Jeff Schultz blog 

This AJC sports blogger takes things seriously when he has to, but he really would rather not

Mercer (Georgia’s shining light) stuns Duke

  • 2:56 pm Friday, March 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

Playing in a state starved for college basketball excellence, Mercer University did more than just drop the Macon Whoopee down a notch in Macon’s modest sports history Friday. It emerged as the unlikely program to set the standard for other college programs in Georgia.

The 14th seeded Bears, playing in their first NCAA tournament game since 1985, shot nearly 56 percent from the field against Duke’s crumbling defense, went on a late 11-0 run and stunned the No. 3 seeded Blue Devils 78-71 in  a first-round game of the Midwest Regional in Raleigh, N.C.

Yes. That just happened.

It was the first NCAA [More]

SEC needs to expand conference schedules (column preview)

  • 10:12 am Thursday, March 20th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
SEC football fans deserve to see more conference opponents.

The SEC’s coaches and athletic directors are balking at going to nine-game conference schedules. The latest evidence of this comes from LSU athletic director Joe Alleva, who told the Baton Rouge Advocate, “That means seven more losses for certain teams.”

Well. So much for the Big Bad SEC.

I’ll have a full column on this later today. But the SEC will be making a mistake on several levels if it doesn’t expand from the current eight-conference/four non-conference-game format.

The Pacific 12 and Big 12 already play nine conference games. The Big Ten will expand to nine games beginning in 2016. Of [More]

More arrests at Georgia, and Herbstreit jumps Richt

  • 10:04 am Tuesday, March 18th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mark Richt needs to at least suspend his four arrested players.

There goes that quiet offseason.

By now you’ve probably heard that Georgia, not unaccustomed to unflattering headlines in the offseason, had four football players arrested for “theft by deception,” a misdemeanor.

The four players: starting safety Tray Matthews, wide receiver Uriah LeMay and defensive lineman Jonathan Taylor and James DeLoach. Their crimes: Double-dipping on $71.50 stipend checks. They would do this by depositing the checks with a picture on their smartphone apps, then quickly cashing the same checks at a convenience store.

If we go on the assumption that the four players are not in the Terry College of Business and weren’t [More]

Bad sign? Florida struggles in win (updated)

  • 3:44 pm Saturday, March 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

(Updated: 4:30 p.m.)

Here’s your first NCAA bracket tip: Assume nothing with Florida.

The No. 1 ranked Gators took a 24-game winning streak into their SEC semifinal game against Tennessee Saturday and for most of the game looked rather pedestrian. They pulled it out in the end, winning 56-49 at the Georgia Dome, but not before leaving some doubt about how far they’ll go in the NCAA tournament – and for that matter how they’ll fare in Sunday’s SEC title game against the winner of Georgia-Kentucky.

Somebody asked Florida coach Billy Donovan if he would’ve considered a loss such a bad thing before [More]

Will Georgia school get NCAA bid? Here are odds

  • 12:45 pm Monday, March 3rd, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

Welcome to that time of year when we look at the state of college basketball in Georgia and the chance of the state getting a team in the NCAA basketball tournament (generally is commensurate with calling tails with a two-headed coin).

I went through the latest ESPN RPI rankings of 351 Division I basketball programs, and it was as depressing as one would expect. Below are the seven eligible state programs. (If I missed one, let me know.) I’m ranking them by RPI, which is a major factor used by the NCAA tournament selection committee. But because a team’s RPI [More]

Expert: Georgia’s NCAA hopes rest on win over Florida or Kentucky

  • 11:31 am Wednesday, February 26th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Mark Fox's team still has a lot of work to do if it hopes to reach the NCAA tournament. (AP photo)

Georgia has been on a nice run, winning six of its last seven and 10 of 15 SEC games overall. But according to one college basketball capologist, it’s not nearly enough to impress the NCAA tournament selection committee and the Bulldogs probably will have to beat Kentucky or Florida to even get into the conversation.

I spoke to Jerry Palm of CBS Sports. His current projected NCAA bracket has Florida and Kentucky in the tournament field and two SEC teams, Missouri and Arkansas, in play-in games. You can find Palm’s projected bracket if you click here.

Palm said, “It’s possible, but [More]

Missouri’s Sam says he’s gay; how will NFL react?

  • 10:02 pm Sunday, February 9th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Michael Sam, who led the SEC in sacks last season, has announced he is gay. (AP photo)

Michael Sam is gay. That shouldn’t matter to anybody in the world but we’re about to find out whether it matters to anybody in the NFL.

Sam was a standout defensive lineman at Missouri. In fact, he was the SEC’s defensive player of the year with 11.5 sacks in his senior season. So for anybody who had some preconceived, archaic ideas about what a homosexual athlete must look like or sound like, this should obliterate all those clichés. Sam is 6-foot-2, 255 pounds and led college football’s premier conference in sacks.

Jason Collins, a former Atlanta Hawk and long-time NBA player, announced [More]

Signing day advice: Proceed with caution

  • 7:21 am Wednesday, February 5th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
College football recruiting can be as unpredictable as fortune telling.

Good morning. It’s national letter of intent day. I’ve never hidden my feelings about the obsession so many of you have with this day so it wouldn’t be right for me to be disingenuous and start now. The most positive thing I can say about letter of intent day is that it’s more palatable than April 15.

Anyway, about today: Whether you’re a recruiting-obsessed football fan of Georgia, Georgia Tech, Georgia State or Georgia Southern, here’s some unsolicited advice: Try to make it through this day with some little perspective.

If Georgia finishes seventh among SEC schools in some site’s recruiting rankings, [More]

Georgia’s Pruitt: ‘I feel like this is championship staff’

  • 1:59 pm Wednesday, January 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Jeremy Pruitt was given an ovation when he met with Georgia players.

ATHENS — Mark Richt walked into the team meeting room at the Butts-Mehre building Wednesday, scanned the crammed line of television cameras, photographers and media members filling several rows of seats in the room and said, “Wow. Must be a big day here.”

The fact the hiring of an assistant football coach could draw this kind of attention was kind of, yes, amusing. But the hiring of Jeremy Pruitt from national champion Florida State is kind of a big deal for defensively challenged Georgia. He didn’t help the Bulldogs win a game at his introduction but his words struck the right [More]

Pruitt’s one great year a risk worth taking for Georgia

  • 2:52 pm Tuesday, January 14th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

Home run.

The mixing of sports metaphors notwithstanding, that was my initial reaction when our Chip Towers broke the news that Georgia was hiring Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt as its new defensive coordinator.

Now, it should be noted that Pruitt’s hiring comes with some risk. He has had a meteoric rise in the coaching profession. He was coaching high school football only seven years ago (Hoover, Ala.). He followed that with six years at Alabama under Nick Saban (three years as director of player development, three as defensive backs coach). Then came one year as the defensive coordinator at Florida State.

One. [More]