It's been a while since we've opened up the old mailbag, so let's see what's been on your minds for the past few weeks...
Jferg writes: Who is chomping at the bit the most to replace a departing starter? Christian Robinson? Jakar Hamilton? Kwame? Murray? I want to know who is already showing signed of 'owning' that position that is now up for a new starter.
David: That's info I just don't have for you at the moment, as we've had limited player interaction since the bowl ended. But that stops today. I'll be over at Butts-Mehre this afternoon to talk to a number of the defensive players, including Jakar Hamilton. So figure to have an update on this in the near future.
Anonymous writes: Why are we paying (Scott Lakatos) so little? I thought since we opened up the checkbook with Grantham that the other Coaches would get a boost in pay scale as well. $180,000 seems cheap.
David: It seems cheap compared to what Todd Grantham is making, but it's well in line with the rest of Georgia's staff. John Jancek earned just $163,000 per year base, and Jon Fabris made $202,241. And other than Grantham, every coach at UGA has worked under one-year contracts. So I don't think deal tells us much about Lakatos, but it does tell us that Mark Richt was told to go get the right DC regardless of the cost. The deals for other coaches don't seem to have changed much.
Oh, and just as a point of reference, Lakatos was making $130,000 base at UConn.
Oh, and as a second point of reference, only Monte Kiffin and Will Muschamp earned more among assistants in 2009 than Grantham will earn in 2010. Meanwhile, Willie Martinez had been the 34th-highest-paid assistant coach at a public institution.
And speaking of the Lak-a-tos hire, a few more comments...
Cojones writes: Darn- now we got a guy with no toes!
Lee writes: Let's hope our DBs aren't Lakatos-intolerant. :)
David: I'd like to remind readers that Cojones and Lee will be here all week, and that the 12:30 show is completely different from the 10:30. Don't forget to tip your waitresses.
NCT writes: Assuming LSU and Michigan are another two of the ten most coveted coaching gigs (along with USC, ND, UF, and FSU), where are the remaining four?
David: I wrote last week about how many of the top coaching jobs in the country have opened up in the past couple of years and ran off a rough list of what I thought those top coaching jobs were. But for sake of argument, here's how I'd probably rank the 10 best coaching jobs in college football (based on money, talent, opportunity, prestige, location, etc.)…
1. Southern Cal -- You're essentially coaching an NFL team in terms of both talent and prestige in a major market that doesn't have its own NFL team. The weather is great, you get celebrity status, the money is top notch and the tradition is huge. Plus, it's the Pac-10, so it's winnable almost any year. Now, about those NCAA violations...
2. Texas -- You have one of the most fertile recruiting bases in the country and the only schools you're going toe-to-toe with for those recruits are Oklahoma (out of state) and a bunch of third-tier programs that you routinely dominate. The Horns probably have the biggest recruiting advantage of any program in the nation. And living in Austin ain't too bad either.
3. Florida -- The Gators have been a dominant team for two decades (save the Ron Zook affair), have access to a huge number of recruits and Jeremy Foley runs an exceptional athletics department that provides competitive sports across the board and pays very well.
4. Ohio State -- You can essentially lock up a BCS bowl every year, you play in a conference in which you are head and shoulders above the rest in terms of talent and history and you're in a town that is absolutely insane over college football. Tradition rich and still relatively low pressure compared to some other destinations.
5. LSU -- Tons of recruiting talent, big money, rabid fan base and 90 miles from New Orleans. Plus, if the administration has put up with Les Miles' bungling of one thing after another for this long, you know you have a rather long leash.
6. Alabama -- The ultimate double-edged sword job. If you are successful, there's probably not many better places to be in terms of the reward both financially and in gratitude from the fan base. But the bottom line with this job is that no one, not even Nick Saban, will ever be Bear Bryant.
7. Georgia -- Great college town, fertile recruiting base and you play in the SEC. Of course, the downside to that is that you also play in the SEC, so it's particularly competitive. But in contrast to Alabama, the perceptions of the coach aren't created by the past and the expectations for the future are high -- but not exactly insane like at places like Notre Dame.
8. Florida State -- People forget what a great job this is because the 'Noles have been down a bit lately, but there's as much talent in Tallahassee as anywhere, and the ACC is winnable every year.
9. Notre Dame -- The excuses for the losing are just that. A good coach will get it done. The money is huge, the TV contract means you can recruit nationally and all you need to do is win 10 games and you'll be in a BCS game. I'd actually put this job at No. 2 or 3 if the past few coaches hadn't tarnished it so much.
10. Oklahoma -- Similar to Texas except that you have to go out of state to recruit and Norman ain't exactly Austin.
I'd put Michigan and Penn State just on the outside here. Michigan is a real rebuilding project right now and, let's face it, life isn't exactly grand in that state right now. Penn State is a legit job, but I have to wonder how things will look when Joe Paterno is no longer there. They'd probably be No. 11 and 12 on my list though.
Oh, and we're officially up to 23 coaching changes in college football this season -- tied for the second most in the past 10 years.
Erk Russsell's sister-in-law's brother writes: I cannot find the date for the spring game anywhere? Does anyone have this info.?
David: April 10. Mark your calendars.
Ben writes: Well I'm super excited! Chavis and Foster were the safe picks in my opinion. Kirby was the 'sexy' pick. But when it was obvious it was pretty much down to Kirby and CTG, I questioned offering Kirby. If I was on the D and I heard what this guy was saying...I'd say..when do we start. I really hope this is the return of the stifling, fly around and hit somebody D we have enjoyed in the past. My only concern is how we reconfigure our current personnel for the 3-4. Either way...is it football season yet? Go Dawgs!!!
David: I don't know how the Grantham hire will eventually turn out, but the fact that fans are excited and the defense is getting a big shake up is already a great start. Complacency was a serious issue, and it won't be in 2010. But that's just one opinion. What are other readers thinking about Todd Grantham?
GenXDawg writes: Hell yes!
David: Nice. Short, concise. I like it.
Will Q writes: Look at my arm. You see those? Goosebumps, people, goosebumps.
David: That's exactly how I felt at the end of "Teen Wolf."
Anonymous writes: I feel my testicles tingling...
David: OK, you may want to see a doctor about that. Although, oddly, that is also how I felt at the end of "Teen Wolf 2."
Alright, how about a bit more perspective...
Anonymous writes: I'm withholding judgement until the product is on the field. We say GATA at UGA and the product the past four years has been awful with Richt giving it his endorsement the whole time. I hope Grantham is serious about finding players 1-50 and putting the best 11 on that field. That will go a long way with restoring creditability with this Dawg immediately!
David: I must agree. I don't want to rain on anyone's parade (or rub ointment on anyone's tingling testicles, as the case may be) but this hire brings with it more questions than it answers. Will a revamped staff fit well with the current personnel? How will UGA's current defensive players fit into the 3-4 scheme? How will Grantham & Co. do on the recruiting trail? Will Georgia lose some of this year's commitments? Will some current players transfer?
I said long before it happened that I thought there was a lot of upside to this hire, and fans are understandably excited. I would be, too. But fans were excited about Carlton Thomas six months ago, too. The hire is ultimately going to be judged on what happens on the field, and between the contract provided, the other names bandied about during the hiring process and the pressure that now exists to get things turned around, there's a lot riding on what happens the next couple of seasons. Just as winning the PR game shouldn't have been a priority during the hiring process, a popular pick now can't be considered a successful one.
It's absolutely possible that every question surrounding Grantham will be answered positively, but it's probably worth remembering that, as of today, they are still questions.
Having said that, it sure is going to make spring ball and the start of the 2010 season a lot more interesting.
Joeski writes: I was really hoping that this Kiffin fiasco would get some of our more zealous bretheren to lighten up a bit and realize there is a lot of character traits that Mark Richt has that make it very desirable to keep him in charge. I grow very tired of all these idiots who seem to think that being a fan (or an Alum even) and having an Internet connection gives them the expertise and the credibility to second-guess a man who has been coaching longer than most of them have been alive.
David: Yup, but we live in the age of the Internet, and every opinion is one that can be shared, regardless of a lack of facts, coherence or proper grammar.
EastCobbDawg writes: You straddle the line between print journalism and the blogosphere. Do you feel that traditional print columnists must more and more resort to incendiary positions in order to remain relevant in the modern world?
David: And as EastCobb points out, that type of mindless opinion writing is certainly not limited to random anonymous message board posters. A fair number of "journalists" (*cough* Skip Bayless *cough*) resort to essentially the same thing.
I think EastCobb has hit the nail on the head in terms of motivation for a lot of writers. They write something outlandish in order to get a reaction because they need the attention and the page views because they are worried about the gloom and doom the Internet has brought to the traditional print media.
But here's my take: Becoming more like message-board loonies isn't making you stand out from the crowd. It's making you a part of the crowd. And eventually readers are going to ask themselves why they're tuning in to see you on TV or picking up a newspaper to read your work or clicking over to your column on a Web site when your opinions offer nothing more substantive than what they can get on a message board or hear from the idiot Tech grad who corners them in the break room every day at work.
I think this is really at the heart of what frustrates me about the collapse of newspapers. I understand that the format has become increasingly outdated, but the content has not. Newspapers offer better journalism that you'll find anywhere else -- and studies have routinely proven that. But rather than continue to offer that quality insight into the issues of the day, newspapers are trying to compete in a new marketplace by reducing content, laying off reporters and becoming more and more like the products they're competing against.
And let's be honest -- newspapers aren't very good at being hip and trendy.
Anonymous writes: Speaking of "seems," Mark Bradley and Jeff Schultz are columnists. They're paid to express opinions. It is perfectly fine for them to use words like "seems" as long as their sense of things isn't unsupportable or prejudiced.
David: OK, I got a lot of pats on the back for taking a jab at Bradley last week, but that wasn't my intention. So just to be clear: I did not write that the AJC sucked. I wrote that, if you determine a general opinion of something based on the perceptions created by message-board posters, the general opinion of the AJC would be that it sucked. And given the number of people who chimed in to say that they agreed with that sentiment, I'd say I was correct in making that case.
Again, I'm not trying to criticize anyone for having an opinion. And I'm thrilled if that opinion differs from my own, because that inherently challenges me to better prove my side or enlightens me about a better way to perceive a situation. But an opinion alone is meaningless, and to only say how things "seem" essentially provides no differentiation between your take on things and anyone else's. I'm asking to be convinced -- and "seems" isn't going to get the job done.
Like I said, if I'm a UGA fan, I can cruise over to the Dawg Vent any time and see how things "seem." I want to know how things "are."
And again, that's not to single out any one writer or columnist. It's simply a standard I wish everyone (myself included) would live up to.
Cojones writes: Has anyone considered that the players were not exactly passionate about their unsupervised activities last summer and aside from pumping iron didn't pursue certain conditioning exercises beneficial to their positional requirements? Did they monitor each other for attendance and output as a team of brothers or did they cover for some while afraid of appearing as "Big Brother" and rat finks?
David: Great point here about the S&C program. I talked to one former player last week about the concerns surrounding the program and his answer to me was simple: The program got him bigger, faster and stronger. But no matter what program is in place, a player only is going to get out of it what he puts in.
So blame Dave Van Halanger if you must, but at some point players have to take responsibility for their training, too. So perhaps it wasn't DVH that was the problem. Perhaps it was other coaches who allowed veterans to continue to play despite poor performance while frustrated younger players began to think, "Why bother?"
I'm not saying that's definitely the case, but isn't it as valid an argument as any?
Kwame writes: I don't know about S&C numbers, but players from Alabama & Florida pass the eyeball test a lot better than uga's
David: In terms of strength and conditioning, perhaps the eyeball test really does count for something. And to be honest, I did have that thought while I was on the field in Jacksonville before the game this year.
In terms of comparing UGA and Alabama, here's some interesting thoughts I got from another reader...
Robert writes: My daughter goes to Alabama . We were there this weekend to visit and they also had the national Championship celebration at Bryant Denny, that we went to . When they introduced the assistant coaches , Kirby got the biggest ovation , of course, but the second biggest went not to McElwee their OC but to Scott Cochran, who they call their strength coach. He is almost like a brand in Tuscaloosa.
David: Robert also provided two quotes, the first from a 'Bama message board:
"The folks behind the scenes rarely get the kudos that they deserve, and even though the players did the conditioning themselves, Scott Cochran is a great inspiration and motivator. I've heard repeatedly that exercise is the key to a long and healthy life, and whether that is true or not, it certainly seems as though there's evidence from the improvement in the Bama team that working out builds stamina and endurance. I think it also adds to self-esteem and self-confidence. This is what keeps the team going when others have tired late in the game, as you pointed out so well."
The second is from Todd Grantham:
"I think what you want as a defense is, after the game is over, the team you just played, they're happy they don't have to play you anymore. In order to do that, I think it takes great conditioning and it takes great preparation. And you have to have a mind-set that regardless of what the scoreboard says, I'm playing for 60 minutes and you're not going to let the last play affect the next play."I think this is sort of the underlying issue. There's more to the discussion than strength as measured by a bench press or a squat. But those are the things that are easily measurable.
I just don't know quite how to go about measuring a team's ability to do that.
What's really a concern is conditioning (how ready are players to make that last play of the game that absolutely needs to be made?) and football strength (beyond a bench press, how prepared are players to do what needs to be done to dominate on the field?).
I remember Rennie Curran talking about the play he made at the end of this year's South Carolina game and how he was literally using the last bit of energy he had to make the play and simply collapsed onto the field afterward.
Now, I know I don't have many credentials in this department -- 20 minutes on the treadmill and I need a three-hour nap -- but I'd be willing to bet that if you asked coaches, they'd say the team that can do that more often is going to win the game the majority of the time.
Of course, my guess is Todd Grantham has a bit better gauge for doing it than I do.
1454 writes: Hale are you even allowing the great and wonderful Texas Dawg to delete comment on your site? I noticed my comment is gone.
David: I get this a lot -- though not about Texas Dawg, who is a fine, upstanding individual as far as I know. People want to know why I delete comments because they'll check back later and not be able to find what they wrote. Here's the answer:
I have probably deleted fewer than a dozen comments in the 18 months this blog has been running, and that was only due to someone trolling the blog and posting some particularly offensive things. What is more likely the case is that you're looking for your comments in the wrong place.
There are two versions of this blog -- one at ugadogsblog.blogspot.com and one at dawgs-extra.blogspot.com. The reason for this is because the Macon paper wants credit for page views for one site, and the Columbus paper wants credit for page views for the other.
For the most part, this is only an inconvenience for me because I have to post everything twice. But the other problem is that, if you post a comment on one version of the blog, it doesn't show up on the other.
So, if you told Texas Dawg he was a moron on the Columbus site, but later you checked the Macon site and noticed that your comment was missing, it's not because I'm preventing you from letting Texas Dawg know how you feel. And, assuming there are no racist or sexist tinges to his response, I'll also happily allow him to comment on why he is, in fact, not an idiot.
Trey writes: Football Coach Scoop has about as much credit as me reading blogs and headlines, and turning rumors into facts. They are awful.
David: I am shocked -- SHOCKED -- that FootballCoachScoop.com got the Georgia hire wrong. Usually their credibility is impeccable. I guess "Frank from Gainesville" isn't as good a source as they had assumed.
I'm thinking I'd like to start a really random rumor and just have a handful of people email FootballCoachScoop with the "inside scoop" on it to see if it gets posted. Any ideas?
Anonymous writes: When will the last coach be hired?
David: What, you mean FootballCoachScoop.com hasn't already told you its BREAKING NEWS? It will be the FIRST TO REPORT Willie Martinez is being brought back to coach the outside linebackers on Friday.
(UPDATE: Hat tip to our pal Chuck, who sent me this article that proves I was beaten to the punch on the FootballCoachScoop.com item. I guess I have no BREAKING NEWS and am not FIRST TO REPORT that that site is awful.)
hinesacl writes: Dave...wouldn't surprise me if we wind up with two LB coaches...one ILB coach and one OLB coach. It WILL surprise me if we wind up with a guy that deal only with special teams and no other position.
David: I'm inclined to agree, but I'm still not sure it has been settled.
Georgia Sports Blog does a nice job of explaining why having a full-time special teams coach may not be necessary.
The bottom line, according to GSB is that:
Several coaches have an area of responsibility in special teams currently. For instance, Searels handles field goals and extra points, Coach Ball (pretty sure) handles kickoff returns, and Fabris handled punt returns and kickoff coverage. Not sure who handled punting in general. (NOTE FROM HALE: It was John Lilly.) All of our special teams are NOT broken. Kickoff returns coverage were badly broken and the coverage of fake punts were broken, and we fired Fabris who ran all of that.
The solution there isn't hire a new special teams coach to manage all special teams. The solution is hire someone better than Fabris. The solution is also to put better athletes on special teams which UGA started doing mid-2009, and the solution is to spend more time on special teams in practice.
Will a full-time special teams coach fix things? Probably. But not everything was broken.
If I were a betting man, I'd say that Richt and Grantham realize that, too, and instead we'll see another LBs coach come in. In fact, it might be this guy...
Or then again, it might be a special teams coach. Regardless, I'm certain it will happen at a time that is incredibly inconvenient for me.
Anonymous writes: Not sure what the jab at Glenn Beck ("Now, if only they did the same for the flammable underwear guy, they could have saved Glenn Beck a lot of heartache.") has to do with anything in the post. I read your posts daily, but I will say that I am sure that I am not alone as a reader who is also fan of Beck. Political jabs in a sports blog that aren't aimed at sports related topics will only serve to alienate readers to your posts.
David: OK, a couple of things on this…
First, the joke he's referring to was about Obama, not Beck. It was in reference to the White House quickly making a statement that the State of the Union speech would not conflict with the season premier of "Lost," which, to me, stood in stark contrast to the fact that conservative pundits had been all over Obama for waiting three days to discuss the airplane underpants bomber.
Of course, I was being facetious about that, too. The truth is, I'd much prefer the president take his time and be careful in his approach to serious matters, and I certainly hope he's not giving a ton of thought to "Lost." (Although, if he is, I'd love to hear what he thinks the deal with Libby is...)
But that's all beside the point.
If you read the blog regularly, you know that it's essentially 100 percent UGA sports… with the exception of my links posts. That is the one area in which I try to diverge from sports for a bit and talk about TV, music, etc. For my own safety and the ability of the blog to function as a resource for UGA fans, I do try to stay out of politics. I don't necessarily consider it out of bounds -- just something I try to stay away from.
But here's the thing that I think people have stopped understanding: Beck is not a politician. Bill O'Reilly is not a politician. Keith Olbermann is not a politician. Chris Matthews is not a politician (this week).
Those guys are not even journalists, in the strictest sense of things. They are commentators. On TV. They give opinions.
Some of those opinions you agree with. Some you don't. Sometimes they offer insight that is helpful. Often times they don't.
In fact, they're much like a newspaper columnist talking about sports -- we usually only have part of the information, and the coaches don't really care much about what we have to say anyway. It's all about keeping the readers informed and entertained -- and like with some of those newspaper columnists, there are plenty of political commentators who don't stray too far from providing a lot of "seems" rather than real insight. They want to get your riled up, and that's what keeps you coming back.
My point is this: It'd be nice if we could mention names like Beck and Olbermann without people feeling like we just beat up their mother. It might go a long way toward improving the overall discourse in this country.
Anonymous writes: Any leftist comments from people who helped put this disasterous group of radicals in office will lose me from this blog. I love me some UGA football, but I will not support the blog of someone who is aiding in ruining my future, and my kids' chances to have the life/opportunities I had. I will not compromise my principles.
David: OK, never mind.
The Truth writes: David, Did you notice in the teleconference that it sounded like Grantham said that he congratulated Saban on the phone the day after the BCS championship and that he saw Saban a few days ago? Does that mean he may have interviewed for the DC job at Bama when things got a little dicey with Kirby?
David: I did notice that Grantham mentioned seeing Saban in person a few days before taking the Georgia job, and I'll agree that the timing seems a bit odd. But I'm also guessing that's something we wouldn't get a straight answer on anyway.
The good news, however, is that Grantham and Lakatos will be available to the media in person on Friday for the first time. So perhaps I'll inquire a bit further about the meeting then.
MaconDawg writes: Low looks like a little kid stuck in the middle while his parents are fighting. Either that or a guy who's thinking "if Kiffin doesn't make it in the room I'm going to be very upset that they got me out of bed for this."
David: If you haven't seen the video of the preamble to the Kiffin press conference at UT, you really must check it out.
Again, watch Chris Low through the whole thing. The look on his face sums up what it's like to want to be a normal journalist when you're surrounded by people who lack the social skills for a job other than "journalist."
So for any of you who think that the life of a sports writer is something you'd like to work toward, just watch the video again and consider accounting.
UGA69Dawg writes: David, CTG said we would be running the 1 gap 3-4. Now I hae read some very technical discussions of the 4-3 3-4 1 gap 2 gap etc. Can you link us to a "3-4 for Dummies" explanation?
David: Here's a rough breakdown of how the 3-4 defense works, but there are obviously tweaks that each coach makes to his own scheme, so one 3-4 is not necessarily the same as another.
There have been some good comments on the blog over the past few days talking about Grantham's one-gap 3-4, and my hope is that I'll have some time in the near future to sit down with Grantham to discuss it in more detail, too.
The Watch Dawg: NBC is stupid for shaking up their lineup. Big time indian givers they are. FOX can now officially be my favorite network. 24 AND Conan? WINNNNNN.
David: How about "24" starring Conan? Andy as the president in crisis. Pimpbot5000 as the CTU director with nefarious motives. Max Weinberg as the evil corporate CEO bent on world domination. The robot on a toilet as... um... a computer analyst on a toilet?
Now that's something I'd watch.
OK, I think that'll wrap it up for today. I'll hopefully have some player quotes this afternoon and lots more stuff to come this week.