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August 30, 2015

Is UGA -35 Over ULM...

...an accurate point spread for this Saturday's game?


Introducing the About Them Dawgs! Blawg's newest advertiser, The Saturday Edge...

To the direct right, enter your email address and "Submit" to receive their 2015 SEC Betting Prospectus for FREE. I was personally sent a copy of this prospectus, and I can confirm the prospectus is packed with information, stats, and ATS data to assist you with prognosticating Georgia's season opener, and the Dawgs' dozen or so games to follow. 

August 25, 2015

PULPWOOD Previews the 2015 Season

I recently interviewed my friend, the real Andre "Pulpwood" Smith, to get his thoughts on Georgia's 2015 season. 

Pulpwood, who follows the Bulldogs religiously, thinks highly of the team for the upcoming year. In addition, he stresses speed kills, watch out for Sony Michel, no fullback dared to tell Coach Dooley he wanted to play tailback, and don't even think of mentioning "Alabama" around Pulpwood.

Speaking of the Crimson Tide, and my favorite tidbit from Pulpwood, which concludes his preview: "Georgia was whipping Alabama back in the old days when they had those ugly helmets, or no helmetsor, whatever it was..."

August 12, 2015

Although Once Forgotten, "Flan" Is Now Finally Found

Anthony (Tony) Flanagan, "The Flim-Flan
Man," Georgia's first African-American QB
Thirty years agoalmost to the dayas Georgia was opening its fall camp of 1985, Vince Dooley suddenly uttered the name of one of his former players most of the surrounding Bulldog followers had long forgotten. 

Dooley had been questioned by the media regarding whether he was going to choose Wayne Johnson or sophomore James Jackson to start under center, signifying the first time in school history an African American would be starting at quarterback for the Bulldogs.

"It is [an antiquated subject] to me," Dooley declared to reporters. "People forget about Tony Flanagan."

Yet, although it had been nearly a decade since he had left UGA, how could anyone truly forget Anthony (Tony) Flanagan, "The Flim-Flan Man," or simply "Flan"?

Between leading Southwest (Atlanta) High School (now known as Mays High) to state basketball championships as a junior and senior, Flanagan guided the Wolves to a state football title in 1973. The lanky, 6-foot-3 and roughly 200-pound quarterback could run like the wind, and had a rifle for an armmake that, arms. Flanagan was ambidextrous, able to throw a football 70 yards on the fly with his throwing arm, and nearly 60 yards with the other.

During Southwest's perfect 13-0 campaign, Flanagan passed for 2,241 yards and 31 touchdowns, rushed for 12 touchdowns and, get this, kicked 60 PATs and two field goals. Simply listing his high school accolades would be a blog post in itself, but the fact of the matter is Flanagan was one of the most highly recruited and publicized high school athletes in the state and, still today, is considered perhaps the best amateur athlete ever to come out of the Atlanta area.

Flanagan was lured by what was reported as over 300 colleges, offering scholarships in four different sports: football, basketball, tennis, and track. In the end, he decided to sign a football grant-in-aid at Georgia, for one, since the school was close to home. But, by also signing a football scholarshipand not a grant-in-aid specifically with any of the other three sportsFlanagan had the option of being a multi-sport college athlete. Regardless, as a senior in high school, he announced he would only play basketball at UGA... at first, leaving the door open for the possibility of participating in a second sport down the road. 

After he averaged nearly 12 points and more than three rebounds per game, while leading the Bulldogs in assists both years, during his freshman and sophomore seasons on Georgia's basketball team, Flanagan finally decided to explore other avenues and went out for the football team in the spring of 1976.

The quarterback position at Georgia in 1976 was described as undoubtedly the deepest position on the team, and perhaps the deepest the Bulldogs had ever been at quarterback. Already six signal callers were jockeying for position that spring, including the top two, who were both proven seniors: Ray Goff, the starter the season before, and Matt Robinson, the starter in 1974. 

Nevertheless, after having not played organized football in about two-and-a-half years, Flanagan promptly began showing flashes that spring of the brilliance which made him a household name around Atlanta a few years before. He soon was the team's No. 3 quarterback, yet seemingly stuck behind the two immovable seniors, Goff and Robinson. 

"When Tony got comfortable on the field, he was a really good player," Steve Davis, a teammate of Flanagan's at Georgia, recently told me. Davis was Georgia's starting split end, and second-leading receiver in 1976. "Tony had a really strong arm." 
The first 3 possessions Flanagan was
a Bulldog quarterback, he directed
Georgia on drives for touchdowns.

For the G-Day spring game, Flanagan was named the starting quarterback of the Red squad, honorably coached by newspaper editor Harley Bowers; Goff the starter of the Black team, headed up by renowned sports writer Jesse Outlar (Robinson was sidelined with an injury). Late in the second quarter with the Red leading the Black, 9-3, Flanagan proceeded to direct his team on a long drive which would be the difference in the game.

Facing second and goal from the Black's 11-yard line, Flanagan rolled to his right and appeared to be trapped at the sideline by several defenders. Suddenly, he jumped in the air and out of bounds but, while still in the air, he whipped a perfect touchdown strike to Davis. 

"It was unbelievable," Davis said. "Tony threw me the ball when he was out of bounds, but his feet were inbounds when he left the ground. He probably was about five to six feet out of bounds when he finally landed."

Trailing 16-3 at halftime, Outlar would report that he approached his quarterback, Goff, to say "if he didn't get a couple of quick touchdowns his coach was going to get fired." Whereupon, Goff apparently replied, "To heck with the coach, did you see what that other quarterback (Flanagan) is doing? I'm the only one who may get fired." 

Flanagan's running and passing prowess established him as the star of G-Day, which ended in a 19-13 victory for his Red team.

By the start of the season, although remaining the Bulldogs' third-string quarterback, Flanagan was drawing nationwide attention, like from Georgia's season-opening opponent, 15th-ranked California. Cal's Mike White believed there was such a good chance of him seeing playing time against his Bears, the head coach actually spent some time game planning for Flanagan. 

Flanagan wouldn't appear against Cal; however, a week later at Clemson with Georgia leading 34-0, he was inserted late in the game and, according to Matt Robinson in my book Game of My Life:
"...this was a rather historical moment in UGA football history...Anthony made the first ever appearance for the Bulldogs by an African-American quarterback in a varsity game. Late in the game, Anthony led the offense on a long drive which resulted in a touchdown to wrap up the scoring."
At Clemson, Flanagan had also become the first Bulldog athlete to see varsity action in both football and basketball since Zippy Morocco during the late 1940s.

For the 1976 regular season, Flanagan appeared in four games, rushing for 73 yards on eight carries and completing his only pass attempt for a 16-yard gain. Against Vanderbilt, he also added another milestone to his legacy when he rushed for this 1-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter:



In the season's end Sugar Bowl, trailing Pittsburgh 27-3 and the game already decided, Dooley inserted Flanagan under center for Georgia's final offensive series, essentially indicating who was the Bulldogs' likely starting quarterback in 1977. But, any vision the head coach had of the dual-threat signal caller starting for him nine months later would not be realized.

Entrenched in a three-way quarterback battle as late as just a week prior to the start of the '77 campaign, Flanagan reportedly first stopped practicing, followed by his sudden departure from campus. After having difficulty with his studies, Flanagan had been declared academically ineligible because of an alleged grade forgerya charge he vehemently denied. In January, he enrolled at Gardner-Webb, seeking to play both football and basketball after sitting out a year. But, Flanagan would never participate in either sport at the small college in North Carolina, and his collegiate athletic career was over.
Flanagan and Coach Dooley during the '77
Sugar Bowl vs. Pitt inside the Superdome

Flanagan resurfaced four years later at the age of 25 when it was reported he had decided to try out for the Atlanta Pride semi-pro team of the non-paying American Football Association. Roughly 1,100 individuals, including a handful of former NFL players, tried out for the Pride's meager 37 roster spots, with Flanagan emerging as the team's starting quarterback.

Passing and running with the mastery he had demonstrated years before, Flanagan guided the Pride to the league's playoffs. In late August 1982, just over a week after being responsible for four of his team's five touchdowns in Atlanta's playoff game, Flanagan was signed by Boston of the upstart United State Football League (USFL). However, during training camp prior to the start of the new league's initial season, Flanagan became ill and was cut from the team. He would soon be diagnosed with diabetes.

It's been said by those who knew Flanagan that he surely had to be disappointed that his athletic career after high school didn't quite pan out, and saddened because of the disease he endured. Still, those same people will say he never appeared disheartened or dissatisfied. In fact, Flanagan appeared to find as much pleasure in teaching sports to kids as he had discovered while playing sports himself as a youth.

For 14 years, Flanagan worked with the Atlanta Parks and Recreation Department, coaching youth sports—namely (and fittingly), football and basketball—at the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. As a consequence of a tough lesson Flanagan had learned while at UGA, children could not play for "Coach Flan," as he was affectionately called, unless they had passing grades in school.

In 2001, after a bout with pneumonia two-and-a-half years before, and a steady decline in health, Flanagan suffered a burst blood vessel in his brain from complications from his diabetes, leading to an untimely death at the age of just 44. He left behind his wife, Rosalyn, two grown children, and a grandchild.

Less than a year after Flanagan's death, Rosalyn and supporters from old Southwest High School formed a group to lobby the City Council to rename the John F. Kennedy Recreation Center. The center, where Flanagan touched the lives of countless children, was successfully renamed in honor of the man who was still regarded as likely the greatest amateur athlete from the area. However, not long after its opening, stringent budget cuts closed the center, creating a void in the community for youth and adults, while the facility fell victim to vandals.
Rosalyn (left) and Mayor Kasim Reed (center) 
were part of a large gathering recently reopening 
the Anthony Flanagan Recreation Center in Atlanta.

Still, Flanagan's story would have a happy ending, and one certainly fitting for an individual who might have made mistakes, but learned from them to move forward and help others.

After running a campaign of reopening area recreation centers, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, along with Councilman C.T. Martin and the Department of Parks and Recreation were successful in reopening the Anthony Flanagan Memorial Recreation Center at West Manor Park in Atlanta. Just last week, there was standing room only for the reopening, brimming with a mixed crowd of former high school and UGA teammates and coaches, elected officials, community activists, and contemporaries and family members of Flanagan. In addition, the event would not have been complete without the attendance of the number of former youth under Coach Flan's direction.

And, of course, Rosalyn was there too.

It was Rosalyn who just after Flanagan's death had said, "he told me [recently] that whatever God had put him on this Earth to do, he had done it."

Furthermore, even since leaving this earth, you could say Flanagan had "done it," as well. For now, although his time at Georgia is forgotten by most, the athletic legend once known as "The Flim-Flan Man," or simply "Flan," will be remembered with the center that bares the name of "Coach Flan."

August 6, 2015

Take One: "Ummms" the Word

Last night, I was fortunate to join Greg Poole and co-host Bob Miller for the debut edition of the Bulldawg Illustrated On-Air podcast to discuss my perception of the first two days of fall camp.

I come on the air around the 9-minute mark, and they allowed me to ramble for about eight minutes. UGASports.com's Trent Smallwood joined the show after me to weigh in on the latest Bulldog recruiting news. 

As Greg mentions, hopefully this was the first of a soon-to-be second appearance by me on the show. In the meantime, I'm going to work on reducing my "Ummms" when speaking...

August 4, 2015

Do you have your PLAYBOOK?

by Patrick Garbin & Charley Trippi

The 2015 UGA football season kicks off approximately just a month from now... Do you have your PLAYBOOK?
The Georgia Bulldogs Playbook--Inside the Huddle for the Greatest Plays in Bulldogs History. Only $16.95 (no tax and only 99 cents shipping) at Patrick Garbin's online bookstore: www.PatrickGarbin.org
Over 250 pages of diagrams explaining the Xs and Os, firsthand accounts from UGA players and coaches, expert analysis, archival and color photos, stats, and more in the ONLY traditionally-published book concerning Bulldogs football entering the 2015 season--THE GEORGIA BULLDOGS PLAYBOOK.

July 27, 2015

The Coach Comes Around

Although I occasionally question its programming, the SEC Network's latest 30-second coaches commercial set to Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Around" is outstanding. However, after seeing the commercial for the 100th timeand, that's just in the last few daysI decided the terrific tune needed a change of scenery, so to speak.

Here's my video compilation of Georgia football's last four head coaches with a heavy emphasis on the current head Bulldog of them all, and the program's most legendary, plus a couple of notable assistants, and the Man in Black in the background:

July 14, 2015

Funny, What A Touchdown Will Do

At Clemson in 1985, Peter Anderson spots what 
would be his once-in-a-lifetime touchdown
something he could tell his grandchildren about. 
I was really happy to hear one of my favorite Bulldogs from my youth, center Peter Anderson (1982-1985), was recently chosen for induction into the UGA Circle of Honor.

Nicknamed the "Bell Cow" by Vince Dooley because he was "the one [offensive lineman] with experience and the one guy who keeps everybody going," according to the head coach prior to the start of the '84 season, Anderson was a leader and the "glue" which held together a couple of rather inexperienced offensive lines in 1984 and 1985, both of which emerged as reputable units. I was also fond of Anderson because he hailed from, of all places, New Jersey. As a kid who had barely seen outside the state of Georgia, I thought any Bulldog from such a faraway state had to be pretty cool. 

But, what really captivated me, along with other Bulldog enthusiasts of the time, about Anderson was a freakish scoring play he executed 30 years ago at ClemsonBesides a lineman scoring a receiving touchdown, perhaps the most infrequent manner in which a Bulldog has tallied points is when a lineman has scored a "rushing" touchdown, which can only occur if he first happens to recover a teammate's fumble. The accidental touchdown play is so rare, it has occurred only five times, all scored by different Bulldogs including Anderson, during the modern era of Georgia football, or for the last 75 years. 

A video compilation of these five once-in-a-lifetime touchdowns, and a description of each below:



JOHN JENNINGS (1971 vs. Ole Miss)
Against the Rebels in Jackson, Miss., Georgia tailback Ricky Lake broke off a first-quarter, 5-yard run from the host's 44-yard line, but was suddenly blindsided by a defender as he attempted to break a tackle.  The ball popped up in the air and into the awaiting arms of senior left guard John Jennings, who later said he wasn't even sure if it was legal for him to run with the ball. But, run he did, scoring on a 39-yard rumble for the first score of what would eventually be a 38-7 rout by Georgia over Ole Miss. Jennings, who was nicknamed "Pie Face" by animated teammate Bobby Poss, claimed he had never signed so many autographs when the Bulldogs' plane later landed in Athens after the game, adding, "Funny, what a touchdown will do."

"I have to believe it's an NCAA record for number of yards by an offensive guard on a touchdown run," said Dooley the following week. "I've never seen anything like it in football." Nor has anyone seen anything like it in UGA football ever since as the once-in-a-lifetime touchdown by Jennings, or what was dubbed the "Pie Face Pitch," has remained the only one of its kinda "rushing" touchdown by an offensive lineman where the Bulldog actually ran with the ball.

MIKE WILSON (1975 vs. Kentucky)
After trailing 10-0, Georgia scored 13 consecutive points against the Wildcats in Athens, and then proceeded to recover a third-quarter fumble in Kentucky territory. Eight plays later, quarterback Ray Goff ran a keeper from the 4-yard line, fumbling just shy of the goal line into the end zone. "I thought Goff had scored," said junior left tackle Mike Wilson who, like Jennings, was also a "pie," "Moon Pie," as nicknamed by teammates, "but the ball popped out and I fell on it." Scoring what he believed was his first touchdown playing organized football, Wilson made perhaps the most critical play of the game in what eventually ended in a close 21-13 win for Georgia. After the victory, the first-timer had a bit of valuable information to share: "Us linemen don't get to handle the ball too much, you know." 

PETER ANDERSON (1985 vs. Clemson)
Trailing Clemson 13-10 in the fourth quarter of the third game of the '85 season, the Bulldogs' faced 2nd-and-4 from the Tigers' 6-yard line. Keith Henderson was given the ball on a dive, and it squirted out of the fullback's grasp at the 3-yard line and into the end zone. Center Peter Anderson came off his block, looked around, and spotted the ball sitting in front of tight end Troy Sadowski, who was oblivious to the lost ball. "I wasn't about to give it up," said Anderson, who dove on the fumble for the touchdown. "That's one I'll tell my grandchildren about," added Anderson following a 20-13 Bulldog win. "That's an offensive lineman's dream."

After 22 seasons of Dooley choosing the team's permanent captain at the end of each year, the head coach made an exception in 1985, selecting Anderson as the team captain midway through the season. Such an honor is another distinction Anderson can tell his grandchildren about, and one you can bet was partly bestowed early because of his end-zone alertness at Death Valley.
   
JON STINCHCOMB (2002 vs. Auburn)
A win over Auburn in '02 would signify a trip for Georgia to the SEC title game for the first time; however, the Bulldogs trailed 14-3 at halftime, and it actually should have been by a greater margin. Incensed, fifth-year senior and starting left tackle Jon Stinchcomb, who was the team's offensive captain for the game, gave his teammates a stirring motivational speech in the locker room at the half. The pep talk proved to be powerful, evidently even inspiring the speaker, whose awareness to pounce on quarterback David Greene's fumble into the end zone late in the third for a touchdown when trailing 21-10 would provide the winning margin of a 24-21 victory for the Bulldogs.    

According to Greene in my book, GAME OF MY LIFE Georgia Bulldogs: "From Auburn’s 4-yard line, I kept the ball on a quarterback draw but fumbled into the end zone just prior to reaching the goal line.  Fortunately for me, one of our linemen, Jon Stinchcomb, who was my roommate at the time, jumped on my fumble for a touchdown. After the game, I jokingly said that I fumbled purposely to allow my roommate to score a touchdown: I didn’t want to take all the glory myself (laughing)."

NICK JONES (2003 vs. Auburn)
During a scoreless, first-quarter affair at Georgia Tech in 2003, the Bulldogs were at it again, executing for the second time in just a little over a year one of the more unconventional ways of scoring a touchdown. This time, it was true-freshman center Nick Jones recovering the fumble for the score, but the fumbler was the same as beforequarterback David Greene, who coughed it up between the 1- and 2-yard lines. "I like to spread the wealth a little bit," said Greene of his end-zone fumble following a 34-17 win over the Yellow Jackets. "Sometimes I'll just roll the ball out there for them."

Worthy of mention, consider that Greene, arguably the greatest signal caller in UGA football history, is responsible for two of the mere three rushing touchdowns by Bulldog offensive linemen in which a quarterback "rolled the ball out there." In addition, Greene rarely "spread the wealth," fumbling just twiceone recovered by the opponent, one by Georgiain the 15 games between his end-zone fumbles for touchdowns against the Tigers and Jackets.  

Perhaps even more notably is the inconsistent manner in which UGA officially (statistically) recorded the five unusual touchdowns. Rightfully, Jennings, Wilson, and Stinchcomb are credited with a rushing touchdown, and the number of rushing yards where the fumble was lost (39, 1, and 1, respectively) on no rushing attempts. Jones is credited with a rushing touchdown on no attempt, but in gaining no yards (when it should be a gain of 1 or 2 yards). Whereas Anderson's score, which should have been credited as 3 rushing yards and a touchdown on zero rushing attempts, was curiously not even recorded in the rushing totals, but simply recognized as a touchdown of the "other" variety. 

About the only thing consistent with all five touchdowns is winning; the Bulldogs are a perfect 5-0 when the freakish but fortunate play occurs. Therefore, as Erk Russell would say, and Brad Nessler restated, indeed, I'd rather be lucky than good.

July 1, 2015

All in the Family

I recently returned home from a week-long vacation with my wife's family, whereupon my side of the family held a weekend-long family reunion of sorts. And, if there was one thing I noticed, and such an observation is likely just another sign of me aging, as they say, the apple certainly doesn't fall far from the tree.  

I'm guessing it's like this with all families, but whether by way of actions, behaviors, mannerisms, etc., it is rather remarkable how much alike children are to their parents, and even to extended family members.

While on vacation, an intriguing article was brought to my attention regarding eight African-American brothers surnamed "Chubb" settling near Cave Spring, Georgia, as illegal slaves and before the Civil War. Yet, despite all of the obstacles they must have faced, within the next 20 years, the brothers and their families had established their very own community, Chubbtown.

And, you can probably guess what current Bulldog (photo) is a descendant of those eight determined brothers. 

Seeing Nick being mentioned in the article reminded me of the connection in characteristics between family membersmy family and othersand the compelling and notable connection Chubb shares with several other of his fellow descendants.

The Chubb Football Family:

HENRY CHUBB, Nick's father
Hailing from Cave Spring, "big" Henry starred for the Darlington School in Rome as a high schooler. After being named Honorable Mention All-State as a senior in 1979the first Tiger running back to be recognized as such in the school's historyHenry attended and played football at the Marion (Ala.) Military Institute under head coach Jim Goodman. After two years, he followed Goodman back to Georgia to be part of Valdosta State's first football program (photo). In 1982 and 1983, the first two seasons of Blazer football, Henry led Valdosta State in rushing each year, totaling 1,143 yards on 221 carries (5.2 avg.). 


AARON CHUBB, Nick's father's cousin
Aaron, a few years younger than cousin Henry from relatively nearby Rockmart, was also named Honorable Mention All-State as a high school senior (1983)the only Rockmart HS player over an eight-season span (1980-1987) to be recognized as such. Aaron became a mainstay on Georgia's defense beginning as a redshirt freshman in 1985 (photo). From then through 1988, he started two seasons at defensive end and his senior year at outside linebacker, totaling 251 tackles, including 16 for loss (five sacks), while breaking up nine passes. Aaron ended his career ranked in the top 20 in Bulldog history in career tackles. Drafted in the 12th round by the New England Patriots in 1989, he was one of just three Georgia linebackers drafted into the NFL during the decade of the 1980s (by comparison, three Bulldog linebackers were selected in the 2013 draft alone). 

HENRY CHUBB II, Nick's half brother
"Little" Henry, or Henry II and Nick's older brother from a previous marriage by their father, was a two-way standout for Ware County HS at quarterback and defensive back. As a senior in 2004, he was recognized as a First-Team All-State defender. Playing for Troy University in 2005 and 2006 (photo), including starting at cornerback as a sophomore, Henry totaled 44 tackles, 1.5 sacks, intercepted a pass, and forced a fumble. After transferring to Georgia Southern in 2007, he was limited to two games, but totaled six tackles, an interception, and forced a fumble. Since his playing days, Henry has coached football and track on the high school level, and was also a football assistant at Birmingham-Southern College. 

ZACH CHUBB, Nick's brother
Two years older than Nick, Zach initially was the trigger for his younger brother's uncanny determination, according to their mother, Lavelle. Later, with Zach at quarterback and Nick at running back, the dynamic duo combined for more than 2,850 rushing yards and 34 rushing touchdowns in 2011, leading Cedartown HS to its first playoff appearance and winning record in nearly a decade. As a senior that season, Zach earned 7-AAA All-Region honors, totaling 1,542 yards and 15 touchdowns of total offense. Since signing with the Air Force Academy out of high school in 2012, Zach has been somewhat limited with injury, while seeing time with the program's JV team, Air Force Prep (photo), at defensive back. 


BRANDON CHUBB, Nick's distant cousin
Brandon, the oldest son of Aaron and a year older than distant cousin Zach, is entering his fifth-year senior season of 2015 at Wake Forest (photo). Playing for Hillgrove HS in Powder Springs, Brandon earned first team All-Region 5-5A and first team All-Cobb County honors at linebacker as a senior in 2011. Choosing Wake Forest over Central Florida, UAB, Air Force, and Appalachian State, he has tallied 219 combined tackles in three seasons (2012-2014), including two years as a starter for the Demon Deacons. Also, Brandon has recorded 10.5 tackles for loss, five passes defended, and two forced fumbles. An All-ACC honorable mention selection last season, he is another "Chubb" besides Nick who enters 2015 as a preseason all-conference honoree.  

BRADLEY CHUBB, Nick's distant cousin
Bradley, Brandon's younger brother by three years, was the second-highest rated recruit  (3-star prospect according to Rivals) of the younger Chubbs (behind 4-star Nick) coming out of high school. At Hillgrove HS, Bradley was considered one of the top 50 outside linebackers in the nation according to ESPN.com, choosing NC State over the likes of Iowa and Georgia Tech. As a true freshman last season, he played primarily on special teams and sparingly at linebacker, recording only four tackles. However, entering 2015, Bradley will likely start at one of the Wolfpack's two defensive end positions. 

And, remarkably, there's more...

Nine-year-old Harlem Diamond, who hails from Cedartown, was rated a year ago by the National Sports Report as the No. 1 youth (9 and under) football player in the entire country. At one point, the youngster was averaging roughly a staggering four touchdowns and 12 tackles per game. Harlem is the son of his head coach, Jamey Diamond, the 1999 state 2-A Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker at Cedartown HS and a signee at Middle Georgia College. 

And, the Diamonds are kin to the Chubbs, proving sometimes the apple doesn't fall far from the tree even when that tree has some extended branches. 

June 19, 2015

When Perhaps 'Four's a Crowd,' and Certainly 'Five'

Even with the 85-scholarship limit, Georgia 
has demonstrated perhaps four scholarship 
QBs is one too many, and certainly five.
My blogging hiatus due to an overload of "real" work has ended—for now. And, it's good to be back blogging about the Bulldogs, coming on the heels of what has to be the most unique, late-preseason quarterback carousel in the history of UGA football: first, Georgia native Greyson Lambert decided to leave Virginia and committed to becoming a Bulldog, followed by Jacob Park apparently deciding to leave the program last week. Still, the next day, it was reported Park's decision to leave was not a "done deal," only to be announced the following day that he indeed was transferring.  

Yet, amidst the confusing comings and goings of Georgia signal callers, what I was most intrigued with were comments made by Park's high school coach, Ray Stackley, as the quarterback was supposedly being pursued by Bulldog coaches, who were attempting to persuade Park to stay, and not transfer.

According to Stackley, Georgia "definitely" wanted Park to stay and were "excited by his talent." Also, in speaking with Park's parents, who had spoken with Coach Richt, Stackley said, "[The parents] tell me [the Bulldogs] definitely don't want to lose [Park]. [The coaches are] trying to talk him into staying. They want to keep him around."

If what Stackley said was entirely accurate, and there's no reason to think otherwise, I wonder "why"? I observed Jacob Park throughout spring practice and, although a quality quarterback who'll serve some program well, he was undoubtedly thirda distant thirdon Georgia's depth chart, and certainly fourth with the looming emergence of Lambert.

Why would Bulldog coaches "want to keep" Park around and go as far as trying to "talk him into staying" when it's apparent he would have been Georgia's fourth-string quarterback who, aside from a serious rash of injuries, would likely never play significantly for the Bulldogs, especially with Jacob Eason's forthcoming arrival in 2016?

Perhaps Park was requested by coaches to remain at UGA, and this is simply for the sake of argument, because it would make Coach Richt "feel better": "I think I'd always feel better with four or five [quarterbacks] on scholarship, quite frankly, just as a normal practice" Richt said to the media in May. "We're just in a year where we have three. We hope that everybody stays healthy."

So, regarding the number of quarterbacks on college scholarship, what is "normal practice"? It depends. You'll find some head coaches who believe three quarterbacks are enough, while other programs aim for as many as six. As far as Georgia is concerned, beginning with the 1994 season when scholarships were limited to 85 for I-A programs, the Bulldogs' average number of scholarship QBs annually have varied depending on the "era": 1) the 1994-1995 seasons, 2) head coach Jim Donnan (1996-2000), and 3) head coach Mark Richt (2001-present). 

The following is the total number of different scholarship QBs serving each era followed by, most telling, the average number of scholarship QBs per season:  

1) 1994-95: 6, 4.0
2) Donnan: 14, 5.2
3) M. Richt: 17, 3.6
(Richt era includes three QBs for 2015—Ramsey, Bauta, and Lambert)

Although Richt feels it is "normal practice" to carry four or five QBs on scholarship, he has averaged just 3.6 annually while in six of his 15 seasons he had three or less QBs on scholarship. And, just once (2013) has Richt had five QBs on scholarship, or roughly the same number Coach Donnan averaged per season (5.2). Notably, despite having a coaching tenure lasting one-third of the Richt regime (5 to 15 seasons), Donnan nearly had as many different QBs on scholarship as the current head coach (14 to 17). 

It's one thing for a quarterback to be on scholarship, but it's another thing if he actually sees playing time (especially as a true freshman QB). The following is the average annual number of scholarship QBs to "play" (and, I use the word "play" loosely, meaning the QB was responsible for at least one rushing or passing attempt), including and followed by the average number who started at least one game. The results are remarkable, revealing Georgia's yearly average over the last 21 seasons of 2.5 scholarship QBs to see playing time, including 1.3 to start a game has remained rather consistent over the years no matter the era:

1) 1994-95: 2.5 QBs played, 1.5 QBs started
2) Donnan: 2.4 QBs played, 1.4 QBs started
3) M. Richt: 2.5 QBs played, 1.3 QBs started
(Richt era through last season)

What's the significance? Well, if a program is averaging only 2.5 scholarship QBs annually to see the field for at least one play, including just 1.3 to start at least one game, there are going to be a bunch of scholarship QBs who only stood on the sidelines (especially during the Donnan era). The following is the average annual number of scholarship QBs who did not start a game, including and followed by the average number who did not even see playing time:

1) 1994-95: 2.5 QBs not start, 1.5 QBs not play
2) Donnan: 3.8 QBs not start, 2.8 QBs not play
3) M. Richt: 2.4 QBs not start, 1.1 QBs not play
(Richt era through last season)

I'm not running a major-college football program, but it's evident Georgia would be just fine having three quarterbacks on scholarship, especially considering its annual average of just 2.5 QBs having run merely a single play since the 85-scholarship limit was implemented. I know, injuries and suspensions happen, and you can never be too careful, but the fact remains not once beginning in 1994 have the Bulldogs played four different quarterbacks in a single season. What's more, only once in 21 seasons (2006) did Georgia have three different quarterbacksonly threeresponsible for more than a dozen plays. 

Therefore, especially for a head coach who has been scrutinized in recent years by some for not oversigning players, instead of aiming to have perhaps four, and certainly five quarterbacks on scholarship as a normal practice, I'd be more focused on the fact that an average of greater than one scholarship QB annually during your tenure doesn't even see the field. 

That annual scholarship QB under Richt who wouldn't have seen the field would most likely have been Jacob Park in 2015, and perhaps beyond if he would have been persuaded into staying. Of course, the situation could have been worse, like playing under the previous coaching regime, when Park would have stood on the sidelines with two other scholarship quarterbacks.  

May 1, 2015

A Bulldog Break

I'm taking a break from blogging—a short hiatus from this site as I continue to tackle what has turned into two full-time jobs.

I'm not complaining, writing magazine articles, covering the Bulldogs, and working on two book projects—all college football relatedis a good deal. However, it literally has me dreaming at night about deadline dates, which isn't.

Not that I've been blogging that much recently anyway but, for what it's worth, it'll be even less, like not at all, for the next three or four weeks. In the meantime, I still will continue to routinely post at my UGA Football FB page. Also, checkout DAWGTIME from time to time as we add content and further develop the site.

So, as Loran Smith would say, Charles, you're from South Georgia. You like boiled peanuts, don't you? 

Um, I mean, the other thing he's acclaimed for saying: Until next time, c'est la!