Friday, December 30, 2005

My immediate thoughts after the game ...

Actual live e-mail exchange between myself and Paul Westerdawg of the Georgia Sports Blog after yesterday's complete and shameful faceplant (warning: profanity implied).

"decatur dawg" <****@hotmail.com>
To: vadimivich@yahoo.com
Subject: agree with your note about reggie, but
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 15:19:00 +0000

I don't get why so many Techies are so pissed at Reggie.

it was Tenuta, Gailey and the defense that I would be livid about. That was
the most chicken **** plan and motivation I've ever seen.


From: Nathan
To: decatur dawg <****@hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: agree with your note about reggie, but
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 07:53:31 -0800 (PST)

In order of what I'm mad at:

#1 - The ACC for having a deal in place with the most chicken **** bowl
game I've ever seen. Simply being in that game is a ******* joke, from
the field to the stands to the ****** TV presentation (Pam Ward!) to
everything - it's a ******* joke. I went to the Fort Worth Bowl in
person and it was 10x a nicer game than that ******* joke of a game.
Swofford is a braindead moron when it comes to football, and sending
teams to ****** Boise and some ******* baseball only stadium with a
warning track through the end zone and C.J making a catch on a warmup
mound in the bullpen is just beyond gawdawful. I wouldn't even wish
that game on UGa.

#2 - The GT "community" for quitting on said bowl from the moment it
was announced. Hard to expect the coaches and players to get fired up
for a game when you boo it's announcement and spend a month making fun
of it and saying you got screwed. This is to you Mr. Braine, the people on The Hive, Stingtalk, the AJC, BuzzOFF and my blog - everywhere people made fun of the game. We got what we deserved.

#3 - "Sooper Genious" Tenuta for being a stubbon ass and insisting on
playing zone all game long when it was clear that nobody could cut and
react on that **** field. Houston and Scott think they are NFL players,
if so they should be able to man cover some ******* white divion 3
transfer WR by themselves. Our defensive gameplan reeked of Cuervo from
Tenuta's trip to Mexico to celebrate being a "sooper genious"
instead of actually doing anything. Putrid effort, simply putrid.

#4 - Chan Gailey for having the worst offensive gameplan I've ever
seen, and continuing to play the worst QB I've ever seen. Reggie Ball
isn't the answer, stop hamstringing our offense with him. Get a grip on
the weather/field conditions for the love of god and use the greatest
weapon you've ever had. Gary Pinkel wasted Brad Smith's career at
Mizzou, Gailey is wasting Calvin Johnson's and it's a ******* shame.
Reggie Ball simply can't throw over the middle or really down the field
either - and since he can't, find yourself a QB who can.

#5 - The players for quitting. That last TD run was ugly and shameful
and really just added insult to injury to a group who had taken such
pride in their play this year. That's a really bad note to start next
season on. Of course, it's GT - so expect us to beat ND to open the
season. It's what we do. Heck though, expect a loss to Army in the next
two seasons too ... that's also what we do.


"decatur dawg" <****@hotmail.com>
To: vadimivich@yahoo.com
Subject: Re: agree with your note about reggie, but
Date: Fri, 30 Dec 2005 16:42:29 +0000

Holy. ****.

This is one of the best rants that I've ever read in my life. PLEASE POST
THIS (with or without the profanity) on your site. PLEASE.

It is BEYOND spectacular. It's the panultimate moment of frustrated
fan zen. It has the passion of my barely understandable rant of death from
the endzone upper endzone in Columbia, SC in 2000 after the 5 INT game lost
to a team that had gone 1-21 over the past 2 seasons. However, unlike my
rant on that fateful day....it is well thought out and logical.

BTW -- I agree so much with you on #1. It is a JOKE that the ACC
entered deals with the Boise and San Fran bowls. It's ****tard management to
put a conference team in that position.

Did you read Orson's writeup on the game? He nails it..only without the
passion or depth that you do. Gailey is just a medicore coach. There
are 117 teams in Division I. 56 go to bowls. When the 47th percentile of
success gets a bowl game, that's rewarding mediocrity.

If there were only 20 bowls, GT would have a new coach by now.



Orson and Stranko of EDSBS.com gave a preview and then review of the Emerald (Utah's) Nut(s in GT's face) Bowl - excellent as well, though thouroughly shameful for Tech fans. I think yesterday finally did for me what even 41-17 to Duke did not ... pushed me off the ChanWagon.

OH MY, A POST PATTERN? WHAT IS THAT?

Thursday, December 29, 2005

And the beat goes on ...

Tenuta clearly isn't the best d-coordinator in football, and everyone afraid of him taking a head coaching job are insane. Our defensive gameplan couldn't have possibly been worse, and he refused to make any adjustments during the game. A complete F- for Tenuta.

Gailey can't utilize on of the best WR corps in the nation and looked lost almost the entire game. He never adapted to the field conditions and our offense put up 7 points on the board outside of the fluketastic Hail Mary. The team came out flatter than week old Coke, the offense was a disaster and we got embarassed again on national TV. A complete F- for Gailey.

Reggie Ball just can't throw the football. If he's the QB next year, we win 7 or 8 games. Reggie Ball is to Chan Gailey as Quincy Carter to Jim Donnan. Watching some random juco transfer on the other side of the field throw the ball with precision and accuracy just reinforced what a poor thrower Ball really is. A complete F- for Ball.

Actually, a complete F- for the entire team.

Emerald Bowl!

I really should be excited about the Emerald Bowl this afternoon, GT has a very good shot of finishing 8-4 and in the top 25, with our seniors going out on 3 straight bowl wins. I'm just not feeling it though, at all. For some reason a Thursday afternoon bowl game against a team from the MWC in a baseball stadium in the rain in San Francisco just isn't what I expected coming off the close of the season, and I haven't been able to get into my normal celebratory mood as a football game approaches.

(Bizzaro World football)

Games like this is why the Chan Gailey era has left a bad taste in some people's mouth, it's not that we're a bad program (patently not true), but in the end it's the same routine each year. Groundhog Day had a less predictable plot than our recent football seasons. Win a game we shouldn't, lose a game we shouldn't, go to a bowl game in the middle of nowhere against an inferior team. Quick, which season did I just describe? (A: 2003, B: 2004 or C: 2005). You can't, heck I'm not even sure which one I was talking about - they are all running into each other. There's an excitement about the program that just doesn't exist, partly because we play a fairly boring and bland brand of offense and because nobody feels "this could be the year" - instead it's "this is going to be the same year" and that's breeding some apathy.

There are a ton of bright spots I'd be lax to mention though, in my moody view of the world today - attendence is up (and with Notre Dame in BDS@GF this coming year, it will stay up - you can bet that's a minipack game). We beat 2 top 10 teams, on the road. We have a couple of truly dynamic players returning on both sides of the ball in Calvin Johnson, KaMichael Hall and Philip Wheeler. We have some youngsters who look like they have a world of potential, guys like Vance Walker. All of these are good things that are happening to GT football, the program is on a very gentle upswing (no, BuzzOFF! folks - we aren't getting worse), and I'd be blind or a fool or just unbelievably bitter to deny them.

However, there's two things hanging over Chan's head and they are slowly poisoning a portion of the fanbase and leading to some of the malaise that is clinging to what should be one a preseason top 15-20 team next year. He's got to beat Georgia and we've got to play in a southern New Year's Day bowl that we can get 25-30k fans at and really get people fired up for. 9-3 with a win over Georgia and a trip to the Gator Bowl next year and suddenly the floodgates open and people begin buying into this program. 8-4/7-5, a 6th(!) straight loss to the pups and another trip to a WhoCares.com Bowl somewhere cold and west and you'll see fans sink even farther into the realm of just not caring. It's easy to cheer for a winner, it's even easy to cheer for a team that looks like it's building into a winner, but it's very hard to cheer for a team that can never get over the hump. Nobody wants to get too excited just to be let down, and thus you get ... GT football right now. I know it's horribly unfair, and probably speaks poorly of my character as a fan - but finishing 8-4 with a win over a bad MWC team in a bowl game that only GT and Utah fans are going to take time off to watch on TV isn't exactly getting my heart pumping.

As for actual game analysis? GT should be able to run the ball all day long, hit CJ deep once or twice and drive the young Utah QB into making a couple of costly mistakes. This game really shouldn't be much different than the Tulsa and Syracuse games, where a decent GT team takes an inferior opponent to the woodshed. Utah is inferior, make no mistake about it - all the NFL talent that allowed them to go to the Fiesta Bowl last year is gone and they are pretty raw. This would be a painful game to lose, little gain to win unfortunately.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

GT @ AFA

@

World Arena, Colorado Springs - 9pm EST

This is going to be one of the better OOC tests for the Jackets this year, especially in the mental aspects of the game. Air Force is a dangerous team anywhere, but having to play them on their home court in the thin air of Colorado Springs makes it an even tougher row to hoe. This is a game that will key more on the ability of one team to force tempo than on almost anything else, making for a very interesting contrast in styles.

Air Force has now won 24 OOC home games in a row, and is 10-1 on the season albeit against a very week schedule. While they are on their 3rd head coach in 3 seasons, Jeff Bzdelik is no slouch coming off several successful years as the head coach of the Denver Nuggets before being fired in midseason last year. Air Force is still playing the "Princeton" style of methodical offense focusing on backcuts, crisp passing and excellent shooting, so there will not be a huge noticeable difference between this years team and the one we saw in Atlanta last year.

Keys for AFA:
  • Keep shooting the ball well from the outside, as they are up to 43% as a team on the season. Every player in the starting linuep outside of center Jeff Frye is an excellent shooter and AFA will work their methodical offense until they get a good luck.
  • Turn GT over. AFA is excellent at forcing TO's and especially at stealing the ball on the perimeter - combined with GT's young and inexperienced guards, this could be a huge advantage in keeping GT from exploiting the interior advantage Smith, Dickey and Tarver will have.
  • AFA has to rebound the ball well on the defensive end, they are a small team and without a high scoring offensive attack really cannot afford to give up points on the offensive glass. Somebody has to find Smith each play and try to put a body on him.
  • Antione Hood has to play well, he's the leading scorer on the team and a deadly shooter. If Mario West is able to frustrate him, it could be a long night for the Falcons.

Keys for GT:
  • Pound it inside to Smith and Dickey. Dickey absolutely has to show up to play in this game, he should be way too much to handle for AFA's frontcourt, but he can't just loaf around.
  • If Morrow and Zam/West can shoot the 3 effectively, they will prevent AFA from packing it in on the interior and really help out the flow of the offense. Morrow should get some open looks, he's going to have to make them. It'd be really nice to see the white hot AMo from the Michigan State game, that's for sure.
  • Turnovers, especially in the backcourt, will kill this team. Paco/Zam/? can't make those bad TO's 30ft from the basket.
  • Mental toughness on the defensive end, and playing the full 35 seconds of every shotclock. You can stop the Princeton offense with better athletes, but they gotta really be consistent on each trip down the floor. Young teams often struggle with this, lets hope Hewitt has it drilled into this team.

Air Force is a 5 point favorite, and that's about where I expected the line. They are a good team, they shoot the ball very well and they have a nasty home court advantage. They also happen to be a sentimental favorite of mine (my father and uncle were both fighter pilots - and until my eyesight went south, AFA was my first choice in schools), and it's good matchup between two well coached teams - this should be a fun game tonight. I expect Jeremis to just dominate the smaller and less physical AFA frontline, but it might not be enough unless Dickey and Morrow also bring their 'A' games. If GT keeps it under 15 turnovers and gets good games out of those three, this should be a Jacket win. If not, or if the young guards just fall asleep on perimeter defense, this could very easily be a loss.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Baseball Update

As baseball season sneaks up on us (doesn't that seem to happen every year?) news is already coming out about the Jackets. The first major preseason reviews are in, and Collegiate Baseball has named 3 Yellow Jackets to their pre-season All-American teams.

3b Wes Hodges is a 1st Team All American



RHP Blake Wood is a 3rd Team All-American



UT Matt Wieters is a 3rd Team All-American



Georgia Tech is also ranked 10th in their preseason poll, one of a whopping five ACC teams in the top 15. The ACC this year is going to be scary deep, much like the 2004 basketball league was. Clemson, UNC, Florida State, Miami and GT will be fighting it out most of the season for the league title and NCAA Tournament seeding and regional / super-regional hosting rights.

In other baseball news, Nomar Garciaparra is going to be speaking at the GT Baseball Benefit Dinner on 1/21/06 and will have his #5 GT jersey honored at the same time - it will not be retired as Jason Varitek's was (still the only player with a retired GT baseball jersey), but he will join Kevin Brown and Randy Carroll as one of only 3 to be so honored. Garciaparra is a tremendous influence to keep around the program, with his work ethic and baseball acumen - I am glad to see him officially recognized this way.

As always, beesball.com is by far your best source of information on Georgia Tech baseball, check it on a regular basis and get ready for another great season of Yellow Jacket baseball.

Monday, December 26, 2005

ROADIE!!! (and yes, Eddie Sutton smiles)

12/23/05

Anyone who knows Marcy and I know we don’t exactly get an early morning start to anything, and thus our roadie which was supposed to begin at 7am really didn’t get going until around 9am on the 23rd. After we finally got up, with an iPod stocked with 3,500 songs and a tankful of gas we were ready for the eight hours to Fort Worth. Setting off on our way down I-35, we entered the vast stretches of farm and ranch land that is southern Kansas and Oklahoma. Alternating between Interpol, A Tribe Called Quest, Outkast and Charlie Parker we cruised through hundreds of miles of uninterrupted land, and what starts out as an awesome expanse of the Bread Basket of America slowly turned into just monotony.

We went with only a single stop through Wichita, Oklahoma City, Norman and then finally arrived in Forth Worth (more about these on the way back). We made it to the stadium on TCU’s campus around 5pm, though traffic delayed us actually making it out the car until about 5:30pm. It might as well have been Lawrence South when we got out, there were so many KU fans. A quick stop in the KU tent landed us a couple of beers and a chance to poke around the stuff set up for the kids before we picked up our tickets at will-call and got into the line. This was probably the worst part of the day, as they only had one gate open, and it took us about 15 minutes to clear through and into the game.


(KU fans outnumbered UH fans by a ton - kusports.com)

Once inside the stadium, it became even more evident that KU had brought a surprisingly large number of fans to the game – about 2/3 of the announced total of 34,000 for the game. Considering that it was a pre-Christmas bowl for a team not known as a football school, it was a terrific turnout. The game got started, and KU immediately took control with an early punt return for a TD and an aggressive offense that looked completely different from the abysmal unit from the first half of the season (Houston’s porous defense had a lot to do with that as well). Houston actually moved the ball a bit in the first half against KU’s heralded defense, mostly by forcing the KU linebackers into coverage on slot receivers / backs and then running them out of the middle of the field. After a bad KU turnover near the end of the half, it was 14-10 at the break. Once KU switched to a bit more of a short zone early in the second half to keep their LB’s in the middle of the field and stop the dink and dunk attack, their d-line really took control and put the game out of reach. By the 10 minute mark in the 4th quarter, it was all over except for the celebrating – which the largely pro-KU crowd was only too happy to begin.


(Kevin Kolb had a long night - kusports.com)

After the final gun, the celebrating and the award ceremonies – we headed back to the hotel to get ready to go out and celebrate. Yeah, that really went well as soon as we saw the hotel bed after 14 straight hours on the go, I guess I’ll have to check out downtown Fort Worth at a later date (something tells me we didn’t miss all that much).

12/24/05

After crashing out hard on the night before, we woke up fashionably late around 10 and got ready to leave the “spectacular” Fort Worth (P)laza Hotel – with Jack and Jess joining us for the trip back. We had sort of discussed that we’d stop in Norman and Stillwater to see the campuses and sports facilities as a road trip back, we didn’t have anything pressing us for time and it would be fun to see places we’d never been before (and really, it’s not everyday you’re in Oklahoma).

First stop though, lunch at Texas Roadhouse (yes, it’s a chain, but it was open on Christmas Eve and we weren’t in any position to be snobby) – and the waiter did call us ‘pardner so it had the Texas flavor.


(Jess, Jack, Marcy and Myself trying to stand up straight in 25mph winds)


As we were leaving Texas after lunch, Jack kept bringing up the huge number of flags you see in Texas – and the state flag is higher than the US flag, of course. There’s a ton of state and national pride on display in Texas, and the flags are just part of it.


(Note which is taller)

The Red River was more like the Red Creek where we crossed it, but it’s a good time to bring up the fact that about 75% of the cars we saw in Texas and Oklahoma had stickers for the college football team of their choice on them. As it turns out, Oklahoma is large stretches of nothing, but red tinged nothing which is slightly more interesting than Kansas’s large stretches of brown nothing this time of year (and trust me – between Lawrence and Wichita there isn’t anything other than grass and barbed wire).


(Marcy keeping entertained with the vast expanse of nothing surrounding us)

We felt the need to start singing Boomer Sooner as we entered Norman, but try doing that for about 4 bars without getting it confused with the Indiana Jones Theme song. Seriously, try it – it’s impossible. I’ll be honest, I didn’t expect much from OU’s campus. I know that Oklahoma is the dust bowl era place I think of (thanks Grapes of Wrath), but the campus was very nice and very well laid out. The consistent brick theme, with the slightly gothic architecture, was attractive and the campus was clean and quite modern – except the giant water tower which is completely out of place. Memorial Stadium is a very impressive structure, with gorgeous brick work and well laid out area surrounding it on campus. We stopped in the parking garage attached to the stadium and poked around, taking in the sights. While it’s not completely enclosed like several of the large southern stadiums (the end zone seating is separate bleachers) it’s huge and the seating is well designed – I doubt there’s a single bad seat in the house. Overall, it’s very obvious that Sooners love their football, and have a fantastic facility to play it in. The practice field and in-door training facility are both right next to the stadium, and top notch as well. Heck, the OU practice field looked nicer than that rug Texas Tech still plays on for their game field.


(Jess, Marcy and Jack outside Memorial)


(This watertower doesn't fit the campus theme at all)

Only downside to Norman? The 7-Eleven didn’t have Slurpees – it had “Icy Drinks” … this was a major issue that required several minutes to sort out properly. I mean, we didn’t want some second rate offbrand frozen sodas here.


(Marcy celebrating the fact that at least Arby's in Norman has Jamocha shakes)

And just to prove that Oklahoma fans are still Oklahomans, we saw this beauty while driving away – notice the busted out back window to add to the allure. Georgia fans would be proud to know they have relatives to the west. The bumpersticker said "The two most hated words in football - Touchdown Oklahoma".


(There's the Oklahoma I was expecting)

After leaving Norman we entered Oklahoma City, and lets just say that I really have never thought there was a skyline in the state of Oklahoma. It’s an enormous urban sprawl around the city, about the same size as Kansas City. Unfortunately, they are currently under the hold of Lord Voldemort (aka George Shinn) – and no city deserves that. Norman is basically a suburb of OKC, with there being no discernable point where Norman really ends and OKC begins, I'm sure I-35S is pretty busy on Saturdays.


(OKC skyline as we leave town)

North of OKC is the worst Six Flags Ever? Seriously, there’s like 1 roller coaster and about 4 other rides. I’m pretty sure I knew kids growing up who had bigger jungle gym sets in their backyards. But anyways …


(That picture is basically the entire park)

Driving further along, we pulled off I-35 and drove the 15 miles through the middle of nowhere to get to Stillwater. As we go along, we’re cracking jokes about the location and the lack of scenery as we approach the town “is that barn the campus”, etc … Uh, wow – we were wrong. Once we got onto campus, it’s huge – and very modern. I expected the typical land grant institution collection of mismatched buildings, old structures and slightly run down infrastructure. Instead, OSU has a consistent theme of brick buildings, and while many of them are similar (there’s a bit of cookie cutter construction going on in Stillwater), it’s obvious there’s been a ton of money put into the dorms and academic buildings. Lots of glass, a beautiful International Trade building and every other building having the word “agriculture” in the title stuck out the most. Overall, maybe not as unique and slightly quirky as OU was, but even more surprising to me based on my preconceptions.

The big stop though was Gallagher-Iba Arena, one of the four basketball arenas that I consider to the best in the country (Rupp, Cameron and Allen Field House being the other 3), and the only one that I had never been to before. Unfortunately, it was 6pm on Christmas Eve and the building was closed and locked. We ran around trying each door hoping someone had left one unlocked, but no luck. We pressed our faces up against the glass and looked at the banners hanging from the roof and the retired jerseys in cases inside the arena’s entrance, from Thurman Thomas and Barry Sanders to Big Country Reeves. For my GT readers, it’s attached to the football stadium and is very similar to the Edge, except with floor to ceiling glass walls on the exterior – perfect for sightseeing. GIA is actually attached to the football stadium on one end zone, along with the ticket offices and the front museum area for OSU sports. It’s a very attractive brick building that blends seamlessly together, though it also means that as the complex has been built around GIA (especially the final remodeling 4 years ago) there is nothing left of the original 1937 exterior, or at least that we saw. As a matter of fact, from the outside it’s very difficult to tell exactly which area is the basketball arena.


(Jack, Nathan, Jess [L] - Nathan and Marcy [R])

After a few minutes and some pictures in front of the GIA sign, we were getting cold and it was time to head back to the car and get back on the road again. Marcy was trying one last door for the second time, when Jack noticed a luxury car pulling up, and an older gentleman got out and was unlocking one of the doors. Unsure of who it would be, we walked up and were hoping we could ask for a quick peek inside. When he turned around, it was OSU head coach Eddie Sutton and he surprisingly didn’t think we were hoodlums lurking around the stadium (guess Stillwater is pretty low crime). After explaining that we were there basically just to see GIA, and were returning to Lawrence – which I’m sure the Kansas sweatshirts had already made pretty clear, he agreed to let us inside, but with the forwarning that he didn’t think the lights were on. Coach Sutton explained to us that he’d just returned from a personal trip, and took a picture with us in front of the Pistol Pete statue right inside the entrance.


(Marcy, Nathan, Coach Sutton, Jack in front of Pistol Pete)

Coach Sutton led us through the players entrance on the lower level to the arena, where the lights were about half on. As he walked us through and unlocked each door on the way, he mentioned how most people consider GIA and AFH to be the two best arenas in the Big XII (2 of the 4-5 best in the country, in my opinion) and was very complimentary of Kansas’s program and the Field House – Jack was kind enough and smart enough to NOT point out that he’d never won in Allen. When we got out onto the floor, GIA is gorgeous – like I’d expected it to be. It’s very orange on the inside and the white facing with “Welcome to historic Gallagher-Iba Arena” is a unique touch above the collapsible bleachers on the lower rows – that facing is a much more noticeable architectural structure in person that it appears on TV, clearly delineating the sections and ringing the floor at a pretty low level. GIA is much larger than Cameron and smaller than Allen Field House – plus all the seats are chairbacks, as opposed to bleachers in those two arenas. I assume that you could fit more bottoms into the building with bleachers, and actually it’s the first dedicated college arena I’ve seen which is 100% chairbacks. The roof is flat, and lower to the court than the peaked roof at Allen Field House (or the dome at Alexander Memorial) and because the banners and retired jerseys are in the front museum area, it’s just plain black above you – leading even more to the feeling that you are surrounded by orange crushing in from each side. Coach Sutton smiled and laughed when Jack brought up the fact that you could see how it got so loud and intimidating full of orange clad fans, and then was trying to explain the difficulty of getting every KU fan to wear blue (a struggle GT fans can relate to as well). Coach Sutton let us take our time looking around and taking pictures, and asked about where we lived and where in Kansas people were from (Sutton is from Bucklin, KS) - when he found out that I had gone to GT he very nicely commented without animosity “they beat us in the Final Four a couple of years ago” and went on to say “that’s a very good school”.




(Jack, Jess [T] - Nathan, Marcy [B] on Eddie Sutton Court)

As we were leaving, Marcy brought up the fact that we were standing on Eddie Sutton Court, and Coach Sutton smiled and then mentioned that the floor in GIA is the original floor from 1937 and one of the player’s favorite floors because it has a lot of natural “give” or springiness it has still to this day (I tried cracking a Joey Graham dunking on the entire KU team joke – but well, it wasn’t funny). As we finally worked our way back out, Coach Sutton wished us a Merry Christmas and said that he had to get to work – at 6:15 at night on Christmas Eve. There have been some rumors that Sean Sutton is doing most of the coaching now, and that Eddie is just a figurehead … but we didn’t see Sean there at 6pm on Christmas Eve heading to the office. It’s amazing how hard Division 1 coaches work, and I’m sure it’s no accident that Coach Sutton has a court named after him and has had the success he has. All in all, a wonderful experience at one of the storied locations in college basketball with one of the living legends of the coaching fraternity. Coach Sutton didn’t need to spend any time with us, and certainly not be as friendly and gracious as he was, but he came across as a genuinely nice and kind man, humoring a few curious young kids and showing off the court he calls home.

We still had 4+ hours of driving to go, late at night on Christmas Eve – so we hit the road again, shaking our heads at the unbelievable coincidence of it all and tried to get home as we wrapped up a wild trip. There’s nothing quite like a good roadie, and this one certainly fit that description. Hopefully next year it’s to a GT bowl game, somewhere in an area of the United States I can realistically get to, and we’ll make sure to hit up wherever we can along the way – you never know what will happen, as we clearly discovered this trip.


(11 hours in a car made Jess a crazy man when he finally got back)


(note to my GT readers – I’m wearing JW’s KU sweatshirt in most of the photos. I was on a roadtrip to cheer for KU, and frankly one of my pet peeves is people wearing their own teams gear to games which are totally unrelated. My wife has a GT t-shirt which she wears when it’s appropriate as well. Hopefully this can save me about 20 e-mails of the “You’re not really a GT fan” variety - Nathan)

Ultimate Showdown

Big huge summary of wild bowl game road trip, personal tours of basketball arenas by a Hall of Fame coach, etc - tommorow.

Until then, watch this. Seriously.

ULTIMATE SHOWDOWN!

(for the record, Optimus Prime > *)

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Meet the leading rebounder in the ACC


After 13 more rebounds tonight to go along with his 18 points, Jeremis Smith now leads the ACC in rebounding at 9.6 per game, ahead of Shelden Williams and his 9.1 per game. Smith is turning into a monster, and is looking at All-ACC recognition this year if he keeps playing at this level. The only real weakness he's had is his free throw shooting, going 2-6 from the line tonight as he struggled again - there's definitely things to work on, but he's looking like a surefire stud in the rough.

No time ..

No time today to do full writeups on the two matchups tonight, but take Navy over Colorado State (it's a home for them in San Diego, basically) and Cal over BYU despite the converted fullback playing QB in the Las Vegas Bowl.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Look, I've told you. We don't need nuthin'. We don't even have a novelty machine in the men's room anymore.

And you call yourselves a bowling alley?

After Southern Mississippi took care of Arkansas State last night 31-19, Bowl Season rolls right along tonight with another exciting matchup between two mid-major teams. Actually though, this one might really be fun with UTEP and Toledo going at it - the scoreboard should be spinning faster than Mike Price's head after his night on the town. It's the only game in town, so here goes:

Today's Games (12/21/05):

GMAC Bowl
(ESPN 8pm EST)

Quick Facts:
  • Toledo is playing in their 4th bowl game in 5 years ... but their first one since 1985 not named The Motor City Bowl. Mobile > Detroit this time of year.
  • UTEP enters the game having lost back to back games to end the season against UAB and SMU
  • UTEP only needed to win one of those games to play in the C-USA title game (gagging sounds can still be heard in El Paso)

The Stadium:
  • Ladd Peebles Stadium has been in Mobile since 1948, and seats 40,646
  • The stadium underwent an $8.1 renovation in 1998 - the only one in it's history (yes, it's old and dumpy)
  • 4th Largest Stadium in the state of Alabama


Players to watch:
  • Jordan Palmer (Carson's little brother) is UTEP's QB - and he's a gunslinger of the best (and worst) variety. 28 TD's, but also 18 INT's.
  • Bruce Gradowski is almost robotic in his efficiency, completing 68% of his passes and adding the ability to run a bit as well. He's kind of Reggie Ball like, in that he's a tough as nails - but with a bit more accuracy on his throws.

Matchup:
  • UTEP has been a giant tailspin after losing their final two games with a chance at the C-USA title, Toledo got whomped by NIU at the end of the season as well. Who can turn it around will be an interesting story line.
  • While both teams are scoring machines, UTEP absolutely can't seem to stop from turning the ball over, and Toledo is actually pretty good in that regard.

The Line:
  • Toledo (-3)

The Pick:
  • Take Toledo here, UTEP has limped in and turns the ball over at a horrific rate. Should be fun to watch though, with the potential to break 90 combined points.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Hey, do you mind? I wasn't talking when you were bowling.

Was I talking out loud? I'm sorry ...

It's bowl season! Almost an entire month of nothingness is behind us (really, Bush won the Heisman? SHOCKING!!!) and the best two weeks in college football are upon us. Tonight marks the beginning of bowl season, full of pomp and glitter, sunbathed beaches, great teams playing for high stakes and players making tremendous efforts on the national stage where names are made ... oh and also games between 6-5 teams in empty stadiums in games named after random Korean electronics firms.

This week we're going to preview the games for the day each day of bowl season, with insights you won't find anywhere else (for very good reasons). All the way from the exciting New Orleans Bowl tonight until the Grandaddy of them All on January 4th, we've got you covered.

Today's Games (12/20/05):

New Orleans Bowl at Lafayette
ESPN 8pm EST

That's right, the game is named for one city and is played in another! This should seriously be played up a bit more, it's a new gimmic in the world of bowl advertisement. As the catchy slogan reminds us, Let the Good Times BOWL ... in Lafayette, LA. No offense, but I'm pretty sure nobody has ever confused Lafayette with New Orleans as far as letting the good times roll, but it's a good effort.

Quick Facts:
  • The New Orleans Bowl pits the champion of the Sun Belt conference against a team from Conference USA.
  • Southern Mississippi is playing in the game for the second season in a row, they won last year's contest The New Orleans Bowl became an officially sanctioned game in 2001
  • www.neworleansbowl.org is the worst website in the history of bad bowl game websites Arkansas State is playing in their first ever Division 1-A bowl game tonight
The Stadium:
  • Cajun Field on the campus of UL Lafayette seats 31,000 It is nicknamed "The Swamp" ... though that might be because it becomes one when it rains with the below ground field
  • The field is 2ft below sea level and has multiple pumps and a drainage system to keep from flooding
The Teams:
  • Southern Mississippi and Arkansas State both finished with identical 6-5 records Arkansas State lost to Army 38-10 near the end of the season (Army!)
  • Southern Mississippi lost 3 games by 4 points or fewer - including a 21-17 loss in Raleigh to NCSU
  • Arkansas State played a "home" game at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City against Missouri to open the season

The Players to Watch:
  • Southern Mississippi QB Dustin Almond. The Golden Eagles have absolutely no rushing attack (105th nationally) and he's a senior who'd like to close out his career on a high note. He played well in last year's game after two horrible starts to open his bowl career in 2002 and 2003.
  • Arkansas State RB Antonio Warren. Big bruiser who is Arkansas State's only weapon on offense. Look for him to get the ball early, often and late.
The Game:
  • Southern Miss absolutely cannot run the ball, Arkansas State can't stop the run. Should be interesting.
  • Arkansas State can stop the pass, but Southern Miss can throw it a bit as well.
  • Arkansas State basically is one dimentional the other direction with a run heavy offense.
  • Southern Miss has done a good job on turnover margin (6th in the country)
The Line:
  • Southern Miss (-17)
The Pick:
  • Southern Mississippi wins in a laugher, Arkansas State is terrible. Take Southern Miss and give the points.

Monday, December 19, 2005

A little late night randomness.

Maybe what Nathan has been telling me is right.

Rick Barnes really has yet to show me a GD thing when it comes to coaching. I can kinda-sorta understand getting behind the 8-ball early, and watching a white-hot Redick absolutely light you up when playing Duke.....it happens. But to follow it up with that absolute turd against Tennessee is borderline unacceptable with the talent he has. It is evidently clear that Daniel Gibson is either slightly overrated all together, or just not suited to play the one, we'll see as we near conference play. That being said you really need to do more with one of the best NBA prospects in the NCAA's in Lamarcus Aldridge, and the absolute matchup nightmare that is P.J. Tucker. I swear it took him 3/4s of the game to realize that there isn't a soul on Duke's team that could match Tucker's athleticism or size, too bad UT was down 25 by then. If Duke's close games against Indiana and V-Tech have taught us anything on how to hang with/beat Duke, it's taking the rock right at them. You're telling me Virginia Tech's guards can take Redick, Paulus, and Melchioni off the dribble but Gibson and Tucker can't? Better hope Brad Buckman gets healthy soon or Daniel Gibson has an epiphany at the point, cuz it looks like OU is gonna take over the top of what is panning out to be a painfully bad Big 12 Conference.

I feel your pain Tech fans.

Man, my freaking kingdom for consitent guard play. I hope none of you were unfortunate enough to watch the absolute abomination of a basketball game that was KU vs. Pepperdine on the Deuce. Our guards are all athletic and are great on the ball defenders, sure they take a few too many chances, but they create a ridiculous amount of havoc and force tons of turnovers. Unfortunately they themselves return the favor to the tune of a 13/18 A/TO ratio and keep a game with a BAD Pepperdine team way too close. I'm sure Mario Chalmers will pan out in the future, but all the KU fans ripping on Aaron Miles's ability to score the ball for the last 4 years will soon realize that guys like him, Mateen Cleaves, and Steve Blake (sorry, had to) can sure as hell win a boat load of games in the NCAA's without packing the stat sheet. The more we stay out of the half court, and the more we just get our asses out and run after turnovers the better off we'll be. This isn't me wishing for Roy William's return, this is just me looking at what we have on the floor right now and believing our success in games like Cal last week were predicated on running the break well after turnovers and missed shots.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

School? What's that?

Congratulations to the seniors who graduated yesterday, it's very easy to forget that college sports are supposed to be about "students" competing in athletics, not athletes pretending to be students. 7 current football players graduated yesterday as part of the Fall Commencement ceremonies, and congratulations are certainly in order for Eric Henderson, Damarius Bilbo, Robbie Rollins, Dennis Davis, Dawan Landry, Salih Besirivic and Rueben Houston. For all 7 and their families, I'm sure this was as great a moment as anything they have accomplished on the field - and easily as much a source of pride.

It's been a great 4 years cheering for those guys, and with only one game left in their college careers lets hope it goes out with a bang for them. For those with continuing football careers, and for those who are going into the "real world" with the rest of us, a degree from in the Institute will go a long way in opening doors for sucess in the future. In one way it's sad ... #8 won't be in the White and Gold next year for the first in what seems like forever, but in another way it's happy because we know he accomplished a major step in his life and maturation. Good luck and God Bless for all 7 of you.

(Big EH always has a smile, we're going to miss you)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Stuff and ... Stuff

Lots of quick hit stuff to cover before we go into full on bowl preview mode over the weekend - so here goes:

  • There's another new GT blog: YellowBlazer's World - go check it out. More GT blogs = GOOD. I assume you already check GTSports, WreckRamblin' and What's the Good Word each day, so add it to the list.


  • German GQ gets it sooooooooooo right.


  • The whole Thad Young mini-drama got me thinking about my opinions on the role of the internet and recruiting, so expect some vitriol directed that way soon on this site.


  • The couple of weeks around Christmas is the slowest sports time of the year, I'm itching for GT to take the court again on the 22nd. That being said, this time off is great for our young team to hit the practice court again and let Hewitt keep pounding the fundamentals home. Look for improved performances the next couple of games out after the break.


  • Thanks to the ACC for sending GT to the left coast again, I'm actually going with my wife to cheer for her Jayhawks in the Fort Worth Bowl and having to watch the GT game on T.V - yet another bowl game I can't realistically go to.


  • College basketball in general is a huge mish-mosh of average teams, other than Duke and UCONN nobody has stood out to me. This should be a wild ACC season, and even crazier NCAA tournament - college basketball is very "down" from a talent standpoint this year and many of the mid-majors have teams just as strong as the traditional conferences.


  • Matt Leinart lives the life every male under 30 dreams of.


  • My Bucs are going to beat the Patriots in Boston this weekend and take a big step towards winning the AFC South. In other news, Michael Vick and the only Atlanta franchise I can't cheer for still suck.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

The Twists and Turns of the Recruiting Trail ...

A message board "interview" with a poster who is (or is posing to be) Thadeus Young has popped up on the internet and is getting a bit of publicity now. It is extremely frank regarding TY's situation with UNC and eventually GT, and is probably not the type of thing that fans of GT will be excited to read.

I have no problem if a kid comes to GT after maybe wanting to play somewhere else originally - I firmly believe that events happen for reasons we can't understand at the time and that TY was meant to spend time in Atlanta, but I also can see how some people would have their egos bruised because they see comments like these and take them extremely personally.

The "interview" can be found HERE, it is by Clint Jackson - a former Scout.com writer who now runs his own site. I am efforting through a couple of channels to confirm the validity of what is written there, in no way am I confident currently that is actually TY making those comments. The reason I posted this tonight is because hopefully I can break the story to a few GT readers in a calm manner, the potential for a flamefest on a few message boards is certainly there and maybe I can induce a bit of reason into the situation. If I can independently confirm or disprove the validity of the comments, I'll update this immediately.

Jarrett Jack getting his shot ...

After last night's 82-77 loss to the Utah Jazz, Sebastian Telfair announced he is going on the inactive list with a torn ligament in his thumb. This means that Jarrett Jack will be the new starter for the Trailblazers for at least a couple of weeks, and will have a chance to play serious minutes and show what he can do. It's always unfortunate to have an opportunity because of an injury to someone else, but this is a great chance for Jack.

(photo from OregonLive.com)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Hawkins to CU.

Well it looks like the leader of the Smurf Turf brigade has finally made his own mid-major leap. Per ESPN Boise State Head Coach Dan Hawkins has accepted the Colorado job recently vacated by Gary Barnett. Hawkins comes from a hightly successful stint at BSU winning 4 straight WAC titles, and compiling a 53-10 record with one of the more statistically potent offenses in the nation during his short tenure there. The move from the WAC to the Big 12 shouldn't be his biggest concern as of right now seeing as how the Big 12 North is the retarded step-sister of the current BCS grouping. The man can obviously coach, but if I were a Buff fan, I'd have a hard time believing this guy is going to recruit anyone.
-He's taking on a team with absolutely ZERO confidence coming off a couple of absolute ass whippings.
-Colorado quite possibly has the worst football facilities in all of the Big 12.
-He has little to no name recognition in a part of the country where he has most likely never stepped foot. (I tried to search for "Dan Hawkins Pictures" on google and the entire front page was covered in links to websites for Dan Hawkins: lead guitarist of the glam rock band "The Darkness).
-He's taking over an enormously shitty situation in terms of PR in the wake of Barnett leaving (this last one was a doozy), and will most likely spend much of his off-season wasting time answering questions about the previous administration's transgressions.

It will be interesting to see how this shapes up, he'll have a few years in a down conference to put a respectable record together with someone elses players, we'll see what happens though after a few teams in the north get back on their feet and he gets his system in place.

Good luck Mr. Hawkins.

Lots to cover ...

My parents were in town this weekend to celebrate Christmas a bit early, so you'll have to excuse me for the lack of updates for the past couple of days. Of course, this also happened to be an extremely busy week in GT athletics so I have a bunch of stuff to get caught up on - doesn't that always seem to be the case?


Baby Jackets on the Hardwood -

GT hosted Tennessee State this weekend in basketball, a game the Jackets won 82-72. Before the game even started, there was news with Paul Hewitt laying the law down to Ra'Sean Dickey by benching him in favor of Theodus Tarver, as the continuing problem of Dickey's inconsistent effort raised it's head again. I really hope that Dickey listens to the coaching staff and learns to apply himself on a continual basis, because he has a tremendous amount of talent and this team won't reach it's potential without him playing up to his abilities. There's little question that Tarver was starting more as a message to Dickey than anything else, Hewitt said as much when he commented that "He's got to do it. If you find yourself motivating someone all the time, you're basically counting the days until you lose or until disaster. If you have to constantly motivate somebody, your team's not going to win." Dickey is a key piece to this team over the next three years, and while it's not uncommon for young players to have problems reproducing the same effort level every game - we're in a situation where our young players have to mature more rapidly than normal. It will be interesting to see if Dickey earns his starting job back in practice this week, and maybe we'll see more of the Michigan State level effort and not the Georgia lack thereof.

During the actual game itself, Jeremis Smith continued his tremendous play to begin the year with a near triple double (22 / 11 / 8). Smith also made up for his dismal 9-21 free throw shooting performance against Georgia by going 10-10 from the line, and more impressively has now shot 60 free throws in the first seven games compared to 112 for the entire rest of the team. Getting to the line with the regularity that he is a great way to see just how effective he has been in the low blocks and just how hard he's played to begin the season, and Hewitt confirmed that by saying "People asked me if I was worried about his 21 free throw attempts (vs. Georgia) and the missed free throws. I told him this morning, Jeremis if you go to the foul line 21 times a game, you'll be an all-American." Also, evidently Tennessee State isn't bringing in the brighest bulbs in the box to play for them, as Smith was the recipient of two extremely hard fouls - or maybe a couple of guys just had a wish to end up nursing a few bruises, Smith is probably the last guy on the court you'd think someone would be trying to start a fight with. Smith is going to be the man who holds this team together, his relentless effort and work ethic are the sort of things that teammates feed off of during a season.

Also, Anthony Morrow had an off night shooting the basketball from the 3pt line ... and yet still chipped in 17 points. He's showing that even when his shot isn't falling, he's able to still put points up on the scoreboard with his midrange game, attacking the basket and drawing fouls. I wasn't sure coming into the season if he was going to plateau as a 3pt specialist or grow into an all around scorer, and he's clearly becoming the latter. Morrow is going to score a ton of points before his career is over, and he's going to be an All-ACC caliber player possibly as early as this year. His maturation from the timid freshman who passed up open shots into the stone cold assassin with the wickedly quick release you saw against Michigan State is going to be one of the big stories for GT basketball this year.

Overall, the Tennessee State game was a good showing for the young Jackets, as they bounced back from the ugly loss to UGa and put a solid effort together for most of the game. There's a ton of room for growth, and the Dickey situation is troubling, but there's also a number of bright spots and as the experience comes, so will the consistency.


25,000 'hoos staying home in Charlottesville -


One of the reasons that UVa is in the Music City Bowl and not Georgia Tech is because Virginia was pushing the fact that they'd bring 30,000 fans to the game. Well, it turns out that Georgia Tech has sold out our entire 11,500 ticket allotment to the Emerald Nut Bowl all the way out in San Francisco and UVa has sold somewhere in the range of less than 5,000 tickets to the Nashville game. Good choice Music City Bowl committee, you really made a wise choice there! Also, this has been a huge push by the GT fans to sell out our tickets (many of them being donated to men and women in the Armed Forces), further proving to future bowl games that GT fans will support our team in large numbers. Don't think this won't be brought up in later seasons when bowls are looking at teams to invite, if the Jackets are in your game, you're going to sell tickets. For those people buying tickets in 20, 30 and even 50 seat blocks for our troops and their families to get chances to see the game, thank you for your support of not only GT athletics, but also our military.


Commitments and more Commitments -

This was a pretty good weekend for the much maligned recruiting efforts of Chan Gailey and his staff, getting 4 commits from players who should all make large contributions during their times in Atlanta. Going into this offseason, the GT staff had identified a couple of key positions that needed to be filled, and after this weekend it's down to a DT and a Safety that we still need to bring onboard.

The first commit of the weekend came from Jamaal Evans, a running back from Irving High School in Texas. He is ranked as the #4 All-Purpose back in the country by Rivals.com and had back to back 2,000+ yard seasons in Texas's 5A category. At 5'8" and 185lbs. with 4.4 speed, he is extremely shifty and quick with excellent balance who has been compared to Warrick Dunn. What is interesting is that Evans is not the between the tackles pounder that P.J Daniels has been over the past 4 years and with Choice, Grant and Evans on board, we might be seeing a bit of a change in rushing philosphy over the next couple of years. Evans finished his career on a high note, rushing for 272 yards and 2 TD's in his final game, and plans on enrolling early at GT (though he will count against next year's scholarship limit). More pictures and information about Evans can be found at IrvingTigerFootball.com

Continuing the commitment parade, Quincy Kelly is a RB/LB from Decatur High School in Georgia who accepted a scholarship offer. Kelly is the opposite of Evans at 6'1" 225lb and a punishing runner who had a huge year in Class AA. Kelly might end up playing linebacker at GT, but if Gailey ends up looking down his bench for a big bruising back to pound it between the tackles with, Kelly will certainly get some attention for that role as well. Kelly has played in a smaller class in Georgia and flown a bit under the recruiting radar, and with the possibility of changing positions he will probably be a candidate for a redshirt next season - but that's pure speculation on my part.

The third commit of the week came from 6'4" 215lb wide receiver Demaryius Thomas who is out of West Laurens High School in Georgia. Thomas is the second big time Georgia WR to choose GT over UGa in recent years (Calvin Johnson being the other), and he gives us another big physical receiver to replace Bilbo and match up opposite of CJ. Thomas comes to school having only really played WR for two seasons, and doesn't quite have the track speed and polish that CJ brought to the table right from the start, but he's going to be a terrific player in his own right. WR was already one of the strengths of next year's team, but Thomas should add too that depth right from the beginning. Of all of the guys we were pursuing this year, Thomas is the one I wanted the most - big wideouts with great hands don't exactly grow on trees and he's got all the tools to continue the recent trend of great WR's at Tech (Campbell, White, Johnson ...)

Finally, word came in late today that Osahon Tongo had also commited to GT. Tongo is a 6'2" 223lb linebacker out of Naperville North in the suburban Chicago area. Tongo had been on GT's radar for a while, and had recently completed a recruiting trip to campus to take in the UGa game - coming away impressed enough to choose Atlanta as the city he's going to play his college football in. Tongo had 52 tackles, 7 TFL and 6 sacks this year and was named to the Illinois Class 8-A All-State Team. Tongo has a reputation of being a big hitter, though it's unclear if he's going to play middle or outside linebacker in college.

Overall, this year's recruiting class is shaping up to the best so far under Gailey, with quality players at every position we needed to get filled. Thomas and Evans have a chance to be the "star" players that every truly good class needs, but there is a ton of depth across the whole class. While I have been somewhat critical of Gailey's recruiting in the past, he has done a good job of finding guys who have flown under the radar, and there's more depth on the team now (especially on the defensive side of the ball) than I can ever remember. If we can keep that going, as well as add a couple of big time impact players each year, the football program should be in fine shape.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Calvin Johnson = All-American


Calvin Johnson has been named First Team All-American by several organizations, including Rivals.com (When do 52 receptions for 869 yards and six touchdowns make you an All-American? When you're the most dangerous weapon this side of Reggie Bush and everyone knows it.) and the American Football Coaches Association ([...] sophomore Johnson has been Georgia Tech’s biggest receiving threat this year with 52 catches for 869 yards and six touchdowns.)

In honor of his accomplishments this season, ramblinwreck.com has a new video up of just C.J and his catches this year (no spiderman from last year, unfortunately). You can watch it streaming from the original location HERE - a downloadable copy is available HERE.

I went to GT during Little Joe's prime, thus it's hard for me to say that Calvin is the best GT player I've ever seen, but he's closing in on that level. The man is absolutely uncoverable on the college level, and makes more circus catches than anyone I have ever seen. Hopefully he is able to build on this year and truly grow into his abilities next year (scary thought - he's going to get better), and that we are able to use him even more effectively than we have. In a couple of years, when he's a star in the NFL I'll still be watching videos like this one to remind myself of just how good he was at such a young age.