Kipp Branch

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Best Of The Best

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I know this topic will spark some debate among the faithful UGA fans out there who are sheltered in place waiting for football season to roll around again. These are my personal rankings.

My Top 5 UGA Quarterbacks of All-Time:

Aaron Murray (2010-13): The SEC’s all-time passing yardage and touchdowns leader tossed for 121 TD’s and over 13,000 passing yards as a four-year starter for UGA. If Murray was the QB for UGA in 2017 and 2018, I believe UGA would have won the National Championship during those two seasons.

Murray did not have a Kirby Smart defense helping him out during his time at UGA. Murray is the most productive QB in UGA history, but does not seem to be near the top of these types of lists, but AM was the man!

David Greene (2001-2004): Greene led the Bulldogs to a 42-10 record as a starter, and ranks third all-time for career passing yards in the SEC.

Greene will always have a special place in the hearts of UGA faithful as he led the 2002 Dawgs to an SEC title breaking a 20-year title drought in Athens. Greene was his best with the game on the line with dramatic wins at Tennessee in 2001 and at Auburn in 2002.

Buck Belue (1978-1981): Buck came to UGA from Valdosta High School. We saw flashes of the swagger as a freshman in 78 when Belue led a 20-point comeback against Georgia Tech in a memorable 29-28 win that had a 13-year-old Kipp Branch dancing on the dirt road he lived on.

Belue was involved in the greatest play in UGA football history to Lindsay Scott that beat Florida once again and is the only QB on my list with a National Championship. Buck always will get on my greatest UGA QB list.

Matthew Stafford (2006-2008): Stafford is the most talented QB to ever put on a jersey in Athens, Georgia.

The 2007 team ended the season as the #2 ranked team in the country. Stafford pretty much was a pro quarterback playing college football during his time at UGA.

Stafford went on to be the first selection in the 2009 NFL Draft for the Detroit Lions, and has every passing record in Lions history.

  1. J. Shockley (2002-2005): Shockley will always have my respect because he was the ultimate team player.

A five-star QB recruit that waited his turn in Athens behind David Greene and started his senior season and led UGA to an SEC title in 2005. Shockley is the last true dual threat QB UGA has had and will always be loved in Athens.

Just missing the list: Jake Fromm (2017-2019): This will make my wife upset because she loves her some Jake Fromm.

Fromm had a great career in Athens, but every other QB on my list would have won a Natty with the defense Jake had while at UGA.

Great wins against ND, 3-0 against Florida, and an SEC Title will rank Jake near the top of some others list but he can’t crack my top 5.

Ray Goff (1973-1976): Ray may not have been a great coach, but he was the SEC Player of the Year in 1976 for the SEC Champion Georgia Bulldogs. I don’t need to say anything else about that.

Eric Zeier (1991-1994): When Zeier left UGA in 1994 he was the career passing yards leader in the SEC. Led UGA to a 10-2 record in 1992.

Fran Tarkenton was in the NFL when I came into the world so he did not make my list.

There you have it. Aaron Murray is the greatest QB in UGA history because I said so.  Stay safe folks.

Ice Left In The Freezer?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

With the signing of Todd Gurley to add another weapon to the Atlanta Falcon offense, it raises another big question and that is how much gas does Matt Ryan have left in the tank?

Matty Ice will be 35 years of age at the start of the 2020 season.

Ryan had a decent 2019 season in Atlanta, where he passed for almost 4,500 yards and 26 TD’s. Ryan’s 2016 MVP season was thing of beauty for Atlanta, which seems now to only be remembered as the season the Falcons blew a 25-point Super Bowl lead in the final 17 minutes of that contest.

We all know the weakness of the Falcons is defense and the hope is that gets addressed in the upcoming draft in April.

But what about offensive line? Matty Ice has been sacked 90 times in the last two seasons. Interesting stat line is Tom Brady over the past two seasons, has been sacked 48 times while Ryan was sacked 48 times in 2019. That is the most in a single season in his 12-year Falcon career. For the Falcons to be successful in 2020 then steps have to be put into place to protect Matt Ryan.

Ryan has always been known as a great distributor of the football. His career completion percentage is 65.4, which means he is accurate with the ball.

Julio Jones, who may be the best wide receiver in football, has caught 797 balls in his nine-year Falcon career with Matt Ryan being his starting QB for every single season he has been in the league.

Ryan is not a mobile QB, so protecting him must be a high priority. Ryan has averaged tossing 27 TD’s per season. The production is there for the former MVP.

Another interesting stat is that Matt Ryan has beaten every team in the NFL except two and those are the Pittsburgh Steelers and the New England Patriots.

Yes, that means he has never beaten the QB that just landed in his division; the GOAT Tom Brady.

Matty Ice gets two shots at Brady this upcoming season and don’t think for one second that Matty Ice does not have those games circled on the calendar. All of the hype now in the NFC South is surrounding Tampa Bay.

Every great player has a nemesis they had to overcome. Michael Jordan had to get past the Detroit Pistons. LeBron James had to get past the Boston Celtics, Peyton Manning had to get past Tom Brady and the Patriot domination to win a Super Bowl and now Ryan will have two chances at Tom Brady in 2020.

Let’s take a look at the division:

Tampa Bay: Now that they have Brady, they may become a trendy pick in the NFC South

Carolina: Now that Cam Newton is gone the Panthers look like they are in full rebuild mode and may get in position to land Trevor Lawrence in the 2021 draft.

New Orleans: The Saints on paper are the team to beat, but seem to choke in the playoffs every season now.

Then you have the Atlanta Falcons, who currently have 10 former first round draft picks starting on offense in 2020.

On paper, with Matt Ryan distributing the football to Julio Jones, Todd Gurley, Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, Russell Gage, and Laquon Treadwell, the Falcon offense potentially could one of the most explosive in the NFL.

Matt Ryan is the straw that stirs the drink in Atlanta. Ryan loves the city of Atlanta dearly and wants to bring a championship to the city.

Matty Ice is still a valuable asset in the NFL and will not take a back seat to any QB in the NFC South.

Matty Ryan still has ice left in freezer.

Weak In the Knees?

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Todd Gurley was in good form after the Rams released him, sharing a tweet about getting fired on his day off.

He made it clear that it was all business and nothing personal on Twitter before agreeing to a deal with the Falcons one day later.

After his contract with Atlanta was announced, Gurley had one last parting shot for the Rams for releasing him. The former UGA great thanked the Rams for his check today. The Rams, by releasing Gurley had to eat $20 million in dead money.

The Atlanta Falcons signed Gurley to a one year $5 million dollar contract, and the State of Georgia, which like the rest of the country is isolated due to Covid-19, was ecstatic with any good news related to sports at the moment.

Gurley grew up in North Carolina and played his college football at the University of Georgia where he was, outside of Herschel Walker the most talented running back to ever wear the red and black.

The Falcons passed on Gurley in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft, when they chose Vic Beasley with the 8th selection and then just two picks later the Rams selected Gurley.

Gurley was coming off an ACL tear against Auburn in 2014 that ended his UGA career. Still it made many Falcon fans mad that Gurley was passed on by Atlanta.

Gurley has played five seasons in the NFL and has rushed for over 5,000 yards and 58 touchdowns. Todd Gurley is one of the top 2-3 running backs in the NFL when healthy.

Gurley’s health is a major question. Will the left knee holdup? Gurley will be 26 years old by the start of the season, his 6th in the NFL.

Whispers are that Gurley has an arthritic component in his surgically repaired knee, and that caused the Rams to manage his touches therefore resulting in the worst season of his career in 2019.

What makes Gurley special is his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield as his 218 career receptions would suggest. With Gurley coming to the Falcons now what will the Falcons get? Will they get the 2018 version or the 2019 version of Gurley?

I think he comes to Atlanta with a chip on his shoulder, and gives the Falcons the Pro Bowl player we have all come to love and respect. Matt Ryan gets another option in the passing game, and forces opposing teams to focus on a true three down back in Gurley.

With the addition of Gurley, Atlanta now has 10 first round picks starting on offense. Talent will not be a problem on offense in Atlanta.

The problem has been stopping people on defense for years. The Falcons also have brought in Dante Fowler to rush the passer, and now with the addition of Gurley the Falcons brass can focus on defense in the upcoming NFL draft. Every selection in the draft for Atlanta should be on defense.

Todd Gurley is on the Mount Rushmore of The University of Georgia running backs, and now he is back home in the state which he calls home. The Atlanta Falcons could be a force in the NFC in 2020, and if Todd Gurley is the Todd Gurley the State of Georgia knows then look out NFC.

Todd Gurley is back home and the Atlanta Falcons righted a wrong they made by passing on him in 2015.

Welcome Home Todd and thank you Rams for picking up the tab!

Appreciate

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Coronavirus is a serious public health issue that has caused loss of life around the world.

It has wreaked havoc on our economy, our freedom of mobility, and now with the cancellation of most major sporting events like the NBA, it has rocked us at our core.

This article is going to take a look at sports in our culture and how woven sports are in the fabric of our society.

No matter what sport you play, you are bound to have better health than those who do not partake at all. No other activity is as productive in strengthening of muscles and overall physical fitness as sports.

I come from the generation of playing outside before dinner, and the activity revolved around the three major sports seasons football, basketball, and baseball.

In the fall, growing up I was Joe Montana in my backyard, in the winter I was Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, and in the spring, I was Reggie Jackson growing up as a youngster in the Golden Isles. Whatever season it was it didn’t matter we stayed active.

When we are playing sports, we use our time doing something good and fun. I watched a T-Ball game my grandson participated in just yesterday, and watching the interaction with other kids is a social skill that goes unnoticed these days. It also plays a major role in the social development of youth today in our country.

Playing sports increases awareness of mind and mental strength. Sports teach you how to handle disappointments and also teaches you how to win with class and sportsmanship.

Sports prepares people for life in clutch situations, where stress can take over. Positive traits and a healthy mind can be gained from sports.

Sports teach you to be completely alert all the times. It also gives you the ability to make split second decisions when needed. Playing sports actually increases your thought processes.

Playing sports helps you become detailed oriented by keeping you highly attentive. Sports prepares you for those quick decisions in life that we all will face.

Sports is the best way to eliminate stress. Playing a sport you love relaxes you and gives a fresh outlook on life. A hard day at work can be really be stressful but a few minutes on the tennis, or basketball court at the end of a long day is just what the doctor ordered in stress relief.

Self-confidence is improved by participating and excelling in sports. Discipline then becomes a part of the process. Anyone who takes sports seriously knows the importance of discipline and the determination to succeed.

Our society is filled with success stories that started with team sports. Most of the popular sports are team structured. Playing team sports makes a person more comfortable with others. It improves the interpersonal skills and makes a person a team player.

How much money does your employer spend on improving critical thinking and team work skills? These are lessons taught by team sports at an early age in life.

It stings to see March Madness cancelled, the NBA season postponed, MLB suspending operations, and the list goes on and on.

We have a public health crisis on our hands and the right thing to do is to cancel these events until we get a handle as a society on the Covid-19 Coronavirus situation.

A temporary suspension sports activities that are woven in our core values may allow us to gain a fresh appreciation for the sports we love and take for granted at times.

I just know all this better get sorted out by the start of college football season or its going to be “Houston, we have a problem”. Get well soon Tom Hanks. We are praying for you and all affected by the Coronavirus. Netflix anyone?

Job Well Done

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Glynn County Athletic Director Steve Waters is a friend of mine. I’m honored to say that.

In the world we live in today friends matter when you are dealing with adversity.

My friend Steve Waters is dealing with the most gut wrenching grief you can have as an adult and that is the loss of a child.

Family and friends will gather this week to honor his son Bennett, who is now suffering no more.

Steve Waters will go down as one the best athletic directors in Glynn County history.

He is invested in this community and really loves his job and the results show it.

When you grow up in Glynn County and attend public schools you are either going to graduate from Brunswick High, or Glynn Academy. I graduated from Brunswick High and Steve graduated from Glynn Academy. Like I said you have to attend one or the other. The county is split right down the middle you either bleed Blue and Gold or Red and White. You come to expect that and that is how great rivalries are generated.

When Steve took over the AD position, almost a decade ago, the entire county was in need of huge facility upgrades. Steve had a vision to make Glynn County second to none in the area of facilities, and the first place this Glynn Academy graduate started was at Brunswick High School.

Yes, you read that correctly Brunswick High School. Let’s take a look at the BHS athletic facilities we love today.

 

  • Bud Couch Field: A state of the art high school baseball stadium built on the site of the old BHS campus facing Habersham Street where this old Pirate attended classes back in the day. Covered stadium seats, press box, batting cages, concession stands, is one of the two best high school baseball stadiums in all of Georgia with the other being on the south end of town called Adam Wainwright Stadium for Glynn Academy also constructed under the watchful eye of Steve Waters.
  • The Brunswick High Gymnasium affectionately known as Brunswick Square Garden: The finest arena for high school basketball in this part of the state. This happened under the watch of Steve Waters. There is also a 2015 State Championship banner on full display there that happened under the watch of Steve Waters.
  • Brand new million dollar track at BHS: Athletes and the local community enjoy on Altama Avenue
  • State of the art girls softball stadium: On the campus of BHS that is so nice the local college uses it on occasion.
  • Brand new field house for the Brunswick High football program: Has two brand new locker rooms, a multipurpose room, kitchen, and new coach’s offices.

 

Most of these things above were done before facility upgrades at Glynn Academy were done. Glynn has a new baseball field, girls’ softball field, new multipurpose football facility all under the Waters watch. At the middle school level, new baseball fields at all middle schools and other great things.

The crown jewel of facilities in Glynn County is Glynn County Stadium.

There upgrades done there like new Jumbo Tron scoreboard, parking lots, and the end zone addition of new locker room, stadium overlook, and private boxes, athletic department offices.

The great thing is great things are still on the drawing board for upgrades all around the county. Those are the things we can see.

The things we can’t see is the willingness to do what is needed to promote Glynn County Athletics on a broader scale across the state.

The coaching searches are done professionally and Glynn County now attracts and keeps the best coaches in their profession in all sports.

As the Waters family deals with loss I wanted to put into writing how much I personally, and a grateful community appreciates a job well done by our Athletic Director Steve Waters.

Our community is there for you Steve and from a Pirate graduate to a Red Terror graduate, I appreciate you my man.

Over the past decade nobody has done more for BHS Athletics on a grand scale than Steve Waters.

He not only bleeds red and white, but he also bleeds blue and gold and has earned the right to be called a Pirate, and most importantly a true friend.

Thanks Steve Waters for a job well done from a grateful community.

 

 

 

Let Me Go

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

In America millions of workers change jobs on an annual basis. Many organizations train and develop workers in their field of expertise and lose them to other organizations for a variety of reasons.

This is the norm in a capitalist society and employers have adapted to this. If the NCAA has their way this could be the norm for college football if adopted this coming April.

 

The proposed rule is as follows:

First-time transfers starting in the 2020 academic year would no longer have to follow the long standing sit out a year rule in their first season at their new school.

The proposal is being fast-tracked. Because it is a “criteria change” to the NCAA waiver process and not a new “rule change,” it can avoid the regular legislative cycle and take effect well before the NCAA convention next January.

 

Doesn’t that sound just peachy? College football coaches seem to be totally against this idea, and with good reason.

Former UGA Head Coach Mark Richt tweeted the following on the proposed new transfer rule: “I know, I have an idea,” Richt wrote in a message that went viral, “You recruit and develop players and when I think they’re good enough I will poach them from your roster! Welcome to what the new normal will look like in college football!”

Currently for a transfer to play immediately you have to receive a special waiver from the NCAA. There lies the problem.

The NCAA has not been consistent with the existing rule and now it appears that they want to go the generic route and just allow each student athlete an automatic option to transfer penalty free if they so choose.

I use the University of Georgia as an example to show the hypocrisy of the NCAA recently:

Jacob Eason was the top-rated Pro Style QB in the country for the 2016 cycle. Eason started many games as a freshman at UGA. Eason got hurt in the season opener his sophomore season and never regains the starting job from Jake Fromm. Eason decided he wanted to transfer back to his home State of Washington but had to sit out a season per NCAA rule.

Justin Fields was the top-rated dual threat QB in the country for the 2018 recruiting cycle. Fields came in and played some and was Jake Fromm’s backup. Fields decided he wanted to transfer to Ohio State and the NCAA granted an immediate waiver for Fields to play right away.

Why was Fields given preferential treatment over Eason when they were in the same position on the depth chart when they left UGA?

Then you have Luke Ford, a five-star TE in the 2018 cycle from Illinois, that transferred from UGA to be closer to a sick family member and the NCAA denied the waiver to play immediately for Ford.

This is exactly what the special waiver was designed for, right? But the NCAA, in all of its infinite wisdom, in these three cases seemed to only care about Ohio State’s QB situation, rather than what’s best for the individual student athlete.

Fields did have a high-priced lawyer representing him in his endeavors.

Can you see SEC head football coaches poaching other SEC rosters waving their current depth charts?

If the NCAA wants chaos then you are about to have it. What if Tua was poached to Auburn by Gus Malzahn when he sat behind Jalen Hurts his freshman year at Alabama? You would have had a civil war in the State of Alabama most likely.

Will Kirby, Coach O, Nick, and Gus hire a new assistant coach with the sole responsibility of poaching other Power 5 rosters?

Chaos is on the horizon and it appears you can throw developing roster depth out with the bath water. What else would you expect from the NCAA?

College sports, along with society, appears to be caving in to the entitlement mentally. Get ready for the new normal College Football fans.

Jaguars Need To Sharpen Claws On Offense

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Jacksonville Jaguars finished with a 6-10 record in 2019, missed the playoffs for the second straight season, and were a boring team to watch especially on offense for the better part of the season.

I’m getting straight to the rat killing here. This team needs more playmakers at WR and with the #9 pick they need to draft one of the two Alabama receivers below:

 

Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama

Height: 6-1. Weight: 192.

40 Time: 4.45.

Projected Round: Top-20.

 

Jeudy totaled 77 receptions for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2019. He played well for Alabama, showing his skills to be a dynamic receiver and a source for big plays while also serving as a good blocker for his teammates.

Jeudy has big-play speed and is a fantastic route-runner. He can blow the top off of a defense. If Jeudy is there at #9 this in a no-brainer for Jacksonville. I predict Jeudy to be a Pro-Bowl WR in the NFL.

 

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

Height: 6-0. Weight: 190.

40 Time: 4.40.

Projected Round: 1.

 

Ruggs had 40 catches for 746 yards and 7 touchdowns in 2019. Of the special group of receivers at Alabama, Ruggs is the fastest.

His production was held back by Alabama spreading the ball around to that talented receiving group. If Jeudy is gone then the Jags could go Ruggs here. If this kid runs a sub 4.4 at the combine then he could fly up the draft boards.

If Jeudy and Ruggs are gone before the #9 selection then the Jags should look at addressing the WR position in the second round and the studs below could be still on the board:

 

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

Height: 6-4. Weight: 200.

40 Time: 4.55.

Projected Round: 1-2.

 

Higgins had 59 catches for 1,167 yards with 13 touchdowns in 2019. He is a tall, long receiver who is a red-zone weapon.

Higgins is projected as a late first round or second round pick. Could he still be there at Pick #42 if the Jags have a brain fart and go defense at #9?

 

Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Height: 6-3. Weight: 192.

40 Time: 4.50.

Projected Round: 1-2.

 

Jefferson was a nightmare for opposing defenses in 2019, recording 111 catches for 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Jefferson has length to go with speed. He was a steady big-play producer for Joe Burrow and LSU in 2019. This kid is a playmaking machine and can high point the ball over opposing defensive backs.

The Jaguars ranked 20th in total offense in the NFL in 2019. 16th in passing offense and 17th in rushing offense.

DJ Chark was a 1,000-yard receiver for the Jags in 2019, but in an offensive league like the NFL you have to stock up on playmakers. Did you watch the Kansas City offensive explosion during the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 54?

Since taking Blake Bortles in the first round in 2014, who turned out to be a bust the Jags have used their first-round pick on defense in 4 of the past 5 drafts.

It is time to shake off the Bortles hangover and start assembling some pieces on the offensive side of the ball to compete with these high-powered offenses in the AFC.

The dream scenario would be the commissioner saying with the 9th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft the Jacksonville Jaguars select WR Jerry Jeudy from Alabama then trade for QB Matthew Stafford of the Detroit Lions to make this team a serious player in the AFC.

 

Numbers Don’t Lie

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

I was listening recently and don’t ask me why I was tuned in to a regional radio show that suggested that the ACC was the best football conference in the country due to Clemson’s recent success on the gridiron.

These types of things interest me because I know the SEC is the king in football, so I looked up the stats to confirm what I already know. Here goes:

P5 Conference Bowl Records (All-Time)

SEC: 261-195-9 (.571)

ACC: 132-140-2 (.485)

BIG 12: 84-88-0 (.488)

B1G: 143-163-1 (.467)

PAC 12: 149-136-5 (.522)

The PAC 12 is the only other “Power 5” conference with a winning bowl record.

 

SEC All-Time vs. Other Conferences (current conferences)

SEC vs:

ACC: 319-171-10 (.648)

AAC: 19-8-0 (.704)

B1G: 96-65-2 (.595)

BIG 12: 98-79-6 (.552)

CUSA: 158-28 (.849)

MAC: 98-14 (.875)

Mountain West: 25-11 (.694)

PAC 12: 74-43-5 (.627)

Sun Belt: 154-11 (.933) –

 

Random tidbits:

SEC TEAMS VS. ACC

W     L     T   Win %    PFPG    PAPG

Alabama       26     5     0    83.9    28.3    13.3

Arkansas         0     2     0     0.0    17.0    27.5

Auburn         34    12     0    73.9    26.5    16.6

Florida          33    26     2    55.7    24.3    19.6

Georgia        77    27     5    72.9    25.4    17.1

Kentucky      15    15     1    50.0    19.5    18.5

LSU                24     2     0    92.3    28.5    10.8

Mississippi      1     4     0    20.0    18.0    31.4

Mississippi St  6     7     0    46.2    24.5    28.2

South Carolina 18    23     0    43.9    20.7    24.4

Tennessee             36    15     1    70.2    24.7    15.8

Texas A&M              2     4     0    33.3    35.5    32.5

Vanderbilt            31    25     0    55.4    21.4    21.3

 

Clemson is by far the best football program in the ACC currently, but their all-time record against the SEC is 56-99-5, and 6-9 in bowl games.

 

CLEMSON VS. SEC TEAMS

W     L     T   Win %    PFPG    PAPG

Alabama         2    11     0    15.4    13.2    31.5

Auburn            9    17     1    35.2    16.3    22.6

Florida             2     2     1    50.0    14.8    22.2

Georgia           9    28     2    25.6    12.8    22.8

Kentucky         5     6     0    45.5    13.7    13.0

LSU                   1     3     0    25.0    14.3    20.8

Mississippi       0     1     0     0.0     0.0    13.0

Mississippi St   1     1     1    50.0    11.7    10.3

South Carolina 18    10     0    64.3    28.0    21.2

Tennessee          1     4     0    20.0    17.6    22.0

Texas A&M         2     0     0   100.0    26.0    18.0

Vanderbilt           1     1     0    50.0    16.0    14.5

 

Note: Clemson is 18-42-4 all-time against Georgia but for this story only games against SEC are counted.

SEC was formed in 1933. Florida State is the only ACC team with a winning record against the SEC.

FSU has a losing all-time record against SEC teams, but a winning record against the SEC since they joined the ACC in the 1990’s.

 

SEC Bowl Records vs. P5 Opponents

The SEC is 47-29 (.618) against the ACC in bowl games.

The SEC is 57-32 (.640) against the B1G in bowl games.

The SEC is 46-36-1 (.560) against the BIG 12 in bowl games.

The SEC is 9-7-1 (.559) against the PAC 12 in bowl games.

 

Clemson does have a winning record against the SEC over the last decade thanks to their current ownership of South Carolina.

There you have it folks, proof in numbers that the SEC is the most dominant football conference in the country.

I respect the ACC as a football conference, but FSU, Miami and Virginia Tech need give the Tigers some help at the top.

LSU is the current king of College Football and flat out owns the ACC.

Clemson is probably the best overall program right now, but the SEC is the most powerful conference because the numbers don’t lie.

The Coaching Ranks

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Our greatest game is now in the off season.

You already see early 2020 predictions being made for the college football season.

The SEC has a few new head coaches who are ready to make their mark on the conference. Here are my head coach rankings heading into the 2020 season:

Nick Saban: The Alabama HC is the gold standard that all college football coaches are measured by.

The Tide just finished an 11-2 season with a win over Michigan in the Citrus Bowl and you would think the Alabama football program is on life support if you listen to the experts around the country. Saban will be back in 2020 and the SEC West will feel the full wrath of Saban.

Ed Orgeron: Coach O can do just about anything he wants in the State of Louisiana right now after leading LSU to a Natty. It’s hard not to love the man and the kids really play hard for him. LSU is a blue blood again in college football because of Coach O. Go Tigahs!

Kirby Smart: Yeah Kirby seems to be the butt of jokes because UGA hasn’t won a national title since 1980, but the butt of those jokes should go towards Ray Goff, Jim Donnan, and Mark Richt correct?

Kirby is 44-12 at UGA in four years, and coming off three straight 11-1 regular seasons. Kirby retooled his offensive staff after the Sugar Bowl and Florida is already the trendy pick in the East, so Kirby can use that as a motivational tool this offseason.

Jimbo Fisher: The Aggie HC is starting to drop down this list after getting the big $75 million contract from A&M. It is time for Aggie fans to see a good ROI on their investment in 2020.

Dan Mullen: Back to Back top 10 finishes in Gainesville is what the Gator nation expects out of Big Game Dan. The Gators now are dealing with high expectations for the first time in a few years so let’s see how they respond to it. My guess is they will be just fine.

Gus Malzahn: Who does less with more than Gus? It is time for Auburn to get back in the playoff hunt in the SEC. Too much talent at Auburn to have another 9-4 type season.

Mark Stoops: While you have been napping Stoops has built Kentucky into a respectable football program. The Cats have as many as 19 starters coming back in 2020.

Sleep on Kentucky at your own risk.

Mike Leach: Joe Moorhead, we hardly knew you.

The Pirate has won at Texas Tech and Washington State. The Air Raid is coming to the SEC and Leach will have you busting a gut like you are at a Kevin Hart concert.

Leach will win SEC Media Days this summer and field a good football team to go along with it.

Jeremy Pruitt: Pruitt is hardcore and has Tennessee on the rebound.

Look out moving forward for the Vols. Those of you that have forgotten about Vol football don’t worry they will be back soon, and you will hear Rocky Top 736 times during a 60-minute football game.

Will Muschamp: Good coach coaching in a tough environment, while Dabo is rolling at Clemson.

Georgia found out the hard way in 2019 and missed the college football playoff because of the South Carolina Gamecocks.

Lane Kiffin: Great offensive mind, but last time he was in the SEC as a HC he left Tennessee in a total mess. I think he moves up this list but starts here in 2020.

Derek Mason: Vandy is a tough place to build a resume. Mason’s teams play really hard, but are out-talented most weeks in the SEC.

Eli Drinkwitz: Yes, he looks like a CPA and did great things in Boone, NC, but we will see if that can carry over to Columbia, Missouri.

Sam Pittman: Arkansas is a raging dumpster fire that has some good tradition. We shall see if the Pit Boss can turn things around in NW Arkansas.

Hurry up SEC Media Days so I can tune into Mike Leach.

You Can’t Spell Sugar Without UGA

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The 5th ranked Georgia Bulldogs playing shorthanded at key positions and out hustled, out hit, out coached and out played the 7th ranked Baylor Bears in a 26-14 victory in the 86th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl.

The Dawgs led 19-0 at the half, but Baylor came out and scored a couple of second half TD’s. However, as they have most of the season, the UGA defense took over the contest in the 4th quarter and Georgia finished off the Bears to finish 12-2 on the season.

The UGA senior class finishes their career with a 44-12 record which ties for most wins in school history with an SEC Championship, 3 straight SEC East Titles, wins in the Liberty, Rose, and Sugar Bowl, a college football playoff appearance, and a national title game appearance.

Observations from the Sugar Bowl win over Baylor:

1.George Pickens is a superstar in the making.

The freshman WR tied a Georgia record for receptions in a bowl game with 12 for 175 yards and a TD.

Pickens gave the Baylor secondary fits all night long pumped some much needed life into the UGA passing game.

Pickens now will be the leader of a talented wide receiver group going into 2020 that goes from a weakness in 2019 to a team strength in 2020.

Remember this point next fall when you hear teams like Florida making excuses because they lost their top 4 wide receivers from 2019.

2.The UGA coaching staff out-coached the Baylor staff.

The naysayers criticize Kirby Smart’s coaching abilities, by hurling veiled back handed compliments lauding Smart’s recruiting abilities, but saying he is not a good game day coach.

Georgia was better prepared and better motivated than a Baylor squad that has a head coach linked to current NFL openings.

Kirby Smart is now 8-4 against top 10 teams in his 4 years at UGA.

You don’t just throw 4-5 star recruits on the field and say just freelance and conquer. You have to coach them up. Give Kirby Smart some credit for being an all-around pretty good football coach.

3.The 2019 UGA football team became the fifth team in school history to win 12 games or more in a season.

Kirby Smart has coached two of those five teams in four years. Never let facts stand in your way on a good internet troll attempt, right?

4.You got a pretty good sneak peek at the 2020 defense in the Sugar Bowl. Did you like what you saw? The rest of the SEC did not, and trust me they were watching.

5.Zamir White, once fully recovered from back to back ACL injuries, will be in beast mode in 2020.

6.Georgia arrived in New Orleans missing 12 players that started a game at one time or another in 2019. Including three starting offensive lineman, two All-SEC players on defense and did not seem to miss a beat against an 11-win Baylor team.

Recruiting and roster management is an essential component in being a quality football coach.

UGA is now, annually, a legitimate contender for a spot in the college football playoff.

The 2019 Georgia Bulldogs won’t be remembered for style points during this 12-2 season. They will be remembered as a tough, physical football team that beat Notre Dame at Sanford Stadium, got upset at home by South Carolina, lost the SEC title game to a generational QB in Joe Burrow and LSU, won the SEC East and beat Florida for the third straight year, while holding them to 21 yards rushing, and last but not least the 2019 Dawgs will be remembered as your 2020 Sugar Bowl Champions.

Always remember you can’t spell sugar without UGA.

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