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Muschamp Guarantees A Gator Win Over Georgia

Florida coach Will Muschamp was in Atlanta last night speaking to a Gator booster club.  When asked by a female Florida fan if he could “guarantee Florida will win” over Georgia this year, the Peach State native and former Bulldog player said, “I certainly can.”

According to Jeff Schultz of The AJC who was in attendance, Muschamp then told the crowd that that quote would no doubt appear in press courtesy of Mr. Schultz.

Many Dawg fans will no doubt view Muschamp as a traitor — as Schultz points out — but in reality, Muschamp wasn’t offered the job at his alma mater… he was offered one of the prime gigs in all of sports and that job just happens to put him in the same division with his alma mater.

“I’m loyal to who signs my checks,” the coach has said.  “All of that other stuff, I don’t get into.  In our profession you’re loyal to the people you work for.  I’ll do the best job I can for the Gator nation.”

Nothing wrong with that.  After all, you might remember that legendary Dawg coach Vince Dooley was himself an Auburn man before arriving in Athens.

You’re only a traitor when you leave my team for some other team.  If you turn your back on some other bunch in order to join in with my guys?  Well, that’s A-OK.

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More Ealey Fallout At UGA

One day after receiving word that leading rusher Washaun Ealey would be transferring, the mood in the Peach State — at least on the messageboards — has seemingly gone from “who cares?” to “you know we could use that depth.”

Without Ealey, true freshman hotshot Isaiah Crowell will be expected to step in as this year’s Marcus Lattimore/Mike Dyer for the Dawgs.  Fifth-year senior Caleb King — who’s never quite lived up to his top billing — will have to finally show that he’s matured enough to be a top back in the SEC.  And backups Carlton Thomas and Ken “Boo” Malcome will also have to come through if/when called upon.

Ealey might have been a pain in the rear, but he was an experienced back.  He was also the main ballcarrier for the Dawgs a year ago.  Losing bodies — especially at running back in the SEC — is rarely a good thing.

Even if Crowell does turn out to be a freshman prodigy, what happens if sprains an ankle in fall drills?  And what if King is suspended again — something he says “will never happen again.”  Ealey would’ve come in handy in such a fix.

As for his future, Ealey sounds like someone who wants to star in a backfield, not blend into it.

“I’m a person where I want to be a premier back,” Ealey told  “If I was to play here, I would have had to share the backfield with Caleg and Carlton also.  Then they were going to try to give the freshman Isaiah his chance.  He probably was going to get some carries at the beginning of the year, too.  I just felt like I didn’t want to be in that mix of things anymore.”

Ealey’s got talent, so some school will certainly scoop him up… but that kind of attitude likely won’t help his chances.

Maybe there’s a reason Georgia Southern officials have said they won’t be contacting Ealey despite many rumors to the contrary.

Stay tuned.

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Tailback Ealey Transfers From Georgia

Georgia’s leading rusher from a year ago has decided to transfer and has been granted an unconditional release.  But there’s not a whole lot of panic in the Peach State over the departure of Washaun Ealey.

Ealey has been in Mark Richt’s doghouse for some time now.  He has been suspended twice — at least — during the past seven months.  Chip Towers of The AJC even writes: “Can a team lose its leading rusher and actually become a better team?”

All-everything running back prospect Isaiah Crowell will arrive for the fall.  Senior Caleb King is back, too, with Carlton Thomas and Ken “Boo” Malcome behind him.  The Dawgs appear to be set with talent and depth, even without Ealey… though no coach likes to lose bodies, ever.

“Washaun and I have had several conversations in recent weeks,” Richt said via press release last evening.  “We both have come to the conclusion that a transfer to another institution would be in his best interest.”

Richt recently told a Bulldogs booster club: “The bottom line is we don’t have a tailback right now that deserves to start, in my opinion.  We don’t have a guy that has proven he can do all the things that we’re going to ask that guy to do.  Washaun is one of them.”

Not anymore.

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Writer: UGA’s First Two Games

The writing is on the wall in Athens.  Even long-time Mark Richt supporters like Bill King of The AJC understand the magnitude of the coach’s current situation.

While the coach said yesterday that he doesn’t “feel any pressure at all,” The Junkyard Blawger knows that — as he puts it — Georgia’s first two games this fall could “make or break” the Dawgs’ veteran coach:

Win both of those first two games (versus Boise State and then South Caroilna) and the Dogs, whom Chick-fil-A’s Gary Stokan seems sure will (be) ranked in the preseason Top 25, likely will vault themselves into the Top 10 and put themselves in the driver’s seat in the SEC East in a rebuilding year for the Florida program.

Lose both of them, and even Richt is going to be sweating bullets.

True enough.  We all want instant gratification.  We also like for things to be simple.  And judging Richt on his first two games — either “he’s got it back” or “he’s lost it” — is both quick and easy.  The fan reaction to those first two games will likely have some impact on the psyche of Richt’s squad.  In other words, winning both games could put his team on a roll… losing both could cause a panic and a tailspin.  Players know what’s being said about their coach.

But in reality, Richt will be judged for his body of work in 2011.  If he starts of 0-2 and then wins his last 10, the first two games won’t mean much.  The same will be true if he starts 2-0 and then drops his last 10.

The two things that we believe will have the biggest impact on Richt’s job security are the following:

1.  Does he win 9 games in 2011?  Anything less can be called a disappointing season by the anti-Richters in the Peach State.  Nine wins against an SEC schedule will land the Dawgs in the Top 25 and in a pretty good bowl game.  No one’s going to be fired if that’s the case.  Nine is the goal.  Eight is survivable, but nine is finer.

2.  Does he beat Florida?  Richt was owned by Urban Meyer.  Even during the Gators’ stumble-filled 2010 season, UF was able to right its ship long enough to outlast the Dawgs in Jacksonville.  Georgia fans are getting tired of losing to their bitter rivals.  If Florida has a mediocre season in Will Muschamp’s first year on the job and the Gators still get past Georgia, that could be very, very bad news for Richt.

King and all the folks who are focusing on UGA’s first two games are correct in doing so.  Those contests with Boise State and Carolina are huge. 

But getting to nine wins — one way or another — and topping Florida will mean more for Richt’s job security in the long run.

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UT Offers Georgia DB

Josh Holsey wondered if he would get a scholarship offer from Tennessee.  Vol fans have been wanting Derek Dooley to extend an offer to him.  All because Holsey happens to play at Creekside High in Georgia… the same high school that produced former UT All-American Eric Berry.

Well, an offer to play at Tennessee has now been extended.

“It was shocking to get the Tennessee offer,” Holsey told The AJC.  “I guess those people on Facebook and Twitter will be happy now.  That was kind of funny.”

Holsey is projected to be one of the Peach State’s top cornerbacks.  “He’s the best defensive back we’ve had at Creekside since Eric Berry was here,” his coach said.  “His ball skills, his athleticism, his speed… he’s the total package.

Tennessee is playing catch-up to the likes of Auburn, LSU, and Virginia Tech who’ve already offered.

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LSU Offers Georgia Receiver

Receiver JaQuay Williams of Sandy Creek, Georgia has yet another scholarship offer this morning.  Last night, LSU extended an offer to Williams, who is one of the Peach State’s top prospects.

“I’m excited, great school,” Williams said.

The player has about a dozen offers including LSU, Auburn, Tennessee and South Carolina in the SEC.

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Vols Land First 2012 Commitment

Tennessee received a commitment from running back Imani Cross from North Hall High School in Gainesville, Ga.

Cross, who’s UT’s first commitment for the class of 2012, had anticipated giving the Vols a commitment before he took his trip to Knoxville this weekend. The visit gave Cross the “reassurance of how much I loved the University of Tennessee,” he told

UT was hosting its junior day this past weekend. Cross said he spoke to several other prospects about strongly considering the Vols.

“There are some great linemen here, and I just kind of went over and tapped them and was like, ‘Hey, man, I think this is the place to go,” Cross said. “I think everybody will come around, and whoever is supposed to be here will be here.”

UT is continuing where it left off in 2011 with its recruiting in the state of Georgia. The Vols signed seven prospects from the Peach State on Feb. 2.

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Gruden To LSU Not Happening, But Chucky Will Rise Again

Now that it appears Les Miles will be staying at LSU, the Jon Gruden to Baton Rouge talk — would they have changed the name to Gruden Rouge? — will quickly fade away.

No worries for Gruden.  He’s been connected to darn near every college and NFL opening in America over the last 48 months.

And now I see where the semi-pro Marietta Hitmen are looking for a head coach.  It shouldn’t be long before someone connects Chucky to the Hitmen.

Hey, wait.  I just did.

Such a marriage would be pretty convenient, too.  It would put the coach smack dab inside the Peach State for when those inevitable Gruden-to-Georgia rumors flare up in roughly eight months.

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We’ll Say It Again: Richt’s A Dead Man Walking

From 11 wins to 10 to 8 to 6. 

From 30 points per game to a whopping 6 against Central Florida.

Georgia’s first losing record since the Clinton years and a bowl loss to Conference-USA.

Mark Richt is finished in Athens.

A little backstory to begin with — Two years ago we stated that Richt’s seat was warming in the Peach State.  He hadn’t won “the big one” and he had ascended to the “dean of SEC coaches” role.  Those are killers in this league.

At the time, many called us anti-Richt.  We were told by hundreds of Dawg fans that they would never turn on their coach.

Well, the cock just crowed and Dawg fans are turning on their coach in record numbers.  Check the nearest UGA messageboard for proof.

As we stated back on October 7th of this year, once you lose a fanbase to a certain point, there’s no getting it back.  Which is why we said on November 29th that Richt should have pursued the vacant Miami job.  Only he didn’t.  And now A 10-6 loss to UCF in the Liberty Bowl has driven things even further south than they were during the fall.

In fairness, we have also stated that UGA fans were being too rash with Richt.  This season’s 6-7 record suggests that things were actually worse than we had thought.

But in our view, Georgia’s coach is still a fine one.  He’s just caught in a familiar trap:

Coach X wins big…

New coaches enter league and make league tougher…

Coach X sticks to his old ways because they’ve won for him in the past…

New coaches continue to pass him by.

We don’t believe Richt has forgotten how to recruit or coach.  We do however believe that he’s hampered by his own past successes. 

Aside from Paul “Bear” Bryant, most coaches dance with the one that brung ‘em, as the old saying goes.

Bryant won national titles at Alabama in the 1960s and then saw his program start to trend downward.  Rather than just trying to work harder, Bryant started from scratch.  He ignored his past successes, threw out his old offense, and rebuilt Alabama as a wishbone team.  He went on to win more national titles in the 1970s as a result.

Most coaches don’t have the guts to act so boldly.  Instead, they try to do what they’ve done before, only they try to do it better.  That sounds good, but it rarely works.

So even if Richt deserves another year to fix what ails UGA — and he does — don’t we all know how this marriage is going to turn out?

To completely quell Georgia’s angry fanbase, Richt will probably need to win 10 games next year.  With Boise State, South Carolina, Mississippi State and Florida on UGA’s schedule next year, a 10-win season does not appear likely.  (And that’s giving Georgia wins in toss-up games with Ole Miss, Tennessee, Auburn, Kentucky and Georgia Tech.)

Handing Richt another year to right UGA’s ship is the fair move.  But unfortunately it’s just delaying the inevitable at this point.

Once you lose a fanbase past a certain point, there’s no getting it back.  Even if you say all the right things, eventually the proof’s in the win column.  Richt’s win column doesn’t figure to look great in 2011.  And he’s already past the point of rescue with most Dawg fans.

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

Content provided by Dawg Sports.

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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