Sanford Stadium

Sanford Stadium
Home of the Dawgs!!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Misery Loves Company

My college football season began to unravel before I could even begin to enjoy it.

After a feel good opening win at home over an obviously over-matched opponent, my beloved Dawgs went on the road and promptly changed my expectations for 2010.

No AJ Green. A fumble into the end zone, and a fired up South Carolina team all added up to a tough SEC loss.

More misery would follow in the coming weeks.

A great comeback would fall short at home against Arkansas. The Bulldogs from Mississippi State slapped the “good” Dawgs with a cow bell. A trip to Boulder would provide our first AJ Green highlights of the year, along with another heartbreaking loss.

While I certainly did not expect the Dawgs to run rough shod over anyone this season, I did expect them to be competitive.

There was plenty of fault to go around for this lousy start.

Turnovers, lack of execution, questionable play calling, stupid mistakes (on and off the field) and did I say, No AJ? The Dawgs were 1-4, and 0-3 in the SEC. Mark Richt looked miserable, and the Dawg Nation was restless to say the least.

These last two weeks have helped to ease the pain just a little. Anytime the Dawgs beat the Volunteers it’s time for a celebration. Vanderbilt came to town for Homecoming; and they were dispatched quickly in the form of a decisive shutout.

Two wins by a combined total score of 84-14 felt pretty “dawg” gone good.

I’m sure you are thinking at this point that being 3-4 is not really anything to get excited about. You would be right of course. But when you have to endure a little misery there is nothing like a little company to raise your spirits.

Welcome aboard the misery train South Carolina and Florida fans!!

In some ways, the misery that these two fan bases are feeling today might even be a little worse than what the Dawg nation has experienced. We have been allowed to grow into our misery.

We didn’t get thrust into it like Gamecock fans did, when the “evil genius” that is the “old ball coach” thought it would be a good idea to go for the score with eleven seconds on the clock, no timeouts left and Stephen Garcia at quarterback.

I remember hearing Spurrier say that it would be interesting to see how his "team handles success" after their win over then number one, Alabama. He can look square in the mirror for that answer. I never thought Spurrier would pull out a chapter from the Les Miles classic, “How to manage the last minute of a football game.” But that was a classic blunder.

The great one outsmarted himself, and literally threw the win right out the window. Headphones and visor to the ground… look of utter disbelief on the face.

The Gators and Urban are reeling as well. Its one thing to lose to Mississippi State at their place like the Dawgs did, but for them to come to the “swamp” and stun the legend that is Urban is shocking to say the least. For just a minute, I thought he might cry on camera.

The Gators have struggled this year as well. Injuries, missed snaps, bad exchanges and murder threats have left the Urbans out of the top 25 for the first time in 57 years (sarcasm intended), or something like that.

Tim Tebow is now donning his cape for the Denver Broncos and despite assurances from the coach, the fan base and Timmy T himself, John Brantley is not going to be “better than Tebow.”

Misery times three. Three losses in a row that is. Suddenly Urban Meyer looks miserable as the game clock winds down each week. Sound familiar?

So in a season where many thought someone other than the Gators might win the East, many are now speculating that a 4-4 record might just win it the SEC "Least" division. South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Vanderbilt still have a shot at the crown.

Who will win it?

The next couple of weeks should tell the tale.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Sorry Vince Dooley, but the numbers don't lie

For the better part of the past month, I have debated with my Dawg friends over what is wrong with our beloved football team.

Most of us have our points that we like to hammer on, some hammer more than others. And it is certainly obvious that something has gone wrong inside the Georgia program. Usually when that happens the head man gets the blame.

So try as I have, I cannot quiet the “Fire Mark Richt” crowd that grows louder and more restless with each passing week.

You know Mark Richt’s numbers. The 91 wins, the two SEC championships (and played for a third), the top ten finishes, etc, etc.  Despite the 8-5 season last year and the 1-4 start this year, Mark Richt’s win percentage still sits at 75% as the UGA head football coach.

Not bad numbers, not bad at all.

Yes, things have taken an ugly turn over the past couple of seasons. Tell tale signs had warned us that this might happen. While 8-5 is not what would be called a bad season by many, it is now unacceptable at Georgia.

This season the Dawgs sit at 1-4 and Chicken Little is circling Athens as we speak. The sky may not be falling, but it appears to have a pronounced sag in it.

My take is simple. Every coach goes through this at some point in their career. It takes time to turn things around. We need to be patient.

Vince Dooley himself said it this week when asked about Coach Richt… “Any coach is going to go through tough times, I don’t care who you are,” Dooley said Monday. “When he came here, he won a championship his second year. (Richt has been) consistently winning 10 football games. So he’s going through a tough time. That’s what happens. … A coach has to address it, analyze it, make some decisions and go forward. And I’m sure he’ll do that.”

What about Dooley? One of, if not the greatest coaches to ever step on the Sanford Stadium turf? Coach Vince is speaking from experience.

In this day and age of SEC dominance, the “what have you done for me lately” crowd is louder than ever. Would Coach Dooley have survived to coach 25 years at Georgia in today’s SEC? Looking at his record, I would guess not.

Dooley became the Dawgs head man in 1964. In his first five seasons at UGA he won two SEC Championships. Does that sound familiar?

In 1969 and 1970 today’s lunatic fringe would have been at his doorstep demanding that he pack it up and leave. Dooley’s Dawgs finished the 1969 season with a 5-5-1 record, following that season up in 1970 with a 5-5 campaign.

Thankfully Dooley stayed, and in 1971 the Dawgs went 11-1 and finished 7th in the AP poll.

In 1974 the Dawgs struggled again, falling to 6-6. But Dooley righted the ship and brought the Dawgs another SEC crown in 1976 while going 10-2.

Smooth sailing now? Nope, it didn’t happen.

The Dawgs fell to 5-6 in 1977 and struggled to 6-5 in 1979. Can you just imagine the outrage that would pour out today?

“He’s got to go. He’s lost control of the program! There is no direction, he’s lost the players!”

Or my favorite, “I plan to boycott the games.” Seriously?

But cooler heads prevailed and in 1980, 16 years after being hired, the Georgia Bulldogs put together a perfect season and won the National Championship.

That great season would propel the Dawgs forward to two more SEC crowns in 1981 and 1982.

In Dooley’s final 9 seasons as the Georgia head coach, the Bulldogs would post an 83-21 record. That’s a healthy 80% winning percentage.

It’s easy to identify four or five times in Dooley’s coaching career at UGA when things got tough and went sour. Dooley survived those tough times and won 201 games as the Georgia coach.

When Mark Richt was hired in the winter of 2000, I had no doubt that he would be at UGA for as long as he wanted to be. In today’s age of blogs, vents and radio talk shows, that may not happen.

Vince Dooley would have never survived it. Mark Richt may not survive it.

In my opinion that is a real shame.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Braves, Dawgs and Falcons... oh my!!!

My sports weekend is off to a bad start. Last night I watched as the Cartersville Purple Hurricanes lost their first game of the season. The Canes fell 18-13.

Up to this point in my football season, the Canes had been a bright spot. My beloved Georgia Bulldogs... well, you know what's going on there.

But today is a new day. Its Saturday, and all over the nation college football is in full swing. When my Dawgs take the field tonight in Boulder, Colorado all previous failures will be relegated to the back of my mind.

A new game, against a new opponent.... and with that comes renewed optimism. The Dawgs will look to trip up the stampeding Buffaloes tonight with AJ Green back at his starting spot, and Mike Bobo still holding the play book.

Are my Dawgs up to the task? Yes, I believe they are. Dawgs 23 Buffs 13.

Dawgs look to stop the stampede

Meanwhile, back in Atlanta, the Braves must beat the Phillies if they plan to play baseball after Sunday. Yes, I realize that the Padres could stumble and lose two games to the Giants. But that is not how you want to enter the playoffs.

Tommy Hanson will take the mound today for the home team. Bobby Cox will find his place at the end of the dugout, for one of the last times in his career, and the Braves need to take care of business.

No Roy Halliday, no Cole Hamels, no Roy Oswalt. The Braves will face Vance Worley in his fifth appearance in the big leagues. Sounds like the perfect prescription to put this thing away.

So let's get this over with Braves. If you wait until tomorrow, you may put your fate into the wrong hands.

Brave 6 Phils 2 and just for good measure.... Giants 3 Padres 1

Finally, my sports weekend will end on Sunday at the Georgia Dome. I will be decked out in my #33 Michael Turner throwback jersey. I don't intend to play, but I will at least the look the part (yeah, right!!).

I will do my part in the stands. I will take my seat long before kickoff... unlike many Falcon fans who show up... 5, 10, 15 minutes or more after the game has already started.

The Falcons are in great shape. The 49'ers come to town 0-3, and testing the patience of coach Mike Singletary. Gone is offensive coordinator Jimmy Raye.... fired this past week.

The Niners are desperate for a win. The Falcons will need to set the tone early and take the fight out of the boys from San Fran... just like they did last year.

If all goes well in the next 36 hours, I'm sure we will meet again right here.... If not, it may take me a few days to recover.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Welcome to my "DawgStateofMind"

So just what is a "DawgStateofMind?"

If you have ever been to Athens, Georgia on game day.... you know what I'm talking about.

SEC football is loved all across the southeast. I enjoy watching each game that I can sit down to watch. But there is no place I would rather be each and every Saturday in the fall, than Athens.

This season is certainly turning out to be a challenge. The bandwagon fans are jumping off faster than flies find garbage. The Coach Richt fan club is no longer taking applications. Mike Bobo is the only man in the state that may be less popular right now.

So what do we do now?

I won't bore you with all the stats, or the win - loss records. I won't talk about the two SEC championships, or all of the top ten finishes. Because one thing I am sure of.... either you are supporting Coach Richt, and believe that he will turn this around, or you have already checked out and your mind is made up.

I have made my mind up as well. I simply believe that CMR will turn this around. It may begin as soon as this Saturday night in Boulder, or it may take a few weeks. But I believe that by the end of this season, we will see things back on the up swing.

Call it a gut feeling, or call it blind loyalty.

But Mark Richt did not forget how to coach over the past two seasons, and I for one do not plan on giving up on his leadership.