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When it comes to schedules, Auburn needs to follow Georgia’s lead and quit whining

When it comes to schedules, Auburn needs to follow Georgia’s lead and quit whining

When it comes to schedules, Auburn needs to follow Georgia’s lead and quit whining

When it comes to schedules, Auburn needs to follow Georgia’s lead and quit whining

ATHENS — I have some thoughts on all this scheduling talk I’ve been hearing lately. Mainly, it’s that coaches and athletics directors need to stop whining.

To the credit of Georgia AD Greg McGarity, he’s not whining. As for his peers over at Auburn, the Bulldogs might want to send over a box of tissues.

Georgia football-Towers' Take-Auburn AD, coaches need to stop whining about schedules-Georgia Bulldogs-Auburn Tigers
Auburn AD Allen Greene suggested moving the Georgia game from the Tigers’ November slate to give them ‘some breathing room.’

Auburn AD Allen Greene came out last week and said at a TD Club meeting he’d like to move their game against Georgia to earlier in the season to give the Tigers’ “a little breathing room” in their November schedule. Seems he doesn’t like having to play both the Bulldogs and Alabama within three weeks of each other every year.

Poor Tigers. Having to play two rival games in the same month? How cruel.

Asked about the same thing, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said he’d prefer if they didn’t have to play Georgia and Alabama as away games in the same seasons. That, of course, was juxtaposed in 2012 when the SEC welcomed in Missouri and Texas A&M to the league.

So would Georgia, by the way. Actually, the Bulldogs were the ones who got screwed over on that deal.

In order to expand to 14 teams, the SEC needed a few of its existing members to adjust their schedules so that everybody could end up with four home and four away games to accommodate an eight-game conference slate. Georgia and Auburn were among the four teams to get caught up in that, and the Bulldogs were asked to play Auburn on the road for a second straight year in 2013.

Georgia fans might recall that game. It was given a name afterward — “The Prayer at Jordan-Hare.”

The Bulldogs didn’t like that much. They have wondered, aloud at times, if it might be allowed to switch the home-and-away rotation back in that series. Because, like Auburn, Georgia ends up having to play Auburn and Georgia Tech on the road in the same years.

But while fans on both sides have complained a lot about that arrangement, Georgia’s McGarity hasn’t. Well, at least not publicly.

“Sure, if you’re asking me if I’d like to play Auburn at home two years in a row, yes, I’d love that,” McGarity told me this week. “But we don’t make that decision. That decision is made by the conference, and that’s not going to happen unless there’s a reason for it to happen, like if you added two more teams or something. So unless there’s some kind of seismic movement like that, it’s not going to happen. …

“Being in a conference, sometimes you have to do what’s best for the conference.”

I’m reminded here of the way it used to be. Forgotten by many, and certainly unknown to millennials, was a time when Georgia used to play Florida, Auburn and Georgia Tech — its three biggest rivals at the time — in succession at the end of the season every year.  The Bulldogs did that for 42 years from 1954 to 1995, which spanned the tenures of Wally Butts, Johnny Griffith, Vince Dooley and Ray Goff. There was one exception, in 1958, when Georgia slipped The Citadel in between the Auburn and Tech games (and won 76-0, by the way).

Dooley, who had that setup for the bulk of his 25-year tenure as head coach, didn’t complain about that arrangement. Instead, he embraced it. He said the teams that could come through gauntlet unscathed were truly great. And the ones that did — and there weren’t that many, really — truly were.

Fast forward to expansion and the onset of divisional play in 1992. Dooley, now full-time AD, politicked for  some separation there at the end of the Bulldogs’ schedule. And he got it, eventually.

But you know what happened? The SEC stuck Ole Miss between Auburn and Tech. The Rebels, by the way, were actually pretty good at the time. Be careful what you wish for, right? Then Ole Miss rolled off and Kentucky rolled into that spot. Most of the times the Wildcats weren’t very good. Other times they were. Who knew UK would be the SEC East’s second-best team this season?

Auburn might want to think about that as the SEC busies itself right now to finalize the 2020 schedule.

Dooley also sought to get Georgia a bye the week before the Florida game, something the Gators used to great effect in the 1990s. That didn’t happen until 2007, and then didn’t happen every season until 2013. It’s now a semi-permanent off week in the Bulldogs’ schedule. But the emphasis there should be on “semi.”

Speaking of the Florida game, you’ve no doubt heard Kirby Smart’s complaints about the Bulldogs (and Florida) losing a recruiting weekend by playing in Jacksonville. And they do. NCAA rules prevent teams from hosting recruits at neutral-site games.

But what’s unspoken there is the inherent recruiting advantages that both teams enjoy by being one of only two conference games nationwide at a permanent neutral site (Oklahoma-Texas being the other) and always having a CBS national 3:30 p.m. broadcast awaiting them there.

Over and above all that is the financial side of things. Smart is definitely “The Man” at the moment and he has done some great things to raise the football program to another level. But he still answers to a president, an AD and a board of directors. And that facts regarding the Florida game are this: Georgia (and Florida) get $3 million a year to play in Jacksonville in the current deal that runs through 2021. That means they clear — all their expenses are paid — $6 million every two years.

To play that game home-and-home, Georgia would make $3.2 million when it plays at Sanford Stadium but lose about $500,000 when it played in Gainesville. So that’s $2.7 million every two years as opposed to $6 million. That’s some difference-making money, and not just for the football program, but for the 20 other sports teams the Bulldogs field.

And don’t get me started about the “travel concerns.” The fact is, Georgia, which flies directly out of Athens Ben Epps Airport via Delta charters, gets from its campus to its hotel in Jacksonville as quick if not quicker than does Florida, which buses 80 miles from Gainesville to St. Augustine or Sawgrass. There’s no advantage or disadvantage.

The message is this: Schedules are made years in advance and rarely does everybody get everything they want. Which teams everybody plays in the SEC is set through 2025. The reason you’re hearing some talk about it now is all the posturing and politicking over the 2020 of schedules is being waged right now between the respective ADs. That is usually conducted behind the scenes and not in a public forum.

Every team has things they don’t like about their schedule. You can be sure that Georgia doesn’t love that it has to play Tennessee and Vanderbilt back-to-back at home or on the road every year. But then, the Bulldogs probably aren’t crazy about opening next season on road game at Vandy. But that’s what had to happen as the SEC office slid the tiles around to arrange something that was fair and equitable for its 14-team membership.

When the SEC came to Georgia saying it’d need the Bulldogs to play at Auburn in back-to-back years, you can bet UGA did so grudgingly and only after being convinced there was no other way to make it work. And they were convinced of that, eventually.

“Every AD advocates whatever is desirable for their coach and their program,” McGarity said. “But there are so many complications to making it work for everybody.”

The bottom line is you’ve got to play somebody. It bears mentioning that Georgia has won four of its last six games against Auburn, the last one coming in last year’s SEC title game.

Wherever and whenever games are played, might as well win it if you can, right?

The post When it comes to schedules, Auburn needs to follow Georgia’s lead and quit whining appeared first on DawgNation.

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Local News

  • A University of Georgia student was killed overnight while driving his car on I-20 just west of Atlanta. The Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office identified the victim as 20-year-old William Whitaker, of Carrollton. Whitaker was driving in the westbound lanes on I-20 when a tractor trailer crashed with two cars in the eastbound lanes. Debris from the wreck was sent into the westbound lanes, striking two vehicles, including the car driven by Whitaker,  who died on the scene.  The driver of the truck has been identified as Mario Polier, 53, of Hialeah, FL. He now faces numerous misdemeanor charges including second degree homicide by vehicle  
  • It's a mild start to Friday but big changes are coming this weekend.  Most people are experiencing fog and light rain this morning. A Dense Fog Advisory has been issued for most of north Georgia until 10 a.m. Some areas have visibility of less than a quarter mile. Severe Weather Team 2 Meteorologist Brian Monahan said that on Saturday, we have a chance to see rain, storms and the coldest temperatures this year. 'As we head through the next 24 hours or so, we've got rain moving into north Georgia, we've got a chance for storms moving into north Georgia and then the coldest air of the season moving in,' Monahan said.
  • Athens-Clarke County Commissioners meet for a rare Friday afternoon work session: they say fair housing is the topic of talk in the session that starts at 1 o’clock at the Government Building on Dougherty Street.  The city School Board in Jefferson signs off on the purchase of a new emergency alert system, one that will be used on all four Jefferson schools. The price tag is $165,000.  There is a new City Administrator in Statham: Statham’s Mayor and City Council has signed off on the hiring of Mai Chang. Chang worked previously as City Clerk in Statham. She takes over for former City Administrator Michelle Irizarry. 
  • Deangelo Gibbs’ time in Athens has been up since December, when Georgia coach Kirby Smart said the defensive back was no longer with the team prior to the Sugar Bowl. And now it seems that he will be taking his talents to another SEC East program.  DawgNation can confirm that Gibbs is enrolled at Tennessee and will move to the other side of the ball and play wide receiver for the Vols. The news was first reported by 247Sports’ Grant Ramey. Gibbs was a major recruit coming out of Grayson High School, as he was rated as the No. 49 overall player in the 247Sports Composite. But he struggled to find playing time at Georgia and he was away from the team last spring as well.  Gibbs has a cousin on Tennessee’s team in safety Nigel Warrior. Another one of Gibbs’ cousins is J.R. Reed, who has become a standout safety for the Bulldogs since transferring from Tulsa. Reed made the decision to return to Athens for his senior season, bolstering what should be a strong secondary, even without Gibbs.  Gibbs had reportedly put his name in the transfer portal, as did Georgia safety Tray Bishop. In Georgia’s 2019 recruiting class, the Bulldogs brought in 4-star safety Lewis Cine, who is rated as the No. 61 player in the class.  Tennessee is coached by Jeremy Pruitt, who was the Georgia defensive coordinator from 2014-15.  Georgia visits Tennessee on Oct. 5. The Bulldogs beat Tennessee 38-12 in Athens last fall.
  • A former Athens-Clarke County police officer is suing the police chief who fired him last June. Former Chief Scott Freeman terminated officer Taylor Saulters for hitting a suspect with his patrol car, but a state investigation later cleared him. It happened after a police pursuit on Athens’ east side. Saulters, his lawsuit, is seeking financial compensation for what he says is emotional distress and slander. He is now working as a part-time reserve deputy in Oglethorpe County. 

Bulldog News

  • ATHENS — Georgia sacks leader D’Andre Walker has pulled out of the Senior Bowl, not yet ready to compete on account of what has become a nagging groin injury. Walker has been projected as a third-round NFL Draft pick, but the Senior Bowl offered him an opportunity to improve his draft stock competing against top talent in the annual all-star event. The Bulldogs will be represented by defensive lineman Jonathan Ledbetter and long snapper Nick Moore. Practices and drills begin on Tuesday before the watchful eyes of hundreds of NFL coaches, scouts and general managers. Unfortunately, I won’t be attending the Senior Bowl. I will be getting a second opinion on my groin this week to ensure I’ll be ready for the combine. I am very disappointed because it’s such a great opportunity to showcase my talent. — D’Andre Walker (@DAndreWalker15) January 21, 2019 Walker was injured early in the fourth quarter of the SEC Championship Game against Alabama with Georgia leading 28-21. The 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior from Fairburn, Ga., was enjoying an MVP performance against the Tide before suffering the injury. Walker had five tackles, two TFLs, two QB hurries a forced fumble and a deflected pass in three quarters, wreaking havoc in the Alabama backfield. Georgia’s backup outside linebackers weren’t able to have the same sort of success. The Bulldogs young outside linebackers lost contain on crucial plays and allowed Jalen Hurts to buy time and make game-winning plays in Alabama’s 35-28 win. Walker practiced on a limited basis and dressed out for the Sugar Bowl, but he declined to play. Bulldogs’ cornerback Deandre Baker also had an invitation to test himself against the nation’s best in the Senior Bowl, but Baker declined his invitation. Baker also skipped the Sugar Bowl, which, coupled with injuries to Walker and Freshman All-American defensive tackle Jordan Davis, severely hampered the Georgia defense in the 28-21 loss to Texas. The post Georgia football OLB D’Andre Walker uncertain of health, pulls out of Senior Bowl appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — If “Genius is patience,” as Isaac Newton once suggested, Georgia football coach Kirby Smart’s I.Q. must be off the charts. Smart has exhibited a deliberate approach at each turn in his young career, from not naming a starting quarterback during the 2018 offseason, to holding off on naming a defensive coordinator. Could there be more staff changes ahead? Perhaps, though it wouldn’t seem likely. The 43-year-old Smart named 41-year-old Charlton Warren his defensive backs coach on Saturday, shortly after crossing paths with him on the recruiting trail and conversing. RELATED: Georgia football adds ‘Mr. Intensity’ to defensive meeting room Warren’s hire comes more than six weeks after Colorado announced former UGA secondary coach and defensive coordinator Mel Tucker as its new head coach (Dec. 5). Some speculated Smart would elevate 32-year-old outside linebackers coach Dan Lanning or 28-year-old inside linebackers coach Glenn Schumann to defensive coordinator — or both, in a co-coordinator role. Here are three things that are next for Georgia football: Defensive coordinator It’s going to be Smart’s system on defense, regardless who gets the coordinator title, so the key here is how the staff chemistry shakes out with Warren added to the defensive meeting room. Lanning said in New Orleans that there could be an internal promotion to the coordinator position, but also, that Georgia would see how things shook out against Texas in the Sugar Bowl. RELATED: Georgia football assistant Dan Lanning shares insight into DC search Obviously, the Bulldogs didn’t fare well without Deandre Baker in the secondary, D’Andre Walker at linebacker and Jordan Davis on the defensive line. It’s hard to know how much of the defensive dropoff had to do with Tucker’s absence versus the team’s motivation after its gut-wrenching loss in the SEC title game and exclusion from the CFB playoff. It wouldn’t be surprising if Smart made the decision on his DC immediately. But it is also possible the Georgia head coach will wait until after signing day (Feb. 6), or even spring drills to name the defensive coordinator, after he gets a better feel for the chemistry and ability in the room. James Coley confirmation Coley’s promotion to play caller and full-fledged offensive coordinator from co-offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach wasn’t surprising. RELATED: Kirby Smart pulls trigger on elevating James Coley to OC, as expected It was, however, second-guessed by outsiders overlooking Coley’s experience as Jimbo Fisher’s offensive coordinator at Florida State and his work as Miami’s coordinator. Coley’s stock recently shot up, however, when NFL.com analyst Ian Rapoport reported last Friday that the Dallas Cowboys could consider Coley for their offensive coordinator position. As the #Cowboys dig into possible replacements for embattled OC Scott Linehan, they have one on their current staff — TE coach Doug Nussmeier — and may look to the college game to better utilize Dak Prescott’s talents. UGA OC James Coley will receive some consideration there. — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 18, 2019   A FOIA request for Coley’s new contract last week revealed that he doesn’t yet have one, leaving room for speculation that need soon be answered. Is Coley staying, or might   he be headed for the NFL? Big staff raises The bottom line for the Georgia football coaching staff is there is plenty of money available for raises and the new hires. So far, the Bulldogs’ offensive staff has traded Jim Chaney’s $950,000 salary for new tight ends coach Todd Hartley’s first-year deal of $300,000. RELATED: Details of Georgia football assistant Todd Hartley’s new contract The defense, meanwhile, has the $1.5 million Tucker was making to spread around. Warren was due to make $401,500 at Florida next season, per the USA Today salary database, but he’s sure to get a healthy boost at Georgia. Bulldogs defensive line coach Tray Scott has earned a raise up from $420,000, with Georgia’s defensive line showing more improvement than perhaps any other position group last season. Certainly, linebackers coaches Schumann and Lanning — both previously making $325,000 — will have deals worth more than a half-million annually next season. It’s more math for Smart to do, more pieces of the puzzle, and if the Georgia head coach has proven anything his first three seasons, it’s that he’’ll take his time to make sure he gets things right. Georgia football coaches 2018 annual salaries DEFENSE DC, secondary: Mel Tucker $1.5 million Defensive line: Tray Scott $420,000 Inside linebackers: Glenn Schumann $325,000 Outside linebackers: Dan Lanning $325,000 Special teams Scott Fountain $300,000 * Charlton Warren, new coach was due $401,500 at Florida in 2019 OFFENSE OC, tight ends: Jim Chaney $950,000 Offensive line: Sam Pittman $825,00 Quarterbacks, Co-OC James Coley, $850,00 Running backs: Dell McGee $550,000 Receivers Cortez Hankton $375,000 * Todd Hartley, new tight ends coach, will make $300,000 in 2019 at UGA   The post 3 things: What’s next for Georgia football and ever-patient Kirby Smart? appeared first on DawgNation.
  • ATHENS — The Georgia basketball challenges could be attributed to the brutal league slate assigned by the SEC office. Already, the Bulldogs (9-8, 1-4 SEC) have played the three top-ranked teams in the league in Tennessee, Kentucky and Auburn, and next up is a road trip to red-hot LSU. Georgia coach Tom Crean hasn’t mentioned the schedule since it was released in the preseason, instead focusing on what he can control, which would include the roller coaster play of forward Rayshaun Hammonds. The talented 6-foot-8, 235-pounder from Norcoss is the Bulldogs leading scorer this season — except when he isn’t, which would be against the better teams this season. Hammonds has been held scoreless in losses to Tennessee and most recently at home against Florida, running into foul trouble early in both games, offering little help to his teammates in other capacities. Georgia was outscored by 18 points with Hammonds in the game against the Gators, as shown below in the plus-minus category for UGA players: “ I am going to look around and see what we can do to help him and I talked to him a lot,” Crean said. “I am not down on him at all, I want him to continue to learn and want him to understand he is a lot more than just a guy who shoots and scores.” But yes, Crean admitted, “him not scoring and us not scoring are together.” Hammonds has at times shown the sort of growth and ability many projected when he was rated the No. 51 player in the nation by the 247Sports composite. It’s far too early for Hammonds to be considered a bust, especially when others have noted the growth they’ve seen from him under Crean’s direction. “I thought (Nicolas) Claxton and Hammonds have both blossomed this year under Coach Crean and that staff, and I told them both that after the game,” Auburn coach Bruce Pearl said. “They ask Rayshaun to do a lot, they don’t have a lot, they are kinda point guard by committee.” Hammonds’ issues involve fundamentals and decision making, Crean indicated. “Sometimes right now he makes the read and people are just lining up for the charge because he is going to go right into their chest,” Crean said following Saturday’s 62-52 home loss to Florida. “He is not low enough when he makes the move. “I am going to have really spend some time and be creative, look for creative ways to get him the ball in better spots than we are right now because we need him to score.” Georgia is 3-1 in its last seven games Hammonds has scored in double figures, and 0-3 when he’s been held to single-digit scoring. Rayshaun Hammonds against SEC teams 0 points Vs. Tennessee 0-for-4 shooting (0-of-2 from 3) 1 turnover 19 points Vs. Vanderbilt 6-for-13 shooting (2-of-6 from 3) 3 turnovers 9 points Vs. Auburn 2-of-6 shooting (1-of-2 from 3) 5 turnovers 11 points Vs. Kentucky 3-of-8 shooting (1-of-5 from 3) 2 turnovers 0 points Vs. Florida 0-for-4 shooting (0-for-2 from 3) 4 turnovers   The post Georgia basketball: Roller coaster Rayshaun Hammonds a key for Bulldogs appeared first on DawgNation.