It's college football's offseason. That's not my problem. It's not your problem. It's our problem. And collective problems call for collective solutions.
Thus we present Free Form Friday. Until further notice, I'll spend Fridays posting a vaguely organized compendium of non-sequiturs, pop culture observations and college sports miscellany. [sskkkkkkkrkrrrrrrrr, record scratching]
Except when we get the chance to pepper one of our favorite college football journalists with a wide variety of questions ranging from the inane to the merely relevant. Then we do that instead.
David follows Bulldog football as closely as anyone not carrying a whistle or wearing a helmet, and perhaps more closely than some who do. So when I got the opportunity to pick his brain about the upcoming season and the Bulldog beat in general before things kick off in Stillwater, I couldn't pass it up. Reproduced here, with limited editorial interruption, is our email discussion about all things Dawg-related (and some other stuff). Enjoy.
Dawgsports: David, we'd like you to answer as many or as few of the following questions as you'd prefer. Extra points will be awarded for ridiculing Urban Meyer's sense of humor or Nick Saban's height, though if you want to forego that in the name of journalistic integrity, so be it. Also, bear in mind that "Herschel Walker" is an acceptable answer for each question, including and perhaps especially #1. I ask you:
Dawgsports: What in fact do tigers dream of when they take a little tiger snooze?
Hale: If you mean Jarrett Lee, I think the answer is Darryl Gamble. Tigers love pepper. They hate cinnamon and Darryl Gamble.
Dawgsports: Have you ever broken the unwritten rule against cheering in the press box at a sporting event?
Hale: Well I covered the Big East tourney in 2005 when Syracuse won it, and that was a little tough to keep quiet during. Also, during the Georgia-Kentucky game last year, Kelin Johnson had a few press-box outbursts and kept getting yelled at by the UK sports info dept., then cursing them under his breath. So I was cheering for Kelin to keep cheering, if that counts.
Dawgsports: As an Orangeman, how would you describe your mood at the outset of the Doug Marrone era at Syracuse? a) pensive, b) wistful, c) nervous as a hog in winter (it's a south Georgia thing, just think "scared"), d) hopeful or e) who's Doug Marrone?
Hale: Well, considering they're now making decisions on their starting QB based on public relations, I'd say, f.) utterly mortified.
Dawgsports: What one aspect of your job covering UGA football would most surprise your readers?
Hale: I'd probably say how little time most of us actually put into crafting each story. [Editor's note: there goes one more distinction between the mainstream media and the bloggers . . .] With deadlines and tight schedules and the increasing reliance on instant news, there's usually not much time spent perfecting the details. On most days, I'm thinking of the questions I ask players on the fly because I simply haven't had time to really collect all my thoughts in advance. My guess is most other writers would say the same.
That, and "I'm a sports writer" is a surprisingly unimpressive pick-up line with women.
Dawgsports: Media event/press box food. Name the best and the worst you've experienced (unless you're worried that the folks at Williams-Brice Stadium will poison your chicken fingers on your next trip, in which case we would understand your refusal to answer).
Hale: Actually, Williams-Brice has some fantastic banana pudding, which I'm a sucker for. Beyond that, it's all pretty dismal -- which doesn't mean I haven't elbowed my way past Larry Munson for the last disgusting hot dog at halftime of a UGA game though. LSU isn't great, but at least they have some different things. I think I had etouffee last year. The best press box food I've had is actually at the Falcons games. I covered the team a lot in 2005 and '06, and while virtually everything else about it was awful, the dessert options in the press box probably added about 15 lbs. to my figure.
Dawgsports: Who is the most quotable current University of Georgia football player/coach? And don't you dare say Coach Searels, because silence doesn't count.
Hale: Searels says more with one dirty look than most of the other coaches do in an entire season's worth of quotes -- and we've all seen a few of those looks.
Beyond that though, my list goes like this:
Go-to guy for a real well thought-out and honest quote: No doubt it's Rennie Curran. That guy is a quote machine. Seriously, I don't know how anyone doesn't like Rennie.
Most reliable for a funny quote: Kris Durham and Shaun Chapas usually handle this pretty well. Neither try to hide their personalities when doing interviews, which I like. I was actually leaving Stegeman a couple weeks ago, and Chapas had a group of about 10 blondes standing around him in a circle, laughing uproariously and hanging on every word he said. Props to Mr. Chapas.
Guy who's just a good talker: Jeff Owens. He's not always saying a whole lot worth using, but nobody likes doing the interviews much more than Jeff. He says he wants to get into broadcasting after football, and I have no doubt he'll be great at it.
Best quote you wouldn't think was a good quote: Trinton Sturdivant. We never get to talk to the linemen, but the handful of times we've had a chance to chat with him, he was great. Forthcoming, thoughtful, honest, personable... just a great guy to talk to. Of course, that's probably why he's no longer allowed to do any talking.
Dawgsports: Here at Dawgsports we like to play a little game called "Traitor's Draft", wherein we pretend that one of our team's starters has, I dunno, been kidnapped by Chiapan rebels or come down with green spotted lemur pox and must be replaced. The question is usually which player from another SEC team would our readers choose to replace said kidnapee/disease-riddled former athlete. Let's change it up a little and play "Totally Objective Journalist Draft." Which coach or player from another SEC squad would you like the chance to cover on a daily basis, and why?
Hale: Wow, good question. The regular readers of my blog from back in the day know my affinity for Dickie Lyons, so I definitely would have enjoyed having him around on a daily basis. I can't decide whether covering Tim Tebow would be fun or not. At the very least, it would be easy, since every word he says is something historians will want to record for posterity after he brings about world peace in a few years. When it comes to coaches, how could you not want to cover Steve Spurrier? He may not be much of a coach anymore [Editor's note: Buuurrrnnnnn!!!], but the guy can give a quote with the best of them.
Truth be told though, a reporter really couldn't ask for a much better group to cover than Georgia. Richt and his staff are all genuinely pleasant to talk to 95 percent of the time. In four years covering the team, I can only think of two or three players I really tried to avoid talking to. And even the quiet guys -- like Knowshon or Geno Atkins -- are genuinely pleasant to be around even if they're not the best quotes. So really, I'm more than happy to stick with the crew I've got.
Dawgsports: What player or players do you "just have a feeling about" in 2009. In other words, is there a guy on this roster who you believe may have a bigger year than his prior accomplishments or general hype would lead one to believe?
Hale: I have a few names, actually.
I'm trying not to set the bar too high on Orson Charles, but the reports you get from other players are just so similar to what they said about A.J. Green last year. The kid is a great athlete, is an automatic mismatch even if he doesn't really know what to do, and he's got the best attitude you could ever ask for from a freshman -- hard worker, smart, tons of enthusiasm. I think he's going to do some special things this year.
On defense, the guy I think is going to have a real breakout season is Brandon Boykin. Like Charles, he has a great attitude about playing, and his skills are so impressive. He can jump about 50 feet high, he's quick, he likes to hit, and he's very instinctual when it comes to playing the ball. Asher Allen was a good CB, but I don't think Georgia's going to miss him too much this year.
A couple other names to watch: Geno Atkins is already very good, but he'll be great this year. Carlton Thomas won't be an every-down guy, but he'll have some "Wow" moments. And a dark horse that I mentioned before fall practice is Abry Jones. He could get redshirted just due to numbers, but that kid is a beast and will have a big career at Georgia, possibly starting this year.
Dawgsports: Anything else you want us to ask you? Seriously, anything you just want to get off your chest, let us know and I'll just serve up a big ole softball of a question to set it up.
Hale: How about just a few rambling thoughts... I'm a surprisingly competitive arm wrestler; I think the key ingredient in a great bloody mary is a dash of A-1 [Editor's note: He's not wrong.]; my greatest goal in life is to slap that Verizon guy in the face; I tell people my favorite Tom Hanks movie is "Forrest Gump" but really it's a tie between "Bachelor Party" and "You've Got Mail" depending on how hungover I am when watching it; I like short walks on the beach, but despise long ones; And I've always harbored a secret suspicion that I might be a cult TV star in Japan but not know it.
We'd like to thank David once again for his insights on the state of Georgia football. Again, and this should go without saying by now, you should be reading David's stuff regularly. It's your duty as a citizen of Bulldog Nation. Until later . . .