Notes from cocktail napkins...Dawg fans have seen this before...& am I really warming to Olbermann????
Bulldogs: Another close but no cigar effort from the Dawgs in Death Valley last weekend. It was the kind of performance we've come to expect. Stud RB Todd Gurley puts on a display, because UGA still recruits and gets elite players. The other team moves the ball at will, since Todd Grantham's defensive concept is so abstract that his own players can't figure out what he's trying to do...let alone you watching at home. Tons of stupid penalties because Mark Richt's teams play undisciplined football. Another solid but unspectacular effort from Aaron Murray who like David Green will end his career with lots of passing records but no National title.
Georgia will be in the driver's seat for the SEC South if they beat South Carolina Saturday in Athens. If they lose then it's 4 in a row to the Cocks and the hand wringing and wailing from the Bulldog Nation will begin.
I've been in Atlanta since 1998 and have seen first-hand how the cycle plays out. "This is the year", then a loss then..."its next year" then "fire the coach"...This season, like so many before it began with unrealistic expectations. Last year was your window for the crystal football. Not this year. You lose a bunch of studs to the NFL and you pick up LSU as an SEC West opponent this season. Grantham could have done a better job with all his first round picks in the SEC title game last year, but that was your shot, you spike the ball, do something different in those final seconds...ya beat Bama and its UGA going on to whip Notre Dame in the Championship game. It was last year.
It's not happening this year.
Like many Dawg fans I lost my mind after the 0-2 start a few years ago with losses to Boise St & Carolina. I asked on the radio "there isn't someone out there who could do this better than Mark Richt? Why does rooting for Georgia Football have to be like rooting for any other local team that wins a lot of games but never brings home the brass ring?" My partner Dave Archer reminded me of the train wreck up the road in Knoxville and that Georgia is better off staying the course than blowing the whole thing up. Georgia fans want Richt to be more Saban-like but that's never gonna happen. Richt is loyal to a fault to a coaching staff that is clearly over matched. Saban is no nonsense, the job gets done or you’re gone...period. That's just not how Mark Richt is wired. Each week I watch a Georgia game there's at least one or two offensive series where the play calling makes no sense. Todd Grantham is a bigger more blustery Willie Martinez, (the last defensive coordinator that Richt held on to for too long). I know Clemson has some studs but there's no adjustments to be made to corral Tahj Boyd?
Coach Richt's mentor Bobby Bowden had some of the best coaches in college football in place for nearly 20 years, Mickey Andrews the gruff no nonsense defensive coordinator, Richt himself tutoring 2 Heisman winning QB's and the Sheriff, Chuck Amato keeping (most of the time) the 5 star players in line. And with all those big names and tremendous talent that came to Tallahassee in a run that will never be duplicated they still only won 2 titles. Miami was always in their way. For Georgia now it's either Florida or SC, with Bama waiting in the title game. It's the blessing and curse of being in the best conference in football. Without more brain power on its staff Georgia will always be coming up short.
Falcons: I really hate starting the season with our nemesis in The Super Dome. Would much rather get our new offensive line some confidence building reps against a cupcake in week 1, but there are no cupcakes on the Falcons schedule this season. Mike Smith's Boogieman Sean Payton is back, those Saints fans will be bananas as usual. Jimmy Graham will score, Lance Moore will score, it's gonna be a lot like the Clemson-UGA game. Vegas has the over/ under at 54 points. But the Falcons will put up a lot of points too because the league's worst defense won't be that much better. Rob Ryan who's never coached a team with a winning record, has already had to deal with some serious injuries while implementing his scheme.
The Saints defense will look a lot like former DC Greg Williams' teams, lots of blitzes lots of risk taking. If it comes down to a yard, (and it always seems to come down to a yard in New Orleans) Falcons fans will feel a whole lot better knowing Steven Jackson is back there. My concern is Lamar Holmes and the right side of the offensive line and where Mike Nolan is gonna find some pass rush. And with Desmond Trufant and Robert Alford starting their first game against Drew Brees you have to expect the Falcons to give up some big plays, you're counting on Matt Ryan and the Falcons star studded offense to come up with more explosive plays than New Orleans.
Much like Georgia it's not the end of the world if you lose in week one, but try telling that to the fans.
Other stuff...I was in Key West over the weekend and while boating Monday we happened upon Diana Nyad's flotilla as she swam the 110 miles from Cuba to The U.S. She had a team of divers and all sorts of nets and equipment to keep the jellyfish at bay. And there were some big ass jellyfish just 2 miles off shore! She also made her 5th attempt without the aid of a shark cage. Maybe this story doesn't resonate with the average sports fan, and I'm as jaded as the next guy but I don't know how ya can’t be blown away or inspired by a 64 year old woman accomplishing this mind blowing feet.
You know that line in The Big Lebowski, where Walter explains how bowling rival Jesus Quintana (played by John Turturo) "is a creep...but he sure can roll"? Well that's how I feel about Keith Olbermann. Pompous, yes. Pretentious, you bet...but there's nobody better at sports highlights. I loved Keith Olbermann & Dan Patrick on ESPN back in the day and as much as I was turned off by his political views during his stay at MSNBC, his hour long show on ESPN 2 is the best, smartest thing on the network. He did a breakdown of famous pitchers and careers cut short by injuries to challenge the claim by Tom Seaver in light of Matt Harvey vacillating over Tommy John surgery that the current generation of baseball players is "coddled". It was a real eye opener.
Oh yeah and I'm done with Fox Sports Live. I liked the shtick of Canadian transplants Jay Onrait and Dan O'Toole, but anytime they get in a rhythm they cut to a 5 person panel that comes off like a bad encounter group. Andy Roddick is going to give me his opinion on the Pirates? Huh? If I need an opinion on how a pampered douche tennis star got to marry one of the most beautiful women in the world, he'd be the guy I call. Gary Payton and Donovan McNabb are not very likable. The panel segments ruin the show.