Welcome to your one-stop shop for Georgia football news and takes every Monday through Friday. Today, we look at the hand UGA’s College of Engineering played in getting Sony Michel back on the field last season. Plus, a lot of talk about the move to hire UGA great Courtney Kupets Carter as the new Gym Dogs coach.
Track: Harder Better Faster Stronger | Artist: Daft Punk | Album: Discovery
‘Sony Michel: recover and rebuild’
One of the story lines at the beginning of the 2016 season was how Sony Michel would recover from a broken left forearm he sustained in an ATV accident over Fourth of July weekend. Michel only ended up missing the first game of the season, although he didn’t return to his normal level of production until Week 4 or so. He ended the season with 840 yards and 4 touchdowns — well off his 1,161 yards of 2015 — but enough to give him and fans confidence that he’ll have a big year as a senior.
You probably knew all that. What you may not know is how Ron Courson, UGA director of sports medicine, enlisted the Georgia’s College of Engineering to return Michel to the field. The biomedical engineering department used 3-D printing to design and build a custom arm guard to perfectly fit Michel’s body while still giving him enough feeling in his forearm to carry the ball effectively. Check out the whole story in this video from Georgia Athletics.
That video first aired on Kirby Smart All-Access back in November but was only made available outside Georgia’s official website this week, so you may have missed it back in the fall. But the folks in the Georgia Athletics video department released it on YouTube after some exciting news: The segment was recently nominated for a 2017 Southeast Emmy in the category of Sports — Program Feature/Segment.
That’s some much-deserved recognition for folks in the video department. I’m always impressed with their work, and this piece on Michel is no exception. Here’s to them keeping up the good work and producing more segments like this one.
The Gym Dogs just got a lot more interesting
Georgia gymnastics made big news on Tuesday with the announcement that former Gym Dog Courtney Kupets Carter — the greatest collegiate gymnast of all time — is returning to the program as head coach. Also in tow will be her former coach and the greatest college gymnastics coach of all time, Suzanne Yoculan Leebern, as a volunteer assistant coach.
It’s an extremely interesting hire for Georgia, both because of Kupets Carter’s high profile as well as the fact that she’s never coached at the college level. With Kupets Carter’s lack of experience, it’ll be interesting to see how much influence Yoculan Leebern has on the program and how much her guiding hand is seen in Kupets Carter’s coaching.
The move certainly is an attempt by athletic director Greg McGarity to return the program to its glory days by reconnecting with some of its legends. The program’s status as a national power waned under Danna Durante. Yoculan Leebern and Kupets Carter both left the program in 2009 and took their 10 and 4 respective NCAA title with them. Since then, the program has languished, failing to add another title to the Gym Dogs’ NCAA record of 10 and losing the recruiting cache that comes with a program of that caliber.
And while her ability to coach may be in doubt, Kupets Carter has the makeup of a national recruiter. There isn’t a young gymnast in the country who doesn’t know who Kupets Carter is, who didn’t watch her when they were young. It remains to be seen if Kupets Carter can close, but name recognition alone should get her in the door of many of the nation’s top prospects, if only because they want to meet her. I would not be surprised to see a serious uptick in talent coming to Athens under Kupets Carter.
I’m uncertain whether this is a good hire for Georgia and I’ll reserve judgment on it until Kupets Carter has coached some meets. But one thing I am certain of is that this hire made the Gym Dogs much more interesting and relevant.
This is not the question to ask
Dvora Meyers of Deadspin had a great piece on the Gym Dogs bid to return to prominence via their greatest athlete. You should read it all to get deeper context on this hire. But I wanted to single out this part at the end regarding a reporter’s question to Kupets Carter about her pregnancy.
But will she be able to overcome her “family situation”?
Yes, one of the first questions that Kupets Carter was asked after making her statement came from a good ol’ boy-sounding Georgia reporter, who asked the former world champion, “What is your family situation?” — a 1950s I Love Lucy way of asking Kupets Carter about her pregnancy. The new coach acknowledged that, yes, she is married, with a 17-month-old daughter and seven months pregnant with a boy. This shouldn’t be a problem for Kupets Carter because she is not being tasked with doing the actual gymnastics. (She used all of her NCAA eligibility, after all.) And since competition season doesn’t start until January, Kupets Carter won’t have to hide her baby bump with plants and other large objects during televised meets. Crisis averted!
There are plenty of questions to be asked about Kupets Carter ascension to the role of Gym Dogs coach: With only limited club coaching experience, is she ready to lead a program as big as Georgia’s? Were more qualified candidates bypassed because of Kupets Carter’s connection to the program and Yoculan Leebern? But a question about her family and how it will affect her coaching is antiquated, wrongheaded and in poor taste.
Let’s put it this way: I don’t recall any reporters chiming in during Kirby Smart’s introductory press conference to ask how his two young children will affect his ability to coach the team.
Or, as the always eloquent VineyardDawg put it:
There's a lot to complain about with this hire. Having a female coach who's pregnant or with young kids is not one of them.
— VineyardDawg (@vineyarddawg) May 9, 2017
Emily Giambalvo of the Red & Black spotted something interesting in the Kupets Carter rollout. Georgia has reverted from “Gymdogs” to once again using “Gym Dogs.”
I'm sure I'm the only one who would notice or care, but as of today, @UGAGymnastics has shifted back over to spelling Gym Dogs as two words.
— Emily Giambalvo (@EmilyGiam) May 9, 2017
Guns and tailgating
Jason Butt of The Telegraph comes in with the best Georgia sports reporting of the week with this dive into the vague language of Georgia House Bill 220 — aka the Campus Carry Bill — as it pertains to tailgating on campus.
One scenario has raised an interesting question for Georgia: Given the fact that up to 100,000 fans, if not more, partake in tailgating festivities many hours before kickoff, how will the law be interpreted on its campus for a Saturday football game?
Georgia’s athletics department is unclear whether this law will strictly mean that guns are disallowed inside venues such as Sanford Stadium or if they will be banned from all tailgating sites. The University System of Georgia and attorneys are likely sorting out the best way to enact the new law.
3 Georgia softball players named All-SEC
— Georgia Softball (@UGASoftball) May 9, 2017
In addition, Cortni Emanuel was named SEC Player of the Week after hitting .636 against Arkansas last weekend.
Cortni Emanuel bringing in the ?this week! #GoDawgs
— Georgia Softball (@UGASoftball) May 9, 2017
- UGA post-spring depth chart: Trent Thompson set to rejoin a talented group (Seth Emerson, DawgNation)
- Suzanne Yoculan’s presence puts UGA gymnastics back in limelight (Chip Towers, DawgNation)
- 5-star prospect KJ Henry shares his thoughts on UGA (Jeff Sentell, DawgNation)
- UGA defensive signees Nate McBride, Eric Stokes will put speed on display at state track meets (Marc Weiszer, Athens Banner-Herald)
- 3 questions (and answers) about what’s next for Courtney Kupets Carter and the Gym Dogs (Nicole Saavedra, Athens Banner-Herald)
- Summer Stretch: Jacob Eason’s development key to 2017 (Jake Rowe, Dawgs247)
Dog 1, Bear 0
— Good Morning America (@GMA) May 10, 2017