The great thing about the holidays is that it's perfectly acceptable for you to drink on Wednesday. Or Thursday. Or during the Holiday Bowl (hey, there's the whale again! Drink!). Or whenever you see Willie Martinez giving you two thumbs up on your television screen.
Speaking of which, I have a New Year's confession. After the Georgia Tech game, Kyle and I discussed doing a sort of point/counterpoint on the issue of whether Willie Martinez should be retained as Georgia's defensive coordinator. Kyle dutifully posted his argument here. It is a well-reasoned and complete argument, as you would expect from the Mayor.
As you may have noticed, I never posted a rejoinder. It's not that I didn't want to. It's not that I couldn't. It's just that each time I listed off the arguments, I realized that this particular recurring issue is my own personal Cambodia. I could cross the line into that territory, but once I do, there will be no graceful exit. Few will agree with me, and some will disagree vehemently.
So, I've settled on a brief incursion. There's nothing here that others far smarter and more diligent haven't pointed out previously. But I think now might be a good time to rehash, for reasons I'll make clear in a moment. Why shouldn't Willie be given the old heave-ho? Because, in no particular order:
- "Total points allowed" is perhaps the most meaningless statistic ever. If your offense gives Tim Tebow the ball on the one yard line you'll give up 6 points. Even if you're the 1985 Chicago Bears. This is a much larger post that's coming after the bowl season, and I'm sure many of you will thoughtfully disagree with me (both now and when I flesh it out later). But I find this particular piece of datum less than compelling.
- We can't forget 2007. Those who want Martinez out have been talking about the "steady decline" of the Georgia defense. While the past four defenses on the whole may or may not have been as good as the four before (depending on your criteria), there's not been a steady downward track, as previously reported. 2007's version of the Georgia defense finished 14th in the nation and 3rd in the SEC in total defense. If we are going to malign Willie for this year's group, we have to give him credit for last year's. Any other approach is simply pessimism for pessimism's sake.
- Or 2006. That year Willie's charges were 8th in total defense and quite likely turned a 7-6 season into a 9-4 campaign while covering for the miscues of a bumbling freshman quarterback and a kicker who literally drove me to profanity. "But MD" you say, "we went from 8th to 14th in total defense! That's slippage! Slippage I say!" To this I would reply that complaining about falling from 8th to 14th in total defense is like complaining that your Bentley is in the shop and your loaner is a crappy 2007 Mercedes. Some people really should find other things to complain about.
- "The perfect is the enemy of the good." So said Voltaire. This season is the first since Willie Martinez took over as defensive coordinator in which the Georgia defense did not finish in the top 20 in total defense. That's a hell of a run. They ended it by finishing, gasp, 28th. Of course, this is still galling for some because the 'Dawgs' defense finished 6th in the SEC. That's a sure sign of slouching toward Gomorrah, right? Except that even with the nutpunching from Georgia Tech's offense to finish the season, this defense still gave up 5 fewer yards a game than last season's, and merely five more yards than 2006's. That difference (1.7% + or -, for what it's worth) is simply not statistically significant. If Willie Martinez isn't Brian Van Gorder, that's fine by me. Because the guy who would replace him won't be either, more than likely. We shouldn't Tuberville our DC, which at this point is exactly what firing Willie would be at this point. This defense's fault was that it played it's worst against the teams it could least afford to do so against. Much like the 2006 offense, which moved the ball well behind its freshman quarterback, except when it really needed to. Who was our offensive coordinator that year? I hope that guy got fired. Speaking of which . . .
- Mark Richt says you're wrong. I've never been a huge fan of the "appeal to authority" argument. Because in my day job as an attorney, I've learned that the "experts" are often wrong, and they always disagree. But I'm willing to believe Mark Richt when he says our defense needs a tuneup, not a new engine. Because he has 2 more Sugar Bowl wins and 2 more SEC Championship rings than me. Or any of us. He could be wrong about Willie Martinez. But he's earned the benefit of the doubt from me.
So you find yourself asking, "What does this pedantic jeremiad have to do with Cocktails and the impending bowl matchup? Let me explain. This game, as do all bowl games, will go a long way toward establishing the tenor of the next season. We're facing one of the nation's most hyped tailbacks, in a game that will be billed as a battle of premiere tailbacks. Like Paul Westerdawg, I have my doubts regarding whether Javon Ringer will ring up many yards against the Georgia defense. I'll talk about that more in Thursday's 5 Things Preview.
But I know for certain that this game is a referendum on Willie Martinez. Again. If Javon Ringer goes for 180 yards and 3 touchdowns, you can bet Willie Martinez's offseason will be even more pressure-packed than otherwise. While a strong performance won't erase the sting of the Georgia Tech debacle, it will provide a boost.
So, what should you drink while you're building your own credit card with war kittens (warning, audio link) on it and an attractive interest rate? A Dead Ringer:
- 2 cups crushed ice
- 4 cups 7-Up
- 2 limes, cut into wedges, plus a few slices for garnish
- 1/4 cup melon liqueur (Midori works well)
- 1/4 cup vodka
- 1/4 cup rum
- 1/4 cup gin
- 1/4 cup Triple Sec
Add to a pitcher 7-Up, limes, melon liqueur, vodka, rum, gin and Triple Sec. Stir to combine. Pour drink over ice into chilled soda glasses and garnish with a slice of lime.
Don't worry, it will be green. Not Sparty green necessarily, but greenish. Drink 3 of them and you'll match. If Reshad Jones tackles like he did against Georgia Tech, drink 4. Very simple. I'll be back Thuesday morning with this week's 5 things. Until then . . .