Monthly Archives: July 2007

“His biggest problem is he’s fat like his daddy. But otherwise he’s fine.”

It’s good to see a dog with his priorities straight.

“He’s no spring chicken,” Seiler said of Uga VI, who took over as a 1-year-old for the second game of the 1999 season. “We can’t run him anymore. But he still does his thing, which is mostly eat, sleep and poop.”

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Filed under Georgia Football

We’ll always have Auburn (2004).

As any SEC fan is aware, one of the rallying cries for a D-1 football playoff is “Remember Auburn (2004)!” I agree it’s an example worth remembering, but for a different reason.

Skipping over the points that (1) I’m not necessarily choked up about Auburn getting screwed over in something; (2) it’s not a given that Auburn would have been particularly successful in a playoff setting that year (remember that the Tigers just got by Virginia Tech in the Sugar Bowl that season); (3) Auburn still would have had to play for the MNC against a Southern Cal team that would have had a month to prepare; and (4) given all of the above, not playing in the BCS title game was the best thing that could have happened to Tubs and Auburn’s players and fans, who can all go to their graves playing the “what if” game (and Auburn supporters, you can spare me the “we had just as good a backfield as USC did” line – it wasn’t, as Auburn managed to go 8-5 the year before with the same stellar backfield, Exhibit #1 in the argument against labelling Tubs a coaching genius), I do think there’s a valid argument to make that the system wasn’t, and still isn’t, set up to treat schools fairly in making sure that we see the best teams in place by season’s end.

But while I agree that a problem existed (and still does), I don’t think playoff advocates are looking for a cure in the right place, at least initially. The problem for Auburn in 2004 didn’t start with the absence of a playoff, it started with the preseason polls.

In 2004, USC and Oklahoma ran 1 and 2 wire to wire, from the first polls to the MNC game. Auburn was ranked 17 in the first AP poll and 18 in the first USA Today poll. That’s an enormous obstacle to overcome. And as good a season as they enjoyed, the Tigers never could.

Here’s how Auburn rose through the polls, week by week:

  1. 17 AP; 18 USA Today
  2. same
  3. 18 AP; 19 USA Today (Auburn won its opener against Louisiana Monroe and dropped in the polls)
  4. 14 AP; 15 USA Today (Auburn beat MSU)
  5. 9 AP; 10 USA Today (Auburn beat #4 LSU)
  6. 8 AP; 9 USA Today (Auburn beat The Citadel)
  7. 6 AP; 6 USA Today (Auburn beat #8 Tennessee)
  8. 4 AP; 4 USA Today (Auburn beat Louisiana Tech)
  9. 3 AP; 4 USA Today (Auburn beat Kentucky Arkansas; gets its first first place votes from pollsters)
  10. 3 AP; 4 USA Today (Auburn beat Kentucky)
  11. 3 AP; 3 USA Today (Auburn beat Mississippi)

Auburn obviously started out in the polls woefully underrated. No doubt some of that was the result of the Tigers being serious underachievers in the prior season (they were The Sporting News’ preseason #1 in 2003). But that’s the result of perception, not the reality of the quality of the team in 2004.

Waiting to start the polls until week 6 or 7 of the season would have allowed the voters to form a much more objective – at least objective for them – picture of the relative merits of all of the top teams, uncolored by preseason expectations. Going into the seventh week of 2004, Auburn had knocked off the #4 and #8 schools in the country. To that point, I don’t think another team could make a similar claim.

Certainly Oklahoma couldn’t. One of the great myths about why Auburn didn’t get the higher ranking in the end was because of alleged shortcomings of its schedule. But if you compare its schedule with that of Oklahoma’s, it’s hard to see why that’s a compelling argument. By season’s end, Auburn beat three teams ranked in the top 10 at the time the games were played. Oklahoma beat one such team.

Here’s Oklahoma’s early schedule from 2004: Bowling Green, Houston, Oregon (down year for the Ducks), off week, Texas Tech (unranked) and Texas (#5, but to that point, Stoops had owned Mack Brown). It’s not the worst schedule I’ve ever seen, but it’s certainly not superior to Auburn’s from that year. Given the fact that through week 7, Auburn had those two wins against top 10 opponents, isn’t it likely that if the first polls had come out then, there would have been a lot of buildup in the media towards ranking the Tigers more highly than they actually were – higher than Oklahoma?

I’ve never really understood the point to releasing an official poll before the college football season starts. Look at a school like Florida this year. The defending national champs lose nine defensive starters and their starting quarterback, yet they’re likely to start off ranked in the top 10. This isn’t to say they’ll be a lousy team, or that they’re highly overrated, but simply how in the hell does anyone have a clue how good the Gators are compared to other schools right now?

If it’s just a game that we let the media play, that’s stupid. In fact, it’s more than stupid, since the polls are a significant factor in the BCS rankings. It shouldn’t be handled that way. And holding the polls back until after the sixth or seventh weeks of the season wouldn’t stop the media from having a good time speculating on where everyone would be ranked in the first polls. That’s already what happens with the BCS rankings.

In short, the lesson I take from ‘04 is that preseason polls aren’t helpful to sorting out the best teams in a given season. And since every post season proposal I’ve seen considered recently would continue to rely on the polls (through the BCS rankings) to pick and seed the teams in the playoffs, any new format, “plus one” or otherwise, isn’t going to fix that flaw.

Personally, I’d wait until mid-October to publish the first polls. By then, every top 25 school should have played at least one significant opponent, which would give the voters a better handle on the relative merits of the top teams. It’s a problem that invites a pretty simple solution. Where’s Bernie Machen when I need him?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Envy and jealousy: Jim Delany as muse

It was only a matter of time, I suppose.

Sooner or later, somebody was bound to come up with a line about Big 10 commish Jim Delany that I’d want for my own.

The winner of this edition of e & j is Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune who, in noting what a swell time is likely to be had by all at today’s Big 10 media day when Delany submits himself to a one hour Q & A with reporters, had this to say about the response to one of Delany’s recent gaffes:

Delany also fired up the blogs, many of which, perhaps in a subconscious form of protest, declined to spell his name correctly. (Notre Dame has two e’s, but Delany has one.)

Sweet!

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy

Nooooooooooooooo….

So they fed a little red meat to the Greater Atlanta Bulldog Club last night.

In the midst of rallying the troops for ’07, Mark Richt had this to say about the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party:

Another thing some believe has been in the way of Georgia winning is the location of the game. For three more years it’s scheduled to be in Jacksonville. When that contract is up, Richt would be in favor of moving it.

“Do I truly think it is a neutral site?” Richt said. “No, I don’t. That doesn’t feel very neutral to me. If you want to have a neutral game, let’s have a neutral game in Atlanta. I would not be against rotating the thing around.”

Richt said the two schools’ campuses and Jacksonville could all be considered a part of that rotation.

“Whatever Damon says goes,” Richt added. “The bottom line is we have got to win the game.”

Now I respect Mark Richt greatly. I’ve mentioned before that on the subject of playoffs he walks with the angels. But to blame the location for Georgia’s recent abysmal record against the Gators is nothing more than a cop out.

The game is one of the great traditions of Georgia football. It’s something that a large chunk of the fan base looks forward to every year. It’s also one of the few bones that get thrown to the fans in south Georgia, who one time a year have the shorter drive to the game.

Neutral site games are becoming a trend lately. ‘Bama and FSU are playing in Jacksonville this year. Notre Dame is out shopping for sites as I write this. The Big 12 is looking to put a game in Jerry Jones’ new stadium. And yet we want to abandon the second oldest of these games (the Red River Shootout in Dallas predates us by four years) because the Dawgs haven’t been successful on the field in a while.

Bad idea. The negative PR alone will be awful. Don’t think Urban Meyer won’t have a field day with it in recruiting. Plus, Michael Adams will probably see it as a victory in his epic war against having a good time at football games.

As I said, it’s nothing more than a poor excuse for not winning. Playing in the Gator Bowl wasn’t a problem for Dooley and playing at Alltel shouldn’t have been a problem for Richt (how did he lose two out of three to the Zooker, anyway?).

And let’s not forget the “be careful what you wish for” admonition: what happens if the series goes home and home and Georgia still can’t start winning? Does anyone need to be reminded what the results were the last time the games were played home and home?

Don’t do it, Damon. Please.

******************************************************

UPDATE:  Groo has some more thoughts here.  He makes a valid point with regard to offensive point totals and our head coach’s mindset going into J’ville.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Finebaum and the coaches

Paul Finebaum has his semi-annual review/ranking of the SEC coaches up, and, frankly, I can’t grasp his logic, at least after #1.

Here’s how he ranks the HCs:

  1. Spurrier
  2. Saban
  3. Meyer
  4. Tuberville
  5. Fulmer
  6. Richt
  7. Miles
  8. Nutt
  9. Brooks
  10. Johnson
  11. Orgeron
  12. Croom

He says it’s “not necessarily” a reprise of the last season, but more a “complete analysis” of where the coaches stand.  Ho-kay, but Saban at #2?  He’s hasn’t coached a down of football in college in a couple of years, he’s not the coaching innovator that Spurrier is and he won at a school that has a tremendous recruiting base (see #7 on the list).  Basically, other than being a highly paid hard ass and drawing 92,000 fans to a spring game, what’s on his resume right now that Urban Meyer can’t top?

And Richt at #6, behind Fulmer?  Because MR is another coach who needs a big year after last year’s “clunker”?  Georgia, in MR’s clunker year, went 9-4;  UT came off a 5-6 season in ’05.  Is this based on anything more that Tennessee winning in Athens last year?  It’s hard to point objectively to anything else.

And if someone can explain why he ranks Orgeron ahead of Croom, given his descriptions of each, I’d like to hear it.  That’s not to say that the ranking is wrong, just that it doesn’t jibe with what he wrote.

Strange list.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

A couple of Georgia notes

You know fall practice is almost upon us when Larry Munson starts officially worrying about the upcoming season:

“We don’t have any linebackers,” he lamented. “We just have the one [Brandon Miller] that’s disappointed them all along. He’s the only one that’s played. The defensive line is riddled. The offensive line is just not there. We had to go out and get junior college kids. The secondary is gone. Your punter is gone and your holder and your snapper are gone and all those little ol’ things.

“And, as usual, we’re going to have guys out for probation or suspensions or whatever the first two games, two of our biggest games of the year. We’ve really lost a lot of players. Our young quarterback [Matthew Stafford] is going to have to really play good for us. He may have to carry us on his back.”

The holder and snapper are gone?  They’re doomed, I say, doomed.

Meanwhile, Mike Bobo may not have been the offensive coordinator (in the real sense of the term) for long, but he’s already displaying admirable survival skills.

If Georgia football coach Mark Richt has any desire of reclaiming his play-calling responsibilities, he can forget about it.

Offensive coordinator Mike Bobo, who called the plays in last season’s wins over Georgia Tech in Athens and Virginia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, has changed the playbook’s terminology. Richt admitted this moments before addressing Friday’s massive gathering at the Southeastern Conference’s Media Days, and he did so while smiling.

“I did the same thing to Coach (Bobby) Bowden when I was at Florida State,” Richt said. “I changed everything so he didn’t know how to call it, and I knew he wouldn’t be calling it.”

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Filed under Georgia Football

I thought we already settled this.

(photo courtesy BBC)

Gawd Almighty, people! We already know that Les Miles is a doofus. Is it really necessary to write an entire article in The Los Angeles Times in response that really does nothing more than show your own asses?

Why does the SEC do it?

Why can’t it just shut up and play?

Answer: It can’t help itself.

The SEC still can’t get over Auburn going undefeated in 2004 and having to watch USC and Oklahoma play for the BCS title.

It still can’t stand the fact LSU had to share the national title with USC in 2003.

The SEC’s status as the nation’s preeminent college football conference — rarely argued by anyone — is only demeaned by the league’s seemingly insatiable need to tell everyone about it.

Waaaah.

Speaking of ass showing, HeismanPundit chimes in with a hard hitting exposé of Pete Fiutak’s SEC preview at College Football News. Check it out:

CFN’s Pete Fiutak is, apparently, hooked up to an IV of SEC-is-awesome Kool-Aid as he manages to fit every one of the conference’s talking points in the first couple graphs of this preview.

No one can deny it’s the best conference going at the moment. No one can deny that the overall speed and talent level is tremendous. The weekly drama is unparalleled, thanks to so many good match-ups, and the overall competition is so tough that it’s just about impossible to get through unscathed. So after the way Florida blew up Ohio State to win the national title, will the conference start to get every benefit of the doubt? It should.

Yeah, because, ya know, there is sooooo much talk out there in the media about how the SEC sucks and is overrated. How the heck did Florida manage to win a title, anyway, playing in such a little-hyped league?

The best part of HP’s debunking is when he makes a list of the number of unbeated, untied (in conference) teams by conference since ’92, when the SEC went to a conference championship game, sees the Big East and ACC at the top by a healthy margin and tries to downplay that fact by noting that “(t)he Big East and ACC are skewed slightly by the dominance of FSU and Miami.” Well, duh.

Kinda like USC and the Pac-10 these days.

You have to give HP credit, perverse though it may be, when it comes to his world view about the SEC and Pac-10. His thinking may be muddled, but he’s not afraid to dive back into the pool.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Pac-12 Football, SEC Football, The Blogosphere

Phil Steele puts out.

Yeah, Phil Steele is a little obsessive.

“Ask my wife, I’m not great at a lot of things,” Steele said, “but I can tell you the jersey number of the third-string tackle from Tulane. I can talk football.”

He’s a little wired.

He’s the nut in this niche market who wakes up each morning at 5:55, arrives at the office by 7:02, maybe 7:03, downs nine 12-ounce cans of Mountain Dew before noon [ed. - Ye gods! Emphasis added.] and makes it his business to know all 119 Division I-A teams – from Ohio State to Louisiana-Lafayette, from the Heisman Trophy candidates to the walk-ons.

He’s a little fixated.

“No one ever said that it’s fine literature,” Steele said. “I write with a purpose.”

Did I mention he’s a little obsessed?

… But he puts his life in those predictions. And if Utah State doesn’t finish eighth, one spot behind Idaho, in the Western Athletic Conference this year, Steele will be ticked.

“There’s no meaningless game,” Steele said. “I want to win them all.”

But here’s the real shocker:

The Steele operation almost wasn’t real, and it didn’t begin as a Steele operation. The former Phil Seman changed his name to Steele because he thought it sounded better for the magazine.

Depending upon how “Seman” is pronounced, he may have had a point. Then again, he may have deprived the blogging world of any number of double entendres, especially in his discussion of South Carolina football and Arkansas starting quarterbacks.

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Filed under Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Randomly random randomness

Just a few things I’ve come across surfing the internets this morning:

  • The new kickoff rule:  Tastes greatLess filling.
  • Kentucky prediction. With eight home games (including four right off the bat), the schedule isn’t the biggest problem, contrary to the author’s premise.  Although it’s interesting that he thinks Georgia will be the toughest game for UK to get a win in this season.
  • The Gainesville Times has an article up that goes through some of the grind of recruiting from the perspective of player, high school and college coaches that’s worth a read.
  • And this guy may not be the best at predictions (Arkansas fifth in the West this year?  With McFadden and that schedule?  No way.), but he does nail things neatly with this quote:  “Isn’t it fitting that Auburn and Alabama have hired coaches who share the characteristics of their fan bases? Saban’s all egotistical and a pain to deal with, just like the UA fans. Tuberville’s got his inferiority complex working overtime and is constantly looking for a situation in which his team has been slighted, just like AU fans.”

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Filed under College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, Whoa, oh, Alabama

The mother of all marketing opportunities

LMAO.

A whole notha level indeed.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal