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Bill King

Junkyard Mail: Are some cupcakes more palatable than others for Dawgs fans?

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This is pretty much the reaction to Georgia's latest scheduling move. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

This is pretty much the reaction to Georgia’s latest scheduling move. (Brant Sanderlin / AJC)

In case you missed it, the news sneaked out Friday that Georgia has added Nicholls State, another obscure FCS program from Louisiana, to the Dogs’ home schedule for 2016 on a date to be determined.

The Athens Banner-Herald reported that the Colonels, who lost to Oregon 66-3 last season, play Arkansas this year, and will be playing UGA for the first time ever, will receive $525,000 for the game in Athens, according to a memorandum of understanding signed this month by the athletic directors at both schools obtained via an open records request.

Cue eyes rolling across the Bulldog Nation.

OK, given that some cupcakes are a necessity, at least until one too many on the schedule keeps someone out of the College Football Playoff, I’ve heard numerous UGA fans wondering why the schedulers at Butts-Mehre don’t at least try to find cupcakes that would be of some interest to fans being asked to pay for a game they’d just as soon not attend.

Along those lines, Ryan Scates, a former student member of the UGA athletic board, offered suggestions in his latest Poor Man’s Game Notes email newsletter on cupcakes that would be more appealing to fans.

His suggestions:

Yale, since UGA was founded by Yale grads and Yale, then a national power, played in the first game at Sanford Stadium (losing 15-0).

mercer bearsMercer (UGA’s first football game was a 50-0 win over the Bears at Herty Field).

Sewanee (a charter member of SEC).

Tulane (also a charter member of SEC).

Kennesaw State (which plays its inaugural season in 2015).

Furman (an FCS school, as Scates put it, “for Georgians too proud to go to Auburn”).

SMU (Scates suggests a “1980s day at Sanford”).

(If you’d like to check out Scates’ Poor Man’s Game Notes, contact him at ryan.a.scates@gmail.com.)

Ryan has come up with an interesting list, though there are a few problems with it. While I’d love to see FCS member Yale come back to Athens, say, in 2019 to mark the 90th anniversary of Sanford Stadium, the original Bulldogs and other Ivy League teams generally don’t play FBS teams, though occasional exceptions are made (Yale and Army are playing this year to mark the 100th anniversary of football in the Yale Bowl).

But there’s such a stark disparity between the nonscholarship Yale program and Georgia’s that I’d be surprised if they agreed to make the trip. Also, games against nonscholarship programs don’t count toward bowl eligibility (though hopefully that wouldn’t be an issue at UGA any time soon).

As for Sewanee, they play Division III football, and Division 1 programs don’t play Division III programs. Seriously, it would be like playing a high school team.

Ryan’s other choices (even Furman) all would be of more interest to UGA fans than the likes of Nicholls State, Charleston Southern or next year’s Southern University and A&M College, but SMU and Tulane probably wouldn’t agree to anything less than home-and-home deals.

However, playing up-and-coming in-state programs like Mercer, Kennesaw State and even Georgia State would at least provide a modicum of local interest.

In fact, I think a game in Athens against Mercer, Georgia’s opponent in its very first football game in 1892, would be a great idea for the 2017 season opener to mark the 125th anniversary of Georgia football. Or, if the Dogs traveling to Notre Dame that season and playing one less home game complicates things, then open with Mercer in 2022 for the 130th anniversary. (Georgia Tech’s first football game in school history also came against Mercer in 1892, a game the Bears won 12-6. Mercer is set to play Tech in 2016.)

Who else would you rather see Between the Hedges if Georgia must play cupcake games?

UGA EXHIBIT HONORS DOOLEY

Vince Dooley's career is honored in a new memorabilia exhibition. (UGA)

Vince Dooley’s career is honored in a new memorabilia exhibition. (UGA)

An exhibition of memorabilia from the career of former head football coach and athletic director Vince Dooley opens Aug. 29 at the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries on the UGA campus in Athens.

Photos, playbooks, original artwork by Bulldog favorite Jack Davis and commemorative items are among the memorabilia featured in “Vince Dooley: A Retrospective, 1954 -1988,” which will be displayed through Dec. 15. The items are from the archives of the UGA Athletic Association.

Guided tours will be offered at 2 p.m. each Friday before home football games: Aug. 29, Sept. 19 and 26, Oct. 3 and 31, Nov. 14, 21 and 28.

The Russell Special Collections Building is open free to the public weekdays 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and Saturdays (except on home football game days) 1-5 p.m. Parking is available in the adjacent Hull Street Deck. You can find more information here.

JUNKYARD MAIL

Now, let’s get to some of this week’s mail …

David T. Crisp writes: I have been following your Blawg for several years and really enjoy your candid and tactful comments on our beloved Dawgs. Do you think with the questionable receiving corps this year that we may see more of Faton Bauta, given his dual threat capability?

David, I don’t think the receiving corps is really all that questionable, even with Malcolm Mitchell and Justin Scott-Wesley out for at least the first game. Chris Conley and Michael Bennett are more than capable as the starters, and the players battling for the third spot (Reggie Davis, Kenneth Towns, Blake Tibbs and Jonathon Rumph) are talented and just need to show some consistency. Also possibly in the mix are freshman return specialist Isaiah McKenzie and walk-on Michael Erdman. (The Macon Telegraph reported that Brendan Langley, who switched over to receiver from cornerback, apparently is headed for a redshirt season.) So, to get to the heart of your question, no, I don’t think the receiving corps will be a factor in how much Faton Batau plays. As long as he’s healthy, Hutson Mason will be the Dogs’ quarterback.

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. (UGA)

University of Georgia President Jere Morehead. (UGA)

Rick Martin writes: Bill, Do you think the change in presidents will help or hurt UGA athletics? Or will things just remain about the same?

Rick, I think it’s way too early in Jere Morehead’s administration to know just how involved he’ll get in setting athletic policy, but I have a hard time seeing him trying to bigfoot Greg McGarity when it comes time to hire new coaches the way Michael Adams did when Dooley was still the athletic director.

SCDAWG writes: Bill: Upon the launch of the SEC network, I enjoyed watching a few replays of some of UGA’s greatest games. But one thing struck me and it has bothered me for years, and that is our consistent lack of crowd noise. Sanford has at times displayed what it can be in terms of atmosphere (i.e. Last year’s LSU game). But all too often have I watched Coach Richt, desperately waving his clipboard, begging people to stand up and make some noise. I am fed up with the “wine and cheese” crowd between the 30s that sit on their hands and spend the entire game socializing. If you don’t come to the game to make noise and be “in” the game, then give your ticket to someone that will and stay at your tailgate. Please use your platform to implore people to stand up and make some noise!

I agree completely. As I wrote last year after the South Carolina game (another game when the Sanford crowd rose to the occasion), this whole idea of the crowd becoming the “12th man” by making it more difficult for the visitor has been a way of life for years at places like LSU’s Death Valley and Texas A&M’s Kyle Field. But too often in recent years, the crowds at Sanford earned a reputation more for a late-arriving, early-leaving student section that left large gaps of seats unfilled and quieter nonstudent fans who tended to sit on their hands during long stretches of the game.

Frankly, though, I don’t see entrenched ticketholders giving up their seats, so the question is how to make playing in Sanford a more intimidating experience. I have my doubts that blasting loud rock and hip-hop music between plays is the answer. Perhaps more effective would be Mark Richt, who was pleading with fans before last year’s South Carolina game to show up early and get loud, more directly addressing the problem with some blunt talk about crowd support.

Beach Dawg writes: Bill, At some point, would you provide us an update on how Aaron and the other UGA rookies in NFL camps are doing? As always, I appreciate your insight and candor on all things Dawg!

Aaron Murray threw a touchdown on his first pass for the Chiefs. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray threw a touchdown on his first pass for the Chiefs. (Associated Press)

Thanks, Beach. I don’t really follow the NFL summer camps all that carefully, though I couldn’t miss the fact that Kansas City Chiefs rookie quarterback Aaron Murray threw a 43-yard touchdown pass as his first completion in an NFL game. Of course, he also threw a pick-6 later in the game, which the Chiefs lost, which is pretty normal for a rookie in the pros. Anyway, I asked the AJC’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers and blogs about the Falcons, for an update on the five Bulldogs NFL rookies, and here’s what he reports:

Artie Lynch (the 155th pick overall) received a $185,000 signing bonus from the Miami Dolphins but has been hurt most of training camp with an undisclosed injury. He appears headed for the practice squad.

Headed into the third exhibition game, Murray (163rd overall) has completed 5 of 10 passes (50 percent) for 81 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He has a quarterback rating of 71.3. He is playing behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniels.

And of the undrafted players signed by NFL teams:

Offensive guard Chris Burnette, signed by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, is considered a longshot to make the team; defensive tackle Garrison Smith (Miami Dolphins) played several snaps during the third quarter of their recent game against Atlanta and dropped Falcons rookie running back Devonta Freeman for a four-yard loss; and wide receiver Rantavious Wooten (Miami Dolphins) doesn’t have any stats from the first two games.

On Facebook, Scott Spivey responds to my comments about waiting to celebrate Trenton Thompson’s commitment to UGA until he signs and expressing skepticism that Rico McGraw really flipped his commitment from Georgia to Bama because of facilities. Scott writes: Rico McGraw switched his commitment because his mom wants him to go to Alabama. Rico loves UGA, but he has gotten a lot of pressure from his family to go to Bama. Rico’s recruitment is far from over, though. In regards to Trenton, you can be excited about his commitment to UGA because he has been a Dawg for a long time. Bobo did a heck of a job recruiting him. Watch his commitment ceremony if you get a chance, he honored is grandparents by committing on their anniversary (they were huge Dawg fans).

Scott, I’m not really questioning Thompson’s love of the Dawgs. I just don’t get too wrapped up in verbal commitments. A lot can happen before signing day.

Jim Sandifer writes: Bill, Any word on Malcolm Mitchell receiving a medical redshirt for 2013?

Although he’s not expected to play before the South Carolina game, if that early, as far as I can tell there’s no consideration being given to a medical redshirt for the celebrated Dogs receiver.

Someone who uses the tag “Bulldogs” writes: What is the latest on highly regarded recruit Tramel Terry? I have not heard or read any mention of him all summer.

Right now, he basically seems lost in the defensive depth chart, such as it is. At a press conference earlier this month Richt was asked about Terry, who redshirted last year as he recovered from an ACL injury and then was moved to defense, and said the player is coming along and getting better but “you’ve got to understand that it doesn’t happen overnight, and I think he’s beginning to move a lot better than he did a year ago coming off that ACL. Usually it’s a year after the ACL when you really get a lot of confidence. I remember when we had Boss Bailey. I didn’t know what he was the year before, but he was practicing and just doing OK because he had the ACL. Then in my second year here, which was his senior year, he was very, very confident.”

UGA gymnastics great Courtney Kupets. (UGA)

UGA gymnastics great Courtney Kupets. (UGA)

Finally, let’s give a few loud woofs for former UGA gymnastics star Courtney Kupets, who was among six individuals inducted into the USA Gymnastics Hall of Fame Friday. As a senior in 2009, she led Georgia to its fifth straight NCAA championship, and she won the all-around, bars, beam and floor individual competitions. She became the first gymnast to win a national title in all four events. She also set the NCAA record with nine individual championships and was named 2009 SEC Athlete of the Year.

Congratulations, Courtney!

Go Dogs!

Got something you want to discuss concerning the upcoming football season? Or a question about UGA athletics in general for the Junkyard Blawg? Email junkyardblawg@gmail.com.

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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg

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