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Fox News Contradicts Its Own Contributor On British-Spying Claims

Fox News walked back a network contributor's accusations that the Obama administration used a British spy agency to wiretap Donald Trump.

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Local News

  • The following is a statement from the Athens-Clarke County government...  Manager Blaine Williams has named Kent Kilpatrick as the Leisure Services Director for the Unified Government of Athens-Clarke County. Kilpatrick has served as the Interim Director for Leisure Services since June 2016, when former director Pam Reidy resigned for a position with another community. He has worked continuously for the local government since 1987, initially as Outdoor Recreation Manager with the former Clarke County Parks Department, which became the Athens-Clarke County Arts and Environmental Education Department after the City of Athens and Clarke County unified in 1991. The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department formed in 1996 from the former Recreation and Parks Department and the Arts and Environmental Department. Kilpatrick has served Leisure Services Department as Internal Services Administrator since that time, also serving as Interim Director on three separate occasions over the years. “Leisure Services touches the lives of so many residents and visitors to our community in an unbelievable variety of ways,” said Manager Blaine Williams. “Kent has proven over his many years of service in this field for our community to be completely dedicated to the mission of the Leisure Services Department to build a healthier and more livable Athens-Clarke County. I believe that he will provide exceptional leadership as we continue to provide high-quality services and programs our community expects, while also expanding and improving our facilities and offerings throughout the community.” Kilpatrick holds a Bachelor’s degree in Outdoor Recreation from the University of West Georgia. He is also a Certified Park and Recreation Professional by the National Recreation and Park Association. Prior to joining Clarke County in 1987, Kilpatrick worked for Lockheed Martin in Marietta, Georgia for four years as a Recreation Programmer to coordinate employee athletic and recreation programs. 'I am thrilled and honored to be appointed as the newest director for the Leisure Services Department,' said Kilpatrick. 'We have great employees, an extensive volunteer and community support system, and an exceptional variety of facilities and programs, with more on the way. I'm excited about the future of our department and the continued opportunity to serve this community.' The Athens-Clarke County Leisure Services Department's mission is to build a healthier and more livable community by providing opportunities to learn, to create, and to play in quality parks, programs and facilities that are valued by Athens-Clarke County citizens. The department had over 16,000 program participants in Fiscal Year 2017 and maintains over 2,000 acres, as well as 17 park playgrounds, 35 athletic fields, and 40 miles of trails, among other amenities. It was recently awarded the Georgia Recreation and Park Association's District 7 Agency of the Year for the second time in four years in its population category.  For more information on the Leisure Services Department, visit www.athensclarkecounty.com/leisure or call 706-613-3800.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs are one win away from playing for the National Championship. If the Dawgs defeat the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, they’ll head to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Just the possibility that Georgia could reach the big game played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has driven prices dramatically higher on secondary ticket marketplaces since the four-team playoff field was set Dec. 3. Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are your home for everything Rose Bowl. Make sure to follow @WSBTV and @AJCSports for updates on Twitter & LIKE the official WSB-TV Facebook page! For much more on the Georgia Bulldogs, CLICK HERE to download and listen to Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein & AJC's Jeff Schultz on the ‘We Never Played the Game’ podcast. The current asking prices on secondary markets range from a low of $1,639 for an upper-level seat to a high of $15,807 for a club seat. If Georgia manages to beat Oklahoma, ticket demand would be off the charts whether they face Alabama or Clemson. Imagine UGA playing for a National Championship in the heart of Bulldog Nation. CLICK HERE to read myAJC’s full report.
  • New jobs will be coming to Gwinnett County.  A risk management solutions firm is expanding its operations in Gwinnett County. Assurant will create 335 new jobs and invest $2.2 million in a technical support center in Duluth
  • Georgia's economy will match its performance last year, propelled by economic development projects, solid population growth and a housing recovery, according to the economic forecast from the University of Georgia Terry College of Business. 'At this late stage of the economic expansion, the outlook for Georgia is surprisingly good,' said Terry College Dean Benjamin C. Ayers (pictured) at UGA's 35th annual Georgia Economic Outlook. 'The main factors that contributed to growth over the last few years will continue to do so in 2018.' Georgia's growth rate will outpace the national average in 2018, he said. The state's employment will rise by 2 percent, nearly twice the 1.1 percent gain expected for the nation, and the personal incomes of Georgians will grow by 5.8 percent, higher than the national average of 5.5 percent. Ayers delivered the forecast, prepared by the college's Selig Center for Economic Growth, to an audience of about 600 business leaders, government officials and chamber delegates at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta. Following the event, the Georgia Economic Outlook series will tour the state, visiting eight cities to deliver local, state and national forecasts. The schedule and ticket information are available at terry.uga.edu/eo. The complete Georgia Economic Outlook forecast is available for purchase online at terry.uga.edu/selig. 'We believe Georgia will be one of the most successful states when it comes to landing economic development projects. Our state will have available workers and our workforce development programs rank as the best in the nation,' Ayers said. 'Another factor that will pay off in 2018 and beyond is the state's emphasis on targeted workforce training. The state of Georgia is building highly specialized workforce training centers designed to increase the supply of skilled workers, which, in turn will attract businesses in targeted industries.' Georgia's unemployment rate will fall below 5 percent, slightly higher than the U.S. jobless rate of 4.1 percent-and every metro area in the state will add jobs, Ayers said. 'The fastest job growth will occur in construction, followed by professional and business services, leisure and hospitality, education and health services, and wholesale trade,' he said. 'Positive, but slow job growth will occur in utilities, information and government.' Larger shipments in Georgia's ports and its increasingly important role as a logistics and distributions center, will help the state realize a 3.2 percent GDP increase, a notch above the national average of 2.5 percent, Ayers said. 'Transportation and logistics will gain from the continuing recovery of construction because construction is one of the most transportation-intensive sectors of the economy,' he said. 'Georgia's manufacturing activity will upshift in 2018, providing yet another tailwind to transportation and logistics firms.' Aided in part by the migration of about 109,000 people to the state, Georgia's population will grow by 1.5 percent in 2018, outpacing the nation's 0.7 percent growth. Georgia's housing market will also be a force for economic vitality, with single-family home starts rising by 16 percent and single-family home prices up 4 percent, on average, over last year, Ayers said. However, not all the news is positive. 'Even though we expect economic growth for Georgia, the economy is operating in either the late-middle or late stage of the current economic expansion,' Ayers said. 'That alone does not mean a recession is imminent. Still, we believe that excesses are developing in both the financial markets and the labor markets, which makes the overall economy increasingly vulnerable to the unexpected shock or policy mistake.' Those risks include interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, a slowdown in multifamily home purchases, uncertainty over health care, global effects from Chinese financial turmoil and geopolitical tensions. Ayers was joined on stage by Dennis Lockhart, former president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, who delivered the national forecast. Jeffrey M. Humphreys, author of the Economic Outlook report and director of the Selig Center for Economic Growth, said he expects solid economic growth for the nation as a whole. 'In 2018, consumer spending, gross private domestic investment, and industrial production will contribute to U.S. GDP growth. In addition, government spending will be a positive factor in terms of GDP growth,' he said. 'The Federal Reserve's monetary policy stance will switch from stimulating to essentially neutral.' In addition, Humphreys expects small businesses across the nation to expand, thanks to increased business and government spending, a hike in exports and the addition of many projects to repair and rebuild properties damaged by recent hurricanes. The Georgia Economic Outlook series is the largest outreach program hosted by the Terry College of Business. For 35 years, it has been the premier forecasting event in the state of Georgia.
  • Today is graduation day at the University of Georgia: commencement exercises for undergrads earning degrees is is set for 9 o’clock this morning at Stegeman Coliseum. University System Chancellor Steve Wrigley is commencement speaker.  As the 13th chancellor of the USG, Wrigley oversees 28 public colleges and universities with an $8.8 billion annual budget, more than 48,000 faculty and staff, and 320,000 students. Prior to becoming chancellor, Wrigley served as executive vice chancellor of administration for the USG from June 2011 until his appointment as chancellor. Wrigley formerly served as senior vice president for external affairs, as well as vice president for government relations, at the University of Georgia. He also served as director of the Carl Vinson Institute of Government. During his career, Wrigley has worked on a number of key issues, including the creation of the state lottery and the HOPE Scholarship, along with campus consolidations within the USG. Wrigley earned his undergraduate degree from Georgia State University and his doctorate in history from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He and his wife, Lynne, have two children and reside in Clarke County. Grad student commencement is 2:30 this afternoon, also at Stegeman Coliseum.  UGA says that in the interest of public safety, the 2017 fall Commencement ceremonies will follow the Southeastern Conference Clear Bag Policy.

Bulldog News

  • NORMAN, Okla. – You never know who you might see at Switzer Wine and Spirits here on West Lindsey Avenue. You might even run into the owner himself. “I’m around all the time,” said Barry Switzer, whose name one might recognize for coaching the Oklahoma Sooners, or the Dallas Cowboys. “Everybody knows me here.” You might bump into Barry Switzer anywhere around Norman, Okla. (Chip Towers/DawgNation) Actually, most everybody everywhere knows who Switzer is, or at least those who have any knowledge or interest in sports. And he is around the OU program a lot, but not in a hands-on way, I’m told. He just remains a very interested fan who happens to live only a half-mile away from campus and, based on his past accomplishments at the school, tends to get unfettered access. So, one is liable to run into him any time, like I did upon stepping into OU’s Memorial Stadium for the first time ever on Thursday. I was headed into the Red Room for a Rose Bowl news conference involving Oklahoma players. About 50 feet inside Gate 1, here comes Switzer in a blue plaid sports jacket,headed the other direction. He said he was simply trying to find another way around the practice fields. “I usually just walk right across them, but the gate was locked today,” he said. Shocked he didn’t have a key. As for the small, nondescript package store bearing his name down the street, Switzer confirmed that it belonged to him. “Yeah, I bought that a long time ago,” said Switzer, who coached the Sooners to three national championships between 1973 and ’88 and the Cowboys to a Super Bowl. “I bought it for reason. It’s the only commercial street corner in that area around the university. Everything else there is residential. I can do anything with that property. It’s two lots. I could build a convenience store, a neat little restaurant that would fit right there on campus. It’s right there around all the fraternities and sororities.” Good money-maker, for sure. But does he ever actually go in? “Well, yeah, if I want a bottle of pinot noir or something I do,” he said with a laugh. Fitting for the son of a bootlegger. The interest around here at the moment is not on the Sooners of Switzer, however. It’s on the Sooners of Lincoln Riley. He’s the first-year head coach and longtime offensive coordinator who was handed the keys to OU’s program after Bob Stoops suddenly stepped down this past summer. You could say Riley has handled that ride quite well, seeing how OU won the Big 12 championship, is ranked No. 2 and is in the College Football Playoffs. The Sooners will meet No. 3 Georgia (12-1) in the Rose Bowl semifinal on New Year’s Day. Amazingly, it’s the first time the two storied football programs have ever played. It will also be only the second time each school has played in the Rose Bowl. The Sooners played there in 2003 and defeated Washington State. The Bulldogs haven’t played there since Charley Trippi led them to a 9-0 win over UCLA on Jan. 1, 1943, to claim the national championship for the 1942 season. Speaking with the Sooners’ players and coaches this week in Norman, there is no shortage of admiration and respect for Georgia, champions of the Southeastern Conference. To a man, everybody in the OU camp spoke glowingly of the Bulldogs and the challenge that will await them in the New Year’s Day matchup. Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews led all tight ends this season with more than 900 yards receiving. (DawgNation/Chip Towers) “Georgia’s a tremendous, tremendous football team,” said Riley, at 34 the youngest FBS head coach in the country. “Clearly when you get to this point everybody’s pretty good. They certainly are. … It ought to be a great challenge for us and we’re looking forward to it.” Of the Bulldogs’ defense, Oklahoma’s Mark Andrews, winner of the Jim Mackey Award as the nation’s best tight end, said: “They’re a fast, physical defense that going to fly around. Obviously, they’ve got some very good players on that side of the ball and they’re very well coached. We haven’t done too much game-planning in terms of schemes and what we’re going to do. But I’m sure we’ll get after it and get something good for them.” Of the Bulldogs’ offense, senior defensive end Ogbonnia “Obo” Okoronkwo, one of four OU players named All-Americans this season, said: “Very physical. They’re going to try to out-will you and challenge you. The challenge is just not getting enough bodies on bodies in the run game. They seem to find a way to get an extra guy in there. They can pass the ball, too, so it’s a lot of things.” OU’s fans aren’t quite as respectful. Like Athens, Ga., Norman, Okla., is a small town built around the university. A little over 120,000 people live here, including a fall enrollment of 28,541 students. And all of them love their Sooners. Friday featured fall semester graduation, and there was a big men’s basketball game scheduled for Saturday afternoon against Wichita State. So there were a lot of people milling around the city, particularly in the area known as Historic Campus Corner. There you can find several landmark food and beverage destinations like O’Connell’s Irish Pub on Asp Avenue and Othello’s Italian Restaurant on Buchanan, which Switzer liked to frequent before a fire earlier this year put it out of business until recently. Oklahoma fans Sheppard McConnell (L) and Brendan Klein enjoy some football talk and a few cold ones Friday at Louie’s Grill & Bar in Historic Campus Corner. (Chip Towers/DawgNation) There’s also Louie’s and Louie’s Too, sister grill-and-pubs sitting side-by-side on West Boyd right across from the famous Parrington Oval on North Campus. Bob Stoops is one of the owners of the joint, named after an uncle, and it’s a popular game-day hangout. Inside, the confidence is running high for the Sooners. “I think it’s a great matchup for us,” said Brendan Klein, an IT specialist and OU grad sitting at the bar in Louie’s Friday afternoon. “I think SEC teams have a hard time with spread offenses like we run. It will be interesting to see an offense of our caliber go against a respected SEC defense like Georgia has.” Sheppard McConnell, Klein’s buddy, was in the OU marching band when the Sooners last traveled to the Rose Bowl in 2003. He, too, believes his team drew the easier of the semifinalists. “They have a young quarterback, a freshman I think,” McConnell said of Georgia’s Jake Fromm. “I think we’re going to get after those running backs and make that kid throw the ball. Let’s see how he does 2,000 miles from home.” That’s how Switzer sees it, too. Nobody appreciates a good run game more than he does. He stockpiled NFL-caliber backs like cordwood back when he had the Sooners running the triple option in the 1970s and ‘80s. But Switzer has come to appreciate the way OU throws the ball around and scores points with Riley’s fast-moving spread offense and its Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback. “Baker Mayfield is for real,” said Switzer, who’s 80 now but feeling “good as ever” and looking fit. “He’s a great player and a great competitor. Great arm, quick release, great velocity. His receivers are great speed guys, has a big tight end that’s a big target, scrambles well enough to be concerned about him. And we’ve got three or four backs, too.” Switzer is a little less confident about the Sooners’ defense. “Well, the Big 12 is different,” he said with a bit of a sigh. “You can score half a hundred on someone and still get your ass beat, as OSU can tell you. They score 52 on us and get beat. The worst coaching job in football is a defensive coordinator in the Big 12.” Like a lot of other folks, Switzer is somewhat mystified that Oklahoma and Georgia have never played in football. He was sure they would run into each other back in the 1970s and ‘80s when both schools were heading to big bowls almost every year and he and his good friend Vince Dooley were winning conference championships. Switzer said they never discussed playing in the regular season because the Sooners were playing Texas every year back then as a non-conference opponent, as well as Pitt and either UCLA or USC. But he wishes they could have. “I know Vince well,” he said. “He and I retired the same year. We both left in ’88. I think a lot of Vince and Barbara. We’ve been to a lot of places through the years with the Nike family. They’re a wonderful couple and really have a lot of respect for them on and off the field.” That said, Switzer has to call this one for his Sooners. He believes it is OU and not UGA that will advance to the national title tilt in Atlanta. The Bulldogs won’t be able to score with them, he predicts. “Georgia’s defense is really good; I know that,” he said. “But a lot of those guys aren’t going to be able to play. They’re gonna have to put six and seven defensive backs and some hybrids out there. Their guys better be able to cover in space because Oklahoma’s going to spread ‘em out and get the ball out.” If that proves true, Switzer might just have him some pinot. Word is he knows where to find some. The post OU fans — including one named Switzer — like the Sooners’ matchup against Georgia appeared first on DawgNation.
  • OKLAHOMA CITY – Anybody still wondering about what to get Owen Condon for Christmas, he has a suggestion. “I’d love some Rose Bowl tickets,” the 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive lineman said. Condon will be able to accompany the Georgia Bulldogs to bowl games free of charge soon enough. He has been committed to them since last summer and will sign with the Bulldogs on the first day of the new early period next Wednesday. In the meantime, he’s just a huge Georgia fan, literally and figuratively. He proved as much two weeks ago when he and his mom traveled to Atlanta to watch the Bulldogs play Auburn in the SEC championship. It was then, after the Bulldogs’ 28-7 victory, that the craziest thought first occurred to Condon. “Georgia and Oklahoma could actually end up playing each other in the College Football Playoffs.” And, of course, they did. The nation’s No. 2- and No. 3-ranked teams will meet in the semifinals in Pasadena on Jan. 1. You have to visit Condon in his hometown to really understand how cool that is to him. The young man lives in the heart of Sooner country. Bishop McGuiness Catholic High School, where Condon grew into a major college football prospect, is located just 27.1 miles from Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium. Nevertheless, everybody around here knows full well that Condon is fully committed to the Bulldogs. So he heard it from them when he returned to school on Monday following the College Football Playoffs selection show. “He got a lot of ‘Boomer Sooners’ in the hallways,” Bishop McGuiness head coach Justin Jones said with a laugh. “That’s the big rally cry around here. Oklahoma is very passionate about their Sooners. It’s pretty cool to see Georgia meet them in the College Football Playoffs.” Condon thinks so, too. “Obviously, I’m really good friends with a lot of diehard OU guys, so there’s some friendly trash talking there,” Condon said. “But I think it’s going to be a really good game, a really good matchup. They both have two young, up-and-coming coaches. They’re two good programs with fans that are really passionate and travel well. It’d be really fun to go out there and see that.” Alas, Condon said he probably won’t make the trek to Pasadena. He’d like to, but he has a lot of work to do here in his little hamlet just northeast of downtown Oklahoma City. At the moment, his primary focus is rehabilitating the knee injury that snuffed out his senior season. Condon actually got hurt in his school’s first game of the season but didn’t realize how badly. He said he knew he “tweaked it” but played through that game and the second one as well. But it was after Game Two that Condon realized he may have a problem. The pain finally got to him and he broke down and asked to see a doctor. An MRI revealed a torn meniscus. His season was senior shut down at that point and Condon underwent surgery 11 weeks ago. “The surgery was a success,” he said. “It was in an area that had vascular to it, so they were able to stich it up rather than just scope it out. I should be good to go soon.” In the meantime, though, Condon had to stand on the sidelines as Bishop McGuiness continued you through the season. His team’s season didn’t end untl that lost to Carl Albert High School in the Class 5A state championship game. “That hurt,” Condon said of not being able to play. “I feel like I could have made a difference.” Condon feels like he can make a difference at Georgia, and obviously the Bulldogs do, too. They offered him in the middle of his first unofficial visit to Athens last spring. Condon and his parents are actually in Athens this weekend on his official visit. They flew out early Friday morning. As for Oklahoma, the Sooners never came forth with an offer for Condon. They probably would have eventually, according to his high school coach, but Condon wasn’t interested in waiting to find out. “OU’s always slow to offer local kids,” Jones said. “Texas is just down the road and they spend a lot of time recruiting there. They feel like they can come in late on the locals because they’re the home school. OSU will recruit guys a little earlier, but OU’s always slow to offer. And Owen is a transplant Oklahoman, so he wasn’t willing to wait.” Condon’s father, Bill, is originally from Pensacola, and his mother, Sheri, was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but was raised in Atlanta and attended UGA. So he said he grew up more of an SEC fan and always followed the Bulldogs. When the family ended up touring schools last spring, they ended up primarily in the South. Florida, Vanderbilt, Arkansas and Oklahoma State ended up being the main competition for Georgia. But he said it was never really close. “I just fell in love with Georgia when I visited,” Condon said. “The campus is great. And Georgia offers a really good combination of academics and athletics. Behind Vandy they’re probably next in line academics-wise in the SEC. Obviously, their football is where it is right now; they’re in the playoffs. You can’t beat that. So the combination of the two really put it together for me.” As for the snub from Oklahoma, Condon said it only serves as motivation for him going forward. He visited the school numerous times his sophomore and junior years and attended several games last year. Oklahoma line coach Bill Bedenbaugh called him and came to some of his game his junior season but never stepped up with an offer. “They were just kind of slow-playing me. They have kind of a history of slow-playing in-state guys, for whatever reason. But I wasn’t waiting around to see if I could get an offer. So I started exploring other options.” The end result is Condon is a Bulldog and there will be nothing even close to divided loyalties when the two teams play on New Years Day. Whether Condon watches the game at home here or finds some way to Pasadena, he’ll be red-and-black all the way. And he likes the way the game matches up for UGA. “I think a big storyline people aren’t talking about is if Georgia can control the ball and run the ball well and keep Baker (Mayfield) off the field, I think that will frustrate them,” Condon said. “Out here in the Big 12, they’re used to just running-and-gunning all day; they’re all offense.  They haven’t seen the backs like Georgia has in Chubb and Michel and Swift. I don’t think they’ve seen teams that play offense like Georgia does. I think if Georgia can generate can generate some of those long drives and keep Oklahoma’s offense off the field, I think that’ll be a big key to the game.” Spoken like a true Bulldog. The post In the heart of Sooner Country resides one loyal Georgia Bulldog appeared first on DawgNation.
  • The Georgia Bulldogs are one win away from playing for the National Championship. If the Dawgs defeat the Oklahoma Sooners in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, they’ll head to the College Football Playoff National Championship. Just the possibility that Georgia could reach the big game played at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium has driven prices dramatically higher on secondary ticket marketplaces since the four-team playoff field was set Dec. 3. Channel 2 Action News and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution are your home for everything Rose Bowl. Make sure to follow @WSBTV and @AJCSports for updates on Twitter & LIKE the official WSB-TV Facebook page! For much more on the Georgia Bulldogs, CLICK HERE to download and listen to Channel 2 Sports Director Zach Klein & AJC's Jeff Schultz on the ‘We Never Played the Game’ podcast. The current asking prices on secondary markets range from a low of $1,639 for an upper-level seat to a high of $15,807 for a club seat. If Georgia manages to beat Oklahoma, ticket demand would be off the charts whether they face Alabama or Clemson. Imagine UGA playing for a National Championship in the heart of Bulldog Nation. CLICK HERE to read myAJC’s full report.
  • NORMAN, Okla. — Back in the team meeting room they call the Red Room, underneath Oklahoma’s Memorial Stadium, quarterback Baker Mayfield on Thursday met with the local press for the first time since accepting the Heisman Trophy in New York on Saturday. Asked who was the most intriguing person he met during his whirlwind postseason award tour, Mayfield did not hesitate. “Herschel Walker,” the Sooners’ superstar said. Then he gushed. “He looks like he could still play right now,” Mayfield said of Georgia’s greatest tailback of all time. “That’s just impressive. You meet so many special guys, but a guy like that is like a once-in-a-century type of athlete. It was pretty neat.” Reminded that Walker played for the team his Sooners are about to meet in the semifinals of the College Football Playoffs, Mayfield laughed. “That’s OK,” he said. “It’s Herschel Walker. I don’t have to play him, so it’s all right.” That exchange offered a nice glimpse into the persona of Oklahoma’s record-setting quarterback. The dude knows how to work a room and is quite comfortable at a lectern. And he knows how to butter-up an opponent. Mayfield nsists he wasn’t just trying to endear himself to the Bulldog Nation by offering effusive praise about their greatest player of all time. But one started to wonder when he began to gush about the Georgia defense he’ll face when No. 2 Oklahoma faces No. 3 Bulldogs in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. Mayfield was asked if the Sooners’ had faced a comparable defense to Georgia’s this season “They’re the best defense; you can’t compare them to anybody,” he said. “They’re in a league of their own and that’s the reason they’re in the playoffs. They follow behind that defense. You can’t compare them to other people because they’re so talented and they play so well together. To say they’re like anybody else would be downplaying how good they are.” And so it went. If there is going to be any trash-talking in the first-ever meeting between these two powerhouse programs, it wasn’t coming out of the Red Room on Thursday. Led by Mayfield, the Sooners come into the Rose Bowl No. 1 in the nation in total offense at 583.3 yards per game and No. 3 in passing at 367.4. Georgia will counter with the No. 2-rated passing defense (158.3 ypg), tied for third against the score (13.2 ppg) and fourth in total defense (270.9 ypg). Something’s got to give. But that’s what makes it one of the most exciting matchups of the postseason. It’s especially exciting for Oklahoma’s Orlando Brown. The Sooners’ starting left tackle happens to hail from Duluth, where he attended Peachtree Ridge High School. “A lot of those guys in high school tore me up,” said Brown, a consensus All-American as a redshirt junior. “I’m not the same player I was then, so I’m just ready. … I always play with a chip on my shoulder but I’m excited about that. These are guys I’ve known for a long time.” Asked what Georgia players specifically “tore him up” in high school, Brown mentioned Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy. The two seniors start at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs and definitely will get matched up against Brown on occasion if not constantly. “Obviously I played against 7 in high school, Carter,” Brown said. “I think I saw Bellamy at one point at a camp. It’s going to be competitive. They’re great. They play a lot of good ball. Very instinctual, very well-coached. You can tell they make a lot of scheme-related plays and a lot that are not scheme-related. They’re in the playoffs for a reason.” Brown and running back Trey Sermon are the only Sooners who hail from Georgia. Sermon, a freshman from Marietta’s Sprayberry High, rushed for 710 yards and two touchdowns while playing in all 13 games as Rodney Anderson’s backup. Sermon as named to the Big 12’s all-freshman team. Like Georgia, Oklahoma does not allow freshmen to be interviewed. The Sooners certainly don’t need many other voices with Mayfield front and center. The fifth-year senior from Austin, Texas, is as comfortable before cameras and microphones as he is behind that big offensive line that allowed him to throw for 4,340 yards and 41 touchdowns with just 5 interceptions this past season. It’s understandable considering he and Herschel Walker are the only players to have been invited to three consecutive Heisman Trophy Award ceremonies. The third time was the charm for both. Asked what was the best advice he got from his fellow award winners, Mayfield said it was that the national championship remains the better prize. “It was kind of common theme for the guys who were able to win it and play for a national championship,” Mayfield said. “I got the same advice from all of them: This is a special deal but if you can do anything you need to win the big one at the end. I talked to Chris Weinke about that and he’s a guy who lost to OU. So he was speaking from the heart.” So was Mayfield, he’d have you believe. The post Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield gushes about Herschel Walker, Georgia’s defense appeared first on DawgNation.
  • NORMAN, Okla. – The marijuana charges against Natrez Patrick were dropped, we learned Thursday. That’s certainly good for him. It may be good for Georgia football, too, in terms of its pursuit of wins and championships. Ultimately, we don’t know yet exactly what it means. On the surface, one’s left to believe that the Bulldogs’ starting inside linebacker will be reinstated and play against No. 2 Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl in three weeks. But we don’t know that because coach Kirby Smart has yet to weigh in on it. And it’s a bit of a tricky situation when closely evaluated. In the meantime, some charges were dropped out here in Boomer Sooner territory on Thursday, too, and they were much more serious than what Patrick faced. A rape allegation levied against OU running back and leading rusher Rodney Anderson did not result in charges by the local district attorney. The news was shared with local media in a rare news conference by a prosecutor to explain why he wasn’t going to prosecute a case. In a nutshell Cleveland County District Attorney Greg Mashburn told reporters that, “after a thorough investigation” that include polygraph tests, interviews of friends of both the accused and the alleged victim and examinations of phone records and texts, “charges are not warranted.” “There are certainly cases where we just simply can’t prove something, so we decline due to insufficient evidence,” Mashburn said. “In this case, I think it’s important for us to tell the whole story so people understand that facts were presented to us through the Norman P.D.’s investigation.” Earlier in the day Thursday, before the D.A.’s announcement, Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley had said that Anderson was “still fully on the team” while authorities continued to investigate the allegations. Riley didn’t issue any other statements after the charges were dropped, and Anderson was not made available after the Sooners’ practice he participated in Thursday. But those in the OU camp expect Anderson to be play against Georgia in the Rose Bowl. “Good for him; he’s a great person,” said Sooners left tackle Orlando Brown, a junior from Duluth. “Hopefully he’ll be able to play in the game.” Likewise, the assumption in Georgia’s camp is that Patrick will be able to play in the Rose Bowl. Smart probably won’t weigh in on this latest development until the Bulldogs’ Rose Bowl media day Monday. Georgia has yet to begin its Rose Bowl preparations, and there won’t be any interview access until then. But it might not be as cut-and-dried as it seems. While we know that Patrick doesn’t face any legal ramifications, we don’t know for certain that there won’t be any team repercussions. Patrick already had violated UGA’s marijuana-use policy twice due to previous marijuana arrests, hence his four-game suspension in the middle third of the regular season. A third calls for dismissal from the team. We do know from the body-cam footage provided by police that Patrick was in a car with a teammate who was was either actively smoking or had just smoked marijuana. Jayson Stanley, also a starter as a wide receiver, had DUI charges against him dropped  Thursday but is still charged with misdemeanor possession. So we assume he’ll be subjected to UGA’s first-strike pot policy, which is a one-game suspension in football. That the one game is the College Football Playoff and the Rose Bowl makes it particularly painful. What we don’t know is whether Patrick had to undergo any kind of testing as a result of the encounter. Usually a student-athlete who has had more than one violation is subject to counseling and intensified drug-testing. Perhaps Patrick already has successfully cleared that, or he could be awaiting results. We can’t be sure. We’ll know for sure in 18 days when Georgia and Oklahoma kick off in the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, these off-field issues have been the one downside to an otherwise magical season. While they’ve been piling up wins and points this year, they also have been piling up arrests and disciplinary issues. Duly noting that this latest charge against Patrick was dismissed, there are still 14 known arrests of Georgia football players going back to last season. The latest came earlier this week when freshman defensive back Latavious Brini was jailed on a first-degree forgery charge. It was for an incident that allegedly occurred back in July, or shortly after he arrived from Miami. He hasn’t played this season and is therefore set to be redshirted, but neither Georgia nor Smart has commented on his status just yet either. Generally, UGA student-athletes charged with a felony are immediately suspended on a temporary basis until their legal matter is worked out. The arrest ledger also counts the case of D’Antne Demery, a signee who had his scholarship revoked after he was charged with battery/domestic violence against his girlfriend in April. I don’t know why Demery wouldn’t be included in such an accounting since he already had signed his national letter-of-intent two months before he was jailed in Athens. Most of the other arrests seem relatively trivial, depending on your personal sensibilities. Most of them involve pot. Tailback Elijah Holyfield and wide receiver Riley Ridley also were arrested earlier this year and subsequently suspended for single games for misdemeanor marijuana possession. But 14 is a high number of legal run-ins no matter how one slices it. That begs the question: Does Georgia have a discipline problem on this team? I know that last sentence makes you cringe. It does me, too. There is so much good going on for UGA, nobody wants to throw water on it. But that question bears asking. It’s only fair. Former Georgia coach Mark Richt came under sharp criticism for a perceived lack of discipline during his UGA tenure. It reached a peak when the Bulldogs incurred 11 arrests from March to October of 2010. Then he cracked down. Georgia had only one arrest in 2011 when Cornelius Washington was charged with DUI. There were some isolated incidences and some serious offenses that followed, but they were dealt with harshly. Bulldogs fans don’t need to be reminded that several dismissals occurred from 2012 to 2015. Smart is a coach who preaches discipline on the first line of his mission statement. He expends a lot of time and energy talking about poise and composure. Nevertheless, the Bulldogs were flagged for nine personal fouls in their two games against Auburn (they seem to have a thing for face masks in particular, don’t they?). Georgia enters the postseason as the fourth-most penalized team in the SEC. Is there a connection there? Who knows. Certainly most good football players are aggressive by nature. Arrests numbers and penalty numbers are facts, but the assertion that Georgia is an undisciplined team is not. That’s subjective and speculative at this point. And what has been going on here at Oklahoma proves that UGA is not alone in fighting that perception. It’s not just what proved to be false accusations against the Sooners’ current running back. Lest we forget, quarterback Baker Mayfield, who accepted the Heisman Trophy on Saturday, was arrested in February in Fayetteville, Ark., for public intoxication, disorderly conduct and fleeing police. But the Bulldogs need to do better. Obviously, Georgia is a very, very good football team under Smart. Based on recruiting, it appears that will continue if not get even better. But the disciplinary issues need to trend in the other direction, even if you care about nothing other than what happens on the football field. The post Natrez Patrick gets good news, but Georgia needs to tighten up on discipline front appeared first on DawgNation.