Alabama-LSU – The Rematch for the BCS National Championship (January 9, 2011)

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The Southeastern Conference continues to dominate college football.

The BCS reaches its epic conclusion on Monday night, as the LSU Tigers take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the 2012 All State BCS National Championship Game. The regular season match-up was a great movie with a forgettable ending. Now that the much hyped sequel has arrived, it will be up to these two juggernauts to deliver in the Bowl Championship Series’ grand finale.

National Appeal?
There is an interesting subplot developing for tonight’s all SEC West Championship showdown. Television ratings. Thebiglead.com reports that TV ratings for this year’s BCS games are noticeably down. If Monday night’s game continues that trend, it may put an end to any possibility of a no other conference allowed title game. Alabama and LSU are clearly the two best teams in college football this season, but there is no denying the polarizing nature of this contest around other parts of the country.

May the best team win
Regardless of how many people watch, the game should be fantastic. Nick Saban has had two months to stew over his defense having trouble with the option. On the other side, it would be quite a feather in the purple and gold cap of Les Miles to get two wins over tricky Nicky in one college football season. The focus of the night will be on the special teams for each squad, as well as the total amount of points scored during the game. Continue reading

Maddawg’s Monday Bowl Picks (January 2, 2012)

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The BCS bowls are finally here.

The 2012 Bowl Championip Series gets underway on Monday after a plethora of forgettable bowl games to end 2011. But first, Capital One Bowl Week comes to a close featuring three afternoon games. The Georgia Bulldogs face Michigan State in the Outback Bowl, the Florida Gators get salt rubbed in their year old Urban Meyer wound against Ohio State in the Gator Bowl, and the South Carolina Gamecocks play the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Capital One Bowl.

Following the afternoon pigskin party, the BCS begins with two match-ups on Monday evening. The Wisconsin Badgers and Oregon Ducks kickoff the BCS double dip in the Rose Bowl Game. Wisconsin won their first six games in 2011, before losing two in a row and then winning out to capture the Big Ten Conference championship. On the other side, the Ducks nearly laid an egg in losing their opening game to LSU. However, Oregon rebounded by winning 11 of their next twelve football games to earn the Pac-12 Conference title. Look for Oregon to badger the Badgers.

In the nightcap, the Oklahoma State Cowboys are the lone BCS representative from the Big 12 as they take on the Pac-12 runner-up, Stanford. The Cowboys have a much more explosive offense than the Andrew Luck Crew. The Cardinal will need to control the time of possession, and take care of the football to have a chance to win.  If the Cardinal defense can not get consistent pressure on Oklahoma State quarterback Brandon Weeden then Stanford will have a difficult time keeping up with the Pokes. Continue reading

Dawgs Go Bowling in the Outback – Georgia vs Michigan State (January 2, 2011)

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The Dawgs and Spartans meet in a rematch from 2008.

The Georgia Bulldogs will play the final game of their 2011 campaign on the second day of 2012. The Dawgs  face the Spartans of Michigan State in the Outback Bowl on Monday afternoon. Momentum is key for Bulldog Nation as a new year is on the horizon between the hedges. A victory for the Bulldogs will likely mean a top 15 finish and a possible spot in the top ten at the beginning of next season. With all the talent that Georgia has coming back, a strong showing in the Outback Bowl is critical for the Bulldogs to build on their success going into next season.

However, beating Michigan State will be no easy task for Georgia. Both the Dawgs and the Spartans come into the bowl match-up with a 10-3 record, but Michigan State was four points away from representing the Big Ten in the Rose Bowl. Sparty is lead by their senior quarterback Kirk Cousins, and everyone involved with the Michigan State football program is well aware that the Spartans have not won a bowl game since 2001.

As for the Bulldogs, Georgia does not need to look any further than New Years Eve 2010 for inspiration. Georgia lost 10-6 to the University of Central Florida Knights in the Liberty Bowl last year. Other than the homecoming loss to Vanderbilt in 2006, last year’s bowl debacle was the low point of Mark Richt’s tenure at UGA. Both Richt as well as Bulldog Nation will have waited over a year for the opportunity to get that terrible taste out of their collective mouths. Continue reading

Mark Richt NCAA Violation – The Best NCAA Infraction In The History of College Football

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Jolly Old Saint Richt.

Mark Richt began his 2011 campaign as one of the most polarizing figures in Athens, Georgia. After a ten win season and a fourth SEC East division title, his public approval rating would be hard pressed to get any higher as the year comes to a close. However, following an NCAA violation the head coach of Georgia Bulldog football has again managed to enhance his nice guy reputation.

Chip Towers of The Atlanta Journal Constitution (AJC) reports that Mark Richt has incurred some secondary NCAA violations–for paying coaches and support staff members on his own football team. Richt felt they were not being paid enough by the University of Georgia for their contributions. Given the economic climate in this country over the past few years as well as the warm seat that Mr. Richt had been on this has to be considered the best violation in the history of University of Georgia athletics.

Here is an example from the AJC article that details Mark Richts’ generosity just in time for the holiday season.  “Richt paid former recruiting assistant Charlie Cantor out of his own pocket after determining that Cantor was underpaid for his position compared to comparable programs against whom Georgia competed.” The article notes that Richt asked UGA to give Cantor a raise first, and he then paid Cantor $10,842 over an 11 month period ending in 2011, after then athletic director Damon Evans denied his request.

The wonders of the National Collegiate Athletic Association never cease to amaze, as apparently Georgia was supposed to let a five year old child go hungry to avoid a secondary violation. The AJC notes that the University paid $21.33 for two meals for Tyriq Gurley, who is the five year old brother of 2012 running back prospect Todd Gurley. The Gurley family has reimbursed UGA for the expense.

So a five year old is supposed to see his older brother get something to eat on a family trip, but he is not allowed to have any of the food? Sure NCAA, that makes a lot of sense.  So Georgia bought the kid a few Happy Meals and an ice cream cone. Georgia was just showing their southern hospitality to the Gurley family. Refusing to buy a kindergarten age kid a few meals would have been heinous. Georgia should take that “violation” with a smile.

Santa Claus has nothing on coach Mark Richt this holiday season. Georgia’s head coach has proven that he rewards hard work not only with loyalty, but with compensation out of his own pocket as well. Hopefully the head coach has a national championship left somewhere in his bag of goodies.

Georgia Bulldog Football in 2011 and Beyond

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The long wait begins again for a Saturday in Athens.

As the college football calender shifts to bowl season, the 2011 Georgia Bulldog football campaign has been a memorable one. From those horrendous power ranger Nike Pro Combat Uniforms to winning the SEC East, this year has been a roller coaster ride for Bulldog Nation. Georgia improved from 6-6 in 2010, to 10-3 in 2011. The Dawgs will have a chance to add to their 4 game improvement against the Spartans of Michigan State on January 2, 2012. Continue reading

Isaiah Crowell – Too Early To Make a Stray Dawg

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Isaiah Crowell is still just a puppy.

Isaiah Crowell, who was just named SEC freshman of the year on Monday, is the hot topic of discussion among Bulldog Nation.  Some fans are questioning his desire to compete, while others wonder about his character off the field. However, the best thing that Georgia supporters can do for Isaiah Crowell is to leave him alone.

Isaiah has some maturing to do, but he is still a true freshman. This time last year he was a senior in high school who was contemplating playing his college ball between the hedges. Georgia fans must be supportive of a kid who needs to learn how to be a young man instead of treating him as if he were a highly paid NFL running back who failed to meet expectations.

Keith Marshall, a highly touted tailback, has chosen to come to the University of Georgia to play football. Here’s hoping that Marshall was not watching the SEC Championship Game this past Saturday. Hearing the boos directed at Isaiah Crowell could make any standout recruit considering Athens re-think their decision.  “Will fans turn on me if my first season does not live up to their unrealistic fantasy numbers?”

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Cam Newton had a rough first year of college. Things turned out pretty well.

Cam Newton and the Florida Gators is a perfect example of a fan base giving up on a young man too quickly. During his (medical) redshirt sophomore year at Florida, Cam had all kinds of off the field issues. Gator Nation got fed up with him following an arrest after he threw a stolen laptop out of his dorm window. After the fall of 2008,  Newton decided to transfer to Blinn College before ending up at Auburn two years later. Florida’s loss was Auburn’s gain, as a mature Cam Newton won the Heisman Trophy and then the national championship in his only season with the Tigers last year. As for Florida, they finished 2010 with eight wins (including a bowl victory) and Urban Meyer “retired.”

If Isaiah Crowell does not adjust his attitude then he does not belong at the University of Georgia. However, that decision must be left up to the coaching staff and Isaiah himself. A lot of young people have difficulty adjusting to expectations in college. The only difference is that Crowell’s every move is under a mass media microscope. The young man should have the opportunity to grow mentally and physically this off-season and learn how to be a Georgia Bulldog.