How they really stand, from Georgia to Falcons to Braves to ... ugh

Several years ago, I created a new set of rankings called, “How They Really Stand,” an arbitrary -- but, obviously, incredibly accurate -- ranking of metro Atlanta (and Athens) major pro and college sports teams. This list isn’t just about won-loss records, but also stability, direction, player development, fan appeal and, in case of a tiebreaker, quality of media meal.

I figured this was the perfect time on the sports calendar for the rankings because it's post-football, pre-baseball and just before March Madness, which reportedly is open to all 50 states, although there has been no confirmation of that in Georgia.

Here’s the 2018 edition of, “How They Really Stand.” Last year’s ranking in parenthesis. As always, we have some newcomers.

1. Georgia football (3): There really isn't any debate about this. The Bulldogs made it to the national championship game with a freshman quarterback, so it's natural to believe this will be the new normal. And if Georgia makes it only to the Outback Bowl next season, I'm sure fans will take it well. AAAAAGGGHH!

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

2. Ex-Braves Prospects (new): Thanks to shady dealings and John Coppolella's MBA from the Bagman School of Business, the Braves were forced to void the contracts and/or rights to 13 prospects. So the "Coppy 13" were allowed to sign AGAIN, which meant Kevin Maitan (now with the Angels) has received two bonuses totaling $6.45 million, pretty sweet for an 18-year-old who really hasn't done anything yet. This being Atlanta, I figure all 13 players are destined to be All-Stars and own several resort properties.

3. Falcons (1): On one hand, it's progress that the Falcons didn't make it to the Super Bowl again and everybody's apoplectic. On the other hand, everybody wants to punch Steve Sarkisian in the face. But this team's depth of talent projects well for future, and as a reminder next year's Super Bowl is in Atlanta. Hmmm.

4. Atlanta United (5): I'm continually impressed by an organization that not only made the playoffs and sold out games in its first season, but continues to make smart personnel moves and has developed a solid player-development system. It's like the Thrashers' alternate universe.

5. Kennesaw State football (11): Brian Bohannon was named FCS coach of the year and took the Owls to the playoffs in only their third season. The surprise isn't that he's building something special. The surprise is that in this job-hopping universe, he didn't leave.

6. This Space For Lease (6): A needed dividing line.

7. Georgia Tech football (4): Paul Johnson has gone 3-9 and 5-6 in two of the past three seasons, but athletic director Todd Stansbury gave him a two-year contract extension. Somewhere, Mike Bobinski is banging his head on the desk. So good for Stansbury for having his coach's back, but Johnson needs to reciprocate with a bowl. And not in Shreveport.

8. Georgia State basketball (8): The Panthers recently won 10 consecutive. In college basketball. That's like 20 in this state. Ron Hunter has done a heck of a job and deserves more resources from the school.

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

Credit: ccompton@ajc.com

9. Braves: New general manager Alex Anthopoulos seems like a sharp guy, and he inherited a bunch of good prospects. But he also works for a detached corporation more focused on stock price and retail space near the stadium, and the roster needs major help. Hate to burst your spring bubble, but a fourth consecutive 90-loss season is possible.

10. Georgia Tech basketball (9): Josh Pastner's first season at Tech was a dream (NIT finals). His second season has been a nightmare (suspensions, injuries, off-court litigation). But after a cup of Ovaltine, a peaceful offseason and maybe a couple of 3-point shooting recruits, he should be fine.

11. Georgia State football (14): Shawn Elliott was 7-5 and made it to a bowl game in his first season. That either means he's a pretty good coach or Trent Miles didn't leave him with as big a mess as some would like to think.

12. Hawks (12): They're really bad again, but they're not nearly as much fun now because we don't have Bruce Levenson, Michael Gearon and their exploding clown shoes to kick around any more. I feel so lonely. It's difficult to judge GM Travis Schlenk until he's well into this rebuilding, but he nailed the John Collins pick, and this ownership group has been investing wisely (practice facility, developmental team, arena renovations).

13. Georgia basketball (10): This is probably an oversimplification, but Mark Fox seems to go from a good coach with bad players to a bad coach with good players. I still can't figure out how it happened, but I suspect it's not going to end well in the SEC tournament.

14. Gladiators (15):

The Gladiators are on pace to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. Their first goal in a recent home game prompted fans to throw more than 5,500 stuffed animals onto the ice. I’m sure there was a good reason for this, but I’m inclined to think this is why we get no respect from Canada.

15. 30-second timeout (16).

16. Dwight Howard (new): He qualified for the rankings because the Hawks' marketing department inexplicably thought it would be a good idea to honor him with a tribute video a few weeks ago -- this after dumping Howard after one season because everybody from the locker room to the front office couldn't stand him. Now that's, "True To Atlanta."

17. Kennesaw State basketball (13): Al Skinner has undone some damage at a long down program but the Owls appear stuck in mediocrity right again (9-17). He needs to do a better job recruiting in-state.

18. Atlanta Dream (17): The Dream fired coach Michael Cooper after a 12-22 season because he couldn't win enough games with a lousy roster and while his best player, Angel McCoughtry, took a year off because she was tired from playing in Europe. WNBA motto: "Watch Me Work."

19. Terry McGuirk (new): If this was about survival instincts, the Braves' CEO would be ranked No. 1, because how he managed to stay free of the mud splatter after the excommunications of Coppolella and John Hart following the most embarrassing episode in franchise history is astounding. Then again, Liberty Media has never been about accountability.

Dropped off: Ex-Hawks (2).

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