Posted: 11:05 am Thursday, August 7th, 2014

August in Athens: ‘Red and Black Christmas’! 

By Bill King

The UGA Bookstore has a Georgia-Clemson game T-shirt. (Olivia King / special)

The UGA Bookstore has a Georgia-Clemson game T-shirt. (Olivia King / special)

Ah, Athens in August.

With school not yet in session and no classes to schedule around, Mark Richt and his staff have been moving right along with preseason camp, including starting two-a-days. And that’s meant …. Isaiah McKenzie turning heads with his open-field moves … Richt providing a little Dawg porn when he has the team run quick three-on-three Oklahoma drills with the media (and their camera phones) watching while Todd Gurley goes airborne (in practice!) … the daily media injury watch to see who limped off the field, who’s in what color jersey, who didn’t dress out and whether Hutson Mason is throwing or not, with Richt making it more interesting by deciding to no longer provide an injury list … Jeremy Pruitt touting Damian Swann but still looking for the rest of his secondary.

And we haven’t even had the first scrimmage yet (that’s Saturday).

Oh, and for those of you who hyperventilate at the mention of “indoor practice facility,” we’ve had another incremental step on the road to Greg McGarity making your dreams come true.

Everything will be great once we get an indoor practice facility!

But what’s happening at the Woodruff Practice Fields, where we could see a glimpse of the activity as we rode by this week, isn’t the only sign of a new football season. UGA season tickets were mailed out Monday and are already arriving in Bulldog Club members’ mailboxes. (Away game and single home game tickets will be mailed separately, with an estimated ship date of Aug. 11, according to Debbie Daniel of the UGA ticket office. Due to delays out of Jacksonville, a separate and third mailing for Georgia-Florida tickets and parking will be mailed in September.)

Other signs of the season: The notice that it’s time for me to pay for my football season parking pass at an Athens church near campus came. And while campus was still a bit sleepy early this week, with the Tate Center populated mainly by tour groups of international students, apartments in Athens are already busy with student move-ins (including my daughter Olivia, who’s joining four other girls in a brand spanking new complex).

The entire main floor of the bookstore is now devoted to, um, not books. (Olivia King / special)

The entire main floor of the bookstore is now devoted to, um, not books. (Olivia King / special)

My daughter and I also made our annual visit to the UGA Bookstore to drop some major bucks. UGA athletes refer to the time each year when they get new Nike gear as “Red and Black Christmas,” and our August shopping spree provides the same sort of thrill for my daughter and me (although, as is the case with the real Christmas, Dad pays the bill for our treats, unlike with the athletes).

The bookstore has been rearranged a bit since last school year, with Bulldogs apparel and souvenirs and general merchandise now occupying the entire main floor (which has even gotten new carpeting), while school supplies and everything else are up on the second floor with textbooks.

And, yes, there’s a special Georgia-Clemson game T-shirt just waiting for you!

Meanwhile, as the countdown toward the season-opening showdown with the Tigers continues, there’s good news and bad news about what’s happening across Sanford Drive from the bookstore at the stadium for the 2014 season.

The most noticeable new wrinkle at Sanford Stadium probably will be the new sound system, installed to “improve sound quality in all areas of the stadium,” the athletic association says, as UGA follows up on the SEC rule change that now will permit the use of institutionally-controlled, computerized sound systems (including music), institutionally-controlled artificial noisemakers, and traditional institutional noisemakers pretty much all the time except from when the center is over the football until the play is whistled dead.

Although the athletic association says it will “always respect the collegiate atmosphere and traditions in our efforts to create a great Gameday for all in attendance,” I’ve heard from a number of Bulldogs fans who are concerned over not only the decibel level of the new sound system (which was deafening at times at G-Day) but also whether the blaring of canned music over the PA will marginalize the Redcoat Band’s traditional game day role. Let’s hope this doesn’t mean we hear less from the Redcoats (and that they continue to amplify the band, as was begun last season).

The best news about changes at Sanford, aimed at enticing more fans to come watch a game in person, is the installation of a Distributive Antenna System, which will improve fans’ ability to make phone calls, send text messages and connect to their provider’s 4G or LTE network — the lack of which previously been a particular sore point with the millennial portion of the fan base in recent seasons.

Game-worn helmets are among the merchandise on offer. (Olivia King / special)

Game-worn helmets are among the merchandise on offer. (Olivia King / special)

Another positive change is the upgrading to flat screen TVs at the concession stands to improve the viewing experience while waiting in line. Now, if they could just cut back on that wait somewhat!

Along those lines, perhaps the additional points of sale for bottle beverages at field level and at Sections 102, 133, 311 and 333 will help. Additional registers and credit/debit card terminals also have been installed throughout all levels of the stadium.

One thing you can count on, though, is that in announcing that concession prices will be rounded to .00 or .50 in an effort to speed up transactions and shrink time in line, those prices certainly won’t be going down.

As for the quality of the concessions, there’ll be more offerings sold out in the stands in certain sections, including name-brand subs, pizza, barbecue sandwiches and chicken sandwiches, plus hamburgers from Herschel’s Famous 34, Herschel Walker’s Athens eatery.

With the oppressive heat and humidity of Athens in late summer and early fall in mind (and kickoff times at the mercy of the TV honchos), misting tents/cooling stations will be available for fans at Gates 7, 10 and on Reed Plaza during the Clemson, Troy, Tennessee and Vandy games. But there’s no word on whether another water fountain (badly needed) is being added to the North stands. If not, I guess you have to either stand in line for bottled water or open your mouth in the misting tent when the line for the existing fountain grows ridiculously long!

One of the most surprising changes that quickly caught my family’s eye (since we sit in the top row of the lower level) is the removal of the partitions previously located at the top of each section in the 100 level to “allow for better sightlines and more light into the concourse area.”

OK, the concourses admittedly are kind of dark (or, looking at it another way early in the season, shady) but I have to wonder why, after several decades with the partitions in place to keep people from watching the game from the concourses, they now want to “improve the sightlines” for those folks, which will, of course, encourage people with crappy seats to watch from there rather than where their tickets are.

A likely result will be more congestion in those concourses, which are already way too narrow (since they date to a time when the stadium seated only 50,000). It seems like that ought to be against fire codes if it’s not already. You watch, first rainy game the concourses are going to be blocked.

Instead, they should have simply shortened the partition walls so more light got into the concourse, but not enough that people are enticed to stand there and watch an entire game — which is exactly what is going to happen, as ushers aren’t paid enough to pester people all game to move on.

There are good and bad changes coming this season to Sanford Stadium. (UGA Alumni Association)

There are good and bad changes coming this season to Sanford Stadium. (UGA Alumni Association)

Having folks standing back there also could lead to some conflict with some of the many fans on the last row, some of whom have grown used to standing on their seats during the years the partitions were up. Not to mention, the chance of fans congregating behind the wall spilling drinks onto the fans sitting below them. (At least in today’s “smoke-free” stadium, there won’t be smokers dropping ashes on them, like used to happen.)

It sounds like a move that was not well thought out.

Among the other changes at Sanford Stadium this season will be the renting of stadium seatbacks on a single-game basis for $8, subject to availability (new for this season is the MVP seatback available for all club-level seats), and the addition of another merchandise stand outside the stadium on the Sanford Drive bridge that will be open before and after games.

And, as usual, the athletic association plans various ceremonies and commemorations at games, including recognizing the 50th anniversary of Vince Dooley’s first team (1964) during the Tennessee game (with a halftime ceremony, a commemorative game ticket and a special 32-ounce souvenir cup available at concession stands); and country music singer Lee Greenwood performing at halftime with the Redcoats during Military Appreciation Day at the Charleston Southern game.

I don’t think that’s likely to make any of us older fans forget about the thrill of having James Brown dancing on the 50-yard line, but at least they’re making an attempt to provide a little added value in hopes of luring folks away from their big-screen TVs for a day Between the Hedges watching the Bulldogs devour a cupcake.

All in all, I’d say if you’re not already excited at this point about the arrival of a new football season — with a great home schedule this year as Clemson, Tennessee, Vandy, Auburn and Tech play in Athens — then, well, you’re reading the wrong blog.

Go Dogs!

I’ll be off the rest of this week, but if you’ve got something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or have a question for the Junkyard Blawg, go ahead and email junkyardblawg@gmail.com. Junkyard Mail will return next week.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

50 comments
DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

With the exception of Paul Finebaum, I've enjoyed the SEC network so far, although they are very heavy on self-advertising (every commercial is an ad for the network itself;  what it the point of that?).  It is fun and interesting to learn more about the other schools in the conference.  It is good seeing Maria Taylor as one of the lead commentators/announcers.  So far, so good, but I will be paying close attention to the commentators they have, listening for too much bias (some is inevitable) and am looking forward to seeing some of the various telecasts of actual sports, not just the talk.

Mobile Dawg
Mobile Dawg

I haven't seen any information from Comcast on the start up date or channel it will be carried on.  Don't know how much of Paul Finebaum I can really stand.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

2 days to the SEC Network.  I'm looking forward to it and seeing how ESPN covers the SEC.  I'm not sure really what to expect.  It sounds like they are planning on doing a very high level of coverage but that will be in the eye of the beholders! 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill,

You at Bob Taylor's funeral?

Usually there's a new Junkyard Blawg article on Saturday.

God Bless Mr. Taylor. A Damn Good Dawg!

HotDawg
HotDawg

I previously thought the Dawgs were going to be using the next couple weeks to figure out their depth chart. Then use the last week to implement game plan for Clemson. Recent articles have mentioned after scrimmage tonight that depth chart will most likely be set and specific game practices for Clemson will begin much sooner.

Although I'm sure depth chart will still partially remain a fluid situation.

Whatever works for our Dawgs is all I care about. I just hope they have learned a lot so far and executing what the coaches want has become easier.

DawginCO
DawginCO

College Football station on Sirius XM (91) had a replay of their camp tour stop at Georgia earlier this week and it seems to me that Coach Richt and Coach Pruitt are both pleased with what they are getting as far as effort and seem pretty confident in what they have.  Of course none of that matters to the doom and gloom crowd.  Anything that isn't sufficiently negative will be met with derision and squeals of "kool aid" and "disney dog".  Pruitt is a straight shooter and I think he is thinking this defense will be pretty darn good after a few games.  Chizik, who is one of the hosts with Jack Arrute, thinks that the Dawgs have a genuine reason to be optimistic.


You should have heard Cory Moore gush about Coach Pruitt.  He believes for sure.

DawginCO
DawginCO

Three weeks!  Jeeez can we hit the fast forward button? 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

Bill,

Two topics:

1)  Please don't use the phrase "dawg porn".  It sounds disgusting, makes no sense and is not something that should be acceptable in the Dawg lexicon.  You've used it before, I believe, and I REALLY don't like it.

2)  Glad to hear the news on the stadium additions.  I had commented before on the need for flat screens and much better wireless connectivity.  Sounds like we're going to get both.  Also, if the sound is improved but not obnoxiously loud, that will be nice too. As far as the concourses, they definitely need to do something to improve the traffic flow.  I don't "hang out" in the concourses so I don't care so much about the lighting, but I do often get stuck in the blockade of people trying to get through.  It is unpleasant and dangerous!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill,

Just noticed the credits.

Good pictures taken by Olivia.

You should use her more for some on campus or game day experience photos.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Only two weeks left to mix and match line and other groups. And have all the vets and freshmen ready along with depth chart.

Then one week to implement game plan and practice for Clemson.

All the scrimmages in the next three weeks will be big.

I would like to see them allowed to start regular, full Fall camp with coaches and extended hours in beginning of July instead of August. They can spread it out with a few more off days. The learning curve would be lessened going into first game. Also, better chance to keep out of trouble.

They're all on campus then, doing voluntary work outs anyways.

Maybe the "Big 5" will change this in the future, now that they have autonomy.

HotDawg
HotDawg

The bookstore is like a huge candy store!

RED DOG 77
RED DOG 77

It'll be 500 degrees out there, but somehow it doesn't matter..........it's time...........for............GEEEEEOOOOOORRRRRRRGIA BULLDOG FOOTBALL...........GO DAWGS!

DawginCO
DawginCO

23 days.  Way too long to wait.  Oh well.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Bill, good luck with your seats this year. Sounds like you're bracing for some confrontations and/or frustrations.

NoAxeToGrind
NoAxeToGrind

I guess I must be reading the wrong blog. It takes the prospects of an SEC Championship or a BCS bowl to get me excited. But then, I suppose that I have higher expectations then most people. Unfortunately.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Hoping we see the passion we saw from the players on the field when van gorder was here.

FlatTire
FlatTire

Glad they finally got flat screens

HotDawg
HotDawg

My nipples got hard when I received my season tickets in the mail.

Told Larry Munson that one time and got a big laugh out of him. Fond memory. Lol !!

maconexpress
maconexpress

Isaiah McKenzie is a special talent and his confidence is amazing. On 3rd downs I wanna see the ball in his hands as often as needed. CMB, you have yourself a winner sir! 

Dawg350
Dawg350

Hunker down you hairy dawgs and stomp a mud hole in Clemson! It's almost game time! Let's go dawgs!

ScoreCheck
ScoreCheck

Its great to be a Georgia Bulldog!!!

HotDawg
HotDawg

Getting closer.

GO DAWGS!

DawginCO
DawginCO

None of the chnages makes me any more stoked than I already am.  Football!  College football!

greenedefense
greenedefense

Bill,


I can't wait to see McKenzie return a couple of kicks for touch downs against Clemson! I've watched his senior high light film over and over and I'm convinced that UGA has never had a return man like this before. 

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@Mobile Dawg  Finebaum is pitiful.  His callers are predominantly Alabama rednecks (nothing against you Mobile Dawg).  I'm not sure why ESPN thought he would make for good TV.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Finebaum has been on radio here lately.

His show is freaking awful.

It's just a crossfire between the most uneducated Bamards and Barners that call.

Like listening to nails on a chalkboard.

Absolutely no substance.

Want to believe all the Bamalama stereotypes? Listen to that show.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg  I think Bill's just taking some time off.  It was sad to hear about Taylor's death, though. 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Especially for the freshmen.

HotDawg
HotDawg

I love our team, but the one thing that bothers me at this point, is getting a reality hit with our depth. When players start going down with injuries.

And I'm just talking about the normal amount of injuries that occur. God forbid the abnormal amount like last year.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Hi DVoR....

How ya doing?

I don't think Bill is out to offend anyone. I think he's just inserting a little humor.

Some phrases today have become mainstream, whether we like them or not.

But i understand your right to feel that way.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@HotDawg I think 6 weeks to spread out 32-35 practices would be a great idea.  Spread out the two-a- days a bit.  Maybe have 1 day per week dedicated to nothing but film study and position teaching.  Cramming it all in in August is not a good idea really.

BillKing
BillKing moderator

@HotDawg Hopefully not, but I must admit we prefer having the partition behind us! Mainly, though, I can't understand why they want to make it easier to watch the game from the already crowded concourses.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@NoAxeToGrind  My expectations are that grown men that have nothing better to do than troll other team's blogs grow up and stick with their own team's blogs.  How about that? 

HotDawg
HotDawg

Those are the expectations.

But trolls, like yourself, are always trolling wrong blogs.

Move on child.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Agreed. Got a hunch that this bunch, for whatever they lack in depth, is going to give it their all out on the field.

Kind of the got something to prove attitude.

HotDawg
HotDawg

The Norcross kid that requested release from LOI at Tech recently, is a pretty elusive returner/receiver also.

He might be heading to Athens.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Or should I say, if you don't believe all the Bamalama stereotypes, listen to that show.

HotDawg
HotDawg

Oops. Sorry, I missed that part of the article.

DawgVoiceofReason
DawgVoiceofReason

@HotDawg Hi HotDawg,  Not bad.  I agree, Bill is not doing it intentionally but he is one of many making it acceptable.  He can at least avoid using the term in his blog.

FlatTire
FlatTire

On hot days you can barely breath with those partitions up with the crowd barely moving. I'm glad they are coming down. I understand your situation though and wouldn't want them up either if I sat there.

maconexpress
maconexpress

@dawginbama  because the offense can use some help on 3rd down conversions and I think Mr McKenzie is more than capable. It's hard to contain a guy with his quickness and elusiveness. He's actually a very strong athlete (275-pound bench, 425-pound squat).