Junkyard Mail: Noon kickoffs prompt tailgaters’ blues, plus recruiting setbacks, UGA in the NBA and Mark Richt’s hat!

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A fan wants a hat like Mark Richt wears. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)
Noon kickoffs don't allow UGA fans much time for tailgating in Athens. (John Kelley / UGA)

Noon kickoffs don’t allow UGA fans much time for tailgating in Athens. (John Kelley / UGA)

Let’s get right to some of this week’s Junkyard Mail. …

Bobby Flannagan writes: Bill, like you I go way back with the Dawgs and remember the days when you could count on games in Athens kicking off at 1 p.m. (or, for years before that, 2 p.m.). Nowadays, you have to keep your plans on hold, sometimes until only a little more than a week ahead of time when they finally announce the kickoff time. And when they do, it could be noon, could be 3:30 p.m., could  be 6:30 p.m — you never know! Those noon games all but kill the gameday experience since they just about rule out any meaningful pre-game tailgating. And in the case of a cupcake game like Louisiana-Monroe, that’s taking away just about the most enjoyable aspect of the day! Sure, you can tailgate after the game to wait out the horrible Athens traffic, but by then most of us would just as soon be on our way home. Is there any hope of sanity being restored to kickoff times?

Short answer: Nope. Television calls the shots when it comes to kickoff times, and, with the addition last year of the SEC Network, now that applies even the games against lesser opponents. It’s the downside of the Faustian deal college football has signed with the TV networks: you take their money, you give up control. Just be thankful that (so far) UGA has made it clear it doesn’t want to play on Thursday nights like so many other schools are willing to do. If they ever relent on that, you’re going to hear howls from the fans in South Georgia.

Raphe Thibodeaux writes: Bill, I’m beginning to worry that the wheels are starting to come off Georgia’s 2016 recruiting class, which a couple of weeks ago was looking Top 5. First, running back BJ Emmons decommitted, and now one of the biggies in our offensive line recruiting, EJ Price. I realize recruits sometimes decommit and then come back, but I find these setbacks alarming. What say you?

See, this is why I don’t closely follow or worry about recruiting until … oh, right about signing day. These are teenagers you’re talking about, and the so-called verbal commitments they give are subject to the whims and mood swings teens are known for. The days when your word was your bond are long gone. So, basically, with many prospects those “commitments” are viewed by them as simply a statement of which way they’re leaning, not really a commitment. It can change from day to day, which is why I prefer not to get caught up in all the hype about who says they’re going where.

As for the two four-star prospects you mentioned, what I hear from those who do follow recruiting  closely is that Price has a pretty solid relationship with the UGA coaching staff and a couple of teammates, but for some reason became concerned he’d committed too quickly. (And, yes, it’s a pretty good guess recruiters for other schools had a hand in him developing that feeling.) But Georgia is putting great emphasis on offensive linemen for that class and UGA’s chances of signing him appear to still be pretty good. As for Emmons, whom many fans were hoping would be the latest in a line of successful Dawg backs from North Carolina, he also may wind up at Georgia eventually, though he has some academic issues that might complicate that even if he hadn’t decommitted. But the Dawgs’ coaching staff also is heavily recruiting another four-star back, Elijah Holyfield, son of boxing great Evander Holyfield, so Emmons isn’t there only target in that area.

UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity. (John Kelley / UGA)

UGA Athletic Director Greg McGarity. (John Kelley / UGA)

Sue Looney writes: Bill, I read the latest AJC interview with Greg McGarity this week and I was puzzled about how he seemed mainly concerned with Georgia’s standing in the annual Directors’ Cup rankings of overall athletic programs, rather than with winning a national championship in football, generating sustained NCAA success in basketball and getting the baseball program back on track. I’m thrilled UGA has all those Olympic sports teams and the women’s teams in soccer and other sports, and I cheer whenever they do well. I mean, I’m really happy we’re a perennial national power in men’s tennis and golf as well as men’s and women’s swimming and diving and women’s equestrian. But those sports don’t produce any revenue. Is wanting to rank higher in the Directors’ Cup mainly a vanity thing for athletic directors? (I know Greg’s former home, Florida, usually is way up there.) It just seems to me that the priority should be on the revenue sports, which pay for the others, and beyond that the Cup is mainly just an excuse for Stanford to be on top on something besides academics. Your thoughts?

I think it’s only natural for athletic directors to want all their sports to be a success, not just the big three. It shows you have a balanced program, rather than being known as a “football school” or a “basketball school.” Also, frankly, part of McGarity’s focus on Georgia’s Directors’ Cup standings probably stems from the fact that his coaching hires have, with the exception of baseball, all been in the nonrevenue sports. So he wants the folks he hired to prove he made the right choice. But, overall, I think you’re right that, for most alumni and fans, as long as the big three sports do well, they aren’t that concerned with how the others do and where the school ranks in the Directors’ Cup.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the only former Dawg currently playing in the NBA. (Associated Press)

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is the only former Dawg currently playing in the NBA. (Associated Press)

Brady Williams writes: Bill, I saw the report on Georgiadogs.com about all the former UGA basketball players who are currently playing abroad and how they did. And I noticed that Travis Leslie and Trey Thompkins, who entered the NBA draft together in 2011, are now both playing abroad, Travis in Lithuania and Trey in Russia. Which prompted me to wonder: Is KC-P is the only former Dawg still playing in the NBA?

Brady, UGA Senior Associate Athletic Director Claude Felton says you are correct. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope of the Detroit Pistons is the only former Dawg currently on an NBA roster. By the way, to me one of the most interesting things in that UGA report on those playing abroad was that Jumaine Jones, a UGA sensation in 1998-99 who was in the NBA from 1999 to 2007, is still playing professionally abroad at age 36. He plays for Fuerza Guinda de Nogales in Mexico, currently averaging 12.6 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. He ranked eighth in rebounds in Mexico’s CIBACOPA individuals stats. Nogales finished 22-16 and in fifth place in the league standings and is currently competing in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs.

Sonny Murphy writes: Hey Bill, Where can I get a straw hat like the one Coach Richt wears?

A fan wants a hat like Mark Richt wears. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

A fan wants a hat like Mark Richt wears. (Steven Colquitt / UGA)

The man with the answers, Claude Felton, says Richt wears the Orvis Snowy River Hat, which you can order from Orvis right here.

A couple of final notes:

The UGA Ticket Office says Hartman Fund and UGA faculty/staff priority requirements for 2015 Georgia football season tickets will be announced on georgiadogs.com beginning at 1 p.m. Monday, June 22.

For those looking to buy single home and away-game tickets, watch the website in July for regular updates on ticket priority requirements as they are determined.

Want to go on a cruise with Vince and Barbara Dooley?

Want to go on a cruise with Vince and Barbara Dooley?

Finally, Brad Cramer of Pinnacle Travel & Cruise dropped me a note to tell me he’s been working with Vince and Barbara Dooley in planning a Dooleys & Dawgs theme cruise of the western Caribbean that’s scheduled to set sail from Tampa in late January. Cramer says the cruise aboard the Norwegian Star will provide loyal UGA fans some “up-close and personal interaction” with not only the iconic coach and his wife, but some of his former players.

Cramer said “Proceeds from the journey will go to Extra Special People Inc., an organization that’s near and dear to the Dooley family that focuses on children with special needs.” The not yet finalized lineup of former players aboard is expected to include Kevin Butler, Scott Woerner and Frank Ros, among others. You can find out more here and at Dooley’s Facebook page.

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

Junkyard Blawg mugBill King is an Athens native and a graduate of the University of Georgia’s Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. A lifelong Bulldogs fan, he sold programs at Sanford Stadium as a teen and has been a football season ticket holder since leaving school. He has worked at the AJC since college and spent 10 years as the Constitution’s rock music critic before moving into copy editing on the old afternoon Journal. In addition to blogging, he’s now a story editor.

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