The 'bag is back, back again

Here it goes. The first Mailbag of 2015. I, obviously, omitted any questions about OC speculation. And I made the wild error of not giving my guest star a word count, so bear with me.

What, if anything, is good about Thomasville, Georgia?

CS: The only Whataburger in Georgia. As Jonathan mentioned, Mike Bobo…. and Ray Drew (kinda, he played in Thomasville). The Big Oak. You do know that honey buns are made in T-vegas, right?

How bad will the Tampa Bay Rays be next year?

CS: Well let’s see, pending Zobrist gets traded, I’ll go with not good. They might actually pick up and move to Montreal. Let’s just all hope they take the Trop with them. I have a little faith in Longo holding the team together, but I should’ve seen this all coming after the Price trade in July. As one of the only Rays fans in Georgia, you’d think they’d try harder to keep me in their good graces, but after realizing Kevin Kiermaier blocked me on Twitter (and I have zero idea as to why), I’m skeptical about this year. Hoping they prove me wrong.

In your time in the recruiting office how many recruits mentioned anything about an indoor facility, or where there any questions about that facility or lack thereof?

CS: I interacted with a lot of recruits—of all different levels, on their OVs, on gamedays, guys that committed to UGA, guys that went elsewhere. They talked about a lot of things, but I cannot remember once that a recruit brought up an indoor facility to me. Though I’m sure it’s talked about a lot more now that the conversation has been stirred.

are you fond of purple shirts?****

CS: This is probably an inside joke or movie quote I’m not picking up on… right?

Are you single and how do you feel about fat ugly guys from NJ?

CS: Married to the game.

Fletcher Page enters the Mail Bag: Yo, Caitlyn, I’m really happy for you. Imma let you finish. But Kingpin Legge has the most extensive collection of purple shirts of all time!

Y’all thought because I left for Illinois… Because I came back to Athens… Because I’m at the Banner-Herald… That I wouldn’t get crazy and say ridiculous things in the Mail Bag and help y’all waste a bucketload of time?

You’re exactly right. I like my job and can’t afford to get another call from HR.

But it’s good to see Legge went up into the Dawg Post attic, waded through the empty Diet Coke cans and found the ole Mail Bag. He dusted it off and, after his initial feelings of fear and anxiety, decided to give it another run.

Funny story, and I’m sure many of you remember how this party use to kick off right.

Scene - me still in bed sometime in the afternoon after one of my all-night writefests to get the Mail Bag out to the hungry masses…

Phone rings. It says Dean Legge.

Fletch: What

Dean: Did you say something about Rodney (Garner) in the Mail Bag?

Fletch: No… Well… not really. … I said he was a survivor.

Dean: You called him la cucaracha… why would you do that?

Fletch: Well, I mean, he remained on staff when Donnan was fired and Richt took over. He stuck around after Willy got canned and Grantham came in. So, I figure Keith Richards and cockroaches are the standard for longevity. So yeah, I didn’t call him Keith Richards.

Dean: Why did you use Spanish?

Fletch: … I don’t really know.

Dean: Stop talking about Rodney in the Mail Bag. I got a phone call about it. *Click

End scene.

We had the best times, didn’t we? Anyway, carry on Caitlyn.

From your time inside of the athletic department with the football team, how much of a factor does "cost" play into a decision when something is needed vs simply trying to determine which one is "better"?

CS: I don’t think cost is as much of a factor as we like to chalk it up to be. A lot of people default to calling Georgia “cheap,” because they are constantly being compared to schools like Alabama and Ole Miss who are straight stacks on deck. UGA spends where they know money needs to be spent. I think you are trying to ask if UGA spares quality (“better”) for a lower price tag, and I’m not convinced it does.

Given the natural correlation between recruiting success and future success on the field, since you had a front row seat to the process, do you feel like the recruiting department has everything that it needs in order to be successful? If not, (a) what suggestions do you have on areas that the recruiting department could improve, (b) what does it need in order to make those improvements and (c) if people are aware of the things that could be done better, what or who are the roadblocks to making those improvements?

CS: I think Georgia has done a very successful job recruiting. Think of all the young guys that come into the program who are ready to play (Nick Chubb, Isaiah McKenzie, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter). The program made a lot of progress this year under Ronnie Letson and with a new recruiting operations assistant. I think whoever does come into the recruiting department should be similar to Ronnie in a lot of ways. Though I wasn’t around him a whole lot, I could see why he was so valuable in recruiting.

On the note of staffing changes, the recruiting program coordinator, Connie Connelly, who also used to awork in UGA sports comm, is retiring before next season so things could change up a little. The office also has a recruiting intern position open, I believe.

With whoever UGA hires to for these positions, the landscape of Georgia recruiting will continue to evolve. Heck, I’m curious to see who they have recruiting South Georgia now that Bobo is gone. Assuming Schottenheimer takes over that position, I’ll be sure to forward him my notes on why Thomasville is so great. Shall I warn him about the madness that is the 229?

What were the reasons you heard from within the organization as to why we have gone without a full S&C staff for the last couple of years (e.g. desire to save money, lack of qualified candidates, agreement between the coaches and ADGM that we really didn't need a full S&C staff because we were already so much more advanced and efficient than everyone else we play against in terms of the way we approach strength training and nutrition that a fifth person would just slow down the other four?!?!)?

CS: Though I did interact with Joe T quite a bit while I worked with the recruiting office, I never really saw the admin side of it. And because Fletcher is just so big and strong and clearly knows more about S&C than I ever will, I’m going to toss this one his way.

FP: Oh, I’m strong — but body odor isn’t everything.

Here’s how I see the previous S&C collection… Joe T was the “Old Bulldog” — the guy who loved and breathed and lived all things Georgia and had the credibility and “don’t give a damn” to motivate and organize.

They then brought in Thomas from Penn State to head up the weight lifting side of it and Sherman for conditioning and flexibility.

Former players like Tony Gilbert and Thomas Brown, too, probably because they were big and strong, had been there, done that at UGA and could relate to the players and recruits.

There was diversity to it. Joe T fired people up (and scared the poop outta me), Thomas got dudes swoll and Sherman stretched ‘em out. And the former players got to work out for a living and tried to make sure nobody did anything stupid.

The question is, did it work? Sure, I think so. I think Georgia looked fine in the trenches this season. And so then the question is, was there a way to make it work better, bigger, stronger, faster? And again, sure, I think so.

The Joe T Era of S&C did a good job of getting Georgia moving in the right direction. And now they’ve brought in a guy from Alabama in Mark Hocke that needs to push it further. You can work hard and work smart. It’s pretty clear Georgia will provide Hocke with what he needs, as that’s now his task. Everything, everywhere, can become more dynamic, more efficient — just plain better.

Hocke’s the dude now.

A lot has come to surface lately about the lack of harmony shared between ADGM and our football coaches/program. In your opinion, has this been brewing for a while and a lot of people in the athletic dept felt or knew about it or is it something that just "came out of nowhere" this season and then exploded after the loss to Tech? Does this tension also exist between ADGM and other sports programs and their personnel? I wish I could ask you to compare ADGM's leadership style and approach to running the athletic department vs former AD's that did a good job at UGA, but I don't think we have had a good one in your lifetime (or possibly mine) to reference, so I won't waste your time with that one.

CS: It try to not seek out administrative bickerings. I fight with Dean, but that’s just life. Here’s the little I know.

Richt and McGarity have apparently been at odds for a while. They’ve had their differences since McGarity took over as AD. To what extent? I’m not sure. I think because football is such a machine for UGAA that tensions are probably higher than with other departments. I’ve never heard of discontent with McGarity and other personnel, but that 100% doesn’t mean that there isn’t.

Why does the caged bird sing?

CS: Bringing out the Maya Angelou on the first mailbag. I’m impressed. I think it would take a much wiser person than I to give you a worthy answer though.

Will you be doing a video response to these questions like Dean did?

CS: Dean and Mary Helen Jones are the faces of this operation. I’m going to hope he doesn’t read this question and go getting any ideas.

Mark Hocke was hired by UGA as its new Director of Strength and Conditioning for Football on 21 December 2014. Why did UGA waive the minimum requirement of 5 or more years experience as a Division I FBS Head S&C Coach for him (he has zero experience in that capacity) when other applicants (e.g., Nebraska's James Dobson, Central Florida's Ed Ellis, Georgia's John Thomas, and Stanford's Shannon Turley) met this requirement?

CS: Titles only go so far. With him previously being Co-Associate Football Strength and Conditioning coach at Bama, racking up a few rings on that staff, I think the recs and merit he earned there made him the best candidate. I’ve been through enough Richt pressers to know that he would say something along the lines of “He was the best fit for the job,” followed by praise for the other candidates. Which is probably not the juicy answer everyone wants to hear, but that’s my two cents on the subject.

Who are the leading candidates to fill UGA Football's two open strength and conditioning positions (NCAA allows 5, UGA has 3: Mark Hocke/John Thomas/Gus Felder)? Prior to Sherman Armstrong departing the program at the end of December, UGA has been operating w/ just 4 of the 5 allowable since May 2012. Does AD Greg McGarity feel that the football S&C staff operating at 80% strength is adequate? If so, that would be like UGA's football coaching staff deciding not to hire a replacement for Coach Bobo and Coach Friend and letting Graduate Assistant Coaches like Doug Saylor and Dan Inman fill the void.

CS: Woah now, pump those brakes. Letting a GA take over an OC position is hardly a fair comparison. Though I would love to see Dan coaching O-line. I have never asked McGarity if he feels that having only four coaches was adequate, and I’m not going to speak on his behalf. That gets me in trouble. I think with Joe T stepping down, there could very well be a lot of changes in the S&C department, but I don’t think that McGarity was trying to cut corners by using only four coaches. If the coaching staff felt they needed, truly needed, someone else in a staff position, I’d be surprised if McGarity shot it down.

Who is the leading candidate to replace Ronnie Letson as UGA Football's Director of Player Personnel?

CS: From what I’ve heard, they are going to hire more than one person to replace Ronnie. There will probably be just one person to take over his position/title, but his job encompassed SO much in recruiting that it’s my understand they are trying to restructure that role.

Which football recruits will be taking an official visit to UGA this month and on what date(s)?

CS: This is incredibly fluid. As you’ve probably seen by now, Arden Key is now questionable with his visit. Javaris Davis is scheduled for Jan. 30 weekend. Rico McGraw will be in Athens the weekend of Jan. 16. I know you stay on The Porch, so I’ll do my best to throw together a comprehensive list/calendar ASAP.

At this time UGA has 66 recruited scholarship players for the 2015 season (i.e., 58 returnees from last season, UAB LB transfer Jake Ganus, and 7 early enrollees). Dawgs are expected to sign 23 more to NLIs on 4 February. That would put UGA at 89 scholarship players or 4 more than the NCAA allows. Thus, which 4 current players or recruits are likely to attrit (e.g., transfer, not qualify, be placed on medical scholarship) by 1 July? Dean Legge mentioned Reggie Wilkerson as one possibility prior to bowl practices. Aulden Bynum, Josh Cardiello, Kennar Daniels-Johnson, Shaun McGee, and Johnny O'Neal have been in the system for 2 years but aren't getting much (if any) playing time. What are their prospects for quality playing time this season?

FP: First of all — AirForce, you’re in the Dawg Post message board Hall of Fame (our annual meeting at the Zaxby’s in Metter is fast approaching). Mad respect for what you provide there.

With that said, I hate to do this, but if I want to waste time I wonder about things like why people from Knoxville have such a tough time on standardized tests or who really thought Milli Vanilli was cool. You know who you are.

These things always take care of themselves. I’d rather not speculate about college kids who may or may not realize their services aren’t really needed and could potentially miss out on a nice piece of paper from UGA if they “decide” to leave. (I put decided in quotes because, well, you know how it goes).

Which of the freshmen (i.e., Kendall Baker, Detric Bing-Dukes, Keyon Brown, Jake Edwards, Lamont Gaillard, and Jacob Park) that redshirted this past season are most likely to make an impact next season?

CS: Freshman, freshman. Do something crazy.

FP: Nah, I don’t see it on that list… So I’m going to change the rules and say Shattle Fenteng — the JUCO corner did redshirt last season after injury. And since Pruitt has shown he’ll play anybody and everybody at any given time, I’ll go with Fenteng.

When do you think UGA Football will have an Indoor Practice Facility built and ready for the team to practice in? Also, what's the likelihood that it will extend from the current 20-yd IPF connected to the Butts-Mehre Building?

CS: I know Pruitt came in piping hot about breaking ground on an IPF within the year. I’d be surprised if that happened. Next 5 years? Sure. Especially if ole Pruitt sticks around. Which means that the next recruiting class would have that luxury before they leaving (assuming these presumed rockstars don’t leave for the NFL after three years). I know Richt would like to have the facility as close to the Butts-Mehre building, which houses the other football facilities, as possible but unless they plan on buying the Kangaroo gas station and part of the elementary school, I’m not sure where they would fit it. But Richt seems hopeful, so we shall see.

Does UGA spend any resources on CI relating to recruiting, i.e. knowing what the other guy is saying/showing/emphasizing to recruits on official visits? Does every school basically know every other school's schtick?

CS: Well, guys aren’t exactly shy on social media with it. I mean Quart’e Sapp out of Milton High School tweeted a picture in a bathtub full of letters from interested schools. And the UGA recruiting department knows what’s up with other schools —how they operate, what they emphasize. But in my time there, that wasn’t what they focused on. Georgia does a really great job of developing relationships with kids and catering to each recruit. I never really saw the anything-you-can-do-I-can-do-better recruiting style.

How much leeway would Richt give an offensive coordinator/game planner in deviating away from the Bobo style? I know UGA will run a pro style offense, but Bobo moved the UGA offense away from what Richt brought with him from Florida State to a West Coast style mostly featuring a single back, a tight end and three wide receivers (called the 11 package). Doesn't seem to be much point in bringing in a smart, successful guy and telling him what his limitations are, does it? If you do that, one of the young unknown quarterback coaches can handle that.

CS: Shameless confession: I don’t think I watched a single Rams game all season so I have no idea what Schottenhemier brings to the table. Obviously your question has been somewhat answered by this hire, but I think UGA hiring an OC from the pros was great for the style of offense Richt likes and wants to run.

Why would you ever want this job?

CS: If you can survive the road trips, it’s actually not a bad gig.

Are there any plans to build a statue beside Dooley ' s in honor of Fletch for having started the Mailbag?

CS: Actually we decided to wait and put his statue outside this indoor practice facility everyone keeps talking about.

FP: Nah, I heard they were putting my statue in one of the bathrooms at the Miller Learning Center on campus, as that’s where most people flushed their time reading my 10,000 word Mail Bags back in the good ole’ days.

Hey, y’all stay pumped. The Mail Bag is back!

CS: and better, now that Fletcher has minimal influence

FP: And with that, we’re hitting the back door and getting out of here before this gets any worse… Turn out the lights boys, the party's over…We outta' here baby…Thank y'all for coming.

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