Sunday, July 31, 2011

New Ohio State Coach Luke Fickell Takes the Brian Kelly Approach to the 'Tat 4' Return

Four suspended Buckeye players must earn their return after the five game penalty imposed by the school according to new coach Luke Fickell.

“We’re going to ask them to earn everything they’re going to get, and they understand that" said Fickell to the Columbus Dispatch.

Despite Ohio State desperately needing these players to maneuver the rest of their schedule, the first year head coach is taking the same approach to reinstating suspended players as Notre Dame's Brian Kelly.

Kelly has said star WR Michael Floyd, who was arrested for his third alcohol offense this off season, will not be allowed to play until he has shown changes in his life. The Irish coach also said Floyd will not sit any games if he has changed. As of early summer Floyd was participating in voluntary team workouts after sitting out Spring Practice presumably as punishment for the third alcohol offense.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Paul Johnson Makes More Friends at ACC Media Days!

One of the big stories at the ACC Media Days in Pinehurst, NC was the penalties recently handed down to Georgia Tech following a NCAA investigation into preferential treatment given to Demaryius Thomas during the 2009 season and Tech's subsequent lack of cooperation in that investigation..

When Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson was surrounded by reporters looking for a comment on the sanctions, Johnson had these comments according to Megan Walsh of the Greensboro News & Record:

While [Butch] Davis spent a considerable amount of time discussing the violations, Johnson quickly grew dismissive of questions that steered away from his team's physical play.

"We don't have any sanctions as far as this team moving forward or scholarships or anything of that, so it's not going to affect us moving forward," Johnson said. "That's what were going to do. Put it behind us and move forward."

As the questions continued, so did Johnson's frustration.

"I've never been involved in the process before," he said. "I hope I'm never involved in another one. Really, honestly, I wasn't involved in this one, hardly. This had nothing to do with the coaching staff or any one those things. It was really basically administrative."

The questioning continued, and a reporter asked about details in the report.

"You'd have to look at the report," Johnson said.

"You didn't look at the report?" the reporter asked.

"No, I said you'd have to look at the report," Johnson said.

Asked whether he learned anything about dealing with players from the violations, Johnson said, "Apparently not."

When the same reporter followed up, Johnson's response was simple.

"Next question."

These reporters apparently did not know that Paul Johnson only cares about four things

Or they did not listen to this 'conversation' Johnson had with an Atlanta radio show host earlier this year about the "no visit policy".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why This Recruiting Year is so Big for the Future of UGA Basketball

At the Atlanta Bulldog Club meeting the head basketball coach said the program has four scholarships to offer in a year loaded with talent in the state of Georgia.

UGA welcomed five players this past seasons so the Dennis Felton stamp on the roster has officially been removed.

Fox has already snared Charles Mann, a life long Georgia Tech fan, for one of those four spots stealing him away from the Yellow Jackets as well as FSU and UConn.

This is a huge recruiting year for Fox who will have to begin to rebuild the program after losing two players to the NBA from last year's NCAA Tournament. Those pieces will be placed around incoming freshman and McDonald's All-American Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

With such a stacked class in state, Fox has to take advantage of that talent base as well as the situation with his biggest rival going through a coaching change, playing off campus, and now on probation.

In addition to Mann, the Bulldogs are also in on top Georgia prospects Shaq Goodwin, Marcus Hunt, Kenny Gaines, and Robert Carter.

Check out Gentry Estes of 247Sports.com report for more info from Fox's meeting with the Atlanta Bulldog Club.

Why Has UGA Had So Few Arrests This Offseason?

The Georgia Bulldogs, winners of the 2010 Fulmer Cup, has had a very quiet off season which is welcome news to UGA fans.

This season
Georgia is no where to be found on the Fulmer Cup.

So why the sudden change in team behavior? I offer three theories.

1. Mark Richt has actually cracked down on discipline with earlier curfews and stiffer penalties.

After returning from a loss at Miss State last year, Richt kicked a freshman off the team after his first arrest for a DUI. The head coach had never shown this quick of a trigger before.

Since that dismissal things have largely been quiet.

2. Better Leadership. The players are doing a good job of policing themselves not wanting to 'let the team down'. I think this type of accountability bodes well for the season.

3. AD Greg McGarity had a little talk with the ACC Police Department....and politely asked them to cool it with "silly" arrests (e.g. public intoxication, jaywalking, scooters). I have never bought the notion that the po-po were out to get UGA players. I would bet 80% (if not more) of the officers are UGA football fans.

Think Athens police watching out for UGA players is far fetched?

Consider how Erik Ainge got through his time at Tennessee without any news about his drug problems.

While embarrassing at the time, winning the Fulmer Cup last season should be a good consolation for UGA fans - Alabama won the BCS Championship in 2009, one year after winning the Fulmer Cup.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

(Why) Is Tommy Tuberville (Not) on the Hot Seat at Texas Tech?

Mike Leach's new book "Swing Your Sword" dedicates a hefty portion to the saga surrounding his firing from Texas Tech.

And as you know much of that saga surrounds his former player Adam James and his father, ESPN personality Craig James.

Leach says his biggest regret during his time in Lubbock was not cutting James whose father 'called more than all the other parents combined' complaining about his son's playing time.

So how does this affect former Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville's status as the Red Raiders head coach?

In Leach's final season of 2009, James played in 12 games catching 17 balls for 154 yards ranking 10th on the team.

Last season under Tuberville, James played in just nine games catching a measly two balls for 26 yards.

James bio on the Texas Tech Athletics website mentions no injury during 2010 to limit his performance.

This is the same player whose father told Leach the younger James was the best receiver on the team (audio interview from The Solid Verbal).

So why isn't Craig James calling for Tommy Tuberville's firing? He can't be happy with just two receptions!?

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Does the AJC Have A Bias Against Brian Gregory and Georgia Tech Basketball?

Georgia Tech fans have long claimed a bias from the Atlanta newspaper towards rival UGA.

That perception largely stems from the idea that the newspaper employs a lot of UGA graduates while having very few with Tech sympathies on staff.

Yellow Jacket supporters may finally have the evidence they need to prove it.

On Thursday, the AJC Recruiting Blog made a post about where UGA Head Basketball Coach Mark Fox was on the first day of the July recruiting contact period. Fox was in Indianapolis to scout one of the Peach State's top 2012 prospects, Charles Mann, whom the Bulldogs have offered a scholarship.

Without a doubt, the UGA football program is much more popular than Georgia Tech's and the coverage of those programs correctly reflects this fact.

But you would have a tough time making that same argument when it comes to the two basketball programs.

UGA's basketball arena seats almost 1,500 more than Georgia Tech's [now former] arena yet the Yellow Jackets pulled in $800,000 more basketball revenue in 2009-2010.

When it comes to recruiting Georgia Tech has far out paced Georgia in basketball. Since the Mr. Georgia Basketball award started in 1983, Georgia Tech has signed nine award winners (10 if you count two time winners) while UGA has signed just two.

The other major college basketball program in the state also had coaches in attendance to watch Mann in Indy, but that story did not make it into the blog's original post. Only after comments brought that information to light was the story updated to add one line about the Yellow Jackets coaches also being present.

Now that we have established that Georgia Tech is a bigger program in terms of revenue despite a smaller arena, much smaller alumni base, and has recruited more at the top level within the state...

...why would the AJC choose to profile the activities of the Georgia coaching staff on the recruiting trail over the Georgia Tech staff when both are doing the same thing at the same time?

Friday, July 8, 2011

Has Playing Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome Truly Helped Alabama's Recruiting in Georgia?

Alabama has agreed to meet Virginia Tech in one of the 2013 Kickoff games in the Georgia Dome marking the Tide's third appearance in the classic they helped start back in 2008.

Shortly after his arrival, Nick Saban declared he wanted to recruit the state of Georgia more. A big impetus for playing in the inaugural game in 2008 was to get more access to recruits in the state. 

But has that really panned out?

Saban was hired by Alabama in January of 2007. Even with his prowess on the recruiting trail, Saban was unable to sway any of the Rivals top 50 recruits in the state of Georgia to Alabama for the '07 class.

In 2008, Saban signed two of the top 50 in the state according to Rivals - LB Devonta Bolton and WR Chris Jackson . Neither of those players is on the post spring depth chart.

After playing in the 2008 Kickoff game in Atlanta, Saban signed one of the top classes in the nation the following February including five of the top 50 players in Georgia - the 9th best player Michael Bowman, the 29th best player Chane Warmack, the 35th best player Kellen Williams, the 37th best player Jonathan Atchison, and the 47th best player Darius McKellar.

However based on the current depth chart only one of these four is listed as a projected starter - Chance Warmack.

Bowman is listed 4th at WR behind two players with less experience; Warmack is expected to start at one Guard position, Williams has failed to earn a varsity letter yet, Atchison is a backup LB, and McKellar is not on the two deep.

Coming off another victory in the Kickoff game and more importantly a national title, Saban again signed one of the top classes in the nation in 2010. From Georgia, the Tide snagged five of the top 50 including the 13th best player Adrian Hubbard, the 15th best Brian Vogler, the 26th best Blake Sims, the 38th best Austin Shepherd, and the 48th best Ronald Carswell in 2010.

Looking again at the post Spring depth chart, Hubbard is listed as a backup LB as a RS freshman which is impressive.

However, Vogler is third string TE behind another RS freshman; Sims is third string QB behind another RS freshman; Shepherd is a backup offensive lineman was redshirted last season as many lineman are; Carswell is not on the depth chart accepting a grayshirt offer instead.

Fresh off what appears to be a fairly good showing in the state in 2010, Alabama fell back in 2011 Georgia recruiting signing just two of the top 50 - LaMichael Fanning and Xzavier Dickson. I have read Fanning may have trouble getting past the NCAA Clearinghouse but nothing definitive either way so we'll assume he will make it.

Still, for all the commotion of Alabama coming in raiding Georgia they got two of the top 50. That is the same number Stanford got and three less than South Carolina.

Alabama is doing well is in the 2012 class where they have six commits from Georgia. However, Rivals has just two of these players listed at four stars. If Saban continues to recruit like he has been of late then the Tide will fill up on four and five stars from their own state as well as Florida, Tennessee, Mississippi and around the country.

Going back to 2008, out of 14 players signed in the top 50 from Georgia we have a total of one starter.

Playing in the Kickoff game in front of a national television audience has made a much greater impact on Alabama' recruiting outside the South evidenced with the signing of players like Cyrus Kouandjio of Maryland, Philip Sims of Virginia, and Trey DePriest of Ohio among others.

Yes, the Crimson Tide have signed some players in the state of Georgia recently but the top players are still overwhelmingly choosing Georgia and to a lessor extent the Floridas, Auburns, Tennessees, and South Carolinas of the SEC as much or more than Alabama.