Friday, August 22, 2008

I Suppose You Work on a Laptop Computer: A Tribute to Lewis Grizzard

"Bubba 'N Earl Sittin' on the 50" is a new blog focusing on the daily news and follies that come out of the college football world, the SEC and the University of Georgia football program. It is a tribute to those topics as well as to the late Lewis Grizzard, famed humorist and avid Georgia football fan, who attended the University of Georgia at the same time as my mother did.

I grew up in an SEC family. Both sides. My mother, who grew up in Athens, graduated from Georgia and my father graduated from Auburn. Uncles, aunts and cousins pull for Georgia, Auburn, Alabama and Tennessee. But, anyone be damned who pulls for Florida. We don't have that; we have standards.

Like many of the contributors to this blog, I grew up in Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia. I attended many Georgia-Auburn games growing up, whether it be contested Between the Hedges or on the Plains. And I will admit that before attending UGA, I was on the dark side of the Deep South's Oldest Rivalry. But, thank God I saw the light before it was too late.

But, whether you're a Georgia fan, an Auburn fan, an Alabama fan or a Tennessee fan, you can appreciate the musings of Lewis Grizzard. Whether its "Shoot Low Boys - They're Riding Shetland Ponies," which contributor Streit will agree with when auctioning off pygmied goats in Cartersville, Georgia (more to come later), or "If I Ever Get Back to Georgia, I'm Gonna Nail My Feet to the Ground," Grizzard's autobiography, if you grew up in Georgia, you grew up on Grizzard.

"Bubba 'N Earl" takes it name from the most infamous Grizzard story regarding Georgia football and its "authentic" fans.

As most of you know, Grizzard is so beloved in Georgia that Atlanta's Creative Loafing, in its "Best of Atlanta" issues, created two seperate awards, "Best Columnist" and "Best Columnist Besides Lewis Grizzard."

The youngest executive sports editor ever at the Atlanta Journal at age 23, Grizzard's most relevant quote on life was, "Life is like a dogsled team. If you ain't the lead dog, the scenery never changes." At his peak, he was syndicated in 450 newspapers.

Unfortunately, his life was cut too short in 1994 from a congenital heart defect. Grizzard: "There are three little leaflets that control the flow of blood to the heart. I was born with only two of those leaflets. It was just after the Great War, so there may have been a shortage. Either that or my daddy didn't get a good toe-hold."

Grizzard didn't care at all for computers, preferring typewriters instead. People would say to him, I suppose you work on a laptop computer. He would say no, and that when he wrote, he liked to hear some noise.

Today, many Grizzard stories are swapped via computers, emails and blogs. I wonder what Lewis would think about blogs. "Bubba 'N Earl" will strive to represent Georgia football, the SEC and the college football world the way Grizzard would have appreciated it, from a Southern perspective.

Some of his ashes were sprinkled on the 50-yard-line of Sanford Stadium when he passed. And if Bubba and Earl are still sittin' on the 50 today, then Lewis is right there with them.

The Cover Curse

Georgia has been picked number one in almost every major preseason poll this year, including the Coaches Poll and the Associated Press poll. To go along with their ranking, they have also begun appearing on the cover of several different college football preview edition magazines.

From the moment it was announced Georgia would appear on the SI cover, the Dawg Nation has been rumbling about the “Cover Curse”. The idea of the cover curse comes in many different forms from magazines (The SI Jinx), to print ads (The Dan and Dave Olympic ads in 1992), to video games (The Madden Curse). While some laugh at the idea of the curse, there are plenty of occurrences to support the idea that being on a cover spells doom for your season. Below, I examine the two best known examples of the cover curse, the “SI Jinx” and the “Madden Curse”.

The SI Jinx
The SI jinx may have been born with the creation of the magazine itself. The very first issue of Sports Illustrated was released during the week of August 16, 1954 and featured future Braves hall of fame third basemen Eddie Matthews on the cover. One week to the day after the issue hit news stands, Matthews injured his hand, forcing him to miss seven games.

The first time college football felt the wrath of the SI jinx was in the fall of 1956:
Notre Dame’s Paul Hornung appeared on the cover of SI on October 29, 1956. The Irish were playing Oklahoma that week in what was expected to be a competitive game. The Sooners crushed the Irish 40-0 that Saturday and Notre Dame went on to lose games to rivals Pitt and Navy, finishing the season with a dismal 2-8 record.

Alabama is another team to suffer from the SI jinx. Legendary Coach Bear Bryant appeared on the cover in 1973 after waltzing through the regular season 11-0. Facing Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl, Alabama’s season was foiled as they fell to the Irish 24-23.

The jinx not only got to teams, but to individual players as well. It brought down Florida State kicker Scott Bentley in 1993. Bentley missed seven extra points in the Seminoles’ first five games after appearing on the cover before the season. However, Bentley would get a shot at redemption and kick the game winning field goal against Nebraska in the 1994 Orange Bowl.

Over the last decade, the SI Jinx has also had its effect on teams appearing on its annual College Football Preview cover. The 2001 Oregon State squad graced the cover of SI as their preseason number one, only to be upset by Fresno State 44-24 in week one. The Beavers would finish the year at 5-6 and fail to make a bowl game. USC graced the cover of SI’s preseason report as the number one team twice recently (2005, 2007), only to come up short of the National Championship in both seasons.

The Madden Curse

For 20 years, John Madden football has been the number one sports video game for video players around the world. In 1999, the cover of the game was altered and replaced John Madden himself, with a star player from the league. Every year since that first season, the player who graced the cover of the game has had something out of the ordinary to derail their season or their team’s season. Here are the players who have appeared on the cover of Madden:

‘00 – Barry Sanders – Sanders did not play in the 1999 season and ended up retiring.

’01 – Eddie George – After a good season, George mysteriously bobbled an easy pass in the playoffs which was picked off and returned for a TD, leading to a Titans loss.

’02 – Duante Culpepper – Culpepper had a horrible passing season and ended up missing the last 5 games to injury.

’03 – Marshall Faulk – Faulk’s Rams failed to make the playoffs in 2002 as he was plagued by injuries.

’04 – Michael Vick – Broke his foot in a pre-season game against the Baltimore Ravens on the same day that the game was released. Vick played in only 5 games that season and the Falcons went 5-11.

’05 – Ray Lewis – The Ravens missed the playoffs as Lewis missed final game with injury.

’06 – Donovan McNabb – Suffered a sports hernia in the first game of season. He finally opted for surgery and missed the last seven games of season

’07 – Shaun Alexander – Broke his left foot in week 3 and ended up missing 6 games. Afterward, he was noticeably not the same player.

’08 – Vince Young – He missed a game because of injury for the first time ever (including high school and college) as he was plagued by an injured quad throughout the season.

Is Georgia Cursed???

If we learn anything from the past, in a championship season, no curse can defeat the Georgia Bulldogs. Herschel Walker appeared on the cover of SI after defeating Florida in the Lindsay Scott game in 1980. Georgia would complete the dream season two months later, defeating Notre Dame in the Sugar Bowl to cap off an undefeated, National Championship year. Come January of 2009, we hope the Dawgs can grace the cover of SI with the same headline that appeared on November 17, 1980:

The Countdown: Weekend Edition

In 8 days… Heroes have graced the field before you.

In 7 days… Happy Knowshon!!!

In 6 days… Make that 8 in a row

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Countdown: 9

In 9 days... One and done, baby!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The Countdown: 10

In 10 days… “Right over there Urban. That’s where we’re gonna kick your teeth in, again.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

To Catch a Recruiting Predator

Hello, and welcome once again to College Football Sports Television's groundbreaking series, To Catch a Recruiting Predator. I am Jim Peters.

Each week, this program seeks to root out and bring to light some of the more egregious examples of recruiting violations in today's college football landscape. We use undercover and online operatives to pose as young athletes, find these predators and bring them to justice, in order to ultimately boost our ratings protect our community. I am continuously surprised by the extent to which these grown men will go to satisfy their most base urges and needs.

Not all of the men we entrap invite come, of course; some even arrive on the scene, but fail to make it all the way up the driveway. One gentleman, who we will only identify as B. Petrino, spent half an hour pacing back and forth, before first sneaking to the neighbors' front yard, then leaping onto the back of a passing pork rinds delivery truck. A second coach, a B. Bowden, wandered around the block muttering about 'the daggum E-Bays,' and butterscotch hard candies, before finally being ushered into a golf cart by Jimbo Fisher.

Conversely, some coaches prefer to leave recruiting
to others, while they pursue loftier goals.

Tonight, we focus on a gentleman who drove almost five hundred miles from Tuscaloosa, AL, in order to meet with who he thinks will be a fourteen year old boy that can run a 4.16 forty. As always, I must remind our viewers that all subjects featured on this show are innocent until proven guilty, or until we portray them as quasi-pedophiles using grainy camera work, loaded questions, and ominous music.

Desperate to revive a once storied program, now in decline, our predator must see this young phenom as a possible savior. Unfortunately for him, young 'Alex' is in fact a thirty-five year old Auburn fan who we have used as tonight's decoy. 'Alex' and the coach texted back and forth for almost a month, before scheduling a face to face meeting. 'Alex' has hinted to this older man repeatedly that if given certain gifts, he'd be willing to reward him with his services. As a result, the predator has promised to arrive bearing 'hot chicks', a PS3, 'oodles and oodles of cash,' and some chocolate cake.

"This is still better than how some of our past football coaches treated us."

Alright, I've been informed that our predator has in fact arrived. Let's go confront him:

Jim--"Coach, I'm Jim Peters, with CFST's To Catch a Recruiting Predator, here to talk with you about your relationship with 'Alex.' Now Coach, you had to know that 'Alex' was only fourteen, and, more importantly, that right now is in fact a NCAA Quiet Period?"

Predator--"I don't have any #&$&# time for this....back on the bus girls! And don't forget that chocolate cake!"

At this point, the gentleman attempted to walk back out, only to be met by half a dozen NCAA investigators springing from the bushes. He refused to answer anymore of our questions, other than to say that this was all part of some historical process.

"This is clearly worse than 9/11"

Before we end tonight's show, I need to take a moment to make an apology and retraction on behalf of both myself and this program, regarding a piece we aired last week. On our August 12th episode, the defensive backs coach from North Central Kentucky State was accidently and erroneously impugned as being a recruiting violator. Said coach was in fact not at that house to see the sixteen year old strong safety, but instead his thirteen year old sister. In retrospect, the stuffed animals and all of that Vaseline should have tipped us off. Again, our deepest apologies Coach.

For To Catch a Recruiting Predator, I am Jim Peters, saying goodnight, and good recruiting.

The Countdown: 11

In 11 days… “Today is not just any Saturday. This Saturday is about tradition, it’s about fans, it’s about team, it’s about legends. It’s Saturday in Athens.”

Monday, August 18, 2008

They want WHO to return punts???

Last week, Mark Richt announced that UGA is considering using Knowshon Moreno as a punt returner for the 2008 season. This is not surprising as many great running backs have also returned punts. However, it surprised me that Richt and John Fabris are also considering third team QB Logan Gray for the same position. This got me thinking about quarterbacks in the past who have returned punts and I was able to think of two off the top of my head.

Antwaan Randle El, Indiana University

Randle El played quarterback for the Hoosiers from 1998 until 2001. He was known as a true dual threat quarterback, throwing for almost 7,500 yards, running for nearly 4,000 yards, and accounting for 86 touchdowns. During his career he returned both kicks and punts for Indiana. He saw the majority of his action as a punt returner during his senior season and his career at Indiana included 16 punts returned for 149 yards (9.3 yards average). After being drafted as a wide receiver by the Pittsburgh Steelers, Randle El has had a successful career as a punt returner in the NFL. In his six years in the league, he has returned 241 punts for 2145 yards (8.9 average) and 5 touchdowns.

Jayson Foster

Jayson Foster played quarterback, receiver, and running back during his career at Georgia Southern (2004 -2007). He settled back at quarterback for his senior season under head coach Chris Hatcher and won the Walter Payton Award, given annually to the best player in I-AA. He compiled a school record of 3,047 total yards and finished second in the NCAA with 167.6 yards rushing per game. Foster returned punts throughout his college career, including returning 17 punts for 133 yards (7.8 average) during his senior year, and is the only player in NCAA history to have done each of the following:
- 80+ yard kick return TD
- 80+ yard punt return TD
- 80+ yard TD pass
- 80+ yard TD catch
- 80+ yard TD Run

This is a 94 yard punt return for a touchdown Foster had.

What does this mean for Logan Gray?

Logan Gray currently sits third on Georgia's depth chart at quarterback. Richt would like to get him on the field after a strong off-season and a great performance in the 2008 G-Day game. During spring practice, Logan took snaps at wide receiver and suffered a minor injury that quickly ended the experiment. Gray came out of Rock Bridge High school in Columbia, Missouri as one of the top rated dual quarterbacks in the country. Known as a proficient passer, he ran a 4.5 – 40 yard dash and had a reputation as a tough guy (in the 2005 state playoffs, he threw for two touchdowns after separating his shoulder).

After seeing Gray move around on the field during G-Day, I am sure that he has the speed and agility potential to handle returning punts and that this is a good opportunity to get Gray's talents on the field. Unlike Randle El and Foster, Gray would be able to focus on returning kicks without the worry of losing his job as quarterback as Matt Stafford and Joe Cox have that job handled. If we see Logan Gray return punts in 2008, he may just become the best modern quarterback returning punts that the SEC has ever seen.

The Countdown: 12

In 12 days… “Try not to do too many things at once. Know what you want, the number one thing today and tomorrow. Persevere and get it done.”