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Tales from Tibby

    Just returned from a trip that included a few days in New York City. It wasn’t my first time. We were there just two years ago, so I knew I was getting in to. I love/hate that place.    The over-the-top weirdness of Time Square. Visiting the M&M store and paying $14 a pound for peanut M’s that would cost about $3 at my local grocery store. A truly unintelligible subway system. The fabulous – use your ‘jazz hands…’ fab-u-louus - Broadway shows.    It’s like no other place. It’s also like no other place should aspire to be, really. Especially the subway trains. The subway system there was designed by chimpanzees who then hired kindergarteners to draw the maps and legends explaining it.    Locals eventually figure it out by osmosis; visitors have no chance.    The way we handle the trains is to wander around in the subway station looking lost until someone takes pity on us and helps.    Mostly, we just walk. We certainly don’t attempt to drive in that carnival.    If you do drive in NYC, you need to be fluent in ‘horn.’ It’s the official language of drivers there.    But here’s what I’ve figured out: Honkers are almost always several cars back in the pack.    The first car in line has stopped because it’s illegal to run over pedestrians. The second car can see what’s going on so sits quietly. Get back to about the fourth or fifth car and all they know is that the light is green and they ain’t moving.    *beeeeeep*    Honking changes nothing, but I reckon it gives the drivers a way to vent their frustration of being in a city where a billion people live and having to deal with another billion visitors who know it’s illegal for you to run over them with your car and will therefore cross the street whenever they dang well want, traffic lights be damned.    The other language of New York City is every other language in the world. Except English.    Look, I’m a bumkin in The City, but I’m telling you, it was rare to hear English conversationally spoken. On the streets, in the subways, in the bars (so I’m told), on the elevators, the conversations were almost always in a foreign language.    That’s more observation than complaint.    To start with, we all know that as a country we’ve become heavily reliant on immigrants for service work. The servers, dishwashers, attendants, hotel staff… the list is endless of jobs immigrants are willing to do for the opportunity to live in the States.    Now, couple that with all the foreign visitors who are simply making NYC one of their must-do destinations, and there’s a whole lot of no speak-y English going on.    What if, I thought… what if we passed a law that required everyone in an American city to speak only English. That would probably cut down on the crowds since so many people would have to learn the language instead of relying on a single interpreter to be the English voice for their entire bus.    Then there’s a possible downside. What if that law not only required English, but required the proper use of the language?    That would shut most Americans out of places like New York City.    So, let me just say this, y’all. I ain’t never gonna go back to that place. Not never, not no how. I don’t know what them farners are sayin’, an’ until them people done learned how to tawk like me, I’d just a-soon stay home.    Somebody fetch me a beer.
  • Just heard a song from Dan + Shay called ‘Tequila.’ Wow, a song about tequila. How novel! While that oozes sarcasm, it’s a decent song, and so adds to an every-growing list of odes to a cactus. Off the top of my head, I can probably name 9 or 10 songs about tequila. There are more, I know. Many more. Almost all songs about tequila involve drinking too much. From there, we work on secondary themes, like being lonesome, drinking away a memory or doing something stupid. Tequila songs can also involve a fair amount of promiscuity. “Who is this cowboyWho's sleepin' beside me?He's awful cute, but how'd IGet his shirt on?I had to much Tequila last night.”  - ‘Jose Cuervo,’ sung by Shelly West Anyway… Hello, everybody, and welcome to TEQUILA TALK. As your host, you should know I fancy myself a tequila aficionado (I drink it), a tequila snob (I like the good stuff), and I may be the only person you’ve ever met that has never gotten sick from drinking it. Like, ever. Full disclosure: Oh yeah, I’ve overdone it. I’ve just never overdone it on tequila. And I’ll let my sainthood stop right there. Tequila gets a bad rap, and it’s not to blame. Its smooth, sometimes smoky goodness is a delicious sip, either neat or over a little ice. There are two main problems we have with tequila. First, we’ve made it a barroom game to see how much of it we can drink before we puke. Secondly, and a contributor to the first point, barroom tequila shots are usually done with a low-grade product. While anything calling itself tequila must, by law, contain at least 51% distilled blue agave, that leaves the other 49% to be distilled from something else. That’s very often corn syrup. And in these cheaper tequilas that nice golden color comes not from barrel aging, it comes from caramel coloring. I’m not hating on Cuervo Gold, y’all. Despite it being made from a whole lot of sugar and only minimally-required blue agave, it doesn’t taste bad. But even folks who think it does taste bad are willing to toss a few down so we can part-a-a-a-y!!! I’ll be worshiping at the porcelain alter later, but right now I have never been funnier, prettier, wittier or danced better! The girl who cuts my hair told me she can’t drink tequila. And why? “Well, one night…” …and we all know the rest of that story. Her drink of choice is vodka. Have you ever, I asked, sat down with some friends and slammed shots of cheap vodka down your throat until you went blind? Still, it’s hard to deny tequila has rendered some fun tunes. An all-time favorite became Pee Wee Herman’s dance groove: ‘Tequila’ by The Champs. In fact, that one may be the top tequila song of all time because of Pee Wee’s signature dance – let’s face it, tequila can lead to some pretty stupid dance moves – and because it’s easy to sing. The lyrical content of the song is a total of three words, and they are all ‘tequila!’ Speaking of lyrical content, Joe Nichols had a #1 hit with ‘Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.’ Given its title, I’m not sure why it needed any lyrics. Seems fairly self-explanatory. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!
  • Did you see the recent news story from New Jersey about the woman turned away from a flight because of her emotional support animal? In case you didn’t, the woman had been told in advance by United Airlines that she could not bring her emotional support animal onboard because they couldn’t accommodate the peacock. A peacock, y’all! Her emotional support animal was a feakin’ peacock! She showed up for the flight anyway. With the peacock. Access denied. Most of us watching or reading that story probably rolled our eyes and gave whoever else was around that look. You know the look.  ‘Really?!’ Also known as the ‘is she on crack?’ look. This story originally was going to be about her and others like her, people with emotional support animals (ESA). Specifically, people with unconventional emotional support animals. People wanting to fly with pets has gotten so whacky that Delta has just updated it’s ESA policy, saying, “Customers have attempted to fly with comfort turkeys, gliding possums known as sugar gliders, snakes, spiders and more...” I had planned to write about the peacock lady. I wanted to write: Ma’am, number one, that peacock don’t care about your emotions. And number two, I’m betting you’re single. Then, a couple of things happened.  First, another ESA story emerged involving an emotional-support dog that attacked a passenger on a plane. In this case, though, the dog was a veteran’s ESA. That a veteran is part of the story gave me pause enough. (Gave me pause… get it? Pause… paws… OK, not that funny). Even putting that aside, though, if you’ve ever owned a good dog, you know that dog does indeed care about your emotions.  So, what do I do? Leave out people with dogs? The other incident derailing my original story involves a donkey. On my walk past a nearby farm just this week, I stopped and asked the young woman shoveling out the barn what happened to the white horse that had been there for years. “The white horse died, but we may get another one. That white horse and the donkey were close. The donkey is really lonesome.” What? “When we buried the horse, the donkey stood nearby and watched the whole thing. It was like she was at a graveside service.” The woman spoke of it all very matter-of-factly, like a seasoned farm hand would. On the farm, when a large animal dies, you take your backhoe or whatever implement you have to dig a hole, you dig that hole, then push the animal in and cover it up. The facts of life. She spoke just as stoically about the donkey’s loneliness. No emotion, just ‘yeah… the donkey’s lost her buddy. We may have to do something about that.’ But if a donkey can have an ESA, I knew my story idea-in-the-making, poking fun of people with emotional support animals, was going south quickly. So, I’ve decided to change gears. Let’s look instead at what other animals might make a good ESA. Like, a turkey. If you ever breakdown emotionally and need a meal, voila! And after eating the turkey, you could be thankful. (Thankful… turkey… Thanksgiving…? Is funny still not happening here?) How about a fish? Imagine, a friend comes over. She needs to unload her troubles, so you dutifully sit and listen as she drones on, endlessly. And you finally say, “Why don’t you kiss my bass.” But you mean it. What a friend! How ‘bout a bumblebee? Maybe all you need to pick you up is a little buzz. Speak of buzz, what about a buzzard? If you’re a particularly deep person, a buzzard could pick your brain. (And any other parts. Once you’re gone, of course.) Feel free to offer your own thoughts. There’s gotta be plenty of other animals that would make ESAs. I’m sure you’ve heard about the (true story) incident recently involving a lady with an emotional-support hamster? After being told she couldn’t have it onboard a Spirit Airlines flight, she flushed it down the toilet. You can Google up the details, if you want. It’s a weird story. But I have to wonder what kind of person relies on a hamster for emotional support. I doubt that hamster cared about her emotions. I bet she’s single. Click here for more Tales From Tibby!  
  • I’m not sure when ‘The Season’ begins. Is it Thanksgiving into Christmas, then into New Years? Or do we back it up to Halloween? Halloween into Thanksgiving into Christmas into New Years? And why do we say ‘new years’ like there are several of them? All I know is I eat a lot in ‘The Season.’ I’ve made pecan pies before, but making them this year was different. For some reason, this year I paid attention to what actually goes into making a pecan pie. It may be because I’m trying (in vain) to reverse the slow trend of becoming a slightly larger person every year. I’m still trying to get my brain wrapped around this notion that what I put in my mouth has some direct correlation to the size of my midsection. So... pecan pie: -syrup-sugar That’s your pie: liquid sugar, granular sugar. The sugars need something to hold them together, so let’s toss in a few eggs. Of course there are pecans, but it could be anything. Want a peanut pie? Walnut pie? Use dill chips and it becomes a pickle pie. The point is, we’ve named the pecan pie not after the mainingredients but after the only healthy ingredient in the thing. Rightfully, it should be called a sugar pie. “Oh, you’re making sugar pies for the holidays? Do you do anything special?” “Well, I like to top mine off with pecans. Adds a little crunch to the sugar.” Years ago, I made a ‘dark’ version of pecan pie. Instead of a light corn syrup, I used molasses. Instead of white sugar, I used dark brown sugar. I called it Pecan Mud Pie. I should have called it Pootie Pie. It hung around for days in unfavorable ways. Pecan pie is hard to turn down, especially if you know the reputation of the person or restaurant that is offering it. Once you become known for making a good pecan pie, you are considered an excellent cook for anything else you make. You could prepare an entire meal from canned food, nuke it in the microwave and serve it on plastic plates, and it would be the best meal ever. Because we’re all just waiting on your delicious pecan pie at the end of the meal. My pies this year were a failure. While they looked good coming out of the oven, apparently, I did something wrong. Serving them was serving a soupy, syrupy mess. With pecans. They had good pecan pie flavor and got eaten (with spoons), but I doubt I will be asked to make them again for the family gathering. I’m OK with that. Maybe it’s just to discourage myself from eating something that will only make me a little rounder in the middle, but next time I’m serving pecan pie, I’m gonna call it like I see it. “Alright now, I’m serving diabetes for dessert. Who wants Cool Whip on theirs?”
  • Kids like gross. Always have. Toy makers know this and have been delivering gross toys for decades. Garbage Pail Kids, Burp Balls, Queasy Bake Oven…. do a search for ‘gross toys’ and you’ll find not only the toys currently vying for your kids’ attention, you may also find what appealed to you as a child. Anyone remember making creepy crawlers? Then eating them? Seems like Santa Claus himself brought that one to my childhood house. With no children of our own, our home these days is generally gross-free. (Pay no attention to anything my wife might say about me and Mexican food.) But kids occasionally show up, and the ones we see most frequently know my wife and I are gamers. Ping pong, basketball, board games… we’re usually all in for whatever challenge gets thrown at us. And that brings us to Bean Boozled. For those not familiar with this game, allow me to introduce you. I’ll call it a board game but if it has a board, I’ve never seen it. It does have a spinner. And jelly beans. What could go wrong? The rules, as explained to us by the kids, are simple: Flick the spinner and whatever color it lands on, you eat a jelly bean of corresponding color. That’s it. You now know how to play Bean Boozled. When you eat up all the jelly beans, refill bags are available at places like Cracker Barrel. That’s how wholesome the game is. Except… Each color jelly bean can have one of two flavors. One of those flavors is tasty; the other, not so much. That brown jelly bean might indeed taste like chocolate pudding. But it might taste like canned dog food. The white jelly bean? Could be coconut, could be sour milk. I will attest that while I don’t really know what some of the gross flavors taste like (slimy socks?), they’ve done a pretty good job with replicating the taste of sour milk! My wife and I weren’t the only adult players, but we hung in there longer than the others. One of them got a booger-flavored bean and dropped out immediately. My wife grabbed a trash can after her first bad bean. She was willing to keep going but prepared to unload any further undesirable flavors. She didn’t last long. I became a case study for stupidity. Not only did I hang in there until I had tasted all the flavors, good and bad, but when asked to play again the next night, I agreed. My wife declined. So did the friend who went down on his first bean. “Tasted boogers all night,” was his excuse. Nasty. Which of course is why kids love it.
  • Let’s jump right in. Today’s gripe: Moms who put bows on their babies’ heads. I seriously don’t get this. Every single girl child that pops up on my social media feed has a bow on her head. What’s going on here? Trying to make your baby look like… Dumbo? Minnie Mouse? A rabbit? I have a niece claiming that just as with big hair, the bigger the bow, the closer to Jesus. Yeah, we say that in that South, but it’s only because bad style needs an excuse, if you ask me. A random baby that may or may not be family.   Not only is this a silly trend, some of y’all have pretty rotten tastes in bows.* Somebody needed to say that. What you see in those pictures is your little angel looking so precious. What I see is trouble looming. So let me just go ahead and prepare you for the conversation your surly teenage daughter is going to have with you in about 17 years: “Can I ask why you ruined all my baby pictures by wrapping my head up like you were going to give it away for Christmas?”“Can I get a tattoo? What do mean, you think it will make me look silly? Didn’t seem to bother you when I was a baby.” “What’s with that bow? Had Wal-Mart run out of pretty ones or was Dollar General having a sale?” I have another question. All of the babies I see have known fathers. Where are the fathers? Why are the dads not stepping up and saying something? Be a man! Assert yourself! Or at least claim half ownership of rights to decorating the baby’s head and take the bow off. I’ve never had children but I can assure you if my wife wanted to put a bow on Dumpling’s head, we’d be striking a deal. 'Sure, you can put a bow on her head if I never have to do poopy-diaper duty again for the rest of eternity.' Something like that. I’m a b-a-a-a-d man! Oh, I can feel your eyes rolling, moms. I know what you’re thinking. ‘Grumpy old man.’ But I know what you’re really doing. You’re trying to mask your baby’s fat head.  Look, that’s just the facts of life. Most babies’ heads are too big for their bodies when they are born. What happened to just saying a ‘bless her heart’ and knowing she would grow into it eventually? Has anyone considered that a fat-headed baby with a bow only makes fat-headed baby’s head look bigger? Moms, trust me on this. Do your baby a favor. Buck the trend. #saynotothebow (You can steal that; I stole your baby’s picture.) No need to thank me. Just doing what I can to make you a better parent. Heaven knows, y’all need help. *No specific accusations are intended for the babies pictured in this story. Although if the shoe fits…
  • It was something, the eclipse. Especially to be in the path of totality where the moon would completely block the sun for a few moments. The stars had aligned for us. And we were ready. Plans had been in the works for months. One neighbor had ripped off some images from the internet and designed t-shirts celebrating the event. Another neighbor had purchased moonpies and sun chips for snacks. There was beer. About the only issue facing us was where to see it. In our area, watching the eclipse start to finish would take about 3 hours and options on where to see the sky for that amount of time were limited. The few houses that make up our community are in a deep valley, heavily wooded, and a lot of the neighborhood only gets sunshine filtered through the oaks, maples and tall white pine trees surrounding us. The day before the eclipse, several neighbors wandered up and down the lone dirt road that connects us and determined that the cabin on the end offered the best viewing from both the lower porch and in river itself. Sitting in the river is where many of us wanted to be. More planning. A small tree would be harvested. It would be wedged between the rocks in the river so that floats could be attached. Further, the river was shallow enough at this spot that chairs could be put in the water. Bonus: this cabin had a refrigerator in the basement. Those sitting on the porch didn’t have to walk very far to fetch and toss beers to those in the water. The neck on this event was getting redder by the minute. Everything went exactly according to plan. The sky was blue, the day was warm, the water was cool. And man, down in our valley where we have limited sunshine to begin with, when totality came, it got dark! Perfect. Except… Many had gathered in the water a good hour or so prior to the start of the eclipse. The event had come and gone, and people were still in the water. Happy people, lounging in their chairs and tubes. And there was beer. We were into about the 4th hour of the party when someone just had to point out that no one had taken a bathroom break. Here we are, lined up one behind the other in the water, and no one had stood up and announced that they would ‘be right back.’ No one had left the water to ‘take a break.’ We just sat in the river. And there was beer. These things go unspoken. Or should. But when someone speaks of it, smiles turn to sneers. Suspicious eyes are cast to everyone around. Further, in the last couple of hours two pairs of those cheap eclipse-viewing glasses had come floating by us, meaning someone we could not see was upstream from us. At least two people, based on the number of glasses. Were they also in the water? Did they also have beer? These are questions best unanswered. But the subject had been broached. Resolution became necessary. In the end, we all agreed none of us would never do anything like that. Despite being older men and women, our friendship was strong and our bladders stronger. Everything’s cool, everything’s OK. One day, when you and your children are visiting the loveliest place on God’s earth you’ve ever seen, and you happen upon a pristine little trout stream, gurgling its way over the rocks, tumbling merrily to a larger river somewhere, and Little Precious looks up at you and asks, “Can I take a drink from it?” Don’t be my dad. My dad said, “Sure. Why not?”
  • When you’re 14, you’re never going to be old. Until one day you are.  When you get older, the best you can hope for is to be cool - the cool mom or dad, the cool aunt or uncle - and hope the young'uns around you see Rico Suave instead of Ricky Ricardo (who would have turned 100 this year).   That’s not the way it works, of course, but it’s really all most of us have to hang a hat on. That and our increasingly shiny heads.   Part of the perception of cool in this digital world is the ability to keep up with the latest ‘thing.’ Or at least to be perceived as trying to keep up.   So, when my teenage companions suggested I needed to be on Snapchat, I surrendered my phone.   “Set it up.”   If you’re not familiar with Snapchat, my best and shortest description would be that it’s texting with pictures. There’s so much more to it, but that’s the basic function.   Further, unless you make a special effort to save a Snapchat, it disappears for good, typically after 10 seconds. There is a lot to like about that, especially if you are fond of sharing pictures of you doing stupid or illegal things (I’m guessing).   I suppose it’s because your chats disappear the Snapchat logo is a ghost. The ghost is actually a blank canvas. You can insert a photo of you or anything else in that space. I had chosen to do nothing, and it was not sitting well with the 16-year old beside me.   She suggested I needed an avatar. In digital-speak, an avatar is a digital representative of you.   Think of it as a personal emoji.   For example, take your basic smiley face emoji 😊. Now, give Smiley Face some of your features, like the same color hair, that same skin tone, your dimples, glasses, if you wear them, etc.   You’re basically creating a cartoon character in your likeness.   You bet there’s an app for that. Several, probably.   Let the games begin.   She would look at me, then look at her options for designing me. “You need a longer face,” she commented as she picked a template to make that happen.   “His nose isn’t long enough,” her brother offered, thus involving himself in the process.   It started getting personal. Really personal.   My wrinkles were discussed. Scars and moles were talked about. And I guess I had bloodshot eyes that day because the question, ‘can you make the whites of his eyes red?’ was asked.   Assigning my avatar white hair was a no-brainer, but they argued over which available option looked most like a guy going bald.   Ultimately, my avatar was finished. It's not easy seeing yourself through the eyes of a teenager, but I wasn’t too disappointed. Given that they were only creating my face, I avoided some other pitfalls common to men of a certain age:   -pot belly  -corroded toenails  -ear hair  -nose hair  -turkey neck  -baggy pants (‘cuz you got no butt)   I thought I got off pretty easy. The 14-year old thought his sister could have done a better job around my eyes.   “He’s got some pretty gnarly eyebrows.”   I do. And he will too one day. As we’re all fond of saying: There’s only one option to getting older, and you ain’t gonna like it much.   But I’m good with where I am in life. And I'm keeping busy by working on my own app, inspired by Snapchat. Since it will only work on teenagers, its working name is Teenzap.   Here's how it will work: use the app to take a photo of any teenager, and in 10 seconds, they will disappear.   Not the photo. In fact, you may want to keep the photo. It will be all that remains of that precious pimply face.   I'll keep you posted.
  • It’s a very special smehell. I made that word up. It's a cross between 'smell' and 'hell.'  We need a new word describing what it’s like walking into your house after your refrigerator/freezer has died and been left alone. Putrid, nauseous, toxic, oh my god, and liquid death don't get it done. Who knows how long it had been dead. It had been two weeks since we had been around. Neighbors discovered the problem. Ours is a close-knit community; everyone knows where everyone else keeps a spare key. If you don’t have something you need but your neighbor does, go get it. That’s how this started. I received a text that someone or something was dead in our house. “It’s not bad,” she wrote. “It’s really, really bad.” She could have – I think I probably would have – just walked out and left it for the homeowner to figure out what was wrong. Instead, she and her husband decided to do a little investigating. “Sniff the shower drain,” I suggested, thinking the septic tank might have a problem. By the way, you want to be pretty good friends with folks you suggest to go into your shower and sniff your drain. Profanities could follow. Looking for any obvious problems led them to eventually opening the refrigerator door. And immediately slamming it shut. It was a morgue in there. Actually, no. There was life. You know how your fridge has little vents? When motors aren't running and coolants aren't cooling, those vents become doorways for small creatures, hungry for a meal of spoiled, rotting food. There were bugs. Among the damage, a sealed pack of chicken that had swollen up and burst through the packaging. Same for the venison. Packs of ground deer meat had all breached the seals of their vacuum-packed plastic, warming to room temperature, oozing blood. Yogurt had burst the seals of their individual cups and grown hair. Whomp buscuits – those you whomp against the counter to open - had broken through without being whomped and were molding. And the bugs. It may have smelled like death, but certain unidentified insects were loving life: crawling, flying and feasting. Clearly, the refrigerator had not just conked out yesterday. Alien life forms of this magnitude take time to manifest. Public service announcement: Frozen okra will thaw into a gooey mess but will not explode through freezer bags. I’m not sure why you need that information, but now you have it. Hazmat was called but refused to respond. So, friends stepped in to do what friends must occasionally do. Once in a while, you gotta step up to the plate. First, all windows were opened. They found of couple of fans in our house, then brought a couple more of their own to prop up in those windows. This cancelled the plans of our immediate next-door neighbors to eat lunch out on their deck that day. While they are a good 30 yards away, the stench from our kitchen was uncontainable. Those folks had other options of where they could be, so they packed up and left. Like I said, it’s a real special odor. Neighbors from both sides of the house came with garbage bags, willing to help clean out the fridge. While tossing out our food, one of them tossed his own cookies. Fortunately, he managed to make it outside, hanging his head out over the deck railing before that happened. Ten full garbage bags and $5 later, the offending mess was deposited in the local dump. The same friend who had lost his lunch cleaning out the refrigerator was around when we finally arrived two days later, offering to help me move the refrigerator out of the house. To fortify ourselves, we both took a shot of tequila. (We do a fair amount of fortifying around here.) During the process of rolling it out on a hand truck, one of the fridge doors popped open. His tequila shot left his body as quickly as it had entered. We refortified. Eventually, we were able to wheel the refrigerator into my neighbor’s yard. The same neighbors that had left. Their yard. I used their hose, their water, to wash out meat juice and mold. Can’t wait for them to return. Precious memories aren’t the only things that linger. The fridge made nice yard art, and we considered just leaving it there. Back inside, my wife Beverly wiped down every counter and cabinet with all manner of cleaning solutions, going so far as to take down the curtains and wash them. Floors were mopped. Disinfectant was sprayed on the furniture. Plates, glasses, silverware, every pot and every pan got washed. In tossing out all of the spoils of the refrigerator, the neighbors had left glass and canned items. Without much hesitation, we made the decision to toss everything that smehell had touched and start over. Everything except the beer. It’s good beer, and the cans had not popped opened. I deemed them salvageable and safe. Now, you could argue that beer which has been refrigerated, then brought back to room temperature, then refrigerated again will lose some flavor. You’d need to argue with someone else. My palate won’t notice, and I ain’t listening. You could also argue, as my buddy did, beer cans that have been in such close proximity to the funk of rotting deer carcasses are contaminated and need to be replaced. But again, my ears don’t hear. Those cans have taken a gentle bleach bath and are now chillin’ in a brand new refrigerator. My friend has vowed not to accept my offer of a beer for the next year. Beverly has vowed that lips that touch those cans of beer will not touch hers for about the same period of time. Don’t tell me I don’t know what it means to sacrifice.
  • Our bartender was Romanian but spoke pretty good English. Since he was working for a cruise line that caters to a mostly English-speaking clientele, good English was a prerequisite of the job, I reckoned. “Can you speak French?” he was asked. As the boat that employs him cruises the rivers of France, that was a fair question. “No,” he answered. “I speak Romanian, Russian and English. That’s enough!” Then he laughed. “Do you know how hard it is to speak English? You have over 300,000 words!” Whether that’s true or not, I’ve always thought what makes English difficult, even for those of us that have spoken it all our lives, is the way words sound the same yet are spelled differently (see my title), or that the exact same word can have different meanings (see my title). In fact, once you read the rest of this tale, you can tell everyone you’veread it. But let’s move this conversation back to the barstool, because someone has just mentioned they had read that the most difficult word in the English language is… RUN. Eyebrows immediately furrowed in doubt. Run? Really? So, we decided to run it up the flagpole and see if we had indeed run into the toughest word in the English-speaking world. Immediately, it was evident there are many ways to use ‘run’ that didn’t involve using your legs to move quickly from on point to another. You run water either to run the washer or run a bath. If it’s the washer, then you gotta run the dryer. The refrigerator runs. Let’s just hope we catch it before it gets too far away! (In today’s techno- world, you may have to explain what a prank call was to your kids or grandkids. I doubt they’ll immediately get the concept of dialing a random number and asking whomever answered if their refrigerator was running.) We run the vacuum to clean the room, unless we’ve run out of time. Or run out of room. We run our mouths. Too much. We run for office. If we don’t run into our scandalous past, well, we’ve run a good campaign, I guess, so we can run for reelection. Our watches run. Our cars run so that we can run to the store. Just don’t let the parking meter run out while you’re inside or you run the risk of a ticket. You’ve got a run in your pantyhose, by the way. Had enough? Me, too. Perhaps ‘run’ is all the problem it’s purported to be. Regardless, I’ve run out of easy examples. Besides, I need to run to the bathroom. For that, I will use my legs to move quickly from one point to another. Hopefully, we have not run out of tissue.

Local News

  • Summer is off to a, well, hot start in metro Atlanta, and that is likely to continue through the Fourth of July holiday next week. Monday’s high is expected to hit 92, several degrees above the average for the date, according to Channel 2 Action News. This comes after a Sunday in which heat indexes in metro Atlanta and North Georgia ranged to near 100 degrees in some areas. The pattern should continue, Channel 2 meteorologist Brian Monahan said. Forecasts for the next four days call for highs in the 90s, though the average high for these dates is 88. “It’ll feel like 100 the next couple of days with the humidity,” he said. Expect the same all the way through Independence Day. “The temperature pattern all across the Southeast is for above average temperatures,” Monahan said. Monday also has a 40 percent chance of rain, which could mean some pop-up showers for commuters.
  • The Banks County Sheriff’s Office says there was no fire and there were no injuries when smoke filled a section of the Banks County jail: a malfunctioning air conditioning unit gets the blame.  Two brothers from Stephens County are facing theft charges in Franklin and Hart counties: Nicholas and Matthew Glover are accused in a string of thefts at Victoria Bryant State Park.  There was a dramatic weekend rescue at Panther Creek Falls in Habersham County, with crews extracting a hiker who fell twenty feet: the man was taken by ambulance to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville.  From Cherokee County: four workers at a Wendy’s in Canton, fired for dealing methamphetamine from the fast-food restaurant.  Decatur Police say they’ve made an arrest in a possible road rage incident that left a teenager dead. 50 year-old Simmie Reed has been charged with murder and aggravated assault. 17 year-old Janae Owens was shot and killed last Wednesday while sitting at a traffic light with her mother. Reed is in the DeKalb County jail. 
  • It opened in the 1960s: it closes today after more than 50 years in Five Points in Athens. The Waffle House at the corner of Lumpkin and Milledge will serve its last patrons, shutting down because the restaurant operators were unable to reach a lease agreement with the property owners. There is still no word on what will replace the Waffle House in Five Points. 
  • The steering committees that are studying the Atlanta Highway and Lexington Road corridors in Athens convene today: it’s a 4 o’clock session at the Government Building on Dougherty Street.  Madison County Commissioners are meeting this evening, 6 o’clock at the Madison County Government Complex in Danielsville. They’ll look at a plan to hire four more Madison County School Resource Officers.  A Hall County Commission work session is on tap for today: 3 o’clock at the Government Center in Gainesville. Commissioners are scheduled to adopt a new Hall County budget later this week in Gainesville.  There is budget work in Bowman: the Bowman City Council meets tonight at 7 at the City Hall building in that town in Elbert County. 
  • Georgia needs more doctors. In fact, the entire country does. The University of Georgia and Augusta University are working to address this need. In June, 10 residents from the initial class (some pictured above) of the Medical College of Georgia at the Augusta University/ University of Georgia Medical Partnership Internal Residency Program marched in recognition of finishing their three-year residency program. Each was surrounded by their family members, mentors and other physicians who guided them along the way. Several graduates accepted positions in the state. According to a 2017 study by the American Association of Medical Colleges, the U.S. is expected to face a shortage of between 40,800–104,900 doctors by 2030. This is fueled by a growing population, and an increase in the amount of aging Americans and retiring physicians. And in order to meet the national average of 36.6 physicians per 100,000 people, Georgia needs an additional 1,456 graduate medical education positions in various specialties such as family medicine, internal medicine and general surgery. About the program The Internal Medicine Residency Program, a joint effort of the AU/UGA Medical Partnership and St. Mary’s Health Care System, received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in January 2014, becoming Athens’ first medical residency program. This program takes three years to complete and concentrates on producing community-based physicians. Since the inception of the Medical Partnership residency program, an additional internal residency program has been established at Piedmont Athens Regional bringing an additional 15 residents to the Athens community each year. Combining the two programs, the total number of resident positions in Athens is now 85.

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia baseball coach Scott Stricklin just got a contract extension and raise, and he’s not the only “Head Dawg” who is going to make out well in 2018. At least two other UGA head coaches can expect positive adjustments to their current employee agreements going forward. Men’s and women’s track and field coach Petros Kyprianou is expected to receive a contract extension and raise in the coming weeks and softball coach Lu Harris-Champer will have “something done for her, too,” according to Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity. And deservedly so. All three coaches are coming off landmark seasons in the field of play. Kyprianou’s teams won two national championships in the past four months. The men’s team won the NCAA outdoor national championship earlier this month while women’s team won the indoor national title in March and finished second by one point at the outdoor competition two weeks ago. Both titles are incredible achievements considering they came in just the third year of Kyprianou’s tenure. The former UGA assistant was promoted to head coach in 2015 and since then all his teams have finished among the top 10 at nationals. Kyprianou, 40, just completed his third-year of a five-year deal that pays him $335,000 annually. He is expected to earn bonuses for the national championships. He was just named national coach of the year in track and is considered one of the true rising stars in international track and field. For that reason, a considerable extension and commensurate raise is expected. “We’re working through all that right now,” said Georgia Athletic Director Greg McGarity, who declined to discuss details of ongoing negotiations. “Let’s just say we look forward to having Petros for a long time.” McGarity said there also plans for more facility improvements for track. UGA completed a $1 million complex renovation a year ago that included a complete rebuild of the track just a year ago. Georgia finalized a deal with Stricklin this week that will extend his contract by three years through the 2022 season and include a “modest” pay increase from his previous salary of $575,000 a year. Stricklin’s fifth team is coming off a 39-21 season that saw it land the No. 8 national seed but lose in the finals of the NCAA Athens Regional. That represented the first winning season in Stricklin’s tenure. But the Bulldogs return all the position players and most of the pitching staff for next season, as well as a highly-rated recruiting class that includes one of the top high school pitchers in American. More importantly, Georgia returns its entire coaching staff, with the considerable exception of volunteer coach Pete Hughes (who returned  head coaching job at Kansas State). McGarity said raises are in the works for Stricklin’s staff, including acclaimed pitching coach, Sean Kenny, who was hired before last season. Harris-Champer led her team to the NCAA postseason play for the 17th consecutive season and to the Women’s College World Series for the fifth time this past season. The Lady Bulldogs (48-13) were knocked out of the national championship tournament in two games. “We’ll get around to that eventually,” McGarity said of an extension for Harris-Champer. “We’ve got a lot of stuff going on.” Georgia sure does. Add all that to the tremendous year just logged by the Bulldogs’ football team, which reached the national championship game, and it has been a very good year for UGA. The school finished No. 8 in the Learfield Cup all-sports standings and second only to Florida in the SEC. And that came in relative down years for men’s and women’s tennis and swimming. The financial cost of such athletics excellence is high, hence UGA’s record $143 million budget for 2018. Earlier this year, football coach Kirby Smart received a contract extension and pay raise that nearly doubled his salary to $7 million a year. The Bulldogs 10 on-field assistants in football will earn nearly $10 million more in 2018 than they did last year. That doesn’t include the bonuses earned by the staff for winning the SEC Championship and reaching the finals of the College Football playoffs. Meanwhile, Georgia is wrapping up construction of a $63 million locker room and recruiting lounge addition at Sanford Stadium. That comes on the heels of the $31 million indoor, 1-year-old Payne Indoor Athletic Facility. They’re already building new seating and luxury suites on the East End. All that will be in play this fall. McGarity said they’re not done there. Coming online soon are plans to expand the football complex in a project that “goes way beyond” enlarging the Bulldogs’ weight room and training facility, he said. Beyond football, the athletic board just approved funds to plan the renovation of the Dan Magill Tennis Complex that will cost “at least” $23 million and include the construction of a new indoor facility. They just completed $8 million worth of improvements to Stegeman Coliseum, extensive renovation projects for swimming and volleyball facilities and just approved $1 million for equestrian. “That’s just the cost of doing business nowadays,” McGarity said. The good news is revenue continues to pour in via donations, football ticket sales and television deals. The SEC just paid Georgia a record $42.8 million in its revenue-sharing arrangement, tops among member institutions. McGarity said the Bulldogs continue to focus on doing what they need to do to stay in the front of the pack of the ultra-competitive SEC. He said they have a plan for doing that, whether it means facility improvements, pay raises for coaches or continuing to pour money into the increasingly expensive world of student-athlete wellness and services. “We have a long list of improvements we want to make for the future and the priority is determined by a number of factors,” McGarity said Friday. “But the bottom line is we’ll always be looking to do whatever we need to do to improve and enhance all our sports. At the end of the day we’re going to do what we believe we need to do to be competitive.” If this last year is any indication, 2018-19 could be a very good year. The post UGA vows to do whatever is required to remain at top in the SEC appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Patience paid off for Scott Stricklin. The Georgia baseball coach has agreed to terms for a contract extension and pay increase that will keep him with the Bulldogs at least through the 2022 season. His previous deal was due to expire after next season. “I couldn’t be happier,” said Stricklin, who came to Georgia from Kent State in 2015. “It just gives us stability and shows the confidence that Greg McGarity and Jere Morehead and our administration has in our program. We have been able to have success even with (the previous) contract expiring. But they believed in us, they believed in Georgia and they believed in the program.” Stricklin said he would be receiving a “modest raise” to remain as Georgia’s coach. Financial terms were not disclosed by either side, but Stricklin earned $575,000 annually under his previous agreement. “It’s not about money,” said Stricklin, who was not represented by an agent. “If I had an agent he’d be upset with me because I only want to be at Georgia.” Keeping Stricklin to this point was an anomaly of sorts in this day and age of ultra competitiveness in college athletics. Stricklin just completed his fifth season with the Bulldogs and it was the first year they finished with a winning record and reached NCAA postseason play. Georgia (39-21) was awarded a national seed (8) and had the second-best conference record (18-12) in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs lost to Duke in the finals of the NCAA Athens Regional. After five years as coach, Stricklin’s record at Georgia is 143-140-1 overall and 61-86-1 in SEC play. But UGA’s administration has shown extraordinary patience in giving Stricklin time to execute “a complete rebuild” of the baseball program. McGarity said that was a because of the plan and timeline that Stricklin gave him at the time of his hiring in June of 2013. “When (baseball facilitator) Ted White and I first met Scott, he discussed in detail his plan and vision for this program and he emphasized it was going to take some time,” McGarity said Friday. “At that point, his first two classes had basically already been done. Scott said he was going to honor all those commitments, but he wanted to build through the high school recruiting process. I remember taking notes and he said the plan was we should start seeing some improvement in Year 4 and we should be nationally competitive in Year 5. “That’s what we saw, and I feel comfortable that Scott has followed his plan and I have every confidence that his plan will continue to materialize.” Georgia lost a lot of key pieces from this year’s team to graduation and the professional baseball draft, including all-star senior Keegan McGovern, junior designated hitter Michael Curry and pitcher Kevin Smith. But the Bulldogs also have every position player returning from the 2018 team and saw Cole Wilcox, a right-handed high school pitcher from Ringgold who was considered a Top 20 major league prospect, choose UGA over the pro baseball. Georgia began to show marked improvement at the end of last season when it won the last three SEC series of the season. That continued into this year as they set a school record for fielding percentage, recorded the second-lowest staff ERA in 50 years and clubbed 64 home runs while hitting .282 as a team. Probably the most impressive accomplishment under Stricklin has been his ability to recruit at a high level despite being saddled with a short-term contract. “These recruits know the players we have in front of them,” Stricklin said. “They knew it was just a matter of time before we started winning in a big way. It came up with some of the kids that we were recruiting the last couple of years. But they all had confidence that we were going to get this thing turned around and they wanted to be part of it.” The post Breaking News: Baseball coach Scott Stricklin receives raise, extension from UGA appeared first on DawgNation.
  • RUTLEDGE, Ga. — Driving East out of Atlanta, keep going on until there’s no evidence of civilization, exit onto Newborn Road and head south into the middle of nowhere. Turn left onto Centenniel Road, drive about a mile, then hang a right onto the gravel road known as Keencheefoonee. Proceed through the wooden gate, turn left at the horse stables pull into a dirt parking lot. Then walk downhill along an asphalt path through a shady white oak forest and emerge into sunlight and arrive at the happiest place on Earth. No, you’re not at Disney World. This place is better. You’ve arrived at Camp Twin Lakes, which for this one day at least is known as Camp Sunshine. Georgia coach Kirby Smart puts his arms around linemen Kendall Baker and Lamont Gaillard as the Bulldogs listen to a presentation by a nurse at the infirmary at Lake Twin Lakes on Wednesday. (Chip Towers/DawgNation) Longtime Georgia Bulldogs’ fans know the drill. UGA’s football team has been making this trek an hour and change south of Athens annually for most of the last 35 years. Vince Dooley, along with wife Barbara, was appointed to the Camp Twin Lakes board of directors in 1983 and the Bulldogs have been making a midsummer visit here every year since (well, every year accept for those under coach Jim Donnan, according to camp administrators). For the unenlightened, Camp Twin Lakes is a retreat in which children with cancer and their families can get away to enjoy outdoor recreational activities for the summer. It has air-conditioned cabins for “glamping,” swimming pools, lakes, a farm (complete with miniature cows and alpacas), sports playing fields, a zipline, a gymnasium and much more. All of the available activities are retrofitted to accommodate children battling different forms of cancer. And, of course, there’s an infirmary to attend to any children who might get sick — or just scrape a knee raising their buddy on one of the many trails snaking the expansive property. It’s here that one sees a whole different side of Georgia coach Kirby Smart. He completely drops his guard and relaxes. He back-slaps and jokes with his players. He peels off at the sight of any of the campers or there families. During the hour-long tour, he seems to know somebody personally at every corner and stops to chat, falling behind the tour and then double-timing it catch back up. The familiarity is because Smart has been coming to Camp Twin Lakes a very long time. He first started coming when his older brother Karl was diagnosed with leukemia in the 1990s. His brother has long since been well, but Kirby has kept coming. He came when he was an assistant coach at Valdosta State and when he was the Miami Dolphins and Alabama. “It’s convenient because I have a lake home that’s 30-45 minutes from here (on Lake Oconee),” Smart said Wednesday. “So through the years, when I was with the Dolphins or Alabama, I’d stop by. A couple of those years Karl was still here as a counselor, so being able to stop in here to see him and everybody was good. Now that he’s head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs, he brings his whole team with him, including wife Mary Beth, twins Julia and Weston and little Andrew. Wednesday they had a good time posing with a cardboard cut-out of Kirby and Karl on display in the camp’s courtyard. Andrew kept asking everybody when the dodge-ball game would start, and was front and center and in the middle of everything when it did. “He needs to get smacked around a little bit,” Smart said with a chuckle. “He’s a little too brave for his own good out there. The players are scared to bean him because they know he’s mine.” “Nobody’s like Kirby,” said Mo Thrash, one of the original founders of Camp Sunshine who serves as the Bulldogs’ tour guide and taskmaster each year. “He’s come every year since he’s been out of college. He’d always call me and say, ‘Mo, can I come to camp?’ He show up, spend an hour, hour-and-a-half with me walking around the camp saying hey to kids. No press, nobody around, just being himself. Then he’d leave. He did it every year. Then he became Georgia’s head coach. He’s just very special.” Wednesday was the first of two trips that the Bulldogs will make to Camp Sunshine. In all, Smart said about 70 players signed up to participate. About the other half will come next Wednesday. The first group seemed to include a lot of freshmen and first-year players. Notre Dame transfer Jay Hayes, wearing his new number 97 Georgia jersey, was front-and-center for many of the activities. So was long and tall true freshman Tommy Bush, until they went to alpaca pin. The nearly 6-foot-6 tall receiver, wearing the No. 12, eased to the back of the pack when the group was asked to pet the odd-looking creatures. The many interactions with the campers and staff were entertaining to observe. The players were split into two groups and toured opposite ends of the complex. When being shown the cabins where the campers stay, the girls of Cabin 10 came pouring out and high-fived every player. “Oh my  God, they’re all so tall,” one of the young teens shouted. The residents are not all Georgia fans, either. At the intersection of two paths, a young man named William yelled, “go Gators.” To that the jersey-wearing group responded with a collective, “boo!”, then just laughed it off. In the cafeteria, Smart made a beeline to a young man wearing Alabama gear, including a crimson-and-white cast on his right leg. Colton, who’s 14, said he first met Smart when he was an assistant for the Crimson Tide. “Now he tries to talk me into being a Georgia fan, but he knows I won’t convert,” Colton said. Thrash showed the team the lake and pointed to the zipline and ropes course far across on the other side. “What’s the weight capacity on that?” Smart asked loud enough for everyone to hear. “We’ve got some people here we think can break it “Be sure to keep Fernando off it,” he added, referring to support staffer and former Georgia and NFL offensive lineman Fernando Velasco. At the heart of it all, though, is a serious message. “You guys are heroes to these kids; you’re heroes to me,” Thrash said when he huddled up the team at the outset of the tour. “So go in here, look around the place, see what we do, say hello to the kids, get to know them a little bit and have a good time.” Said Smart: “I want them to appreciated what they have. You look at some of these kids and see how they have to struggle and go through things. Some of them are well now and they come back because they’re the hope for so many other kids who are going through what they did.” For the team, it was a well-earned reprieve. They’ve been working out and doing conditioning every morning for the last two weeks. That includes Wednesday when the players signed up for the trip had to report to the Butts-Mehre football complex at 5:30 a.m. “I don’t know if everybody slept the whole way down because I was asleep as soon as the bus pulled out,” junior tight end Isaac Nauta said. Participants range from players like Nauta and senior center Lamont Gaillard, who have been every year since they arrived on campus, to junior running back Elijah Holyfield, who was making his first trip Wednesday. “My freshman and sophomore years I was kind of trying to do too much,” Holyfield said. “Finally I said I’ve got to go this year because everybody was talking about how much fun it is. I knew I had to do it before I left Georgia and I loved it, so I’ll be back next week as well.” It was especially re-energizing for the freshmen, who have known nothing but regimen and brutal intensity since they arrived on campus May 31. “I think they can finally see that there’s a human side to everybody and you can go out and have fun,” Smart quipped. Camp Sunshine unique to the University of Georgia. Located 51 miles east of downtown Atlanta, the camp is located in the heart of Bulldog Country. No other teams make the pilgrimage to the East Georgia outback. Just the Bulldogs. “It’s only a Georgia thing,” Thrash said. “We’d love for other teams to come in. But it’s always special when the Georgia Bulldogs come in. They’re part of Camp Sunshine.” A happy place indeed. The post Camp Sunshine is strictly a Bulldogs’ thing, and something Kirby Smart loves appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to a feature on DawgNation where our writers answer (or try to answer) the best questions submitted by Georgia fans. If you’d like to submit a question, please email us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. Or you can tweet us here or here. Look for the Question of the Day every Monday through Friday. Previous QODs can be found on our question of the day archives page . What is draft projection for Yante? Sure did hate seeing him leave.  Thank you, John Vaughn, Newnan The fact that your question was submitted using only his first name speaks volumes about how Yante Maten is thought of within the Dawg Nation. He achieved one-name status at UGA, like Herschel or Dominique. It was well-earned as Maten was named 2018 SEC Player of the Year, joining Dominique Wilkins (1981) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (2013) as the third Georgia player to earn the honor. He left the Bulldogs as Georgia’s first three-time All-SEC honoree in more than 25 years and just the sixth in program history. So he did some incredible work at UGA, and it was recognized locally and regionally. Nationally, however, Maten is not as well known. Nonetheless, he certainly has generated a lot of interest from the NBA. That’s not to say he is in line to become a lottery pick come Thursday at the Barclays Center in New York; he definitely won’t be in that group. But there has, and continues to be, considerable intrigue surrounding Georgia’s star power forward. 'I love Atlanta. I went to the University of Georgia. So…this is my backyard.' – @UGABasketball's @YoungMoney__11 pic.twitter.com/GWVxeZ0V5B — Atlanta Hawks (@ATLHawks) June 8, 2018 To answer your question, I reached out to Austin Walton, Maten’s Atlanta-based sports agent. Walton told me that Maten has been invited to work out for 14 NBA teams. Among them, he worked out for the Atlanta Hawks and the Los Angeles Lakers last week. Maten also worked out for 21 teams at his pro day. And that’s on top of his appearance at the NBA combine and at the all the teams that saw him at the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament. In summary, every NBA team has gotten a good long look at Maten. “He’s had a lot of exposure,” Walton said. “We had to turn down some things just because we haven’t had enough time. He was seen by every team at least three times and 14 of them much more than that. High exposure, for sure.” And apparently they like what they’re seeing. Maten certainly did his part. Maten led all prospects at the combine with 18 reps of 185 pounds in the bench press. He also had the No. 2 time among big men in the three-quarter sprint and finished in the top 3 in shuttle and lane agility drills. Meanwhile, he measured at 6-foot-8½ and 246 pounds with a 7-1 wingspan and only 8 percent body fat. “He tested well,” Walton said. “He showed them he’s agile enough to play with guards and forwards and strong enough and long enough to play some 4 and maybe small-ball 5. His numbers bear that out. He’s one of the most polished offensive players in the draft. The biggest thing is he can bring that type of effort defensively.” Looking at the many mock drafts that are out there, most are projecting Maten as a second-round selection. Walton guesses his client might go “40 to 60.” “There’s probably some possibility he goes undrafted,” Walton said. “But he’ll sign an NBA contract no matter what, whether he’s drafted or not.” Maten, who hails from Pontiac, Mich., finished his career ranked all over the Georgia record book: No. 2 in points (1,886), No. 4 in rebounds (889), No. 3 in blocks (198), No. 4 in free throws made (518), No. 4 in free throws attempted (686), No. 5 in field goals attempted (1345), No. 6 in field goals made (655), No. 13 in free throw percentage (.755) and No. 15 in field goal percentage (.483). If he is drafted, Maten will become only the fourth Georgia player since 2011 to do so. Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie were each second-round picks in 2011 and Caldwell-Pope was the No. 8 overall pick in the 2013 draft, by the Detroit Pistons. KCP, now with the Lakers, is the only Bulldog currently playing in the NBA. Which is not to say there’s not a lot of Bulldogs playing pro ball. Leslie is playing in Paris, J.J. Frazier played in France and Italy last season, Charles Mann is balling in Luxembourg, Gerald Robinson is in Monaco and Thompkins just won the European championship with Real Madrid in Spain. But most folks are betting that Maten will be able to make a living in the NBA, and maybe for a while. “He’s a very skilled offensive player, one of the most polished post scorers, or mid-post scorers, out there,” Walton said. “His size isn’t traditional, but the way the NBA is going where you’re playing a little bit of position-less basketball, he has a 7-1 wingspan and is strong enough to play inside and shoots the ball well from anywhere on the floor. A lot of teams like him.” Worth tuning into the draft, for sure. Thanks for the query, John. Be sure to send another one our way soon. Have a question for DawgNation reporters Chip Towers and Jeff Sentell? Email us at ugaquestionoftheday@gmail.com. The post What are the NBA draft projections for Georgia’s Yante Maten? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — Knowshon Moreno. That’s the name that pops in my mind when I contemplate this new NCAA redshirt rule. I was offline and otherwise occupied last week when news initially broke that the NCAA had passed the rule. Since then, I’ve had a chance to read up on it and learn a little more. Essentially, it gives freshmen four games to play without losing the option of redshirting and thus still having another four years of eligibility for competition. What are my thoughts on it? Mainly, wow. I’m not at all surprised the NCAA adopted this rule or the one regarding transfers. The movement to provide student-athletes with more freedoms and liberties in general has intensified considerably in recent years and has been a long time in coming, frankly. But the extent to which coaches can utilize this new redshirt rule to the team’s advantage — to effectively try out first-year players, or deploy them at opportune times — surprised me. Of course, the question I’ve heard more than any other since the new rule was adopted is what kind of effect will this have at Georgia? Where it could be particularly useful for the Bulldogs is getting an early look at some of these elite signees at positions where there otherwise doesn’t appear much room for impact. And that’s where it takes me back to Moreno’s freshman year. Moreno was famously — or infamously, I should say — redshirted his freshman year at Georgia, even though it eventually became clear he was at least as good and probably better than most of the running backs that were being utilized that season. Making it worse was, after Moreno proved himself to be one of the most special talents in the country in  his redshirt freshman and sophomore seasons with the Bulldogs, he decided to turn pro. That was quite understandable and justifiable considering he was the first running back taken and 12th pick overall in the 2009 NFL Draft. Again, the spirit of this rule is not for the coaches to be able to test out the young talent that they have, necessarily. But this new legislation provides them with more flexibility to insert a player in a game later in the season. That would have been useful for Moreno, who initially was slow in mastering Georgia’s offense in preseason camp and was buried behind three very good tailbacks at the time: Thomas Brown, Kregg Lumpkin and Danny Ware. That explains why there was no mention of Moreno in the “Fall Outlook” portion of Georgia’s 2006 Media Guide. Under the running backs section, it said the position “figures to be a strength for the Bulldogs” and mentioned that the top-3 rushers from the previous year returned in Brown, Ware and Lumpkin, respectively. There was a mention of a junior walk-on named Jason Johnson and fullbacks Brannan Southerland and Des Williams in the preview, but none of Moreno. It’s also important to recall that while Moreno was a big-deal recruit from New Jersey, he wasn’t as big of a deal as a lot of the backs we’ve seen the Bulldogs ink lately. He was ranked the nation’s No. 10 back by Rivals (73rd player overall) and No. 9 by Scout. Georgia’s Zamir White is the consensus No. 1 back in the 2018 class and James Cook is considered the No 3 “all-purpose back” in America and No. 41 overall by 247Sports. So it wasn’t until the Bulldogs got well into the season that they realized what they had in Moreno. In preseason camp, he was taking reps behind the three guys ahead of him. It was actually in scout-team work against the No. 1 defense that Moreno began to distinguish himself. It’s in that role where we got the first reports of Moreno hurdling a defender. That’s something we wouldn’t witness in a game until two years later. And there was a perfect opportunity to execute a make-good of sorts on Moreno. Brown, who ended up being the starter on the 2006 team, suffered an ACL injury against Vanderbilt in the seventh game of the season.Georgia still had Lumpkin and Ware to turn to at that point. But imagine if the Bulldogs would’ve unleashed Moreno at that point. As it was, they lost that game and close games to No. 8 Florida (21-14) and Kentucky (24-20) in subsequent weeks. We know now that there’s no doubt Moreno could’ve made a difference. Coach Mark Richt still refers to not playing Moreno that season as one of the greatest regrets of his career. In Richt’s defense, he didn’t want to give away a whole year of eligibility on Moreno to play what at the outset would’ve looked like a backup role. Had this new rule been in place, that wouldn’t have been a concern. Richt could’ve deployed Moreno for as many as four games. If he wasn’t making an impact, he could’ve sent him to the sidelines. We know now that wouldn’t have happened. Now, coaches have strategies they can employ when it comes to utilizing freshmen. They can plan to give them extensive work against non-FBS opponents, such as Georgia has in Austin Peay and Middle Tennessee State in two of the season’s first three weeks. Or, if there are late developing players or depth issues that materialize as the result of injuries or other attrition late in the year, there will be no reason for hesitancy in turning loose one of the Bulldogs’ previously non-utilized players. It opens new possibilities when it comes to roster management. It’s like having a practice squad from which to execute a call-up whenever the need arises. Only, in Georgia’s case, there’s a good chance there’s a blue-chip prospect waiting in the wings. The flip side of that, for coaches and teams at least, is a player can more readily transfer to another program if he doesn’t like the way he has been utilized. And schools can no longer restrict a player’s options in that regard. That’s certainly a fair exchange, I’d say. If that designation happens to be a major rival that competes in the same division of the same conference, so be it. I understand coaches’ concerns that rampant transferring at the first sign of adversity or discontent could turn college football into the wild, wild west every offseason. But it has been that way in basketball for a while and the system hasn’t collapsed. No, the redshirt rule in particular seems like a win-win on both the side of the student-athlete and of the institution. It hasn’t been often that we’ve been able to say that about any new NCAA legislation. Georgia had 16 true freshmen take the field last season, but only one who could’ve benefited from this rule. William Poole, a defensive back, played sparingly in the Bulldogs’ first three games of the year, then not again until the Kentucky game in Week 13. Georgia also played him against Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl, but probably wouldn’t have had a full year of eligibility been the cost. As it was, the Bulldogs had already burned it. That’s the difference now. At four games coaches will have to decide whether it’s worthwhile to keep utilizing a player. Conversely, there’s nothing holding back Georgia or any team from giving a freshman a look. Meanwhile, you have to wonder if there might be a Moreno or somebody like him at another position on Georgia’s roster this season. This almost always is the case. The post Imagine if redshirt rule had been in place for Georgia’s Knowshon Moreno in 2006 appeared first on DawgNation.