Posted: 10:58 am Friday, July 18th, 2014

It’s a Dawg’s world, whether you’re in London or Hoover 

By Bill King

Mark Richt was unusually confident meeting the media in Hoover. (Associated Press)

Mark Richt was unusually confident meeting the media in Hoover. (Associated Press)

A week ago today, my wife and daughter and I were standing in line outside 221B Baker Street on a cool, rainy London morning, waiting for the Sherlock Holmes Museum to open, when the couple standing in front of us turned around.

Apparently noticing the G on my baseball cap and my daughter’s red sweatshirt, the woman asked, “Where are y’all from?”

“Atlanta,” I replied, and she smiled. “We’re from Augusta. Go Dogs!”

Turned out they were also parents of a UGA grad and were over early for the British Open.

I don’t know what the odds are of us queuing up right behind another set of UGA parents on the other side of the Atlantic, but it was one of my favorite moments among many highlights during our two week visit to the U.K. for sightseeing and a big family gathering.

I guess Bulldog Nation really does know no borders.

Anyway, we got back just in time to follow the proceedings at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Ala., where UGA’s Mark Richt showed an unusually confident side in reacting to his team being picked by the attending media members to finish second behind South Carolina in the SEC East.

Asked if that sounded right, Richt didn’t hesitate: “No,” he said. “I’d have us first.”

He went on, in sessions with Georgia beat writers and in his press conference with the general media, to say it’s “our expectation” that Georgia will win the East.

Meet the latest incarnation of Georgia’s veteran head coach: Brash Richt.

Interestingly, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn’s response to his team being picked No. 2 in its division was a bit more circumspect.

“That’s how hard it is to repeat in our league,” Malzahn told the SEC media. “There’s so many great teams. That is a goal of ours. But we do understand how hard it will be. … It’s a huge challenge. We understand that. So we’re definitely aware.”

Richt, meanwhile, pronounced himself “extremely excited” about the 2014 Bulldogs. He did grant that, “We’ll see how good we are once get going. We’ve got a lot of things to put together between now and then. But I think we’ve created a very good culture this summer. I think, just listening to our guys on the plane ride here, just asking how’s it going, they’re very optimistic, they’re very proud of their teammates and the work that’s been put in this summer. … They really like what they’re seeing in their teammates.”

Of course, happy talk is a hallmark feature of this point in the preseason. And the SEC media corps has a dismal record of predicting the winner of the conference. As South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier noted: “Nobody picked Missouri and Auburn to win the divisions last year. That’s why we play the game. We don’t know who’s going to win ’em.”

Richt agreed. What’s important, he said, “is what happens at the end of the year.”

But considering that Georgia’s coach knows better than anyone the obstacles his team faces — replacing a record-setting quarterback, reshuffling its offensive line, building a secondary out of personnel chaos and trying to turn around a pretty awful special teams record — it’s certainly notable that he wasn’t backing away at all from his confident stance.

Maybe this overtly positive outlook is based mainly on returning most of his high-powered offense, including Heisman hopeful Todd Gurley. Or perhaps he feels that the offseason swap of Todd Grantham for Jeremy Pruitt running things on the defensive side is the missing piece Georgia needs to finally break through. Certainly, there was an implied knock on Grantham’s infamously difficult schemes and his players’ obvious confusion last season when Richt noted of Pruitt: “I don’t think he’s going to call anything those guys can’t execute.”

Still, head coaches generally don’t go out of their way to build false hope in their fan base if they’re not pretty sure of what they have. It’s more common to see them poormouthing and playing down their team’s chances, as Vince Dooley was famous for doing.

So I’m impressed that Richt didn’t dance around at all in expressing his thoughts on the upcoming season: “I think in the end it’s going to be Georgia.”

I think I like this Brash Richt guy.

And it’s good to be back!

JUNKYARD MAIL CALL

Got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics? Or a question for the Junkyard Blawg? Email junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

52 comments
Dawg350
Dawg350

The recruiting is getting better! It won't be long till UGA rules the world baby! Eason and Ben = fam 16!!!!!

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

Bill King: If you're looking for more traffic, just post something (anything, really) about the Jonathan Taylor arrest. It appears that Mark Bradley's column on that topic seems to have swamped the ajc.com servers, since the hundreds of posts from earlier today were deleted.

Satchm0
Satchm0

Welcome Home.

I've never left this country that I wasn't happier to get back

HotDawg
HotDawg

Nice commitments at Dawg Night. Recruiting seems to be going very well. A lot more appear to be ready to Commit to the G.

Go Dawgs!

ShowMeYurTDs
ShowMeYurTDs

Welcome Back Billy Bulldog! We missed you. Love the excitement surrounding the countdown to game day! Let the armchair quarterbacking commence. Go Dawgs!

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

Bill King, I read your comment earlier regarding Direct TV playing "hardball" and perhaps missing the launch of the SEC Network..........I don't get the logic, where I live I have a choice of two Direct and Dish.............If Direct holds out too much longer I will just jump ship to Dish like all the other football "Rats" out there...........I can't understand Direct holding out too much longer, they are normally pretty good............point is, I'm going to watch "my" college football........If I'm not in Athens I'll be in front of the tube...........I'd sell my house before I missed "my" DAWGS...............GO DAWGS..............RED

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

I wonder if the rain messed up Dawg Night? Indoor practice facility would guarantee rain wouldn't mess up anything.

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

My son and oldest daughter backpacked Europe a few years ago and New Zealand and Australia last year for 6 weeks each time and proudly wore the Red and Black.

NoAxeToGrind
NoAxeToGrind

I will be interested to see if Columbus Dawg is correct in his assertions concerning the fact that THIS year has to be THE year or ELSE. Let the season play out as it may.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Recently met a Bulldog grad in Chicago. He was transferring from a job in Philly. He grew up in Birmingham and said was glad to get out of that state, via UGA. He tries to get back to Athens for games when he can. But not as frequently as he would like.

Also met a couple Bulldogs that live in NYC on same trip. They were proudly wearing their gear.

I've seen UGA signs in Australia and Mexico.

I've also left a few on trips all over.

HotDawg
HotDawg

It's official....Comcast has the SEC Network. Don't know added cost or what type package it will be included, yet.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

Bill, you don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to surmise that U.Ga. will finish the upcoming season 8-4, in spite of Coach Richt's optimism.

KarlWelzein
KarlWelzein

REALLY LOOKING FORWARD TO THE WEEKEND, you guys

jcorley87
jcorley87

I'm a US Army Infantryman station in Germany in an OPFOR unit. While training British cadets from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, an attached cadet from West Point walked by, saw my red UGA football shirt, and said, "Go Dawgs!" My old Company Commander and First Sergeant (both still in my Battalion) as well as my new Battalion Sergeant Major are Dawgs fans, too. Makes it feel a little more like home. Small world.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Has he signed with Auburn yet?

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@Satchm0 While I share your enthusiasm about returning to the USofA, my luck with the Customs and Immigration employees at ATL hasn't been great. Upon reentry from England several years ago, I found myself invited over to the Agriculture and Meat Inspection area. Trust me, you haven't had the full international travel experience until you've answered all of those questions (e.g., have you visited a farm during your trip).

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@HotDawg Let's hope that some of those highly regarded recruits are offensive linemen who will fulfill their potential.

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@RED DOG 77 Red, I think DirecTV might underestimate SEC football fans' devotion if they think they won't lose subscribers over any delay in signing on. It's all about money. They want to negotiate the lowest price they can get for carrying the channel.

HotDawg
HotDawg

C-kirk....not sure if it affected the Dawg Night. But I feel bad for our fans today at "Countdown To Kickoff" if it keeps storming.

Such a great event for a great cause.

HotDawg
HotDawg

C-kirk....unfortunately, I knew you were setting someone up to "proudly" make a negative comment.

Lo and behold, look above and there's Flat to pull through.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@C-Kirk According to the administration we dont need to do what everyone else is doing by building more 

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg No word yet from my satellite provider, DirecTV. Fingers crossed.

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg DirectTV tends to play hardball on these things, so I wouldn't be surprised for them to miss the launch.

heeldawg
heeldawg

@SkokieDog The odds are more in favor of the team finishing 10-2 than 8-4. Looking at the schedule, there are seven almost certain wins:  Troy, Tennessee at home, Vandy at home, Arkansas on the road, Kentucky on the road, Charleston Southern and Tech at home.  There are two probable wins:  Clemson (which is replacing all of its skill players on offense) at home and Missouri (which returns only 8 starters) on the road.  Then there is Florida, a game at a neutral site in which Georgia will be favored by less than a touchdown.  With the Gators losing their entire secondary, and the sheer lack of offensive firepower in Gainesville, I suspect the Dawgs will make it four in a row over the reptiles.  And then there are the two big games against opponents with similar talent:  South Carolina in Columbia, after a bye week, and Auburn at home.  I suspect that Georgia will probably split those games--but could just as easily win both or lose both.  Georgia returns most of its offensive firepower from the highest-scoring team in school history--and has more depth at the skill positions this season in the event of an injury plague like the one that stormed through the team last season.  The defense, which returns most of its starters and has replaced Todd Grantham with a tremendous upgrade in Jeremy Pruitt, will be markedly improved. To go 8-4, the Dawgs would have to lose both of those two tossup games and another two against teams with lesser talent. In my opinion, that is less likely to happen than it would be for the Dawgs to go 12-0, and much less likely than it would be for them to go 11-1 or 10-2.

Richt knows what he is playing with and likes it.  That's good enough for me.

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@SkokieDog Hmmm. Are you a relation of Professor Moriarty, perhaps?

HotDawg
HotDawg

Go to Vegas, Nostrodamas.

What are the Megamillion and Powerball numbers for this weekend?

Might as well not play the games since you've predetermined everything.

MesaDawg
MesaDawg

@jcorley87 Served in the Army from '67-'71.  Appreciate your service and wear my Army cap w/pride. Also served in GE as a DAC for 13 years. Stationed in HDG from '91 to '03.  Saw duty in FRY supporting our troops during TFAS.  Retired now.  You guys are special and deserve the gratitude of the folks back home.  Go Dawgs!    

HotDawg
HotDawg

3 Technerds kicked off team. Guess Pudge Johnson and the hypocrite geeks

need to quit recruiting bad kids.

Dawg350
Dawg350

Slaw dookie

Why did you change your name back for....you spine less rodent

HotDawg
HotDawg

Explain your sarcasm Einstein. Countdown to Aug. 30 from today (July 22), is 39 days..

But please enlighten me. Does the "minus" bother you?

RandyHall
RandyHall

@SkokieDog @HotDawg  For sure...great pick up for 2016 in OL Ben Cleveland....but Will Friend needs to get Pat Allen now,,,,and Edoga to de-commit!!! TIME FOR CMR TO WIN A NC!!!    

C-Kirk
C-Kirk

@HotDawg

UGA is one of the richest programs in the country. It makes no sense for them to not build a full size indoor practice facility. But, then again we can always rent Georgia State facility.

FlatTire
FlatTire

@HotDawg lo and behold someone who doesnt want to hear the truth

ARdawg
ARdawg

@BillKing @HotDawg 

Bill, I too, was a Directv subscriber and switched to Dish. Dish has the SEC network and no plans to charge extra which is what Directv is contemplating


SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@heeldawg My only criticism of your analysis is that it's logical, and the performance of the 'Dogs during most recent seasons tends to defy logic. I just don't think it likely that they'll win all of the games in which they have superior talent. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

See Skokie...heeldawg presented a "logical" argument for his guess of Georgia's record this season.

May be right. May be wrong. Nobody knows till they play the games.

I hope they're better than he thinks. We'll see.

Good points heeldawg.

Go Dawgs!

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@BillKing You mean Great Uncle James? I haven't seen him since before 1980. 

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@HotDawg I don't gamble, unless you consider owning stock gambling. It's not a good habit for the household budget. Besides that, I have no clear idea WHICH four games will be losses. I feel confident that U.Ga. will beat Tech and the other cupcakes, but beyond that, we're all guessing. I just don't guess as optimistically as some of our friends here.

SkokieDog
SkokieDog

@C-Kirk Then again, practicing indoors before the most recent Gator Bowl didn't seem to be that helpful during the game. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

It's OK Flat....not mad, it's just you being you. That's been your M.O. on here.

The_Real_KJ
The_Real_KJ

@SkokieDog @HotDawg You can bet on season wins/losses.  The current line for UGA is 9.5, so you would win your bet even if they won 9 instead of 8. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Skokie.....That's reasonable. Truth is, none of us know such things until they actually play all the games. We can make logical or illogical guesses to either extreme.

I prefer to remain optimistic.

And yes, stocks can prove to be gambling. Lol !!