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Latest from Jay Black

    ATLANTA – Two years ago in a building that’s now in ruins, Kirby Smart was the center of the Bulldog universe. While Alabama was getting to set win another SEC Championship, Nick Saban’s defensive coordinator was set to become the next head coach of the University of Georgia. It was the worst kept secret in the state. All that was left was for the Crimson Tide to finish their season, which they did in spectacular fashion. Less than 24 hours after it was over Kirby was to be anointed king of Bulldog Nation. Two years later, Smart has bestowed upon his subject the riches and glory they were dreaming about. The Georgia Bulldogs are SEC Champions. Two years ago, they were TaxSlayer Bowl Championship. I don’t think the latter trophy sits quite as prominently in the case inside the Larry Munson Trophy Room. “I’m so happy,” said Smart, dripping wet from his Gatorade shower, right after the 28-7 win over Auburn became official. “It’s awesome. For the Dawg Nation. For everybody.” It is the unbridled joy that Georgia Bulldogs fans were hoping for – and some expecting – on December 6 th 2015. But the reality sure does feel better than the dream doesn’t it? Yes it’s certainly not uncommon for a coach to walk out of Atlanta with the SEC hardware in his hand. Obviously UGA fans watched Mark Richt do the same thing in 2002. But the SEC of 15 years ago isn’t quite the same as it is now. Take nothing away from Richt, but 2002 Arkansas isn’t winning the SEC West anymore. And that’s been the problem. While this league has been the most dominant it’s ever been, Georgia was left behind. The teams that won the SEC went on to bigger and better things. Alabama won its national championships. Florida got a couple. LSU got theirs. So did the fighting Cam Newtons. Georgia was left with a few division titles, some bowl swag and a fan base wondering how it got left in the dust. Now the Dawgs have caught up and they’ve done it faster than I thought they would. I was clear that I thought Mark Richt deserved the chance to fix what was broken, but I never had any problem with Kirby Smart coming in if Richt didn’t get that opportunity. I am not surprised that he has pulled this off. I am surprised that he’s done it two years after I watched his Alabama defense leave Florida in the same shape the Georgia Dome is now (by the way, if you want to make yourself sad, walk by the implosion site next week). But after that day, it didn’t take his players long to realize that the right guy was leading them. “Yeah, I remember,” said Nick Chubb, with the 2017 SEC Championship hat on his head. “(I was) happy the first day he came and spoke to us. He was busy with Alabama winning the championship, and he came in, and he just looked exhausted. We’re like, man, what’s this man been up to?” Kirby Smart has been a man in a hurry ever since. “The first time he came up to the meeting and then especially like the first practice we had,” said Roquan Smith, the SEC Championship Game MVP. “Just knowing the way he carried himself, high energy, and just the things he says, and he actually backs it up with his actions. He’s an awesome guy.” Awesome is one way to describe it. It has been asked a lot this week if Kirby thought his team was ahead of schedule. He gets annoyed with questions pretty easy, but he’s really sick of this one. “There is no schedule to winning championships,” Smart kept saying over and over again. “There is no schedule. The only thing is what you have and what you do with what you have.” What Kirby Smart had in year one wasn’t much. You can certainly there was more to that team than 8-5, but it was not worthy of winning much more than the Liberty Bowl. After that regular season was over, it was looking like Georgia was going to lose even more. But it didn’t. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel, Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy all chose to stay. They obviously knew that something special could happen here. “This is why we came back,” said Sony Michel during the post game celebration. “To be back with my boys. Words can’t explain how I feel.” It doesn’t take a genius to know if those four players don’t come back, this day doesn’t happen. But they did and it has. Chubb has now rushed for more yards than everybody to ever play SEC football save one guy named Herschel. Michel will likely cross 1,000 yards in the bowl game. That duo would become the first at UGA to do that in one season. Carter, Bellamy and Smith have given UGA a linebacking core no one in the country can rival. But they still had to win. And this team still had so many questions marks when the season began. The offensive line wasn’t good enough. The secondary was thin. What about special teams? Then less than a quarter into the season, a freshman backup became the starting quarterback. Kirby Smart was not a happy guy when he found out he might have to play another season with an 18-year-old pulling the strings. That makes this even all the more impressive doesn’t it. Georgia is SEC Champions, doing it the hard way. “This is incredible,” said Fromm, moments after winning the title over Auburn 28-7. “It’s great to be a Georgia Bulldog.” No kidding. For the first time since the National Championship season of 1980, Georgia has beaten every team it’s played. No the Dawgs are not unbeaten, but they got Auburn back in the game that matters most. Now for the first time ever, Georgia is going to the College Football Playoff. It could be a trip back to New Orelans or the Dawgs could be going to the Rose Bowl for the first time in 75 years. But that is for tomorrow. Tonight, the red and black flag flies first on the SEC banner. In two years, Kirby Smart has led his alma mater, the University of Georgia, to the SEC title. UGA wanted to become what Alabama is. A team that cracks your head open on defense and pounds it down your throat on offense. And a team that wears rings when it walks out the door. Check, check and check. Georgia is SEC Champions and not a moment too soon.    
  • WSB Sports Director Jay Black blogs live from the UGA Radio Booth at the SEC Championship Game at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Check back often for news, notes and stats during the game. FIRST QUARTER
  • ATLANTA (AP) -- Kirby Smart took the customary drenching with an ear-to-ear smile. He bounced up and down on the sideline with as much exuberance as his players. And when the coach waved his visor to the red-and-black faithful, he knew better than anyone how much this meant after a long, long wait. Rebounding emphatically from a blowout loss at Auburn just three weeks ago, the No. 6 Bulldogs doled out a whipping of their own on Saturday. And what a time for some revenge, with the Southeastern Conference championship and almost surely a trip to the College Football Playoff going to the winner. Roquan Smith gobbled up two crucial turnovers, freshman Jake Fromm threw a pair of touchdown passes and Georgia cruised to a 28-7 victory over the No. 4 Tigers in an SEC title game that was a total reversal of the last meeting between the teams. 'It's great to bring it back to Georgia,' said Smart, who played defensive back for the Bulldogs in the 1990s. 'The Bulldog Nation is certainly starved.' Smart needed only two seasons to return his alma mater to national prominence, though he certainly learned a thing or two about what it took to get there in his previous job as Nick Saban's defensive coordinator at Alabama. 'It's hard to do,' Smart said. 'This one feels the same way.' Georgia (12-1) claimed its first SEC title since 2005. Of course, there's a bigger prize for the taking. The Bulldogs haven't won a national title since 1980, a drought that has only grown more and more irritating to Georgia fans as schools all around them — Alabama, Auburn, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Clemson, Florida State — finished No. 1 in the years since. 'It's been an incredible journey,' said Fromm, who took over as the starter when Jacob Eason was injured in the season opener and never relinquished the job. 'I never thought it would shake out this way.' Auburn (10-3) didn't see it coming, either. The Tigers rolled into Atlanta as the hottest team in the country after impressive wins over Georgia and then-No. 1 Alabama in its last three games. But the Tigers were stymied by their own mistakes, which also included a blocked field goal, and they had no answer for a Georgia team eager to make up for its embarrassing 40-17 defeat on the Plains . 'They flipped the script on us from the last game,' Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. Nick Chubb, Sony Michel and freshman D'Andre Swift provided a much more effective running game , which opened up things for the young quarterback. Fromm completed 16 of 22 passes for 183 yards, including a 2-yard touchdown to Isaac Nauta in the second quarter and a 6-yarder to Terry Godwin with just over 13 minutes remaining that essentially sealed Georgia's victory. The Bulldogs, who were No. 6 in the latest CFP standings, should move into the top four after their dominating performance. Auburn was ranked second in the CFP poll, only to have its hopes fade away with a lackluster offensive performance. The Tigers were up held to 259 yards after piling up 488 in their Nov. 11 romp. Swift, another impressive Georgia freshman, finished it off with a 64-yard touchdown run through a huge hole. He dashed to the end zone without being touched, sending the Georgia fans into a raucous celebration that figured to go on well into the night. Swift finished with 88 yards, Chubb had 77 and Michel added 45 before he left the game in the third quarter with what is believed to be a minor knee injury. In the last game against the Tigers, Chubb was held to 27 yards and Michel 21 — their lowest outputs of the season. Auburn started out like it was headed for another big win. Jarrett Stidham capped the opening possession with s 6-yard scoring pass to Nate Craig-Myers, and the Tigers pushed into position to extend their lead early in the second quarter. That's when the game suddenly turned. Stidham dropped back to throw, couldn't find anyone open and didn't sense Davin Bellamy coming up behind him. The Georgialinebacker stripped the ball away and Smith fell on it for the Bulldogs at the 16. Georgia drove the other way for the tying score and tacked on the first of two field goals by Rodrigo Blankenship for a 10-7 lead at the half. Auburn wasted another scoring opportunity in the third quarter when Daniel Carlson's 31-yard field-goal attempt was blocked by DaQuan Hawkins-Muckle . Then, trailing 13-7, another turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter finished off the Tigers. Kerryon Johnson, who played despite an ailing right shoulder, was stripped of the ball and Smith scooped it up again at the Auburn 39 , retaining the spiked, Road Warrior-style vest that Georgia awards to players who take the ball away from the other team, the Dawgs' version of the turnover chain. Smith picked up another prize after the game: the MVP award. THE TAKEAWAY Georgia: Smart did a masterful job of motivating the Bulldogs after they were thoroughly outmuscled in the first meeting. 'They just physically whipped us up front,' Malzahn said. Auburn: After being knocked out of the playoff, the Tigers will turn their attention to Malzahn's future. He's been mentioned as a possible candidate at Arkansas. 'I'm happy at Auburn,' he insisted. 'I think the best is yet to come.' OFFENSIVE WOES Johnson, whose status wasn't known until game time, managed just 44 yards on 13 carries. Clearly, he was bothered by his ailing shoulder, but he wasn't the only one who struggled. Stidham, who played brilliantly during a five-game winning streak, was held to 16 of 32 for 145 yards by a Georgia defense that brought heavy pressure all game. He was sacked three times. UP NEXT Georgia: Will likely head to either the Rose Bowl or Sugar Bowl to play in a semifinal playoff game. Auburn: Could wind up returning to Atlanta on New Year's Day for the Peach Bowl against Central Florida. ___ Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963 . His work can be found at https://apnews.com/search/paul%20newberry ___ For more AP college football coverage: www.collegefootball.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_Top25
  • ATLANTA – The last period of practice every Monday all season long was the Tech period. Kirby Smart was making sure what happened last year would not happen again. “Oh my God,” said linebacker Natrez Patrick, when asked about getting ready for the Jackets triple option. “Just those cut blocks and the way you have to grind through practice it’s a struggle.” This coming from the coach who constantly preaches that every game is the same, every opponent is the same. Don’t look forward and don’t look back. But Georgia Tech is a different beast that requires attention paid to no other opponent on the schedule. You can say what you want to about the diminished state of this rivalry, but Smart seemed hell-bent on making sure that the Governor’s Cup was returned to its rightful place. Remember this is the man who lost the last game he played against Georgia Tech and the first game he coached against the Jackets. It is quite a commitment to only pays off one game a season. “The toughest thing preparing for this is knowing you aren’t going to play anything you called this week next week,” said Smart. “So we missed a whole week of developing for a normal offense. But that’s what you do when you play Tech.” That’s also what you do against the in-state rival who tore up your Hedges last year. The game you must win first above all yes. It wasn’t exactly an all-in move, but I’ve talked to people who have been around this program for many decades who had never heard of it before. Wow did it pay off. Georgia 38, Georgia Tech 7. Yes this is not one of Paul Johnson’s best team, but this is one of Georgia’s best defenses and it had a point to make. After hearing about Tech every Monday all season long, UGA made sure the Jackets and their fans weren’t heard from at all. 226 total yards for GT: Season Low 188 rushing yards: Season Low 4.1 yards per carry: Season Low 36 passing yards: Almost a season low (32 vs Clemson) What more do you need to know? This is the preparation equaling the payoff. “This was the most prepared I’ve seen Georgia to play Tech in the Paul Johnson Era,” said UGA color analyst Eric Zeier during the locker room show. Remember, Georgia has a pretty massive game next week and Thanksgiving week can be a bit distracting. But this was total and complete focus on kicking the state’s little brother while it’s down. Paul Johnson is the coach who always has options. Today there were none. “I love playing against the triple option,” said linebacker extraordinaire Roquan Smith. “I embrace it.” He sure looked like it. The All-American candidate (is there any doubt at this point?) might have played his best game in a season with plenty of nominees. Nine tackles, eight of them solo, and three behind the line of scrimmage (career high). He had two of those TFLs early on, announcing to Tech QB TaQuon Marshall that this would not be a fun day. For those in white, it wasn’t. “It was a total team effort,” said Smart. “A total organizational effort.” That is a nod to UGA’s assistants who went far and wide asking questions about how to shut down Johnson’s game and to Georgia’s scout team who had to mimic an offense that few can replicate. “They did a great job of creating a picture of it and everything seem to flow during the game,” said Patrick. “If it was up to me I’d give the Governor’s Cup to the scout team.” The scout team will surely get to touch that Governor’s Cup at some point, but first it goes to the head man. Kirby Smart has his first trophy that matters (unless you count that dumb helmet from the Chick-Fil-A Kickoff game last year and the 2016 Liberty Bowl title). It’s one it sure seemed like he wanted in a bad way. “I’m proud of what they’ve done,” said Smart about this victory and his defense. “Now it’s on to bigger and better things.” Yes it is. The SEC Championship game and a spot in the playoff looms. But if those things don’t turn out the way Bulldog Nation wants, at least two things are for certain. 11-1 is much better than 7-5 and beating Georgia Tech is much more fun than not. Georgia runs this state again. Now it must find out if it’s ready to run the SEC. At least Smart won’t have to waste time this Monday on Georgia Tech.
  • WSB sports director Jay Black is blogging live from the UGA Radio Booth at Bobby Dodd Stadium. Check back often for news, notes and stats throughout the game. FIRST QUARTER
  • ATHENS – It’s a picture that if anyone actually sells it will make a killing. The four seniors who stayed, with the postgame hoopla of a 42-13 blowout swirling around them, pulled over to have someone capture the moment. No one would have blamed Nick Chubb and Sony Michel for taking the NFL’s money. Running backs live short lives. College running back is a pretty tough way to earn a scholarship. Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy had to consider if another uncertain season was the best move. Because guys who hit NFL quarterbacks have nice houses too. This was one of the moments they thought was more valuable than turning pro. Those four players standing together for a photograph that will probably be on their walls forever. They don’t have senior days in the league. Tonight was the proper end for the Class of 2017 that very much deserve it. “What a great honor it is for these guys to go out on top,” said coach Kirby Smart. “To do something no Georgia team has done before. Win the SEC East and go undefeated in the East.” It hardly seems like it was four years ago when this class walked into Sanford Stadium for the first time. We were more focused on guys like Gurley, Mason, Wilson and Herrera. But it was that night we saw a few glimpses. There was Aaron Davis, playing as a walk-on because, well there wasn’t many options, getting an interception in his first game against Clemson. He had another interception in his last game. Michel was the best running back in his class. He was the speedster from Florida with the cool name. The backfield was loaded then. But Michel was actually the Dawgs second leading receiver that night. This night, he scored three times. And of course, Chubb. Remember this. And this. This kid had a point to make and we took notice. Now Nick Chubb is a soon-to-be Georgia legend (or maybe he already is, but there’s games to go. “He’s won the hearts over of a fan base that will never leave,” said coach Kirby Smart. “What he’s given to this place through injury and toughness, it’s just tremendous.” It cannot be overstated for Chubb has accomplished here. There is only one back that’s had more yards and more touchdowns than this kid from Cedartown. He’s the clear second best to Herschel Walker and that’s about all anybody can be. “Man you hope that you have many more as good as (Chubb),” said Smart. “But you know these guys don’t come around very often.” With the talent in this backfield, Chubb hasn’t been the workhorse that he had to be when Todd Gurley got busted four years ago. Remember his first starter? 38 carries. That’s still his career high. A week later it was 30 more against Arkansas. Whatever has been needed, Chubb has delivered. With no flash. No style. Just stud. Yeah, Nick probably could be a Heisman contender but that’s not what’s best for this team. And frankly Chubb running the ball for free 30 times a night is not what’s best for him either. So instead he and his buddy Sony split the load (with another freshman chipping in) and everybody is a star “They complement each other so well and they get along so well,” said Smart. “It will be a long time before you coach a pair like that again.” I don’t know any of these players personally. They are college kids and I’m a guy that sticks a microphone in their face. But I don’t think I’ve ever rooted harder for a player on any team that I have for Nick Chubb. I thought his career was over that afternoon in Knoxville three years ago. It was bad. Last year, I thought the old Chubb was never coming back. Knee injuries are no joke. But there’s never been any complaining. Any showboating. Anything that would take attention away from everyone in Red and Black. Tonight, Chubb got his reward. His best performance of the season (151 rushing yards) and two more TDs. Despite the reduced workload, Chubb is over 1,000 yards for the year. The only season he didn’t do, his knee nearly blew up. There’s only one other UGA back that can say that and he goes by one name. It’s a fitting send off for this entire senior class, but man am I going miss watching No. 27 in red. “What a great honor it is for these guys to go out on top,” said Smart. “It’s their leadership that’s led us to this point.” A lot has happened in this football program since that muggy September night against Clemson four years ago. A couple of head coaches, a bunch of coordinators, some bad losses and lots of doubt. Tonight, there is little doubt that this Georgia team is very, very good and can do some special things. So hopefully for these 21 and 22 year old, there will be more pictures to put on their walls with some nice trophies next to them. But at least tonight, they have the moment they have rightfully earned.  
  • WSB sports director Jay Black is blogging live from the UGA Radio Booth at Sanford Stadium. Check back often for news, stats and notes during the game. FIRST QUARTER
  • AUBURN, Ala – Humility is no longer a week away. If you’ve heard any of UGA coach Kirby Smart’s press conferences, you’ve no doubt heard that line and that lesson for his players. It’s a good one. And for the nation’s number one team, the humbling has arrived. “The lesson was learned that they got a good football team,” Smart told the UGA radio network after Saturday’s stomping in Auburn. “They whipped us up front, they whipped us on the back end, they whipped on us the edges.” Auburn was letting Nick Chubb run for anything (AJC) Or more simply. “It was a total butt whippin’,” said Smart. Yup. That’s the only appropriate verb for: No. 10 Auburn 40, No. 1 Georgia 17. The Tigers are loaded football team that can beat many teams in many ways. There is no dispute they are a contender (but how did these guys lose to LSU?). But they should not have been 23 points better than Georgia. Not the Georgia team I’ve seen the previous nine weeks of the season. There’s no true way to know if the stage and the burden of being number one was too big for this team. But if it was, this game is exactly what it looks like. “We did some dumb things and we helped them,” said Smart. “It was undisciplined and that has not been a characteristic of this team. So I’m really disappointed in that.” In football and in most aspects of life, when the moment is more than you can handle, you surprise yourself with the dumb things you do. You have your one shot to impress the pretty girl and your voice cracks like a 13-year-old. You get the big interview for the dream job and you say all the wrong things. You’re the number one team in the country and drop an easy touchdown pass. Or fumble your first punt of the year. Or bump into the guy calling fair catch. Or jump over the punt protection shield. Or one of your senior leaders is busted with an sportsmanlike personal foul penalty on a punt. Or go from a team that runs for 280 yards a game to one that can’t break 50. “That’s not us,” senior linebacker Lorenzo Carter said. No it’s not, but we you aren’t quite ready for the next step, you don’t act like yourself. There was a lot of yelling by Kirby Smart on this night (AJC) Kirby Smart has been in plenty of big games before, but not as the head man. These players have played in big games before, but that was high school and Pop Warner ball. This is only the fifth team in history of the University of Georgia to be ranked number one. It’s been a generation since it happened this late in the season. News flash. Things change when you’re getting chased. Today Georgia got caught and eaten. Or maybe Auburn is that good. Either way, the Dawgs have been exposed. “It’s life,” said Smart. “Life is going to knock you down and sometimes you’ve got to get up and go fight.” That will be the true test of this team now. Georgia has not been eliminated. If it does not lose again, it will be National Champions. Either UGA takes down No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship game or it gets revenge against Auburn. Either route puts you in the playoff. That’s the good news. But there is bad news. When you lose by 23 points (even though it felt like 40), something broke big time. All of the pre-season questions about this young offensive line all came rushing back to the surface. All of the worries about Jake Fromm being a freshman have returned. And for some reason there’s always a special teams screw up, no matter who is coaching UGA. So how do you handle it? “We are going to come out and use this as a statement,” said guard Solomon Kindley. “We are going to come together even more as a team. We are going to use this game as a learning lesson.” There are two paths now. One of recovery or one of decline. The true contenders make changes and fix the holes. Then there’s the pretenders. Even Nick Saban gets beat every now and then. He just doesn’t make a habit of letting it happen twice. But for now, humility is no longer a week away for the Dawgs. If this team is as good as we all thought it was, then humility doesn’t have to hang around very long.
  • WSB Sports Director Jay Black blogs live from Jordan-Hare Stadium. Check back often for news and notes from the UGA Radio Booth.  FIRST QUARTER
  • ATHENS – This is probably just how Kirby Smart wanted it. Georgia didn’t officially know it had punched its first ticket to the SEC Championship game since 2012 until well after everyone had cleared out of Sanford Stadium. There was no one here to celebrate. But the sense around this empty stadium tonight is there’s nothing this football team or its coach wants to celebrate. “I guarantee you half the guys don’t even know that,” said safety JR Reed when told his team was SEC East champs. On Georgia’s website, there’s no grand proclamation of a division title. Check the UGA football Twitter feed and there’s just a bunch of highlights of UGA’s 24-10 win over South Carolina. I wonder why? Well, to be fair, the only mention of this achievement is on the UGA Athletic Department Twitter page. But that’s because there are T-Shirts to sell. Otherwise, it’s ho-hum. UGA did not celebrate its SEC East title, but there was plenty to celebrate on the field, like Javon Wims’ TD catch (AJC) “There’s not going to be a celebration,” Kirby Smart in his post-game press conference, just before it became official. “I mean, what’s there to celebrate? We’re going to play Auburn next week and that’s where our focus is.” An SEC East Championship is normally worth celebrating, but if you’ve followed Georgia for anything length of time this season, you have certainly noticed that success is not enjoyed as much as it is expected. This is not the prize that these players set out for. But it’s been five long years without UGA playing for title. Leaving the only championships left to win from bowls called Belk, TaxSlayer and Liberty. That doesn’t count. Can you really call yourself TaxSlayer Bowl champion with a straight face, despite what the T-Shirt says? However, in 2017 in Athens, you can call yourself SEC East Champion with a straight face because that’s not the title that this team came to play for. Now it really gets fun. “It doesn’t get any easier,” said Smart on the UGA radio network after his 10 th straight win, dating back to last season. “The noise will get louder, the teams will get better, we will get better shots.” His team got a pretty good shot today. In Georgia’s first game as the number one team in November since 1982, South Carolina finally made this feel like an SEC game. Up until now, UGA has crushed every conference opponent in its path. This was the first fourth quarter the starters finished since Notre Dame. Just in time. “That’s how games are in the SEC,” said Smart. “They have a really good football team.” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart gives Brian Herrien a pat on the head after beating South Carolina 24-10 (Curtis Compton/AJC) There was little doubt here that Georgia would ever lose to South Carolina. It racked up yards, but just couldn’t seem to get enough points. UGA’s only 3-and-out came as it was trying to kill the clock. But it probably would take South Carolina another four quarters to score 24 points on this defense. Even on a night you could argue they didn’t play their best, the Dawgs’ defense gave the Gamecocks no shot. 43 yards rushing. 227 passing. That’s below 300 folks. You will win that game every time. “That’s a good team over there. They are going to make some plays,” said JR Reed. “We can’t stop everything. But it’s all about how we respond.” USC QB Jake Bentley converted three third and long plays in the first half and it felt like the world was going to end. Keep in mind, the Gamecocks only converted one more after that. “We’ve got to find some answers on third down,” said Smart. “We couldn’t get off the field.” Spoken like a guy still looking for perfection and a guy who didn’t get it today. Okay, so Georgia didn’t demolish South Carolina like it has everybody else, but that’s what happens when you are the No. 1 team in the nation. This was still a good day. It’s one worth celebrating. I know that Georgia has basically been SEC Champion-elect for about five weeks. But now it’s official. There are bigger prizes out there and ones that Georgia is well qualified to win. It’s unlikely that Kirby Smart will remotely enjoy this championship because he can’t. That’s why he is where he is. But you don’t have to be that way and Bulldog Nation doesn’t either. Georgia is 9-0, number one, and SEC East Champions. You have my permission to enjoy it.
  • Jay Black

    Sports Director

    Jay Black is the sports director of News 95.5 and AM-750 WSB and is the statistican for the Georgia Bulldogs Radio Network. He is also the technical director of Atlanta's Morning News with Scott Slade. Jay is a graduate of the University of Georgia.

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News

  • The 58-year-old Uber driver who allegedly raped a 16-year-old girl while taking her home did not have any red flags in his background that would have disqualified him from the ride hailing service.  Abdoulie Jagne, of College Park, had been driving for the company for several months. He was permanently banned from Uber after his arrest Thursday morning, according to a statement released by Uber.  The only blemish on his record was for not having evidence of auto registration in 2015 when he was living in California, according to California court records obtained by the AJC. RELATED: Pregnant woman: “I kept bleeding” after being attacked by Uber driver RELATED:Jailed ex-Uber driver faces additional burglary, peeping Tom charges RELATED: Uber driver carjacked at Cascade Road gas station According to Uber’s policies, that would not have automatically disqualified him from being a driver.  Drivers for the ride hailing app are automatically barred if they have more than three minor traffic violations in the past three years. Minor violations include speeding tickets and non-fatal accidents, among others.  A driver also cannot have had their license suspended or revoked in the last three years, or have received a ticket for DUI, speeding over 100 mph, reckless driving, or have been in a hit-and-run in the past seven years. Any conviction of a felony, driving-related offense, violent crime, sexual offense, or child abuse or endangerment in the past seven years would also disqualify a driver.  The company uses a third party, Checkr, for background checks, according to Uber. The process screens national, state, and local databases including the National Sex Offender website and the PACER database of court records.  “What’s reported here is horrifying beyond words. Our thoughts are with the rider and her family during this time.'  Any behavior involving violence, sexual misconduct, harassment, discrimination, or illegal activity while using Uber can result in immediate deactivation, according to driver policies.  That includes physical contact, touching or flirting, or inappropriate and abusive language, among other offenses.  Early Monday morning, Gwinnett County officers were dispatched to an apartment complex off Old Norcross Tucker Road in unincorporated Tucker. There, they found the 16-year-old girl who said she was sexually assaulted by her Uber driver.  The girl, who officers said was intoxicated, said she was at a local bar drinking with friends, when one of them scheduled an Uber ride to get her home.  When officers arrived on the scene, the 16-year-old’s pants were around her ankles. The victim was taken to a local hospital for treatment and evaluation.  With information obtained by Uber, investigators determined the rape probably occurred somewhere on South Norcross Tucker Road between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and Old Norcross Tucker Road.  The victim’s friend, also a minor, helped police identify Jagne as a suspect. According to Cpl. Michele Pihera, there is no bond for Jagne and he is being held at the Gwinnett County Jail. He made his first court appearance Saturday and has a hearing scheduled for Dec. 27, Channel 2 Action News reported. Detectives want to know if any other woman has been sexually assaulted by Jagne. They are asked to call 770-513-5338.
  • A man is in jail after he struck and killed a crossing guard near a Cobb County school, police say. Channel 2 Action News received the mugshot of Lamonte Whitaker, who has been charged with vehicular homicide.    Police said he hit Edna Umeh in late November by Lindley Middle School in Mableton. RELATED STORIES: Students witness deadly accident involving school crossing guard Family demands action after school crossing guard killed by 'aggressive' driver Family pushing for change after crossing guard killed by hit-and-run driver  
  • A 7-year-old’s heartbreaking letter to Santa asking for a blanket, ball and food, brought in hundreds of donations to help her and other impoverished children at her school. >> Read more trending news “I have (been) good this day,” Crystal Pacheco wrote. “This Christmas I would like a ball and a food. I need a (blanket).” The letter was part of a classroom exercise by Monte Cristo Elementary School first-grade teacher Ruth Espiricueta, who asked them to list two wants and a need. “I started reading them and it's like, I did not expect her to say, ‘I need food. I want food, but I need a blanket more,'' Espiricueta told KGBT. 'And I asked, ‘Well, why do you need a blanket more than the food?’ ‘Well, I get to eat at school -- sometimes I may not have at home, but I get to eat at school. A blanket I have one, but it's not warm enough.’' Espiricueta posted the letter on social media, sparking hundreds of donations of blankets and other items to the school, according to KRGV.  'Unfortunately, there are other students that, as part of their needs, they included food, towels, blankets, pillows, bed, clothes, shoes and a stove,' Espiricueta told ABC News. 'Some of my students were not even excited about Christmas because they know that their parents cannot afford to buy a Christmas tree or gifts for them.' Crystal wrote the letter thinking about her brother, with whom she would use the ball, food for the family and the blanket because the house is too cold, her mother Maria Cortez told KRGV. “I'm just very emotional and proud of my children, because I raise them to appreciate the little that we have,' Cortez told KGBT. The school hopes to get 724 blankets to give to each student, so far they have 616.
  • Special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian contacts with President Donald Trump's campaign has gained access to thousands of emails sent and received by Trump officials before the start of his administration, according to several people familiar with Trump's transition organization.But the investigators did not directly request the records from Trump's still-existing transition group, Trump for America, and may have raised legal issues by obtaining the messages from a separate federal agency that stored the material, according to those familiar with the Trump transition organization.A transition attorney sent letters Saturday to two congressional committees saying the General Services Administration had improperly provided the transition records to Mueller's investigators. Kory Langhofer, general counsel for the transition group, wrote to the Republican chairmen of the House Oversight committee and the Senate Homeland Security committee about what the transition contends was an 'unauthorized' disclosure of its emails.The GSA has provided office space and other aid to presidential transitions in recent years and typically houses electronic transition records in its computer system. But Trump for America considers the records private and privileged and not government property.The people familiar with the transition organization spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the records' sensitivity.They said the materials included communications from more than a dozen senior Trump transition officials. Among the officials who used transition email accounts was former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to a count of making false statements to FBI agents in January and is now cooperating with Mueller's investigation. Flynn was fired by Trump in February for misleading senior administration officials about his contacts with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.It's unclear how revelatory the email accounts maintained by the GSA will be for Mueller. Several high-level Trump advisers sometimes used other email accounts to communicate about transition issues between Election Day and the inauguration.Mueller's spokesman, Peter Carr, declined to comment. Jay Sekulow, an attorney on Trump's personal legal team, referred questions to the transition group. Neither GSA representatives nor Flynn attorney Robert Kelner were immediately available to respond to AP's emailed requests for comment.Officials with Trump for America learned last Wednesday that GSA officials had turned over the massive cache of emails to Mueller's team. The transition group's top officials were alarmed because many of the emails that Mueller's investigators now have are sensitive records ranging from national security discussions about possible Trump international aims to candid assessments of candidates for top government posts, said those familiar with the transition.Officials with Trump for America had been bracing for months for the prospect that Mueller's team would demand its emails, but they had been assured that any requests to the GSA would be routed to the transition organization, which claims legal ownership of the records. According to those familiar with the transition group, a top GSA official informed Trump for America last June that any request from Mueller's office would be referred to the transition.On Sept. 1, after requests in late August from Mueller's office, the GSA turned over a flash drive containing tens of thousands of records without informing Trump for America of its move, those familiar with the transition said.Those records included emails sent and received by 13 senior Trump transition officials.The media site Axios first reported on the transfer of the emails to Mueller's team.
  • The smallest KFC in the world, serving miniature $5 fill ups, opened Saturday in Portland.  >> Read more trending news Customers lined up for the free sample of the tiny fried chicken, biscuit, mashed potatoes with a small dollop of gravy, a finger-nail sized cookie and what could only be a sip of a soft drink. The novelty fast food restaurant was open until 4 p.m., according to The Oregonian.
  • Google recently released its list of the top search trends of 2017. Across the globe, people asked Google about subjects such as Hurricane Irma, April the Giraffe, the solar eclipse and more. According to Atlanta communications agency Jackson Spalding, which works with a multitude of companies, including Google, many of Atlanta’s top search results mirrored the nation's trends. Here are Atlanta’s top 10 most-Googled topics in 2017: 1. Hurricane Irma 2. Irma path 3. Tom Petty 4. Super Bowl 5. Aaron Hernandez 6. Atlanta Falcons 7. Solar eclipse 8. Las Vegas shooting 9. Charlie Murphy 10. Fidget spinner Google’s Year in Search 2017 lists are based on search terms that “had a high spike in traffic in 2017 as compared to 2016,” the company said. Information from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.