Bishop Media Sports Network

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Old Nemesis

By: Robert Craft news services

This is just another SEC Championship Game. The argument will be made here, probably determining whether Georgia wins their third national championship in a row.

UGA has yet to beat Alabama in the SEC championship or at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.

If Georgia beats Alabama on Saturday, they have national champion written all over them.

If Georgia loses to Alabama, there is no College Football Playoff.

Feel free to take those statements and throw them back at me next month. Say it: I’m SEC biased, or  too dependent  on recent history.

Georgia’s biggest hurdle awaits them Saturday. The main reason is talent..

The most talented team in the country, per the 247Sports team talent composite, is Alabama. The third-most talented team is Ohio State.

Class, who is the last team to beat Georgia? That would be Alabama two years ago, in the SEC championship. Which team since then has come the closest? Ohio State, in last year’s CFP semifinal.

The Crimson Tide are still in the Bulldogs’ way. By Smart’s own admission, quarterbacks who can run and throw have given Georgia’s defense problems, and you might have noticed that Jalen Milroe can run and throw.

He has multiple receivers who can make plays Jermaine Burton, playing against his former team for the first time, and Isaiah Bond, the man who caught fourth-and-31 to win the Iron Bowl.

No, Georgia is not doomed. It’s a modest favorite (4.5 points) for the right reasons, and the temptation in this space would be to take Georgia to cover. But it is a mere temptation, because Alabama, Saban and his talented unit are going to be a tough out.

First, of course, they need to make the Playoff, and at this point, the SEC Championship looks like win-and-in, lose-and-out.

That wasn’t the case for Georgia the past two years, but this year there are too many viable candidates in other conferences. There are only four spots, and if Alabama beats Georgia it would get one of them. The Pac-12 championship will get another. The chaos scenario thus requires two of the following three: Michigan losing to Iowa, Florida State losing to Louisville, Texas losing to Oklahoma State.

We’ve been waiting for the chaos, and the chaos hasn’t occurred yet, so it’s probably time to stop waiting.

We could also get into a scenario in which Georgia loses on a late field goal or disputed call, and two of the three win in the same fashion. That’s maybe when the committee finds a way to jam Georgia in.

This is a committee made of human beings who apparently think a lot of Georgia, and might also appreciate the three-peat storyline. If it’s close, that would help Georgia. But it’s harder and harder to see the close scenario. It’s setting up to be fairly clear choices for the committee.

If someone is going to stop Georgia from a three-peat, the most likely team is the one that for the longest time was its nemesis, and could still be again.

Carolina Blues

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

The NFL season is still in progress and the Carolina Panthers fired head coach Frank Reich. Reich was just hired in January 2023 and he signed a four-year contract.

Reich is a former backup quarterback known for making huge comebacks before he became a coach. In 1984 he led Maryland to a victory over the No. 6 Miami Hurricanes after trailing 31 – 0 at halftime.

In January of 1993 he led the Buffalo Bills to a Wild Card playoff win over the Houston Oilers, after trailing 35 – 3 early in the third quarter.

His playing career ended in 1998 and he started coaching in 2006. Reich was the offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2016-17. He helped the Eagles win Super Bowl LII, which is the first Super Bowl in franchise history.

He took over as the head coach in Indianapolis in 2018. He coached the Colts for four and a half seasons, compiling a record of 40 – 33 – 1. He was fired halfway through the 2022 season after getting off to a slow start. Indy made two playoff appearances while he was there, winning one playoff game.

It is interesting the Panthers hired him after having being barely above average for the Colts. Carolina traded up to draft Alabama quarterback Bryce Young No. 1 in the 2023 draft. They had to know this would be a tough year but it was worse than they anticipated.

Carolina is 1 – 10 and in position to have the worst record and top draft pick in 2024. That pick was traded to the Chicago Bears.

Reich was Carolina’s first starting quarterback, starting the first three games for the Panthers’ expansion team in 1995 and going 0 – 3 before he was replaced by rookie quarterback Kerry Collins. Reich had thought of this return to the Carolinas as a head coach as a chance to put a “magical” ending onto his 30-plus year career as an NFL player and coach.

“It was a great opportunity,” Reich said. “The way the doors opened up for it was amazing. But there’s not always a storybook ending…. I also take comfort and find peace and strength that there is a next chapter of my life. I do believe that. I do believe God ordains our steps.”

Owner David Tepper fired him Monday, after they lost to the Tennessee Titans 17 – 10. He was fired in person by Tepper at Bank of America Stadium shortly before the news was announced.

“There’s a heart-pounding disappointment in not hitting the marks that we needed to hit to keep this going and try to get it turned around,” Reich said. “It hurts me for the guys, the team, the coaches and the fans.”

Reich was expected to help Young develop and so far the results have not been good. The roster is also bad so that has to play a factor.

Tepper seems to be running the Panthers into the ground. Reich spoke in a press conference a few weeks ago and he spoke about Tepper’s hands-on approach. I think that is going to be a problem with landing a good coach.

He purchased the Panthers in May of 2018 for $2.2 billion, the highest in NFL history and he did not have any other investors.

The best record they have had was 7 – 9 in 2018 when Ron Rivera was still the coach. He hired Matt Rhule in 2020 and he was fired after five games in 2022.

I’m not sure what the future holds for this franchise but they will be at the bottom of the NFC South for a while.

Is The Tide Coming In Or Going Out?

By: Jason Bishop news services

The year was 1895 and none of us were here yet. That is the first year that Alabama and Georgia played for the very first time. That game was played in Columbus, GA and the Bulldogs came out on top 30-6 over the Crimson Tide.

Georgia has not fared very well against Bama since that inaugural meeting. The two teams have met a total of 72 times with Alabama winning 42 of those. That is a 58% winning percentage. There are 4 ties to be mentioned.

In fact, Alabama owns the biggest point differential in a win, 36-0 and they did it twice; 1905 and 1923.

Alabama also owns the longest winning streak between the two of seven games. That streak is pretty recent, it ranges from 2008 through 2021.

It hasn’t been all Bama dominance; Georgia did win five straight games against the Tide from 1910 through 1916. And then three in a row from 2002 through 2007. The 2007 loss for Alabama was the last time Bama lost to Georgia until Stetson Bennett went Stetson Bennett in the 4th quarter of the 2021/2022 National Championship game leading UGA to a 33-18 win and their first National Title since 1980.

That win ended most of the Hershel Walker jokes administered to UGA fans. The Dawgs went on to win another national title the very next year, granted Alabama was not in the equation for that run for UGA. The Crimson Tide lost 2 games and just missed making the College Football Playoff.

The sobering truth is even the great Kirby Smart has not had a ton of success beating Nick Saban and Alabama. Kirby showed up in 2016 and had the Dawgs in a National Title game just a short two years later. That was the first of four straight losses Kirby had to Saban.

Kirby is 1-4 against Nick Saban with that one coming in the 2022 National Title Game.

Over the course of the last two seasons, you have heard a national media narrative that Georgia has replaced Alabama as the premier program in College Football despite only beating the Tide once since the Bulldogs program rose to National Title Contenders annually.

To be fair, this version of the Alabama Crimson Tide football may be as powerful as some of its’ predecessors. Bama’s defense is above average but not dominant. There are still some questions about QB Jalen Milroe’s ability to throw the ball, especially down field. Not to mention, Alabama does not have a dynamic receiver who can consistently stretch defenses vertically.

Georgia’s defense has struggled this season with dual threat quarterbacks this season. Milroe is a dual threat QB. However, UGA’s secondary is elite and Alabama doesn’t have a receiver on the roster that can consistently challenge that group. With that being said it will Georgia to ‘spy’ and bring blitzes from the front to neutralize Milroe’s ability to make big plays with his legs.

Alabama has dominated this rivalry, but the SEC Title game will continue yield the same results as every other game has yielded for Georgia. Georgia wins and vaults itself into the College Football Playoff.

28-17 Georgia.


Wheeling And Dealing

By: Colin Lacy news services

For most Major League Baseball players, the month of November is a time to rest, spend much overdue time with their family, and decompress from the grind of a 162-game regular season.

This year, the month of November has been all but restful for Atlanta Braves General Manager Alex Anthopoulos. Over the last month there have been 37 player transactions for the Braves (albeit most of those being players electing free agency), and a couple that have raised the eyebrows and curiosity of Braves Country, but the headlines aren’t all that need to be said.

The one that sent ripples (not quite tidal waves) through the organization was a trade with the Chicago White Sox sending RHP Michael Soroka, LHP Jared Shuster, SS Nicky Lopez, SS Braden Shewmake and RHP Riley Gowens to the south side of Chicago in exchange for Aaron Bummer.

This move had Braves fans scratching their heads, especially considering Soroka was a fan favorite since his debut.

That being said, and as good as Soroka was before tearing his Achilles tendon, his time as a Brave was more than likely numbered anyway. Most, if not all, of the pieces traded to Chi-Town were leading candidates to be non-tendered by Atlanta when the deadline came just hours later than the trade (deadline was Friday 11/17).

Instead of these players turning into free agents, Anthopoulos was able to turn them into another lefty that could play an impactful role into the Bravo’s bullpen.

Just one day later, the transaction hotline was connected with a familiar pipeline between Kansas City and Atlanta.

Two different trades occurred the 17th between the Royals and Braves to send Kyle Wright, and Nick Anderson to KC, and have Jackson Kowar and cash return to the ATL.

Kyle Wright had an injury riddled 2023 season in Atlanta but had been a key part of the Braves rotation in 2022, but injuries kept him from staying in the rotation.

The Braves also delt Wright knowing that he would miss the 2024 season due to shoulder surgery and would still be paying Wright approximately $1.4 million as he rehabs.

The other deal with the Royals had the Braves send Nick Anderson, who like Soroka was a likely candidate of being non-tendered, in return for cash considerations.

There are also a couple of transactions that fly under the radar with the front office in Atlanta officially not tendering contracts to 7 players who were previously on the 40-man roster including Kolby Allard, Chadwick Tromp, and Yonny Chirinos.

Why is this important? Because when you add all of the moves together, yes, the Braves clear up some payroll space, but at the end of the day, the Braves ended up with 30 players on the 40-man roster.

This allows the Braves to re-tool the bottom of the roster and bolster the organizational depth with key bench pieces and Triple-A players that, frankly, has been a weakness for the Braves in the past few years.

So far, the Braves have also added to the bullpen as well by signing the hard throwing righty Reynaldo Lopez, who struck out almost 30% of the batters he faced last season between the White Sox, Guardians, and Angels.

This could be a bigger addition to the Braves than it appears on the surface with Lopez potentially being able to serve as a back-end starter, if need be, but also be a high-leverage reliever.

I say all of this as what seems like one of the few Braves fans that are encouraged by these moves that “Headline Only Readers” are upset with.

I completely understand. Soroka, Wright, a couple former first round picks, and on the surface not getting much back, but when you dig deeper, it’s some crafty moves to get anything back for it, and oh by the way, I think we’re just getting started with the off season shuffle we’ll see out of the right field offices at Truist Park.

Fixed Wreck?

By: Kenneth Harrison news services

This is the first full season for Georgia Tech head coach Brent Key.

He took over as the interim head coach last season after Geoff Collins was fired. The Yellow Jackets started the 2022 season 1 – 3 before Collins was relieved of his duties. Once Key took over he went 4 – 4.

It looks like that momentum has carried over to this season. Tech is bowl eligible for the first time since 2018, which was Paul Johnson’s final season.

Key is a Georgia Tech alumnus and football letter winner. It is impressive that he lead this team to a bowl game because it did not look possible about halfway through the season.

They were 2 – 3 at the end of September. They suffered an embarrassing home loss to Bowling Green and it looks like that was the turning point.

The next game was at No. 17 Miami and they pulled off an improbable win that turned the season around. The Hurricanes should have taken a knee in the final minute of the game but they ran a play and fumbled. Tech recovered and Haynes King threw a 44-yard touchdown pass to Christian Leary with two seconds remaining to win, 23 – 20.

“We should have taken a knee,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said.

Said coach Key: “We kind of thought they were taking a knee.”

Miami outgained GT 454-250 and had 23 first downs to the Yellow Jackets’ 12 but it did not matter.

They beat Syracuse 31 – 22 at Bobby Dodd Stadium to become bowl eligible. As a result, Orangeman head coach Dino Babers was fired after coaching there for 8 years.

The defense played well and held Syracuse to 94 yards at halftime.

“With them coming out in that Wildcat offense and running the ball a bit more it kind of allowed us to showcase our talents as a linebacker group and show that we can actually stop the run,” linebacker Paul Moala said.

Syracuse ran for almost 400 yards the previous week in a win over Pittsburgh. The Jackets contained the Orange to half that total.

“We really simplified things in this game, ran some simplified things within the plan, allowed the big guys up front to be able to do what they do,” Key said. “Good plan put together by the defensive guys in being able to do that and came up with some key turnovers at some key times.”

Quarterback Haynes King has played better than expected. He was at Texas A&M for 3 seasons and he did not do much before transferring to Georgia Tech. King has passed for 2,597 yards, 26 touchdowns, 15 interceptions and he’s completing 62% of his passes. He’s also the second leading rusher with 624 yards, 7 TD’s and he averages 6.4 yards per carry.

Running back Jamal Haynes is the leading rusher with 850 yards, 7 scores and he averages 6 YPC.

I think the program is taking a step in the right direction to be a solid winning program that can expect to play in a bowl game each season.

Last Laugh

By: Robert Craft news services

After Florida State’s win on Saturday, I wrote that FSU fans should never, ever dismiss rivalry wins. Especially when playing for so much, a loss would be devastating .

10-0 is pretty darn sweet. Even more when considering the last five or six years and THOSE challenges.

Which builds me a bridge to what happened in College Station on Sunday:

And let’s be clear, I’m not here to kick dirt on Jimbo Fisher while he’s down. Well, maybe not a wheelbarrow’s worth. It’s hard to refer to someone getting paid $75 million to not work as ‘down’.  That sounds pretty up to me all things considered.

FSU fans remember and appreciate Jimbo’s run he had and the program he rebuilt in Tallahassee for about a decade. That 2013 team was one of the best in the history of the sport. He won three straight ACC championships and coached in five straight New Year’s Six bowl games.

For a time, Jimbo Fisher was a fantastic coach. He modernized a program that was in desperate need. Fisher’s accomplishments can never be overlooked, but what Jimbo never realized is he needed Florida State as much as Florida State needed Jimbo.

Fisher complained so much during his time in Tallahassee about what he wanted, about how hard it was to get things done or built or paid for or- At the end of his time there, he never came close to appreciating how great his job was.

He intimated repeatedly that Florida State wasn’t committed to winning. Which is, in today’s football, laughable.

He needed more resources. More money. More stuff. More. More. More.

Then he went to a place that has more than anyone. Jimbo fell on his face. Meanwhile, six years later, the place that isn’t committed to winning is 10-0 and ranked in the Top 4.

I truly wonder, on a day like Sunday if it ever hits Jimbo how completely idiotic a decision it was to leave Tallahassee to go coach in the talent wasteland in College Station.

I get it. His bank account has a bunch of extra zeroes now. He’s got all the ranches he could ever want.

For a dude that seemed so competitive, that just loves ball, loves coaching ball, loves winning, he absolutely torpedoed his chances at multiple championships and a lasting legacy because he was too busy whining about what he didn’t have.

Florida State was a punchline for a few years. Even Texas A&M fans, whose program hasn’t won a national title since Bobby Bowden was a 10-year-old boy, had the audacity to make fun of FSU’s plight.

Texas A&M’s savior, the one that Florida State fans warned them about, just got canned. Aggies, welcome to the punchline, you still owe Jimbo the GDP of a small country to go away.

Meanwhile, the Seminoles are  10-0 and two wins away from a perfect regular season.

Florida State has always been a special and dominant brand. Coach Norvell has re-established that.

No one is laughing at the Seminoles anymore.

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