Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 49 Days to Go

49: John Brantley, Linebacker #59 (1984 – 1987)

Linebacker John Brantley was a member of some of the final Georgia teams coached by Vince Dooley. And while today the name is usually associated with the new Florida starting quarterback, this John Brantley has already secured his legacy in the SEC history books. The native of Wildwood, Florida, Brantley combined with Terrie Webster to form a linebacking duo Georgia fans called “Rambo and Rambro”.

1986 would be the first of two consecutive seasons as a member of the All-SEC squad for Brantley. The Georgia Bulldogs won 8 games in ’86 including an upset victory over rival Auburn. He racked up a career high 20 tackles, before the Auburn police decided it was a good idea to turn the water hoses on the Georgia fans. He was quoted as saying, "I was on still on the field and people were picking us up on their shoulders. I didn't get wet, but I could see all the people who were getting wet. Man, that was something else." He finished the season with 160 total tackles, the fourth highest season total in Georgia history.

Returning for his senior season in 1987, Brantley was named the permanent defensive captain of a team that would win 9 games. He racked up another 154 tackles and was once again named to the All-SEC first team. For his career, Brantley had 415 tackles, the fourth highest total in Georgia history. He was drafted in the 12th round of the 1988 NFL Draft by the Houston Oilers and later played for the Washington Redskins.

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 50 Days to Go

50: Billy Bennett, Kicker #30 (2000-2003)

Billy Bennett, a Damn Good Dawg, is the all time leading scorer in UGA and SEC History. He didn't have to travel very far to start his college kicking career, walking on at Georgia from Athens Academy. As a young Georgia fan, I remember the Kicker position being a big question mark going into the 2000 season. This quickly proved to be the case as starting scholarship kicker Brett Kirouac hooked the ball all over the place and, in my mind, the backup was a midget in 17 states. However, what Billy lacked in height, he made up for in accuracy and grit, making 13-14 field goals as a Freshman. This quickly erased the memory of past Kicker Hap Hines, unfortunately it didn't replace the frustration and memory of Quincy Carter's junior season.

After making the All-SEC Freshman team, Billy struggled with blocked field goals and inconsistency in 2001. However, he set the stage for his last two seasons my making 6 of 6 (another UGA and SEC record) field goals against the North Avenue Trade School, ending three years for futility against the nerds. Bennett's last two seasons cemented his legacy in Athens as he made more field goals over this span (57) than any other Kicker over a two year span in NCAA history. For his career he made 87-110 field goals to amass 409 total points including PAT's, earning multiple All-SEC and All-American honors.

Billy was also one of the great characters, from a fan perspective, on the football team. He was well known to fans for his band and hair, both being mentioned frequently by Larry Munson during radio broadcasts:

A local kid himself, Billy knew his way around the local scene and I was lucky enough, on multiple occasions, to see him around downtown Athens (funny guy). After his playing career, Billy would try out for the Carolina Panthers and make a cameo appearance in the 2006 film "We Are Marshall" before becoming a sound technician with the band MGMT. While being the smallest player on this countdown list, he was "Man Enough" to be a great Georgia Bulldog.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where Are They Now: Georgia Pitcher Nathan Moreau

Most Georgia baseball fans will remember Nathan Moreau as a key member of the 2008 Georgia Diamond Dogs that came within one game of winning the College World Series. A three year starter for Coach Perno, Moreau made 42 starts during his Georgia career. Moreau compiled an 8-1 record during his freshman season in 2006 as the Dawgs advanced to the College World Series. He went 6-2 in 2007 and 4-4 in 2008 to finish his career with an 18-7 record. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 11th round of the 2008 draft.

Moreau is now in his third year in the Orioles organization and recently earned a promotion to the Advanced-A Frederick Keys of the Carolina League. In his debut with the team on June 30, Moreau turned in an amazing performance. He tossed a no-hitter against against Salem, striking out 6 batters and walking. He nearly threw a perfect game, but two Frederick errors resulted in the only base runners of the night for Salem.

Moreau has continued to have success with Frederick since his no-hitter. In three starts, he is a perfect 3-0 with 1.89 ERA. He has struck out 12 batters and only walked 4. Hopefully, we'll see Nathan continue his success as he climbs his way towards the big leagues.

The Countdown 2010: 51 Days to Go

51: Greg Bright, Linebacker #45 (1994 – 1997)

Not many players go from wanting to leave school and go back home to 4 year starters with multiple all conference honors, but that is exactly what happened to Greg Bright. A native of Moultrie, Georgia, bright redshirted for Coach Ray Goff during the 1993 season. Not having many friends, Bright considered leaving Georgia all together. But a long talk with Coach Goff convinced him to stay and forever changed his career at Georgia. Buried deep on the depth chart following spring in 1994, Bright took to the weight room and eventually earned a starting spot at linebacker. He was named a member of the All-SEC Freshman team and had an amazing game against Clemson where he recorded 16 tackles and had two interceptions.

Bright had another fantastic season in 1995, starting at outside linebacker in all 11 games. Once again he turned in a 16 yard tackle performance, this time against Ole Miss. During his junior season in 1996, Bright moved to inside linebacker, a move that would help bright earn second team All-SEC honors. He led Georgia with 143 total tackles and added three interceptions.

During his senior season in 1997, Bright was named the Bulldogs’ permanent defensive captain. He once again led the Dawgs in tackles (with 128) and tied for the team lead with three sacks. You can see him in action in this highlight video of the victory over Georgia Tech in the final regular season game of the ’97 season:

Bright closed his fantastic Georgia career with 8 tackles in the Outback Bowl. He was named to the first team All-SEC squad.

A four year starter, Bright only missed one game after his freshman season. He is second all-time at Georgia with 453 total tackles and is Georgia’s all-time leader in solo tackles with 290. He attempted to continue his career in the NFL, but was released by the Dallas Cowboys.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NCAA Football 11: Georgia Covers

As MT mentioned yesterday, NCAA Football 11 was released yesterday and features Tim Tebow on the cover this year. Here are some custom covers featuring Georgia players you can use:
Rennie Curran

AJ Green

Brandon Boykin

Washaun Ealey

The Countdown 2010: 52 Days to Go

52: Willie McClendon, Tailback #36 (1976 – 1978)

The McClendon name is one that has become synonymous with Georgia football over the years. Bryan McClendon was a great receiver for the Dawgs during the mid-2000’s, famous for catching the game winning touchdown from DJ Shockley in the 2005 Georgia Tech game and blocking a punt in Georgia’s SEC Championship victory over LSU. After a brief NFL career, Bryan returned to Athens where he now serves as running backs coach under Mark Richt. But the McClendon name first became famous in Athens nearly 30 years earlier, when Bryan’s father, Willie, carried the ball for Coach Vince Dooley.

In 1976, Willie McClendon joined a backfield that included star Kevin McLee and quarterback Ray Goff. As the Dawgs rolled to an SEC Championship, McClendon finished fourth on the team in rushing with 211 yards on just 40 carries and 5 touchdowns. This included a two score performance in the 45-0 trouncing of Vanderbilt. During his junior season, he became Georgia’s second leading rusher behind McLee, rushing for over 700 yards and 4 touchdowns. The ’77 season was highlighted by his performance against Florida, where he ran for 162 yards on only 10 carries. He scored three touchdowns in the game, including a 74 yarder.

As a senior in 1978, McClendon would enjoy the finest season any senior running back has ever had at the University of Georgia. Finally getting a chance to start, McClendon became a true workhorse for the Dawgs carrying the ball a then record 287 times (later broken by Herschel Walker). He would have the 8th best rushing yardage season in school history, totaling 1,312 yards and scored 13 touchdowns. Highlights included an 81 yard touchdown run against South Carolina and two score, 144 yard performance in the Georgia upset of LSU in Baton Rouge. Following the season, he was named to the first team All-SEC squad.

Despite being the starter for only one season, Willie McClendon is 9th all-time in rushing yards at Georgia with 2,228 yards. He scored 22 career touchdowns and his rushing average of 119 yards per game in 1978 is fifth best in school history. He especially shined in the games against Florida, where he rushed for 276 yards and three scores in two wins (three total games). He was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 1979 NFL draft, where he played 4 seasons.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 53 Days to Go

53: Glynn Harrison, Tailback #25 (1972 – 1975)

Georgia’s rivalry with Georgia Tech has always had its share of players who grew up rooting for one school, but ultimately ended up playing for the other. Such was the case for Georgia running back Glynn Harrison. The graduate of Columbia High School grew up rooting for the Yellow Jackets and almost transferred back there during his sophomore season. Harrison played sparingly during his freshman year and almost transferred, but ultimately stuck it out. He played on special teams and occasionally in the backfield. During Georgia’s upset victory over Tennessee in November, Harrison would be involved in one of the most unusual plays in Georgia history.

With the Dawgs down 31-28 late in the 4th, quarterback Andy Johnson attempted to hand the ball off to Harrison but the exchange was flubbed. The fumbled ball took a funny hop, back into Johnson’s hands who took the ball into the end zone. Georgia won, 35-31, and Glynn Harrison had entered the Georgia history book. For the season, he was Georgia’s leading punt returner, returning 23 punts for 256 yards (11.1 yards per return).

Harrison would earn the starting tailback job in 1974 and made the Bulldog nation proud he had not left the program. Harrison led the Dawgs with 959 yards rushing on 149 carries and 4 touchdowns. Good enough for a gaudy 6.44 yards per carry. He continued his role as the teams punt returned, returning 19 punts for 110 yards. Harrison also earned first team All-SEC honors for the first time in his career.

To prove that his yards per carry average in 1974 was not a fluke, he surpassed the mark during the 1975 season. The senior rushed for 894 yards on only 131 carries, good for 6.82 yards per carry (third best in Georgia history. He also scored 5 touchdowns and led the Dawgs in total offense for the second straight season. Harrison capped another All-SEC season with a great game against Georgia Tech that included a 78 yard touchdown run.

For his career, Harrison ranks second in Georgia history with an average of 6.37 yards per carry. He is 13th all-time in rushing at Georgia with 2,031 yards and he scored a total of 11 career touchdowns. He was drafted in the 9th round of the 1976 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers and ended up playing 1 season for the Kansas City Chiefs.

Former Athletes Still Suing Over Video Game

Today is one of the few days during the achingly slow summer months when college football fans get something new to digest and blog about: NCAA Football 2011 (sorry, I just couldn't use the '11 Tebow cover) is now on a store shelf near you. On this momentous day, the Washington Post also feels the need to remind you of the continuing legal struggle of former athletes over the use of their likeness.

Former UCLA basketball star Ed O’Bannon (great current profile), former Nebraska/Arizona State QB Sam Keller and other athletes have consolidated their lawsuits against the NCAA, Electronic Arts, et al, fighting for a piece of the monetary pie from the continued usage of their names/likeness/jerseys dating back to their college glory days.

I don’t have a law degree (yet), but wording from a 2009 University of Arizona athletic form makes it sound like a large part of the ex-athletes’ legal case isn’t the strongest (assuming it is a standard form, used for many years), as it gives the school the right to the athlete’s image "forever and throughout the universe, and to license others to use them, in any manner and in any and all media now known or hereafter discovered, for commercial purposes." (h/t above linked Fanhouse article).

Now, even though I will be attending law school this fall at one of our rival SEC schools, I don’t want to hammer on contract legalese. Everyone always throws out the gaudy revenue numbers that the major football programs generate, but an estimated 44 percent of major college football programs don’t generate enough revenue to cover their operating costs, forcing a rather large number of universities to directly subsidize their athletic programs. For football, 85 offsetting scholarships have to be budgeted/allotted to female athletes due to Title IX considerations before the players can even line up for a snap, and that’s before accounting for operating costs within the football program. In reality, a lot of the revenue dollars being fought over in the lawsuit just don't exist at the end of the process.

While I do appreciate the viewpoint of a current Oregon tight end weighing in on the issue, the reality is that the NCAA and its members will fight any sort of payments/trust fund/stipend setup to the bitter end, since any alteration in that will inevitably trigger a review by the IRS on whether the NCAA would still qualify as a tax-exempt amateur sports organization.

Shouldn’t we still be expecting that just about all of the NCAA athletes will be going pro in something other than sports?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 54 Days to Go

54: Jon Stinchcomb, Offensive Tackle #78 (1999 – 2002)

Parkview graduate Jon Stinchcomb was the second Stinchcomb brother to become an All-American lineman at the University of Georgia. Following in the footsteps of older brother Matt, Jon redshirted during the fall of 1998 and made his Georgia debut in 1999. Playing multiple positions across the offensive line for Jim Donnan, Stinchcomb earned both All-SEC Freshman and All-American Freshman team honors. In his sophomore season in 2000, he started all 12 games for the Dawgs and named to the SEC Coaches All-SEC second team.

After being named to Street and Smith’s preseason All-American squad, there were high expectations for Stinchcomb in the 2001 season. He had another great season, finishing with 18 pancake blocks for the season. His streak of 29 consecutive starts came to an end when he missed the Georgia Tech game with a knee injury. He was once again named second team All-SEC and returned for his senior season in 2002 as a pre-season All-American.

2002 was a magical year for Georgia, as the Bulldogs won their first SEC Championship in 20 years. Stinchcomb was named the permanent offensive captain and even scored a touchdown (on a fumble) in the SEC East clinching victory over the Auburn Tigers. The Dawgs offense averaged 32.6 points per game in 2002 and Stinchcomb finished as a semi-finalist for the Lombardi Award. He was named first team All-SEC, first team All-American, and was named the top lineman in the SEC.

He was drafted in the second round of the 2003 NFL draft by the New Orleans Saints. Jon has enjoyed an All-Pro career and was a key member of the Super Bowl Championship squad in 2009.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Countdown 2010: 55 Days to Go

55: Nate Taylor, LB #47 (1979-1982)

Before David Pollack and before Robert Edwards, Nate Taylor wore #47. However, the Tift County product wasn't even wanted as a walk-on at Vanderbilt.

"He was the kind of guy who I don't think you would go back and see him play in high school twice," said the late Erk Russell. "Yet when you turned him loose, he seemed to know where the ball was. He had a Tasmanian, devil-type disposition."*

Taylor entered the 1979 game vs. South Carolina as a scout team player. He filled in at linebacker due to injuries and made 18 tackles. He received a scholarship the next week and never left the starting lineup the rest of his career.

In the 1980 opener in Knoxville, Terrible Nate Taylor from Ty Ty might've forced the most important fumble in Georgia's history. He met Tennessee's Glenn Ford inside Georgia's 5-yard line with the Dawgs protecting a lead for the first time all night, 16-15. The Dawgs' Pat McShea recovered and Georgia's national championship season was on.

Weighing 193 pounds, Taylor led the team in tackles in 1979 with 120, and again in 1980 with 112. He is 5th all time on UGA's career tackles list with 390.

Linebacker coach Chip Wisdom remembers Taylor wasn't the fastest player either. "He ran a 5.3 forty. I don't think Nate ever broke five-flat. I'm exaggerating obviously, but he was slow."*

Following in his father's footsteps, Tony Taylor was involved in one of the biggest fumbles in the Tech series, returning it for a touchdown and upsetting the Jackets in 2006.

*From "Tales from the 1980 Georgia Bulldogs"