Let’s get straight to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …
Claudia Davis writes: I am so proud of the way Mark Richt and the Dawgs have responded to this [Todd Gurley] controversy, but I would never want to underestimate how important Gurley is to Georgia. I so hope he will be reinstated soon because he is an outstanding player and person who has been taught honesty is always the best answer. What a sad day it will be if we teach our young men that to cover up and to lie is the best way to go. I have an extremely hard time believing that Jameis Winston did not get paid [for signing memorabilia] and has been wrongly accused of many wrongdoings and yet taught to admit to nothing and he continues to play. And Gurley has been accused of one of thing, which is making money for his autograph, and encouraged to be honest, and Gurley cannot play … and we wonder what is wrong with our country.
Florida State may gain in the short term by turning a blind eye to the activities of its star quarterback, Claudia, but in the end the school and its head coach will suffer for being seen as lacking integrity.
On the other hand, Lmrjr, who sounds like he might be partial to the Seminoles, writes: You want to talk about ethics at FSU, then let’s go back to 2000 when [Mark Richt] was leaving FSU to become the head coach at UGA. [Richt] told [Bobby] Bowden that he would devote his energies to being the offensive coordinator at FSU rather than putting together a staff at UGA. He was at 2 practices prior to the [BCS championship] game. FSU lost to Okalahoma 13 to 2. Thanks Mark!!! It works both ways.
That’s why nowadays most newly named head coaches go ahead and leave their previous team immediately.
Las Vegas Dawg writes: To me, it’s sad that many Bulldog fans don’t see the masterful job Mark Richt has done with this program; this year, especially. He has been surgical in turning over and replacing the entire defensive staff. … UGA is leading the conference in scoring offense and seventh nationally. UGA and Oregon are essentially neck and neck in total offense and scoring this year; Mike Bobo is a damn good playcaller. Richt gives credit where it’s due and gets the best out of his coaching talent; Will Friend has a great bit to do with why Jeremy Pruitt is here, has done a tremendous job with the most underrated group and MVP of this year’s Dawgs (the offensive line) and is the running game coordinator for the offense. The Dawgs lead the NCAA in turnover margin (never thought I’d see that day). … His leadership in dealing with the Gurley situation and keeping his team 1,000 percent focused on the prize: remarkable. … My question, Bill, is why don’t UGA fans realize and appreciate they have not just arguably, but statistically, one of the best head coaches in the country and two of the best coordinators in college football? Winning championships is a process and objective fans should see and appreciate the progress we’re making in getting there. What gives?
In this day and age, Vegas, the process better not take too long or fans get antsy and frustrated. The success in recent years at neighboring schools has a lot to do with that. Also, keep in mind that the disenchanted portions of a sports fandom are usually the loudest and most frequently heard. I don’t think the folks who holler “Fire Richt!” after every loss represent how most of the Bulldog Nation feels.
In response to my recent observation that Georgia’s loss to South Carolina looks worse as the season progresses (and the Gamecocks keep losing), Greg Nix writes: Bill, I know that the loss to the Chickens was bad, but that game woke us up. Plus, that game is the only one Superior gets his team jacked up for besides Clemson. Georgia is not a perfect team, but the boys have grown into men before our eyes as the season has moved on.
Greg, I’d say the past two weeks have left a lot of college football pundits, as well as Bulldog fans, agreeing with you.
Andrew Smith writes: Hello Bill, I totally agree with your assessment of Mike Bobo of late. It seems that at times I will raise my eyebrows in amazement at Bobo’s balance of playcalling, by mixing in great play action or quick passing routes opened up by our superlative running game. Still, other times I find myself predicting a quick “three and out” as the Dawgs get stuffed on two isolation runs up the gut. I guess that is the nature of the business, though; if it works, Bobo is a genius, if it doesn’t, he is an idiot. Admittedly, I lamented Bobo’s lack of touches for Gurley inside the 5 yard line late in the fourth quarter against South Carolina. I also at times feel we could not be any more clear that Mason will hand it off three times in a row. All that said, I still think Bobo is great coordinator, a proven recruiter, and the right fit for UGA even if I and most dawg fans lose our patience with him.
I’d say that’s pretty fair, Andrew. I think one of the reasons we tend to get so quickly frustrated with Bobo when Georgia’s offense isn’t clicking is because we’ve seen what a dynamic scoring machine it can be. And that’s thanks, in large part, to Bobo.
Stephen Segrest writes: Hi Bill, At some point it seems like we should be talking about and giving some kudos to the offensive line. Do we have something special here — like All-SEC type of performances from specific players? It seems like on about 1/3 of the plays the OL looks pedestrian. But on 1/3 of plays, they look like NFL Pro Bowlers. They seem to be at their best when they are moving around (pulling OL) compared to just straight power blocking. Tell us a little about Greg Pyke — he sure is looking like a 1st round NFL draft pick.
You’re not the only one who’s high on Pyke’s potential, Stephen. Bobo believes he has the potential to be one of UGA’s best. And you’re right that Will Friend’s OL deserves a share of the credit for the Dogs’ phenomenal success running. They still have the occasional lapses, but they’ve been pretty good in pass protection, too. Pyke, a redheaded redshirt sophomore offensive guard (6-6, 326), was a three-star prospect out of The Boys’ Latin School in Baltimore. He only appeared in two games last year, but was named most improved offensive player by the coaches in the spring and has been part of the starting OL all season so far. Pyke, who also spent most of his life playing lacrosse (a big sport in Maryland) and has been called the line’s best athlete by Friend, had one of those “SportsCenter” moments earlier this season in the game against Troy when Sony Michel was struggling inside the 5-yard line and the big right guard basically lifted the freshman tailback up and threw him across the goal line! When Pyke met the press the week before the Arkansas game, he paid tribute to Georgia’s backs. “They just fight for all those extra yards and that definitely makes us play a lot harder trying to get our hands inside of a block so they can just spit it out and run for a touchdown,” he said.
In response to a letter in last week’s Junkyard Mail suggesting the Gators and Dogs wear orange and black for their Halloween game in Jacksonville next year, I said I thought it would look horrible. Sam Callan writes: I second the orange v black for Ga-UF in 2015 as a horrible idea. I would love to see the red pants from the early 1980s make an appearance at a home game though.
Sorry, Sam, but I have to differ with you in one regard. I’d love to see the red britches make a return, but only on the road paired with the white jerseys. I’m not a big fan of red tops and bottoms.
Molly, a UGA student, writes: Why at the last 2 home games did the team not do their stretching routine to “In the Air Tonight”? It’s a student favorite with the drum solo.
Molly, the answer comes from Assistant Athletic Director Emily Deitz, who says: “It was decided to play different music during warm-ups due to the team changing up the way they prepare for the game.” So, for now at least, it looks like poor old Phil Collins is out.
William Walton writes: Hey Bill, Do you know where I can purchase (CD or iTunes) recordings of game day songs like “Krypton Fanfare” leading into “Glory Glory” and the “Battle Hymn” trumpet solo? Thanks!
IMPROVING THE GAME DAY EXPERIENCE
I participated this week in an online survey of UGA football ticket buyers that was aimed at helping the athletic association “improve your experience” at Bulldogs games.
The questions mostly related to how important various factors are to you and how satisfied you are in that regard, including seat location, parking, halftime entertainment, ease of getting to the stadium, concessions, technology, perks offered to ticket package buyers, ticket pricing and ease of selling on the secondary market, and how much importance you attach to the opponent, the team’s win-loss record, the program’s commitment to on-field excellence and commitment to academic excellence in deciding whether to attend a UGA football game. Several questions dealt with whether you would recommend to others that they buy tickets and also whether a family atmosphere is important to you.
They also provided a place for input, and I know that among the suggestions they got from me and others were making it so you don’t have to miss a quarter of the game while going to the concession stands, reducing the donation required to buy season tickets, and offering three-game packages with at least two SEC games in the package and a coupon for reduced concessions. They also heard that early-season games should be at night because of the heat, and that they need to upgrade the seats to chairback, not only because it would be more comfortable, but because it would stop people cramming another person into a row.
I figure they’re trying to determine how much they need to upgrade the stadium atmosphere to keep attendance from dropping, how much they can get away with charging for tickets, and whether we’ll continue to accept so many cupcakes on the nonconference schedule.
The survey is over, but if you could tell the athletic association your ideas for improving the game day experience, what would you say?
The UGA women’s ultimate club team, Dawgma (of which my daughter Olivia is a member), is playing host to teams from Central Florida, Florida, Georgia Tech, Alabama, FSU and Auburn, among others, Saturday and Sunday for the annual Classic City Classic tournament. The girls will be stretching out to snag those flying discs at UGA’s Intramural Fields at River Road and College Station Road in Athens. If you can pull yourself away from football on the tube and are in the Athens area, this ought to make for a fun outing.
And go Dogs!
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg