We opened with a mailbag on Friday. Then we added to it on Monday. Yesterday, players answered your questions in our video mailbag. And today, we finally wrap things up with our fourth and final installment...
Anonymous writes: I'm missing Tony on PTI too but Lebatard and Wilbon had a good discussion about off field arrests the other day noting how many Florida has had. Any chance you could do some research on which SEC schools have had the most arrests over the years?
David: Well to do legitimate research I'd have to go back through arrest reports and stuff of that nature that I just don't have time to do. Thankfully, however, the fine folks at Every Day Should Be Saturday have a pretty standardized way of looking at off-field trouble -- the vaunted Fulmer Cup standings. You can find the all-time leaderboard HERE.
(Also, I was thrilled to learn my alma mater holds the FCS record for most Fulmer Cup points... I'm sure a few people I know are responsible for that.)
Of course, trouble for players is bad, but it tends to be overlooked a bit when you win. So it seemed to me we should look for which teams balanced the two the best.
Now, two caveats on the Fulmer Cup:
1.) It doesn't necessarily measure arrests. It's about off-field incidents, and more serious infractions are weighted heavier. So, it's not a measure of arrests so much as it's a measure of trouble.
2.) The standings only go back to 2006.
So with that, let's look at how the SEC stacks up in Fulmer Cup points per win (i.e. how much trouble equates to one win) since 2006:
| Miss State||22||20||1.10|
| S. Carolina||21||28||0.75|
| Ole Miss||10||25||0.40|
| SEC Totals||248||381||0.65|
I'll let you take from this what you will, but I'd caution Georgia fans not to delight too much in Florida's ranking, given that the difference between your team and theirs isn't that dramatic. Although, I'm not sure that EDSBS is properly weighting the variance between Carlos Dunlap's DUI and Vance Cuff's emergence from an alley.
(UPDATE: I completely screwed up the numbers for UGA here. I shorted them five wins somehow. Anyway, stats are revised, and certainly look a lot better for the Dawgs. My apologies.)
I will say this should be yet another big plus on Rich Brooks' resume. Winning at Kentucky isn't easy, but doing it without much off-field trouble is even more impressive. I mean, it's not like that school hasn't had it's share of crime drama.
Dawgfan17 writes: A huge advantage to this year versus last year is I remember having a lot of starters (especially on the OL) that had off season surgery. It seemed to set us back early in the year. This year most of the guys listed as recovering for spring are guys that could provide depth but don't seem to be the key guys at this point. A lot can change over the spring and summer but this is the best I have felt about the injury situation since 2007 (when we finished #2)
David: Interesting you should mention that because Mark Richt is also keenly aware of his team's health, and while last year he preached the importance of physical practices, this year, he seems like he might be a bit more cautious:
“We want to stay healthy and that will be addressed as far as how we get after each other in the spring and how much true scrimmaging we’ll do and how much thud we will do," Richt said. "We're trying to find the right mix because you want to be great at tackling, great at cut blocking, but you also want to stay as healthy as you possibly can. Even our practice schedules are still a little bit up for debate as far as the best thing for us to do.”
Dan9124 writes: why are your twitter links and links to past blog posts always directed to the Columbus blog aka the gray background blog? Just curious..
David: The links from Twitter are generated automatically, so I had to set it up to link to just one of the two sites, otherwise they'd always post twice. Just so happened to end up linking to the Columbus site. As for the links I use within my posts, that's all pretty random, but I might be using the Columbus version more because it comes up first in Google searches. Anyway, no real rhyme or reason to it, and quite frankly, I'd much prefer to have just one version of the blog in the first place. But… what are ya gonna do?
Anonymous writes: Why not have a separate blog to talk about LOST. I love what you do with UGA related stuff, just not a LOST fan. just sayin....
David: As I said, I'm already updating one too many blogs. But you're not alone in your critique...
jlove writes: i must say.. i am a big fan of your blog too, have been reading it quite some time. i just hate when i click the UGA posts from the ledger-enquirer.com and get a half page of Lost stuff. … no offense, i know you may love the show.. but can you please properly categorize it to the point where a single blog entry hits Lost and then some stats about UGA?
David: Here's the deal -- I get it. Not everyone watches "Lost" or cares what I have to say about it. But not everyone likes when I write something negative about Georgia (even if it's 100 percent accurate), and not everyone likes when I write about stats and not everyone likes that I post links every day. You just can't please everyone, so my philosophy with this blog has always been to take the things I like most about the blogs I read and incorporate them into what I write. That means using statistical analysis sometimes and writing about pop culture other times.
That said, I also want to point out that I do categorize that stuff so that it shouldn't be too hard for you to avoid it if you choose. I have never once written about anything other than UGA in a legitimate UGA post. The only times diverge from Bulldogs material is in a.) a mailbag when I'm directly responding to something a reader commented on, or b.) in a links post. The mailbags have always been a mix of legitimate questions and off-topic ones, and the links have always included both UGA and non-UGA-related stuff. Furthermore, I always post the UGA links first, so you don't need to sift through anything else trying to find what you're looking for.
So, I guess what I'm saying is, if you click on a story about UGA, that's what it'll be. But if you're perusing the links or the mailbags… anything goes. Obviously you're not obligated to read it -- and in the case of mailbags, I bold each question so it's pretty easy to skip ahead to the next one. I can also assure you, I'm not shortchanging you on the UGA material in order to write about TV. It's strictly an addition to the sports stuff, not a replacement for it.
I think a blog requires a different approach from the newspaper. I could simply use this space as an information dump for all the UGA material I have that doesn't make it into the Telegraph, but I think that falls short of what makes a good blog. I think the ones that are done well -- the ones I read regularly -- mix an overarching theme with the personality of the writer. For me, that includes a few diversions from the essential Georgia stuff into discussions of the media or "Lost" or clips from "Seinfeld."
If you like it, great. If you don't, it's cool with me if you want to skip over it. Again, I assure you you're not missing out on UGA stuff because of it. But this is how I think a good blog should work, so I'm staying the course with it. Hopefully you'll find plenty to enjoy, even if some of it you don't.
Ben writes: Has anyone talked about Branden Smith playing on offense again this year? Or is that experiment over?
David: Branden expects to be back on offense this year, although he said he hasn't had any significant discussions about it with new DBs coach Scott Lakatos. Mike Bobo told me that he expects Smith to spend a bit more time this spring working on his skills at corner, and that his playing time on offense will depend heavily on how well he holds onto the football.
Branden's take on the whole thing? “I like playing both ways, but my main focus is just winning. If I had to play offense the rest of the season to help the team win, that’s what I’d have to do. I wish I could have played defense a little more last year, but on the other hand, I’m just here to help the team win, that’s all.”
Cobia Quest writes: I noticed you left Jonathan Owens off the list of OL. Is he still around or did I miss an announcement to that regard?
David: That's my bad. Owens is still around, although a mix of injuries and inconsistency has him on more of a Kevin Perez type of path at the moment. But I will say this: Perhaps the most under-the-radar story to watch in 2010 -- starting with spring practice -- will be how the backup O linemen perform and how much action they get. In 2011, that O line is going to get a massive overhaul, and Richt & Co. would be wise to make sure they ease into that transition a bit better than they did in years past.
TrboDawg writes: re: Editorial: Notes on Objectivity and News By Matthew Cardinale, News Editor, The Atlanta Progressive News (February 17, 2010) I count SIX uses of the word "Seems" in the article... didn't someone once mention something about that word....
David: I guess this sums up my opposition to the editorial policy of news sources that deal completely in non-objective writing: Once we abandon attempts at objectivity, we live exclusively in a world of "seems." And that, to me, seems awfully dangerous.
Anonymous writes: Gotta say, Dave-o, that I agree with the Atlanta Progressive News view that there's no objective reality, but rather only perspectives on, and constructions of, reality. At least they're clear about their bias, unlike Fox News which is a far-right news source that claims to be fair and balanced.
David: Well, I won't get into the FOX News debate -- and I'd be thrilled if the comments section didn't devolve into a treatise on the network either -- but I must disagree with the premise of your argument.
Is there a completely objective reality? No, but that doesn't mean the media should give up on trying to achieve that. It's only through higher standards that we achieve anything beyond the status quo.
When it comes to information distribution, there will always be noise. There will always be some level of distortion between the sender and receiver when the information must first pass through an intermediary -- whether it be a newspaper, TV news, a blog, whatever.
But if our standards for that intermediary are tossed aside because we know he'll never reach them, all that does is tell the intermediary he can stop worrying about the truth and simply assume he is the ultimate judge of what information you deserve. It allows the news to be transmitted in only black and white, but as anyone who paid attention to the UGA coaching hires should be well aware, it's never that simple.
Anonymous writes: "Fan of Stewart, Bill O.....not so much." That says volumes about your age and level of naivete. When I was your age I felt they shouldn't let people over 40 vote, now I feel you should have to be over 40 and own something. Even if you don't believe this now, you will in the future. Idealism is for the young, reality will awaken you soon enough. All of us want to provide for everyone's needs, all of them, most of us know that is neither practical nor affordable.
David: Well, I'm just happy someone still thinks I'm young. The gray hairs and expanding waistline had me believing otherwise.
Elvis Skinner writes: Am I the only one perplexed by how exactly Ogletree ('tweener SS) could wind up an OLB in this system...and so can Houston ( a true DE on most teams) and Washington (same)...but Gamble is going to probably be ILB (weighs the same as the two aforementioned OLB's)
I assume some crosstrainging will be done for some ILB/OLB ( i.e. Gamble as mentioned) but what exactly is the prototype we are looking for at this position?
David: Well, here's a good answer from another reader...
Anonymous writes: there are essentially 3 different LB types needed for the 3-4.
Rush OLB-think Lawrence Taylor, Demarcus Ware, Shawn Merriman. This is ideally suited for Justin Houston. He will basically stand up at the end of the line and rush the QB 75% of the time.
Release OLB-this is the guy who plays opposite side. Needs to be able to cover in space, as well as run man-to-man vs. TE's and RB's out of the backfield. Usually a much less talked about player than the rush guy, because he does not get the sack stats, but must be a very intelligent and versatile guy. Has to have the size to take on OT's and the speed to cover.
Inside LB's-similar to 4-3 MLB's, but have to be more versatile. Typical 4-3 MLB reads and reacts, and that is similar to the 3-4. One ILB will typically blitz more often than the other, but they should be interchangeable.
If you look at the Cowboys' defense last year, Bradie James and Keith Brooking far and away had the most tackles on the team, but only had 5 sacks between them.
Anthony Spencer, an OLB was 4th on the team in tackles and had 6 sacks. Spencer is 6'3", 260 and was a very good DE in the 4-3 at Purdue.
Ware was only 7th in tackles, but had 11 sacks.
I don't think there will be much cross-training going on, because each position is pretty specialized. A lot of our poor LB play the last couple of years can be attributed to Jancek's insistence on "cross-training" every LB instead of putting them in a position and letting them become a craftsman there. I imagine that Grantham will bring the NFL style here, and push guys to become artists at their individual position.
Right now, I think most of our players want to be at OLB, because it is more sexy and gets the sack stats. However, as you can see, the ILB's will get plenty of stats.
Ogletree may be better suited as an ILB, but he may be a really good fit at OLB across from a rush guy like Houston.He is already 6'3, 220. He may well stay at safety, but I imagine Grantham and Lakatos will fight over him.
Rennie would have been an ideal ILB. I hate it for him and Geno Atkins that they will not get to play in this system.
David: Very thorough comment, and pretty much spot on (particularly about players wanting to be at OLB -- which I heard from at least three players who aren't at OLB now). But just to be safe, I went ahead and asked Todd Grantham for his take on what he looked for at each position:
Grantham on outside linebacker: "As an outside backer, you're an edge rusher, so you've got to have some athletic ability, you've got to have some flexibility, you've got to be able to bend your body in close to the quarterback. You've also got to have the ability to do some drops -- most of the times it's a flat or a hook, but it's a short-area drop. You also have to have the ability to tackle in space because there's more range from the end of the tackle to the sideline sometimes, so you have to have a little bit of range there."
Grantham on inside linebacker: "As an inside backer, you've got to have similar skill sets in the sense of athletic ability, probably have a little bit more range, a little bit more ability to close on a guy in space, you have more coverage responsibility as an inside linebacker. In other words, you've got to have more areas of more zones, more matches, different matches, little bit different run fits. You're not going to rush the passer as much, although it's still important that you can do that. But it's a different kind of rush. Coming off the edge, you're going to engage a tackle, and you're going one-on-one with a tackle, usually. We hope to get backs, which we feel like we'll win those battles, but most of the time I feel like people are going to try to get big guys, offensive tackles, on our guys coming off the edge. Whereas when you're coming up the middle, you usually get on backs more inside, so it's a different kind of rush."
Grantham on D ends: "As far as defensive ends, or D linemen in general, they're going to have some pass rush, they're generally bigger guys, thicker guys. They still have the length that you look for, but they might not have the skill set athletically that an outside backer would have, and they're not asked to do the same kind of things because they're bigger guys. So really when you talk about defensive linemen, you're talking about guys you want to be physical at the point, physical at the line of scrimmage, they have some stoutness to them, they can knock guys back, they can penetrate, and yet they have enough athletic ability that they can shed guys, they can escape blockers, and they can win some one-on-one matchups inside to disrupt the quarterback and the pass game and also make some plays inside in the run game."
First off, congrats to Grantham on that description of the D linemen, which shatters a "That's what she said" record for one quote.
Secondly, here's Mark Richt on how he thinks the secondary needs to work this year…
Richt on the corners: “In the secondary, it’s going to be a little different philosophy. We were more of a boundary corner/field corner. But the boundary corner in our old scheme were counted on to do a lot of run support. I don’t know if we’ll be doing quite as much as that, so that might change who plays to the boundary and who plays to the field. I think we’re going to be experimenting a little bit at the corner position.”
Richt on the safeties: “The safeties, you’d like to have safeties that can play both the strong and the free, and that’s ideal for any defense. You don’t want to say this guy is the guy who comes down in the run game and this is the only guy who always plays the deep middle. You’d like them both to be able to play the two-deep, you’d like them both to be able to support the run and you’d like them both to cover, too. So we’re going to be mixing and matching with these guys a little bit just to see who can do what.”
Carter writes: Are coaches allowed any on-field or off-field contact with players (outside of the weight room) between the end of spring ball and the start of fall camp? I'm just trying to figure how much time we have to implement the 3-4, rather it be on the practice field or in a meeting room.
David: To answer your question, Carter, no coaches -- other than the S&C staff -- can work with players during the summer. You can find the NCAA rules regarding that stuff HERE.
To answer your latter inquiry, here's what Todd Grantham had to say about what he hopes to get done this spring:
“I think it’s important that we install our system for first and second down and all the different personnel groups we’re going to see. It’s important that we develop a third-down package. I think it’s critical we identify the players I feel like can help us compete for an SEC championship and really define the roles for the players. It’s critical you define the role for each player, so when they leave in the summer, here’s what you can do to improve yourself, what you can work on. That way when we come back, everybody’s got an understanding. I also think it’s important we work on all the different types of offense we’re going to see, that way come Week 7 when we see something a little different, we’re going to be ready for it. So it’s going to be a pretty busy spring.”
MT writes: How many other Bulldog alums are a presence in Athens during post-season workouts? Miami became renowned for the number of NFL players who came back to practice with the college kids, and the workouts became legendary for the intensity and high level of competition. Besides me reading a few years ago of Champ coming back to workout while he finished his degree, I can't recall hearing of other NFLers coming back... Any info?
David: If you hang around Butts-Mehre, particularly during the NFL offseason, you're bound to bump into a bunch of former Dawgs. Some come back to train, some are just stopping in to visit with friends and say hello. When I was there last week, I ran into Stafford, Brannan Southerland and Tripp Chandler. Over the past year or so I've seen players from as far back as the '60s up through Will Witherspoon and all the way to Knowshon and Stafford hanging around. So yes, there's plenty of presence from the former Dawgs.
Having said that, as much as I love Athens, it isn't exactly South Beach, so I think Miami still has a pretty big advantage in bringing some bling into the locker room.
Jon writes: I've been wondering about Mike Bobo's position. I was one of the fans this year that really thought both Martinez and Bobo should go after the way the team performed. I just don't feel Bobo is going to elevate our offense to where it needs to be. He's also come up through the Richt system and maybe it's time for new life to be breathed into it. Is it possible that Richt only canned Martinez instead of both because it would only disrupt half the team this year? And did this impact recruiting this past year (Rogers et al) with the possiblity Bobo's job isn't secure?
David: I think Bobo gets a bit of a bad rap for several reasons.
First, he's young and he doesn't have a ton of experience, so it makes it fairly easy to question his credentials. But I can tell you from talking to him pretty regularly, he's aware of his shortcomings, and that's a good thing. I don't think there's another coach on the staff who so readily admits his mistakes and clearly works on improving. Bobo gives an honest assessment of his own performance every time I've spoken to him, so there's reason to assume that he's going to get better each year.
Secondly, while the offense certainly had its problems last year -- Tennessee, first half vs. LSU, first half vs. A&M, second half vs. Okie State -- things weren't quite as bad as you'd think in the big picture. As The Senator pointed out a couple of weeks ago, Bobo's work hasn't been as bad as most people seem to think. And he did that while replacing virtually every skill position on offense, while having a quarterback who, to be kind, could have concerned himself a bit more with protecting the football.
Georgia's scoring offense per year has actually been pretty steady: 31.46 ppg in 2007, 32.62 in 2008 and 28.92 in 2009. In '07, that was good enough to rank 29th nationally -- pretty decent considering the SEC is routinely the best defensive conference in the country. The problem is, while UGA only averaged about one-and-a-half points fewer last year, their national ranking dropped to 51st.
Again, it's pretty clear that Bobo could be doing more, but I also think he's not without some real upside. I almost view Bobo as a solid prospect in baseball who hasn't lived up to his potential, but is also a bit too green to dump just to see him turn into a star for another organization. But with 10 returning starters on offense this year, he'll get his chance to prove he's ready for the big leagues.
Twest20 writes: How do you see the Safety position working out in the fall? With three talented guys in Rambo, Hamilton, and Ogletree who do you see starting?
David: It's hard to say at this point, but I'd be shocked if Rambo wasn't a starter. He played well last year, has gotten better this offseason, and he really displays all the leadership characteristics you want to see from the safety position. He plays physical, he's vocal, and he's immensely popular among his teammates.
As for the other spot, it's up for grabs. Ogletree has as much natural ability as anyone, but it's hard to project how he'll fit until he gets to Athens. I think Hamilton has to have the inside track for now, simply because he has JuCo experience and is already on campus to get a leg up on learning Scott Lakatos' game plan. The wild card here is probably Quintin Banks, who earns raves from his teammates but just can't stay healthy. Given all the youth on defense this season and the amount of transition going on, however, I think it would be great news for UGA if Banks could give them some serious production, even in a reserve role, in 2010.
Chad C writes: could you give me a little input on the receiver situation at UGA? I know we didn't do well in that category on Signing Day but I can't help but look at our roster and see plenty of talent there. I've had conversations with friends about this and some seem to think that we are in deep trouble when it comes to receivers and that we are severely understaffed there. I see nine guys on the roster at receiver...four of which I know have talent and five that I'm not sure about.
David: I talked with tight end Aron White about the receiving corps last week, and his synopsis was pretty simple: We've got a good group of receivers, but we can't afford for anyone to get hurt.
I think that's about right for this group. It's not that there isn't talent in the receiving corps, but there isn't a lot of depth. A few injuries in the wrong place could turn a precarious situation into a bad situation awfully fast.
Last year, A.J. Green missed at least some time in the final six games of the regular season. Tavarres King has tons of potential, but the biggest knock on him has always been his frame, and it's probably completely fair to wonder whether he can hold up to the pounding that comes with playing in the SEC over the long haul.
Those are Georgia's top two receivers right now, and both have to be considered at least some degree of an injury risk. So while I think there's talent further down the depth chart, I also think it would be a scary proposition for Georgia's passing game to revolve around a redshirt freshman QB and Marlon Brown and Israel Troupe split out wide.
Of course, the reason I was talking to White about this in the first place is because Georgia has some excellent tight ends. That's not altogether different from how the 2005 season played out, when Leonard Pope and Martrez Milner were the Dawgs' two best passing targets for most of the season, and Mo Massaquoi and Bryan McClendon were made better by the threats of the tight ends in the passing game. That could certainly play out the same way this year -- only Green is far better than Massaquoi or McClendon were then.
The bigger problem probably comes in 2011, when Green will most likely be playing on Sundays and Kris Durham will be gone from Athens. The pressure is on the coaching staff now, not only to land a big recruiting class at wideout next year -- at least three, I'd guess -- but to make sure that Brown, King, Troupe and Rantavious Wooten are ready to take a step forward, too.
Timothy writes: Joe Cox had spoken about wanting to get into coaching. I am just wondering what his plans are after college - a GA position somewhere?
David: Apparently that's a popular topic of conversation this week…
Jeff writes: Got a quick question for you. I follow some of the players on Twitter and see that a lot of the guys are training getting ready for the NFL draft. Do you know what the guys like Joe Cox who aren't NFL bound are up to? Grad school? Real world job hunting? Just curious as to what happens for the kids whose playing days are over...
David: Joe is an interesting case because way back in August he said he had no interest in playing football as a pro, didn't want to work out at Pro Day and couldn't stand the thought of putting himself through the torture of being critiqued and criticized all over again. That's a rare thing, even from career backups.
Instead, Joe's hoping to get into coaching, and from the time I spent with him last year, I think that's probably the perfect endeavor for him.
To answer Timothy's question though -- Joe hasn't landed a gig yet. I traded emails with Mike Moore, who said Joe is simply relaxing in Charlotte for the time being and, not surprisingly, doing a lot of fishing.
As for the rest of the recent graduates from the program, most are working on continuing their football careers.
Rod Battle, for example, is rehabbing his knee and hoping to be healthy enough to impress a few scouts and get invited to an NFL camp. If that doesn't work out, he has a decent back-up plan. He's hoping to get into athletics administration -- and maybe become the next Damon Evans.
Other players like Kade Weston didn't get an invite to the combine, but have an NFL skill set and, even if they don't get drafted, are likely to land an invite to a camp with some team. From there, it's up to them to work their way into a permanent job, much like Dannell Ellerbe did so effectively last year.
And then there are guys like Mike Moore, who certainly had their highlights in college, but still have to do a lot to sell themselves to scouts at the next level. For some, it's a longshot and for others, it pays off -- and Moore is working as hard as possible to land in the latter category.
Anyway, to give you an idea of what goes on for players like Moore, I asked him about his work since Georgia's bowl game. Here's what he wrote:
"I've been training with Pete Bommarito at Bommarito Performance Systems down in Miami. It's been going extremely well! Not only the training, but by being around current NFL players and learning from them is also a huge bonus. People will notice all the work I have put in once March 16th comes (Pro Day).
"Being someone who has been overlooked their whole life, its not hard for me to get some extra motivation by not being invited to the combine. Everyone around UGA; teammates, coaches, and fans, know what I meant to the team and how I contributed. But, sometimes certain things don't fall your way. And thats what motivates me. I have to work THAT much harder than everyone else. I have to really put on a good showing at Pro Day and hopefully stir up some interest from the NFL scouts and coaches. My agent has begun talking with teams and given them highlights of my career. But you have to remember, 40+ players drafted in the 2009 were not invited to the combine. So there's still hope in that regard. But, personally I feel that there are not 30 WRs that are better than me and once I get into a camp I can prove that. Until then, I can only train and control what I can control and thats my work ethic. So i just go into my workouts with the mindset of outworking the competition, even if i feel that I am better. I still have to work twice as hard.
"At our training facility we do a lot of different things. We go from 6:30 am to 5 pm Monday-Saturday. We will do speed work in the morning, followed by position drills. Some pool work, weight lifting, and end the day by watching film on the running that we did earlier. And in between all those sessions, we have our "medicals." Those consist of neuromuscular treatment, physical therapy, chiropractic work, etc. So there are a lot of things that we do throughout the day. And again, my training has been fantastic. Couldn't be any happier with how things are going.
"A quick glimpse, I put up 20 reps of 230 lbs while the best for WR at the combine was 20 of 225. So, with that said, I have some numbers to compete with now that the combine is over and hopefully I can generate enough buzz to where someone will see that I can be a real asset to their team/franchise. I truly believe that once they really sit down and look at what I can provide to a team, they will realize that I'm someone who can help them achieve their goals."
Moore's one of the nicest and hardest working guys I've covered at Georgia, and it wouldn't surprise me if he worked his way into a job at the next level. And if you want to pass along a few words of encouragement his way, you can find him on Twitter at @MikeMoore82. (link fixed!)
Erik writes: Hey David, I've been thinking about this for a while but never got around to posting/sharing the idea:
Do you think you could give us some insight into how you go about checking with your sources and verifying rumors? I'm thinking back to when we didn't know who UGA was going after for D coordinator, and how every so often the rumor mill would spin out something about Smart or Foster, and you would say something to the effect of "I haven't heard anything, etc."
You've also made some comments on the blog about having heard something "tentative" or "hints". Not sure about the exact wording, but you get the idea.
Just wondering about the hierarchy of sources (janitor, players, coaches, I dunno) and the trust you put in the information you get, i.e. the difference between something low-confidence (hints) and higher-confidence (I've heard). I think it would be pretty enlightening to all us non journalism folk.
David: Good question, Erik, and I'm not entirely sure I can give you a stock answer that applies to all situations, but I'm a big believer in transparency in journalism, so I'll do my best...
First off, let's get this out of the way: On the list of journalists with the best sources inside Butts-Mehre and around college football, I rank a good bit closer to the bottom of the list than the top. I've only been at this a couple of years, and while I've been lucky enough to get to know a lot of good people, I'm still far from the most plugged-in reporter out there.
When there is a story breaking, there are generally two ways of getting the news.
The first is through my own digging, which is generally how I went about things with the coaching search. There was an obvious story to be had, so I made sure to keep in constant contact with sources I knew and trusted to see if there was anything worth reporting on in a given day.
The second is through tips, and I'll get them occasionally from a pretty varied array of people. With these, you have to be careful, because everyone knows someone who went to school with someone whose cousin is really good friends with Mike Bobo. Some tips are spot on, others are way off the mark, and it's up to the reporter to decide which to follow up on and which to toss aside.
This has become a bit of an issue as more and more message boards serve as news-breaking enterprises. When someone posts something that seems somewhat true, it becomes a frenzy to track down the reports and confirm or deny them. But that's overwhelming, and the vast majority are nothing more than B.S.
So my philosophy has always been to take as conservative an approach as possible. If I get information, I'm always judging the source.
If it's someone I trust, I may run with it, but I'll always contact the school or a coach or player first to get their take. If I'm going to be wrong, I want to at least have provided both sides. (For example, during the hoops search last year, I had very detailed and reliable information about Anthony Grant, so I called Damon Evans who gave me a flat denial. I reported what I could verify, added that additional speculation was out there, and provided Evans' complete response.)
If the source is someone I'm unsure of, I need a lot more backup before I write anything -- generally at least two or three other sources who will confirm.
And moreover, you have to always ask what the motives of the source are. In the case of many of the DC candidates, there was a lot of information coming from the coaches' sides, but not from Georgia's end. Well, there's an advantage for someone negotiating a contract to leak information about potential suitors, and every time the media writes a story, their paycheck gets inflated. So I always try to get confirmations from both sides before I report anything as certain.
Of course, the larger problem these days is that even the fact that rumors exist becomes a story. A coach may or may not have interviewed with Mark Richt for a job, but that doesn't matter when there are reports of rumors that the coach interviewed. I don't like the fact that we now report on reports, but that's the landscape of the day, and there's not much I can do about it other than keep you guys as informed as I am.
So, when those types of reports surface, I may not have the complete story, but I try to pass along what I can -- things I've heard from reliable sources but haven't confirmed, for example -- to make sure you are aware of what's worth watching and what's likely to amount to nothing. In those cases, I'll always tell you that a story isn't confirmed and that it's not necessarily accurate, but at least you know what I know. Because, at the end of the day, that's really all my job is. Being first with a story is great, but the only ones who really care are other reporters.
Rob writes: A couple months ago, I wrote you about some various or sundry UGA-related question. I mentioned that I was originally from Delaware. Seeing as though you're on vacation, and I'm assuming you're visiting family in Delaware, I think it's appropriate to get your take on a subject that is near and dear to my heart: which restaurant makes the best subs.
My family has long contended that Casapulla's has the best ingredients and best overall sub in the country. They have this pepper relish that makes you want to slap your mama. Having lived in the South, I can vouch for the deliciousness of Publix subs, but they're not the best around. Places like Subway, Blimpie, Quiznos, or Jimmy John's just won't do, in my opinion. What's your take, fellow transplant to the South?
David: First off, I love Casapulla's, but I'm a Capriotti's guy above all. Outside of Delaware, their only locations are in L.A. and Las Vegas, and if you show them a Delaware I.D. at either location, you get a discount on your sub. I'll also give a ringing endorsement to Claymont Steak Shop on Philadelphia Pike and Cleveland Sub Shop on Cleveland Ave. in Newark. Both are exceptional. And, of course, Wawa -- the single greatest place mankind has ever created.
The problem with finding a good sandwich down here is they don't embrace the things that make them great up North -- i.e. excessive quantities of meat, cheese and grease. There's a reason Philly was America's fattest city for so long, and that reason is deliciousness. Down here, it's mostly chain sandwich shops like Subway or Quiznos, and they maintain uniform portion size. Up north, you can get a Bobbie so big you need to save your change to tip the ambulance driver.
(Oddly, the problem when I lived out West was the rolls. You couldn't get good bread out there, and both the subs and the pizza suffered for it. The problem is, they treat the water differently out there -- fewer chemicals, I guess -- and so the bread tastes different. You just can't beat a good Amoroso roll.)
The only sub shop I found in Georgia that really reminded me of what I was used to from living up North was Al's Super Subs in Albany. They used the Kramer philosophy of meat slicing -- thin sliced, so there's nowhere for the flavor to hide! Unfortunately, that place went out of business at some point in the past three years, and aside from that, I'm still in search of a true Philly-type sandwich. While I don't mind Larry's or Jersey Mike's, they're just not the same.
So, former and current Athens residents… am I missing out on someplace?
OK, let's wrap things up with some replies to what was last week's hottest topic... hard-core gym nudity...
Fuelk 2 writes: I can honestly say that the behavior of 99% of the people in my gym annoys the crap out of me. For a point of reference, I'm 30. First, as you point out, old guys are always naked. Then the 40 to 50-ish crowd is always putting on so much cologne that you feel like you just drank a bottle when you leave the locker room. Then you have the guys you feel the need to grunt on every rep. And of course no one racks their weights properly. It really amazes me that no one has gone postal in a gym yet, particularly since many of us are exposed to this sort of thing first thing in the morning.
David: When I used to go to the gym in college, my friends and I had a running list of the 10 guys who worked out there that we hated the most. And this was a gym that was right across the street from my house, so we never used the locker rooms. Our hatred was 90 percent related to grunting like Monica Seles and slamming the weights.
I'd also add the guys who work out too close to the weight racks, so you can't get to any of the dumbbells you need because they're doing curls six inches away; The guys who put the treadmill on a 12 percent incline then hold on to the side rails for dear life (seriously, why not hire a sherpa while you're at it?); The guys who wear shorts that Magnum PI would find a bit too revealing; The people who are at the gym for hours yet never do a single exercise (this group is also likely to be talking on their cell phone while walking on the treadmill, too… which I'm sure is simply so they can say "Hey, what are you up to, brah? Oh, me? I'm just getting my sweat on at the gym… Yeah, on the treadmill right now, bro… Damn right, the ladies are gonna be all over this tonight!); And finally, whichever gym employee it is who so routinely plays Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" while I'm working out. I'm telling you, if I find out who's in charge of that, they're going to be sorry.
(Also, our pal Dan suggests "Chicks who wear tight outfits that shouldn't." I think what he means is, "Chicks who wear tight outfits but don't say hi to me.")
Ginny writes: it's not just the men. Believe me. You would think that women would be a bit more body conscious than men- especially at the gym- but they let it alll hang out.
David: Something tells me this isn't as cool as most of my male readers assume it is…
Chris writes: You're spot on about the Gym. I've had several horror experiences, including and most disconcerting, a man with his foot propped up on the sink, blow drying his nether area. also, why have the towel draped over your shoulder as you approach the shower?? It's there for a reason.
David: I think I just threw up in my mouth.
But it does raise a good point… not all gym nudity is the same. Here's some rough classifications I came up with:
The Tweed Coat -- At first glance, these guys appear to be wearing some type of tweed suit or mohair sweater. Sadly, this is not the case.
The McConaughey -- This guy is slightly more tolerable, as he generally isn't completely naked. Instead, he's usually wearing white boxer briefs and his whole look is designed to ensure you appreciate how good his abs are. I get it buddy. You do 900 crunches a day, and I eat at Wendy's and drink Budweiser. Now put a shirt on. (By the way, here's what a Google image search on McConaughey turns up… the shirt-to-non-shirt ratio is absurd.)
The Donald Duck -- This is the anti-McConaughey. For some reason, this guy is self-conscious enough to require a shirt. Pants, on the other hand, are purely an encumbrance.
The Tom Snyder -- Remember Tom Snyder? He was an old guy with fuzzy sideburns who carried on endless conversations about dull subjects with people who didn't really want to be there. Well, these guys are just like Tom Snyder, only naked.
to chat with you about the latest health care reform proposals."
The Guy You'll Want to Punch at the Bar Later -- This guy is similar to the Tom Snyder in that he carries on long conversations with anyone who will listen while completely naked. The difference is, this guy is younger -- usually college age to mid-20s -- and he's bragging about the number of beers he plans to consume that night or the amount of women he plans to hit on. It's also likely that whichever lady has the misfortune of going home with him that night will wind up quite disappointed in the end.
do Jager shots off my abs... It's gonna be sick, brah!"
Peter Gammons -- This has nothing to do with locker-room nudity, but there's a guy at my gym who looks just like Peter Gammons. It's uncanny.
The Architect -- Remember Matt Dillon's advice on how to appreciate architecture in "There's Something About Mary"? "When you look at architecture, try not to concern yourself with the pieces--look at the building in its totalitarianism." This is how the architect must view himself during all grooming -- in naked totalitarianism. After all, you only know whether you've done a good job shaving when you see it in the context of your junk.
The Connoisseur -- Before getting dressed, this guy feels the need to enjoy all the fine amenities that the gym locker room has to offer -- the TV, the blow dryer, the scale… he knows every crevice in the locker room, and sadly, we now know every crevice on him.
I'm sure there are others, and some are so unique that they're tough to quantify. Do you guys have any that I've completely forgotten about?
Anonymous writes: I am not married, but I believe that the gym nudity thing is directly related to men being married. They give up. There is nothing else to worry about in the world. They poop in front of their wives. Change diapers while on business conference calls. They have seen their wives' "biology" expand to sizes most thought were unimaginable, thus putting into perspective whatever they think of their manhood. I think it is just called giving up, and the fact is, they really don't give a darn what you think, and that is, partly, why they do it.
David: That makes sense, and it would help explain why I've written this entire mailbag in the nude. Of course, now it's time to plug in the old blow dryer, so let's call it a day.