Tag:World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party
Posted on: December 27, 2011 4:29 pm

Report: Arkansas, A&M to end neutral-site series

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Despite expectations to the contrary, as of Tuesday afternoon the SEC still has yet to release its official 14-team schedule for 2012. But one key detail potentially outside the jurisdiction of the league office is all but official: Arkansas and Texas A&M will no longer play their annual series as a neutral-site game in Dallas.

For the past three seasons, the Razorback and Aggies have met at Cowboys Stadium as part of each team's nonconference schedule. But with A&M becoming one of Arkansas's divisional rivals in the new SEC West, the Aggies' willingness to continue the series at a neutral venue -- even one as glamorous as Jerry Jones' football space palace -- has waned. The Houston Chronicle's Brent Zwenerman reported Tuesday that one A&M official had told him the school "never" wants to play the game in Dallas again. 

Though not yet 100 percent finalized, according to Zwenerman all "indications" are that the neutral game is finished and that the series will continue as a usual conference home-and-home. Since the SEC forbids schools from hosting recruits at neutral-site conference games (like the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party between Georgia and Florida), the A&M official quoted in the report said the current game's appeal as a recruiting tool would "lose its edge" as an intra-conference matchup.

Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino had previously stated that while he and the Hogs would be happy to continue playing in Cowboys Stadium (no doubt for the continued novelty of rewarding Texas recruits with a game in their home state, an advantage A&M already has), the Aggies "really don't want to play" the neutral-site game in the future. 

The Aggies and Razorbacks had agreed to a 10-year nonconference series before A&M's decision to join the SEC last September.

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Posted on: October 24, 2011 12:53 pm
Edited on: October 24, 2011 12:54 pm

Muschamp expects Brantley to get start vs. Dawgs

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

head coach Will Muschamp said Monday he expects his team to get the biggest possible boost as they face Georgia in the 2011 edition of the World's Larget Outdoor Cocktail Party Saturday: the return of starting senior quarterback John Brantley.

Though not officially official just yet -- Brantley's availability could be affected by how his ankle responds during the week of practice -- Muschamp described Brantley's current status as probable and said he expects Brantley to get the start against the Bulldogs.

 "I feel like John will be ready to go for the game, Muschamp said. "Getting him back is going to be a huge psychological shot for our football team."

Brantley has yet to participate in a full practice and will be limited Monday, but Muschamp said that based on Brantley's recovery trajectory since suffering the high ankle sprain against Alabama Oct. 1, he should be ready by Saturday. Brantley was able to put weight on the ankle the day after the injury and has been aiming since then to return the week of the Cocktail Party.

While Brantley's return would be bad news for Georgia, at least they have a better understanding of who they'll be facing; Mark Richt called preparing for Florida's wide range of quarterback possibilities a "pain in the rear" Sunday, and that he wasn't expecting to find out the identity of the Gator starter until kickoff.

(Frankly, we're surprised Muschamp didn't play things more coy about the status of Brantley's injury. It's hard to imagine Muschamp mentor Nick Saban, for instance, telling his opponent which of his quarterback options they ought to spend the most time preparing for.)

There is one area of uncertainty for Muschamp: the Gators have not yet decided whether Jeff Driskel or Jacoby Brissett will serve as the team's backup (or replace Brantley as the starter in the event he can't go). The two true freshmen have struggled in Brantley's absence, for the season combining to complete only 19-of-58 passes (33 percent) for less than 5 yards an attempt and a 1-to-5 touchdown-to-interception ratio. With Brantley out, the Gators lost to LSU and Auburn by a combined 41 points.

"The production when he was not in the game went down," Muschamp said of Brantley. "You've got to give our opponents some credit for that."

Some, yes. But no one who watched the start of the Alabama game and the next five halves of Brantley-less Gator football would say Florida was anything like the same team once the senior went down. If Brantley is indeed back under center Saturday, Georgia is going to get a much, much stiffer test from Muschamp's team than the one the Tide, Tigers, and Tigers got.
Posted on: October 19, 2011 12:30 pm
Edited on: October 19, 2011 1:13 pm

UGA's Geathers, VU's Stewart suspended

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

Want to know how things wound up so heated between Georgia and Vanderbilt Saturday night? This video from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution should help explain things:

That's Commodore center Logan Stewart diving into the back of Bulldog nose tackle Kwame Geathers' legs after the play was over, and Geathers throwing a punch in retaliation. The SEC has responded by suspending both players for their teams' next half-game, as well as Georgia safety Shawn Williams, flagged for multiple personal fouls during the game.

The league is also officially reviewing the postgame fracas between the two coaching staffs, and it stood to reason they'd want to take a closer look at any plays that might have led to it ... particularly when one of those plays includes a thrown punch. Both retaliations like Geathers' and egregious clips like Stewart's resulted in half-game suspensions for other players in 2010, so it's not a surprise to see something similar for Geathers and Stewart here.

Vandy head coach James Franklin said he expected to hear on a possible punishment for Stewart sometime Wednesday.

Though the 'Dores won't be happy losing Stewart for any period of time against a tricky Army program this Saturday, the suspensions are an even greater blow for Geathers, Williams and the Dawgs--with a bye on tap for Saturday, the defenders will be forced to sit for the first half of the World's Largest Cocktail Party showdown against Florida.

We don't blame the SEC for suspending either Geathers or Stewart; while Geathers is fully justified in being angry (and even in reacting angirly in some fashion) a thrown punch is by this point universally recognized as just cause for a suspension. But it would have been nice if the SEC sent a message about Stewart's play by handing him a greater punishment than Geathers'--say, a full game to Geather's half. If we're comparing the two offenses, there's no question in this blogger's mind which one is more likely to result in an injury, which is more premeditated and less emotional, or which falls further outside the bounds of acceptable conduct on the football field. Geathers' punch probably hurt, but Stewart's clip might have ended Geathers' career, and came far too late to have anything to do with the play.

However things finally shake out, this much is certain: next year's meeting between the Dawgs and 'Dores is going to be far spicier than any game featuring Vandy and an SEC East power typically is.
Posted on: May 25, 2011 3:20 pm

Richt laughs off Muschamp 'guarantee'

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

We need a ruling from some kind of Sports High Council: does this (as reported last week by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution) actually count as a guarantee?
A young, pretty girl sitting near the front of the room had a question for the Florida coach.

“Coach, I’m getting married soon and he’s a Georgia fan and …”

“That’s not my fault,” Will Muschamp said, playing to the crowd.

“My wedding is on the same day as the Florida-Georgia game*,” she continued. “I was wondering: Can you guarantee Florida will win?”

Muschamp, the native of Rome, a long-time Georgia resident and former Bulldogs safety, smiled.

“I certainly can,” he said.
Us? We'd point to the "Gator Club" casual atmosphere and the fact that Muschamp was backed into a corner by the question to answer: No, this does not qualify as a guarantee, certainly not in the recognized, Joe Namath sense of the word.

But of course that hasn't stopped it from becoming a major topic of conversation amongst the Gator and Bulldog fanbases in recent days, to the point where Mark Richt himself was asked about it at his own public apperance. As the Albany Herald reports:
“I thought that was a good thing coming from him,” Richt said with a laugh when asked about Muschamp’s guarantee. “I heard about it right away, but I also know how those things happen. That’s why I don’t answer some questions.”
Shucks. Guess we can rule out the angry glares/barked epithets/potential fisticuffs at the postgame handshake.

But more to the point, Richt is right that "not answering some questions" is the best way to get through the offseason. Muschamp's "guarantee" shouldn't be taken seriously. But when it's late May and college football fans are craving the red meat of headlines and blood feuds, it's hardly surprising it has been.

*Sorry, but we have to ask: why are such apparently devoted Georgia-Florida football fans scheduling their wedding for the day of the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? Unless the reception is one giant viewing party, don't they have better things to be doing that day?


Posted on: October 25, 2010 1:00 pm

Georgia's come a long way, baby

Posted by Jerry Hinnen

It was just three weeks ago, after a humuliating 29-27 defeat at Colorado (the same Colorado, incidentally, that's currently sharing the Big 12 North basement with winless Kansas ) that the question wasn't if Mark Richt would be relieved of his head coaching duties at Georgia , it was when : midseason, after another flogging at the hands of Florida in the World's Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party? Or at year's end, after defeats to bitter rivals Auburn and/or Georgia Tech ?

Richt might still find himself in hot water if he can't get past the Gators, Tigers or Yellow Jackets, but after three emphatic wins over fellow SEC East rivals Tennessee , Vanderbilt , and Kentucky , Richt's ship officially appears righted and the Dawgs find themselves just a game out of the divisional lead. How complete has the Dawg overhaul been? Despite Georgia's 3-17 record against Florida since 1990 and losses by a combined 90-27 score the past two seasons, Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Dawgs as 3-point favorites over Urban Meyer 's reeling Gators for this week's annual grudge match.

The odds on that decision were probably off the board following the defeat in Boulder, a loss that newly-installed Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity doesn't seem to have entirely forgotten about just yet. From the Department of Backhanded Compliments, McGarity's thoughts on the Dawgs' season to-date :


“At one time it didn’t look it was going in the right direction for our program. And I have to credit Mark with what he was able to do, to basically rally the troops after a rough run there and a tough game at Colorado,” McGarity said on Monday.

Georgia was 1-4 after that loss at Colorado. Richt called a full-pads practice for the next Monday, saying it was the first time he has done that at Georgia.

“I think that Monday really set the tone for the season. I really do,” McGarity said. “That different tone, and Mark being a man enough to take some responsibility to say we probably made some mistakes the front end, in terms of the practices and the two-a-days ...

“If you’re always looking at ways to get better, then I think you have to do things that are a little out of your comfort zone. And that may be admitting that you make mistakes. But the ability to make it publicly, and chart that, I think that’s a credit to him.”
No doubt McGarity is sincere in his respect for Richt's ability to change course and willingness to (successfully) improvise once that improvisation became necessary.

But his recognition that Richt failed to have the program going in "the right direction" coming out of preseason practice (particularly given Richt's track record for slow starts) suggests that as far as Richt has brought the Bulldogs the last three weeks, if he can't bring them past the worst Florida team of Meyer's tenure with a squad playing as well as any in the SEC (Auburn excepted), we still won't be certain how much longer Richt will be allowed to bring them anywhere. If a coach who can admit his mistakes is nice, a coach who doesn't make them in the first place is better.

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