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Odum's Notes from New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS — No coach can top Georgia offensive coordinator Neil Callaway's long history with the Sugar Bowl in the Superdome.

As a sophomore on Coach Bear Bryant's 1975 Alabama team, Neil Callaway played in the first Sugar Bowl staged in the Superdome. Quarterback Richard Todd led the Crimson Tide to a 13-6 win over Penn State in the game on Dec. 31, 1975.  

Callaway says he remembers players being awed by their first experience in the then-new indoor facility.

"We just couldn't believe the big-screen TVs,'' Callaway said Sunday. "We didn't know whether to look at the replays on the big screen. We didn't know how to handle that.''

Callaway played five positions — offensive guard, offensive tackle, defensive end, noseguard and linebacker — at Alabama and played in two Sugar Bowls and one Orange Bowl from 1975-77.

As the offensive line coach at Auburn for Pat Dye from 1981-92, Callaway coached in three more Sugar Bowls.

Most major college outdoor stadiums now have big video screens, and Georgia and Florida State players have have had sufficient exposure to domes to feel more comfortable in this game.

Georgia is coming off its Southeastern Conference championship game victory over Arkansas in the Georgia Dome and practiced in the Superdome last week before shifting to the New Orleans Saints' practice facility Sunday.

 Florida State has been holding its practices at Tulane, but both teams will work out in the Superdome today. Neither team plans to practice Tuesday.

Decisions, decisions: Several Georgia players have been considering career moves.  Redshirt freshman quarterback D.J. Shockley again said Sunday that he will return to Georgia next year. Shockley said he looked at the quarterback situations and offenses at several schools when considering a transfer.  

Despite facing the possibility of playing behind sophomore starting quarterback David Greene two more years, Shockley says he is staying.

Meanwhile, at least two juniors — tailback Musa Smith and defensive tackle Johnathan Sullivan — will consider leaving school early to enter the NFL draft.  Sullivan is considered a possible first-round pick. Smith's draft status is more difficult to predict.

 "I've got one more game and I'll start thinking about that after the game,'' Smith said Sunday. "Right now my plans are to come back.''  

Hit the court or hit the weights: Sophomore receiver Fred Gibson said Sunday he already has decided if he will again join the basketball team immediately after the bowl game, but he won't disclose his decision until after the game.  

Coach Mark Richt said he will stick by his recruiting promise to support Gibson if he chooses to play basketball, but he says Gibson needs the added strength that would come with an offseason in the weight room.

"I want him to do what he wants to do,'' Richt said. "This is his career. I'm going to stay true to my word  when I recruited him. All I'm saying is he has a greater chance of being a dominant receiver with a good offseason (in the football conditioning program).''  

Gibson briefly lost his starting job during the season, in part due to poor blocking that could improve with more strength.

Gibson says Richt has not told him not to play basketball. Gibson said he has grown tired of others  telling him what is best for his future.

"It's really tough having everybody on your back, telling you what you should do,'' Gibson said Sunday. "Basically, I just want to do what Fred wants to do.''

In most of his comments, Gibson sounded like he plans to play basketball for a second straight year, but he also said "I love basketball, but I'm here for football. It's my job.''

Stinchcomb held out: Offensive tackle Jon Stinchcomb has developed an infection in his left calf. He says the infection "is not very inhibitive'' when he is playing but causes some discomfort if he lays down or sits for a long period.  

Stinchcomb was held out of practice Sunday. He intended to practice but was pulled off the team bus by trainers.

 "(The infection) has kind of increased in size the last three days,'' he said. "I think they just wanted me to stay off it and nip it in the bud before it becomes more of a problem.''

 Stinchcomb said the infection "wouldn't be a problem'' if the game had been Sunday. He plans to practice today.

Watson adjusting to cast: Tight end Ben Watson is wearing a cast on his right hand after suffering ligament damage near his wrist in the SEC championship game. Watson said his hand bent back when he was trying to brace himself on a fall.

Watson said he has been told the injury should heal without surgery. He says he has adjusted to making catches while playing with the cast, which is similar to the one worn by Gibson in games since he has returned from surgery to repair a torn ligament in his thumb.

Bowling at the bowl: Players went bowling as the team outing Sunday night. Though there may not be many ace bowlers on the team, there was an anticipation of the relaxing night out turning into a competitive event.  

"That's the way it is with anything we do that has any kind of competition,'' said Smith.


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