Monthly Archives: January 2007

“Support the troops”

Yeah, I know I said we should show sympathy for the Arky fans dealing with the fallout from the Broyles-Nutt-Malzahn-Springfield Three (and their parents) mess.

But I only meant the sane ones:

… Away from the road, one of the protesters amplified his discontent through a bullhorn.

“ It’s third down and 7, we don’t have Malzahn, what’s the play going to be ? ” said Matt Gaines, a 31-year-old truck driver recruiter from Rogers, through his bullhorn. “ A draw play. ”

Gaines also offered the platitude, “ Support the troops, not the coach, ” another reference to Nutt…

“ I’m tired of all the crap that’s happened ever since Coach Nutt’s been hired. He had two straight losing seasons [2004 and 2005 ] and we gave him a pass. It’s absurd. He should’ve been fired a long time ago…”

“… I’ve been waiting for Malzahn to get hired for years, ” Duncan said. “ He’s a great offensive mind. He can turn our program into something exciting if given the chance…”

Umm… Earth to delusional Hog fans:  your team won 10 games last season, played for the SEC championship and finished up in a New Year’s Day bowl game.  You have the single most exciting player in the conference.  That’s not exactly chopped liver.

Today’s words of wisdom come from UA freshman Harry McCarney:

… McCarney thought the rally was much ado about nothing.“ It’s just ridiculous, ” McCarney said. “ There’s not really a call for all this. People are just caught up in the moment. They’re just caught up in the frenzy and they smell blood.

“ The main reason I came to school here is because of Razorback football, but there’s too much emphasis on football here. Humphries Hall doesn’t even have air conditioning and no one is protesting that. These people are protesting because three of our four losses came to teams [USC, LSU and Florida ] that played in BCS bowl games. ”

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

One more thing

In his post about the Florida-Tennessee rivalry, Mergz writes:

… To you fans of other conferences, imagine if your conference deciding game was played virtually in mid-September every year since 1992? Take Tennessee’s 1993 season as an example. After losing by 7 to Florida in Gainesville the 3rd game of the year, they ran the table to finish the regular season 10-1. Their reward? A trip to the Citrus Bowl, while Florida beat Alabama for the SEC title and went to the Sugar Bowl. Or, take Florida’s 1998 season. A 3 point loss to Tennessee at Knoxville in overtime kept a 9-2 (1 conference loss) Florida team from the SEC championship game, which UT won along with the 98’s MNC.

For Florida and Tennessee, it is not only the shot at a conference championship that is played for the second or third Saturday in September, it is a shot at the MNC. For two teams with 3 MNC’s since 1996, no year was that more evident that the present one, where Florida’s come-from-behind 1 point victory in Knoxville kept the train going that rolled all the way to Glendale on January 8th.

Honest question (since I know the guys at SS favor playoffs for D-1 football): given how much what’s at stake fuels this rivalry, what sort of an impact would a sixteen team playoff have on it?

You probably know my answer…

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Unrivalled rivalries?

Mergz, at the excellent Gator blog Saurian Sagacity, has written a thought provoking post that’s the start of a series exploring Florida’s rivalries.

His primary point is that outsiders have a hard time understanding the difficulty of a typical SEC schedule due to the number of heated rivalries that are standard fare throughout the conference. That’s a fair statement, although those outsiders could raise the same question of us SEC fans (Mergz, to his credit, does ask outside fans to contribute to his understanding of their rivalries).

I think where one has to start with this discussion is to ask what makes a rivalry. For his part, Mergz lists six teams with which he believes the Gators have that level of intensity: Tennessee, LSU, Auburn, Georgia, FSU and South Carolina. I look at that list and see a variety of factors that would affect the competition between those schools and Florida; to me, some of those schools have almost nothing in common, yet I believe I can see the arguments Mergz intends to muster to make his case for each.

Let’s look at a few overriding characteristics that go into making and sustaining a rivalry:

  • History. Two things factor in here. How often have the teams faced each other? And, over time, how competitive has the series been?
  • Scheduling. How often do the teams play each other at present?
  • The Stakes. In terms of winning championships, how often do the games between the teams assume importance?
  • Geography. This one is pretty obvious.
  • Miscellaneous Factors. Mergz lists South Carolina as a rival. That can only be for one reason – Steve Spurrier. (It helped that Spurrier beat Florida in his first crack, which is something USC had never accomplished previously.) I expect LSU-Alabama to attain a similar level of intensity because of Saban.

Looking at Georgia’s rivalries from this perspective, here are the schools I’d list (by alphabetical order):

  • Auburn, by virtue of almost every factor I’ve listed above;
  • Florida, again, for all of the above;
  • Georgia Tech also reflects all of the above (true, there are no conference stakes anymore, but being an end of season game, there are potential BCS stakes in most years);
  • South Carolina may not seem deserving from a historical perspective, as Georgia has dominated the series. But it’s been intense since I’ve been following it, starting in 1980 (Rogers vs. Walker!). And Spurrier’s presence certainly adds some spice. Also, Georgia hasn’t won the SEC East in any season that it didn’t beat USC.
  • Tennessee is a rivalry born out of divisional realignment. It wasn’t a historically significant series, as the teams didn’t play that often. Since 1992, though, in most years, Georgia, Florida and UT have to dance the dance with each other to decide which school makes it to the SECCG. Fulmer’s recruiting tactics (and success, unfortunately) and Donnan’s hiring away of Garner have contributed heat, as well.

I couldn’t bring myself to list LSU or Alabama, as I don’t think the Dawgs play either school on a regular enough basis these days to qualify, although ‘Bama was a closer call, mainly due to the fact that historically Georgia and LSU just haven’t played each other that much, surprisingly. Clemson fails to make the list for the same reason.

Five is still a lot of rivalries, in my opinion. I’d be curious to know if that’s an unusually high number, or if many schools consider themselves to play that many rivalry games.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, The Blogosphere

If you can’t beat ‘em…

change the rules.

According to the Knight Commission, the NCAA is considering asking for an antitrust exemption for college sports. You just can’t have those coaches making too much money. My concern is what the NCAA’s quid pro quo for the exemption would be.

For political double-talk, it’s hard to beat the honeyed tongue of University of Georgia president and uber-weasel Michael Adams:

“We’re seeing renewed interest in looking harder for solutions” to high coaches’ pay, Michael F. Adams, president of the University of Georgia and a member of the NCAA’s Division I Board of Directors, said in an interview after the commission’s meeting. “The competitive pressures are as great if not greater than they have ever been.”

I’m sure the coaches would welcome your solutions, bud.

Check out Mr. Miller’s two comments that appear at the end of his post. Somebody sure has a dry sense of humor.

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Filed under The NCAA

Super Southern 100 list, 1997 model

I’ve said this before – the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s recruiting blog is an excellent resource for keeping up with who is going where. You should bookmark the site for reference through signing day this year.

Jeff D’Alessio has posted the Super Southern 100 list for 1997 today. That’s the legendary “Tennessee raids Georgia for Lewis, Grant and Coleman” class that led to Donnan deciding that if he couldn’t beat Garner, he’d hire him (if he only hadn’t repeated that reasoning with Kevin Ramsey!).

Anyway, there’s lots of talent on that list. And lots of names that dropped out of sight immediately after signing day…

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

What better way to announce the start of the Saban era…

than to clear out some deadwood.

Don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out, son.

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Filed under The Blogosphere, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Whatchoo talkin’ about, Willis?

The gospel according to HeismanPundit:

YOU: But – thank God! – help is on the way for the millions of souls who despair over the current state of SEC football. According to HP, the SEC is going to have no choice but to play catch up with Meyer’s exotic spread offense. Fortunately, the process has already started at LSU, where “… the issue has apparently been settled in Les Miles’ mind.” Les Miles? Well, count me as convinced.

>>>>Well, it should convince you. A major SEC program is not hiring another SEC offensive coordinator. [Emphasis added.] It is going outside the conference and choosing an OC who runs a style similar to what Florida runs. If that doesn’t convince you that there is change afoot in the SEC on offense, well, then you can’t be convinced.

I just thought I’d do a little fact checking on HP’s assertion that Les Miles’ hiring of Gary Crowton, who’s coming from Oregon, is not your run of the mill SEC hire – in other words, that SEC schools rarely go outside the conference to find coaches to run their offenses.

Here’s the info on the current SEC head coaches, their offensive coordinators and the places these men last worked at before their hires that I obtained from the member schools’ websites:

  • Alabama – HC Nick Saban (NFL); no OC listed currently
  • Arkansas – HC Houston Nutt (Boise State); OC David Lee (NFL)
  • Auburn – HC Tommy Tuberville (Mississippi); OC Al Borges (Indiana)
  • Florida – HC Urban Meyer (Utah); OC Dan Mullen (Utah)
  • Georgia – HC Mark Richt (FSU); OC Mike Bobo (Georgia)
  • Kentucky – HC Rich Brooks (NFL); OC Joker Phillips (Kentucky)
  • LSU – HC Les Miles (Oklahoma State); OC Gary Crowton (Oregon)
  • Mississippi – HC Ed Orgeron (Southern California); OC Dan Werner (Miami)
  • Mississippi State- HC Sylvester Croom (NFL); OC Woody McCorvey (Tennessee)
  • South Carolina – HC and OC Steve Spurrier (NFL)
  • Tennessee – HC Phil Fulmer (Tennessee); OC David Cutcliffe (Mississippi)
  • Vanderbilt – HC Bobby Johnson (Furman); OC Ted Cain (Furman)

There are twenty two names on that list. Five have SEC schools next to their names.  (If you want to get technical, it’s actually four, since Cutcliffe’s last position was on the staff at Notre Dame when he left on short notice due to his health.)

Yep, that Les Miles is a real groundbreaker.

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Filed under SEC Football, The Blogosphere

It’s not the Jimmies and Joes, it’s the Xs and Os…

I guess I’m on a bit of a recruiting kick this morning.

ESPN caught my eye with this little tidbit from Scouts Inc. (and after that AJC article about Internet recruiting services I posted below, I suppose I should feel guilty about that): of the top nine recruiting classes for ’07, currently six are going to SEC schools.

And, according to SI.com, Rivals lists six as well.

Whoa.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

It was the best of recruiting articles; it was the worst of recruiting articles.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution goes a little split-personality on us with a couple of recruiting articles.

For a little perspective the AJC‘s recruiting blog editor Jeff D’Alessio posts the Super Southern 100 from 2002. As he notes, there are some hits and there are some misses. It’s a good reminder that recruiting is anything but an exact science.

On the other hand, there’s this rather breathless recruiting piece in the AJC, where we learn that the recruiting process is bad. Very, very bad. In fact, we are warned by noted sports sociologist Harry Edwards (who’s also described as a consultant to the University of Florida football team – no doubt on text messaging) that because

… of their inner-city backgrounds, he said, some of these recruits are also gun-toting gang members. Edwards said it is only a matter of time before one of these spoiled recruits “goes off” in the athletic department because he is not treated the same after joining the team.

And it’s us denizens of the Internet who will be largely to blame when some kid goes postal:

There’s no doubt that high school players read the recruiting Web sites religiously, said Andrew Crummey, a junior offensive lineman for the University of Maryland football team.

“People can say some very hurtful things on message boards,” he said. In e-mails from adult fans, “17-year-old kids are getting bashed,” he said. “And players take it to heart.”

Assessing the potential of high school players is “still an inexact science” even for experienced college coaches, said John Bunting, former head coach of the University of North Carolina. But young athletes are being sized up by subscribers who have only viewed an online film clip.

“And on the Internet, anyone can say anything about anybody and not be held accountable,” Bunting said.

Like ex-college head coaches, for example. Sounds like you can do that at meaningless hearings, too.

More on that bad ‘ole Internet:

… Web sites such as Rivals.com and Scout.com have become gospel for millions of fans who follow recruiting nearly as fervently as they follow the actual college football season, witnesses told the commission.

They said this has helped create a generation of players and parents who covet the sites’ five-star and four-star ratings. High school coaches are pressured by parents to turn out these highly ranked players, and college coaches are pressured by boosters to sign them…

I ask you, what hath Al Gore wrought? Of course, don’t let the irony escape you that the AJC publishes all kinds of recruiting rankings itself (to be fair, that’s conceded in the article).

It’s good to see that a keen sense of personal responsibility continues to be a significant part of the American psyche these days, ain’t it?

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Filed under College Football, General Idiocy, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting

Mitch Mustain, poster child for indentured servitude

Dennis Dodd lays it on thick in this piece on poor widdle Mitch and his momma:

… All that matters is that Mustain was granted a release from his scholarship last week. Now you have to root for him. You have to root for him if you were ever stuck in a bad marriage or had a boss (bleep) all over you. Mitch is us, wanting the best for himself.

A sense of entitlement? No more than anyone who deserves a promotion — or desperately wants a divorce.

My, how short our memories are. Perhaps someone should get Dennis a copy of Year of the Dog. I’m sure he could get young Mitchell to autograph it.

When you are a singular talent like Mustain, it’s about getting what you want out of life. That means the best coach and offense possible to develop your talent.

If that’s selfish, then selfish is good…

Mustain will eventually have his free scholarship again, at a place where he is comfortable. New fans will welcome him with open arms. You can bet his mother will be heavily involved in the process. Isn’t that the way it should be, everywhere?

Sounds great… except didn’t the kid and his mom have that opportunity the first go-round? Isn’t this the pheenom that committed to Arkansas, decommitted so he could shop around some more and then committed again?

So he made a mistake in his choice of schools. That’s not the end of the world, or even his college career. As Dodd acknowledges, Mustain still has three years to play (and that’s because the Nuttster granted his release, by the way).

The problem with Dodd’s piece isn’t the list of the injustices he complains about – I completely agree with his point about the graduate transfer rule, for example – it’s using the Mustains as some noble example to make his case. There are no heroes in this story. The only folks that deserve our sympathy are the fans of the Arkansas program. They’ve been screwed over by pretty much every player in this farce…

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting