Friday, July 29, 2005

Richt: High Tech offenses are the bomb

Apparently, there's a new coach in the SEC named Irvin Meyer, and he runs a pretty cool offense. You have to scroll way down to see the question, which amused me considerably.

Q. Mark, on the subject of offenses, have you had a chance to watch Irvin Meyers offense and what are your impressions of it?

Doubtless, it's just a typo and the reporter was asking about Urban Meyer. Still, nicknames come from funny places. I think it fits. The real meat of the answer, though:

“I am very impressed with it[Irvin's offense – PD]. And it's not most complicated thing in the world either. It's really a pretty -- it's just fundamentally sound and stretches defenses a bit farther than they would like to go.”

Richt's teams at UGA have definitely had a defensive minded approach to winning games. Richt has been content to grind out wins on his Defense's back a number of times. I'm going to assume, though, that the guy who helped make FSU into an offensive juggernaut knows how to explore and understand an opponent's offensive scheme to some degree.

The money quote here is “it's not most complicated thing in the world”. I thought Irvin's offense was supposed to be high tech (to be fair, I can never keep track of what makes an offense high tech. Apparently, one of the criteria is “USC killed Oklahoma in the national title game”. Which is kind of elusive as criteria go, but I'll grant you distinctive). Perhaps a Florida or Utah fan can enlighten me. It has certainly been successful – Meyer's teams have been putting up some goodly offensive numbers with it – rough ppg totals of 30, 40, 28, and 45 in his previous four seasons (Gators take note – there seems to be marked improvement in year two at both places). He runs the option out of the shotgun – a concept seemingly sheathed in deep cosmic irony. High tech works for me.

What makes an offense high tech? As a coach, don't you want to make things as easy as possible for your guys, while making it hard for the other guys to both figure out what you are doing on the next play, and stop what you are doing on the current one? A simplistic system can do that – the Redskins ran 5 running plays against the Broncos in 87. They did so out of a number of 1 back formation variants, anywhere from no TEs to 3. Sometimes guards pulled and sometimes they didn't. Timmy Smith danced his way to a super bowl rushing record. Was that high tech? No. But it did what an offensive coach would want – Denver never came close to stopping Smith.

I would argue that there are no low-tech offenses, if I could figure out what makes an offense low tech (there might, be some antiquated ones). That reading college defenses is much more complicated than we the fans realize (and it's much more complicated than reading high school defenses, to boot). Even the more vanilla packages (hi Joe Kines) are not simple to read. Coaches sometimes have to simplify how that is done – sometimes the results are spectacular (Auburn last year and Jeff Tedford's offenses certainly seem to qualify).

Blogpoll 4 - No, it really is personal!

My blogpoll 4 responses to follow.
Longwinded as always.

1. Who are your rival(s)?

Every Georgia fan (and anyone who has had the misfortune of spending time with a Georgia fan) can tell you about the “big four”: Tennessee, Florida, Auburn, Georgia Tech. For many fans, some combination of this group is “our biggest rival(s)”, sometimes all 4.

Georgia Tech – there's no question. Any time two instate schools play each other, it's a rivalry game. Interestingly enough, I'm not sure it has major recruiting implications. It's definitely a bragging rites game. This series has been in Georgia's favor, with Georgia holding a 56-38-5 edge, 12-3 in the last 15 (Tech's 3 consecutive wins 98-00 helped usher out the Donnan era, in fact). Georgia disputes 2 Tech wins because they they allege Tech used ringers from the Naval Academy. Which is probably true.

Georgia fans will probably tell you that Tech fans have an inferiority complex about the series. Tech fans (all 11 of them) will probably get all huffy and try to make some claim about academic superiority, or their superior “culture”. Or try to talk about Basketball. It is true that Georgia fans often treat this game in a blase manner. It's also true that many Georgia fans would probably be unhappy winning 6 games every 10 years. This game is huge. Georgia's biggest rival? I don't know that I'd go quite that far. There is none bigger, perhaps. Like many rivalry games, it often features contests that are closer than the on-paper match ups would suggest. The Bobo to Corry Allen dagger in 97 was repaid when tech won a 51-48 OT thriller in 99. Jasper Sanks was ruled to have fumbled on the 1 with time running out (replays clearly showed he did not, and Ga would have attempted a chip shot field goal for the win), and then in OT Tech's game winning FG attempt on third down was blocked by Kendrel Bell, only to have Tech fall on the ball while Georgia was celebrating and get an additional attempt for the win.

Auburn – The all-time series is incredibly close (48-52-8, favoring the Plainsmen). The all time series scoring? Even closer: 1618-1619 – an incredible number for a series where 108 games have been played. Neither team is that adept at winning at home; Since 1980 UGA is 3-8 between the hedges, while Auburn is 5-7-1 on the plains. It's billed as the “oldest rivalry in the deep south”, was the first hereabouts to crack the century mark (incredibly, Auburn and Alabama have only met 69 times) and is one of the longest running rivalries in all of college football (unsubstantiated: I've read it's tied for seventh with Oregon-Oregon State).

For every blowout, there are 2 close contests and one is usually a real Barn Burner – like the 1996 first-ever SEC overtime contest. Or the heartbreaking last second failed comeback attempt in Athens in 01 (Richt's first year), where Richt opted for a run from the 2 yard line with little time left on the clock and no time outs. Or the David Greene to Michael Johnson dagger that propelled the Dawgs to their first SEC title in 20 years in 2002. Or loss in OT in 2000.

Auburn is equal to Georgia Tech, for all intents and purposes. Ask 100 UGA fans, and I think you'd have just as many name this game as Tech if they had to pick just one rival. Ask Any Auburn fan, and they'll likely say Alabama first. But Georgia will be right behind them – Georgia and Auburn started playing each other before they ever played their in-state rivals (by a year). Only the Two world wars put a stop to the series (no games played in 1917-18 and 1943).

This is without question the rival Georgia has the richest tradition with.

Florida – Calling this a rivalry will sound funny anyone new to college football in the last 15 years. Since Steve Spurrior took over in 1990, Florida has gone 13-2 against UGA, with UGA's second win coming just last year. Of course, Georgia was 15-5 the previous two decades. Just like there's a generation of Georgia fans who don't understand what it's like to beat Florida, there was a generation of Florida fans who didn't understand what it was like to beat Georgia. This is one reason Spurrier is so revered. Florida's previously unexperienced SEC success was paralleled in the dominance of UGA. Many Florida fans today might dismiss Georgia as a rival, but it's a series that both sets of fans have really cared about, historically.

Of course the game is recognizable for it's famous moniker: The World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party. Played in Jacksonville at a “neutral”site, hordes of fans from both sides flood Jacksonville – ticket or no - to enjoy the festivities.

Georgia holds a 45-35-2 edge in the series, despite the recent inability to beat the Gators.

Other Georgia fans will pick other teams. The South Carolina game is big, despite Georgia's lopsided edge in series (this game is particularly big for South Carolina fans – see Tech – who seem to view Georgia as a stepping stone to their often promised, yet always fleeting, rise to the top of the SEC). The Tennessee game is huge, and after being dominated for most of the 90s Georgia has made it a series again. While it is one of the big four, and has important implications in the east race, it isn't in the class of “rivalry” game the way the rest of them are.

2.Size up your chances in your rival games this year. Pretty straightforward. Try to be objective.

All three games look to be interesting Georgia probably has the least chance against Florida, though I do not think they lack a chance. First place in the east could be on the line when they meet at the end of October. Auburn is going to miss it's departed players I think, but the game coming to Athens doesn't bode well. It's unclear just how good Auburn's offense will be (no way it measures up to last year), though the defense should be tough with two all-world Ends leading the way. Tech will be better than some people think, and that Gaily still isn't much of a coach.

Georgia will do well to go 2-1 in these 3 this year.

3.If you could start up a new rivalry with another team, who would it be? Is there a team out there that you think would make a perfect rival for your team?

Clemson would not exactly be a new rivalry. The teams have played a number of times, Georgia holding a 41-17-4 edge as well as possessing the modern day record for getting a fan base in and out of Clemson, SC, for a game (88 hours). It makes perfect sense – Clemson is actually closer to Athens than Atlanta. I wouldn't mind playing them every year.

That said, I'd go for something a bit more exotic. Since my secret goal in life is to be best friends with all of the bloggers who mock Georgia and the SEC for pathetic scheduling, I'll chose the Washington Huskies. They have an underrated football tradition. Washington state seems like it would be a neat place to visit. It's really far away. Of course, then these people wouldn't have nearly as much to write about, and that would be tragic.

4.Overall, what do you think the best rivalry in college football is? Try to pick one that doesn't involve your own team. What makes that rivalry so much better than all the others?

Hampden-Sydney versus Randolph-Macon. I was there (as a wide-eyed, and inebriated, sophomore) for the 100th game in the series in 1994. Then, it was only the third series in the nation to cross the 100 game mark. There were several thousand people there (no small feat for a school that had enrollment of about 900 at the time), and ESPN sent a pretty big camera crew for it. For those of my readers who are used to big time football (all 4 of you), games at HSC were a lot more like high school games. I enjoyed them, though, and we had two solid teams in my time there.

Hey, if Spurrier is allowed to vote for Duke every year in the first coaches poll, I'm allowed to pick this. Though I'm not an alumnus proper (matriculated for 2 years before heading to Athens), they're still my boy.

5.Lastly, game trophies. What are the best and worst rivalry trophies out there?

I'm not really crazy about any particular Rivalry trophies. Though I wasn't aware of the “Keg of nails” prize for the Louisville-UK winner, and must concur with EDSBS that this is a pretty hard core trophy. Even admiration worthy.

Now the Mayans knew how to do rivalries. When you lost to the other team in that weird game where you had to throw a ball through a 40 foot sideways hoop, you got ritually sacrificed. Everything has been a let down since, I think. Or maybe that was the Aztecs. Anyway, the point stands. I tend to enjoy the games for the games, not so much the prizes. When you aren't playing for the right not to be sacrificed, the prize just seems pale by comparison.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Breathing Room

At least for now. A nice series sweep of the Nats puts the Braves 3 up on them, 5.5 up on the Mets (who would be doing a service tonight if they went ahead and lost to make it 6).

A couple of things:

1. The offense seems to be going low tide again. Langerhans and Johnson have been slumping. Chipper isn't fully back. Giles has cooled off. We can't have wins without rookie theatrics, though, and Jeff Francouer provided several in the series. He blooped in the winner last night, and had two homers today.

2. Hudson pitched pretty well all in all - hopefully he finds his form from here on out.

3. Why Cox keeps pitching Kolb is beyond me. I know he did better for while, and I want him to do better too. That's two leads he helped mangled in two nights. He just doesn't appear to have it. Brower has been a questionable pickup as well.

Where Scheurholtz is going to find more help is beyond me. Joey Devine got rocked last night. I won't count on seeing him this season. McBride may turn out to be a good releiver.

Anthony Lerew seems to be doing well at AAA, but he's a starter. Still, he could go the Millwood route and relieve in the short term. I'm still hoping for a deal of some sort; we'll see.

4. The Braves are going to have to win on the road in the playoffs. They didn't do that well in the recent road trip, though. The west coast has been bad to the Braves this year.

I'm working on my Blogpoll #4 response, that will have to wait a little longer.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Back in First

I thought it was a bad call at first, but a later replay from a better angle made the pitch look borderline at best. A call a pitcher probably gets if he's had good command prior, but Ayala's previous 3 pitches weren't anywhere near the zone. A good win after Livan had confounded the Braves for most of 6 innings. LaRoche's homerun in the seventh got it started, true. But Chipper Jones and Brian McCann had come ridiculously close to homeruns in prior innings (Chipper getting robbed on a fantastic catch by Brad Wilkerson in fact). The Braves were starting to get to Livan before LaRoche's blast.

Smoltzie didn't appear to have his best stuff but he pitched very well. The Bullpen did it's job admirably. Andruw is going to get some serious MVP talk, particularly if the Braves win the division. Pujols is having a fantastic year, but Edmonds, Sanders, and Walker are having solid season as well (when healthy). Andruw, thanks to injuries, doesn't have that around him (LaRoche comes to the closest, followed by a currently slumping again Giles). Lee is not playing on a playoff contender, which may hurt (but won't kill, by any means) his chances.

Sportsline said the game had a sellout crowd of 43,000. No it didn't – Turner Field capacity is in the 52-54k range. Frank Robinson was lamenting the ball 4 pitch saying “you pitch it down the middle because nobody swings at ball 4” - not true with a Cox led team. Bobby green lights on ball 4 more than anyone. My gut says Andruw was taking anyway, but he may well have picked out one part of the plate and said “if it's a fastball here, I'm going after it”. Still, I think Frank is right that a 3-0 count with the bases loaded is the wrong time to nibble.

Livan Hernandez thought the pitch was perfect. Maybe he saw it after the game, but he certainly wasn't in a position to judge that during. The ball call was fitting though; Hernadez deserves to have the worst karma in sports (well, outside of Owens or Bonds maybe) and any team he plays for should inherit that karma. Thanks again, Eric Greg.

Even after all these years, stepping into first place like this still feels good.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Chaney to MSU

A couple of days late on this one. Congrats to Chaney, I hope he has a successful career.

Georgia's 2005 recruiting class has certainly seen better days (EDSBS should probably update that count at some point). Signs point to a huge class this year – as many as 30. Georgia already has a number of recruits planning to enroll in January (thus counting against 2005's total), and there is some talk Corry Moon will join them. I'm not sure how much room there is to fit in under last year's class; UGA signed 17 and was expecting two more players to arrive from Hargrave and I believe had room for 15 or 16 when the dust settled. With 6 casualties (Moon, Dewberry, Chaney, Sesay all couldn't get it; Lang and Bryant opted to go elsewhere) and one player-incident being investigated (Tavares “TKO” Kearney), Georgia is going to have some room.

Albert Hollis II gave up his scholarship, so that's room for a January signee. I'm sorry he never got to play last year – he had a rough career battling some devastating injuries. I don't understand why Richt didn't get him in because there was ample opportunity, even just 1 special teams play, but then Richt figured on having him back one more year (he was a lock for medical hardship). And there's always some attrition – juniors who go pro or players who leave (Michael Cooper). I figure Georgia to get as many as 4 players in under 2005, but it could wind up being less or even more.

NCAA takes aim for satire, parody

Apparently, the NCAA isn't content with being mocked. They're not going to take it lying down any more. Rather than do the logical thing - fix the problem, they've instead decided to make it impossible to be mocked. Truth is stranger than fiction, I guess.

To be fair. . .well, to try and be fair because they make it so hard, I can understand the movement to try and "level" the recruiting playing field somewhat. I don't fully agree with it, but I can understand why they want to do it. But I think this rule is silly, to say the least.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Braves to McBride: Are you the Keymaster?

Macay McBride was summoned by The Powers That Be yesterday after the Braves sent Kevin Gryboski packing. Braves & Birds has a good rundown of the reasons for trading a reliever who was having a good year at a glance. Like Elkon, I too still have painful memories of 2002. A topic for another time (I have a very large underground vault – bigger than what you see at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark – where all my painful Braves memories are storied. I have quite a few, you see. . .).

What do we know about Mr McBride? Since he's in virtual limbo, I can't tell you anything about 2005 – he's already disappearing from all the sites where I get minor league stats, and hasn't shown up on any site as a major leaguer where I might get to view them (hurry up, Sportsline).

We can look at the rest of his career, however:

480 IP, a 1.28 WHIP, 3.11 BB/9, 8.36 K/9, .37 hr/9 a K/BB of roughly 2.66. Those numbers are pretty good. The BB/9 is a little high, but he strikes out quite a few and K/BB is over the 2.0 line (generally a good thing). The Whip is decent. The Hr/9 is outstanding. I don't know how often guys do this in the minors, and I'd love to have his major league equivalences (my stuff is at home, alas, and you can only get those AA or above anyway)). We have what looks like a hard thrower who keeps it in the park and could improve a little in the control department.

Of interesting note is that he started for all of his career through 2003. In 2004, though, he had 12 starts and appeared in 26 games as a relevier. Where he had dominated rookie ball and both levels of A, he seemed to hit a wall in AA. The move to the pen helped, and he finished what I recall as being a poor start with a 4.44 ERA, but pretty decent numbers overall. The Walks and Whip were significantly higher, but I believe partially a reflection of his out-of-the-gates performance. He was 1-7, and I think he was like 0-6 in this first 10 starts.

This year he was doing pretty good, but nothing spectacular comes to mind. I don't know what any of those per nine innings numbers looked like right now. He's a solid, if not good, prospect. And a guy who could be a force in the pen in the long run. He's young, 23 this October I believe (Libra 4ever my homie).

McBride could easily be an upgrade over Gryboski, who appeared to be enjoying success but looks like he was pitching much better than he should have been (see above article). It will be interesting to see him in action. I think it's reasonable to say he could contribute right away, and become someone Cox relies on. The proof will be in the pudding.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Gameday to do Pitt vs Notre Dame

Or so it seems. There's some UGA fans frothing about this - fans of any team are wont to froth in these situations though. Nothing new there.

I'm inclined to think that the BSU v UGA game is going to be far supperior, and a better place to be. That said, I'm glad Gameday won't be there - I have nigthmares from the last time. Part of me looks at this and says "well, here's another reason that the outcome of the this game, no matter who wins, won't really shakeup the landscape of college football". It seems that these tendy BSU upset picks are sometimes enamored with the idea that a BSU win is going to turn college football upside down. Well, I don't think so.

Not that it won't matter. But these things move in steps. Utah in a BCS game, and winning that game (though really, can anyone recall a bigger sacrificial lamb in the last 20 years?) was a huge deal and another step in the process for mid-majors who are looking to get more credibility. A win for BSU is another such step, but I'm not sure it's a bigger one. Perhaps Gameday not being there is indicative of the fact that the so called mid-majors have more clifs yet to traverse before College Football Armageddon?

I think there's a simpler answer here, and perhaps the above is all tertiary, or a non-factor. Gameday is going to go where the ratings are. I don't know what ND's television draw is like these days; when they aren't playing Michigan or USC, I find watching them on TV to be excruciating at the best of times. However, we have two programs, one with tremendous history but the other not without it's own history, that have two new coaches. NFL guys to boot. This is a game with magnetism - or so I assume ESPN thinks.

Gameday is alwys going to go where the ratings are. No mystery there.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NCAA hard up for action

The NCAA is serious about cracking down on gambling by collegiate athletes. It's worries are legion. Too many atheletes are gambling according to a cited study. The fix is an ugly monster. And who should we take in the BSU UGA opener?

Choice quotes:

”Rachel Newman-Baker, the NCAA's director of gambling activities, said Tuesday the group hoped to re-establish contact with the odds makers to watch for instances where heavy wagering has caused significant changes in point spreads or for the casinos to pull games off the board.

The steps were presented to the NCAA's management council during its meeting this week near Los Angeles.

The NCAA has not yet decided how it will communicate with the sports books, but might do so directly or through Nevada casino regulators, Newman-Baker said.”

This is good. The NCAA is going to ask Joe Six-Pack to walk into a casino, look for a line, and then find out why it got taken off the board. I'll admit I've never been to a casino in Vegas. I'm not sure they actually announce why lines are taken off the board, though. Oh, speculation often abounds, and sometimes it's pretty good speculation.

But odds makers don't take lines off the boards simply because of some funky betting patterns. There might be a number of reasons – they might be waiting on word of whether certain players are allowed to play. Sometimes lines don't even appear until midweek – I can assure you that athletes laying down wagers is not the cause of that.

Further, I can doubly assure you that if every athlete who bets gambles every penny they own or borrowed from an alumni on one game, on the same team, the lines probably won't move that much. Millions, if not billions, of dollars are changing hands in this mega-industry. I'm guessing that the sum total of athlete wagers, and wagers made by their next door neighbors (seriously – what's the harm in dropping a couple of passes?), is far far exceeded by the sum total of every other dollar bet on a given game, assuming that game as some national attention (I doubt the Division II football championship game garners as many wagers as Oklahoma vs Oklahoma State, but I could be mistaken).

Actual point shaving/tanking a game for gambling purposes is nasty. It can wreck a sport. I can't tell if the NCAA thinks that the odds makers just “know” every time there is a legitimate chance it is going to happen, but I think there's some dissapointment on the horizon if this is the case. I applaud the NCAA for trying to be wary of the issue as well as offering education on gambling for colegiate athletes. However, this is the NCAA. Headless chicken springs immediately to mind. So excuse me if I view all of this with a grain of salt.

Lineup Dilemna?

The return of Chipper Jones to the Braves leaves Bobby Cox with something of a dilemma . Chipper spent that majority of his career hitting 3rd. He likes hitting third. And, his numbers hitting third are nothing short of terrific. The previous few seasons he hit fourth (a strategic error in my opinion – I will note again I don't manage a baseball team and never will). He didn't like hitting fourth. His numbers hitting fourth suffered – though his playing LF also contributed (probably more so). Rumor has it he sulked some hitting fourth, but you didn't see it publicly. Larry's a gamer.

The Braves have been terrific going Furcal-Kelly Johnson – Giles – Junes – LaRoche/Franco. Why mess with a good thing? Well, Cox didn't – Larry hit fifth each of the previous two nights. I suspect it won't last.

Kelly Johnson appears to be a middle of the order guy – one day/. He's got a pretty sharp batting eye, he's worked counts at times, and that propensity to get on base made him a good #2 option. However, he's slumping badly. It happens. He's a 23 year old rookie. His once outstanding BB/K ratio, where he had more walks than strikeouts is heading steadily in the wrong direction. He's 6-37 by my count since the Brewers series, with 0 BBs versus 13 Ks (putting his previously outstanding season ratio at 25/41). This was preceded by a hot streak where his Ks had been rising steadily (he was still drawing walks). Lately it seems all he does is strike out (he sure just missed an opposite field home run two nights ago, though). Major league pitching seems to have caught up with Kelly Johnson, at least somewhat. If the Braves are right – it's just a hiccup at the start of a young player's career. He'll adjust back. I think his future is bright. He had significant strikeout totals in the minors -110 at low A. But he had 70-something walks that year, and always seemed to draw a decent amount. He rose quickly through the system – generally playing at or below the average age for most levels.

Bobby, as Rafael Furcal will attest, will stick with you. How long he can stick with KJ remains to be seen. If he has to move KJ down, Giles logically goes back to hitting second. And then what? He could just put Chipper back into the third spot. That probably makes the most sense.

However, here I'm not so sure it may not be better to hit Chipper cleanup and let Andruw hit third. When Sheffield was in town, hitting Chipper behind Shef was silly. Sheffield doesn't need protection and won't benefit from it, really. He draws a lot of walks because of a very keen eye. Yes, you can “pitch around” him, but if the rest of the lineup is doing it's job that's going to be a disaster when he hits fourth. More importantly, I don't think Sheffield benefited hitting in front of chipper.. Chipper, OTOH, has a good batting eye. But not as good as Sheffields. I actually think he'd have benefited – and his statistics would have reflected it. We'll never know.

I think Andruw might be better off in front of Chipper than vice versa. And, I think Chipper will be happier hitting cleanup this time. He's back playing 3B, for one. Two, this team looks like too much fun to play with – how could you not enjoy yourself? I think the lineup might benefit more overall in this scenario.

But it may not come to pass. KJ may hit (and walk, hopefully) his way out of this slump. I'll be curious to see how it plays out.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Can't You Here Me Knocking

I don't want to blow my load here - there's lots of baseball left to be played. But August Practice looms, which and of itself isn't that big of a deal (yes, I do obsessively follow my team's preseason exploits; however I seek penance later for this, and this sets me apart from most fanatics). However, the thing that comes after preseason practice is by definition the season. And that part is fun too. It promises to be an interesting fall for both the Falcons and the Bulldogs, assuming I can survive it.

Unlike so many of the football fans in the south, I love Baseball. In light of this, the title is certainly apropos. I don't think either Chipper's nor Andruw's second home run actually ever landed last night - those images were digitally added. Both are somewhere zipping past the Earth's second Lagrange point, destined to exit our universe and disappear into the void forever.

.5 games between us and the struggling Nats. The Nats, as you may have heard, were like 163-2 in 1 run games in the first half. Record in 1 run games tends to fluctuate wildly from year to year. Certainly, things like a good bullpen help in close games. So does a timely offense. However, the Nationals incredible +9 Pythagorean win performance at the Allstar break (the Braves were -4) had people wondering how well it would hold up. Impossible to say, though I think the recent struggles are more of a slump than a sudden correction, I suppose that distinction is something the historians can quibble over in hindsight. The point being: the nats won't just suddenly revert to a team playing at +0 and roll over for the Braves.

Hampton's first outing back was not encouraging - it happens. Hudson's was. Chipper became only the third man in baseball history (Mickey Mantle and former Negro League player "Shakes" Johnson being the other two - you don't know about it due to a nasty governmental cover up) to achieve orbit with a baseball. It was nice to see his teammate would not be out-done. Chipper is probably going to experience some short term struggles as he gets back to major league speed, but I think all in all it's promising.

Will Chipper do ok hitting fifth? Yes, but will he do ok hitting fourth? I think so (more on that later).

It's hard not to be in a good mood this morning. Washington, I'm going to take you down.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Blog Poll 3

In a move that can only be described as a horrific self promotion, I'm linking to my Blogpoll 3 discussion post. See, I started it Friday, but couldn't finish until today. I can't for the life of me determine how to move a post up and down in the list (ridiculous). Which is a non issue; the spellcheck on this thing is so attrocious I'll do them all before hand in the future anyway.

If you'd like the cliff notes version:

Georgia won't miss many unheralded guys, GATA Kelin Johnson, Gators vs Cocks sounds fun , East Coast 4 ever.

If you'd like the bookaminute summary:

Man can't write babbles on for a little while

Friday, July 15, 2005

Gammons: Sheffield clutch

Couldn't help but triple take this blurb from a recent Peter Gammons entry at

"a reputation as one of the most-feared clutch hitters of his time"

Hold on a second there, professor. A reputation with who? I can't seem to dig up an article - it was possibly Rob Neyer - where someone looked into the phenominon, so I'll skip that aspect for now.

A clutch hitter should come up big in big situations. Unfortunately, I can't give you stats like "ABs after the fifth inning when his team was tied or down by 1-3 runs". Let's look at his post season statistics. As a rule, every game in October is pretty important.

1997 FLA 16 50 13 16 3 7 20 8 1 0 .521 .540 .320
2002 ATL 5 16 3 1 1 1 7 3 0 0 .348 .250 .063
2003 ATL 4 14 0 2 0 1 2 0 0 0 .294 .143 .143
2004 NYY 11 48 9 14 2 7 9 9 0 1 .404 .500 .292
TOTALS: 36 128 25 33 6 16 38 20 1 1 .435 .445 .258

Sadly, I'm too lazy to format this in a table. I'll tell you what you need to know:

In 128 post season atbats, Sheffield is hitting .258 with 7 home runs. He is posting a .880 OPS, which is very good (thanks mostly to his uncanny eye for the strike zone). He has 25 RBI in 36 games. Not bad - runs are scarcer in October - but not otherworldy (quick math makes that look like pace for about 100 in a normal season).

For Atlanta in 2002-03, he compiled 30 ABs and 3 hits. 3 hits. He had a fantastic post season in 97 and a pretty decent one last year, but when the yankees needed him the most he couldn't produce (but then, neither did anyone else on the team; I'm convinced this was some sort of karmic boomerang for 96). In 2003-03, he had Chipper Jones hitting behind him (and this, plus the move to LF, seems to have hampered Chipper's production), so he had plenty good protection.

I don't know if I can ever allow someone who went 3-30 for one postseason stretch to be called clutch. Yes, I am viewing this through my tomahawk shades. No, I won't apologize for that. Sheffield was a big reason we floundered those years.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Blogpoll 3 - In 3D

I'm not really a conformist by nature, and I'm something of an introvert. Yet at times I've always been comfortable riding along with the masses. What herd am I following now? Whoever the hell signed up to participate in the Blogpoll. I can only identify 3.5 people doing it. Interestinly, like orgies, this really adds to the appeal.

It's late, but that's how I get down.

Q: Which unheralded player on your team will be the hardest to replace?

A: Georgia didn't lose many seniors from the 2004 team. Of course, some of the names are recognizeable: David Green, David Pollock, Thomas Davis, Fred Gibson, Reggie Brown, Odel Thurman. They all played big roles (still to varying degrees) in 2004, and they'll all be missed. What's interesting is that outside of the big names, it was mostly underclassmen contributing. Jeremy Thomas was a steady fullback, but all he really brought to the table over Des Williams was consistency. Williams' performance got better (and more consistent) as the season went on, and he played more and more. I'm not sure Thomas is going to be missed. No, it's mostly backups from the rest of the senior class.

Thanks to offseason attrition, Arnold Harrison sort of wins this award by default. Harrison was a steady, though not spectacular, linebacker. There is young talent at the position, but issues (Derek White), injuries (Jarvis Jackson), and inconsistent play (Danny-Verdun Wheeler) mean that a veteran presence like Harrison's would be nice. However, I don't think it will be sorely missed (I reserve the right to take that back), nor terribly difficult to replace.

Q: Which seemingly inconsequential player could make the biggest impact?

A: Kelin Johnson, a sophomore safety. Johnson had an excellent year on special teams last year - that proving grounds where freshman often start to find their feet. A virtual unknown out of highschool, he seems to have decent speed and atheletic ability. Georgia had some serious secondary problems last year. They stemmed largely from the fact that:

1) Thomas Davis is a linebacker. A darn good athelete - good enough to play safety in college. But he's a LB masquerading as a classic strong safety. He's better around the line of scrimmage than 25 yards away from it.

2) Greg Blue is Thomas Davis, only significatly less speedy, athletic. And good.

Blue isn't bad and he can hit, but he made Davis' cover skills look good. If you can't add: Georgia cloned and played the same player, albeit one of them was of lower quality due to NCAA rules, at two positions last year. Both safeties.

Johnson looks like the "centerfielder" they have been missing since Sean Jones' ill-faited exit-stage left as a junior in 2003 (and believe me, he was missed more than anyone last year). Is he as good as Jones? Not right now. Can he be? I doubt it (but then I can't say it's impossible). Jones was superb. Can he provide some sort of boost to the at times porous pass defense? If so, Georgia's corners will really appreciate it. Georgia is sure to feel the loss of David Pollock, and the pass rush may suffer accordingly. A good cover safety matters now more than ever.

Tra Battle isn't bad, but he is what he is (a hard working, modestly talented, former walk on). I have hopes Kelin can take a starting safety job by Boise St, and give us some solid play back there. His superb special teams play lends me hope that he can tackle decently, because Blue has been known to wiff on occasion.

Q: Which regular-season game that won’t feature your team would you pay the most money to see this season? Why?

A: Florida versus South Carolina. Urban Meyer is the second coming. Steve Spurrier started it all. Something has to give here - and while it will most likely be the Gamecock's relative lack of talent, it's kind of an interesting game anyway. Meyer will apparently start a second offensive revolution in the SEC with his "high tech" offense. Even if he doesn't reinvent sliced bread, he should be an interesting addition to the SEC for a school that is not fully recovered from the Ron Zook hangover, and it will be a neew offensive look courtesy of one of the brightest young minds in the sport. Spurrier put the SEC into the modern age with a firm kick in the ass. It's kind of an interesting subplot.

I'm not sure Spurrier's return to college football will be as rosy as many others seem to, and that could ruin the fun in this game (not as much as the talent gap, but what are you gonna do?). I don't envision Spurrier now enjoying the things he used to loathe about life in College Football. Perhaps one of the fine gentlemen at EDSBSD can elighten me further, but I was under the impression SOS did not like to get on the road an recruit (something that will probably be doubly important at SC). Not that he didn't do it, but that he delegated more than many coaches do perhaps. And SC has a fanatical fanbase, perhaps moreso than any other in the SEC (look, they've been tricking themselves into thinking a program breakthrough was looming for time out of mind - you want to huge them for staying positive and then slap them to bring them back to reality). Unrealistic expectations could be worse at SC.

Still, this one has to be tough for the Gator faithful. I can't imagine what it would be like to face a former institution (I'd love to get a shot at a Donnan coached team, as a side note). I futher can't imagine getting beat by one - something I don't think the Gator faithful have to be worried about. Will they mock the visor tossings? Pick on any of Spurrier's press conferences? This game is uncharted territory in the mondern day SEC - where everything is under a microscope and every fan of a team had to sign a contract saying that he or she hates every other team with a passion not understood by most normal people (For unfathomable reasons, Mississippi State fans are also forced to carry cowbells. To more than just MSU games - as I once observed at a Braves game. Odd decision, that).

Me, I want to be at this game. It should be a fun football game if Florida doesn't route SC.

Q: If your team were a rapper, who would it be and why?

A: My team would be bullet-riddled and lying in a gutter, ironically (in the Morisettian sense of the word) on the very evening it discovered a major record label would be producing it's album,and that it could finally leave this sorry existence behind. East Coast 4 ever and all that jazz.

Monday, July 11, 2005


Time for some mid-term grades for the Braves. It's too bad that they couldn't trim the Nationals' divisional lead further, but they are in pretty good shape. T he second half has great promise with a number of key players returning, but they probably still need to trade for at least one reliever. Never mind the "they need an OF" nonsense. It may well prove to be necessary to deal for one, but the offense (as you shall soon see) has done very well.


Giles is having a good season despite a slump early on when he was pressing too hard to make up for Chipper's absence. His BB/K is returning to historical levels, and he could be poised for a monster 2nd half. The 1B platoon was responsible for 18 homers and 81 RBIs, and both members have an OPS of .810+. The fill-ins at 3B have been decent in Chipper's absence. Chipper may have been on the way to a career numbers before injuries first hindered and then derailed his season - his return will be welcome. Estrada has been decent but is off last year's .830 OPS pace, McCann has been the best #2 not just for his bat but the fact that his presence in the lineup has Smoltz acting like a 27-year old. Furcal is now the most frustrating Brave. Great SB numbers (29/34) and a recent surge (that has contributed to the Braves' offense of late), and vastly improved defense are still hurt by the fact that he won't take walks anymore. The leadoff hitter's job is to get on base, period. He;s a big part of the problem.

Grade: B
forecast: if Chipper returns soon, and returns to form, this could be a terrific Infield.


He's finally doing it. Andruw is having The Season(tm). A 930+ OPS, a the ML lead in homeruns, and he's put the team on his back while Chipper has been injured. I know Derek Lee is in the triple crown hunt. So what. The Cubs are not in the playoff hunt, again, and I'm not sure the Braves would be in this position without Andruw. How is he not the MVP?

Ryan Langerhans' offensive performance is not up to par, but he's only 25 and this is his first season. His defense has been stellar, though. His bat will need to improve if he's going to be a viable every-day option. Kelly Johnson, on the other hand, looks like the real deal and he's only 23. He's struggled of late, with a major surge in his K's, but he still has 25 BBs in only 132 ABs and has shown decent power. Not bad, given his age and inexperience. Whoever sat him down and said "we're going to work on your mechanics at the plate son" deserves some sort of award, because I can see this guy being around for a very long time. His defense appears above average if nothing else. Could be a future middle of the order guy.

The Mondesi/'Jordan experiment has been a total failure. Jordan is still a fiery competitor but he just doesn't have the tools he did 5 years ago. Jeff Francouer's debut has been electric but the strikeouts are probably more telling than the homeruns. He's so young - I'm not sure how long he'll be able to contribute but he definitely has potential.

Grade: B-
forecast: Pretty good. It would be especially good if Andruw stymied Lee on the triple crown.
forecast: how will the rookies hold up in the second half? A slump by either or both wouldn't be unexpected - it's common amongst first timers. It could cause the Braves to make a move.

Overall Offense::
Runs: 428 (3)
OB: .331 (13)
Slg: .434 (3)
Hr: 100 (4)
BB: 295(6)
Avg: .263 (7)
Bean Count: 24.0 (2 - tie)

Bean count was created by Rob Neyer - it's your composite rankings in home runs hit, walks taken, home runs allowed, walks allowed.

Anemic offense? Not hardly. This is not a team in need of an OF, particularly with Chipper's return. Though with two rookies manning the corner OF positions, anything could happen, and they could both see second-half slumps as major league hitters figure out their weaknesses. Still, the Braves are scoring plenty of runs these days thanks in part to KJ, Andruw, Furcal, and Giles.

Grade: B+
forecast - pretty darn high. Imagine if Kelley Johnson adjusts and keeps drawing walks in bunches, and Chipper returns and starts hitting. We're suddenly a deadly lineup. Johnson's interesting, because he appears to be a lefty who has little trouble with lefties. He's got a decent eye for the strike zone, and power. Langerhans needs to be more productive at the plate. If Andruw keeps this pace he may be MVP.

Starting Rotation:

Smoltz has returned with a band and shown very few problems in the tough "back to the rotation" transition. He's the legitimate #1 guy now, and he came up with a number of big games during the Braves' swoon. He's a stopper. Hudson was a tad disappointing after a good start, but his return will be welcome. So will Hampton's, who doesn't really have particularly good numbers but gets grounders, keeps the ball in the park, and wins ballgames. John Thompson will be missed. Horacio Ramirez has been inconsistent and hasn't shown the form of two years ago. Jorge Sosa has been surprisingly effective as a starter. One wonders if he is better suited for starting long term, but getting him fully converted could take some time. Kyle Davies has shown promise but I fear Cox is overworking him, and he's still very young (21). He may not be fully ready for the majors - though one wonders if his current stint is as much an audition for other teams as anything else.

The Braves have used a variety of spot starters outside of Sosa with mixed results. The return of Hudson will be big but he's got to quit allowing so many baserunners.

Grade: B
forecast: good. Despite Hudson's mixed early results, he's a very good pitcher and his presence as the #2 will benefit everyone behind him. I'm always worried that one day Hampton will cease having success, but he's definitely got Guile taken care of.


By far the biggest problem area. Reitsma has been decent but I'm not sure if he's well suited for closing, and you have to worry about his wearing down. Blaine Boyer has been fantastic since his call up and his future appears to be in the pen (he had struggled as a starter all year until being moved to the pen shortly before his call up). Sosa's return could really bolster the unit, but he's been more effective as a starter. Can he duplicate that in the pen? He walks too many people, and while no pitcher can live with walks relievers can live with them less. He seems to have closer makeup, though, if he can get his control down. Adam Bernero pitched well early but has been awful since. He just gives up too many hits (.315 avg against). Gryboski has decent numbers, but he's one of those "how is he doing this well?" guys - a .292 avg against and a whip of about 1.5. Keeping it in the park has been his only salvation. John Foster has been good since his callup, but is still relatively untested. He's pitched decent of late, but the first half has been an unqualified disaster for Dan Kolb. The jury is still out on Jim Brower, but he was released for a reason.

Grade: C-
forecast: without a move, this could be a problem area for the Braves. And that's with Sosa returning to the pen and throwing well. I suspect we'll see at least one move on this front, though not necessarily for a closer. Joey Devine is now at 8 innings on the season, with 3 hits versus 5 walks (one a HBP) and 11 ks. He's allowed no runs, and has had 3 outings at AA. Still, I don't think he can be counted on to contribute in Atlanta just yet. He's been dominant - 3 of those walks came in his first game pitching (after a layoff following the college season), so as long as the 2 in his next 7 innings is closer to the norm he looks like the real deal.

Overall Defense:

ERA - 3.77 (2)
SO - 488 (15)
BB allowed - 295 (7)
HR allowed - 76(4)
OB% - .333(10)
Avg - .266(11)
E - 47 (tie-2)
DP -100 (tie-3)

Mixed results. The BB allowed, Hr Allowed, and ERA are all good. That's a very low strikeout total, and not typical of a Braves staff. Having Hampton and Thompson as starters is part of the reason for that, though. The defense has been superlative despite some recent errors (chin up, Marte) - and is part of the reason guys like Thompson and Hampton can enjoy success. Furcal Giles have turned into an excellent DP combo.

Grade: B
forecast: a couple of moves, and we could be cooking. If the Bullpen stabilizes, well the sky is the limit.


Frank Robinson is manager of the year unless the Nationals don't win the division (or possibly just if they don't make the playoffs), which is ridiculous. Cox is doing the best job in baseball. I question his moves sometimes but he is the quintessential player's manager. If you have a problem, he'll settle it away from the public eye. He doesn't have many rules. He gets as much out of his 25 guys as they have to give, with rare exceptions. People love to play for him, and free agents often prosper in Atlanta. Mazzone is Mazzone - I'm not sure if he has a legit HoF chance but he should. One wonders if perhaps Pendleton is starting to make his mark as a hitting coach.

Grade: until Bobby and Mazzone don't get it done they get an A.

Overall: I'm pleased. If, before the season, you had told me we'd have used 10 rookies and only be 2.5 games out of the division lead - even to the surprising Nats - I wouldn't have believed you. This could be a truly electric second half. The decline in attendance of recent years saddens me because this may be one of the best products Atlanta has seen. The rookies seem to feed off on one another, and they're play & demeanor is infectious (witness Smoltz chest bumping McCann after a recent win). This squad is so much fun to root for, from all the guys struggling to grow beards to Old Man Franco, the wunderkid who is producing fantastic numbers in part time. I'm as excited about the second half as I have been in a very long time.

Friday, July 08, 2005

It's a hard life living a lie

That felt really, really good. Sensationally good. The second game of yesterday's Braves-Cubs doubleheader had been somewhat painful. Smoltz didn't have his best stuff, and then was clearly struggling and I'm still baffled why Cox sent him back out there (that 3 quick outs resulted appear edto be a function of the Cub's poor approach at the plate. Smoltz could barely find the strikzone the inning before). Andruw had squandered a rather painful at bat with men on by not grooving on a pitch he had been knocking regularly into the stands.

So what happens? Andruw gets a second chance after a leadoff triple by Giles, and then hits that pitch into the stands. Not content to just have a lead, the Braves decided a big inning might be fun. Not content watching every other rookie make major contributions during the past month, Jeff Francouer drives a ball into left-center for his first major league hit and home run.

Sorry, I'm in proud-papa gushing mode right now. Just 2.5 games back of the nationals, it would be fantastic if the Braves could find a way to shave one off this weekend, right before the break. Still, I'd be pleased as punch with a 2.5 game deficit during the worst allstar break in professional sports.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Down on the Farm

The Braves called up mega-prospect Jeff Francouer today to replace Brian Jordan, whose gimpy shoulder is responsible for a trip to the DL. On one hand, it's somewhat surprising - Francouer hasn't seen a full season at AA yet. On the other, what's one more rookie? Fancouer is noted for his defense as well as being a "five tools" guy. I'm not crazy about the label, but he has hit for power and shown speed thus far in his career.

Francouer hit .273-13-62 with 13 steals and 20something doubles (can't find the number at the moment, sorry). His plate discipline still has a ways to go, so he could struggle early with such a large jump.

Other prospect news:

Chuck James is having a pretty good season at AA Mississippi. 5-1 with a 2.96 era, in 54 innings he's given up 46 hits, 15 walks (that's an excellent WHIP), and has 66 ks (and every K-related ratio here is outstanding). Pretty strong numbers, particularly with only 4 homers allowed. Ole Chuck is a lefty, and according to Baseball America, left handed hitters are having a little bit of trouble hitting him. To the tune of 10-93 with 42 ks. Those are shocking numbers. James has faced 131 righthanders, who are hitting a bit better against him (.270 ish). That his K's are that different is surprising. He's young, so it may be that oneday he'll do better against RH hitters. Or, this could be a fluke - he's always put up excellent numbers in the minors and always had excellent K rates. Or maybe his future will be in the pen, possibly as a lefty specialist. Who knows.

Joey Devine the Braves first round pick out of NC State, was said to be one of the most major-s ready prospects in the draft. A hard, if goofy (delivery said to be between sidearmed and 3/4), throwing reliever, many predicted he may be on the same track as recent college stars like Houston Street (Oakland) and Chad Cordero(Washington). Well, he walked 3 in his first outing but escaped - nerves I'm sure. 4 innings later, he'd still just walked the 3 batters, had plunked another, had given up no hits or runs, and had 7 ks. I don't know if he pitched anymore in High-A (Myrtle Beach), but he made his AA debut recently with a scoreless, 1 strikeout, inning. The Braves bullpen struggles had to be on the brain when they took Devine - whom they were not expecting to be available. Will he be in Atlanta by September? It's far to early to say. Still, it's not a bad start.

Ande Marte has done pretty well since returning to Richmond. His average is at .283, he's homered a couple of times, and drawn a number of walks. I'm confident we'll be seeing him again in the near future.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

So I hate this template

But it occoured to me that the other one was a little too hard to read. It needed a different folor for the text background and the ohter background. I'm too lazy to wade through what is doubtless some truly frightening HTML and tweak it right now. I promise to do so before the season because if it isn't Red & Black I'm not a true fan.

Also, I realize I have a tendency to carry on. I'd like to be briefer where possible.

Remember that cheerleader you wanted to take to prom?

. . .only never got the nerves to ask (or, she had a beau).

Recruiting rankings are a lot like that really hot cheerleader, whom for purposes of the discussion was the chearleading captain and probably dated the QB to boot (we may as well ride the cliche for all it is worth). They're both horribly overrated, even if they are fun to ogle. And, looking back some years down the road - they're way different than you remember.

Why are we so obsessed with ranking recruiting classes before any of the kids have actually graduated from highschool? Does this make any sense whatsoever? I mean, the only more absurd thing I can think of would be having a sport where on the field performance only partly dictated season success - where people not involved in any way, shape, or form instead get to pick who plays who, arbitrarily deciding who gets to when the "MNC" (err. . .).

Let's clear up a few misconceptions:

1) Recruiting doesn't matter - Talent is one of the foundations of success. As it so happens, it just isn't the only one.

2) Recruiting rankings are the end all be all - see above. You have to get talent. However, coaching and player development play a huge role in a school's success. I'd argue they play a bigger role (it is two things admittedly). And that says nothing of all the little things that can bite you, like a rash of injuries.

3) Recruiting Guru's know what's what - I think today's generation of recruiting media members have more access to kids than ever before. Most of them focus on smaller regions. They're probably as well equipped to comment on kids as they've ever been.

But, this is an inexact science at best. It's an uphill battle for coaching staffs. Moreso for website staffs who follow teams/areas. Not that there aren't quality writers covering recruiting right now - but some perspective is in order. That shiny five star RB your team just signed might not see 50 carries in his career. There are a plethora of reasons for this.

And you can't know most of them in advance.

4) Recruiting rankings matter - they don't mean squat. Again, these are handed out before players even get into school. Between signing day and the team's first game a lot of things can happen. Not the least of which is - the kids show up to find out that the game at the collegiate level is so far beyond what they're used to it's frightening. Kids are faster and stronger. Systems get more complicated (even low tech outfits employed by all those rednecks in the SEC). Just going to college is often an adjustment for kids - imagine piling having to play a major college sport on top of that.

Why do services even rank teams? Well, it's probably for the rabid fans as much as anything else. If you build it, they will come. But they're generally sensational and low on substance - like a lot of recruiting coverage. So fans have as much to blame here as anyone else, I think.

It would be much more interesting to rank classes down the road. One could "evaluate" them at the end of each year, but it typically takes a couple of years minimum to show big dividends. For every Adrian Peterson, there are hundreds of guys out there waiting in the wings who don't get serious playing time until later in their careers.

Me? I follow recruiting. As I've said elsewhere, I love knowing things about the kids who will come play at Georgia. Not 40 times necessarily. I like knowing a kid is from Augusta Prep as much as anything else. But I sometimes find myself in conversations starting to fall back on "our class is looking to be #8" or "he's a legit 4 start kid!". I hope I can catch myself, because that stuff is silly and should be ignored. I sometimes think there's too much attention paid to these kids now anyway, and if that's the case them I'm as much of a problem as anyone else.

I don't want to abolish recruiting news services, but I sometimes wish there was more perspective from the people who paid for them. Anyway, recruiting rankings & assorted hype are like that Cheerleader. And much like her, 5 years down the road from highschool (including her freshman 15, gravity, and too much time at the Sig Ep house "hanging with all my guy friends!") can sometimes be a revealing thing.


MLB's all star break is looming, with the biggest joke of an allstar game in professional sports to take place during. I should try to pen my thoughts on why I think it is the biggest joke. So I'll try to in the next week. I'm going to start doing some research on matters of actual importance though, so I can hand out report cards for the Braves and possibly some teams around Baseball. And other assorted entities - like Mark Lemke and his statement last night that "sometimes you have to ignore the stats, because teams just win" in reference to a caller and his note that "the Nationals have allowed alot more runs than they've scored, do you think they're overrated?" Yes, that reportcard will include some fun pythagorean analysis, an explanation of how and when stats can be misleading, but also how ones like the pythagorean win-loss record rarely are. Riveting stuff, if you enjoyed math in highschool.

The Dawgs lost two recruits yesterday. One was a surprise only if you like Georgia, are aware that he was supposed to come, but not following the scenario. Of course, I think that is 0 people - everyone aware that he was coming probably follows recruiting to some degree and knew test scores would be an issue with him. Corey Moon did not get his test score and will attend Hargrave Academy in Virginia. The other was a recruit from a year ago - Jamar Bryant. He asked for, and received, his release and will attend ECU. Good luck to Mr Bryant.

Now, if you were told that this means the sky is falling - it is. It's over. Georgia will no longer be a national power after this, because one player can make an entire insitituion. They may as well quit playing football. It was a good run. Feel free to stop reading now, as there will never be another football related comment typed here, ever.

Good Bye.

Anyway. Maybe, just maybe, the sky won't fall and the sun will rise and Georgia will maange to field a team next year. Speculation on message boards is running rampant - as it is wont to do. Did he get denied by admissions? Nobody knows. All we do know is he asked for his release. It's possible he never got the test score he needed to get in, and that said score was not the NCAA minimum (the lower your GPA, the higher you need to score to be granted full admission). Maybe ECU is taking him as a Partial Qualifier (Georgia does not have room to do that at this time). Maybe he jut decided he'd rather play close to home. Whatever the reason - I do wish him well.

It would be premature to chalk this up as another black mark on the admissions department. EVen if they really denied him admission (though I'd be surprised, because I'm unsure as to why this wouldn't be announced like it was for Jamar Chaney), we don't know that there wasn't a legitimate reason to do so.

Of course, the admissions board really could be off its rocker. I think the best reaction now would be to relax, have a cold one, and just prepare to enjoy the season.