Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Orlando Sentinel ranks Tech 55th in the nation

  • 9:47 am Tuesday, July 1st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
All the color and pageantry of that rainy T-Day. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Every summer, Matt Murschel of the Orlando Sentinel undertakes the massive task of ranking all the FBS (formerly Division I-A) football teams. Murschel slots Georgia Tech at No. 55 this time, which is above the halfway point — there are 128 FBS teams — but not all that far above it. Still, there’s a bit of a silver lining.

Even at 55th, Tech should be favored — at least by the Sentinel’s ratings — in half its games. Wofford, against which Tech opens, isn’t ranked since it’s an FCS member, and Tulane (75th), Georgia Southern (124th), Virginia (118th), North [More]

ESPN’s power index has UGA No. 12, Tech No. 47

  • 7:53 am Thursday, May 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Todd Gurley scores the winner in double OT versus Tech. (Jason Getz/AJC)

Yesterday we examined Football Outsiders’ early evaluation of the 2014 Atlanta Falcons. Today we check a different set of numbers — ESPN’s preseason football power index.

As you might know, the Worldwide Leader has been counting down its imagined 16-team college football playoff, and some among you will have noted that Georgia made the field. But not for long. The Bulldogs were eliminated at the first cut. The “playoff” is now down to its final four: Alabama, Auburn, Florida State and Oregon. Not coincidentally, those teams top ESPN’s power index.

Georgia starts the season — or at least the [More]

The 2014 Fiasco champ is Ronnie Turner of Vidalia

  • 3:49 pm Thursday, April 10th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Our fabulous Fiasco winner. (Photo courtesy Ronnie Turner)

The 27th edition of Bradley’s Bracket Fiasco was true to its name. For most of the 3,253 entrants, predicting the winners was indeed a forlorn hope. For Ronnie Turner of Vidalia, an NCAA tournament that all but defied prognostication somehow became easy pickings.

Turner, 57, picked 25 of the 32 second-round winners correctly, 11 of the Sweet Sixteen, five of the Elite Eight and three of the Final Four. He tabbed Kentucky, a No. 8 seed, as the 2014 national champion, which didn’t seem likely when the Big Dance began but darn near happened. For such inspired forecasting, Turner is [More]

ESPN’s Jaworski really likes Zach Mettenberger

  • 10:08 am Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Mettenberger and Murray, back in the day. (Brant Sanderlin/AJC)

Zach Mettenberger had a strange collegiate career. He signed with Georgia in 2009, which only made sense: He was from nearby Oconee County and his mother worked in UGA’s football office. In the spring of 2010, there were those who believed Mettenberger outplayed fellow redshirt freshman Aaron Murray on G-Day and could have become the front-runner to fill Georgia’s quarterback vacancy. This soon became a moot point.

Mettenberger was dismissed from the team after being arrested in South Georgia while on spring break. (He would plead guilty to two counts of misdemeanor sexual battery.) He spent the 2010 season at [More]

Steve Masiello: From hot item to cautionary tale

  • 5:56 pm Wednesday, March 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Steve Masiello, shown coaching Manhattan against Louisville. (Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP)

Twenty-four hours ago, Steve Masiello had a job and was poised to take a better one. At the moment he has neither, having seen an offer from South Florida rescinded and having been placed on leave by Manhattan. All of this because he didn’t graduate from the University of Kentucky. (Full disclosure: I’m a UK grad.)

The immediate point of reference is George O’Leary, who after leaving Georgia Tech for Notre Dame in December 2001 was found to have embellished his resume. But O’Leary never claimed to be a college grad when he wasn’t; his sin was in saying he’d played [More]

Surprising SEC hasn’t yet lost in this Big Dance

  • 1:24 pm Monday, March 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The 11th-seeded Vols are still dancing. (Chuck Burton/AP)

The SEC was rewarded with only three bids to the NCAA tournament, and one of those came with an asterisk: Tennessee was made to play a First Four game in Dayton to gain admission to the round of 64. This isn’t to say the committee slighted the SEC. On the contrary, the league got what its performance deserved.

Only two SEC teams — Florida and Georgia — exceeded expectations. Florida did it by a lot, rising to become the nation’s top-ranked team; Georgia did it by a little, going 12-6 in conference play after being 6-6 in non-conference games. Kentucky, ranked [More]

The madness! Mercer shows Duke no mercy!

  • 2:37 pm Friday, March 21st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The Bears are still dancing. (Gerry Broome/AP photo)

Wish I could say I saw it coming, but I didn’t quite. I thought Mercer could play with Duke, which isn’t the same as beating Duke. Lo and behold …

Mercer 78, Duke 71.

And it wasn’t, at least not on this day, a fluke. Mercer was the better team throughout. Truth to tell, this was among Mike Kzyzewski’s worst coaching jobs. He took a team with Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood and Rasheed Sulaimon and didn’t win the ACC regular-season title, didn’t win the conference tournament and didn’t last past the first full round of the Big Dance. It’s not often we [More]

How Aaron Craft symbolized a wild NCAA day

  • 9:33 am Friday, March 21st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Aaron Craft's last dash as a collegian. (Bill Wippert/AP)

Florida, the team I (and a few others) picked to win it all, was tied with 16th-seeded Albany in the second half. Louisville, the team I (and others) picked to finish second, trailed 13th-seeded Manhattan inside the final four minutes. That the Gators and Cardinals wound up winning did nothing to fill me with confidence in my powers of prognostication, but you know what?

In the Big Dance, all that matters is that you survive and advance.

Tournament schedule / results | Photos: 2014 NCAA Tournament action

The first full day of the 2014 NCAA tournament was wild — four overtime [More]

It’s the last chance to dance in the Bracket Fiasco

  • 8:28 am Thursday, March 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The Big Orange had a big night in Dayton. (Al Behrman/AP)

Fair warning: If you haven’t entered our Bracket Fiasco, you have a few hours — a scant few hours, I stress — to do so. In addition to the traditional Final Four sweatshirt, this year’s winner will receive a Samsung Galaxy S4 smart phone and accessories from Verizon. (Total value: $950.)

Already the NCAA tournament has produced three eye-opening results in its First Four: Tennessee, which wasn’t a lock to make the field, surged from 12 points down to beat Iowa in overtime; North Carolina State, which almost nobody thought would make the tournament as of 6 p.m. Sunday, beat [More]

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl. Not sure I would have

  • 8:50 am Wednesday, March 19th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The new Auburn coach poses for a selfie. (Bruce Dill/AP)

Georgia took a risk on Jim Harrick, who’d been fired by UCLA (and then hired by Rhode Island) for lying to his bosses. Louisville just took a risk on Bobby Petrino, who’d been fired by Arkansas (and then hired by Western Kentucky) for … well, you know. So it was no great surprise that Auburn — the school that took a second chance on Cam Newton and Nick Marshall — just hired Bruce Pearl to coach basketball.

Lots of media people really like Bruce Pearl, who had– but of course! — worked for ESPN after getting fired by Tennessee for lying [More]