Friday, September 16, 2005

Up and Running! And Georgia.

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On with the next non-conference opponent for WKU: the Georgia Bulldogs.

"You made me cry, you told me lies, but I can't stand to say goodbye. Mama, I'm coming home." ~Ozzy Osborne

OK, maybe that's a harsh line to describe how I feel about UGA coach Dennis Felton. After all, the former WKU coach led the Toppers from the depths of Kilcullendom (aka Mordor) to three straight NCAA appearances. He unearthed a massive gem in Chris Marcus. He ran a program that exuded class (save one incident or two) and demanded excellence. So, despite the quote about never leaving WKU unless it was his "dream job (scandal-ridden Georgia?)," the man has my respect. He should be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts in his return to Diddle Arena. I'll save my "Felton Returns" post for later when he actually comes back. Let's talk about the team.

The hairy Dawgs could hunker down and be a surprise team in the SEC. Kentucky looks to be a clearcut frontrunner in the SEC East, and Vandy and Tennessee are expected to challenge Florida for the #2 slot. South Carolina and Georgia probably have the lowest expectations, but WKU made a quantum leap in year three under Felton. It will be interesting to see if UGA can do the same. They are my darkhorse pick to do well in the SEC, mainly because they return ALL FIVE starters coupled with a good recruiting class, and this will be the third year of buy-in to Felton's in-your-face, half-court style of play.

In addition to the SEC slate, which is likely to be down (again), the Dawgs open the season against a very good Old Dominion team in the Paradise Jam. If they win, a possible matchup with Wisconsin looms. In addition to the road tests at WKU, at Nevada, and at Oregon State, UGA will host Georgia Tech and Clemson. The Dawgs have a fairly challenging non-conference slate.

Of all the games on WKU's schedule, this one has to be the most intriguing. The reason UGA is coming to Diddle is because of a nifty clause in Felton's WKU contract. The clause said that if Felton left for another school, that school must engage in a four year, home-and-home series with WKU. It was a stroke of genius by WKU athletic director Wood Selig. Hopefully, this game will allow WKU to show it's appreciation of Coach Felton and also send his Dawgs home scalded and yelping from a blistering at the hands of the Tops. After that, I hope they win the SEC.