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Friday, November 19, 2010

Ye Olde Mailbag: Boise State, offseason changes, Cam Newton and more

Before we get into (a very larger) mailbag, a few quick other notes:

- The SEC has suspended Tennessee head coach Bruce Pearl for the first eight league games, as further punishment for the men’s basketball program’s NCAA violations. The suspension includes the Vols’ game at Georgia on Jan. 18, which instead will be coached by Tony Jones. Pearl is also banned from practices, meetings and pre- and postgame activities, according to the SEC.

- Mercer has officially announced that it will re-start its football program, after a 70-year absence, aiming to begin in the 2013 football season. The Macon school’s announcement noted that its 1892 game against Georgia was the first intercollegiate football game in the history of the state.

In other words: “Hint, hint, Greg McGarity, expect our phone call very soon.”

- The deal to play Boise State in the 2011 kickoff seems close to fruition, but there remain details to work out - mainly with the other teams involved, such as Louisville, Ole Miss and BYU.

On to the mailbag:

Steve Reeves from … somewhere …. Checks in with four questions:

1 - What do you think about the Boise St. game, assuming it gets done? I like it.

2 - Thoughts on how the GT game will go (assuming Aaron Murray plays, which it seems he will)? I think we win.

3 - From what you're hearing around BM, will Jarvis Jones step in and be a big-time player next year? Is Grantham, off the record, just saying the right things about him or does he think he could be a star?

4 - Is Murray our 2nd best offensive player right now? and how good can he be over the next few years?

1-At first, it was hard to see how it benefited Georgia. There’s a reason most BCS teams have avoided playing Boise State – other than Virginia Tech, Oregon and Oregon State, and look how that turned out for them.

But financially there’s a benefit, if Georgia gets $2.3 million for the game. Plus, Georgia really wants out of that Louisville series, so it would be trading a home-and-home with the Cardinals for the Boise State game in 2011, and then they can fill the 2012 schedule with another home game, against a non-BCS team.

2-If Murray plays, which I think he will, Georgia will definitely be favored.

3-Well if Grantham said anything off-the-record I’d keep it that way. But on the record he’s praised Jones a lot. I don’t know about star yet, but it sounds like he has a great chance to be a starter.

4-No doubt Murray has been the team’s second-best offensive player. He has a chance to have a David Greene-type career, though this season has probably ruined his chances of breaking Greene’s record for wins as a starter.

Open week, near the end of a bad year, thoughts go to next year. AJ, Justin Houston, Akeem Dent gone, and size needed in the middle and speed needed on opening day, what is Georgia's to do list between the end of this year and Spring ball? Does include any coaching changes?
- Ken Wilkinson

I’ll get to the coaching thing right away, since it’s likely to arouse the most curiosity.

Barring something unforeseen, the head coach is coming back, as McGarity has made clear. Grantham and his three-year contract aren’t going anywhere either, unless he gets hired away. Mike Bobo may have been a pinata for awhile, but Richt often points out that the Bulldogs have scored 30-plus in five straight games, so Richt doesn't appear inclined to make a change there.

The question is whether, after a season like this, Richt will be required – either by the administration, or his own desires – to offer someone up to the gods for sacrifice.

There may indeed be changes. Someone on staff could be moved into an administrative role to make room for new blood. An assistant coach could get a job at another school.

I just don’t know if I see anybody being outright fired, as Willie Martinez was last year.

As for other stuff on the to-do list …

Recruiting: Isaiah Crowell is a top priority, as are Jay Drew and Jay Rome.

Current players: The staff will just hope that underclassmen like Brandon Boykin, Cordy Glenn, Ben Jones and the two kickers don’t go pro. A.J. Green and Justin Houston would be considered unforeseen luxuries if they come back.

I understand all the "did Cecil Newton shop Cam for $$" drama, but I need help understanding how this threatens Cam's eligibility. Will he be ruled ineligible only if the NCAA can prove he knew about the pay-for-play requests?
- Hannah

Not according to the NCAA, which last week decreed that as soon as someone affiliated with the player – i.e. a family member, or someone deemed to be close to him, such as a coach – solicits a payment, then a violation has occurred.

That said, a few people, such as the columnists at The Birmingham News, have pointed out that they can’t find that specific statue in the NCAA bylaws. So is the NCAA making this up as it goes along? Even if it is, I think common sense dictates that if someone close to you is even soliciting money, that should be a violation.

Yes, Cam may not have known about it. But if the NCAA were to allow that as a defense, then recruits everywhere could let parents, brothers or handlers sell them around, then claim ignorance, and that wouldn’t be a good situation.

(Regarding the Cam Newton story in general): Seth, please tell us if you are hearing anything. If you don’t feel comfortable with specifics, at least give us the inside scoop on what happens in situations like this, how it goes down behind the scenes, how reporters discuss it with each other or pass information to each other, etc.
- Muckbeats (via blog)

I could spend awhile on this one. Allow me to offer up a condensed answer.

Obviously I’m hearing plenty of things, as I’m sure the rest of you are. But the job of the (responsible) media is not only to parse rumor and fact, but what you think to be true and what you can put into print. Generally, we write more than we actually know.

There’s been a lot of talk, mainly coming out of the state of Alabama, about how bad the reporting has been on the Newton story. But I’ve yet to hear anyone dispute anything that was in the original story, or the New York Times story that was published almost simultaneously. Frankly, anytime I see something with a byline that reads Pat Forde, Chris Low or Mark Schlabach – or Pete Thamel of the NY Times – I trust it.

What we know is that the NCAA is investigating the recruitment of Newton, and there’s a lot of smoke around his father. We have to let it play out.

(Regarding the story on Georgia and the dip in NFL draft talent): Who handles the player evaluation during the recruiting?
- Doug

That’s a team effort on every staff. Each recruit has one main recruiter. Usually that’s either the position coach or the coach who is assigned that area. But the head coach and coordinator are also involved, either by watching in-person or an extensive amount of film.

(Regarding the possible scheduling switch where Georgia would play Boise State to open 2011): Seth, how is BYU involved? Am I missing something?

No, perhaps I should have explained that better. The word is that Ole Miss, which was set to open with Boise State, would instead be paired up with BYU to open the 2011 season. BYU, which is going independent, just inked a TV deal with ESPN, which will try to set up some good matchups for the Cougars. (Could that involve Georgia? It's possible.)

Then there’s Louisville, which has to find another team to open with, as well as perhaps play in the 2012 season, since Georgia presumably won’t be making the trip anymore.

Do you think that Trey (Thompkins) will be ready for the Old Spice Classic?
- Ulikabbq (via Twitter)

Mark Fox said earlier in the week that he was “hopeful” Thompkins would be ready for the Old Spice. But I don’t know. The way Trey was walking around at Tuesday’s game, I would’ve guessed he could be ready to play soon. But the way Fox has talked about the injury – pretty downcast, actually – I would’ve said no. I wish I could give you a more definite answer.

Hey Seth, What's the injury update on Sanders Commings? He looked like he had a severe ankle injury.
- Tiffany Adams

All reports are that he’s fine. The only major – if that’s the word for it – injury that seemed to come out of Auburn was Murray.

Have you heard anything about Damon Evans? House sold in Athens yet? Found another job? Wife filed for divorce yet? Anything?
- David Pittman (via Twitter)

The only thing we’ve heard, via a story in the Athens Banner-Herald a couple months ago, is that Evans is working at a firm in Boston. As for his house, judging by the housing market, I’m guessing it hasn’t sold.

The rest of Evans’ career will be interesting to watch. He’s still relatively young, and it’s generally agreed that he did a good job – whether or not you agree with the football scheduling, the athletics department was managed well. He was ultimately done in by something personal. Hey, if Elliot Spitzer can come back, so can Evans.

Do you have a wife or girlfriend? I have a bunch of single friends … but they live in Columbia.
- Amy Elizabeth (via Twitter)

Wow. OK, the short answer is no. But if you want to set me up, tell them they have to come to Athens – five years in Columbia was enough.

I remember awhile back you talked about eating sun chips as a healthy alternative. Have you ever had pop chips?
- Chris Sudduth

Actually, no. I have to admit, my eating habits during football season have not been wonderful. I had a whopper yesterday for the second time in a week. I’ve gone years without having whoppers. (That’s what she said, hey-o!)

Archie the dog likes sun chips too, I just discovered today. He also likes Triscuits and wheat thins. And subsequently, he likes pooping.

What do you typically do on an off week? Do you prefer one closer to mid-season or nearer to the end of the season?
- LeRoy Fun (via Twitter)

Like the team, I’d prefer it closer to the middle of the season. August is a grind because of practice nearly ever day, then once the season starts you’re basically working and writing seven days a week. By no means were any of us beat guys “off” this week, as there were still interviews to do, stories and blogs to write, and basketball games to cover. But at least we get a weekend off. Hopefully.

Which do you like covering more? Football or basketball?
- Clive Bigsby (via Twitter)

I can honestly say I don’t have a preference. Growing up in ACC country, I’ve always loved basketball. College football wasn’t big around the D.C.-Baltimore area, although the NFL was huge. So it was an adjustment eight years ago when I moved to the deep South, but now I have a full appreciation for SEC football.

Ultimately, it’s a job now, but a job I love. So I still get excited for football Saturdays – unless it’s Idaho State – and I always like a good hoops game. (Although I prefer to play rather than watch. I have four years of college eligibility, but I was once paid $5 by someone to play on his team at the Y, so the NCAA ruled me permanently ineligible.)

1 comment:

trumely said...

You were paid five dollars? No, your father got the guy to give him five dollars without you knowing. Afterward he took you out and bought you a Whopper.