Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Coupla Thoughts

Nevada @ Kansas

While it is still to early to put anything in the form of expectations on this young KU team, the game tomorrow night against #20 Nevada is going to tell us a lot more about our kids. I have a tough time seeing us containing their stud big-man, 6-11 Nick Fazekus. We held him relatively in check last year (17 pts on 5-18 fg) but I think he has a big game against us tomorrow night. Coach Self describes him as a "low-post guy with a good face up game", basically because he can score from a lot of different places on the floor. This most likely means we'll probably see a lot of CJ Giles on him as he moves a little better than Sasha Kaun in terms of hanging around the perimeter. Bottom line is if our big guys can play disciplined D and not "jump around and fling our arms like a retard at the mere thought of a ball fake" D we can keep this guy off the line (85% FT shooter) and hold him at least a little in check by making him earn his buckets. 6-5 Soph. guard Marcelus Kemp is leading the team in scoring (21 points a night) early in the season but make no doubt the Wolfpack's O will be run through the big man.

Duke @ Indiana

Auburn transfer Marco Killingsworth absolutely manhandled any big-man Duke decided to throw at him to the tune of 34 points on a ridiculous 15-20 from the field. Only problem was the rest of the team was a combined 14-39 from the field and JJ Redick played like, well, JJ Redick. Seems the more and more I hate this guy the better he gets. Dukie V. was all over his nuts as usual (can't really blame him this game), and if TJ Ford and Jason.....sorry "Jay" Williams are any predictors, this kid is looking like the favorite right now for POY. You have to think after his Maui performance and his tremendous skillset that Adam Morrison is right there with JJ, but let's face it, he doesn't play in the ACC, and he doesn't play for Duke. Needless to say, Indiana is looking pretty good in the Big Televen once they can get DJ White back in the lineup. If Killingsworth can keep it going, and White can improve just minimally on last years performance, you'd have to put them at least in the top 5 in terms big man tandems in the entire country. If the Hoosier's guards can at least show up during Big 10 play, I gotta think they'll hang with Michigan State (see Nathan, told you Tech would give them a game) at the top of the conference. and both should be functioning addresses for this site from now on. We're all grown up on the internet!

Breaking News

The word out here in Kansas is that Ron Prince, the current offensive co-ordinator and offensive line coach for Virginia, will meet with the Kansas State President tommorow, and that pending his approval will be named the head coach of the Wildcats as early as tommorow afternoon.

Prince is only 36, and has been the offensive co-ordinator at Virginia for only two seasons. He is also not a part of the Bill Snyder coaching tree, so if this works out it will fairly surprising. Virginia's next move will also be worth watching.

(Update: is now reporting a version of this story as well)

Quick Hits

I went out last night to the local drinking establishment with JW to enjoy the smorgasborg of basketball on TV (that and my wife is studying for the LSAT and kicked me out of the house). Just a couple of quick comments on the games I caught all or most of, and my first impressions of the season.

Portland @ Philadelphia:

Oh man, Portland's offense is just horrible to watch. Telfair/Jack brings the ball up the court, passes it into Randolph or Miles and everyone else stands around watching those two try to score on triple teams. This is the 4th or 5th 'Blazers game I've watched this year, and calling Randolph a black hole is an insult black holes all over the universe. Absolutely painful.

Wisconsin @ Wake:

Justin Gray can really, really score the basketball. The guy isn't a PG at all, and looks a lot better playing off the ball. He and Eric Williams were awesome last night, and Visser and Ellis played well alongside them. Wisconsin looked good actually, much more fun to watch than in the past - though part of it is the fact that Wake plays a defensive style that could be named "Red Sea against the Jews".

Purdue @ FSU:

Uh, wow. FSU isn't a good basketball team, but Purdue is beyond bad. They just couldn't get the ball up the floor, and it seemed someone from FSU was on a 1-on-none fast break for a dunk each time I looked up. Quite honestly, when FSU was up by 40, we stopped paying any sort of attention.

Clemson @ PSU:

Clemson is a pretty nice little team. Vernon Hamilton and Shawan Robinson are both capable players, and Akinbala can bang a bit. Clemson is going to be a solid team this year, and might sneak their way into the NCAA tournament if they can win a few key games during the ACC season. I was also impressed with James Mays, from the bits and pieces I saw. If they shoot the 3 like they did last night, they are going to beat some people.

Miami @ Michigan:

Miami is way more streetball than basketball, and it's going to kill them in the ACC. Diaz is a great player, but totally out of control a decent portion of the time and has no clue of working within the offensive scheme. Michigan also destroyed Miami on the glass, with that guy who looks like Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me just wearing out Miami's undersized and undertalented front-line.

Illinois @ UNC:

Whoa. UNC's freshmen are much better than I thought they would be. Bobby Frasor isn't the second coming, but he played much better than he had any right too. Danny Green and Marcus Ginyard can flat out ball, and Hansbrough is a big thug with a surprising amount of skill (and a lethal FT shooter). I hope Quentin Thomas enjoys his view from the bench, because his butt isn't getting off it during his UNC career - certainly not with Tywon Lawson showing up next year too. Dee Brown is good, but he doens't look nearly as good as he did playing next to two first rounders last year, and James Augustine just needs a tampon for being the softest interior player in the country. Yes, he's skilled - but he is a big giant zero on the defensive end, and Illinois did nothing to stop UNC's young wing players from getting to the rim over and over. Illinois won, but UNC might be the better team by the end of the year - and that's bad news for the ACC, they were supposed to be down this year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

A Smurftacular Look Back at the ACC Season

So, this is now a basketball blog. But we are also approaching the very first ACC Championship game this weekend, and I thought it was worthwhile to take a look back at the ACC season and look back at not only what happened, but the overall states of the programs in general. Somewhere in the depths of my truly addled mind it just struck me how much a few of the Smurfs matched up with ACC football teams ... so here goes.

Virginia Tech

Papa Smurf

Frank Beamer keeps cooking up his magic in the foothills of Virginia, taking collections of young people that wouldn't seem to fit together at first glance and winning games with a blend of discipline, defense and special teams. He isn't just winning with Vicks, either - the guy went to a BCS game with Jim Druckenmiller, for goodness sake. As long as the man with the grey hair and red hat is on the sideline in Blacksburg, they are going to keep winning a lot of football games.

From time to time Papa Smurf is away and all heck breaks loose, but make no mistake - he's still in charge. VT just looked like they took a leave of absense during that Miami game, but Beamer had them quickly regrouped by the next weekend and they took UVa behind the woodshed for one of the ugliest beatings in the ACC this year. The best way to judge a program is how well it plays against the teams one tier below themselves, and VT just pounded GT, UVa and UNC this year. Right now they are looking at their second straight ACC title right in the face, and are the undisputed top dog since they joined.

King Smurf

When Papa Smurf took a quick leave of absense this year, they seemed poised to take over the conference - and then reality set back in a week later. Miami might have been the top dog of the Big East, and has a sexy name to go with their pretty wardrobe - but so far in the ACC they have been more pretender than contender. Losing key games at home late in the year both seasons in the ACC is not a recipe to overthrowing the current regime. Like King Smurf, one of the most important Smurfs, but still more flash and pizzaz than actual results.

What you really have to wonder about is how long this can go on in Coral Cables without some serious changes. Miami doesn't have a huge fanbase, and has the worst home attendence in the ACC. This is a small private school in a large metro area, and if they can't win the conference on a regular basis they could be on a very slippery slide to mediocrity. Larry Coker can't go 9-2 every year and feel comfortable about his job.

Georgia Tech Astrosmurf

Each year we look our window and dream of going places, and some years we even go so far as to build a spaceship and spacesuit and it looks like it's finally going to happen ... and then we lose to NC State and the spaceship never leaves the ground. So many seasons of feeling like this is the one where the Jackets get over the hump, just to start the next year exactly the same. Never truly dissapointing, but never truly exciting. In the Smurfs, Papa Smurf helps out Astrosmurf by letting him make-believe that he's been to a strange planet, but that isn't happening here, GT has to get over the hump on our own.

GT has very quietly been on a nice run the past decade now, going to 9 straight bowl games and being ranked in the top 25 at the end of the season 6 of those years. It's consistent inconsistence though, and that is starting to wear thin on fans. It's not difficult to get people excited about a lower tier bowl game when you haven't been in a while (see: Kansas, Rutgers), but when you've been to one 8 years in a row, suddenly Boise just doesn't sound so appealing. As fans, we're just like Astrosmurf with our little space helmets on staring at those faraway planets we can't quite get to.

Vanity Smurf

In love with themselves, their beautiful campus and their academics. In love with their "wonderful" head coach to the tune of a giant extension that is probably more of a weight around their necks than anything else. Possessed of a completely overblown sense of self importance, and regarded by the rest of the conference as being somewhat of a neccessary and humorous evil. More wasted talent over the past quarter of a century than probably any other team in the conference, with some results to show for it, but nothing really memorable. In a wierd way, somewhat harmless.

I don't get UVa, I honestly don't. They are very tough to beat at home, have tons of money and recruit pretty good talent, and yet for some reason it just never seems to come together. Call it the curse of Scott Sisson, but they've spent the past 15 years wandering around the ACC wilderness, never a bad team, but never a great team. Even GT and Maryland have broken through in somewhat recent memory, but UVa seems forever stuck in a mild malaise.

North Carolina
Lazy Smurf

They just don't care. Brainy Smurf is constantly on Lazy Smurf because he gets nothing done, but there isn't a Brainy Smurf around for UNC. Even when there was a possibility of becoming very good, nobody cared enough about football to keep the winning head coach. As long as basketball keeps winning, expect somewhere between 4-7 and 6-5, just enough to keep people from falling completely asleep. There is no solid reason for this, both Lazy Smurf and UNC have plenty of things going for them, but just completley lack any desire to actually work.

My parents and grandparents are UNC alumni, I can say things like this. It's a basketball school, always has been and always will be. The football program is a cute little diversion, and if they happen to win then it's great fun to celebrate, but if they don't ... well, it's just football. Letting Mack Brown know he'd never be paid as well as the basketball coach sent a clear message, and it wasn't one that made people think UNC football mattered. Keenan Stadium, Nike's money and those wonderful facilities could easily support a big time football power, but Lazy Smurf just doesn't care enough to make it happen, and so UNC football is just "there".

DukePoet Smurf

There is nothing to say about Duke football, they might as well not even have a program at this point. The facilities suck, the team sucks, the fan support is beyond awful and the basketball coach hates the program. Since I can't think of a single decent thing to say about Duke football, falling back on J.J Redick jokes is the only option.

Florida StateGrandpa Smurf

Loves to show off the trophies he's collected on his travels, but isn't quite capable of actually making those travels anymore. Papa Smurf will probably end up being like Grandpa Smurf one day, but that's still in the future. Florida State has had their glory days, and can still show flashes of their old selves from time to time, but really they are just old and tired at the core. Fortunately for Grandpa Smurf, he isn't stuck with Jeff Bowden.

Speaking of Jeff Bowden, he's terrible and it's obvious to everyone. How does Bobby break it to him? This could be one of the most interesting events of the offseason in the ACC, because I don't think Bobby can go another year with this coaching staff, and will probably be strong armed into removing Jeff. This has the makings of a nasty power struggle inside the program, and that's about the last thing FSU needs right now. I'm so glad the ACC split up Miami and FSU instead of splitting up the conference geographically, especially since Clemson might be the Atlantic division favorites next year.

Boston CollegeBrainy Smurf

Bossy, smart, and ultimately a pain in the butt. BC isn't a great program, they aren't a bad program, but really - they add nothing but a bit of New England attitude to the ACC. Aren't there already 4 other programs that fit the "not great, but not bad" role just as well already? What exactly is the difference between BC and Virginia, other than worse weather and the fact that their great-great grandparents marched under Sherman? Nobody has anything against them exactly, but also find them slightly annoying. Just like Brainy, BC doesn't really fit in with everyone else.

The saddest fact of this is that for BC fans, they are a northern team in a southern conference. As the only team north of the Mason-Dixon line, they are at a huge disadvantage come bowl season, because they won't travel as well as teams like Clemson or NC State. 8-3 and looking at Boise or Orlando isn't what they expected, I'm sure - but I bet that becomes more the rule than the exception. I just still don't see how this is a good fit, I know the ACC needed a 12th team and BC wanted out of the Big East, but it just smacks of square peg in a round hole to me.

ClemsonFarmer Smurf

Hardworking and never causes problems, even if things don't ever go quite right. Clemson has probably the best fans in the conference, don't embarass themselves, but can't quite catch the perfect break. Nobody can doubt that they care deeply about their program, support it in an enviable manner or have a fair degree of success to show for it. But they are never quite able to sastify themselves, and the rain never falls just when they need it. All in all, probably the hardest program in the ACC to dislike - but partly because nobody feels truly threatened by them.

I thought they overcame the ugly incident against USC last year well, and really are a couple of heartbreaking losses away from being a serious Top 15 team. Of course, that's a broken record for the Tigers, though next year is shaping up well for them. Florida State looks like it's on the skids for a while, and the Atlantic division will be wide open. I won't be surprised at all to see T. Bowden in the ACC championship game and not his father.

MarylandHefty Smurf

The strongest Smurf of them all, but probably the dumbest as well. Capable of feats of strength nobody else can match, including finally toppling Florida State as the conference ruler, but also capable of following that up with a big fat nothing in the next few seasons. Fridge is a terrific coach, but this program is wandering the wilderness right now instead of flexing the muscles they showed off earlier. Still capable of the occasional shocking display, but mostly just bumbling around.

I need a Maryland fan to explain to me what on earth is going on in College Park. Is it recruting failures? Talent just not panning out? Those hideous black uniforms? Maryland looked like they were jumping to the big time, and instead just took a header off the high dive. Speaking of Hefty Smurf, could Fridge eat Mangino? Maybe the other way around?

Wake ForestHarmony Smurf

Harmony Smurf badly wants to be a great musician, but just has no talent. Wake Forest fans would really support a true winner but their team just doesn't have the talent either. Everything else is there, and Grobe is a heck of a coach, but in the end it just comes down to players on the field and Wake hasn't had many truly BCS caliber guys. Maybe Harmony Smurf will finally break through to play the music he so desires to, and maybe Wake will routinely get players equal to the rest of the conference, but both are unlikely to happen. Still though, they get the most out of what they have and have no reason to hang their heads. Wake is the littlest brother of the Big 4, and thus always suffers the comparison to the two big state schools and the enormous wealthy obnoxious neighbor, but they handle their business well and have one of the best run athletic departments in the country, especially considering the constraints they operate under.

NC StateSnappy Smurf

Oh dear, what a ball of energy. From week to week, no fanbase in America goes through such violent mood swings. At the beginning of a season they are going to compete for a national championship, by the middle of the season they want to fire the coach, and then by the end it's another year of excitement over going bowling while the Tar Heels don't. And this just isn't football, the basketball fans yo-yo around even more, if that was possible. I have no idea if Chuck Amato is a good coach or a complete clown, and if you ask State fans you'll get a different answer each week depending on the result of the previous game. This program badly needs a chance to just calm down, but the insanity that is the NC State fans will never allow to happen. Raleigh is never boring, that is for sure.

(all pictures from

If you only read one thing on the internet this year ...


Orson, simply epic. Most concise list yet of why ABC/ESPN and Sportstainment! are beyond attrocious.

Monday, November 28, 2005

No Expectations.

(Since KU is now my adopted second team by marriage - JW is going to give us some running commentary on their season, and some national coverage as well. He's starting off the season with a quick preview of what to expect from the very young Jayhawks, should sound familiar to GT fans - Nathan)

So begins the five month long pleasure-fest that is NCAA basketball. Usual eager anticipation of a late March run has turned into an immeasurable anxiousness that many KU fans have not felt in a long while. From head coach Bill Self, to internet trolls like myself, this upcoming season is all one big friggin mystery. Sure we’re already a handful of games into the non-con but little if anything has been answered. We already knew coming in that Brandon Rush was most likely the real deal and our number one scoring option…… brainer. We already knew that our most talented point guard was also our youngest and least experienced in Mario Chalmers, and the PG’s we have on the roster are shaky floor generals at best……..duh. After that it’s pretty much in the air, and I think that’s what’s exciting.

Sasha Kaun has started to show that he finally realizes he’s one of the larger people on the court and that he can use 6 ‘11” 250 lb frame to bash on guys smaller than him, let’s see him do it against the Lamarcus Aldridges and Taj Grays of the world. Our other viable option in the post CJ Giles, has shown (I know it’s a cliché) freakish athletic ability near the hoop but has absolutely nothing in the way of a back to the basket game, all while lacking discipline on both sides of the floor. His arms and leaping ability let him get to a lot of balls most can’t, but his inability to box anyone out or not leave his feet at the mere thought of a pump fake from an opposing player will cost us a lot of fouls and missed rebounds. If this kid ever gets “it”, the sky is the limit for him, his (damn another cliché) upside is immeasurable. He should be a 10 and 8 guy this year on pure physical ability alone.

Pre-season Big 12 Freshman of the Year Julian Wright continues to be, and I think forever will be an enigma. Everything he does with his 6 ‘8” frame looks awkward, but he does it all well. Outside of a consistent jumper, this kid has quite a few tools. He runs the court and passes extraordinarily well for his size, but I don’t think he or even Coach Self knows where he is going to fit in. He looks like a small 4 but has the game of a 3. He has the length and athleticism to guard under the basket but outside of taking it to the rack, his offensive game doesn’t hang around the rim all that much. This kid is going to be a work in progress, but once he understand where he belongs on the court he could really be a game changer.

Guard play has been shaky at best and I’ll be damned if we could find ourselves a point guard who can hold on to the freakin ball. I can’t see any of the three (Robinson, Hawkins, Chalmers) with a lead in who’s going to be the primary ball handler. The only bright spot now with the trio is that they are all above average defenders. Hawkins stays in front of the ball as well as anyone, Robinson absolutely hounds you for 90 feet, and Chalmers is relatively long for someone guarding the point and can close up passing lanes. Chalmers is easily the most skilled of the three on the offensive end but has yet to show he can make game decisions. I think Coach Self will soon see that Chalmers needs to eat a majority of these minutes as the season goes on, his overall offensive game is too good to keep off the floor. As much as I enjoyed the success with him at the helm, the days of uber-unselfish/pass first Aaron Miles run offense will soon be forgotten. Whether or not this is a good thing will remain to be seen.

Not much to say on Brandon Rush really, the dude’s game is amazing. He really is the complete package, with the only knock from Coach Self being that he’s been a little too unselfish. If he ever decides that he needs to start forcing the action he could easily be a 17-18 ppg guy as a freshman. The other wing he looks like he might be our diamond in the rough is a thuggy looking white dude from Washington who might jump up and bite a few teams in the ass. Micah downs can move like a 2 guard, but at 6-8 with a great set of hops will be able to get his shot off against nearly anyone guarding him. He has easily the best looking stroke on the team and has an incredible amount of range. Whether or not he gets the minutes and can get some confidence to knock down the 5-6 good looks a game he’s gonna get all remain to be seen.

So basically a roughshod analysis of what we might expect from the Jayhawks this year. It would be unwise to spout of anything in the form of prognostication as to where this team will finish visa-vi Big 12 play or Tourney action. I truly believe it will take us at least til the end of conference play to see what kind of team this is and what kind of game we like to play. Regardless, this squad has the talent on it right now to be scary-good in the next year or so,….I plan on relaxing a little more this year than the least few and watching these kids develop.

More Blog Goodness

Dan, who is basically the only person who reads this site on a regular basis, has started his own blog - "What's The Good Word". Another GT blog is always a good thing, go read it.

In his first post he says:

"I know for a fact that part of the reason I’m starting a blog is to force myself to become a better mechanical writer in addition to forcing myself to get some thoughts down on paper."

Yeah, tell me about it. I started this blog basically because I was driving my wife nuts ranting to her, and she finally told to either write it down or shut up (I probably should have shut up, looking back). Anyways, good luck to Dan - he's by far our wittiest commenter, and we'll be checking out what he has to say at least as often as he's been reading here.

This Has to be a Tech Grad

Sometimes, Christmas decorations just get out of control. Watch this video (one of the craziest things I've ever seen).

In site related news, I have a full recap of the UGA game to get up later today - then we're going to start migrating towards more basketball coverage here on Golden Tornado. There will be plenty of bowl related information when that becomes available, but December is really sort of a dead period for football.

JW (one of the other contributors to the site) is also going to start writing a bit more frequently. He's a KU graduate and fan, so don't hold that against him - but he'll have a lot of stuff on the national college basketball scene. I'll still be doing game previews for the GT basketball team, and GT focused coverage of all sports. The site graphics will also change to reflect the fact that it's basketball and not football season.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

College Pass Interference is a Joke

In the last 2 years against UGa, Calvin Johnson has now collected 5 pass interference calls and a defensive holding call - all to absolutely no avail. There is little question that UGa's defensive strategy is simply to mug him whenever the ball is in the air, and take the 15 yard penalty instead of letting him have a chance to make a play.

On the final drive tonight, Greg Blue made absolutely no attempt to play the ball, and just cold clocked CJ in the head after he beat triple coverage, happily taking the penalty. In the NFL, that ball is marked at the 1 yard line and GT punches it in to tie the game. In college football, the defense can basically nullify any chance at a big play and just cede the penalty yardage. There's a reason the NFL changed pass interference rulings, the previous form (and what college uses) rewarded defensive backs for interfering when beat.

Yes, it's the way the college game is played. Yes, both teams play under the same rules. No, nobody else has a Calvin, and I'm tired of watching him being negated by abusing the rules. UGa's secondary played a heck of a football game, but he got the better of them when it counted and they get a "Get Out of Jail Free" card because of the way the college rulebook is written.

SI on Campus gets it!

When I posted the picture of the infamous UGa redneck at BDS, it was for a good laugh - however, has my blog on their list of "3 blogs you must read" with the title "Georgia fans = trailer trash?"

To answer their question - "Hell yes they are".

Wednesday, November 23, 2005


T. Kyle King and Paul Westerdawg graciously agreed to discuss the GT v. UGa matchup with me this week, and I've got their responses to my questions about the game here - check out their sites for my comments. You'll notice quickly that Mr. King is a lawyer and much more refined than either PWD or myself, who quickly degenerate into "Georgia sucks. No, GT sucks. No, you suck" analysis. Other than the fact that Pat Dye peed in his Cheerios as a kid, Kyle doesn't seem to hate anyone, which is definitely not the norm in southern college football.

On with the questions!

Nathan: Is it true that L. Pope eats barbels for breakfast? GT's speedy linebackers shut down Miami's Greg Olsen - do they have a chance against Pope, or is he just going to get his no matter what?

PWD: Forget Barbells. Pope eats speedy GT linebackers. I'm not sure that Olsen was shut down as much as Miami schemed to put him in max protect as a blocker instead of putting him out on routes. Which makes sense. The slow footed Kyle Wright wasn't going to punish GT for blitzing by tucking and running.

Three of Tech's 4 losses have come to teams with mobile QBs. UGA is going to move the pocket around and call some QB draws to slow the GT rush down. Auburn has a pretty intense pass rush and we held them at bay pretty well. Pope will be running routes and we will throw it to him.

T. Kyle King: The key to Leonard Pope isn't speed, it's size. I have no doubt that the Yellow Jacket linebacking corps is fast enough to limit Pope's yards after catch, but he will get his catches, just the same . . . and Pope can pick up a couple or three yards just by falling forward when he's hit. As Paulwesterdawg notes, Pope is the Bill Brasky of tight ends. I'm still waiting for the athletic association to modify the Sanford Stadium scoreboard so that it emits a puff of white smoke each time Pope scores a touchdown.

Georgia Tech should treat Leonard Pope the way Georgia should treat Calvin Johnson; the key to limiting the effectiveness of both is shutting down the other receivers. While the Bulldogs have talented receivers, they have a disturbing tendency to drop catchable balls. Mohamed Massaquoi and Leonard Pope have redeemed the Georgia receiving corps, but Massaquoi is a true freshman and he has made some freshman mistakes. (In the Arkansas game, a ball thrown to Massaquoi was intercepted because the young receiver did not fully appreciate the extent to which his raw athleticism, which no doubt allowed him to make such catches in high school, is not alone enough against Division I-A opposition.)

I find strongly encouraging the fact that the Georgia offense played so well against Auburn. (The 'Dawgs looked sharp against Kentucky, too, but the Yellow Jackets' defense is light years ahead of the Wil_cats'.) The Auburn and Georgia Tech defenses are comparable in quality and, despite the outcome of the season opener (in which the Tigers' rebuilt offense had yet to gel), the Yellow Jacket offense is at least a step behind the War Eagle O, so I don't see the Ramblin' Wreck racking up 31 points on Saturday night.

If the 'Dawgs could move the ball on Auburn, they can move the ball on Georgia Tech. It will take an outstanding effort on the Red and Black's part, but at least now we know that Georgia can produce offensively against a quality defense.

Nathan: Does UGA have anyone in the secondary remotely capable of covering Calvin Johnson, or is up to the defensive line to fluster Reggie Ball so he can't exploit that matchup?

PWD: Last year, Calvin had 5 catches for 44 yards and 0 TDs We will play him this year the same way that we did last year. In other words, we will mug him and take our chances with penalties. It's the price the elite players pay for being elite. Pollack dealt with the same thing last year.
Johnson is better this year, but so is Minter. The real question is WILL Georgia
blitz. Martinez has held every offense he's faced in check except Auburn's.
However, he's done it with minimal blitzing.

T. Kyle King: Calvin Johnson is a special player and I doubt whether anyone is capable of shutting him down entirely. Johnson will get his catches and get his yards; the key is to limit his big plays and to prevent him from sustaining drives. During his Cy Young Award seasons, Greg Maddux truly "scattered eight hits," allowing a base hit here or a base hit there but never three or four hits in an inning. If the Georgia D is able to "scatter eight catches" by Calvin Johnson, the 'Dawgs will do all right.

To me, the larger concern is limiting Reggie Ball's effectiveness and shutting down the running game. Calvin Johnson can beat a lot of teams, but Reggie Ball is too inconsistent a player for the Yellow Jackets to put the game in his hands.

On the opposite side of the ball, the Georgia receivers need to step up and make catches when D.J. Shockley hits them in the hands. It is somewhat ironic that Calvin Johnson, when choosing between Georgia and Georgia Tech, opted to play his college ball at The Flats because he thought he could make an immediate impact and play as a true freshman in Atlanta. Mohamed Massaquoi has proven that a true freshman receiver can earn playing time in Athens.

It's too bad Calvin was too scared of the prospect of competing for his job to sign with the Bulldogs; I think he could have been successful in the Classic City if he hadn't shied away from the sort of competition on which most other athletes of his caliber thrive. I hope the Georgia secondary will be motivated enough to give Johnson the "no glory" on Saturday that, by rights, ought to accompany his "no guts" decision on national signing day.

Nathan: GT wants to beat UGA badly because we lose that game on a regular basis. UGA wants to beat Florida badly because, well, Florida owns you guys. Does this change if you beat UF a couple of years in a row, and GT puts up another win streak against the 'Dawgs?

PWD: The premise of the question isn't realistic. If we're good enough to beat the Gators, we're good enough to beat Tech. 1998, 1990 and....well...1966. Those are probably the last times that Tech and Florida were good at the same time.

As for streaks. Any loss to Tech is the most important loss of the season. Any win over Tech is something that just happens...much like the sun rising....only if the sun rose 70% of the time.

T. Kyle King:
Bulldog Nation's attitude towards the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party will change when that happens, but Georgia Tech's attitude towards beating Georgia would not be altered if the Yellow Jackets somehow managed to put together their first legitimate three-game winning streak over Georgia in more than four decades.

Suppose that God came to a Georgia fan the night before football season began and said, "I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that Georgia is going to go 1-10. The good news is that you get to pick the one team the Bulldogs will beat." The answer to that offer would depend upon the fan: many Georgia boosters would pick Georgia Tech; many others would say Florida; I would say Auburn.

For most Georgia fans, the most heated rivalry is the one with the team the 'Dawgs lost to most consistently when that fan began following college football. Georgia fans of my father's generation take the rivalry with Georgia Tech most seriously because they remember "The Drought" in the 1950s and the John Griffith years in the 1960s. Georgia fans who are in college now or who have graduated within the last five years hate Florida the most because, for them, losing to the Gators is an annual thing. For me, my formative memories of Georgia football involve losses to the Plainsmen during Pat Dye's heyday in the 1980s---as well as the water hose incident in the Ugliest Village in 1986.

When Georgia regains the upper hand in the series with Florida (which the Red and Black have held throughout 85 of the 100 years of the rivalry, which speaks to the difference between having had a tradition since the 1890s and having had a tradition since the 1990s), the Gators will resume a position of somewhat secondary importance on the Bulldogs' annual slate, much as the Volunteers have since a nine-game losing streak in the 1990s has been replaced by a 5-1 run in the 2000s. The Cocktail Party will still be important, but it will not be pre-eminent.

If God came to a Georgia Tech fan with that deal, though, every Yellow Jacket booster who has ever been born would have answered "Georgia" in a heartbeat, in every season and in every circumstance.

There are Ramblin' Wreck fans who would like to think that, around 2001, they would have picked Florida State over Georgia, but that simply isn't the case. When your fight song contains a line about teaching your children to curse the name of an opposing school, that's your biggest rival, first, last, and always. That fact remains unchanged, regardless of whether Georgia Tech has an eight-game winning streak (1949-1956) or a seven-game losing streak (1991-1997).

Nathan: How many years did Richt promise his soul to the devil in exchange for never losing to GT? He owns us so much it's not even funny - between his FSU and UGA days, GT hasn't even really had but maybe 2-3 good shots to even win a game against him.

PWD: Judging by history, I think you're asking the wrong question. The real question is "How many years did O'Leary and Braine pomise their soul to the NCAA in exchange for making 11 players eligible to facilitate winning ANY games vs. UGA over the past 14 years.

T. Kyle King: I don't really count his successes as Florida State's offensive coordinator, since the Seminoles' overall mastery of the Gators hasn't translated from Tallahassee to Athens. Otherwise, Mark Richt's run against Georgia Tech hasn't really been that atypical.

Coach Richt is 4-0 against the Yellow Jackets and 50-12 overall. Only three coaches in school history---Vince Dooley, Wally Butts, and Harry Mehre---have more career victories as Georgia's head coach than Mark Richt and Coach Richt should pass Coach Mehre for third place all-time sometime next season.

Coach Dooley started out 5-0 against the Ramblin' Wreck between 1964 and 1968. W.A. Cunningham started out 4-0 against the Yellow Jackets between 1910 and 1913. Coach Butts won three of his first four meetings with the Golden Tornado and, in his first eight years on the job, the Little Round Man beat Georgia Tech by margins of 21-0 (in 1941), 34-0 (in 1942), 33-0 (in 1945), and 35-7 (in 1946).

Coach Mehre spent a decade at Georgia and he lost to the Yellow Jackets twice. Ray Goff had losing records against Auburn, Florida, and Tennessee, but he posted the same 5-2 record against Georgia Tech that he managed against Vanderbilt. With instant replay or competent officiating, Jim Donnan would have gone 4-1 against the Ramblin' Wreck on the field and the recent N.C.A.A. sanctions have given him a 2-0 ledger against the Golden Tornado.

The coaching histories of the two Division I-A schools in the Peach State have been polar opposites: Georgia Tech began as a bastion of stability, having just three head coaches---John Heisman, Bill Alexander, and Bobby Dodd---over the course of three-quarters of a century. During that period, the Yellow Jackets established a tradition of excellence and won consistently, against the Bulldogs and against everyone else. Since Coach Dodd's retirement, though, the Georgia Tech program has experienced numerous upheavals and enjoyed only limited runs of stability and success.

The 'Dawgs, by contrast, had 14 head football coaches in the first 18 years of the Georgia program. It wasn't until Coach Cunningham took over in Athens in 1910 that the Red and Black acquired any stability or consistency. Since that time, with only limited interruptions, the Bulldogs have had lengthy runs under established coaches like Harry Mehre (1928-1937), Wally Butts (1939-1960), and Vince Dooley (1964-1988).

It should come as no surprise that, between in-state rivals, the more stable program generally has been the more successful program. When Georgia Tech was settled and Georgia was in chaos, the Yellow Jackets won consistently. When Georgia was stable and Georgia Tech was in an uproar, the Bulldogs won consistently. It is no accident that the only periods in which the Ramblin' Wreck has beaten the Red and Black other than sporadically since Coach Dodd retired---during the later days of the Bobby Ross and George O'Leary regimes---coincided with periods during which Georgia Tech's coaching situation was more settled than Georgia's.

I am pleased with Mark Richt's success in the Georgia-Georgia Tech series, but his victories over the Yellow Jackets are far less remarkable than his mastery of the Volunteers. Beating Tennessee consistently is a departure from the historic norm for Georgia, but, ever since Bobby Dodd became the name on the stadium instead of the coach on the sideline, wins by Georgia against Georgia Tech have been the rule rather than the exception.

Nathan: Finally, if GT wins this weekend - is this season a success for Georgia because you are going to the SECCG, or is it a failure because you would lose 3 of the 4 rivalry games (UF, UT, AU, GT)? With UGA rebuilding next year and your rivals having experienced teams, you could realistically lose 6 or 7 of the 8 rivalry games between this year and next - how does that sit with the fan base if it happens?

PWD: It would be difficult to imagine a scenario where ANY season is considered a success if we lost to Tech. As for next year, I'm expecting 8-4 or 9-3 regular season. We lose a ton of players, but lost big time players before this season and before 2002 and 2003. It happens.

T. Kyle King: This season is a success if the 'Dawgs win any two of their last three games. Two more wins get Georgia to 10 wins for the fourth year in a row. Wins over Georgia Tech and in the bowl game would ameliorate an S.E.C. championship game loss; wins in the S.E.C. championship game and in the Sugar Bowl would erase the pain of a loss at Grant Field; wins in Atlanta on the next two Saturdays would make a postseason setback forgivable. Naturally, I want to win all three games, but taking two out of the three would make 2005 a good year.

The answer to the second question is that it wouldn't sit well with the fan base if it happened, but I reject the premise of the question. I had to laugh when I read about how Georgia would be "rebuilding next year" while our rivals would have "experienced teams." I seem to recall similar prognostications heading into this season: Tennessee was loaded, Florida was going to take the S.E.C. by storm, and Georgia had to recover from the losses of David Greene, David Pollack, Reggie Brown, Fred Gibson, Odell Thurman, Thomas Davis, and Brian VanGorder. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to a third-place finish in the S.E.C. East.

Six or seven losses in the eight rivalry games in a two-year span wouldn't go over well in Bulldog Nation in 2006, not any more than it did in the 1990s, when the Red and Black fired two coaches for doing just that. Mark Richt has built up enough goodwill to survive a downcycle, though, and---more to the point---I have serious doubts whether a downcycle is on the horizon. The 'Dawgs fared pretty well in this rebuilding year, so I have no cause to doubt that they will fare well in the next one.

BONUS QUESTION: How much does the fact that Braine still has a job surprise you?

PWD: Dave Braine is a boob. He is an anchor dragging down the Georgia Tech Athletic Department. He appears to be directly or indirectly responsible for the loss of 34 scholarship athletes to flunkgate and probationgate. So obviously, I'm a big fan of the guy. I would hate to see him go.

My question is to you. If Georgia wins by 2 TDs or more, does Braine lose his job to deflect attention from Gailey?

T. Kyle King: Dave Braine's continued employment at The Flats surprises me not at all. Why should it?

He hired the basketball coach who took the Yellow Jackets to the championship game of the N.C.A.A. tournament and did so with class. He presciently gave Chan Gailey a contract extension when the Georgia Tech fan base was calling for Chan's head---and Coach Gailey promptly led his team to victory in what has to be the Ramblin' Wreck's biggest road win since the 1990 Virginia game, which was against a Cavalier squad that was a far more bogus No. 1 than Miami was a No. 3. Braine has a Barry Goldwater-like "tell it like it is" quality that may be unpopular but earns him points for honesty and integrity. While Georgia Tech recently was placed on probation, it appears that all the mistakes were made in the registrar's office, not in Braine's bailiwick.

Am I surprised that Dave Braine still has a job? I'll be surprised if he's not Employee of the Year.

Meanwhile, during his tenure as athletic director in Athens, Vince Dooley twice bungled the hiring of a head football coach. Erk Russell, Dick Sheridan, and Glen Mason all rejected the job after it was offered to them. Vince Dooley hired Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, and Jim Harrick (twice). During Coach Dooley's 25-year tenure as athletic director, Georgia was investigated by the N.C.A.A. for major violations six times. Finally, Coach Dooley is beloved for his 25-year tenure as the Bulldogs' head coach, yet, when Vince was without Erk, we learned what Georgia Tech fans learned when George O'Leary was without Ralph Friedgen---namely, who the real coach was.

Nevertheless, it started a firestorm of controversy when the University of Georgia president announced that Vince Dooley would be held to the terms of the contract he signed. There's just no telling with this sort of thing.

In closing, I want to offer my thanks to Nathan for suggesting this roundtable discussion. I have appreciated being able to engage in a civil dialogue over the course of the season and this exchange has been fun. I'm looking forward to a good game on Saturday and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if this qualified as one of E.S.P.N.'s "instant classics." In the last decade, Georgia and Georgia Tech have settled their differences by a single-digit margin six times, which attests to the strength of the schools and of the rivalry. I expect the better team to win and, while I hope the better team is wearing silver britches, I wish you good luck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

There's Trailer Trash, and Then There's UGA Fans

Sadly, that's an actual photo from the last game at Bobby Dodd Stadium and not a fark. Thanks to Golden Hand for the picture and Cracker Jacket for the commentary. You couldn't make this stuff up if you tried.

University of Georgia Celebrates

Earlier this week the President of the University of Georgia Michael Adams announced that this week would be an official celebration of a quarter century of underachievement. In a press release on Monday, he had this to say:

"I am proud to announce that under the misguided direction of Mr. Dooley and Mr. Evans this year we are completing one of the finest periods of successful underachievement in University of Georgia history. Over the past 25 years, despite having one of the nation's top recruiting classes each and every year, and even taking the drastic measures of serious NCAA violations every 4.16 years - the UGA football program has managed to underchieve with unbelievable success, only winning a single conference championship over that timeframe."

He went on to add:

"This accomplishment would not have been possible without the valued assistance of Mr. Spurrier, Mr. Fulmer and especially Mr. Donnan. These men worked extremely hard to waste more high school talent than any program in recent memory, a truly extraordinary task."

Finally, he finished with this:

"What makes this even sweeter is that our supposed step-sister in Atlanta has failed to underachieve at the same rate. Even though they manage to lose to us fairly regularly, they haven't been able to keep the same rate of underchievement, even going so far as to win a National Championship and two conference titles in that same time frame. It's quite an accomplishment for our program to have been able to underachieve at an even higher rate than our rivals."

Herschel Walker was quoted as well:

"God, they've sucked since I left - haven't they?"

Georgia fans have already begun celebrating in style

Monday, November 21, 2005

Guest Blogging!

Doug from Hey Jenny Slater is our guest blogger du jour this week, and well ... if you notice a slightly different tone than we've had in some previous weeks, it's because it's Mutt Week. (For what it's worth, I agree whole heartedly about Dr. Football - an orangutan with a modem could write better columns than he does).

My answers to his questions are just as acrimonious and snarky as his are to mine - go check them out when he gets them up later on today.

Nathan: Many GT fans think of UGA football as being an overall disappointment on a historical basis. Most UGa fans will state they are a better program than GT, but they’ve only won 2 MNCs to our 4, and only a couple of more SEC titles than we won . . . and GT left the conference 30+ years ago. Is this a case where UGa has just struggled to win the big games in their best seasons, and do UGa fans view the program as having failed to fulfill its promise?

Doug: I’d be interested in hearing where you learned that Georgia has won only “a couple more SEC titles” than Georgia Tech — by my count it’s Georgia 11, Georgia Tech 5 (only one of those SEC titles in the past 25 years - Nathan). But anyway, GT fans thinking the Bulldogs are “an overall disappointment on a historical basis” is kind of like Republicans thinking of Bill Clinton as being a dishonest scumbag — in other words, their opinions aren’t exactly unbiased and objective (not that I think you’d find many Georgia fans who care all that much what Tech fans think of their team in the first place).

Sure, by certain measurements you could make the case that Tech’s program has accomplished more over its history than Georgia’s has, but as Edward Norton said in “Fight Club,” “On a long enough timeline, the survival rate for everyone drops to zero.” Georgia Tech may have won more national championships all-time than Georgia, but two of those were in 1917 and 1928, and I doubt that more than 10 percent of Tech’s current student body can even name those two years off the top of their heads. If you look at the past, say, 30 years, the two programs have won an equal number of national titles, but Georgia has won five conference titles to GT’s one (in a tougher conference, I might add), and has beaten Tech 22 out of the last 30 times (that’s even if you count Tech’s three wins from 1998 to 2000 that were recently “vacated” by the NCAA). So no, I don’t think very many Georgia fans would say the program has “failed to fulfill its promise.” Yeah, we dump our share of big games, but so does everyone else. Mark Richt has gotten the team to the point where the road to the SEC title runs through Athens almost by default, and I think the vast majority of Bulldog fans are quite pleased with that, and with the prospects for the next five or ten years.

Nathan: Given #1, why the heck do you guys beat us so regularly? Even Bobby Dodd couldn’t consistently beat Georgia. GT’s best teams beat Georgia (1990, Joe Hamilton, etc.) but other than [that] we seem to invent ways to lose this game, and have for the life of the rivalry. Street and Smith had GT as the #16 football program of all time, UGa #18 — you’d figure the all-time series record would be closer than it is.

Doug: Tech has indeed had some great coaches — Heisman, Dodd, Ross — but look whom they’ve had to go up against on the Georgia side: Heisman’s counterpart for most of his Tech tenure was W.A. Cunningham, whom you’ve probably never heard of but still went 43-18-9 at Georgia. Dodd’s UGA counterpart was Wally Butts, a College Football Hall of Famer. Basically, even when Tech has been extremely good, they’ve been matched up against teams that also happened to be very good at the time. And even during the periods when Tech has, at least on paper, been superior to Georgia, that margin of superiority has usually been extremely slim — certainly not big enough for Tech to expect a win over Georgia every year.

That said, you’re hardly out of line in wondering why the all-time series record is so lopsided when both programs seem to be so competitive — but I think that has a lot to do with the general unspoken assumption (among both Bulldogs and Techies) that Georgia is the flagship football program in the state and Tech isn’t, which I’ll address in one of the subsequent questions you asked.

Nathan: Calvin Johnson chose GT over UGa. With as poorly as Georgia’s WRs have played the past two years (outside of Reggie Brown), which piece of ’Dawg memorabilia would you give to have him wearing red and black right now?

Doug: I’d give a signed Herschel Walker jersey and a free dinner at the Last Resort Grill in downtown Athens (drinks included), but not much more than that. Now, don’t think for a minute I’m trying to downplay Johnson’s awesomeness — he’s probably the most talented receiver in the country, and any team would be lucky to have him — but one receiver doesn’t make the team, or even the offense (unless by “receiver” you mean “Tyrone Prothro,” and by “team” you mean “Alabama,” evidently). Let me pose a different version of your question: Of the four games has lost over the past two seasons, which of those do we win if we have Calvin Johnson? Auburn 2004? Not the way Auburn was playing that year. Auburn this year? Maybe, but our offense wasn’t exactly hurting without him — it was the defense that couldn’t stop anybody. Florida a few weeks ago? OK, yeah, we might’ve won with Calvin — but if we’re going to play “Dear Santa” with that one, I’d ask for a healthy D.J. Shockley before I started looking to poach anyone off of Tech’s team.

Nathan: Like many rivalries, the smaller school strongly dislikes the larger state school because of secondary media coverage, fewer sidewalk fans, and perceived “secondary” status in the public eye — making it seem like living in enemy territory much of the time (Auburn v. ’Bama, Duke v. UNC both are similarities). Elitism seems to be the common response to this situation — is that what rubs Georgia fans the wrong way about Tech? If not, what exactly is it?

Doug: Maybe the “elitism” bugs us a little, but only in the sense that it’s based on Techie assumptions about their school’s overwhelming academic superiority that don’t really hold water anymore. Our average incoming-freshman SAT score has closed to within 100 points of y’all’s, and we’re right there in the U.S. News & World Report top public universities list along with you, too — so when we get the old “I’m going to be your boss someday” static from a Techie, our usual response these days is simply to give a demure little “whatever helps you sleep better at night” smile and leave it at that. But I think the greater annoyance for Bulldog Nation regarding football is that Tech fans seem to want to be put on the same level with Georgia in terms of top-tier I-A programs without having earned it, at least recently. And I’m not even talking strictly in terms of wins and losses — how much buzz (pardon the pun) does your program generate? How many rear ends do you put in the seats? Bulldog fans will pack out a 92,746-seat stadium even when the opponent is Louisiana-Monroe; Tech, meanwhile, has to resort to discounts and ticket “packages” just to fill 55,000 seats for some conference games. The last time I went to a UGA-GT game in Atlanta, there was more red in the stands than there was yellow, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same turns out to be true when I (hopefully) walk into the stadium on Saturday. Yet Tech fans will probably still complain that they don’t get enough media attention. Well, if you guys don’t even get excited about your own program, how do you expect anyone else to?

Let me give you another example in the form of “Dr. Football.” Dr. Football writes a weekly column for The Hive in which his alleged purpose is to analyze the week-to-week state of Tech’s team and hazard some predictions for that week’s bigger games. But Dr. Football has apparently decided that an equal part of his life’s work is dissing UGA, its fans, or anyone who so much as says Mark Richt has good hair. In his most recent column (, Dr. Football penned about 2,700 words, nearly 1,000 of which were devoted to skewering AJC columnist Mark Bradley for daring to write a column about Mark Richt being a good coach — a screed pretty representative of his body of work as a whole. Here he is, excoriating Bradley for giving too much attention to the Bulldogs — and in the process, he ends up giving more attention to the Bulldogs! The Hive folks should be embarrassed to have this guy representing them, because he’s only feeding what Georgia fans already perceive to be a major inferiority complex on Tech’s part. And like it or not, that perception impacts media coverage, recruiting, and, yes, wins and losses.

Tech fans are kind of like the poor guy whose girlfriend just dumped him and who won’t stop talking about how he’s over her, she wasn’t really that hot, he’s glad she’s gone — the more he talks, the more you realize just how completely she’s stuck in his head. In the end, I guess we don’t find this annoying so much as mildly amusing in a pathetic sort of way, but we do get kind of tired of the whining, and of the idea that any discrepancy in the two teams’ reputations is somehow our problem. Yeah, some people just take it for granted that Georgia is the premier football program in the state, but the more Tech fans talk about Georgia Georgia Georgia, the more they cement that impression. Y’all want to be treated with the same national respect that Georgia gets? Spend less time blasting the AJC for supposedly biased media coverage and spend more time going to your own games. Great programs are built on wins and devoted fan bases, not pissed-off e-mails to sports columnists.

Nathan: You asked what Tech students do on Friday nights, but what we all really want to know is if UGA grads actually put “Able to drink an entire fifth in one sitting” and “Sat with hot co-eds in class” on their resumes?

Doug: Don’t have to. When prospective employers see a Georgia degree on our résumés, they just assume it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Mutt Week

Oh, it's on. On like Donkey Kong. I'm sitting on my couch 1500 miles away and still soaking in the Miami win, but I can feel the mutt hatred brewing - by Saturday I'm going to be a screaming, shaking mess.

In honor of this week building up to the nastiest (at least from fan behavior) rivalry in the south, there's going to be a number of special features this week on Golden Tornado. At the beginning of the week, Doug from Hey Jenny Slater is going to be guest blogging with me about the rivalry in general, and I'll be over on his site. In the middle of the week Paul Westerdawg and T. Kyle King and I will be having some form of a roundtable - we have mentioned a possible podcast but I'm not sure if we can pull it off, so it may just be in text format. In between all that, I have also lined up a couple of interviews with past GT players about the rivalry to get people in the mood. All in all, should be a fun and busy week.

In the meantime, here's a picture of Choice carving up the UM defense to remind you of the great win Saturday night (photo from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel)

Rivalries Can Go to Far

As we prep for Bulldog week, remember that it's just a football game. It's a great rivalry, and we've got plenty of mutt hate getting prepared for this week on Golden Tornado, but remember that UGa fans are your neighbors and friends (well, maybe not friends) the other 51 weeks of the year and don't do or say anything rash.

Alabama fan stabs 5 Auburn Students

A fan screaming "Roll Tide" outside a fraternity house led to a violent altercation early Saturday that left seven Auburn students injured, five with stab wounds. At about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, a person described by the Auburn Police Division as an unknown white male yelled "Roll Tide" outside of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity house at 841 West Magnolia Street in Auburn. One person at the house confronted the person who yelled, and a fight broke out between the two males. According to police, several others joined in the altercation, when the unknown white male suspect pulled a knife, stabbing one of the people involved in the fight. He then ran trying to escape the scene on Hemlock Avenue, with several people chasing him. About a block away a second fight broke out and four more people were stabbed before the suspect again fled.

Saturday, November 19, 2005


We muffed 3 punts, played horrible kick coverage and missed 2 field goals. And still won on the road at the #3 team in the country. This is a very talented GT team, and Gailey had his best week ever as a coach getting the team focused and playing hard. I've not been R. Ball's biggest fan, but he played his ass off tonight and sealed the game at the end for us. 14-10 will join 41-38 (my how times have changed) in GT lore.

Game ball to the defense and Tenuta, tremendous game plan and even better execution. KaMichael Hall is an absolute stud, and looked faster than anyone Miami had on the field. What a great win for the GT program.


Friday, November 18, 2005

There's a Game This Weekend?

Oh yeah, I forgot - our team actually has to travel to Miami and play the #3 team in the country on the road tommorow night (on national TV, where our institutional failings can be played out all over again). I'm torn on this, I don't know if they come out completely flat because of the events of this week ... or if they come out fired up. Heck, for all I know this stuff has only mattered to the fans at this point and doesn't effect the team at all. I just hope the game is well played, we don't get embarassed (no 51-7 part 3) and everyone comes home in one piece to face a very beatable UGa team next week.

This has been the worst week to be a Tech fan that I can remember, maybe we can end it on a high note with a win.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Former Players Speak Out

Nate Stimson started all 12 games in 1998 at defensive end, and was drafted in the 4th round of the NFL draft. He posts from time to time on The Hive, and weighed in on SupsensionGate today. This is the truly painful part of this, the players from some of those very good teams being told that they accomplished absolutely nothing. You can find the thread here:

I am still trying to figure out what this means and how to handle this?
What will happen to the Gator Bowl trophy we earned. Will it be allowed to be displayed and if not who gets it? WHo should get it? will it be thrown in a closet in the basement of Grant field? I just hope it is not on eBay like the letterwinners club tickets were a couple of years ago....I am still scratching my head on that.

I will tell you this we beat Georgia at Georgia. I still have the hedge, the tapes, the pictures Rob took, the newspaper -- it did happen and no, dawg fans we didnt cheat to do it. We beat notre dame, we beat #6 UVA, we came from behind in death valley on thursday night, we ended a 50 year winless era at Chapel Hill. We had 10 wins, we had the 2nd best record since Bobby Dodd left. This was only in 1998.

Now I wonder who's fault is it? Who erased what we worked so hard to earn. I do not feel it is the student-athlete's job to scrutinize NCAA requirements nor do I feel that it is the football coaches job. This falls on at least 1 persons shoulders. We all know who he is. THis is inexcusable. It is funny to hear people talk about academics and athletics at Georgia Tech. Oh these people aren't lettermen from GT, they dont know what being a "student-athlete" at GT means.

I am not making excuses for players that didnt get done what they were supposed to get done, my question is were they given the right guidance on the matter. If they were and dropped the ball then the school suspends the player, it shouldnt even be in the coaches hands at that point. Ultimately, it comes down to who is responsible for the Institute, just who is that person? Since it has to do with academics, it can only be one person's responsibility. Most bosses have the mentality that "the buck stops here."
Well, the responsibility starts there as well. Before fingers are pointed elsewhere they need to be pointed at who is responsible for setting up the academic advising programs for student athletes. I am not speaking about all of the academic advisors while I was there, but with some, it was like the blind leading the blind... Who hired these people, how long was it before they were found to be inept?

TO me, this is all water under the bridge. Like I mentioned earlier, I know what we did. I do wonder if the 1998 Gator Bowl team will exist in history? I guess probably not. At the 10, 15, and/or 25 year anniversaries of the 1998 team, will we be acknowledged or will we be erased from anything like that. I still have my Gator bowl ring, it hasnt started to fade like Michael J. FOx's hand in
Back to the Future, I know that it wont but it feels like that is whats happening. Most here cannot comprehend the level of embarassment and disappointment I feel at this time as well as other teammates I have spoken with from the 1998 team. I do not know what he would do, but I wish Kim King was still with us. THe bottom line is ACTION NEEDS TO BE TAKEN.....NOW!

PWD had asked the question:

"Nathan, Remember in Back to the Future when Michael J. Fox keeps looking at the photo and sees people disappearing b/c the past is being changed to impact the future?

Is it going to be like for Georgia Tech? And if so, how will that impact your header graphic on your blog? Will Joe Hamilton still be there tomorrow?"

I guess Stimson's opinion on this is ... a resounding NO, the hard objects remain here to remind us. Emotionally though, it obviously feels that way to some of them. Reading Stimson's comments is a reminder that no matter what happens, you can't take away the great players and classy way they have represented our Institute in their future endeavors. Whether or not they made it into the NFL or into private life, they have continued to put the school in a great light, and that is something to be proud of. It's a shame the administration has been letting them down.

The Buck Stops Here

Get control of your administration Dr. Clough, because what was just an insider's dirty little secret has now become national news when it hit the athletic department. Your administration, and especially the office of the Registrar, has shown gross negligence and incompetence over the past decade, and an inability to perform simple and essential tasks such as keeping track of student advancement. I'm proud to be associated with the Georgia Institute of Technology, but I refuse to stick my head in the sand and pretend that all is well on the flats. There's some very real problems with The Hill, and you need to get control of it, pronto.

And Now for the Other Shoe

Georgia Tech Penalized for Allowing Academically Ineligible Student-Athletes to Compete, Lack of Institutional Control

Ugh. Our school officials aren't exactly working on a hot streak right now, and this isn't good news. Details of the punishment are:

(UPDATE: For the hundreds of ND fans linking here from other boards, you're wrong ... go to the bottom of this post (update #4) for the correct details regarding that Gator Bowl)
  • Public reprimand and censure
  • The institution self-imposed a reduction of six initial football grants-in-aid for each of the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic years. The committee added a limit of 79 total grants-in-aid for the 2006-07 and 2007-08 academic years, after determining that the limit on initial grants-in-aid did not affect total grants-in-aid for 2005-06.
  • The institution self-imposed a grants-in-aid reduction of 3.90 in men's track and field for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic years.
  • The institution self-imposed a grants-in-aid reduction of two for women's track and field for the 2005-06 and 2006-07 academic years.
  • The institution shall vacate the performance of its football team for all contests in which the 11 ineligible student-athletes competed.
  • The points contributed to team totals by ineligible student-athletes in men’s and women’s track and field and women’s swimming shall be vacated. Team scores shall be reconfigured accordingly.
  • The institution self-imposed a $5,000 fine, payable to the NCAA, for allowing ineligible student-athletes to compete in NCAA championships/bowl games.

Losing 6 scholarships a year for the next 2 years hurts. That's going to be pretty ugly. I'm not quite sure what the details of "vacating" the performance of the football team when those players competed means, but it's pretty clear that it's basically a forfeit.

The worst part is that this wasn't something intentional, it was just a egregious mistake by the academic side of the house, and is now the football program is going to pay the bill for their complete screwup in figuring out how the quarter to semester switch was working. And lets not even go into how ridiculous it is that even the "non-degree" courses that GT football players were taking are surely more academically challenging than classes that "Lifestyle Management" majors take at some schools.

In the past 3 days the news out of GT has been our AD throwing the programs ability to compete under the bus, a cornerback who was arrested as part of a major drug sting reinstated by a court and now this. When did Atlanta become the new Athens? I'm going to go puke now.


Oh wow, the penalties for vacating a game are pretty harsh. According to
  1. Require that individual records and performances achieved during participation by such ineligible student-athlete shall be vacated or stricken;

  2. Require that team records and performances achieved during participation by such ineligible student-athlete shall be vacated or stricken;

  3. Require that team victories achieved during participation by such ineligible student-athlete shall be abrogated and the games or events forfeited to the opposing institutions;

  4. Require that individual awards earned during participation by such ineligible student-athlete shall be returned to the Association, the sponsor or the competing institution supplying same;

  5. Require that team awards earned during participation by such ineligible student-athlete shall be returned to the Association, the sponsor or the competing institution supplying same;

  6. Determine that the institution in ineligible for one or more NCAA championships in the sports and in the seasons in which such ineligible student-athlete participated;

  7. Determine that the institution is ineligible for invitational and postseason meets and tournaments in the sports and in the seasons in which such ineligible student-athlete participated;

  8. Require that the institution shall remit to the NCAA the institution's share of television receipts (other than the portion thereof shared with other conference members) for appearing on any live television series or program if such ineligible student-athlete participates in the contest(s) selected for such telecast, or if the Management Council concludes that the institution would not have been selected for such telecast but for the participation of such ineligible student-athlete during the season of the telecast; any such funds thus remitted shall be devoted to the NCAA postgraduate scholarship program; and

  9. Require that the institution that has been represented in an NCAA championhip by such a student-athlete shall return 90 percent of its share of the net receipts from such competition in excess of the regular expense reimbursement, or if said funds have not been distributed, require that they be witheld by the executive director.
That's going to leave a mark. This is far harsher than what I expected, considering that what occured was non-intentional and self reported. About the only good thing to come of this is no bowl ban, but the rest of it is a pretty tough pill to swallow.

Update #2:

From what I can gather, these are some of the events we may have to remove from the record books:
  • Gator Bowl win over Notre Dame
  • Champs Sports Bowl win over Syracuse
  • 3 wins over UGa ('98, '99 and '00) - guess it doesn't matter if it was a fumble or not now
  • Potentially Joe Hamilton's records if he is one of the athletes
  • All Time highest bowl winning percentage
  • TV revenue from both Gator Bowl trips, including the loss to Miami
  • TV revenue from 6(?) bowl trips
  • TV revenue for most of the games in all of those seasons (I have no idea how this will work)
This is a far harsher punishment than South Carolina received for much more egregious violations. I assume that some of these will be reduced on appeal, but it's a big black eye for a program that has prided itself on staying as far away from this kind of news as possible. Clough and Braine have a lot of explaining to do.

Update #3:

Full report (in .pdf) is available now on

Basically, we're going to have to forfeit every game played in the '98, '99, '00, '01, '02 and '04 seasons, if I'm reading this correctly. We had an "inelligible" player in every game in each of those seasons according to the report. Ouch.

Update #4:

According to the AJC (link) this morning, the bowl games are not NCAA controlled, and thus GT does not have to either vacate or forfeit those games and the school can continue to honor those teams. This means the bowl win over ND stands, among others (sorry to all of you coming here from every ND site under the sun hoping to pad the all time win % - you'll still have to earn it). To be more clear than that article - there was never a question about the Champ's Sports Bowl last year because nobody was inelligible. There were questions about the previous bowls, but GT gets to keep them. The article is somewhat poorly written in explaining that, mostly because the AJC sucks.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

State of the Institute

I left yesterday morning on a flight to New Jersey for work, never thinking I was going to miss one of the craziest days in recent memory for the Georgia Tech athletic department. When I was on the phone in the car on the way back to the airport to leave late in the evening yesterday, my wife mentioned “oh yeah, did you hear that Gailey got a 5 year extension today?”. Er, well I guess we saw that one coming, so it wasn’t a huge surprise. It wasn’t until after midnight when I got home and saw Braine’s poorly thought out comments and the nuttiness that was the Reuben Houston ruling. There were 5 e-mails in my inbox asking me what I thought about the day’s events, and quite frankly I didn’t know what to think then, and still don’t now.

I guess the best idea is to work through these in order, and the first one is the Chan Gailey extension. I don’t like or dislike or Gailey inherently, and that might be the root of a number of problems, actually – he simply doesn’t generate any emotion in the fan base. Chan Gailey isn’t Bill Lewis, he isn’t a coach who’s going to ruin a program. On the other hand, he isn’t Bobby Ross either. Someone compared him to George Welsh, and I think that is a fair comparison. 7-5, 8-4 each year with a chance at a conference title once a decade is basically what I expect from him. Georgia Tech will never be a laughingstock while he’s here, but I doubt there will be another National Championship during his tenure. Right now he has the highest winning percentage in his first 4 years of any GT coach not named Dodd or O’Leary, and I would figure that’s about where he finishes in the GT coaching records when he’s done.

Gailey has his strong points. He seems to be a good judge of talent, and generally his players have been better than their recruiting rankings seem to have had them pegged, this is especially true on the defensive side of the ball. Gailey won’t embarrass the school by sleeping with his secretary or using his expense account on strippers. He won’t bring in ‘low character’ kids into the program. He has plenty of NFL ties to help out his players get a shot at the next level. Every year he seems to win one game he shouldn’t (Auburn, etc). He has not been overbearing on his good assistants like Tenuta, and shown the ability to work well with his staff.

Gailey also has his weaknesses. He can’t seem to get our special teams to be anything other than ‘special’. His offense puts a premium on execution, and while that works with NFL players, it can be painful to watch somewhat erratic college kids try to implement it. For some reason his teams come out extremely flat some weeks, and have either been blown out by good teams or lost to poor teams (Duke, NCSU, VT, UGa). On the recruiting side, he hasn’t built the strong ties with high school programs in the state of Georgia that are more important to Tech than any other school. We need those high school coaches encouraging kids to take their math and language classes so they can be qualified at Tech if they want to attend. We need those coaches and administrators to help identify and encourage the athletes that are good enough students to fit with Tech. The state of Georgia has enough talent to support both UGa and GT, but we cannot keep losing qualified recruits to out of state schools. To me this is Gailey’s biggest failure; he is simply getting killed by Richt in building these relationships. Both coaches are selling “strong Christian character and leadership”, but Richt has been much more successful at this.

I understand that Gailey wasn’t going to be fired this year, and that if that was the case he needed to receive an extension for recruiting purposes. With that in mind, I’m not surprised he received the extension or really upset. I will be upset if some changes aren’t made to the staff this off season, however. GT needs an offensive coordinator, preferably one with some previous experience and charismatic recruiter who can build some of the in-state ties that Gailey hasn’t been able to get. Something has to be done about special teams as well, and I don’t know if that means a coaching change, or for someone to just explain to Gailey that we have to have our best players on the field in that unit. I’m not happy with 6-6 or 7-5 seasons every year, and I don’t think we have a chance to improve on that without some turnover in the staff. All in all, I’m not bent out of shape about the extension – though I’m not Chan’s biggest fan, we could do much worse, and probably would suffer in the short term if we went through yet another coaching change. Gailey is Braine’s man, and will be the coach as long as he is the athletic director. The way the contract is now structured, this is a decision that leaves the new AD some flexibility when he comes on the scene in the next couple of years.

Second major event of the day was Dave Braine’s comment in his press conference that, "Georgia Tech can win nine or 10 games. They will never do that consistently. That's my feeling ... because of the type of program this is." This was a terrible, terrible mistake. Dave Braine has been an excellent A.D for GT, but he undid a lot of work with that single sentence. There is already a strong feeling within the fan base that Clough and Braine don’t care about the results of the football program, and he just fanned those flames. Even though I understand where he is coming from, and probably agree with his statement in my gut, you simply cannot ask the donors for millions of dollars for a stadium expansion and then tell them to not expect a winner. Taz Anderson has never been a fan of Gailey and so hearing shots from him isn’t surprising, but this time he won’t be the only one. Braine is going to retire fairly soon, but I hope he’s not a lame duck the next couple of years.

For whatever number of well documented reasons (lack of non-math based majors, difficult entrance requirements, inner city location, etc) GT is at a disadvantage compared to the other big southern football schools, and I fully agree with Braine calling it one of the 3 toughest jobs in modern college football. That doesn’t mean the athletic staff can throw up their hands and just formally quit caring about trying to win championships. While it is tougher to win at GT than at UGa, it can still be done, and there are plenty of advantages that GT does a terrible job of selling. Our AD should be someone focusing on how to sell the program, not someone who is uninterested in trying to maximize it and accepting mediocrity. I do like Braine, I think he’s done a very good job – but yesterday was a huge gaffe in a very public forum, and one that fed into the worst fears of portions of the fans and boosters. I don’t mind the contract extension because it was basically already done, I don’t mind Braine admitting that winning at GT has a special set of difficulties, I do think that his extra comments were by far the worst part of the day. Worst of all, he referred to GT as “they” and not “we”. Ugh.

The third, and by far the most bizarre, event of the day was the court ruling that forced GT to accept Rueben Houston back on the team. Now, I don’t fully understand all the legal procedure, but I have no idea how a football coach is supposed to discipline their team if they can’t suspend players for gross violation of team rules. I can see a court forcing GT to allow Houston back to class, but back onto the team is a bit ridiculous. I do expect this to be overturned, and for Houston to be suspended until the court proceedings a finalized – but I will not be surprised at all to see him on the team for next year, depending on the way the court case is settled. The whole situation has been beyond weird as it has played out to this point.

I love GT, and I didn’t grow up in Georgia. I am proud to tell people where I attended school. Everyone knows that each GT sporting event is a chance for me to brag about the institute. I have donated money to the GTAA in the past, in the meager amounts that I can. I have traveled to watch the Jackets play, bought GT licensed apparel and in general supported the school and athletic department to the best of my ability. I felt Dave Braine let me down yesterday in a pretty big way, and I’m not sold our football program is doing anything but treading water with Chan Gailey. I wish the Reuben Houston situation would just disappear and never be heard from again. All of these are fixable issues, but nothing I saw yesterday gives me great confidence. Braine seems to happy to just ride it out to his retirement, and Gailey hasn’t inspired great confidence in me that he’s going to make the necessary changes in his staff and team strategy (I’m holding out hope he does in the off-season for some unjustifiable reason). Overall, a thoroughly average GT day … giving a coach an extension should be an exciting event, so why do I have a slightly sour taste from it?

(Think the donors are happy they paid for that expansion now?)