Sunday, October 11, 2009

BUI Attempts to Make Amends

Following the Georgia Bulldogs absolute neutering at the hands of the Tennessee Volunteers, BUI was not in a good place. I broke out the bourbon some time early in the second quarter. By the third quarter I was calling out individual players. Not my finest moment to say the least.

My plan was to church myself this morning, to get some good old fashioned perspective on my sinning ways. I didn't make it. So, this is my chance to give testimony, to cleanse myself and be born anew into the Bulldog Nation for which by the Grace of God I have belonged for so many years.

My great moment of awakening came via the very device of my demise, Twitter. A single message of less than 140 characters struck my heart with great power. No it wasn't a message from "on-high", we are still talking about football, but it was a message that eventually put my pain into perspective. It was a message from the truly defeated. Here it is:
"@MikeMoore82: All I can say 2 the dawgnation is don't turn your backs on us. That's it. We need u to support us and times like this is when we need u most"
At first, I didn't know how to respond. How could he not know we will always be behind him? Bulldog is Forever! I just let it pass and kept drinking. I then started checking out the blogs.

I try not to read the "dawgvent" or things of that nature, but I do follow every Dawg fan's blog that I know of. I enjoy there take, especially those of the passionate fan's, the one's that tell you what is in their heart. Frankly, sometimes I grow weary of the high-brow cold analysis, the above the frey crowd, I will not name them, but I am sure most of you know who they are.

Their analysis was as cold and calculated as you might expect. The comments they garnered were down right scary and shameful, much as the tweets I perpetually placed in the electronic universe. I am ashamed.

Michael Moore, you will have my support today, tomorrow and until my dying day. I am grateful for all the effort you give and all the joy you have brought me. Bryan Evans, I apologize to you. Same for you Prince Miller. I have no idea what it is like to go out and put it on the line in front of 100k people and countless millions on live television. I have never once had my mistakes so publicly open to criticism, let alone had the opportunity to go out and do it all again a week later. You deserve my support and you have it.

Mark Richt, Willie Martinez, Mike Bobo, John Fabris, and even Dave Van Halanger, you all deserve my heart felt apologies. Aside from the players on the field, I am certain no one wants to win as badly as those of you on the staff. I am also positive losses are far more painful to you than to me, no matter how self-centered I may behave on a given Saturday.

Coach Richt, there are problems to be sure. In fact, I am sure the problems are far worse than those of us in the knee-jerk reaction department can comprehend. There were problems when you got here, there will be problems in the future. For the life of me, I cannot think of a stronger man to address these problems. It will not be easy. It never is.

The problems we inherit are always easier to address than the problems that arise under our watch. Cleaning up other people's messes is a far more satisfying chore than to clean up the milk that we ourselves spilt. I know you want a clean house, and I know you will celan it in the way you believe best, and I, for one, will not second guess you.

Coach Kiffin, to you I must also apologize. You, and your staff, are fine coaches. You did a masterful job of preparing your team. Welcome to the SEC.

So this is my re-dedication to the Bulldog Nation and my attempt to make friends with the mirror again. Georgia Football will always be far more important to me than it should, but I will try to keep a little perspective when it comes to these true warriors, and human beings, that represent the Bulldogs on the field of battle. God be with them.

Mea Culpa complete, let's look at some of the premier Dawg Blogs and see how BUI's take stacks up against theirs, and see if I can keep from falling off the wagon.

I think Rex, the Genesis of great Georgia kickers, and a Letterman that doesn't tow the company line, sums it up best with his opening line.
They say there’s nothing like being a Bulldog on a Saturday night after a win. I’m not sure there’s anything like being a Bulldog on a Sunday after a loss either.
Very well said, Rex!

The finest beat writer covering the Dawgs, Davil Hale provides us with these takes:
-- I've covered Mark Richt for five years now, and I think today was the angriest I've seen him following a game. The problem, I think, is that he was preemptively angry at the media, not the folks who are actually responsible for that debacle. I get he doesn't want to air his laundry in public, but he has to understand that there is going to be legitimate criticism following a game like that.
It may not be fair to the media, but I take this as a good sign. His stoicism has been taken as complacency.

-- Here's what Willie had to say: "We’ve got to look at the tape and obviously when you’re running a lot of play-action pass or you’re defending the run and you’ve got to convert that to pass, we’ve got to do a better job with that.”
Are you sure this was live, could have been Memorex? I think I am backsliding.

-- Mike Gundy, Les Miles and Lane Kiffin have severely out-coached Mark Richt's staff this year. That's not exactly a MENSA crowd.
That has been a popular perception, time may show reality to be much different.

-- Prince Miller played one of the worst games I've seen from a corner in a long, long time.
It is the coaches job to coach and determine who should be on the field.

-- I'm not going to tell Richt what decisions he needs to make, but clearly some tough decisions need to be made. It's what head coaches do. In the Colorado-Texas game Saturday night, Dan Hawkins pulled his own son from the game to insert a true freshman quarterback. On the field, it needs to be all business.
What do they say about blood and water? Hawkins is coaching like his job is on the line.....

-- I watched all of the LSU-Florida game. I think the announcers made fun of Georgia about 9,463 times.
"You are what your record says you are" - The Big Tuna

-- It's not just that Georgia's passing D is allowing big plays this year. The vast majority of Crompton's completions Saturday -- and this is hardly a new trend -- were to WIDE OPEN receivers. There isn't coverage within 10 yards. The worst example, of course, was on the touchdown throw to Marsalis Teague in the end zone. When there are only 15 yards worth of field to work with, and no one is within 7 yards of Teague… I mean, how do you explain that?

Frankly, going into the game, I thought a soft zone, don't let anybody behind you, was the way to go. I never dreamed Crompton could consistently complete passes to move his team down the field. That being said, at some point adjustments have to be made.

My goal was to cherry pick a few of my favorite "Fan" sites, but Hamp at Hunker Down Dawg, Scott at Stuff of Legend,   Bulldog in Exile, and Dawg Stephen are waiting to calm down before they post. So, to take the pulse of the loyal fan, that proudly displays his heart on his sleeve, comes these bullets of Bernie:
Between the 6th and 7th week of the season is no time to go looking for a new DC or OC...or HC.
Strength and Conditioning.... never mind, I totally agree!

That being said, this staff could use a kick in the butt.
With a steel, er, hob-nailed boot!

That means that Drew Butler is officially our team's MVP. And that says a lot about our team.
When he is given the award, will anybody clap?

We were the team that gave that asshat his first SEC victory? Are you frickin' kiddin' me?
ahh, as you said to me.... I've got bad news for ya!

KiffyBaby questioned Coach Richt's ability to run his program and CMR couldn't get his team and coaches up for this game...?
All this and I still believe we have more talent than every team we've played thus far. Coach Richt needs to step over this line in the sand he's drawn and use some honesty to address the state of his team with the media, the fans, the coaches, the players....and himself.
I agree, but do not expect it to happen, at least not publicly. Frankly, I believe his silience hurts Willie and Bobo more than words ever could. They probably wish he would just let them have it. It would probably ease some of their pain.
As for the fans, any honest public assessment would just be throwing gas on the fire. It is too late for that.

And from the Upper Chamber, we now turn it over to The Senator:
I remember when I first realized that Mark Richt was taking the program some place it hadn’t been in a long time.  Ironically, that time came during a loss – the ‘02 Florida game.  But it was at some time during the first half when I saw the defense routinely (key word, there) stuffing an offense that had given it nothing but fits for more than a decade that I knew those guys could play with anybody.  There was an attitude, a confidence about the way they went about their business that made me feel like that.  And it started with the guy at the top.
I agree, but still believe we first saw that fighting spirit in Knoxville '01. The Florida game proved, at that time, that our new staff believed Florida was beatable, IMO.

If I had to put my finger on what’s wrong, I’d call it a crisis of faith.  I don’t mean that in a religious sense.  (By the way, of all the arguments I’ve seen about what’s wrong, blaming Coach Richt’s religious convictions for the slide has to rank as the dumbest.)  Rather, it’s a systemic doubt:  the coaches lack faith in the players to execute and the players lack faith in the coaches’ ability to deploy them efficiently and effectively.
I agree, and will add that we no longer dictate to the opposition, but rather change our identity from week to week to suit the other team. We once just went out and played, we made the other team adjust to us. To me, it appears as though we got out with the mindset of out-coaching the other team. Is this because we have a lack of faith in our talent? Richt used to always say, we are going to go out and play Georgia football. Now it as though we are making every team out to be some kind of Goliath and we have to reinvent some new slingshot. The player's heads are spinning with confusion.

I’m certain Miller knows in the aftermath it was a silly thing to do.  We’ll probably hear an acknowledgement from him of that some time this week, just like we heard from Brandon Boykin last week about his decision to run back an interception from deep in his end zone.  But in the heat of the moment, look for these kids to keep doing things just like that – because that’s what Georgia football boils down to these days, hoping that somebody can pull off a game saving play all by their lonesome.  It’s certainly entertaining, but it’s no way to sustain a program over the course of a season.  Or seasons, as it’s starting to appear.
And isn't this what the coaches are sitting back and waiting on, somebody to step up and make a big play or should I say, pull one out of their arses?

Blair Walsh. Here’s a stat that should blow you away – Walsh leads the SEC in touchbacks.  Let me say that again.  Blair Walsh has had more kickoffs result in touchbacks than any other kicker in the SEC. He’s made all his PATs and he’s 9 of 10 in field goal attempts.  50+ yard field goals are getting to be the norm for him.  In short, he’s having an all-SEC season.  Yet to hear it from his coaches, you’d think he’s a significant part of Georgia’s special teams problems.  The insistence on directional kicking in the face of Walsh’s leg strength has gone from puzzling to frustrating to absurd.  Insane is just around the corner, I’m afraid.
Nothing to add to that.

Jonathan Crompton had a career day. Willie Martinez’ epitaph?  If not his, sad to say, it may wind up as Richt’s.  You simply can’t survive as a head coach at Georgia if your teams can’t play defense competently.  And at this point, I’d settle quite happily for competence.  There’s no other way to say it than that Georgia’s defense is flat out bad right now.  The team’s Pavlovian reactions to misdirection and play action are predictable, to the point of being reliable – just ask Kiffin – and are exacerbated by poor fundamentals.  The number of quarterbacks (and tight ends) who have enjoyed Georgia’s defensive bounty grows at a consistent and alarming rate.  That’s the worst part of Crompton’s performance:  nobody was surprised.

Sometimes the truth just hurts, really, really hurts.

Spiking the ball with one second on the clock. I don’t know who made that Reggie-Ball-on-fourth-down-esque decision.  But it’s embarrassing that anyone associated with this program did.  In fact, I’m hard-pressed to think of another SEC coach that would try something like that.
I really have to put this one on Cox not adjusting to the situation.  He was late getting the ball off, AJ Green was a little late getting down. Otherwise, there would have been enough time to get the spike. Cox should have giving Green a go deep jester and just threw it up. Easy for me to say in hind-sight, very difficult for Cox in that situation in that environment. I am sure the plan was not to spike it with 1 second left.

But there’s one change he could and should make now.  They need to quit throwing kids under the bus in public.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some decisions on the personnel front that are due.  But the comments in the press need to stop.  In some cases, like Walsh’s, they’re not only disheartening, they’re increasingly stupid in light of the performance on the field.  And whatever else Richt has to say to Martinez this week, something needs to be said about behaving like a petulant adolescent during a game when a player makes a mistake.  Throwing a clipboard after a penalty may feel good, but it looks bad.  There’s a reason Spurrier is mocked for acting like that.  There’s also a reason he gets away with it.  And Willie doesn’t have that luxury.
I couldn't agree more with throwing kids under the bus. It would be one thing if he were also being critical of coaching. If you can't give a fair assessment of everybody involved, then give no assessment at all. A media black out would not be the worst thing right now.

One last thing.  I hope this is just a sentiment of the moment, and I know it’s hard to resist circling the wagons when things are going badly, but Mark Richt needs to reconsider and reject this kind of thinking:
“If you’re a leader or a player and you are brave enough to be in the arena, there’s going to be people outside the arena that want to throw things at you and say things about you,” Richt said. “But there’s honor in being in the arena, and a lot of people don’t understand it because they’ve never been in there.”
Coach, you’re better than that.  We’re not the issue here.  The real problems you face are fixable, although the fix won’t be pleasant.  It’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.  After all, it’s not like you haven’t done it before.  I’ve no doubt you’re capable of doing it again.
I am all for circling the wagons, but I do not equate those comments to wagon circling. That being said, the time for comments like that would have been following the South Carolina game, you know after an ugly victory was salvaged.

And, finally, from the man that fancies himself as the Flag Bearer of the Bulldog Nation (my opinion, not his proclomation), Junkyard Bill King is not pulling any punches:
Georgia’s inability to figure out Jonathan Crompton’s bootleg passing Saturday was just plain embarrassing. One thought: Might Martinez have a better grasp of the big picture if he was calling Georgia’s defensive signals from the booth?
I’ve got a better idea: Let’s move him out of the stadium altogether!
I completely understand the reaction, but all 4 of you that read this space regularly know, decisions like this are not to be made lightly and without regard for the total dynamic at play here. This is not about firing your "best man" but the effect it will have on the entire staff and team. There are other dominos standing on the table.

But, really, why is Bryan Evans still getting playing time? He simply is not an SEC-caliber defender. And Prince Miller got burned pretty badly out there as well on Saturday. It’s time to give the bulk of the snaps to the younger defenders.
Certainly, be it not for me to be critical of him for calling these two out, but from this point forward, I am going to attempt to not single players out. Personnel changes should have been made in my opinion.

Here’s a quote from Lane Kiffin that stings as much as any of Steve Spurrier’s barbs from the Ray Goff era: “I don’t know that I’ve ever been involved in a game where the defense didn’t let a team into the red zone one time.”
Frankly, this one has to hurt worse, nothing, at all, subjective about that.

No Bartender! today, folks.


BigNCDawg said...

One of the greateast pieceses that I have ever read. It hurts me to the quick that thay lost. But I love the DAWGS win or lose.

MikeInValdosta said...

Thank you, I really appreciate it!

Athens Avenger said...

I agree with what you said about the players. I often have to remind myself that these are youngsters we are talking about, and they aren't getting paid (although calling them "true warriors" might be a stretch... This is Athens, not Afghanistan). Sometimes I forget that they feel the sting of the loss worse than I do. Thanks for posting a much-needed reminder.

The coaches, however, are a different matter. They are not working pro bono out there. They are extremely well-compensated for their efforts. Just like the rest of us, they should be expected to perform at a level befitting that compensation. That's not harsh; that's just the same workplace reality the rest of us face. All this knee-jerk "fire everyone" talk is ridiculous and short-sighted, but fans have a right to expect more without feeling like bad fans.

MikeInValdosta said...

Avenger, thanks for that reminder. Perhaps some metaphors like "field of battle" should be left out of football talk. But then again, the reason they are utilized is due to the respect football players and fans alike have for the brave and willing.

I can't say that there is any disagreement between us with regard to holding coaches accountable. I tried as tactfully as I could to address that.

"The problems we inherit are always easier to address than the problems that arise under our watch. Cleaning up other people's messes is a far more satisfying chore than to clean up the milk that we ourselves spilt. I know you want a clean house, and I know you will clean it in the way you believe best, and I, for one, will not second guess you."

Read into that what you will.

My stating how I felt about my own behavior was in no way meant as an indication of how other fans should feel about theirs.

Bulldog in Exile said...


You, sir, are a man. It takes a man to face down his demons, own his regretted steps (however understandable they may be) and move forward.

Also, good for you not reading the vent and such. Pure dribble.

Keep the faith, brother. I'd rather be a 3-9 Georgia Bulldog than a national champion Volunteer (or anything else, for that matter). Doesn't mean I like mediocrity or worse. It means that I love the Bulldogs, win or lose, regardless of how frustrated I get with them. That is just who I am.

Go Dawgs!

Athens Avenger said...


On second read, I see where you're coming from. While I will never forgo my inalienable right as a fan to second-guess coaches who clearly know more about football than I ever will, I definitely admire your efforts to share a little cool-headed perspective with your readers. Good post.

Go Dawgs,

Hunker Down said...


Great post. Nothing beats rational, well-considered discourse.

I was simply too disappointed about our performance (not the loss, per se) that I didn't have the motivation to write much yesterday. I had a fun safety net to fall into Sat. night because my lovely wife and I headed on a short road trip for dinner and a concert and an evening away - which was great medicine. Once I punted on the Dawgs game, I blocked out all the bad of the day and looked for all the good. That mental shift and a bottle of Napa Cab righted my listing ship. One of the best parts of my day was playing "Name that Tune" on XM as we drove to Tampa. I was killing it on the "First Wave" station playing 80's alternative.

I feel like you and I have a very similar perspective regarding the players and coaches. Being on Twitter and following Mike Moore, Jeff Owens and Darryl Gamble helps remind me that these are young men working hard and that the losses will hurt them a lot more than it hurts us. I don't ever want to call a player out in public merely for failing on a play or a number of plays. If he gets busted selling dope or something... that is a different story. In my wiser years, I have tried to take the point of view that what I say or write is going to be heard or read by the player's parents. Normally, if I don't have anything nice to say about one player, I move on to another player like Rennie, AJ or Drew - who have all been fantastic this season. However... on Saturday on Kyle King's game day open thread, I did call out a player (sort of) so I can't claim to be perfect. For the record, I proposed that one of our very fast, good tacklers (but not such a good pass defender) should play on every special team but maybe not on pass defense. I pledge to leave those decisions to our coaches and should just make my suggestions to the family dog next time.

Do you remember the Kentucky game in 1988 when we were in the SEC driver's seat and went up there and let an unknown running back named Rawls run all over us? Well, I hit a bottle of Beam very hard that day out of anger and disgust. I know the feeling, brother. My bottle of Cab Saturday was much kinder than that bottle of Beam back in 1988.

It is probably a good idea for us fans to become more subtle in our feelings about asst. coaching changes. We all know that regardless of what happens in the next several games, no coaching moves would be made during the season, so what is the point of screaming about it? I think it makes us look bad. At the season's end, go for broke if you have great ideas - that is my belief, anyway.

I have avoided DawgVent like the plague this season. Talk about the lunatic fringe.

Believe it or not, in addition to not writing about the game yesterday, I didn't even want to read about it. So I am just now making my way around the blogosphere.

Hang in there and keep supporting the Dawgs. It is great to be a Dawg and as Corey Smith sings, one day we will have our day.