to make sure everybody understands that.  We are not gonna sit back and take stuff from anybody.  Anybody.  No one.  Those days are long gone and they are never coming back.  Ever.” 

Franklin also went out of his way to emphasize how Georgia’s fans came early, cheered for their team and stayed late.  A message to his own school’s fanbase?  Most likely.

Richt addressed the situation in his own postgame presser.


“I don’t know exactly what happened.  Maybe TV picked it up and we’ll get a better view of what was going on.  But we are grown men and we need to act that way.  But we’re also competitors and we all have emotions and sometimes when you get a little fired up it’s hard to keep from getting in some kind of jawing contest.  I’ll say this: There were times when I was ashamed of some the choice things that came out of my mouth during the game.  So I’ve got to be disciplined, too.”

That’s true.  We’ve been told that Richt was heard muttering, “Dagnabbit” and “Gee willikers” at various points during the contest.

“But the bottom line is when the game is over the game’s over.  You shake hands and you be thankful for the victory.  Just like at the end of a play.  When a play’s over, it’s over.  Go to the sideline.  We didn’t do a very good job of that at times.  It was heated.  It is battle.  It’s not war with real bullets but it’s a war in a sense and it’s very physical.  Tempers do get flared up.  I don’t mind our blood getting hot but we have to be able to get excited or maybe even angry but not foul.”

The Dawgs were flagged 11 times and three were personal foul penalties.  Defensive tackle Kwame Geathers could be punished by the commissioner’s office for what appeared to be a thrown punch during the game.  But it was Grantham whose actions took center stage at game’s end.  (It’s not the first time Grantham has brought negative attention to himself during a game.)

Yesterday, Richt said that he had reviewed the issue on tape and had handled it. 

“I just think that tempers were hot (and)it was a very heated ballgame… for everybody.  When you look at the big picture, it certainly wasn’t a pretty scene, but it really could have been a lot worse than it was.  I thought coaches on each side and even some players did a good job of trying to keep the peace and get everybody off the field without anything really horrible happening…

We all know we want to do things a certain way, and we want to be able to keep our poise throughout the ballgame.  We need our players at the end of a play to not be chirping or anything.  Just go back to the sideline if you’re on a special team or go back to the huddle if you’re still on the field.  Let’s just play football.”

It might be hard for Grantham to deliver that message to his unit since he himself has now twice been caught acting like an overheated, 20-year-old player.

The takeaway from all this: Georgia got the win.  Grantham got some egg on his face.  Franklin set the tone for Vanderbilt’s program with his postgame comments.  And Commodore fans now have a reason to show up early and stay late when supporting their team.

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Jordan Watkins Chooses Stanford

Defensive tackle Jordan Watkins from Woodward Academy in College Park, Ga., committed to Stanford over Georgia on Tuesday.

There have been questions about Georgia and how its recruiting would be affected by the Bulldogs’ 0-2 record to start the season. Watkins expressed concerns about Georgia and the future of head coach Mark Richt and defensive line coach Rodney Garner.

“In my mind, Coach Richt deserves to stay, but the fact that everyone is talking about him leaving made me think of what will happen with (Garner) if Coach Richt leaves,” Watkins told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I’ve developed such a good relationship with them that it’d be tough to go to Georgia if they weren’t there.”

It’s been tough for Georgia to land the top in-state prospects for 2012. Fourteen of Rivals’ top 20 prospects in Georgia have already committed to schools. Only two of them have chosen Georgia.

By comparison, the Bulldogs signed 10 of the top 20 prospects in Georgia last year.

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Georgia Offers In-State Receiver

Georgia has offered a scholarship to wide receiver Blake Tibbs from M.L. King High School in Atlanta.

Georgia is one of the top four schools being considered by Tibbs, who also has Arkansas, Kentucky and Southern Miss on his list. He received the offer from Georgia coach Mark Richt on Friday.

“We just caught up, and I told Coach Richt that I was interested and that I definitely wanted to make a visit to Athens,” Tibbs said. “I told him I was still going to take my other visits. Coach Richt was telling me that was good, but he also said, ‘You don’t want to miss out somewhere you really want to be.’

“I told him I was thankful for the offer but I wasn’t ready to make a decision right now because I need to visit some places to see what’s the best fit for me. It was a good conversation.”

Georgia’s need for another receiver in the 2012 class likely came after C.J. Curry decommitted from the Bulldogs earlier this month. Curry has switched his pledge to Oklahoma State.

“I know they had one wide receiver spot left before C.J. de-committed, so I guess they had another opening and went ahead and offered me,” Tibbs said. “I guess that’s the reason I got the offer. I’m hoping they didn’t want to miss out on any hometown talent from Georgia.”

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The Mark Richt Victory Watch

Georgia
Content provided by Dawg Sports.

In a somewhat sloppy seesaw battle pitting contrasting offensive styles on a chilly night in Sanford Stadium, the Georgia Bulldogs defeated the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to claim the Red and Black’s ninth win over their in-state rival in their last ten tries.

Consequently, I have the pleasure of reporting that the Mark Richt Victory Watch now stands at 96. Coach Richt trails Vince Dooley’s all-time school record by 105 career victories.

With 129 games under his belt, Coach Richt sports a 96-33 ledger and a .744 winning percentage. At the same point in their respective careers, Coach Dooley was 84-40-5 (.671) and Wally Butts was 88-34-7 (.709). Coach Butts and Coach Dooley are the only two head football coaches in Georgia history to have guided the Bulldogs in more games than Coach Richt, or to have carded more career victories than Coach Richt. Coach Richt’s office is in a building named for one in an athletic complex named for the other.

Go ‘Dawgs!


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