It is difficult and maybe a bit unfair to pinpoint why Georgia hasn't become a championship-winning machine like Alabama despite sitting on more fertile recruiting territory, but it is undeniable that in the pure competitive sense, the Bulldogs handicap themselves in a variety of ways. Georgia, for instance, suspends athletes 10% of a season for a first positive marijuana test — a harsh penalty compared to its competitors. (McGarity said the strength of the penalty generally prevents second offenses.)
This article discussing how Mark Richt "wins right" is equal parts frustrating, informative, and rife with convenient omissions. Yes, UGA may suspend players for a first-time weed infraction, but at the same time, how many character flaws and red flags has Georgia ignored during recruiting only to have headcase and criminals pop up at other programs after Richt conveniently dumps them? That is something rarely spoken of, and truthfully I don't think the 'Dawgs staff bears the brunt of decisions made by 18-year olds; nor does any coaching staff.
But to wholly overlook the fact that UGA has as many character misses as other programs in order to spin a narrative of "winning right" or "not selling ourselves to the Devil" is a half-truth at best; intentionally disingenuous at worst. The majority of programs in this conference try to win without sacrificing their souls. The trail of guys Saban has kicked out for infractions, crimes, and not doing things "the right way" could fill a two-deep.
Xs and Os
Statistically, Coker is one of the worst quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference -- he ranks 10th in the SEC in QB rating, according to CFBStats.com-- and his five interceptions are second-worst in the league. That could spell trouble against a defense that already has forced five interceptions of its own. The good news is Nick Saban has seemingly settled on Coker as his starter -- he's gotten all the first-team reps the last two weeks -- and Alabama players have noticed a change in him.
I think we've vivisected the Alabama passing game until it has been exsanguinated and choking sobs issue no more from its lifeless carcass (I'm available for children's parties, BTW.) Confidence certainly plays a huge part in Coker's game. He has a tendency to let a bad pass or a bad possession carry over to other drives, and it is telling in his decision-making and body language.
The best way to help him is to put him in positions where he can succeed; and, frankly, the offensive line, wide receivers, and play-calling have not done that consistently. Alabama needs the Wisconsin game plan and the Wisconsin Jacob Coker to win this game.
"He's a big back, bigger than the usual back that you play," said Bulldog nose tackle Chris Mayes. "But still at the same time, if you hit him before he gets started, I feel like we have a good chance of getting of stopping him." The Bulldogs have the nation's No. 24 rushing defense, allowing 107.3 yards a game. South Carolina ran for 174 yards and 39 tries in a 52-20 Georgia win Sept. 19.
Casual viewers familiar only with the Alabama brand expect the Tide to line up and run right at the Bulldogs. Sure, there will be some of that. But, with the consistent lack of interior push, it's far more likely that Alabama catches the edges, gets Henry some momentum, and let's a thin 'Dawg front-seven play chase for four quarters. That has been Alabama's most consistent running game against athletic defensive lines, and I wouldn't expect it to vary too wildly Saturday.
Don't choke, East
Teams in the SEC's East Division have a large chip on their shoulders. It's understandable. They've come up short against the West in six straight Southeastern Conference championship games. This weekend, they've got a chance to make a statement: Enough is enough. Unbeaten Georgia and Florida take on West powerhouses Alabama and Mississippi in Top 25 showdowns.
The pressure isn't on either of the East teams this week. UGA can lose and still make it to Atlanta and ride that to the playoffs. Alabama's back is plainly to the wall. Florida, frankly, is just happy to be along for the ride. Ole Miss, with no depth and down two critical starters, absolutely can't afford to drop a game to an Eastern team with physical games coming against Arkansas, LSU, and Clanga among others. Will this manifest as do or die from the Western teams, or will Alabama and the Rebels play tight on the road?
Season tickets, mini-plan tickets (with the Kentucky game,) and single-game tickets are now available for men's basketball. I honestly don't remember the last time I was this excited about college basketball returning.
The greatest monster of history
"Lane does a great job for what we want him to do. He's a great play-caller, he's a really good teacher, he has great relationships with the players. He does a great job utilizing the personnel that you have, doesn't ask players to do what they can't do and certainly features the guys that can do certain things well. I think he's a great offensive coordinator. I don't know what his issues were as a head coach, but that wasn't what we hired him for. We have one of those, we don't need that."
This is just a tremendous interview with Coach Saban. We learn his favorite song, that he's a boxers guy, and see a lot of his customary dry humor come through. Go read this.
Told ya', part three
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that the NCAA violates antitrust laws by curbing how much athletes can receive while playing collegiate sports. The court said schools have to be allowed to pay cost of attendance, extra scholarship money for academic supplies, transportation and other necessary expenses. The decision is complicated for the future of athlete compensation, however, as the ruling also struck down a plan to provide up to $5,000 of extra funds (from the original O'Bannon ruling) per year to athletes.
I am now 3-0 on CFB labor law predictions: Students aren't employees; amateurism was upheld nixing pay-for-play; and COA/likeness rights were upheld. (Take that, Roscoe)
It's not the slam dunk O'Bannon and his class action lawyers wanted for future litigation, but it was the equitable outcome and the only possible way to maintain college athletics while still not running afoul of Title IX (or bankrupting 90% of the programs.)
As an aside, the Order clears the way for a return of college games by the EA folks, though that would seem to be very murky waters.