Thursday, January 26, 2017

Bringing Glory Back to Ol' Georgia: Video Board

Part four of our series will show the need for a new video board in Sanford Stadium.  You may not realize while you're at the game, but after this post you'll see how behind we are in that area.  Also in this post we'll discuss the lack of branding inside and even outside of the stadium.

Part 4:

VIDEO BOARD & BRANDING
 
We have a decent scoreboard, but we’re clearly getting passed up by newer, nicer, more visible video boards all across the conference.  It’s time to expand our video board to a more panoramic board in the West, (bridge) endzone.  I don’t want to compromise the view of the bridge and the campus, but we can have both.  Also, I suggest a video board about the size of the one we currently have on top of the East end zone deck. The SEC is a facilities arms race and we’re behind when it comes to stadium amenities. See for yourself.
 
 


 
 
 
Sanford Stadium is not advertised well enough on the outside of the Stadium.  This is arguable the crowned jewel of the campus. Below I have pictured several stadiums with beautiful backlit letters displaying the name of their stadium on the outside of their video board, some even have iconic players featured on the outside of their stadium...what an idea.  You can see our scoreboard from all over campus.  How nice would it be to see it lit up at night?
 





 
 
UGA doesn't do a very good job of marketing their brand inside the stadium either.  Currently Sanford Stadium is written one time inside the stadium.  Just about every stadium I've been to, which is a whole bunch, does a better job of people where they are with graphics and stadium identification.
 








 

 
 
As you can see, we're behind the times on stadium visuals.  From retired numbers and championship seasons to video boards and even naming the field after Vince Dooley, UGA is lacking at marketing it's brand in a number of areas throughout the Stadium.





Monday, January 23, 2017

Bringing Glory Back to Ol' Georgia: Inside Visuals

Continuing the series of ideas and suggestions we submitted to the UGAAD, today's post focuses on the lack of graphics and history inside Sanford Stadium.

Part 3:
INSIDE VISUALS
 
Across the country in stadiums from high school to the NFL, teams have their retired numbers displayed.  There is essentially no mention of the UGA retired numbers, championships, or Heisman winners in Sanford Stadium.  There’s plenty of space inside the stadium to show off these historic players and market the UGA football brand.


 
 
 
 
There’s clearly plenty of space inside Sanford Stadium to honor those players who have made Georgia football what it is.  There’s hardly any mention, of Herschel Walker, Vince Dooley, Charlie Trippi, or Frank Sinkwich inside Sanford Stadium. Those players deserve to have their names and/or numbers recognized on the stadium walls.
 

Like recognizing those players who have made Georgia football what we grew to love, the teams that won championships also need their spots inside Sanford Stadium.  The flags across the East end-zone deck aren’t visible to everyone in the stadium and can really only be seen when the wind is blowing.  Show off those championship seasons and claim ALL national titles. Alabama claims 16 when only 11 are recognized by the AP. Tennessee claims 6 when only 2 are recognized by the AP.  This impacts recruiting!
 


 
 
 
Our concourse areas are very boring.  By placing banners and graphics of players, coaches, and memorable plays in the plethora of empty areas, we are able to honor and show off the history of UGA football. Georgia is home to the current SEC statistical leaders in passing (Aaron Murray) and rushing (Herschel Walker) and if you visited Sanford Stadium, you’d never know they played at UGA.  We can do more to honor our heritage and make people remember those times. I know that when I visit, Jordan-Hare Stadium and Neyland Stadium and see their iconic players posted in every available space possible it puts a knot in my stomach remembering the losses in those stadiums.
 
 



 

 
 
Sanford Stadium is one of the best stadiums in the country and home to a very rich in history football program.  It's beyond time to recognize the coaches, players, teams and moments that brought Glory to Ol' Georgia.
 

 
 




Monday, January 16, 2017

Bringing Glory Back to Ol' Georgia: Music

Continuing the mini series we started earlier this week, today's post focuses on the music inside Sanford Stadium.  It needs an overhaul.

PART TWO:
MUSIC
 
It simply has to get better. The minor league baseball playlist has to be scrapped.  These young players and recruits don’t relate to hard rock and alternative music. The music being played over the loud speakers needs to resonate with the players and recruits.  When the players feed off the music, the crowd does too (just look at South Carolina and ‘Sandstorm’). Furthermore, the ‘Name That Tune’ game that features various athletes and songs from the 70’s and 80’s and even 90's proves that today’s students don’t relate to the laid-back Bon Jovi saturated playlist we’ve been using at games.
 
In my opinion there has to be more rap and less “poolside” music.  If there's a timeout and the opponent has the ball, that’s the time for our band to be playing intimidating songs. Less Bulldog Bite and Bulldog Boogey.  Save those tunes for offensive timeouts and the ride over.  When the opponent has the ball, no matter the situation, the stadium should be deafening by the time their offense comes back onto the field…not by the time they are lining up.  That starts with the music man.  When we have the ball, use that time to play the video board games, or sing along games.  Every stadium I’ve been to does a better job at this than Sanford Stadium. 

 I realize there’s a ton of sponsors who have paid lots of money for their spot on the video board, but the “Karaoke Cam” doesn’t even have a sponsor.  It’s a time filler.  We can do better.  There’s a vast difference between the Georgia-Auburn game and used car night at Cool Ray Field in July…at least there should be.  Point in case:  We pinned Auburn inside the 5 yard line with 4 minutes to go in the half this past season…we played “Aint No Mountain High Enough" during that change of possession and as the Auburn offense was taking the field.  I don’t need to tell you that song does not energize the defense and get the crowd roaring.  We held Auburn, they punted, we couldn't do anything so we punted with just a few seconds to go in the half.  During that timeout and change of possession, (where Auburn is clearly going to down the ball with 12 seconds left to play in the half), the music

man cranks up “Seven Nation Army” which is a great 3rd down/defensive song, but completely used at the wrong time.  This is an area that needs vast improvement and single handedly would make Sanford Stadium a better home field advantage once again. 
 
Over the past 4 seasons we've compiled a home record of 20-6. That includes losses to Missouri, Vanderbilt and a couple to in-state rival Georgia Tech; with near misses to Georgia Southern, Missouri and Nicholls State along the way.  We were at every one of those games mentioned and the stadium was dead.
 
If you've ever been to South Carolina, Clemson, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee and even Kentucky, you know what I'm talking about.  If you don't, here's a few videos to give you a snapshot of what other places are like throughout the game...not just a few moments.
This video is just before South Carolina took us to the woodshed in 2012.  I can tell you it has been like that almost ever time I've been to Williams-Brice.  This particular game, the upper deck was moving back and forth and I told a friend before kickoff, this one wasn't going our way strictly based on the pregame atmosphere.  You could tell it was about to get ugly.
 
Wisconsin does a great job of incorporating a video board game into some massive hype.  They have a cartoon race and each cartoon is representing a section of the students.  The winning cartoon wins something free for every student in that section.  Watch and be amazed.  Have you ever seen people in Sanford act like this?  No.  Jump Around
 
This video from a UK fan during the Georgia game this past year is, ummmm....entertaining.  You see the crowd hype that was there all throughout the game due to music....This video is during a replay review.  Notice what happens after the announcement. Kentucky

I used to scoff at techno music in stadiums, but the truth is, it works.  We need more hype music and less rock classics.  You cannot argue the impact it has on atmosphere.
 
If this is how the players react to winning the Independence Bowl, imagine their reaction in Sanford Stadium vs anyone.
 



Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Bringing Glory Back to Ol' Georgia: Uniforms


Today we're starting a series featuring excerpts from a document we sent the University of Georgia Athletic Department.  The document was intended to bring attention to the lack of marketing for the UGA brand and put more focus on the history of Georgia Football.

Bringing Glory Back to Ol' Georgia: Part One


UNIFORMS

If you look at the most iconic football programs in history, there’s very little to no change in their uniforms.  The uniforms are a recognizable brand just as the universities are.  UGA is certainly in the top 10 of the most historic football programs in the country.  There’s no need to keep this generic looking uniform any longer.  This includes a return to the classic “silver britches.” I understand the new Nike pro combat, mesh stripe, style pants were intended to provide breathability but the Dallas Cowboys, Carolina Panthers and Oakland Raiders perform at the highest level of competition in actual silver pants. So can our team while remaining loyal to our traditions.


 
 
 
 
 
 


Certainly jersey and pant cuts have evolved over the years, but there's clearly no reason you can't keep your classic, iconic look.  Our current rounded cartoon numbers along with the gray pants does not embody our traditions nor honor the history of Georgia Football.  As you can see in the pictures above, the top programs in the country today are the same ones that have almost always been at the top.  Since introducing the "Bulldog Bold" font to our football uniforms in 2013 and completely abandoning our history, we’ve compiled a record of 36-16.  That’s a 69% winning percentage with exactly zero division, conference, or national championships in 4 years.  I'm not saying...I'm just saying. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One for the Ages....Again

The comparisons between the Deshaun and VY and Texas/Clemson are kind of uncanny.
 
 
·       They’re both orange, which is unfortunate.
·       I’m pretty sure Deshaun and VY are the same player.  Just so smooth.  They had IT in college.  Means nothing for the next level.  Stafford didn’t have IT in college, but has it in the pros.  But some guys just have it for Saturdays in the Fall. 
·       Deshaun is the first Heisman runner-up QB to win the Natty since VY.
·       Both kids had a phenomenal game in the ‘same game’ the year before.  Remember VY’s performance in the Rose Bowl his sophomore year.  Same for Deshaun’s in last year’s title game.
·       Clemson won its first title in 35 years.  Texas had not won either a Coaches or AP poll title in 35 years.
·       Both Mack and Dabo were in their 8th year.
·       Texas and Mack lost 5 straight to OU.  Dabo and Clemson lost 5 straight to the Cocks.
·       They both beat an undefeated (and unbeatable) defending champion.  2005 USC and 2016 Bama were the only teams I can remember being talked about before the game as the greatest ever before winning it all.  Neither turned out to be.
·       Both Mack and Dabo were both kind of “Mr. 10 wins.”  Clemson had won 10 for 5 straight years coming into this one.  Texas had won 10 four straight coming into 2005.  Mack averaged 10 wins his first 7 seasons in a mostly 11-game schedule.  Dabo average 11.7 in a 12 game schedule and the benefit of the playoff in 2015.
 
The question is what will happen next.  Colt McCoy beat out Jevon Snead for the starting QB job in Austin.  Snead eventually transferred.  Colt went on to a sterling career, but the injury in the title game vs. Bama left them unable to compete.  From that moment on, they were never the same.  They had a great follow-up to VY, who ALMOST took them back, but not quite.  They never replaced McCoy and the wheels came off for Mack and never got on for Charlie Strong.
 
Dabo has Hunter Johnson coming in this spring and Lawrence the next.  2017 will be a transition year.  They have some kids on campus, but not a redshirt like McCoy to go to.  And if one of those kids beats out Johnson, does that muddy the water in 2018 and beyond.  Will they see similar transfers that Texas did?
 
Clemson has built something akin to a Richt model on steroids.  There’s much more attention to detail and better recruiting, but the train still runs on a QB.  I believe Kirby is trying to build a system that gets you there without a guy that has IT.  But it never hurts if they do.
 
The interesting thing to me as the commentary flowed after the game was thinking on Texas and Clemson.  It’s so easy to say that it was the game that got them over the hump.  They’ve been among the best the last 3-4 years and won some huge games.  But…so had the Horns.  They’d won the Rose Bowl 2 straight years.  They’d finally beaten OU.  They’d slayed the giant that no one thought they could slay in USC.  Texas looked poised to make a run.  And they did a little, but could never get it all the way back.
 
If there is cause for hope, it’s that #10 seems to have it.  He made the plays in the 4th Qtr vs. UNC, Mizzou, UT, UK, and even Vandy (remember we hit a 4th down on that drive and he hit Chigbu right between the numbers on the last 3rd down).  Kid doesn’t feel the pressure.
 
BTW, who you got in the FSU/Bama opener next year?  Whew, Nick loses 2 straight to the ACC and things might get a little uncomfortable down there.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Title Game: Cannot, Will NOT Root for Clemson

I’ll be Positive Paul and take good no matter the outcome.  There are no real winners here.  I cannot root for Clemson.  I just can’t.  I don’t want all my childhood friends to get their title before I get mine.  That’s not true.  I never want Clemson to win a title.  But, if they win, I’ll be happy for my brother experiencing something he wasn’t sure he would before he died.  He’s a good fan, and gets that they’re on an historic run w/ #4.  As a coach, he understands how hard it is to win games and falls in the “win 9 a year and every once in a while maybe make a run for it” camp.  If Clemson wins, might it reveal a chink in the Bama armor?  It would be the first loss by Saban on the biggest stage.  Might it give our team confidence when we play them in Atlanta.  I always thought LSU’s win over Florida in ’97 played a huge role for us to win in Jax.  Florida was the defending champ and still ranked #6, but the Bengal Tigers had proven they weren’t invincible.  It could mark the end for Bama.  Who knows?  Bobby was 71 when FSU lost to OU in 2001 amidst coordinator upheaval before the game (Richt was pulling double duty).  FSU didn’t make it back until 12 years later and a coaching change.  I wouldn’t expect that drop off from Bama, but it starts somewhere.
 
BTW, why doesn’t Deshaun get flagged for the shooting the arrow thing?  There are a lot of double standards in sports, but imagine Johnny Manziel or Cam doing that.  Deshaun is likeable, but it’s still a punk move.  Congratulate your O-Line and the guy who caught the pass and tell your coach good call.  It wasn’t all you, buddy.  Old man rant over.
 
I want Bama to win because I want to be the one to do it.  I want Kirby to be the first mentee to beat the mentor.  I want us to be the East team to finally win in Atlanta. I want to be the one to slay the giant and punch our ticket. 
 
Having said all that, I think Bama will roll.  What a crazy scenario they have found themselves in as almost…underdogs.  Everyone is picking Clemson and talking about all the points they rolled up last year along w/ the yards. I see that D coming to prove a point.  I see Sark dialing up a few and Hurts playing his best in a while.  That Saban is going to be able to play the disrespect card in the locker room is astounding, but the media has done it for him.  I might be wrong, but I think the message in the Bama locker room will be “Make them wonder why they wanted a rematch.”  I think Clemson had their shot and these jokers are going to try and prove a point.
 
Bama 34 – Clemson 17

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Comprehensive Memphis BBQ Tour Roundup


The best part of a 7-5 season is a bowl game in Memphis; one of the South's iconic cities and the land of BBQ and Blues.  As soon as the bowl matchup was announced I began working on my BBQ tour itinerary. After a few weeks of research I narrowed it down to four places.  Here's my review of these four legendary BBQ spots in Memphis, TN.

First stop:  Germantown Commissary

This lovely jewel is located in Germantown, just East of Memphis and Liberty Bowl Stadium.  It's a lot smaller than expected, but that adds to the experience in my opinion.  It was placed right next to a train track and twice during our meal it came blowing by making you feel like you're in the movie 'Fried Green Tomatoes'.  The d├ęcor is all wood and littered with vintage signs and memorabilia.  As soon as we parked, you could see the tall smoke stack going and I said to myself, "well, it smells right".  When you walk in there's a small waiting area with a cashier counter on the left and right in front of you is a cooler display of several home made desserts including coconut cake, banana pudding and lemon pie.  I don't usually get dessert, but I immediately knew I had to save room for one of those.

I've heard from a lot of family and friends the ribs are a must at Commissary so I got them.  A full rack of St. Louis style spare ribs for two with several sides, which lets be honest, sides are just a formality on a BBQ tour.  My favorite part about the Commissary was each plate came with two deviled eggs.  They were outstanding.  The ribs were very flavorful with the right amount of smoke and char, however, they were sorta hard to eat because the bones kept braking in half. The sides we had were baked beans, coleslaw and potato salad.  All of them were excellent.  The beans had pieces of pulled pork which matched the flavor of the ribs.  Coleslaw was a mayonnaise base with perfect consistency.  Potato salad was just right.  Not cold and not hot.  Nice ratio of all the ingredients. 

The one thing I was disappointed in was their Brunswick Stew.  The menu even says, "for you folks from Georgia", so I expected it to be really good.  It didn't have much flavor.  It was very thin and reminded me of a school cafeteria vegetable soup.  Would not recommend it.  As good as the BBQ and sides were, the stars of the show for me were the sweet tea and banana pudding.  You even get to keep your drink cup as a souvenir.  If you ever get a chance to visit, you must absolutely get both of them.  On a scale of 1-10 from atmosphere and service to food and cost, I'd give the Commissary an overall 7/10.




Second stop: Marlowe's Ribs & Restaurant

 
This was probably the stop I most looked forward to.  It's a little out of the way just past Graceland.  This place was featured on the Food Network's Diners, Drive-In's and Dives.  Anytime I can mark a place off my Triple D map, I'm going to do so.  The place is famous for it's pink pig trailer out front and they aren't afraid to let you know Elvis used to eat there.  As soon as you walk in, you might as well be in Graceland.  There's a cardboard cut out of the king with a poster of Guy Fieri himself over Elvis' left shoulder.  Like the Commissary, Marlowe's smells right.  Before I even sat down I knew I was going to like it.  The staff was very cordial and made sure we were well taken care of throughout our visit. 


Although, I was very tempted by the BBQ Spaghetti, I couldn't resist the half rack of baby back ribs I'd seen on Triple D.  The ribs arrived pretty quickly and I thought to myself these have probably been sitting out all day...they were loaded with sauce and I wondered if I should've gotten the BBQ spaghetti.  One bite into them, the only regret I had was not ordering the full rack.  The ribs were absolutely perfect.  They didn't fall off the bone, they stayed on the bone where you could see your own bite mark. Great smoke flavor and good char on the edges.  The sauce was fantastic.  A perfect mixture of sweet and tangy. Not too runny and not too thick.  I'm salivating just thinking about them.  I again got baked beans and coleslaw as my sides and neither disappointed.  Baked beans were classic basked beans and the coleslaw was a typical mayo based slaw at the perfect temperature, I.E. not COLDslaw.  I don't like cold slaw.


The sweet tea was also very good.  Not quite as sweet as the Commissary but definitely sweet enough.  I also sampled the pork stuffed potato and it was also very good.  The pork was pulled, not chopped and had tons of melted cheese and BBQ sauce on top.  I would recommend getting it if you don't like ribs.  The waitress asked us how everything was and of course we said it was delicious, she in turn said, "We don't brag for no reason." I was very impressed with Marlowe's from start to finish.  I'll definitely be back.  Overall rating 8/10.



 

Third stop: The Bar-B-Q Shop

We had originally scheduled Elwood's Shack to be our lunch spot on Saturday, but some friends told us it had unfortunately burned a few weeks ago.  I got back to my research and decided on The Bar-B-Q Shop to replace Elwood's.  This place sits on the road in an old set of buildings on Madison Ave in Midtown.  It has an old classic sign that hangs over the sidewalk which really shows its character and while the others "smelled right", this one looked right as soon as I saw it.  They were understaffed this New Year's Eve day and told us that up front.  No bother to me, I had nowhere to be and I was a long for the ride.  It's a typical BBQ joint on the inside.  A lot of wood walls, chairs and doors with plain old green tables.

We started off with a smoked bologna and cheese plate.  It took a while to arrive and once I got it I probably could have done without.  It wasn't nearly as smoky as I wanted and wasn't very flavorful like I expected it to be based on the sites and smells of the place.  It wasn't bad at all, just a little underwhelming. I was pleased with the addition of pepperoncini's for the sausage plate.  Most come with banana peppers, jalapeno's or pickles.

The Bar-B-Q Shop has a unique sauce.  It's a little more red in color than a traditional Memphis style sauce and it's very glossy.  I thought it was going to be heavily tomato flavored, but it wasn't.  It was actually very good. Like Marlowe's it had a perfect consistency for me, not too runny, not too thick.

I ordered a "regular" slab of dry spare ribs with baked beans and slaw. Perhaps an 11 am spare ribs lunch was a bit much, or maybe it was the 4th time I had ribs in about 36 hours, (had Rondezvous ribs in the sky box of the Liberty Bowl on Friday), but these ribs didn't do it for me.  They were fatty and a little heavy on the rub.  When I added their sauce, they were much better, but out of six bones, I only ate four.  The baked beans were standard baked beans but their slaw was interesting.  It had a mayo base with chopped celery in it.  It wasn't bad, but it wasn't my preference.  Safe to say I had order envy at the Bar-B-Q Shop.  Both people I was with got the pork sandwich and I sampled it.  It was excellent. Chopped pork served on Texas toast.  The pork was tender, smoky and chopped perfectly.  I was the only person who left food on the plate.  If I ever go back, I'll be sure to stick with a pork sandwich or pork plate.  Overall rating based on my order was a disappointing  5/10.


The fourth and final stop: Central BBQ
 

They say you save the best for last and that's exactly what we did.  I've been to Central before and often have Memphian relatives bring me a bottle of their sauce whenever they come home.  Even though this would be my 6th BBQ meal in about 3 days, (of course the NYE party we attended had ribs and pork), I was ready to do some damage.  I will say however, the ribs at The Bar-B-Q Shop turned me away from getting them at Central, even though they're the best restaurant ribs on the planet.  There's usually a long line to order and sometimes a security guard is on staff to maintain the flow of traffic from outside line to inside line.  A real testament to how good this place is.  We timed it perfectly, because on Sunday January, 1 around 1130 AM there was hardly any line. 

I ordered the pulled pork plate, (voted Memphis' best), with greens, mac & cheese and slaw.  The others had BBQ Nachos and a half slab of ribs with mac & potato salad.  Their sweet tea is second to none so naturally I got sweet tea as well.  Like Commissary you can keep your cup as a souvenir which is always a plus in my book.  The pork plate was a generous portion of pulled pork topped with plenty of Central's delicious mild BBQ sauce.  It wasn't the best pork I've ever had, but pretty darn good. However, I definitely had order envy once again when the ribs and nachos arrived.  I can't explain to you how good their baby back ribs are.  They are perfectly charred and in my opinion are the perfect rack of ribs.  The slaw was very cold which I didn't care for, but the mac & cheese and potato salad were outstanding.  Both have sprinkles of their rub on top.  The greens seemed canned and didn't have much flavor, but as I stated earlier, on a BBQ tour sides are just a formality.  If you ever get to Memphis, I highly recommend Central BBQ, specifically their baby back ribs.  Dry or wet, you can't go wrong.  Their dry is basically a char, not a heavily caked rub and their wet is a nice amount of sauce glazed over the top.  Overall rating 9/10.