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Turnover On Georgia’s Defensive Staff Could Continue With Two More Exits

revolving-door-cartoonIntroducing new defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt yesterday, Mark Richt said he hoped to hang onto to his two remaining defensive assistants.  But reports say inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti and defensive line coach Chris Wilson are both on their way out the door.

Olivadotti will return to the Washington Redskins of the NFL after spending the last three years in Athens.  Wilson joined the Bulldogs’ staff last season from Mississippi State.  Now he’s heading to Southern California and Steve Sarkisian’s new staff.

Georgia already had an opening due to Scott Lakatos’ resignation last week.  The secondary coach said he was departing for personal reasons.  Toss in D-coordinator Todd Grantham’s decision to leave UGA for Louisville and it’s looking like a total housecleaning on the defensive side of Richt’s staff.  That or everyone just decided on their own to leave at the same time.  We suspect there was some motivation behind the scenes for all those folks to start walking.

Richt immediately replaced Grantham with Pruitt, defensive coordinator at Florida State last season.  Not only was he part of the Seminoles’ national championship squad, but he also served as secondary coach at Alabama during their 2011 and 2012 national title runs.  That’s three rings in a row for the Dawgs’ new defensive general.

Pruitt will be running a defense similar to Grantham’s 3-4 and now he (and Richt) will be able to select three men to help him coach it.

Don’t expect much weeping and wailing in the Peach State over all the turnover.  Georgia’s defense — young and inexperienced last season — finished 10th in the SEC in scoring defense, ninth in pass defense, and eighth in total defense.  The Dawgs did manage to finish sixth in rush defense.

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Empty Seats An Issue Just About Everywhere

Across the nation and even across the SEC, ticket sales for college football games are declining.  And folks can’t just blame a bad economy anymore.  The economy is just one of several factors impacting ticket sales and it’s not as big a concern as it’s often made out to be:

 

1.  With the global economy stagnant, many people do not have as much disposable income to throw at football tickets as they once did.  That’s a fact.  But at schools where teams are winning and competing for championships, tickets sales are still mostly solid, if not robust.  That suggests that plenty of fans do have cash to spend… if they want to spend it.

2.  Prices continue to rise inside college venues.  For years, schools have tried to build bigger and bigger stadiums.  That’s meant ticket buyers have had to fight more traffic for fewer parking spots.  Now, for the privilege of slogging a country mile to a stadium and then being packed like a sardine into a tiny seat, the fan is rewarded with higher ticket prices, higher parking prices, and higher concession prices.  Why bother?

3.  Television is both a help and a hindrance to schools.  With the economy sluggish, the huge explosion in television revenue paid out to schools via network contracts couldn’t have come at a better time.  But there are also more games on television in a single weekend now than there were in entire seasons just 25 years ago.  Fans can choose to watch every game their favorite team plays on HDTV from the comfort of their living rooms and they can see dozens of other games, too.

4.  Schools scheduling patsies are paying a price for doing so.  There once was a time when the only way to see School X play Elon or Georgia State or Southeastern Louisiana was by purchasing a ticket.  Now those games are on pay-per-view or the internet, if not on some cable channel.  Why pay good money, fight traffic, and squeeze yourself between two other folks when you can stay home and watch your team demolish a tomato can of an opponent?  Mississippi State had the only SEC home opener that listed a capacity crowd last weeked and they played against tiny Jackson State.  But MSU’s Davis Wade Stadium seats just 55,082 fans.  Which brings us to the main point of this post…

 

At some point, a school that for years has tried to go bigger and bigger will decide to decrease seating size and focus instead on making the in-game experience better and better.  Oh, sure, several schools have knocked off 5,000 to 10,000 seats to make room for club seats, but we’re talking about real reductions in seating capacity.

Take NFL stadiums as an example.

Outside of the massive buildings that the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins call home, most NFL venues feature just 60,000 to 70,000 seats.  That makes parking easier.  That makes traffic lighter.  That makes tickets harder to come by (and thus more valuable).

NFL stadiums feature seats with actual backs, not bleachers.  They have massive scoreboards, wide concourses and the most luxurious of luxury suites.

At Cowboys Stadium, Jerry Jones has even built a field-level club through which his team walks to enter the field.  Big-spending fans can experience that up close and personal.  Television viewers cannot.

We’ve said this before and we’re saying it again now: Eventually some school’s leaders will be daring enough to downsize their home stadium, ramp up the in-game services and amenities, charge more for their tickets, and basically just target the biggest of spenders.  The little guy is already choosing to stay at home and watch on TV and save some cash.  Why chase him at all anymore?  Eventually a wise AD will realize that the little guy is no longer his target audience.  It’s the fat cat booster who’s willing to pay more for a bigger seat, easier parking, a nicer in-game experience, and the ability to tell his friends, “Yep, I was actually at the game.”

When ticket-buying goes back to being a status symbol, schools will have conquered the ticket-sales blues.  The best way to do that?  Cater to the uber-wealthy and go smaller — not bigger — with seating capacity.

Fair to the Average Joe who wants to take his son to a game?  No.  But a lot of Average Joes aren’t going to the games anymore anyway.

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Salaries Of New UGA Coaches Revealed

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution filed an open-records request in accordance with state law and learned yesterday that both of Georgia’s new assistant football coaches will make more than $200,000 next season.

New offensive line coach Will Friend will earn 200K following his move from UAB.  New inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will earn $250,000 for making his move from the Washington Redskins.

Friend’s salary will be $90,000 less than Stacy Searels’ who he is replacing.  Olivadotti will make $60,000 more than the man he’s replacing, Warren Belin.

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SEC Headlines – 2/21/11 Part Two

1.  Florida’s 68-61 win at LSU proved that the Gators can survive – albeit against a bad team — without Chandler Parsons.

2.  The football Gators will be rebuilding under new coach Will Muschamp.

3.  Ex-coach Urban Meyer didn’t win this reporter over with his recent call to clean up college football.

4.  New inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti left the Washington Redskins because he feels Georgia and the SEC present him “a great opportunity.”

5.  Kentucky’s DeAndre Liggins put in a nice performance from the bench in UK’s win over South Carolina on Saturday.

6.  Tennessee’s Bruce Pearl says Vanderbilt is “better,” “tougher” and “more physical” than the Georgia team that just beat UT on its home floor.  The Vols travel to Nashville tomorrow.

7.  Pearl says he needs someone to step up.




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UGA To Hire Olivadotti From Redskins

Georgia defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has once again gone of the radar to bring in an assistant.  Washington Redskins assistant Kirk Olivadotti is leaving the NFL squad to join the Bulldogs’ defensive staff.

“UGA, you just got one hell of a coach in Kirk Olivadotti.”  That was the Twitter reaction from former Georgia and current Redskin defensive end Phillip Daniels.  “The defense just got a whole lot better.  One of the smartest coaches I have ever known.”

Georgia has not announced the hire yet, but the obligatory background checks are believed to be the only hoop not yet jumped through.

Olivadotti will fill the slot opened up when Warren Belin jumped to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers earlier this month.  Belin coached inside linebackers in Grantham’s 3-4 scheme and Olivadotti did coach linebackers from 2007 through 2009 with Washington.  All told, he has been on the Redskins’ staff for 11 seasons (that includes the Steve Spurrier tenure).

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