If my math is correct, we are two weeks away from national signing day, reminding us yet again that "offseason" is a bit of a misnomer; yeah, there’s no college football being played at the moment, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t news of note here in Bulldog Nation. Here’s what you need to know before you check your e-mail, listen to your voice mail, and down that first cup of coffee:
Despite playing better against Vanderbilt, the Hoop Hounds still are winless in league play, which is why it is all the more imperative that Mark Fox’s team notch a win tonight over Tennessee. (Another reason: Georgia got hosed last year.) Tip-off is at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. The game is on the SEC Network. There will be a comment thread here, but, if you can make it to Athens for the game, please do . . . and, if possible, be there on time. This is a big one, folks. Unfortunately, the Vols play defense.
The good news is that the SEC will be sticking with an eight-game conference schedule for the foreseeable future. The bad news is that the powers that be are considering doing away with the permanent interdivisional rival. Personally, I think they’re going to soft-pedal this the way they soft-pedaled the implementation of rotating opponents in 1992, and that it will all be moot when the league expands to 16 teams with pods in the next five years or so, but, for now, I will say this: SEC expansion already has cost the Bulldogs their annual series with Clemson; if it costs us our annual series with Auburn, too, that will be two Tiger rivalries dating back to the 1890s interrupted due to conference realignment. I know tradition always takes a back seat to the almighty dollar---remember Penn State-Pitt? Nebraska-Oklahoma? Texas-Texas A&M?---but losing yearly series with two of our four traditional rivals is too great a price for us to be asked to pay. Since Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Tennessee will stand foursquare against any attempt to interfere with the Deep [sic] South’s Oldest Rivalry and the Third [sic] Saturday in October, I don’t think the permanent rival will be ditched---honestly, what would have been the point of putting Missouri in the East, if not to preserve Alabama-Tennessee by keeping the Iron Bowl in the West rather than breaking up the Yellowhammer State rivals?---but it’s annoying that it’s even being discussed as an option. Frankly, I don’t like the turn expansion has taken.
This fact won’t be popular with a lot of Georgia fans, but Mark Richt’s staff is one of only 26 to have remained unchanged this offseason, thanks partly to the fact that fears of Todd Grantham bolting for the Falcons proved unfounded. So, does staff continuity produce salutary stability or slow stagnation? The jury is out: Michigan State, Southern California, and Virginia Tech saw no turnover this year, but neither did such tire-fire programs as Colorado, Miami, and UNLV. Likewise, the only two programs to have preserved a football staff completely intact since 2009 are highly successful Oregon and highly unsuccessful Army.
Our conference mates already have seen offseason arrests for disorderly conduct and marijuana possession. The out-of-control Georgia program has had one player arrest in the last 15 months. This has been a public service announcement.
While Hutson Mason has opted to redshirt, Barrett Trotter has elected to end his college football career. I’m hardly an unbiased observer in either instance, but I approve of both decisions.
Finally, my thanks go out to MidnightFrost1701 for kicking off the playoff discussion now that a playoff appears inevitable in the relatively short term. (It’ll be interesting to see how a four-team playoff affects future conference expansion, won’t it? Four-team playoff . . . four 16-team leagues. . . . Does anyone else foresee the Big East becoming the new WAC and the Big 12 being cannibalized for spare parts more than it already has been?) If you don’t feel like you’re up to the task of debating a playoff, this should get you up to speed.
Consider yourself fully briefed and ready to dive into your Wednesday morning.