Good morning. This is LEADOFF, today’s early buzz in Atlanta sports.
Worth noting: Georgia has lost its past four football games against Georgia Tech when not coached by Mark Richt.
The Bulldogs lost their last three games against Tech before hiring Richt and last week lost their first game against Tech after firing Richt.
The Yellow Jackets defeated the Bulldogs in 1998, 1999 and 2000, Jim Donnan’s final three seasons as Georgia’s coach. Then the Bulldogs won 13 of 15 against Tech under Richt from 2001 through 2015. And on Saturday, the Yellow Jackets defeated Georgia in Kirby Smart’s first season as the Georgia coach.
Richt continued his winning ways against the Yellow Jackets this season: His Miami Hurricanes won 35-21 at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Oct. 1.
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If the College Football Playoff started now, No. 1 Alabama would be favored by 10 1/2 points over No. 4 Washington in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl and No. 2 Ohio State would be favored by one point over No. 3 Clemson in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
That’s according to oddsmaker RJ Bell of Pregame.com.
The playoff selection committee unveiled its next-to-last rankings of the season Tuesday night, dropping Michigan from No. 3 to No. 5 and elevating Washington from No. 5 to No. 4. Full story here.
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The Braves’ search for a new spring-training home in Florida has stretched out much longer than the team expected. The Braves have pursued options in St. Petersburg, Sarasota County, Palm Beach County and Collier County (Naples). Several months ago, the team’s original goal of having a new facility open by 2018 was pushed back to 2019.
The latest development: word from Sarasota County that if the Braves move their spring home there, they will be in a one-team facility rather than a previously discussed two-team facility.
The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that several MLB clubs had expressed interest in sharing a stadium with the Braves in the Sarasota County city of North Port but that those other teams no longer are in play.
“The (Braves) team wants to keep a couple options open for themselves, and that obviously makes good business sense for them,” Martin Black, general manager of the West Villages development in North Port, told the Herald-Tribune. “But we’re still in negotiations and are hopeful.”
A one-team spring-training facility in Florida could be eligible for up to $20 million in state taxpayer funds, while a two-team facility could be eligible for up to $50 million.
The Tampa Bay Times reports the Braves have sent campaign donations “to key state legislators who could help them with stadium financing when they do find a new home.”
From the Times’ story: “Earlier this month, the Braves gave $1,000 to a political committee run by new Senate Appropriations chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater. That is just months after the team sent $1,000 donations each to new Senate President Joe Negron and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who will run the Senate Rules Committee.”
The Braves will hold spring training the next two years at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports complex near Orlando, where they have trained since 1998.
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