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Jeff Schultz columns

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 Falcons’ playoff shot shouldn’t be viewed as a negative

11:22 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014

Three months and seemingly a millennium ago, the Falcons won a game. A big game, their first game, against their biggest rival. Their fans cheered louder than the visiting team’s fans. (There’s video evidence.) And we wondered: Will this season serve as some exorcism for 2013?“It felt great walking off ...
There goes Upton, and maybe ‘15 season with him

3:43 p.m. Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

This is what the Braves are selling you now: Hope. Dreams. …. Prayers? The Braves are like a lottery ticket, and the odds of hitting it big with either one in 2015 seem commensurate right now. They traded Jason Heyward, the one-time expected franchise centerpiece, for a young pitcher (Shelby ...
Ranking local coaches, from Budenholzer to…

12:21 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 18, 2014

When asked about increasing criticism directed at coach Mark Richt, Georgia athletic director Greg McGarity took the safe and expected route, telling the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Mark Bradley, “I hear after the Arkansas and Missouri wins that it’s ‘the best coaching job ever,’ and then (after the Florida loss) it’s the ...
Expect Falcons’ roster overhaul regardless of finish
General manager Thomas Dimitroff and coach Mike Smith arrived together in 2008.

2:26 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, 2014

So have you heard? The Falcons are in control of their own destiny. It’s true. They also were in control of their own destiny before they lost to Green Bay, and before they lost to Pittsburgh, and before every game they’ve played this season, which to this point has resulted ...
Braves’ Hart: ‘It’s not like I’m breaking up the ’27 Yankees’
The Atlanta Braves brought in John Hart to redirect the franchise's direction.

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014

John Hart was running on fumes late Thursday night. He had taken a red-eye flight back home from the draining Winter Meetings in San Diego, caught some semblance of nap, attended two fundraiser events for a children’s hospital upon arrival, said hello to his golf clubs and played in a ...
Falcons’ reality check: One great half won’t get it done

4:04 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 11, 2014

While the left side of your brain attempts to process the logic of a 5-8 team being tied for first place — and the right side screams, “Shut up! We can win the Super Bowl!” — it’s important to start with this: The Falcons’ bar this season should not be ...
Hawks go from off-court embarrassment to on-court success

4:28 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 9, 2014

While the Hawks’ franchise remains in perpetual confusion off the court — with one owner exiled, the others in flux and a general manager in relative purgatory — the on-court product is exhibiting traits we’re generally not accustomed to in Atlanta.Stable. Professional. Exceedingly efficient.They have won seven consecutive, their longest ...
Mizzou can’t compete with Alabama — nor can any team
December 6, 2014 Atlanta: Alabama Crimson Tide running back Derrick Henry celebrates his 4th quarter touchdown during the 2014 SEC Championship at the Georgia Dome Saturday December 6, 2014.  Alabama defeated Missouri 42-13. BRANT SANDERLIN / BSANDERLIN@AJC.COM

9:27 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 6, 2014

There was nothing neutral about the neutral field, just as there was nothing neutral about the SEC’s two division winners. When one team enters a stadium carrying a No. 1 ranking and the other is lugging a resume with a loss to Indiana and zero victories over a conference team ...
Jackets’ rare situation: All eyes on them
November 29, 2014 Athens - Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets players celebrate their 30-24 overtime win against Georgia with pieces of the Sanford Stadium hedges at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, November 29, 2014. In the 109th playing of the Tech-Georgia game, the No. 16 Yellow Jackets ended the No. 9 Bulldogs' five-game winning streak in the series with a 30-24 overtime win at Sanford Stadium Saturday afternoon. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

6:37 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2014

This doesn’t happen often. Think solar eclipse, or four-leaf clovers, or a Sasquatch sighting. Georgia Tech is center stage. Georgia is under the stage. “It’s kind of neat that somebody else is getting beat up instead of us for a change,” Paul Johnson said Wednesday. The man never misses an ...
Bobinski finally ends stall on contract for Johnson
Coach Paul Johnson was a happy man as he left the football field after Georgia Tech won 30-24 over Georgia at Sanford Stadium in Athens on Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Hyosub Shin/HSHIN@AJC.COM)

Updated: 3:38 p.m. Monday, Dec. 1, 2014

Alas, there is a thawing in the relationship between Georgia Tech athletic director Mike Bobinski and coach Paul Johnson. Or if not the personal relationship, at least the business one. Nearly two years after accepting the job, 11 days after Johnson’s team clinched a berth in the ACC title game ...
Finally, a real team named Falcons shows up
Falcons defenders Desmond Trufant (left) and Paul Worrilow stop Cardinals running back Andre Ellington for a short gain during the first half in an NFL football game on Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014, in Atlanta.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

Updated: 10:11 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 30, 2014

From the beginning, they looked like another team, possibly from another planet, certainly from another season.They hit on defense (and didn’t miss tackles). They moved the ball on offense (and didn’t drop passes). They had a 100-yard rusher after playing 35 straight games without that sighting (even if 55 of ...
 Georgia’s potential derailed by too many mistakes

Updated: 6:54 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014

The history of Georgia football since 1980 has been like one great tease. This was the latest chapter.Nobody can deny that there have been highs, particularly in the early seasons under Mark Richt that produced two SEC championships and a Sugar Bowl win in 2007 that led to such a ...
Will Missouri’s win deflate Dogs against Jackets?
The AJC's Jeff Schultz.

7:38 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

When asked the other day whether there would be a team “viewing party” for Friday’s Missouri-Arkansas game, Mark Richt said what any head coach would. No. Georgia coaches and players were all about tunnel vision, Richt said. They would focus on Georgia Tech. They wouldn’t allow themselves to be distracted ...
Tech season a loud response for Johnson critics

4:57 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014

Paul Johnson is on a roll again. He’s talking about how much he enjoys coaching his players, reflecting on another nine-plus win season against a backdrop of doubts and a third ACC title game appearance in seven seasons for a program that tends to be used more as a punching ...
Gurley’s injury should prompt change in draft rule
Injured Georgia running back Todd Gurley, who is expected to miss the remainder of the season after injuring his knee last week against Auburn, visits with his team as they prepare to play Charleston Southern on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, in Athens.  CURTIS COMPTON / CCOMPTON@AJC.COM

12:00 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014

Mark Richt said he hadn’t thought about the issue and didn’t want to distract from his attention during a game week, never mind that Georgia’s opponent was 42-point underdog Charleston Southern, an FCS sacrifice. Paul Johnson said he didn’t have an opinion on the subject. It’s believed to be the ...
It makes no sense but Falcons in first
CHARLOTTE, NC - NOVEMBER 16:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons calls an audible against the Carolina Panthers in the 2nd quarter during their game at Bank of America Stadium on November 16, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

7:21 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 16, 2014

CHARLOTTE – They will study this one day, like the Great Pyramid of Giza. “How did they build that. How is it possible?” historians have wondered. More than 4,500 years later, we look to the top of the NFC South Division, squinting our eyes to see the Eighth Wonder of ...
Dogs make statement, hope for best with Gurley
Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley was shaken up on a play late in the fourth quarter against Auburn on Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014.

10:33 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, 2014

Todd Gurley was near the front of the line as he and his teammates wound their way through the Georgia campus on their traditional pregame “Dawg Walk,” through a tunnel into Sanford Stadium and finally onto a football field. Home again. “Look at him,” a security guard said as Gurley ...
In hoops opener, Tech looks more ready than Georgia
Georgia Tech's Josh Heath, from left, Charles Mitchell and Quinton Stephens walk down the court in the final minute an NCAA college basketball game against Georgia, Friday, Nov. 14, 2014, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

10:35 p.m. Friday, Nov. 14, 2014

The opening of college football season in Georgia generally leads to speculation about conference title hopes, bowl games and national implications. The opening of college basketball season in Georgia generally leads to hands covering the eyes … with the occasional intrepid moment and peek between the fingers. Say this for ...
Starved for attention: Dogs vs. Jackets (hoops)
Brian Gregory's Yellow Jackets open the season Friday night at McCamish Pavilion against Mark Fox's (right) Bulldogs. 

10:54 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014

If the sports calendar were a house, the college basketball season walks through the backdoor — quietly, leaving no fingerprints, sleeping in the pantry until somebody finally notices. It doesn’t loudly announce its arrival like a superhero, proclaiming to the masses, “Come hither, you downtrodden Braves’ fans. I’m here to ...
All eyes on Gurley (even if you can’t find him)
Georgia running back Todd Gurley, here hurdling Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph, will return for Saturday’s game against Auburn after serving a four-game suspension for taking money for autographs. (AP Photo/The Augusta Chronicle, Jon-Michael Sullivan, File)

6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014

This isn’t about Todd Gurley, it’s about the team. Got that?Never mind the 45-second hype video Georgia released this week that plays to the tune, “Coming Home.” Maybe it was meant simply as a commemoration of the Bulldogs’ first game in Sanford Stadium in 42 days, but the fact it’s ...
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