Football Fridays In Georgia: GHSA's Robin Hines On COVID, Realignment, And Flag Football
GPB Sports' Jon Nelson and Hannah Goodin sit down for a wide-ranging conversation with Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Executive Director, Dr. Robin Hines, on this week's Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. They discuss COVID challenges, realignment, and the popularity of the Flag Football Championships. They also talk about some of the surprising games from week 2 of the football regular season.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast here at Georgia Public Broadcasting. Thanks for accessing us, however you are doing so — large device or small. GPB, gpb.org, the GPB Sports app — however you do it on a weekly basis or even on the YouTube channel. For those of you watching in the video sense this year, Hannah Goodin is over there. I'm over here. And it's another round where we have a very, very special guest coming up in just a little bit.
Hannah Goodin: We do. The executive director of the GHSA, Dr. Robin Hines, is on. We cover a lot of topics with him.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, and it was — I always like to kick off the season having him as our guest, because when you have all of the things that we went through in 2020 coming into 2021 where you're kind of dealing with some of the same things, you wanted to get the administrative perspective and how things are being viewed down there in Thomaston about the season upcoming and all the things that have happened so far and that we may have to tackle between now and December.
Hannah Goodin: Of course, And some of the more serious topics we cover is COVID, realignment. But there are some other fun stuff at the end. We talk about flag football. One of my favorite topics.
Jon Nelson: And getting ready for the 2021 season. So, we'll get into the interview with Dr. Hines coming up in just a little bit. What else was on your mind before we go?
Hannah Goodin: I'm just glad you're back. Jon is back in action.
Jon Nelson: OK, so wait a minute. All right. So, for Jahi the Magnificent and Commander Sandy. So, it was the cardboard cutout of me in two dimensions that was here last week.
Hannah Goodin: It wasn't the same, just wasn't the same,
Jon Nelson: It wasn't the same having me doing the show from a — from a laptop in a parking lot of a restaurant in Fitzgerald when we were taping?
Sandy Malcolm: Well, that did have its own ambiance and atmosphere.
Hannah Goodin: Lots of nat sound.
Sandy Malcolm: It was a little flat here, pardon the pun.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Yes, it was kind of a two-dimensional show last week.
Hannah Goodin: Ha... Sandy.
Jon Nelson: I see how Commander Sandy's working now. But no, it was great to go out on the road and great to catch up with 22 coaches. It was 32 separate interviews.
Hannah Goodin: 32 interviews for me edit, Jon.
Jon Nelson: You know it. Well, but they're not all interviews that you have to edit because some are just soundbites for like the other shows that we do here at GPB and GPB sports. So, they're not all interviews that you have to edit over the top of.
Hannah Goodin: That is great news.
Jon Nelson: Like 28 maybe.
Hannah Goodin: So, you're back? You're not leaving again? How was your trip? Oh, what did you see? Where did you eat?
Jon Nelson: It was 850 miles in the new van which is always a good thing when you have a new van, and you can christen it appropriately by just running it all around the state. So, here's the rundown. Let me see if I can let me see if I get the rundown complete. Wilcox, Fitzgerald.
Hannah Goodin: He has his eyes closed.
Jon Nelson: Because I'm visualizing the map here in my head. So, it was Wilcox, Fitzgerald, Irwin. I met Noel Dean for the first time at Tift. I ran into Justin Rogers at Colquitt, went to see Jamey DuBose at Lowndes. Did some other media interviews, crashed to radio shows in Valdosta while they were live on the air? That's always fun. There was the look on their faces. It's like when I come storming into the studio with a camera and the lights on. And with Wes Nichols, our videographer, it's like, make the thing as bright as possible when you come storming into the station right in the middle of a segment, completely and totally for both of them. And then caught up with Shelton Felton in Valdosta. Then day two was the wire grass where it was Lanier, Clinch, Coffee, Atkinson, Pierce got to see the new weight room at Pierce, the state champs, and Blackshear. Coach Herring's ring is large and it's a large championship ring that he's got weight room looks on. Then we'll see from Pierce went to Charlton. Charlton went to Camden, Camden went to Glynn Academy, Glynn Academy went to Brunswick did some interviews at the other in there for friends at ESPN Coastal. Then day three was Jesup, where it was Wayne County, then went to Vidalia. Went to Dublin, did some more interviews in between. Shamrock Bowl, newly renovated, almost completed. Very, very pretty, very, very cool looking. Have some pictures of that too. Then finished up in Sandersville. And that's an interesting story where they have a lineman, 6'7" 295 pounds, in his first year of organized football — he was a basketball guy — in his first full year of organized football, literally went to spring camps. And it's like, ok, do this in a drill. Had no real knowledge of being an offensive player.
Hannah Goodin: Stand here. Do this.
Jon Nelson: And he did it and he blew the camp up.
Hannah Goodin: Amazing.
Jon Nelson: And so he's top fifty in the state, according to Rivals 247 he already has an offer from the school in South Florida that was orange and green that I can't recognize by name.
Hannah Goodin: You mean orange and blue.
Jon Nelson: No, no, no further south. Oh, OK. That one got it. The same rivalry. It rhymes with fly-ami. Oh yeah. It rhymes with Fly-ami. Yeah. So, he's already Manny Diaz absolutely loves this kid and it's a great story and we're going to do more with it. But we have the Miami. Yeah. So that's that was southern swing.
Hannah Goodin: Anywhere good to eat. Where was your favorite spot to eat?
Jon Nelson: Oh, wow, where did we eat lunch time here. So. Oh, well, it was actually it was probably in the car, I think Wes ate more than I did because I was working the entire time.
Hannah Goodin: You called in last Monday from the the Zaxby's parking lot. You had to have gotten something better than Zaxby's.
Jon Nelson: No, I didn't. I was I was working. Wes got to go eat. I didn't eat because I was working.
Hannah Goodin: That's disappointing.
Jon Nelson: I was working.
Hannah Goodin: All right. Zaxby's it is.
Jon Nelson: Pretty much it was, like fast food du jour. Didn't have time to do the local haunts.
Hannah Goodin: I look forward to getting to all those interviews.
Jon Nelson: I look forward to editing all those interviews. Jon, thanks.
Hannah Goodin: We will get all the — if any of your schools, any of you listeners, any of your teams were just mentioned, we'll get these interviews out on all of our social media platforms and on the YouTube's and we'll have it we'll have it ready before our season kicks off September 10th for you guys to watch and preview the season.
Jon Nelson: Absolutely true. And apparently for the second week in a row, you're not supposed to be a number one team.
Hannah Goodin: Yes, that could not be a number one team. Week number two is in the books. Three more. Number one, teams fall. We'll start with 7A. Why not? We'll start from the top. Milton — ooh...
Jon Nelson: yeah.
Hannah Goodin: Lost to North Cobb. 40-21.That stings the soul.
Jon Nelson: Which means obviously getting a lot of folks are looking at North Cobb as a top three team and this definitely solidified it. Go ahead and hit the next one.
Hannah Goodin: Well, the Eagles are the first number one ranked team that the Warriors have beaten since 1959. So, I just want to rub it in a little bit more. OK, now, now we can move on.
Jon Nelson: Go to the next team.
Hannah Goodin: All right. 5A. Yeah, BT.
Jon Nelson: OK, so from now on, from now on…
Hannah Goodin: We don't listen to Coach Chadwick ever again.
Jon Nelson: Well, no we do. We do. But fully understand that I mean for win number 400 for Alan Chadwick. I mean when we talk to Coach Chadwick and I love it, I love coach. I mean that is and you've interviewed him before and every time he sees me walking up to him with a microphone, he's like, ‘oh, not you again.’ But he does that jokingly. But I mean, just the fact that, you know, we figured it might take a little while for Marist with all the graduations and things like that.
Hannah Goodin: We didn't speculate. Coach Chadwick also told me it was going to take six to eight games to get win number 400. It took one
Jon Nelson: One. One, one, one way to get 400. So, congratulations to Alan Chadwick for one 400 knocking off BT to do it. Once again BT, first, your coach took a little while to get the full song, and BT will be a part of the discussion late in the year, obviously. But seriously, Alan Chadwick, congratulations on win number 400. Great work. And now the next one. Once again, Larry Campbell, how close do we get to Larry Campbell?
Hannah Goodin: 28-13, final score. And that one, if you did not watch 2A, you were at this one, Fitzgerald vs. Irwin. What happened?
Jon Nelson: I don't know. I don't know if this is really an upset, though. I mean, it's a number one that gets knocked off. But when you have when you have a border war like this and it's literally it's ten, ten minutes between schools and a county line and 364 days out of the year, I mean, you have folks who live in one town working the other working in Ocilla, living in Fitzgerald, you know, live and work on Ocilla whatever, whatever the dynamic is. But that day, you cannot get a ticket to this game if it's a Jaycee Stadium in Fitzgerald or if it's a Buddy Noble stadium like it was in Ocilla this tie. You can't get a ticket. And we were there, and it was it was great football. And Irwin County had their chances. And I'm sure that any Irwin County fan will tell you this. Casey Soliday, the head coach will tell you this. They just didn't have they didn't finish their chances when they had him. There were two big turnovers, one as they were up 15-7 late fourth quarter. Their freshman running back can keep an eye on that freshman running back, especially. He's already being compared to DJ Lundy. Fumbles inside the twenty-yard line of Fitzgerald. And so, Fitzgerald comes storming down the other way. Scores with about 30 seconds to go, I think. And then you get the over the shoulder reverse flip flop pass thing into the end zone for the two-point conversion. And so, it was 15-15, and it goes to overtime and then right there it was missed. It was a missed fourth down conversion for Irwin in the top of the first overtime and a field goal in the bottom of the first overtime first time that these two schools, according to Todd Holcomb, ever have played overtime in this rivalry. 18-15, your final. And I'm just going to go ahead and say it right now. I'm really not going to drop either team that much in the GPB top ten because of a rivalry game with two separate classes and a great ball game. So, I don't think I'm going to be dropping both of those. I'm not going to be dropping Irwin County a whole lot.
Hannah Goodin: Jon was the local celebrity kissing babies and signing books in Irwin County on Friday.
Jon Nelson: It was great to see everybody.
Hannah Goodin: Noble strong.
Jon Nelson: My wife, my wife, Patty and I got to sit with Tammy Nobles, and it was good to catch up with her and it was good to see everybody down there. And it was on the Irwin County Radio halftime show to talk about the 2019 season and the book and all that kind of stuff. So now it was it was fun to get down there. And on a Friday night where neither of us had anything going on, it was probably one of the more obscure date night locations you probably could ever think of. It's like, well, it's also date night on a Friday where you go to a high school football game in Ocilla, Georgia. I don't know if that necessarily has ever really come up in a lot of conversations before.
Hannah Goodin: Patty is a lucky woman. I need you to sign my book.
Jon Nelson: Well, yeah, I do. And but from my travels, I also have something for you to that I'm going to give you later in the show.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, yeah. It's a nice teaser. I'm excited. A couple more games to touch on. Colquitt .
Jon Nelson: Yes.
Hannah Goodin: Lost to Westlake 31-24. What?
Jon Nelson: It’s a young team, I mean, in the in the interview with Justin Rogers that you'll be ingesting and editing soon, you'll see Justin talking about it. They're a young team, and we've had him on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. He talked about it then. So, he's got a young team and it's going to take a while. They'll be a part of the discussion. And Dr. Hines…
Hannah Goodin: Still tough to go in to Packer territory.
Jon Nelson: No question. And I think this speaks a lot to Westlake and what Bobby May has been doing the last couple of years, too. And, you know, like I said, Dr. Hines will talk about it a little later on the show, but it's another one of those games that stands out when you go to the Hog pen and you're the visiting team, you come out of there with a win, you've really done something.
Hannah Goodin: One last one. This is for Sandy, Sandy. Decatur... big W!
Jon Nelson: Yes. Knocked off the Wesleyan Wolves.
Sandy Malcolm: Yes. Yes. How about that? And what's the stat on that, Jon? First time.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, hang on. Let me find the stat once again. This is this is courtesy once again of Todd Holcomb in the Georgia High School Football Daily. I want
Sandy Malcolm: And I’ll stay away from Lakeside or Lassiter.
Jon Nelson: Oh, I know. Our win streak ended, and it was not pretty. Let's see. In the worth noting, section ended on Decatur, ended an eleven-game losing streak against private schools with a 13-6 win one over Wesley in an eight-point favorite. The Bulldogs last beat a private school on October 11, 2013,31-28 double overtime win against Blessed Trinity. So that is that's the big win for Commander Sandy. I think we lost to Miller Grove. 47-0 Lakeside-Dekalb. I know that that's I think that was what we did.
Sandy Malcolm: So, you're one and one. Lassiter 0-2 lost to Lambert. 54-21.
Jon Nelson: See, she's got a case of the giggles just looking at her own final score.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, that hurts.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, you want to toss to the interview?
Hannah Goodin: Well, I asked the first question. So, you toss.
Jon Nelson: Oh, then I guess I have to toss to it. All right. It's that time for our special guest this week here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Time to catch up with the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, Dr. Robin Hines, on a variety of topics. Here we go.
Hannah Goodin: All right, let's start with some of the more serious stuff, what were your biggest takeaways from last year trying to navigate sports through an unprecedented pandemic?
Dr. Robin Hines: Gosh, it was you know, it certainly consumed all of us, especially because we'd never been there before. You know, it's like the you know, all the old adages say you're trying to build an airplane while you're flying it, you know, so that's kind of where it was. This year is a little bit different in that we've kind of been there and we've done that. And, you know, the, you know, still continuing to meet with our sports medicine folks and, you know, our doctors and that sort of thing as we go through. So, yeah, it was it was it was quite a challenge last year, but we certainly made it through going well. And despite some bumps in the road, we're heading there again this year. So, you know, feeling good about things right now. But we'll continue to keep a close eye on it.
Jon Nelson: And what the GHSA is doing in addition to with the council that you regularly, receive as you're leaving a lot of the decisions up to each locality because they're the ones who are more familiar with their own situations. There's not an overarching mandate. While you are keeping an eye on things, all of the localities in each individual school and school system are the ones that are deciding their final face, true?
Dr. Robin Hines: Oh, there's no question about that. And just, you know, I believe for a long time and our organization does that local decisions are typically the best decisions. You know, for, for instance, what's happening in the you know, in Northwest Georgia may not be the same thing that's happening in southeast Georgia, for instance. And in the way our state is set up, you know, each department of health at each individual location, certainly, you know, they're autonomous, you know, as far as that goes. And so, what we do is, you know, the recommendations and the things that we've given out, you know, throughout the year last year, they're still in place. You know, we had you know, we had a light flu season, for instance, because we were doing those things like using hand sanitizers, maintaining socially distance when we possibly can. You know, those sorts of things they hold true today. You know as well, you know, as we're going forward. But yes, the local districts and local departments of health, you know, they are working with our local school districts and local boards and administrations to make sure they're doing the right thing for their community.
Hannah Goodin: With the COVID delta variant surging, there were almost 30 football games canceled, postponed, or forfeited for last week. What's that monitoring policy like, and what are the rules on getting cancelations and forfeits?
Dr. Robin Hines: Well, we're certainly looking at that. And of those games in the year, we're still considerably less than 10%, you know, as far as cancelations are concerned. And many of those have, you know, already found games, you know, and, you know, they absolve the contract and move on. As far as the forfeitures are concerned. You know, if the way that it works is really not different than last year, it's just that if a school can't agree, if one questions another as far as like a COVID postponement or cancellation and that sort of thing, we will step in and look at the information and make sure that they're following the local Department of Health's procedures and protocols and those sorts of things. And we're doing everything that we can do. So, there's no financial issues that are with the school. But you do have to account for that game. And certainly, those regions have already discussed this and about how it's going to work, because as you may or may not know, the regions themselves determine who their playoff participants are. You know, and really the criteria changes from region to region and a lot of cases. So, you know what the Georgia High School Association waits for is who are the four teams that are going to represent that region when the playoffs and those are plugged into the brackets as we are moving forward.
Jon Nelson: One of the other hot button issues coming across recently was realignment. And if I'm not mistaken, that was the meeting was last week and one of Dr. Miller's ideas had to do with the private schools and kind of putting them off into their own category, at least the nine most successful off into their own category. And then there were other ideas brought forth. I want to say Tim Hardy from Greater Atlanta Christian had brought forth another idea in these kinds of things. Where is realignment right now? What are the discussions? What's the update? And then obviously, a lot of folks who are tied to the private schools are wondering the next steps there. What are the next steps here in discussing the private issue when it comes to realignment?
Dr. Robin Hines: Well, first thing is, is the meeting that was held the other day was just to get the ball rolling, get the conversation started. I don't think that it's any secret to anybody out there of the unprecedented success of our private members. You know, as we're moving forward and you know what the public-school folks are saying that, you know, it's disheartening when they know that they don't stand a chance and, you know, those sorts of things, whatever it is, there must be some type of advantage there. You know, whatever it may be difficult to quantify. But you know, when you have two schools and in double life, for instance, that account for, you know, well over ten state championships in one year and runners-up in about 10 or 11 others, you know, that's it's very it's tough. So, what the what the reclass committee, one of the things that they will that they will discuss and try to get to is, is how do you level the playing field, you know, what's that going to entail? And our private members, you know, they recognize the problem as well. And you talked about Coach Hardy from Greater Atlanta with something that he's brought up to talk about, addresses those things as well. So, we'll just see, you know, the staff, myself, the GHSA office. You know, we don't we don't have a vote or anything. We certainly value all of our members. But I expect that to be probably the focus of this cycle. Yeah. You know, for sure. For sure. Going forward.
Hannah Goodin: So you have schools like GAC that are vocal that they don't want their own championship division. So, if that doesn't pass, does something need to be done about private school dominance? What are your thoughts on that?
Dr. Robin Hines: Well, you know what, my thoughts don't count. You know, that's one thing, you know for sure. But I can certainly see that there is an issue and a problem in there. And there could be a place for some type of some type of method where we can address competitive balance. Yeah. You know, last year they did a multiplier two and that was applied to everybody, not just the private schools and that sort of thing. And obviously it didn't work because you know, the private school dominance probably was more pronounced this past year than maybe before. So, you know, we'll just see what happens. And, you know, once they begin to meet and we get things rolling, I believe in a couple of days there will be some proposals that will come in that will be discussed at the October executive committee meeting and we'll see where it goes from there. And, you know, we're just waiting on the numbers to come in. And the private schools on the 15th of September will send their headcounts and their number of out of district students. And then, of course, the FTE, the first Tuesday in October will occur in our public schools. And then between then and when the numbers come in, you know, they will be turned in. They're out of district numbers as well. And then we'll get the numbers and begin to put together whatever it is that the reclassification decides to do. That's how it works. And the state office, you know, that's us. You know, we'll put together the first crack and give it to the reclass committee for them to tweak as they see fit.
Jon Nelson: Then let me ask you this. And this is something that I've you know since I've covered high school sports for the last 275 years.
Dr. Robin Hines: Yeah. At least that many.
Jon Nelson: let me let me ask you this. And this is something that has to do specifically with postseasons. And I guess this is where I look at it the most. Do we have too many A's right now? Because, you know, when you look in the postseason, just say football is an example. You'll have schools that will be making it in as a four seed in their region. They're two and eight, three and seven, four and six or what have you. And then you have those matchups with ones and fours. And you can tell that the competitive balance isn't there. I you know, I've looked at this over the last probably decade or so, and you see these matchups in the playoffs. And personally, I think we might have maybe one too many A's. Do we have too many A's when it comes to classifications right now?
Dr. Robin Hines: Well, that's certainly an opinion.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. I mean, it's definitely just something that I've seen over the years and I'm like, do we have that? Do we have too many?
Dr. Robin Hines: Yeah, well, you know, I mean, I don't think it's any secret that that I've tried to drop some of those A's. You know, I feel like I feel like six is could be an appropriate number, you know, as we move. But again, you know, our committee and our board of trustees, they have not shared that view. And they're the ones that count. They have the votes on that. And, you know, why is it that way? You know, the majority of people there just because of, you know, population and where the representation is? You know, most of the people there don't have a problem with travel because there's a school on every corner. You know, the problem comes when you get into the middle in South Georgia and you get into, like, Region 1, 7A. Right. You know, where there's four people in there and the four teams and they're traveling crazy. It happens in middle Georgia; you know as well. So, you know, we find a way to make it work. And, of course, you know, you bring up the competitive balance thing in the first round. Certainly, that is the case. And, you know, I don't think that it's really been a financial boom for everybody with having the noncompetitive first rounds and that sort of thing. But that's kind of where we are. And I tried to ask ahead of time, was this something that would be considered, you know, moving forward? And the answer was no. So, we're just it's going to look a lot like what it what it is for this particular cycle.
Hannah Goodin: So 8A's? Right. Including single-A public and private.
Jon Nelson: Well, eight championships with 7A's.
Dr. Robin Hines: Yeah, well, if you want to put it like that. Yeah. There is so much, you know, it's going to be successful. We're going to have championships and we're going to feel good about it. And it's another opportunity for another group of young people. So certainly, positive from that standpoint.
Hannah Goodin: So eight championship games got thrown pretty good last year without any. Well, that we know of in a huge covid issues and there were fans in the stands. Were their fans in the stands? Yes. There were fans in the stands. Was there social distance last year? What's the plan for the championships this year? Taking a look last year and how successful everything went.
Dr. Robin Hines: It's going to be the same way. And, you know, while we haven't gotten into those discussions, you know, we do have a contract with Georgia State and Center Parc Stadium. And, you know, we asked them to open the upper bowl so that people that wanted to socially distance certainly can do that. And there's plenty of room in which to do that. And I'm sure we're going down that road again. But, you know, we don't want to get into a situation like we had last year where there were several rounds of the playoffs, where there were systems that don't allow any fans, right, you know, spectators and that sort of thing.
Hannah Goodin: That’s the whole point.
Dr. Robin Hines: Where we are right now is that we're going to we're going to be 100 percent, you know, as far as spectators are concerned, certainly want to encourage people to be vaccinated. You know, that's the that's the million dollar deal right there. And, you know, I just you know, I'm not going to give the name of the community, but I was looking at some stats to where there were 120 people that were hospitalized over the weekend and 118 of them were not vaccinated. Right. So, I'm just saying that there is and there is an option there for people to do. And as we talked about last year, you know, people have decisions that they need to make, you know, do what do I want to participate? Do I want to be a spectator? Do I want my child to participate? You know, clearly, you know, participation is not down and we're moving forward. And our plan is to be 100%, you know once the playoffs start. But as I've said from the very beginning, the situation remains fluid. And we will take a look at things as we move forward and continue to meet with our sports medicine people.
Jon Nelson: Dr. Robin Hines, the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Hannah is over there. I'm over here. And one of the things about championship weekend last year that I thought was really cool and I've been getting a lot of feedback on it and Hannah has been getting a lot of feedback on it, too, was flag football. And there were folks that would reach out to us on social media and they would sit there and say, flag football is the TV sports addiction I didn't know that I had until I started watching it on television. And I think we're adding another flag football championship game to championship weekend this year. What's been the response to flag football across the board?
Dr. Robin Hines: Hey, Jon, it's been overwhelming. You know that. And I will tell you this, that I had comments on the girls broadcast championship games, probably three to one over 11-man football. People were excited, you know, about that and all. And we were excited to you know, we've taken our time and we're grateful for the Falcons and their support and sponsorship of, you know, the driving force behind this. It's opened up a great avenue for our young ladies to compete and compete they do. I mean, they are aggressive and get after it. And, you know, they're well coached. Our guys are doing a great job. And, you know, what happened last year is, is our participation for schools was cut in half because, you know, we had the intent and then all of a sudden COVID hit in. About half of those decided that they would wait and see how things went. And, you know, not even knowing if we were going to have a season, if you can remember, you know, back then. Well, so we had about 100 teams. We had two divisions and had two state championships. And it was really good when we did the intent to participate coming up for this year, that number doubled. So, we are at about 200 teams, which made us open up another classification for those girls. Again, you're looking at populations and competitive balance and that sort of thing. So, we're excited. I mean, we're just really excited about what the young ladies have done and what the schools have done in supporting that. So, we're looking forward to it.
Hannah Goodin: I was never allowed to play in high school at Lassiter because we were always on a state championship volleyball team. So, my coach was like, no, you're not getting out there and doing flag football.
Jon Nelson: Well, and the cool thing about it last year was that in the you had Calvary Day and you had Portal and for a community like Portal to make it to a championship game, I mean, it was tremendous for them. And you could see how they were supportive. And then you had the Metro Atlanta schools, obviously, I think we had the one game go to overtime. I think that was, so you had you had free flag football. Yeah. Say that ten times fast. But you had that that representation that we have across the other classifications for the for the football championships. And you had the same thing there for flag football where you get to see a small town like Portal make it to the last game of the year and chase after a championship. And I thought that was really cool.
Dr. Robin Hines: Listen, they were so excited as well as, you know, they invited me to go speak at their banquet. Oh, yeah. Flag football banquet. And I learned a couple of things. I learned that it is a long way to Portal from Thomaston Georgia. Absolutely true. But I you know, I was given a lesson in the culture of their community and their school and what a wonderful place it is and the excitement that girls flag football had given to the entire school, an entire community. And I mean boy I tell what, that was one of the best things I did all year long is go down there and see those folks because just, you know, just to see that it just shows you why it is that we do what we do and it's just an awesome experience. And those girls did a great job. And I'll tell you what, their coach does a great job to me. I guarantee he's working today figuring out how to do things better. I can promise you that.
Hannah Goodin: We're going to have to add more days to the championship if we have more flag football.
Jon Nelson: Bring it.
Dr. Robin Hines: If we do we will.
Hannah Goodin: We will make it a whole week. Well, let's talk a little 11-man football, then. Three more number one teams lost this week. Milton, BT, Irwin also got knocked off. What are your thoughts on the season? And there's going to be some big shake ups, it looks like, leading up to the championships.
Dr. Robin Hines: We've got a long, long way to go.
Jon Nelson: Spoken like a coach.
Dr. Robin Hines: Well, we do. I mean, we absolutely do. And I don't know what I'm you know, I'm just trying to, you know, get my sea legs, going and get used to going and traveling and seeing all these games. I've seen some good ones so far and there's going to be more there. But I just like it always does. It will shake out. You know, you said Milton lost, you know, that sort of thing. But don't count them out. Oh, you know, either you know that they will be back. I mean, they have a great community and a great coaching staff. And, you know, they're going to they're going to do a super job. You know, I thought it was, you know, big step for Westlake this year to go into Colquitt County and to win a game now. Now Westlake has been getting better and better over the over the past several years. And they've done a good job. But the man I'll tell you what, they look good on the hoof and they play well, and they're coached well, and they're disciplined. And you just don't go into to Mack Tharpe Stadium down in Colquitt County and get a win very often. So, I'm real proud of what they're doing over there. And of course, once again, don't ever count Colquitt County out either. No, they're going to be this little bit too early for all that stuff. But, you know, we're going to have a great year. We're going to get through. We will get to the championships. We're going to play at the appropriate time. Not after Christmas. Yeah, we're excited about because I'm telling you, Hannah, and Jon, because we here in the office haven’t had a break yet. You know, we're I mean, how long does go with which is OK, we're going to do whatever we have to do to make sure that we provide for our student athletes and all. But we're looking forward to having a regular calendar. You know, we've said that again and again. And as we move forward, we think it's going to help with attendance and all those things as well. So, it's going to be a great year. And all signs are saying that that's what it's going to be.
Jon Nelson: One more question before you go. And thanks for hanging out with us, especially as we've started the season off. When the state of Georgia is depending on the algorithm that you look at, the number three state in the country for talent. What has it been like for you as the executive director of the Georgia High School Association to see Georgia high school athletics, Georgia high school football, specifically since we're in football season, be recognized nationally the way that it is for the talent that we see across the board every year?
Dr. Robin Hines: Yeah, I think it's always been that case, really. But, you know, if you go and look like, you know, when I get with my other executive directors from around the country, you know, these are the kind of things that we talk about. You know, we try to brag on our states a little bit. But, you know, I talked with Charles Breithaupt from Texas and all the time he will quickly tell you, if you look per capita, Georgia's number one, no matter how you slice, there you go. And I and I believe that, you know, we are a large state. We're certainly a transient state, that sort of thing. But we don't have the people that Texas and California and New York, for instance, have. But we continue to produce that type of talent in the why is it is because we're blessed with great coaches. We've got the best coaches that you're going to find anywhere. And you know, they know what they're doing. And the only difference, you know, that I see in coaching from Friday nights to Saturdays and Sundays are just the size and speed of the people that are playing. And, you know, because those coaches do a great job, and they would be successful at any level. And I couldn't be more proud, you know, as we get into this season, the rest of them. But, you know, it's not just football. Look at basketball. We're a sneaky, good basketball state. We're producing tons of talent that are out there. And once again, it's just because of the coaches do such a good job and the kids are hungry. So, you get that combination, and you know, we feel pretty good about where we're sitting here in Georgia.
Jon Nelson: Well, Dr. Hines, as always, it's great to catch up with you at the beginning of football season. It's great to catch up with you whenever we can. I know that your schedule's incredibly busy, but the idea that we can kind of pull back the curtain, get the kickoff going, get your thoughts on where things stand as we get ready for another great season of high school football here in the state of Georgia. Thanks for hanging it with me and Hannah here on the Football Friday in Georgia podcast. We'll see you soon.
Dr. Robin Hines: The pleasure is all mine. You all have a great day.
Hannah Goodin: Always great to catch up with Dr. Robin Hines. He had some really informative things to say and looking forward, I think we're all looking forward to a safe and healthy season as it progresses.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, we'll be catching up with Dr. Hines and keeping an eye on things down there in the state office down there in Thomaston as we go. Ok, so I promised that from my travels I have something for Hannah, and it is courtesy of our Dragon-based friends in Jefferson. So, while you are hanging over a drumroll. Well, sure, why not. So. All right. So here.
Hannah Goodin: Jahi, insert drumroll there. So, what is it?
Jon Nelson: There we go.
Hannah Goodin: So, what is it?
Jon Nelson: I'm showing the audience first and foremost. Yes. This you get to add to your stack.
Hannah Goodin: This is amazing. Jefferson Dragons T-shirt. Yes. Football on the front. Solid on the back. Yeah, this is awesome. This is soft. And so, Jon, you brought me one last year too.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, see? From the travels. And so now you get to add that to your stack.
Hannah Goodin: XL will fit over fit over the babies.
Jon Nelson: That was kind of that was the plan. That was I was kind of the foresight here as I was trying to think of something that would add to the stacks that you could wear around the house that that dogs and young ins could help you with.
Hannah Goodin: This is T-shirt number three for me from you.
Jon Nelson: Wow. Appreciate it. See, now, if you got to the point, with all the hats that I have, I have like 450 of them. So, I can get you moving in that direction, too, if you want. But your husband John might have issues with that. You can have room in the house.
Hannah Goodin: He has this rule where if he gets a new house, he has to throw one out or donate so many hats. No such thing. Oh my gosh. You see hundreds of...
Jon Nelson: You know how it is in my office. I have 275 hanging on a tree.
Hannah Goodin: We don't have that space. He doesn't have his own office.
Jon Nelson: You need to create.
Hannah Goodin: We’ll just move so he can have his own room for his hats.
Jon Nelson: There you go. Perfect. Just put a train track in like we have in my office where you can, where you can have like 275 and rotate them out as much as you want.
Hannah Goodin: Well, you know, we had to, we had to his storage room had to be converted to a nursery. So, I'm sorry, I'm sorry for him and all the males out there. You know, we went from dark gray, extra spare bedroom. Well to white. It's white now, but it is it is going to be a girl's nursery. So, I'm sorry we don't have the room.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, what's on your mind? Before we go.
Hannah Goodin: Let's take a look at what we've got coming up. Recruiting 2021 show, number three of the season. If you missed last week's show, it is on gpb.org/sports. We also put the link up on social media. My interview is Buford senior safety wide receiver, Jake Pope. And this week I'm interviewing JC offensive lineman Addison Nichols. Looking forward to that. What are your thoughts on Recruiting 2021 so far?
Jon Nelson: It's been fun, and business is picking up and you're seeing a lot of folks lining themselves up with schools. But as I always maintain, this is when recruiting starts for individuals. When an individual says, well, I'm you know, I'm going to this school, that's when the recruiting of that athlete actually starts. That, to me, is the big thing. And all of this and you know, who stays, who flips, who's going where, who's going to be rising through the ranks. That, to me, is the biggest issue in all of this. Do any of the big names, Travis Hunter, change where they're going? Because right now, Travis Hunter, top name in the country for the senior class right now, he's scheduled for Florida State. And with Alabama calling pro, what exactly?
Hannah Goodin: No way.
Jon Nelson: Exactly
Hannah Goodin: No way.
Jon Nelson: I will be shocked. Shocked. I would be pleasantly shocked and surprised if he sticks with Florida State as the Florida State alum on the show. But I think that other schools will come calling. That's just me.
Hannah Goodin: Almost as shocking as what's his name from last year, not sticking with USC.
Jon Nelson: Oh, Jake Garcia,
Hannah Goodin: any who. So that that'll be digital till September 10th, where it will air at 7:00 in our broadcast will be 7:30. We're still hanging on to our game of the week. We have not announced yet. Look for that on social media. Countdown To kickoff. All of our usuals are there. Thursdays at noon on GPB Sports, Facebook Live. Come be a part of the conversation once.
Jon Nelson: What’s for lunch??
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. What's for lunch? Join us in the Facebook comment section. That show has gotten out of control. Jon ended up doing 20 push-ups because he lost his. It's not a best see, but
Jon Nelson: I went back and watched the show.
Hannah Goodin: You said the word.
Jon Nelson: I said the word fancy. I did not say fancy TV graphic. I said the word fancy and they rounded off and said you violated it. So, you have to do push-ups.
Hannah Goodin: You violated the rules.
Jon Nelson: I violated the rules. What you couldn't say. And so, by saying one word out of fancy.
Jon Nelson: By 25% violation of the rule,
Hannah Goodin: It's more than that. It's like 33% at least.
Jon Nelson: Fancy TV graphic time. Four. I said one of the four words. So really, I should have only done two and a half pushups.
Hannah Goodin: You did? I did what I attempted to do 20, but it was more like final five, right?
Jon Nelson: Like 20 half’s. So that's ten full.
Hannah Goodin: So funny. Jon can't say a specific word on the show when he says that he has to do push.
Jon Nelson: Oh, and by the way. Yeah, because it's only you
Jon Nelson: I'm the one that can't say the word.
Hannah Goodin: So, nothing to do with me.
Jon Nelson: Oh, by the way. Probably. And just so everybody here knows. So, King James knows. So Jahi the Magnificent knows. So, Commander Sandy knows. And so, you know, my wife, the boss, has a suggestion for you as a rule violation for the show for Countdown to Kickoff.
Hannah Goodin: So, what is it?
Jon Nelson: I don't know. She doesn't want to tell me.
Hannah Goodin: She has to tell somebody.
Jon Nelson: That's the thing. Like I said, tell Hannah. So let them figure it out. She hasn't yet text her, text her and find out what she has in mind. So, I have to do something else. And I mean, she had the word, and she had the punishment. She had it all.
Hannah Goodin: Yes. OK, we need that for Thursday. Yeah.
Jon Nelson: So text her and find out what it is. This is what I'm dealing with here on Countdown to Kickoff.
Hannah Goodin: It's amazing. Guys don't miss it. Podcast is weekly. Thanks to all of our listeners. Awesome numbers this year. We love talking to each and every week and then finally blogs. What are you writing about this week?
Jon Nelson: I have a couple of ideas and that might be having to do with one of the topics that we were talking with Dr. Hines about life in the time of Covid, where literally during southern swing we drive up to Washington County High School in Sandersville, just as head coach Joel Ingram is having his team meeting, telling them that they're not playing ball.
Hannah Goodin: That's a good one.
Jon Nelson: And so I had a conversation with Joel about it, and Joel talked about what it's like being a head coach right now, dealing with COVID-19 and all the other things that they are dealing with it. But no, it was an interesting dynamic in the timing, you know, being there as he was delivering the news to his team and telling his team, you know, to be careful and all these other kinds of messages. It was a real interesting conversation coming up right there at practice roll right up. One of his assistants comes right out the door and he looks at us and he just holds up one finger. He goes, hang on a minute. And so, the assistant goes back inside as Joel is talking to the players, Joel comes back outside. And so, Joel, as he's talked to him initially, comes back out to the man. He says, man, I completely forgot. I've been busier than, you know what today. So, hang on just a second. I've got to finish talking to them and I'm going to let them go. He goes back inside, and he talks to them, dismisses the team. And then we had our conversation. And that was one of the first question I had is what was this like? And so, we got into that discussion.
Hannah Goodin: I like that is a blog. I know. I always catch I always catch early in the week. So, you don't have to finalize it.
Jon Nelson: But that was I mean, that was the first idea that popped into my head, as we were driving home. It's like Joel Ingram is literally telling me everything that's going on about having to be he’s like, I've got a wet bulb thermometer in one hand and I'm dealing with, you know, COVID-19 with the other. So, I mean, that's right. Now what he's having to deal with their game with Baldwin got canceled, I believe, because it was a non-region game. And Jesse Hicks, he said Jesse Hicks, the head coach at Baldwin, could not have been more understanding. And he got into that relationship to remember Jesse Hicks and Baldwin last year. They basically blew off all of their non-region games. They're like no see region play. We're going to we're going to handle Covid that way. So, they just had a region schedule and went right into the playoffs.
Hannah Goodin: Wow. That's all I got. That's it on the list. Done, bye.
Jon Nelson: All right. So, you're done. So, for Hannah, for King James, for Jahi the Magnificent, for Commander Sandy, as always, thanks for hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Thanks once again to the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, Dr. Robin Hines. Play it safe, everybody. Enjoy your games. Be safe. We'll see you next week.
Hannah Goodin: Thanks for my shirt, Jon. Bye.