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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!

April 7, 2015

What The Hail?!?


The rare colored photo is a peek inside Memorial 
Stadium just as the '63 Georgia-Clemson game is 
being interrupted by a massive hailstorm.
With the up-and-down temperatures seemingly starting to finally subside, while keeping with the theme of the turbulent Georgia football program of the early 1960s, I wanted to pass along a story I heard a few weeks back concerning the Bulldogs in what has to be the most unusual moment in their history from a weather standpointa turbulent account I had never heard before.

I arrived at Clemson University to meet with the school's most prominent historian, interviewing him for a magazine article I'm writing involving an incident in Tiger football from 1963. However, before we discussed the subject matter at hand, knowing my association with Georgia football, he wanted to tell a story from that same season involving his Tigers and my Bulldogs that seemed much more interesting.

As he walked with his wife to Memorial Stadium for the Georgia-Clemson game in mid-October of 1963, the weather was sunny with temperatures in the mid-80s. However, "I remember saying, 'that cloud over Seneca looks threatening,'" recalled the historian regarding a pitch-black sky over the nearby town less than 10 miles away.

On the game's opening drive, Clemson fumbled inside its own territory, and Georgia recovered. Nothing seemed too unusual concerning the rivalry from back then as the Bulldogs soon scored on a run by quarterback Larry Rakestraw, and Georgia held an early 7-0 lead.

With the score remaining the same and the first half drawing to a close, the temperature suddenly dropped to the high 50s, or nearly 30 degrees lower than what it had been only 45 minutes before. And then, the heavens opened up.

"First, there was sleet for about 10 minutes, and then it poured hailthe size of golf ballsfor another 10 minutes," said the historian. "The hail was like I had never seen before, or since." 

During the hailstorm, as the story goes, everybody ran for cover under the stands, including Clemson Head Coach Frank Howard and Georgia Head Coach Johnny Griffith, who met underneath the seats, decided there would be no halftime show, and to delay the start of the second half for 30 minutes.

"That's truefor some," the historian said of those seeking shelter. "That was before Memorial Stadium had an upper deck, so only a portion of the crowd [of 24,000-26,000] could squeeze under the lower level stands. Everyone else headed for shelter in bathrooms, concession stands, and literally inside ice chests."

So, where did the historian and his wife find shelter?

"Nowhere!" he exclaimed. "Every place was filled. However, fortunately for us, the hail stopped after about 10 minutes, and then it "just" rainedhard!"

Also, as the story goes, the grounds crew promptly worked through the rain, picking up all the hail off the field. "Grounds crew?" the historian inquired. "We didn't have a grounds crew back then. We had to send the freshman team out onto the field with push laundry carts to scrape up all the ice."

Before the heavens above Clemson would  
open up, Georgia's Rakestraw (R) runs for 
a touchdown against the Tigers. 
The historian adds it is the only Clemson game he has ever attended, and he still goes to them today more than 50 years later, where he left early. "I was always taught that you never leave early from church, you never early from the opera, and you never leave early from a football game. But, I had to make this one exception. We were soaked, and battered and bruised from hail."

On the walk back to the car, the historian and his wife finally had a stroke of good luck when they heard their names being shouted. "It just so happened to be a couple of friends of ours, calling from their apartment for us to come inside," he said. "One friend said, 'you look like drowned ducks.' I answered, 'we feel like it.'"

Back at Memorial Stadium, playing on a drenched, icy field for the entire second half, the Tigers scored a game-tying touchdown in the third quarter, and the score remained deadlocked to the end, 7-7. And, although Georgia missed three field goals, including two that were blocked, the Tigers should have been the victors, having twice as many first downs (20-10) and total yards (291-146) than the Bulldogs.

So, as they say, "Hail to the Victors" because, in a way, both teams came out victorious on the gorgeous-turned-turbulent afternoon: Because he didn't lose to Georgia, Frank Howard said he was "happy with a tie," whereas the Bulldogs won against the odds, which were set at Clemson as a two-point favorite.


As for the historian and his wife, in a way, the pair came out victorious, as well. Once inside their friends' apartment, they were treated to a cozy fire and "hot buttered rum drinksafter a few of those, we didn't care much that we had been soaked and beaten up by hail," he said, "or, for that matter, really care much for the football game either." 

March 20, 2015

Butts' R-Rated Rant

Whatley on top;
Butts bottom
Twelve days prior to facing Alabama in Georgia's season opener 55 years ago in 1960, Wally Butts addressed his coaching staff at 8 p.m. after practice. The Bulldogs' head coach was upset, to say the least, and absolutely went off on his staff (and players). 

And, assistant Jim Whatley was there to take down the entire R-rated outburst by Butts.

Butts' tirade posted below was given to me by a friend in West Virginia, of all places, who has never had any association with UGA football. He told me a player under Coach Butts gave it to him, and swears the recorded raving prior to the '60 Alabama game is the absolute truth. Regardless, I thought it was rather humorous and entertaining. It's a little dirty, and I try to keep this blog relatively clean, so I did my darndest to mark up the profanity.

Finally, if anyone can shed any light on the following rant (i.e., Have you seen it before? Is it legitimate?, etc.), please feel free, but only if you can keep your comments PG-rated...


March 18, 2015

Spring Has Sprung!

I'll be covering the Dawgs all spring and into the fall at DAWGTIME.com, posting articles, videos, photos, and more. 

Come on over and take a look, beginning with my first report of spring practice, where I learned yesterday that Jeremy Pruitt, just in case you've been wondering since the Belk Bowl, still doesn't play!







February 25, 2015

Here's John (for Johnny)!

With OC Charley Trippi there for support, DC
John Gregory backs up Johnny Griffith as head
coach against Alabama in 1961. 
It's been a long, three weeks since my last post. Recently starting a new full-time job covering a few college football teams, including our beloved Bulldogs, while in the thick of working on two book projects both due to be released this fall, more of the same sporadic blog posting is anticipated over the next few months. 

A reminder: please visit and "like" my UGA football page, where I post at least once, often multiple times, nearly on a daily basis.

Speaking of continuity, or lack thereof as is the case recently with my blog, following Tony Ball's departure and Thomas Brown's arrival, I discovered Georgia has now experienced three or more annual coaching changes, whether by coordinator or position coach, entering back-to-back seasons under the same head coach for only the second time in the last half-century-plus since Coach Dooley's arrival in 1964. The only other time this occurred was in 1999-2000, or entering the final two seasons of the Coach Donnan era.     

Such coaching changeoverlikely, a sign of the times, so to speak, more than anythingreminded me of the overall importance of assistant coaches to a program, especially to the players, beginning with the recruitment process (just ask UCLA about Roquan Smith), and the head coach they serve under. Thus, I'm prompted to tell the intriguing but obscure story of a particular Georgia assistant coach from a long time ago, who loyally served under a pair of Bulldog head coaches, only to be caught between the two in the end:

"No, I don't think so," answered the only person reachable for comment at the time, Winnie Butts. "Probably one of the assistants will do it."

Winnie, the wife of Georgia's then-previous head coach, Wally Butts, was who remained after the quick departure for Athens General Hospital by her husband and the wife of the then-current Bulldog head coach, Johnny Griffith. Griffith played and been an assistant under Butts, and had succeeded him less than nine months earlier. He was rushed to the hospital to undergo emergency surgery for acute appendicitis, and Winnie was left to answer if her husband was going to fill Griffith's spot the next day as Georgia's head coach for its 1961 season opener against Alabamawhat was supposed to be Griffith's first game at the helm.  

"What A Way To Start A Season," headlined the United Press International, "and also a head coaching career," might I add, for Griffith, who at 36 years old was set to be the second-youngest head coach in the SEC. While Griffith laid in a hospital bed, assistant John Gregory was handed the daunting task of heading up a team less than 24 hours before facing the third-ranked Crimson Tide and their head coach, Paul "Bear" Bryant. 

Gregory had college head coaching experience, guiding McNeese State to a combined on-field record of 12-6-1 in 1955 and 1956 before departing for Georgia, where he was named ends coach under Butts, and chosen over the likes of the esteemed Joe Tereshinski. With Griffith replacing Butts four years later, Gregory was promoted to defensive coordinator, but first he'd have to undertake an even bigger task.

Just a touchdown underdog to Alabama at Sanford Stadium, Gregory's Dogs hung around the Tide for a half, trailing only 10-0 at intermission, until the visiting foe opened the flood gates, building a 32-0 lead late in the fourth quarter despite the fact they had gained only 256 yards of offense. Georgia's offense, which totaled a paltry 112 yards and five first downs, finally found paydirt on the game's last play when Dale Williams tossed a 13-yard touchdown to Carlton Guthrie.

In the hospital, Griffith had planned to follow the game by radio but reportedly slept through the 32-6 loss. While on the field, the defeat was unfortunately a sign of things to come for the next three seasonsall losingwhich made up the Coach Griffith era. 

Gregory was the defensive coordinator for the first two seasons of Griffith's tenure, but absent from the 1963 campaign because of a certain article printed in the Saturday Evening Post in March of that yeara piece many in the Bulldog Nation are quite familiar with, although you probably won't find it mentioned anywhere in the annals of UGA football. Of course, the article claimed Butts, who was Georgia's athletic director at the time, gave away "Georgia's plays, defensive patterns, all the significant secrets Georgia's football team possessed" to, ironically, Alabama's Bryant prior to the teams meeting in 1962a 35-0 loss by the Bulldogs in Birmingham with, this time, Griffith present on the sidelines versus the Tide.


Because of the article, Butts filed a libel suit against the publisher of the Post, resulting in an 11-day trial prior to the start of the 1963 season. In defense of Butts included two Georgia assistant coaches, including Gregory, claiming the plays supposedly passed between Butts and Bryant wouldn't have aided Alabama significantly. On the contrary, testifying for the publisher were three Georgia coaches, including Griffith, declaring the information would have indeed helped the Crimson Tide.

After emergency surgery, Griffith (right) is back
the next week vs. Vandy. After the next season,  
Gregory would be gone for his backing of Butts.
Despite the fact Gregory had first curiously signed a statement indicating the information allegedly passed would have actually helped Alabama, and the popular opinion of the time was Butts and Bryant were likely in cahoots to "fix" the 1962 Georgia-Alabama game, Butts came out of court on top (similar to another aforementioned ex-Bulldog head coach when it seemed to most he probably would lose a highly-publicized trial).

Regarded as a star witness in Butts' successful suit, John Gregory had stepped up and defended his old head coach against an opposition, which included his current head coach, after previously relieving the current head coach two years before, all of which involving the same competitionAlabama and Bear Bryantin successive seasons. 

Soon after the jury awarded Butts a whopping $3.06 million in general and punitive damages, Griffith asked Gregory to resign from his coaching position at Georgia, and not surprisingly. The head coach really had no other choice but to ask for as much; as Gregory would say to the media, "I assumed that I was [already] fired."

The response to Griffith's request for a resignation over the phone: "I would not resign," according to Gregory. And then, perhaps motivated by all that time spent in a courtroom, where two coaching legends faced a head coach who would be forced to resign himself less than three months later, Gregory added to his refusal that Griffith, "could talk to my attorneys."

February 4, 2015

Another Signing Day That's Great, But Will It Eventually Translate?

Later today, there should be lots of smiles because
of yet another great Signing Day, but will the
smiles still abound in subsequent football seasons?
It's Signing Day! And, at least as of late last night, it appeared Coach Richt and his crew were going to ink another top-10 class by the end of this afternoon. A top-tier class would notably be Georgia's 12th class in a row (2004-2015) of ranking in the nation's top 12, which ironically followed four consecutive years (2000-2003) when the Bulldogs' recruiting class ranked 13th or lower in the country (and, as I've mentioned here before, I prefer using Phil Steele's recruiting rankings because he combines the ratings of roughly a dozen reputable recruiting services into one).

Georgia's Signing Day prowess is widely recognized, like by the SEC Network's Paul Finebaum, who said on his show last week that the Bulldogs were "amazing when it comes to recruiting." He then added, "exactly how that translates on the field...could be why we have so much conversation about Mark Richt." Finebaum indicated the success Nick Saban, for example, had in recruiting "translates" to on-field success, whereas for Richt, not so much.

I wanted to see exactly what Richt's high-ranking recruiting classes had translated towas Finebaum correct in his assertion? I've done something similar at this blog before, comparing annual team recruiting rankings with the final on-field polls during the Richt era staggered by two seasons, assuming it takes about two seasons for your average recruiting class on the whole to make a significant impact, while for what it's worth, it also took two seasons (2001 to 2003) before most of Georgia's starters under Richt were his own recruits, and not Donnan's. 

Calculating the top-25 team recruiting rankings from 2001 through 2012 (where 25 points were given to the team with the annual No. 1 recruiting class, 24 points to the annual No. 2, etc.) and the last 12 final top-25 AP Polls from 2003 through 2014 (where 25 points were given to the team with a final No. 1 AP ranking, 24 points to a No. 2, etc.), I discovered the following, where Georgia's 182 recruiting points ranked 10th in the nation, while its 139 poll points ranked 8th: 

Combined Recruiting Rankings, 2001-2012
Southern Cal, 270
Texas, 253
Ohio State, 230
Florida, 222
Notre Dame, 211
Florida State, 205
Michigan, 205
LSU, 200
Oklahoma, 199
#10: GEORGIA, 182
Tennessee, 166
Miami, 151
Alabama, 147
Penn St, 131
UCLA, 103

Combined AP Poll, 2003-2014
Ohio State, 216
Southern Cal, 179
LSU, 177
Alabama, 170
Oregon, 158
Oklahoma, 145
Texas, 142
#8: GEORGIA, 139
Boise State, 135
Florida, 119
TCU, 118
Auburn, 117
Florida State, 108
Wisconsin, 103
Virginia Tech, 101

I first noticed that of the AP Poll teams ranked 13th or higher, No. 8 Georgia was the only program not to at least play for a national championship from 2003 to 2014 and/or finish an entire season undefeated (as in the cases of Boise State and TCU).

Regardless, I then calculated the correlation coefficient between the recruiting rankings and the AP Polls for all FBS teams, resulting in 0.741Now, I had never even heard of such calculation before last April, but with +1 being a perfect positive correlation, 0.741 is considered "very strong." In other words, there is undoubtedly a relationship between the 2001 through 2012 recruiting rankings and the final AP Poll rankings staggered two years later. Therefore, if a team consistently lands top-10 talent, then it should be reflected on the field with top-10 poll finishes, or what appears to have resulted at Georgia during the Richt regime.

However, although the Bulldogs' national ranking in regards to poll points is two slots higher than that of their recruiting points, the latter is 43 points less than the former, which is the 14th worst, or most underachieving, in the FBS (just below No. 13 Texas A&M, and right above No. 15 Washington). The top-5 overachieving teams and underachieving programs in terms of difference between 2003-2014 poll points and 2001-2012 recruiting points:  
   
Overachievers, 2003-2014
Boise State, 135
TCU, 118
Oregon, 104
Wisconsin, 87
Louisville, 73

Underachievers, 2003-2014
Notre Dame, -158
Michigan, -131
Tennessee, -128
Texas, -111
Florida, -103
#14: GEORGIA, -43 

Having the 14th-lowest difference in the FBSis it really all that significant? Probably not. Any "underachieving" during the entirety of the Richt era actually pales in comparison to that of Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Florida during the same time frame.

Notwithstanding, Finebaum did say "why we have so much conversation about Mark Richt," and from what I recall, the "conversation" really started to heat up around 2009 when clearly the program's lofty recruiting did not translate in on-field performance. For a smaller sample size, measuring from 2007 through 2012, Georgia had the 7th-most recruiting points in the nation, yet only the 16th-most poll points from 2009 through last season, for a difference of minus-62, or the 7th-most underachieving team in the FBS: 

Underachievers, 2009-2014
Southern California, -101
Texas, -95
Notre Dame, -86
Florida, -85
Michigan, -64
Tennessee, -64
#7: GEORGIA, -62
Miami (Fla), -52
North Carolina, -48
Oklahoma, -45

On the contrary to the first half of Richt's tenure, beginning in 2009, Georgia's underachievement in the polls compared to its recruiting is very much comparable to that of, as mentioned before, Notre Dame, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, Florida, and you can add USC to the top of the underachieving list.

In summary, the Bulldogs are shaping up to have yet another stellar recruiting class in 2015, but will it eventually translate to stellar seasons? For the past six seasons it hasn't; instead, top-tier recruiting at UGA has translated to top-notch underachieving. 

January 30, 2015

When the University Boys Knew How to Play Football

An edited and updated piece of mine I originally posted five years ago: On this day 123 years ago, the University of Georgia competed in the very first of its 1,245 football games played through this past season.

The birth of one of college football’s most prominent programs began when 24-year-old Dr. Charles Herty decided to bring the sport to his alma mater after first witnessing it in Baltimore while earning his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins. At the initial practice, Herty, considered more of a “trainer” than a coach, walked onto the field carrying a Walter Camp rule book. To start practice, he simply tossed a football in the air and then watched as a group of college boys fought for it.

George Shackelford, one of those boys, said in a 1946 interview, “[Herty] selected the strongest looking specimens for the first team. Luckily I was the one who recovered the ball and thus I was assigned a position.”

Assigned for a contest against Mercer, the “strong specimens” in Georgia’s initial starting lineup averaged 156 pounds and 5-foot-10 in height, or nearly 100 pounds lighter and a half foot shorter than the Bulldogs’ starting eleven on offense for the 2014 season.

On January 30, 1892, 1,500 spectators gathered at Alumni Athletic Field on the school’s campus to witness the first intercollegiate football game in the Deep South. A few years later, the venue would be renamed “Herty Field” in honor of UGA football's founding father.

School records indicate Georgia’s mascot made its initial appearance at the Red and Black’s second game—a meeting with Auburn in Atlanta three weeks following the first contest. On the contrary, according to the Athens Banner, “the university goat was driven across the field by the boys and raised quite a ripple of laughter,” just prior to the 3:00 PM kickoff with Mercer. You also won't find in the UGA annals that the school's first mascot was almost not an animal, but literally a manan African-American gentleman, Old Tub.

Soon after the introduction of the goat, the Red and Black student section hollered, “rah, rah, rah, ta Georgia!” This was answered by the Mercer fans with a “rah, rah, rah, U-ni-v-sis-boom ah Var-sity Mercer!”

At the time, football resembled more of a rugby scrum than the sport we know of today. The rules were considerably different: no passing, five yards were needed for a first down, a kicked field goal was actually worth more than a touchdown, and because of a loophole in the game’s rules, a team kicking off could easily gain possession by nudging the ball forward, recovering it, and promptly go on the offensive. Mercer worked this type of onside kick from yesteryear to begin the game to perfection, and started with the ball around midfield.

On the first play in Georgia football history, a Mercer ball carrier was thrown for a three-yard loss. This was followed with a play for no gain, and then a lost fumble recovered by Shackelford.

On the Red and Black’s first offensive play, Frank “Si” Herty, cousin of Dr. Herty, got the ball, made an “extraordinary” run, and scored a touchdown, giving Georgia an early 4-0 advantage.

Later in the contest, Georgia increased its lead to 16-0 when Shackelford made the play of the game by scoring a two-point safety in a most unusual fashion. “I picked up the ball-carrier,” said Shackelford, “and slung him over one shoulder, carrying him [along with the football] twenty yards across his own goal-line.”

The game ended with Georgia prevailing 50-0 over the visitors. “Si” Herty led the Red and Black by scoring 5½ touchdowns. Unofficially, Herty is awarded one-half of a touchdown since he reportedly scored a touchdown together somehow with fullback Henry Brown for Georgia's final points.

The kind of "refreshments" served
down at the Athens Dispensary...
Speaking of final points, the final score should have actually been 60-0 but the official scorer made two trips to the local dispensary during the game for some “refreshments,” missing two touchdowns and a successful kick-after by Georgia.

After the game, spectators’ hats were tossed into the air and Georgia players were hoisted onto the shoulders of patrons in celebration as “the red and crimson of the University of Georgia waves triumphantly, and a score of fifty to nothing shows the university boys know how to play football.”

Exactly 123 years later, much has changed in the sport of college football, especially its rules. However, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same, particularly, the “university boys” still know how to play some football, and play it pretty darn well.

January 23, 2015

Living Low On the Hogs

Anyone else find it mind-boggling
that Georgia continues to land a
 low number of OL signees?
With less than two weeks remaining until Signing Day, I was reminded yesterday that the Bulldogs had just two offensive line commitments for this year's class. Granted, Georgia is certainly well represented as far as non-offensive line commitments, including national top-10 prospects DT Trent Thompson and ATH Terry Godwin; however, the Bulldogs have seemingly once again failed to land an adequate number of offensive linemen, or the all-important "Hogs" upfronta curious trend that has persisted now for four consecutive years. 

The following are the number of annual offensive line signees during the Coach Richt era broken down by Rivals' star value (5 star-4 star-3 star-2 star):

Year: # of OL Signees- 5*-4*-3*-2*
2001: Four- 0-1-3-0
2002: Six- 0-3-3-0
2003: Seven- 0-2-4-1
2004: Three- 0-1-2-0
2005: One- 0-0-1-0
2006: Seven- 0-2-5-0
2007: Eight- 0-3-5-0
2008: Four- 0-2-2-0
2009: Four- 0-3-1-0
2010: Three- 0-1-2-0
2011: Six- 0-0-5-1
2012: Three- 1-0-2-0
2013: Four- 0-1-3-0
2014: Three- 0-2-1-0

Notably, for the first 11 years of the Richt era, Georgia signed an average of 4.8 offensive linemen per year, or 21% of its incoming classes; however, from 2012 to 2014, those figures dropped by roughly one-third to 3.3 and 14%, respectively.

In addition, beginning more than three decades ago in 1982or, the first season UGA linemen signees were consistently differentiated between offensive and defensiveand through 2011, there were only five occasions of back-to-back years where Georgia's annual signing class was made up of less than 16% offensive linemen (1986-1987, 1992-1993, 1993-1994, 1999-2000, and 2004-2005); it resulted just once for three consecutive years (1992-1994), and never four years in a row... that is, until likely this February 4th when it appears the Bulldogs will sign a low number of offensive linemen for the fourth consecutive Signing Day.

Recent UGA offensive lines haven't suffered 
consequences for the insufficient number of 
OL signees, but is it only a matter of time? 
Continuing to geek-out on data, I again present the "Hog Index"originally, an NFL comparative measurement for offensive line performance which I tweaked for the college game. A team's offensive line ranking is determined by its average of the following three rankings in comparison to other teams being measured: yards per rush (sacks omitted), percent of passing plays (pass attempts + times sacked) resulting in an interception or sack, and third- and fourth-down combined conversion rate.

For each of the aforementioned occasions of back-to-back years where offensive linemen made up less than 16% of Georgia's signees, the Bulldogs followed with an annual poor-to-below-average offensive line performance within two seasons, which certainly makes sense: if a team signs few offensive linemen in consecutive years, it should be expected that the team will have an inferior offensive line within a couple of seasons. And, as indicated at the link, according to the Hog Index over the last 20 years, there is a positive correlation between Georgia's annual Hog Index and its winning percentage that same season. Therefore, the worse the Bulldogs' offensive line performance, generally, the worse the overall team.

On the contrary, although Georgia signed a combined 10 offensive linemen from 2012 to 2014, it's evident that the Dogs' lowly number of Hog signees did not result in repercussions the last two seasons: in 2013 and 2014, Georgia's offensive line performance was the the 3rd-best and the very best, respectively, during the last 20 years.

Finally, perhaps the most glaring evidence concerning the Bulldogs' upcoming offensive line units: heading into the weekend and according to Rivals, although the top five non-offensive line recruits in the state of Georgia all are currently committed to become Bulldogs, nonenot a single oneof the state's top nine offensive linemen have committed to UGA. Baffling!

In summary, although Georgia's offensive line has been admirable the last few seasons on the field, off the field, those responsible at UGA for signing offensive linemen have done a dreadful joban unprecedented lackluster effort in landing the Hogs upfront. And, despite the line's recent annual performances, and the unit should be excellent in 2015, as well, history has shown if Georgia consistently doesn't land the Hogs, it could take a couple of seasons or so, but consequences eventually come back to bite the Dogs.