Jeff Schultz blog 

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

June Jones whiffs on spring football idea

  • 9:40 am Monday, July 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
June Jones might want to clear his plan with Larry Brown. (via SMUMustangs.com)

Back from vacation.

First question: When Braves general manager Frank Wren has his performance review at the end of the season, does Liberty Media count Dan Uggla as one mistake or 62 million?

Second question: What is June Jones thinking?

The former Falcons’ coach has an idea. It’s a really bad idea. Jones who is entering his seventh season at SMU, believes football schools in non-“Power 5” conferences – including Georgia State in the Sun Belt — should move their season to the spring.

I’m going to assume that Jones has not run this idea past Larry Brown, the basketball coach on his campus.

Jones’ [More]

Lawsuit shows NCAA still in fantasyland

  • 10:57 am Thursday, June 5th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
EA sports was sued for using likenesses of NCAA players without their permission.

One would think that with all of the punches the NCAA is being hit with these days, it would become a better loser. Instead, it continues to provide more fodder for criticism.

Latest example: There’s a proposed $40 million settlement for class-action lawsuits filed by 200,000 to 300,000 former NCAA football and basketball players, whose likenesses were used by video game manufacturer EA Sports without their permission. This is just one of several lawsuits and issues the NCAA is dealing with, all circling around the fallacy of amateur athletics that it’s trying to perpetuate.
Anyway, this was the NCAA’s official response Wednesday [More]

Richt, Pruitt justified in making changes

  • 8:51 am Wednesday, June 4th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Jeremy Pruitt has been given free rein to fix Georgia's defense. (Curtis Compton, AJC)

There are two absolutes when a college athlete is dismissed from a team: 1) The player did something wrong (probably more than once); 2) The coach did something right.

Given Georgia coach Mark Richt has dismissed safety Tray Matthews for unspecified reasons, the third high-profile exit from his team’s defense this offseason. This should confirm that the let’s-give-him-one-more-chance mentality that used to exist in Athens is officially dead and buried.

Richt’s statement on Matthews’ exit was brief but said enough: “We are trying to make room for guys who want to do things right.”

UPDATE: Matthews addresses his dismissal: He admits he caused [More]

SEC coaches don’t want rules skirted (wait, what?) (updated)

  • 11:27 am Thursday, May 29th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Penn State's James Franklin is ruffling the feathers of SEC coaches. (AP photo)

James Franklin, the former Vanderbilt coach now of Penn State, will be appearing at football camps next month at Georgia State and Stetson University, and SEC coaches don’t like. Why? Because it circumvents an NCAA rule.

Sorry. Need a minute. I can’t stop laughing.

So here’s the background: The NCAA has a rule that precludes NCAA coaches from holding football camps out of state more than 50 miles from their campus. The idea of this rule is to prevent Alabama’s Nick Saban from holding a camp in Athens and Georgia’s Mark Richt from going to Gainesville, Fla., and  Kentucky’s Mark Stoops going [More]

Holiday 6-pack: Will Nats close on Braves?

  • 12:01 pm Monday, May 26th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
The Braves' B.J. Upton is reaching base more and striking out less. Honest. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Good morning. This is the day to celebrate our true heroes. Memorial Day began as a day to honor the soldiers who died in the Civil War but now serves to recognize all Americans who died while in the military. This isn’t a day for politics. To borrow from Mark Twain: “Patriotism is supporting your country all the time, and your government when it deserves it.”

And now, on the backside of this barbecue weekend, a six-pack of thoughts on a six-pack of teams:

1. Braves: Keep an eye on Washington

The Braves are showing signs of coming out of their offensive rut, [More]

Michigan botches recruiting pitch

  • 12:03 pm Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Can you spot the typo in this recruiting pitch?

There are two subjects I generally try to stay away from: Recruiting (because it nauseates me) and mocking somebody else’s spelling mistakes (because, well, you know).

But this item brings the worst of both worlds together, so . . .

College football coaches are going to greater lengths than ever to get the attention of recruits. Tennessee coach Butch Jones sent a player’s recruit a Mother’s Day card. Notre Dame photo-shopped the image of coveted high school quarterback Blake Barnett on a poster of the school’s seven Heisman Trophy winners, with the question, “Are you next?”

Michigan coach Brady Hoke also tried [More]

Donnan keeping cool for a guy on trial

  • 5:11 pm Thursday, May 15th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz
Former Georgia coach Jim Donnan (with attorney Jerry Froelich) is awaiting jury's verdict. (Richard Hamm/Athens Banner Herald)

ATHENS — I’m not sure how I would act in public, or certainly around the media, if I was facing facing 41 counts of conspiracy, mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in federal court. But I’m guessing I would wear my emotions on my sleeve a little more than Jim Donnan.

Day two of jury deliberations passed Thursday without a verdict in Donnan’s fraud trial. There’s no way to read into what that means, other than the jury is taking its time weighing each of the 41 counts. A quick acquittal is off the table, but then so is a [More]

SEC blew it by not expanding to 9 games

  • 8:56 am Monday, April 28th, 2014 by Jeff Schultz

The “C” in SEC now stands for cowards.

The SEC’s presidents, taking a cue from coaches worried about their jobs and athletic directors worried about bowl games, effectively voted to change nothing in its football scheduling format Sunday night. Rather than requiring schools to play nine of its 12 games against conference opponents, the direction most major conferences are going in, the SEC will stick with the eight-game mandate.

In other words, keep the Coastal Carolinas, Appalachian State and Austin Peays of the world on speed dial. Because aren’t those are the games everybody really wants to see? Or not.

There was [More]

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]