Georgia Bulldogs

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The Barn Sign

By: Steve Norris

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Ross Smith had seen enough…and decided to let the world know about it.

It was Saturday, October 28th, 2000. Smith’s beloved Georgia Bulldogs had just suffered another frustrating loss to Steve Spurrier and the Florida Gators. It was the Dawgs’ 10th loss to the Gators in 11 games dating back to 1990, and Dawg fans were getting tired of it.

“We were angry that (Head Coach) Jim Donnan had decided to play Quincy Carter at quarterback over Cory Phillips.” Ross Smith, cousins and friends wanted people to know about it.

The week before, Carter was out due to injury, so Cory Phillips stepped in and led the Dawgs to a road victory over the Kentucky Wildcats, throwing for 400 yards and four touchdown passes.

“We thought for sure that Phillips had earned the chance to play against Florida,” said Smith. “Instead, Donnan went with Carter, who went out and threw three interceptions and looked horrible in yet another loss (to Florida).”

And that’s how The Barn Sign was born.

That night, Smith bought some red, white, and black paint and brought the dilapidated former corner store to life with its first message to Dawg fans everywhere: “TO HELL WITH CARTER…PHILLIPS FOR PRESIDENT”

“It was an election year, so going with “President” made sense to me,” said Smith.

The “barn” doesn’t actually belong to Smith. It is owned by his first cousins, James and Jonathan Hitchcock, who live on and operate the farm across the street.

It was originally a corner store from the mid-50’s to the late 70’s, according to Smith.

“There was a family that ran it and lived in a small room on the side of the building,” said Smith. “I’m not sure how they did it all those years. The room they lived in wasn’t as big as my truck and there’s never been any running water.”

After the first message in 2000, Smith began changing the sign a few times a year.

“I would change it at the end of the season, on National Signing Day (which was in February then), two weeks before the season to get Dawg fans pumped up, and then after the Florida game.

If we lost the Florida game, I would put up a message ribbing Gator fans, and if we’d won, I’d just put up the score. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to put the score up very much the first ten years or so,” Smith said laughingly.

Around 2010, the building began to rot in some places due to water leaks when it rained. Smith came home from a trip one day and noticed the building was leaning badly. “I just figured that was it. I was done painting The Barn Sign,” said Smith.

What he didn’t realize was how popular the sign had truly become. “People were sending me messages on Facebook asking me when I was going to fix the sign and paint it again,” said Smith. “I was fresh out of college and didn’t have a lot of money. I told the fans that if they wanted the sign back up, I needed them to donate money to help me pay for it.

I figured I needed around $1500 to make repairs, so I set up a PayPal account and raised $1700 in ten days. In fact, I had to turn the account off because money was coming in so fast.” Smith said.

Once the sign was repaired, its popularity began to grow exponentially. Smith has been interviewed by ESPN along with other large newspapers.

The Barn Sign Facebook page is approaching 55,000 “likes” while Smith’s daily page posts attract a lot of traffic.

Even while I was interviewing Smith in front of the sign, located on Highway 15 between Tennille and Wrightsville, around 15-20 people parked on the highway next to the sign to get a glimpse and take pictures in front of the iconic building. Of course, the current sign has a lot to do with that. Today it reads:

21-22 BACK-TO-BACK NATIONAL CHAMPIONS.

For Smith and all Georgia fans, it’s truly the best message ever and a “sign” that like Georgia football, The Barn Sign has a lot of great years ahead of it.

SEC Stocks

Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 2022 College Football season is in the books. Kirby Smart and UGA have won back-to-back National Titles. My annual SEC Football stock report is upon us again.

Stock Keys:

Buy

Sell

Hold

Georgia: The best college football stock on the planet. CEO Kirby Smart has developed a winning organizational culture.

401K plan is the best in the business, and the best employees are recruited year in and year out.

The executive management team is the best in the business and well compensated.

This organization is built for any market and will flourish even during down economic times. Blue blood stock that will make you tons of money. The long-term future of this stock is through the roof. Advice: Buy it all.

Alabama: Over a 10-year period this stock has been the most consistent producer of wealth.

CEO Nick Saban is still the king of CEO’s.

Maybe the stock dipped slightly in 2022, but the long-term future is bright.

Top rated employer with the most talented work force make this stock very attractive.

The CEO training program is the best I the country. The executive management team has become a little complacent over the past 12 months and that has been addressed by the CEO.

This stock will always make you a ton of money. Advice: Buy as much as you can.

Tennessee: This historically producing stock crashed over the past 15 years.

However, in 2022 this stock hit a 20-year high. CEO Josh Huepel has been a breath of fresh air after a string of poor CEO’s dating back to 2008.

If you held on to this stock during the bleak years, then you are a wise investor. This stock will continue to rise to get back to the glory years of the Clinton Presidency.

When the Big Orange stock is producing the SEC portfolio is second to none. Advice: Buy

LSU: After reaching an all-time high in 2019 this blue blood stock crashed over the past two years prompting the board of directors to hire a new CEO in Brian Kelly for 2022.

The early returns have been great. Stock has performed much better than expected.

Changes were made in the human resources department resulting in an influx of topflight employees for 2023 and beyond.

This corporation has invested properly for long-term growth once again. Advice: Buy

Mississippi State: This stock made a huge turnaround over the past 24 months. The tragic loss of beloved CEO Mike Leach has made things difficult over the past month.

Leach leaves behind a great foundation that is positioned for continued growth, and his legacy will live on. Rest easy Pirate. Advice: Buy

South Carolina: This stock made a remarkable turnaround late in calendar year 2022 and recovered from some tough early losses by performing well against superior brands Tennessee and Clemson.

Energetic CEO in Shane Beamer has the stockholders optimistic but not totally convinced to invest great sums of money.

This corporation has excited its stockholders before, and returns have not matched investment. Watch this stock closely in 2023. Advice: Hold for now.

Ole Miss: Aggressive CEO Kiffin takes too many chances and this has become a roller-coaster stock. Exciting to watch but for investors nerve-wracking. This is a high anxiety stock. Advice: Hold and never become emotionally invested in stock.

Florida: This stock should be a solid producer. New CEO Billy Napier inherited a horrible organizational culture.

Mass firings have taken place. Lazy employees have bailed for the transfer portal employment agency.

It will take some time to fix this mess. 401K plan is depleted and new hires are backing out causing this once proud organization to take massive public relations hits.

Advice: Sell it all until the board of directors allows CEO Napier to completely blow up this rotten culture.

Auburn, Texas A&M, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Vanderbilt: These poorly run or non-productive organizations are not worth the ink to write about.

Advice: Sell them off quickly. Watch Auburn and Texas A&M for future reinvestment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bowl Grades

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

This has been an interesting college football season to say the least in the SEC.

Below are my bowl grades for each team. Auburn, Texas A&M, and Vanderbilt did not qualify for a bowl game in 2022. Auburn fired their head coach, and A&M is the biggest disappointment in college football currently.

 

Current Record: 6-5 (East: 2-4, West: 4-1)

 

Las Vegas Bowl: Florida got blown out by Oregon State 30-3. Florida holds the longest streak in college football of consecutive games of not being shut out that dates back to 1988.

When it mattered the most the Gators drove the field with little time remaining and kicked a 40+ yard field goal to keep that streak intact.

Florida was a pathetic team in 2022, finishing the season with a 6-7 record for the second consecutive year. Bowl Grade: F-

Gasparilla Bowl: Missouri went to Tampa and got beat 27-17 by Wake Forest. Did anyone watch? Not many did.

A bowl loss to the ACC gives the Tigers a low grade. Bowl Grade: D

Liberty Bowl: One of the most exciting games of the bowl season.

Arkansas with their horrendous defense, blew a huge second half lead against Kansas and then pulled it out 55-53 in triple OT.

This game film will not be shown at coaching clinics that focus on defense. Arkansas finishes 7-6 on the season. Exciting finish. Bowl Grade: B

Texas Bowl: Ole Miss lost to Texas Tech 42-25 in this contest.

Lane Kiffin and his ‘going for it on 4th down’ antics from anywhere on the field perhaps cost Ole Miss this football game.

The Rebels should have beaten Texas Tech but, instead, continued the late season nose dive for Ole Miss. Ole Miss sat at 7-1 on the season going into the Alabama game on November 12th. Ole Miss finished the season at 8-5. Bowl Grade: D

Gator Bowl: South Carolina lost to Notre Dame in an exciting game 45-38.

Both teams acted like they wanted to be there. Carolina finished at 8-5

Bowl Grade: B+.

Orange Bowl: Tennessee finished the season with 11 wins for the first time since 2001 by beating an overrated Clemson team 31-14.

Clemson, under Dabo Swinney, is starting the decline from elite status to coming back to the pack. Tennessee dominated the ACC champs. Bowl grade: B

Sugar Bowl: Alabama missed the college football playoffs, landed in New Orleans, and beat Kansas State 45-20.

Bryce Young did not win a Natty at Alabama is the huge story here. Bowl grade: C

Music City Bowl: Kentucky got shut out in Nashville 21-0 by Iowa and for their crappy showing the Wildcats receive an F as a Bowl grade.

Reliaquest Bowl: The Mississippi State Bulldogs, in memory of Mike Leach receive an A+ from this writer for beating Illinois 19-10. Rest easy Pirate.

Citrus Bowl: LSU curb stomped Purdue 63-7. For doing their job LSU receives an A for their bowl game grade. Florida, Ole Miss, and Missouri take notes on how to take care of business.

Peach Bowl (College Football Playoff Semifinal):

Georgia took down Ohio State 42-41 in an instant classic.

Dawgs trailed 38-24 in the 4th quarter and Stetson Bennett led UGA on the largest comeback in CFP history.

OSU hooked a 50-yard game winner and 2023 rang in. 1000 yards of total offense. Jacked up crowd and the finish you want in a playoff game makes this one a classic.

Bowl grade: A+++

College Football Playoff Predictions

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It is playoff time once again! The College Football Playoff begins on New Year’s Eve.

Here are my previews and predictions.

The first semifinal on New Year’s Eve has No. 2 Michigan facing off with No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

The Wolverines are making their second consecutive appearance after having an unbeaten regular season that included a 45-23 drubbing of rival Ohio State.

The Horned Frogs are making their first trip, despite losing to Kansas State in overtime of the Big 12 title game.

TCU is the only team in the history of the CFP to lose a game and not drop in the rankings.

Michigan will look to physically dominate the line of scrimmage, and TCU will try to throw the football led by Heisman runner-up Max Duggan to put up points.

Michigan will have the more talented roster. TCU comes into the contest more battle tested with a series of come from behind wins during the regular season.

Most of the experts believe that Michigan should beat TCU rather easily. Could Michigan be looking past TCU to a UGA or OSU rematch? Time will tell.

TCU must stop Donovan Edwards. Michigan’s sophomore running back had to step in due to the injured Blake Corum. He has totaled more than 400 yards rushing in the past two games, and he has become the Wolverines biggest offensive threat.

If the game is close, TCU could pull the upset. Illinois provided the blueprint that teams must follow to beat Michigan. Michigan struggled in the 19-17 win other them. Match the physicality and force FGs in the redzone.

Prediction: Michigan 28-17.

The second showdown has No. 1 Georgia facing No. 4 Ohio State in the Peach Bowl. The defending champion Bulldogs will have the advantage of playing in the friendly confines of Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

UGA is already 2-0 this season in the Benz with blowouts over Oregon and LSU in the SEC title game.

The UGA defense will have to contend with Buckeye’s quarterback C.J. Stroud and some talented wide receivers.

Ohio State was a dominant team all season and have been defined going into this playoff game by one bad second half of football against Michigan.

On the negative side for the Buckeyes, they are banged up. WR Jaxon Smith-Njigba will not play, and RB TreVeyon Henderson is having foot surgery and will miss the game. RB Miyan Williams has been banged up as well.

Offensively, C.J. Stroud should still be a threat against a Georgia defense that allowed more than 500 yards passing against LSU. That had to drive Kirby Smart insane.

OSU’s skill people are on par with the offensive skill players that Tennessee had in 2022.

Defensively, OSU got bullied against Michigan and if that repeats in the Peach Bowl then they will not win the contest.

On the Georgia side, the defense must put together a Tennessee like performance in this contest.

Jalen Carter will be the best player on the field for UGA, and he must wreak havoc on the OSU offensive line. Kelee Ringo must play well against Marvin Harrison Jr. Finally, the UGA defense must tackle well.

Offensively, UGA must be balanced and not be stubborn and just run the ball. Stetson Bennett should have a fantastic game.

The UGA OL is better than the OSU DL and that must play out in this contest. Brock Bowers is a match-up nightmare for Ohio State, and the WR group will be as healthy as they have been since the season opener.

This is the best semi-final match-up to date in the College Football Playoff. This should be a fantastic football game.

Prediction: UGA 38-35.

The Real Heisman

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

One of the biggest success stories of the last two years in college football is UGA’s Brock Bowers.

The Georgia star won the Mackey Award this year as the nation’s best tight end and is emerging as one of the top players in the sport.

His transition to the college level wasn’t the easiest though. After all, he didn’t have a senior season to end high school. That made things tough.

It seems like he’s handled the leap from high school to college just fine. In two years with Georgia, Bowers has 1,608 yards, 19 touchdowns and a national championship ring.

He’s a big reason why they’re heading back to the College Football Playoff with a shot at another national title.

At first, Bowers said he felt a little behind the curve when he arrived in Athens. But the staff got to work to get him up to speed, and it’s paying dividends.

Bowers’ production after two seasons has already matched that of former first-round tight ends like Florida’s Kyle Pitts, but per NFL rules, he’ll have to play a third year before moving on to the big leagues.

The 6-foot-4, 230-pound tight end shared his goals for the 2023 season and how he wants to grow before taking off the Bulldog red.

“I guess catching balls is probably one of my stronger suits and I just want to keep working on getting stronger and bigger, put on some weight,” Bowers stated.

Bowers may have already added weight since the preseason roster update this fall but his NFL target is likely around 245 to 250 pounds. Even without the extra bulk, the former No. 1 tight end recruit is still the No. 1 tight end prospect on most big boards for the 2024 NFL draft.

Brock Bowers has already become the greatest tight end in Georgia history. Now he’s closing in on becoming the school’s greatest receiver.

With a possible 2 games remaining this season and an entire Junior season left, it is not out of the realm of possibility that we could see Brock Bowers become the all-time leader in receiving touchdowns, as well as receiving yards for the University of Georgia. An accomplishment that would all but cement his legacy as not only Georgia’s greatest tight end, but the greatest receiver in school history as well.

Bowers is arguably the most dangerous pass catcher in football as the best tight end in the NCAA. He would’ve been the highest-drafted player at his position if he entered this year. Looking at everything it’s crazy to think all he’s accomplished in only 2 years of college ball.

On another note, Caleb Williams was just recognized as the best player in college football as the 2022 Heisman Trophy winner. In my opinion the best player in college football is Brock Bowers.

 

Bogus Rankings

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Here are the initial college football playoff rankings released on Tuesday night with my thoughts by each team:

Tennessee: Wins over Alabama and LSU land the Vols in the top slot. The argument against Georgia by the committee was that they struggled with Missouri and Kent State.

Did the committee not watch Tennessee struggle against Pitt and give up almost 500 yards passing to Anthony Richardson and Florida in a 38-33 Vol win?

Vols land here by virtue of beating Alabama. I’m good with it. This defense is not championship caliber, however.

Ohio State: A brand the playoff committee loves. They always have and always will. Game with Michigan is coming up.

Georgia: Defending national champs are undefeated with number one Tennessee coming to Athens this weekend.

It will all sort itself out in a couple of days. Can you hear Kirby talking to his team about respect about right now?

Clemson: Another loved brand by the committee. The ACC did their best to protect the brand against Syracuse a couple of weeks ago. Is there a team in the top ten this week that Clemson could beat? This team is vastly overrated.

Michigan: I guess the committee does not think much of the Michigan out of conference schedule this year. That is my only guess on why they are ranked behind Clemson.

Alabama: The loss to Tennessee does not hurt Alabama as they control their own destiny. This Alabama team does not seem as good as previous Alabama teams. Loved name brand though by the committee.

TCU: Unbeaten TCU gets the hose job by the committee plain and simple. Ranked behind a one loss Alabama team and behind a Clemson team that has not beat anyone noteworthy.

If Oklahoma or Texas had the TCU resume, they would be in the top four. The committee loves name brands.

Oregon: The Ducks may be playing the best football in the country right now, but that 46-point loss to Georgia opening weekend looms large right now.

USC: The Trojans might beat Clemson in the top 10 and nobody else, but if they do not lose at Utah a couple the brand loving committee would have had this team near the top four.

LSU: The two loss Tigers believe it or not control their destiny in the SEC West. Beat Alabama this weekend and get to Atlanta and win the SEC and the Tigers will be the first two loss team to get into the playoff.

Tennessee is the easy #1 team in the country based on their body of work so far.

No argument from most reasonable college football fans that follow the sport. My question is why the committee didn’t give us a #1 vs #2 matchup this weekend?

We had an entire hour show on ESPN last night focused on the hypotheticals of it all. I firmly believe that if the Dawgs and Vols were playing on ABC or ESPN Saturday we would have that #1 vs #2 matchup.

Since the game is on CBS, I believe ESPN pressured the committee to put UGA at #3 to keep CBS from hyping a game of the century type matchup this weekend. It will sort itself out in the end but a #1 vs #2 would have been fantastic.

 

Initial rankings winners:

Tennessee: They beat the beloved brand Alabama.

Clemson: No way they should be in the top four.

 

Losers:

Michigan: Being behind Clemson is an absolute joke.

TCU: Not a preferred name brand by the committee.

 

Final Thoughts: If your name is Alabama, Clemson, or Ohio State you will get a favorable ranking. If you are not one of those three, then your resume gets nitpicked by the talking heads on ESPN.

 

Memorable Moments

By: Robert Craft

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The city of Jacksonville will get its annual rowdiness booster this weekend when Florida and Georgia come to town.

About time Jacksonville gets excited about some football. If top-ranked Georgia wins, it will be a game closer from claiming the SEC East and continuing its unbeaten season.

If the Gators are able to spoil all of that momentum, it will make up for what I’m forecasting to be a mediocre season.

Here’s a look at the five best all-time moments from the World’s Largest Cocktail Party.

  1. THE TIMEOUT: Let’s start it off with one of the most controversial endings in college football history.

In a game which featured consistent rain, the Bulldogs were down 33-26 in the fourth quarter. But with the help of quarterback Eric Zeier, the Bulldogs drove into Florida territory with 1:30 left.

With five seconds left, Zeier threw what was thought as the game-tying touchdown to Jerry Jerman, but Gators cornerback Anthone Lott called timeout right before the ball was snapped.

Zeier’s next and final pass fell incomplete, and Florida held on to the victory and went on to win the SEC and Sugar Bowl.

  1. THE GATOR STOMP: After years of Gator wins, Georgia’s head coach Mark Richt decided to change things up.

To start, Georgia running back Knowshon Moreno scored to give the Bulldogs the 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Then, the entire team came into the end zone to celebrate with Moreno, which is now referred to as the “Gator Stomp.”

That move gave the Bulldogs the motivation it needed to take down the defending national champions with a 42-30 win.

Moreno ended the day with 188 yards on the ground, and the Bulldogs defense sacked Florida’s Tim Tebow six times.

  1. HALF A 100: In 1994, the battle was moved to Gainesville because Jacksonville’s stadium was being used by the Jags and in return the battle took place in Athens in ‘95.

Georgia was 5-3 and limping through head coach Ray Goff’s final year.

Florida was undefeated and coach Steve Spurrier – at the height of his cockiness – decided he wanted the Gators to be the first team to “hang half a hundred between the hedges.” The Gators scored seven touchdowns and accomplished that goal with 1:21 left in the game.

  1. TIMEOUTS: Georgia had won the year before in a game where the entire team ran into the end zone to celebrate the first touchdown.

Although the Gators did not discuss their anger, they were seething and a picture of the celebration hung in every player’s locker.

Each team had one loss when they met in 2008 and the winner would be in the driver’s seat to win the SEC East and have a possible shot at the national title.

The Gators jumped out to a 14-3 halftime lead and then Georgia imploded in the second half, turning the ball over four times.

Florida capitalized and scored 35 unanswered points. The vindicated Gators then went on to win the SEC title and national championship.

1.RUN LINDSAY, RUN:

The most memorable moment had to be when the Bulldogs went on their championship run in 1980.

The Bulldogs were down 21-20 in the fourth quarter, facing third-and-long at their own 7-yard line.

Backed up in his own end zone, Georgia quarterback Buck Belue found Lindsay Scott at the 25-yard line. Scott was able to blow past the Florida secondary and score the game-winning touchdown with seconds left on the clock.

The 93-yard touchdown pass kept the Bulldogs’ title hopes alive. They moved to No. 1 in the polls the following week and went on to win their second consensus national title.

All in all, this is a historical matchup that college football fans look forward to every year. There have been plenty of memorable moments from this series, but these are five that really stand out from the rest. Let’s hope for a safe and sportsmanlike battle- although no one ever anticipates it.

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