Credit: AP Photo/Brynn Anderson
Football Fridays in Georgia: Former Coaches of UGA Bulldogs Stars Stetson Bennett & Christopher Smith
On this episode of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, we catch up with the former coaches of Stetson Bennett and Christopher Smith to find out what its like to watch one of their players win back-to-back national championships. Plus, NIL rules coming for Georgia high school players?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: He could have got off a little bit easier if I were to hand me some sort of, you know, McMuffin.
Hannah Goodin: Pop quiz time.
Jon Nelson: Sure. I think it was.
Hannah Goodin: Okay calling it.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: You take every stadium that we go into and make it our own.
Jon Nelson: I did not give my wife aluminum siding for our 10th anniversary.
Jon Nelson: Welcome to another round of the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, the monthly edition. And since a particular college team went back to back with national championships in their sport, we decided to catch up with some of the high school coaches attached to some of the stars for the team up in Athens who brought back another national championship and sent it up Georgia 316. You might remember a quarterback...Hannah, you know who the quarterback for the Georgia Bulldogs is?
Hannah Goodin: Just some guy named Stetson Bennett. Yeah.
Jon Nelson: Stetson Bennett, Version 4.0. His head coach at the time when he was at Pierce County was Sean Pender. Sean is now the head coach at North Hall. So we catch up with Sean and find out about what life was like with Stetson Bennett 4.0. Uh...storytime with John. Really quickly.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, boy.
Jon Nelson: Southern swing.
Hannah Goodin: We're only like 30 seconds in.
Jon Nelson: I know, but I have to make up because we only do these once a month or so. And so I have to figure out.
Hannah Goodin: Everybody hold on.
Jon Nelson: But no, I've...
Hannah Goodin: We'll get back to the show shortly.
Jon Nelson: Now, I remember...I remember when we were doing Southern Swing, I stopped by Pierce County High School, caught up with Sean, and he asks me, "Hey, you want to catch up with Stetson?" I was like, Yeah, sure. I'll catch up with Stetson. Better. You know, more interviews are always good. So I remember interviewing Stetson Bennett in the lobby of Pierce County High School leading into his senior season as a quarterback. And here's a guy who was a no star, zero zero, no stars.
Hannah Goodin: It's like 2015?
Jon Nelson: Let's see. So let's see if he's 25 now. So seven years ago. Yeah. So 2015, 2015 season. And so talk to Stetson zero stars preferred walk on at Georgia goes JUCO (Junior College) comes back to Georgia and the rest, they say, is back to back national champion.
Hannah Goodin: Do we have that interview somewhere?
Jon Nelson: I'm sure we do.
Hannah Goodin: Need to go look on our YouTube.
Jon Nelson: [00:02:06] And our good friend Tommy Palmer wrote a column about stats in his senior season and reminded everybody that if you're sleeping on Stetson Bennett, you're wrong. And so Tommy wrote that column it is at GPB.org. All you have to do is a Stetson, Bennett, GPB.org search and Tommy Palmer, those keywords in there. And you'll find the column that Tommy Palmer wrote about Stetson Bennett when he was a senior. So we'll catch up with Sean Pender from Brunswick and from Brunswick and now at North Hall. And we're also going to catch up with the head coach of Christopher Smith.
Hannah Goodin: He used to be Chris Smith in high school.
Jon Nelson: Yeah he's like Chris Smith in high school now he's Christopher Smith.
Hannah Goodin: He's all official. Well, his dad is Christopher so maybe it is an homage to his father.
Jon Nelson: Christopher Smith, all-American. Winston Gordon, the head coach of Hapeville Charter, the head coach for Chris Smith when he was in high school. Christopher Smith, now at the University of Georgia, one of the stalwarts for the Georgia defense, will catch up with him as well. And we got some really cool stories about Coach Gordon and his viewing habits.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah, yeah. The GHSA also had a big meeting with the they call it the board of Trustees.
Jon Nelson: Board of Trustees.
Hannah Goodin: So at the end of the show, Jon breaks down everything that went on in that meeting and it is a lot. And we will have even more updates and stories to follow.
Scott Howard, Georgia Football Network: Perfection wears red and black tonight. 15-0, the Dawgs have done it and won a second consecutive national title. And you can't be any more impressive than the way they did it tonight.
Jon Nelson: Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: So it was a historic performance from Georgia dominating TCU from start to finish 65 to 7 to secure its second straight national title. And I have to say, Jon. I'm going to be one of those people really quick. Okay. I called it Michael....
Jon Nelson: You called 65-7?
Hannah Goodin: No, Michael Harris upstairs can back me up on this. We both said it was going to be another Alabama/Notre Dame game. We called it the more the morning of the game and it was worse.
Jon Nelson: Well, I mean, the last two times that you've had a double digit favorite in the national championship game, it has been blowout city.
Hannah Goodin: Blowout city. I should have put some money on it.
Jon Nelson: Put some juice boxes on it. You have some juice boxes for the girls in the in the in the refrigerator that you could have done.
Hannah Goodin: They're not doing juice boxes now.
Jon Nelson: What are they doing?
Hannah Goodin: While they're still doing milk. Okay. Whole milk. Okay. One whole.
Jon Nelson: Milk. Okay. All right. So. So some.
Hannah Goodin: Some whole milk? Yes.
Jon Nelson: Put some whole milk on it. You want to talk to some coaches?
Hannah Goodin: Well, we have. I got a fun fact.
Jon Nelson: Okay. Fun fact, fun fact.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. From Jeremy, what's his nickname again. Ambassador Jeremy thank you.
Jon Nelson: Ambassador Jeremy. She she just it's like she's not here for a month, and then she just loses track of all the nicknames.
Hannah Goodin: I'm just to let you know how bad it is. I'm drinking a Red Bull today. I haven't had a Red Bull in probably, like, five years. Okay, so it's. It's mom brain.
Jon Nelson: You'll be feeling the headache in short order.
Hannah Goodin: So, how many kids? Is this Pop quiz time?
Jon Nelson: Sure. I think it. Okay.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. Calling it.
Jon Nelson: All right. She's calling Pop Quiz. All right.
Hannah Goodin: How many kids do you think on Georgia and TCU combined? Are from the Georgia high school system.
Jon Nelson: 27.
Hannah Goodin: Cold.
Jon Nelson: Oh, really? So it's more like 45.
Hannah Goodin: Cold. Well. Well, slightly warmer than 40....at 45 you're a little bit warmer.
Jon Nelson: Okay, well. Well.
Hannah Goodin: A little bit.
Jon Nelson: Warmer, I feel. Are we? Price is Right rules here? Or what? Without going over. I mean, you're.
Hannah Goodin: A little warmer at 45.
Jon Nelson: 52.
Hannah Goodin: You're a little bit warmer than that.
Jon Nelson: 64.
Hannah Goodin: You're getting hotter.
Jon Nelson: 78. You're saying 79.
Hannah Goodin: 77.
Jon Nelson: 77. But I went over and violated the Price is Right rules.
Hannah Goodin: I don't know. The Price is Right rules because I didn't watch Price is Right, Jon.
Jon Nelson: You have to guess the price but not go over.
Hannah Goodin: Well, then? I guess you lost the game.
Jon Nelson: I did. I lost the game when I said 78.
Hannah Goodin: So 77.
Jon Nelson: Okay. And the reason that I started out so low, it was because Georgia has developed into such a national brand that those numbers have decreased. Usually one third of the roster at Auburn is is Georgia athletes. And so that was kind of my base with the national branding. We have the University of Georgia.
Hannah Goodin: So one of those being quarterback Stetson Bennett heard of him. He broke the dog single season passing record with 3944 yards. Aaron Murray previously held that record in 2012. What were your thoughts on his performance by game night?
Jon Nelson: Was it 325 and four? By the time he was done, 18 of 25 for an incredibly large number of yards and four scores and the rushing touchdown is one of.
Hannah Goodin: 25 for 304 yards, 72% completion rate. Yes. Four touchdowns.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And the rushing touchdown, the 21 yard keeper up the middle to get things started for the University of Georgia.
Hannah Goodin: Averaging 12.2 yards.
Jon Nelson: He's a.
Hannah Goodin: Pretty good. Okay. Well, we're about to get to know him a little bit better, aren't we?
Jon Nelson: Yeah. Through the eyes of his high school coach, Sean Pender, who is the head coach down at Pierce County in the Pierce County Bears. He's now but north all.
Hannah Goodin: Hey, Coach Pender. So my first question for you is, what was Stetson like in high school?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Stetson was great. I mean, he was you know, he's always been a little bit of a had a little bit of a goofball mentality.
Hannah Goodin: I could see that.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: At the same time, he still, you know, was that same type of competitor that you see there and always wanted to be the best of whatever it is that he was doing. But he would go about it in a nonchalant way. He was always had a quirky sense of humor. I mean, he was always an extreme competitor.
Jon Nelson: So how did he, I guess, evolve as that competitor in the time that he was with you? What was it like to see him grow and mature into at the time, the eighth most prolific passer in Georgia high school history?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Well, you know, he's always been one when it comes to football in particular. He's always been trying to compete and he's been training to do that since, you know, since elementary school ages. I mean, watching him get out there and work and. But you're talking about the transition really from it's just been a fun game. But you're out there just running around, just having a good time trying to win, to actually really trying to master your skills and work at it. You know, he became a student of the game. You saw that in high school. I think one of the things that that stand out to me is him and another one of the quarterbacks when they were in ninth grade where you're trying to compete and get ready and I do these early morning quarterback drills and basically I call it a quarterback school they go we we sit down we we have meetings or we're on the board and looking at different types of defenses and we go through skill sets that we're going to work on like fundamental footwork drills or throwing drills or whatever. And and then we go, you know, we do that two days a week, and then the other two days a week we actually go do those drills and work them. And when we're doing those drills, I remember one time he came in with a McDonald's bag some day and breakfast at set at 7 a.m. and the other quarterback that was there competing was already warmed up and lathered and ready to go. And it was right at 7:00 we had a start. So he comes in and right out with his his bag of McDonald's. He's like, Oh, crap, I got to get I got to get going. So that's one little thing. So he jumps in and starts working and gets on. But from that point on, I mean, you never had to worry about him coming in late anymore or coming in with, you know, he might bring that McDonald's bag in, but McDonald's bags won't be finished by by 645 and not 7:00. You're going to be ready to go at seven.
Hannah Goodin: That's like me coming in late to the podcast with my Starbucks cup.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Yeah, there you go.
Jon Nelson: But I mean, the million dollar question is when step brought McDonald's, did he bring some for you?
Hannah Goodin: Well, no.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: No, no. That's the thing. You know, he could have got off a little bit easier if I were to hand me some sort of, you know, McMuffin.
Jon Nelson: So when he goes and goes through this circuitous is the word I'm looking for route to come back to Athens and be a part of things at UGA. I think that he is he's a lesson for recruiters where you sit there and you're attaching like, you know, five star. You know, J.J. Watt was a two star stat, didn't have any stars that goes to JUCO and these kinds of things. I think that stat is one of those lessons of stars don't mean a whole lot in the day and age that we're in sometimes.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: No, they don't. Because look, use the ones that are actually given the stars. I mean, not not to knock those people, but oh, honestly, it's a lot of guys are going out there. They they're they do it to the media. They look at different things here. They're they'll go they'll eyeball somebody and then it's there's there's Scott The stars are skewed so much based on a lot of measurables. You know, people might sit there and check all these boxes and might have like, for example, quarterbacks. What we're talking about. You might have this six four kid that weighs £225 and he's got really good speed and he gets a cannon for an arm. And you have all that stuff, you know, all those those measurables that are there and they start rating that and stuff. I mean, I'll give you an example. I had a kid when I was in Brunswick that was a receiver that I was told that because he met all these measurables that we're talking about for a receiver. So what you're doing, has it played a snap, a high school football and I was rated a four star coming out. I mean, just right there. Often they rated him a four star before they they saw him. All they saw with was his measurables. They can actually doing a do a story on Warren McLendon. Right. And when they were doing the story on Ward McLendon, I showed them to eighth graders. I had I'm not going to mention both their names, but one of the eighth graders, I will say was very successful. They didn't give him any stars. And he's playing for Florida State right now as an offensive lineman. The other one that looked incredible and they gave him four stars. And I will say this, you know, he supposedly committed to Florida Gators and the only orange he was ever wearing, you know, had to be that and then not a correctional institute. Wow. So it was Yeah, he never panned out to be anything. So I kind of just to a little bit, when these guys go in there, rate players when they have no, no, there's what there's no stability, no rating system. It's just straight up a measurables because when you talk about kids like stats a minute if you're really doing it you're rating system. You're also right there's intangible. And if you rated it his intangibles the quality he had with things that it's hard to measure that you would he would have had five star written all over him.
Hannah Goodin: Well, that would just be more work for the people doing ratings. What it coach. Well, well said. Well said. Well, let's talk. Natty champ. What was it like to watch a player that you helped mold win back to back national titles? I mean, you have to be like a proud dad.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Oh, yeah, You better believe it. I'm super proud of that young man and all that he's accomplished and how he accomplished it. You know, with the perseverance is the word that keeps coming to mind when talking about the way this kid worked and grown, but also the belief that he has in itself, the belief that he has in his his teammates, that's something that he's always has. That's why he ended up walking on at the University of Georgia instead of take him. You know, one of the smaller offers. His dream was to play at the University of Georgia. He really believed that he can play there regardless of his size. And he wouldn't let all these people tell him, you know, No, he just kept doing it. And so watching him live out his dream, yeah, I was definitely a proud kinfolk, that's for sure. It was it was an incredible, incredible feeling. And I'm so happy for that young man.
Jon Nelson: When was the last time that you saw him play in person?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: This year I went to a game and after the game it was in Athens. After the game, I was on the field and talking to him and walked with him out to the parking lot and had a good, good time with him and his family, you know, And then just back and forth. The last time I spoke to him back was January 3rd. He was asking me about something to tell everybody that didn't believe that that would be still playing. And in the in the championship game after that Ohio State game, a lot of people were starting to lose their faith. He wanted me to give them some words to help help them there.
Hannah Goodin: But I love.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: That. Yeah, Yeah. We have a great connection. And I, you know, enjoy talking to his family. So I do get the opportunity to stay in touch with either him or one of his family members quite a bit.
Hannah Goodin: So you watched the national championship game from the couch, then you did not go out to L.A.?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: I wasn't. I wasn't on the couch. I was in a neat little deal. I was out at the AFC. I had their convention in Charlotte, so I was at the FCA convention for the I was at the Peach Bowl, however. But yeah, I did get to the peach, but I did get to watch him play the I forgot to tell you, I didn't get to talk to Stetson that day, but I was, I was there, I watched them play there but then I, I watched that from a it was like a sports bar type venue where the upstairs was like general population. But the downstairs was our Georgia alumni. And I got to go in the downstairs, even though I'm not to Georgia alumni. Wait a minute. I got to go down there. Someone told them who I was. So they made a a nice little announcement and got a standing ovation. I was like, wow. Oh, I haven't seen kids in several years. But yes, I got a standing ovation for his performance. So that was that was a pretty cool deal.
Jon Nelson: One more one more question before we let you go. How are things up there at North Hall?
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Oh, it's good. Where were. I think we're going to be turning this program around and the kids have great work ethic. Oh, we've been working real hard. The community is phenomenal. The amount of support that we get here and we're hungry to get better and we're trying to do different things to improve our improve our performance. I think you're going to see a very good football team next year here at North Hall.
Jon Nelson: Looking forward to it. Sean Pender, the head coach at North Hall, coached Stetson Bennett down at Pierce County. Thanks for hanging out with us on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. Football season will be here before we know. It'll be great to catch up with you again.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: Oh yeah. No, without a doubt. Thanks for having me on The time I get a chance to talk about stats a minute, that's always a pleasure. Also, I want you to know I coach Warren McLendon. That played for Brunswick as well. So he's another. Yeah, he's another one. Another dog that became a national championship, no doubt player. So I'm excited for him. He's a back to back national championship as well. I just want you to shout out for former Clemson as well.
Jon Nelson: All right. Well, thanks again, coach, and appreciate it. And we'll catch up with you soon.
Stetson Bennett's High School Coach, Sean Pender: All right. Thank you. Take care.
Jon Nelson: One coach down, one to go, and it's time to catch up with Winston Gordon and Vale Charter and find out about the career of Chris Smith, who is now Christopher Smith all-American at the University of Georgia, three solo tackles in the championship game and a lot of folks might Remya remember his activity from the SCC championship game and one play in particular. We asked Coach Gordon about all that.
Hannah Goodin: Hey Coach Gordon, what was it like to watch a player you helped mold win back to back national titles? I mean that has to be so exciting.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Yeah, you know, I don't I don't take all the credit for that. You know, you have great parents and they did a phenomenal job of raising an outstanding young man, him and his brother, Jerry Smith, another division one athlete. They played here. They're great people, man. You know, And I you know, I pride our program on producing great, great young men, you know, of high character and real smart kid was the captain of my football team.
Jon Nelson: And I remember.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, they champion, you know, he's been a champion at every level. And, you know, so we're extremely proud, man. And I just was by speaking with him right after the game and, you know, just told him how proud I am of him and we'll pull and all those guys that went here, not just because of the national championship, because he graduated from college, man, I told him he was a pro that day. He graduated. And, you know, so that's one of the things I try to push my kids to go on and get a college degree and you'll be a pro then, you know, everything else will fall into place and everything else is a bonus. But the one thing that there is promise when you sign those athletic scholarships is to get their college degree.
Jon Nelson: So where did you watch the game? What was your viewing habit for this particular? You weren't out there. So if I were you, you were hanging.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: At home. Unfortunately, I was at the SEC game. The SEC championship game was the last game because we had Xavier Carter from LSU and we had Chris on the other side. So, you know, I was forced and torn. But I actually this, this season I sat on LSU side since he's the younger leader and I sat down in the one two section for LSU on this game and now you know but I was torn, you know for both of my wanting them both to be successful. And, you know, I'm like that with all my guys. So I'm used to somewhere every Saturday watching my guys, either taking some guys to the two different Division one program.
Hannah Goodin: Well, we know you were glued to the TV when it came to the national championship ring, able to talk to Christopher after the game. And what did he say to you?
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: You know, I just told him how much we proud of him and you know him. You wish him nothing but the best and getting ready for the draft. And now we have an opportunity to see him in a little bit, you know, year by year. And once he gets a chance and come home, you know, I try to get the jerseys from all of my guys when they, you know, at LSU and try to hang in there. And so we do those type of things here. And once they graduated, that's when I wanted, you know, active. And that's the biggest thing to me, go and get that degree.
Jon Nelson: All right. So let me go back to the SEC championship game real quick. You're on the you you're you're on the LSU sideline.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Yeah.
Jon Nelson: So what's going through your mind when Chris has the play that basically swings the entire game? But George is way where he's waiting for the ball. He's looking at everybody off the block field goal and he's waiting and waiting and waiting. He looks up and waits for the ball to almost make that last rotation before he picks it up and runs the other way. What's going through your mind? Damian Rondo So try a.
UGA vs. LSU on CBS: 32 yard field goal to try to put LSU on the board first. Snap. They got it down and it's blocked. Georgia stuffs it. And now here comes the one back. If this stands, it's going to be about a 95 yard touchdown. It will stand. LSU is acting as if it was an extra point. The balls arrived.
Jon Nelson: Chris Smith takes it coast to coast for Georgia.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Man, it's reminiscent of when we played pace in there. They were coming off a state championship and we were their second game of the season and Chris go in there and pick one off and take it. He had to pick six and one day in high school against Pace. It just reminded me of that. That's the type of kid is. Even in the state championship game, we were struggling a little bit. He picked up the first pass from the kid from Raven County and took it back in the state championship game. He's a big play guy. He's never the mom is never too big for him. And like I say, you know, we have a smart, instinctive player like that. And, you know, you can attribute that to coaching. You know, a lot of that just comes with the innate ability of kids and, you know, no, I didn't know. You know, he would have sent two to, you know, the height of being as big as he is. But he was only £145 at the time. And now he's 190 and, you know, probably be a first round day one, a day two drafting.
Hannah Goodin: With 60 total tackles and a sack on the year. What was he like in high school? What kind of kid was he at £145.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: He was just a little, little squirt, smart kid, that doom and roll kid, you know. So he was doing the role in AP classes. You know, he was a smart kid, you know, But he was an instinctive football player and he was fearless. He would come down and throw his body. Sometimes you'd be so scared for him because just that small eagle, you know, he was playing. Like I said, I remember we were playing Fitzgerald and Chris. They blocked the field goal and he picked up the ball D and almost took it back. So, you know, he's been that type of care for us, you know, for, you know, his last year he started as a sophomore. And that's very unusual here with the guy that we put out every year. You know, we almost have six or seven guys every year that goes the war from their school and DBS. One of the biggest names that we produce, the undersized pass rushers.
Jon Nelson: When you have conversations with your current players about players that you see in championship games that you see in conference championship games, national championship games, what are the conversations that you have about the impact that those current players that you have now can have down the line, the impact that they can have? Hey, this is what these guys have done. You can do the same thing. What are those conversations like with your current players when you're talking about alums?
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Well, you know, I just tell them we've got a legacy that. You know, we went to and and whatever the issue was one of our lean years, but we had a lot of young guys and we still made the playoffs. And we were right there in that in the first playoff game. And it's the first year we've ever got knocked out early. But you just tell them, you know, you're on the shoulders of a lot of kids that have came in here and built this program, you know, and it's a lot of pressure and it was a lot of pressure for these young guys this year. But I think, you know, coming back and getting moved all the way from two A to four in attrition over a year and then, you know, no two opponents want to play us. So you have to play seven, eight, six, eight schools all year long, lose four games by one point. You know, those things that bill get in shape the program and just show that we'll play anybody on any Friday and that our kids that come up and get ready to play and you know they're doing this on the backs of those guys that came here and, you know, ascended to those levels that they are.
Hannah Goodin: Well, my last question for you, Coach. You mentioned he was coming back home, maybe stopping by the school. You're going to take him out to a celebratory dinner.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Now, you know, Chris, he's not here like that, to be honest. You know, he'd never would. I'm surprised either 190 either. He's not a kid. They're they're like even when I'm I go you know, they're for every year for seven on seven and we spend a lot of time with our guys when we go up there and they kind of follow us around the field as we play seven on seven, we end up eating his meals most of the time, but we're there. So you know that that's the type of kid that he is, man. He is just a giver. And and so caring as a person. And like I say, it couldn't happen to a better key and a better person. And like I say it, his parents did an outstanding job with him and his brother. And I was just, you know, fortunate to be the vessel that they chose to put their kid in. And with no athletic feel, no weight room, none of that stuff. And and for them to come here and take this program to these heights, this is one of the first stops after airport for most of these one schools. And just like today, Xavier caught in the transfer portal and I've been retained over almost 100 calls me.
Jon Nelson: Nothing like in practice and curbside and getting to the successes that you guys have where he's gone Christopher he's gone all official now instead of being just. Chris Smith Yeah.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Yeah it's always Chris Me, you know there is Christopher So you know that names a you know it's always Chris to me a little Chris You know what I mean? So, you know, so there's always going to be that and he knows especially is to me and just like all my players I love just like they're my children. And, you know, that's why, you know, the relationship is, you know, he comes these days because we did so much more with less. And it just molds these kids to fight. Like we take every stadium that we go into and make it our own. And that's why we play because we don't have a stadium. And, you know, we was always road warriors. And and that's just the mentality that you get when you get there.
Jon Nelson: Target No doubt about it. Winston Gordon, the head coach of Hapeville Charter, thanks for hanging out with us here on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast, reminiscing about Christopher Smith at the University of Georgia. Thanks for hanging out with us. We'll be catching up with you soon.
Hapeville Charter Head Coach Winston Gordon: Thank you.
Hannah Goodin: So one more congratulations to Georgia and.
Jon Nelson: See and I see how you're wearing your red for the show today. I was watching the video version. Yeah.
Hannah Goodin: I had to. I couldn't not. You're in your black, so we're literally red and black.
Jon Nelson: Oh, it's true. Wow. I didn't think about that. I just broke out a golf shirt just because we were taping. I was I wasn't thinking in that three dimensional way like you were.
Hannah Goodin: I know. I had to. I had to. Where do you think Christopher Smith's going to go in the draft?
Jon Nelson: Well, I think, like Coach Gordon said, it wouldn't surprise me if he's a day one pick up. Okay. I think you're obviously depending on need. When you stare at an all-American, you're looking at a defensive back. Who needs a defensive back like first, early, second round, that kind of thing. So that's what I'm thinking. I'm agreeing with Coach Gordon. I think he'll be a day one pick up late first, early, second round would be my guess.
Hannah Goodin: What about Stetson Bennett.
Jon Nelson: Stet, I think, ends up being a day two selection once again. You know, you finish fourth in the Heisman and you have quarterbacks that lead teams to back to back national championships. I know a lot of folks are probably staring at the birth certificate in the driver's license and going, oh, he's 26 or whatever. 525 No, you look, there have been quarterbacks in the in the pro ranks that have been in their mid twenties getting started. So not a surprise that you're going to have that kind of apprehension. But if you put him in the right system, make sure that Stetson is in a system that works with his skill set, not trying to make his skill set fit into a different kind of a system, then you can have success with Stetson. Bennett. So that's what I'm looking at. When you're looking for drafting Stetson Bennett make sure that your system fits his skill set, RPO, those kinds of things and not the other way around, which ends up being trouble for a lot of quarterbacks coming out of college.
Hannah Goodin: I think for the first time ever, we agree. We agree on two things. Wow. Wow. Who knew.
Jon Nelson: About that.
Hannah Goodin: A day? Yes. All right. In more Georgia High School News, the GHC held their board of trustees meeting this week, John, and you were able to listen in to the entire thing, Give us some updates on what's going on there and what we can look forward to in 2023.
Jon Nelson: Caught up with the executive director of the Georgia High School Association, Dr. Robin Hines, caught up with Dr. Steven Kraft from Fulton County Schools, who's a member of the board of trustees. And also for Gboard caught up with David Reynolds, our rules analyst, because one of the things that was discussed was video review. They're not calling it instant replay. It is video review. And right now, along with a lot of things that happened in the board of trustees meeting, there is an understanding that, yes, things like name, image and likeness and video review and loosening the the current numbers when it comes to attendance and capacities for semifinals. Those were the three big things that a lot of folks were staring at in this past board of trustees meeting. But right now, there was a lot of spirited discussion, a lot of positivity and a lot of agreement that those three things specifically need to be addressed, need to be addressed in short order. And so look to the April meeting when probably you're going to be seeing a lot of definitive ideas coming out when it comes to those three issues, specifically because, I mean, with video review, you look at video review, it's like, okay, what kind of a play can be reviewed? What kind of training has to be given for referees and any kind of official in when you're trying to think about I know we think about it in the prisms of pro and college football, but there's training that has to be involved. You can't you can only do it probably in a championship game setting. You can't do it during the regular season because the National Federation is like, we don't let you do that.
Hannah Goodin: So, so many games all over the place in rural areas, you wouldn't it wouldn't be fair to be able to get players and it's.
Jon Nelson: Not feasible.
Hannah Goodin: That the championships 100%.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. And so yeah and so it just comes down to okay training which plays are reviewable. How can you do it. Make sure that you're not slowing the game down to a crawl during the review. All of those kinds of things they're looking at when it comes to specifically to video review, name, image and likeness. As you look at nil once again.
Hannah Goodin: What were some of the ideas thrown around?
Jon Nelson: Well, it just the notion that 20 I think it's 25 states, somewhere between 20 it's at least two dozen states, I think right now have some version of name, image and.
Hannah Goodin: Likeness for high school.
Jon Nelson: For high school. Tennessee is looking at it. There are some other surrounding states here in the southeast that are looking at it. But the notion is, is that, yeah, once again, this is a train that's coming down the track and we've got to sit there and figure out how we're going to address it. But what you can't take away from the high school element of it, meaning that if and this was part.
Hannah Goodin: These are kids.
Jon Nelson: Yeah. But it's the idea of like, okay, so if. You were at Lassiter High School. And name, image and likeness.
Hannah Goodin: 2007
Jon Nelson: But still. So. So you're at your old high school, and you have someone come to you and say, like, Hey, we want you to sponsor X. We want you to to sit there and you know your name, image and likeness attached to this particular product, like this sandwich shop or something. You can't wear a Lasseter Trojans softball jersey. You can't.
Hannah Goodin: Volleyball. I play ball.
Jon Nelson: Okay, well, then you can't wear a Lasseter volleyball jersey associated with that name, image and likeness. It would just have to be you. It's you being you.
Hannah Goodin: So I can wear the shirt. Let's just go with Jimmy John's because that's all we eat, right? So. So I can wear a Jimmy John's shirt. Yes, but it can't have lost. Right. Okay.
Jon Nelson: Something you're.
Hannah Goodin: That's fine.
Jon Nelson: What you're doing is you don't want to have the high school directly associated with you and your name.
Hannah Goodin: Image in line. It caused so much drama in the high school world.
Jon Nelson: So it's just it's just making sure even.
Hannah Goodin: Imagine.
Jon Nelson: All of the make sure that all of the lanes, all of the separate lanes are addressed to where you're not taking away from the high school experience and you're not representing the high school itself. It is you, your name, image and likeness. Yes, we know that we have to address this, but you have to make sure that high school representation is one way. It doesn't represent the college ideas and what that is, because it's entirely two different streets and they know that they're going to have to address that as well.
Hannah Goodin: I'm glad I'm not on that committee.
Jon Nelson: Right. And so that's that's going to be a lot to talk about. Third idea was capacities. And Stephen Kraft brought this to the table, but.
Hannah Goodin: Came into this problem right, just last season. Yeah, in a big way.
Jon Nelson: And Stephen, Dr. Kraft was on the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast and we were promoting the first ever double header in a semifinal that was going to be on our air, and it impacted two of his schools on our air. And he had two.
Hannah Goodin: More people would have been at the home game than they were at the neutral site.
Jon Nelson: Right? And so that's it. Right now there are certain standards that have to be met, capacities have to be certain numbers. Dr. Kraft went through his analytics and went through all of his attendance numbers from a couple of seasons back. And it's like, look, the attendance that was at this neutral site would have fit into the venue would have originally been in. And so he he was making the point that there's all of these different things. You have to invest, there's time and there's money that has to be invested. Going to a neutral site that's agreed to by both parties and you're getting into competitive disadvantage and things like that, but you're taking away the environment from the high school experience, especially.
Hannah Goodin: The home team.
Jon Nelson: By taking it to a neutral site with all of the added expenditures that are attached. And so there is a lot of positive talk about that as well, that you probably will see the standards loosened when it comes to semifinal numbers. And and so they're going to keep an eye on that. But everything is now going to be looked at, at the April meeting because of all the research that has to be done on those three topics. And there were three others as well. But all the research has to be done on those three topics to move everything forward. So the April meeting will be the one where I think we're going to be getting some definitive answers.
Hannah Goodin: Okay. So we'll have more updates for you on the April podcast. And also the championships are being moved back to the beans this year as well. Three days flag football in the morning of each day, three, five football divisions still one each morning and then the boys.
Jon Nelson: But it is the week after the weekend.
Hannah Goodin: Yes, different dates there is.
Jon Nelson: So instead of it being the week after the SCC championship, it is the midweek. So instead of that weekend they pushed it back.
Hannah Goodin: A couple of Friday.
Jon Nelson: Well it's like a Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. And so if there's something in because you have to keep in mind the NFL and flexing schedules and things like that so the GHC in the NFL in the fall the Falcons have they've come up with an idea Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. But if the Falcons have to flex, then they can push it back to Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, something like that. But yeah, it's heading back to Mercedes-Benz. It won't be the weekend after the SEC championship. It'll be that week following that weekend. So ten days after.
Hannah Goodin: Last year we had to tackle reclassification and now we're having to tackle more issues. So we'll be breaking this down on a full podcast coming up with all that's going on. Okay, so we're back monthly. This is our January podcast. We are back monthly until August. Yes. And everybody a big announcement. Our basketball championship coverage begins March eight through 11th, though. So this is the first time in how many years that we are actually covering the Boys, Girls and Wheelchair championship because.
Jon Nelson: Six, if I remember correctly, because I remember Shawn Golden and I'm talking about Diamond DeShields and doing a spin Rooney and a Eurostep and all these kinds of things that that clip is definitely out there for those who want to.
Hannah Goodin: Watch. Oh, everyone is Googling right now, John. They can't wait to watch that one particular.
Jon Nelson: Exactly.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah. So it'll be streaming, it'll be on TV. We will give you more information as we get closer to March. But mark your calendars, March eight. You were 11th for our high school basketball coverage.
Jon Nelson: What else is on your mind before we go?
Hannah Goodin: Well, that was it. But we did want to give you a plug. Yeah.
Jon Nelson: Uh huh.
Hannah Goodin: For you Dawg fans out there, Jon has a book.
Jon Nelson: Yes, he has a book. See, I see you. I see your brain working.
Hannah Goodin: Its on, and I.
Jon Nelson: I see. I see Hannah's brain working here about massaging the rules when it comes to how you're promoting things in public media.
Hannah Goodin: I try to promote my buddy Jon's book.
Jon Nelson: I see. I see. I can see. I can see the gears turning over here for those watching on the video.
Hannah Goodin: But complete failure on my part.
Ambassador Jeremy: Hi, guys. I don't know if it's necessarily promoting just saying the fact Jon wrote a book. Jon wrote a book.
Jon Nelson: That's Ambassador Jeremy.
Hannah Goodin: But the top 100 things to do.
Jon Nelson: It. Time to do things for Georgia Bulldog fans to know and do before they die are friends that trust you.
Hannah Goodin: Good gift.
Jon Nelson: Our friends at Triumph Publishing allowed me and a couple of buddies, very close friends of mine, Phil Carter, John Wilkerson and John Wood to write a book about it. And so there's a hundred things to do on the list of it. So if you're a Georgia Bulldog fan and want to give a gift in addition to enjoying a championship and buying all the gear that we know that you're going to buy now...
Ambassador Jeremy: Now, it feels like we're promoting.
Jon Nelson: There we go. There we go. Now we've gone too far. We've gone too far.
Ambassador Jeremy: There was a line. You crossed it.
Hannah Goodin: Yeah.
Jon Nelson: We pole vaulted over that line, sir. Why would I cross over anything?
Hannah Goodin: All right, Jon. Well, that's all I got. So glad to be back in studio with you. It's your anniversary as we're taping.
Jon Nelson: Yes, it is my ten in ten.
Hannah Goodin: Which we looked at like tin or aluminum. But So he has gotten Patty an aluminum statue.
Jon Nelson: Yeah, I got some aluminum siding for anniversary. Exactly. No, that is not the way this happened. That is not the case. I did not give my wife aluminum siding for our 10th anniversary, although Hannah would lead you to believe that that was, in fact, the case. That is not the case 100%. No. I'm the kind of guy that goes and looks at like the lists. There's like the the traditional one, the modern one, and then they have like three or four or five different things that you can get. And so in addition to everything else that we gave each other, I got her a ceramic bluebird.
Hannah Goodin: Oh, that's beautiful.
Jon Nelson: And it has to.
Hannah Goodin: Do an aluminum.
Jon Nelson: No, not an aluminum bluebird. Dang it. No, the ceramic bluebird fits on the aluminum siding. Exactly. Now, and that's to do with the optimism.
Hannah Goodin: You love it.
Jon Nelson: And she did have to do with the optimism that's associated with the Bluebird and things like that. And so, so.
Hannah Goodin: Thoughtful, Jon.
Jon Nelson: She is she has survived me for ten years. And so we.
Hannah Goodin: Start year.
Jon Nelson: 11 tomorrow as we tape.
Hannah Goodin: 've survived you for six, barely, barely going into season seven together.
Jon Nelson: Jon Uh huh, uh huh. So send us home, why don't you? Well.
Hannah Goodin: That's it for the Football Fridays in Georgia podcast. We hope you enjoyed hearing our voices again this January. We hope everyone's having a happy New Year. Got through the holidays unscathed. We will be right back here early February. So look for our push notification in our video on YouTube for Jon Nelson Jake the snake Sandy....
Jon Nelson: Commander Sandy.
Hannah Goodin: Commander Sandy.
Jon Nelson: Ambassador Jeremy.
Hannah Goodin: I don't know your nicknames like King James James and Reagan's in here too right?
Jon Nelson: And President Reagan.
Hannah Goodin: President Reagan, yes. There we go. See? I did it. We did it. There you go. That's another podcast. See you guys. Bye bye.