UGA football fans can’t wait for the dog days of summer to give way to the Dawg Days.

After the winds of change swept through the college game once again in late spring, we’re now in that dead period where fans don’t have much to do other than obsess over the uncertainties of recruiting or get wound up by an anti-UGA rant from the coach of one of the lesser schools on the Dawgs’ schedule.

Unlike many folks who follow each recruiting development with bated breath, I’ve never gotten any enjoyment out of fretting about the whims of 17-year-old athletes trying to decide where they’re going to sharpen their game before they move on to the NFL.

Those ballyhooed “commitments” don’t really live up to their name in an age where a prospect can announce he’s going to play at UGA in 2026 and then four days later says, wait, never mind, I’m still considering other programs.

Kirby Smart takes questions during the SEC spring meetings in Miramar Beach, Florida. (Chip Towers/AJC) (Chip Towers/Dawgnation)

Of course, I’m glad Kirby Smart appears to be on his way to signing another Top 5 class for 2025 (assuming the nonbinding verbal commitments he has accrued hold up). However, thanks to the transfer portal, even an athlete signing on the dotted line doesn’t end the process nowadays or assure that they’ll spend their playing days with the school they pick.

And who knows what things will look like if the recent legal settlement the NCAA announced over player compensation is finalized and does indeed result in schools sharing revenue with their signees, or making direct name, image and likeness deals with them.

Like many of you, I’m still digesting all the possible ramifications of that change; we still don’t know exactly what exactly the new college football landscape is going to look like.

Meanwhile, some “purists” — those who didn’t mind the schools and coaches raking in millions of dollars off a supposedly amateur sport for years but think the athletes should have been satisfied with nothing more than a scholarship — keep sending me dire predictions about the future of the college football.

I think their lamentations are overwrought. The game hasn’t been purely amateur in decades, and now, at least, the athletes whose talent generates all those millions will get a piece of the action.

For years, there were plenty of examples of under-the-table payments to players in college football, whether it be cash, cars or some other currency — though usually that was from boosters, occasionally with the school itself aware of what was happening but turning a blind eye to it.

Georgia players, seen here during spring practice, would receive revenue sharing from the athletic program under a proposal by the NCAA and major conferences. (Tony Walsh/UGA) (Tony Walsh/Dawgnation)

Meanwhile, players still are getting paid through NIL deals with businesses and school-affiliated collectives.

Sometimes, those deals go bad, which is how you end up with a situation like quarterback Jaden Rashada suing team officials at the University of Florida over millions of dollars he said he was promised for signing with the Gators but didn’t receive. (Rashada left Florida over the dispute, spent a year at Arizona State and now, after another transfer, is a Georgia Bulldog.)

Soon, we may have an actual NCAA-sanctioned play-for-pay model. The NCAA and the (former) Power 5 conferences negotiated a settlement of three lawsuits against them over player compensation. The agreement calls for schools to pay $2.7 billion over the next 10 years to compensate current and former athletes for missed NIL opportunities.

Most college football observers expect those payments to take the form of revenue-sharing plans between schools and athletes, though some have raised the possibility of schools getting involed in the arranging of NIL deals.

The settlement would eliminate NCAA rules against schools making direct payments to athletes, and it’s expected that it will cost schools $20 million a year in revenue sharing.

A judge in California still must approve the settlement for it to take effect (which probably would be in 2025), and since the agreement precludes athletes who opt in from ever suing to become employees, that approval is not a slam dunk.

And, just to make things even more complicated, there’s still an unrelated case working its way through the legal system that seeks to have student athletes classified as employees, subject to minimum wage and overtime pay requirements.

But putting that possibility aside for now, if the recent settlement is approved, and schools manage their money wisely, the revenue they generate should be able to cover equitable payments directly to athletes. A chief revenue stream is the payouts they get from broadcast/streaming rights, with SEC teams’ media payments expected to increase $12 million to $15 million a year each under the new ESPN deal.

As long as Kirby Smart keeps the Dawgs in contention for championships, fans probably won’t care whether the players are paid or not. (Jason Getz/AJC) (Jason Getz/Dawgnation)

Some programs might have to cut back on such niceties as waterfalls in player lounges and make do with fewer off-field “analysts,” but that would be fairly painless. If they have to cut back on what they can pay assistant coaches and coordinators, that might be more of a problem.

Football and men’s basketball generally generate enough revenue to cover such arrangements, but the new rule will apply to all collegiate sports, so there’s been talk that we might end up seeing some schools drop deficit-running Olympic sports.

When it comes to elite schools like Georgia, which have multiple revenue streams, I think the likelihood of sports being dropped is slim. At smaller schools, it’s a different story.

Also under the settlement, the number of scholarships won’t be capped at 85, like it currently is, but there might be overall roster limits, in order to save money (most programs currently have about 120 players). The fear is that could mean the elimination of walk-ons.

A lot of coaches, including Georgia’s Smart, are on record as wanting to keep walk-ons as part of the game. (After all, that’s how the inspiring Stetson Bennett story started.)

“I think it hurts high school football, and football as a whole, when kids can’t keep dreaming about what they might be able to do if they don’t get a [scholarship] opportunity,” Smart said at the SEC spring meetings.

Even if, for the sake of equity, football and basketball stars end up getting the same share of revenue as those lesser-known athletes playing volleyball or golf or tennis, they’ll still be free to sign additional NIL deals — allowing them to afford those high-priced foreign sports cars they seem to covet.

In fact, despite all the uncertainty, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told the media at the conference’s spring meetings that “there’s no better time to be a college athlete than right now.”

Whether the same can be said for fans of college athletics remains to be seen.

UGA Athletic Director Josh Brooks said at the May athletic board meeting that Georgia’s athletic association is “ready … to focus on growing revenues and being more efficient in the way we operate.” He also indicated that the escalated spending on facilities that we’ve seen in recent years will have to end.

However, a lot of the cost of that building/renovation spree has been paid for by supporter donations — which raises the question: What if collegiate programs try and shift the burden for revenue-sharing with athletes to those who contribute money so they can buy season tickets?

The cost of at least some tickets in more desirable locations undoubtedly will rise (especially at Georgia, which currently ranks in the bottom third of the conference on ticket prices and would prefer to be in the middle third). But what if the minimum amount you must contribute to buy the tickets is jacked up as well?

That might be a bridge too far for some longtime Hartman Fund donors — though I imagine the hard-core boosters at the highest end of the donation spectrum would continue to help pay for their favorite program to be one of the elites.

Even if fans aren’t hit up and the revenue sharing all is paid for by media rights revenue and various corporate sponsors, some will object to the new college sports environment.

I’ve heard some fans pledge that they won’t watch or support college athletics if the players are paid directly by the schools they attend.

Others warn that college football soon will be nothing more than a preparatory league for the NFL (as if that weren’t already the case).

Overall, I think the threats to stop watching or supporting the college game under play-for-pay are just hot air. The NIL deals we’ve seen in the past three years certainly haven’t lessened fan support — TV ratings for college football and basketball have remained as strong as ever — and if Smart continues to make the Dawgs a regular contender for national championships, I doubt you’re going to see many empty seats at Sanford Stadium.

One thing I think it is safe to say: We likely haven’t seen the last new wrinkle that will be introduced to the game, so fans might as well chill out and focus on planning our fall outings to Athens.

Along those lines, the Dawgs were told another kickoff time and network covering the game this week, along with starting time windows for Georgia’s five remaining games that haven’t had their start nailed down yet.

Georgia will play host to Massachusetts on Nov. 23 and the game will be televised by the SEC Network at 12:45 p.m. ET.

Five more of the Bulldogs’ regular season SEC games — Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas, Ole Miss and Tennessee — have been assigned to ESPN’s “flex” window, which means kickoff times will be somewhere between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. or 6 and 8 p.m. The exact times will be announced at a later date.

Also of note: Georgia’s Oct. 5 matchup with Auburn in Athens will be Homecoming.

Brent Key and Kirby Smart meet up before last season’s game between the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs. (Jason Getz/AJC) (Jason Getz/Dawgnation)

Meanwhile, to double back to my earlier reference to another school’s coach bad-mouthing the Dawgs, that, of course, was Georgia Tech’s Brent Key, who told a North Avenue Trade School alumni gathering this past week that, when it comes to UGA, “there’s nothing I hate more in the world. It’s probably the only thing I actually hate. When I say hate, like, truly despise everything about it. I really do.”

What should Dawgs fans make of such unseemly invective? I put that question to Bulldog Nation’s foremost Tech hater, UGA radio network personality Jeff Dantzler, who responded: “Everything that Brent Key is doing is geared to beat Georgia. They’re coming for us. Be ready Dawg fans.”

But, Dantzler added, “here’s some great news. We’ve got the best coach in the country, Bulldog through and through, and he is driven to continue to dominate The Enemy and win national championships.

“That title ‘Clean Old Fashioned Hate’ [is a] misnomer. Nothing clean about it. Go Dawgs!”

The UGA baseball team made it to the Super Regional in Wes Johnson’s first season as head coach. (University of Georgia) (Kari Hodges/Dawgnation)


Wes Johnson’s Diamond Dawgs fell 8-5 in Game 3 of the NCAA’s baseball Super Regional Monday evening at Foley Field in Athens, ending UGA’s shot at going to the College World Series.

But I’m still very proud of what Georgia baseball accomplished this year.

We saw a first-year coach take over a program that felt like it had slipped, and his team ended up hosting a Super Regional in his debut season.

Georgia slugger Charlie Condon was named college baseball’s player of the year. (Jason Getz/AJC) (Jason Getz/Dawgnation)

The Dawgs had lot of entertaining games this year. All-America third baseman/outfielder Charlie Condon also had a record-setting season and was named College baseball’s player of the year (among several other awards).

Plus, it was so great to see Foley Field packed again, with some of the best fans in college baseball.

Condon, the nation’s top hitter this season, likely will be the first player taken in the MLB draft in July, and the team will lose some other players.

Still, I think the future remains very bright for this program.

Dawgs fans are encouraged to send comments and questions for the next Junkyard Mail. (Hyosub Shin/AJC) (HYOSUB SHIN / AJC/Dawgnation)


I’ll dip into the Junkyard Mail next week, and I’d like to hear what your expectations are for the coming football season, any concerns you might have and anything else you’d like to address. Also, feel free to ask questions — or share your views on anything related to UGA athletics. You can post in the comments below or email me at