Monthly Archives: July 2008

If at first you don’t succeed, will they let you try, try again?

With all the drama we witnessed in fashionable Hoover, Alabama last week, it’s easy to forget that the SEC wasn’t the only conference busy entertaining the media.  The Big Ten held its media bash last week as well, and though the focus was no doubt on RichRod, there was another story to consider:  how will the conference’s best team fare in the national title hunt?

Make no mistake about it, Ohio State has two very strong things going for it this season, as College Football News highlights – a loaded, experienced team and a favorable schedule.

It’s just that there’s this nagging bit of baggage trailing after these guys.

Tired of scarlet and gray in the national championship game? You might not be alone. Ohio State’s poor showings in the past two BCS title games could have reached critical mass with the pollsters.

At least that was the opinion of Buckeyes quarterback Todd Boeckman on Friday at the Big Ten media days. This might be news to those in Ohio, but Ohio State has been ripped by critics after being dominated by Florida and LSU in the final game.

Asked if his team would get the benefit of the doubt from voters if they are in position to play for the championship again, Boeckman said, “If it comes down to it, probably not because of where we’ve been in the past.”

Obviously, OSU will start in the top five in the polls this year.  Beat Southern Cal and the Buckeyes can start shopping for sunscreen to pack for Miami.  But what if they lose in LA?  What if they lose in a close one in LA and run the rest of the table?  Or alternatively, what if they win in LA, but drop a conference game?  Where does a one-loss Ohio State team fit in the mix and how long are voters’ memories, anyway?

Those will be interesting questions to follow all year, particularly if in the end there are no undefeated BCS conference teams in D-1 football again.

About these ads

6 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big Ten Football

“We can just go, go, go, go, go as fast as we want.”

CHANGING THINGS

The NCAA has implemented several rules changes this season, some of which affect the clock:

Clock-related

— Following a play that goes out of bounds, the game clock will now start on the referee’s signal and not on the snap, with the exception of the last two minutes of each half.

— The play clock will be set to 40 seconds and will start when the ball becomes dead on the previous play. A 25-second clock that will begin on the referee’s signal will be used after a penalty administration, measurement, change of possession and timeouts, whether they be charged, media or injury.

Ah, game times.  The NCAA keeps trying to find that sweet spot that will satisfy coaches, fans and… the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

… Trying to shorten games — because television networks aren’t reducing their commercial time — was the primary motive for the change. Another new rule that should have a bigger impact in that aspect is the game clock now will start once the ball has been made ready following a play that goes out of bounds.

Under old rules, the game clock would not start until the snap, and the old rules have been left in place for the final two minutes of the half and game.

Two years ago, sweeping changes that included starting the game clock after changes of possession resulted in the length of games going from 3 hours, 21 minutes to 3:07. There were roughly 13 fewer plays a game, however, and five fewer points per contest than the year before.

When the NCAA scrapped that plan and went back to the old rules a year ago, the number of plays and points returned to former levels. The length of games, to nobody’s surprise, ballooned to 3:22.

Three significant rules changes in three years.  I have to admit some sympathy for Urban Meyer when he complains that

“The clock rule is the third one in three years, and I don’t want to get started on that because I don’t agree with it,” Florida’s Urban Meyer said. “You keep moving that hat around a little bit. Now coaches have to relearn a rule that’s going to have a significant impact on the game. How significant? I have no idea, but it just keeps changing and that bothers me.”

The “I have no idea” part – I’m not sure anybody does at this point.  Part of that may be because there’s something of an all things to all men component to the new rules.  Here’s what Mark Richt has to say with regard to that:

“The officials are going to get out of the way, and there might still be 30 or 32 seconds on that 40-second clock, where before the most you would ever have is 25 at the line,” Richt said. “I think you’re going to see more teams quick-snapping it, and I think you’re going to see more teams also simulating like they’re going to quick-snap to try to recognize what’s going on and then sit there at the line of scrimmage and have literally 20 or 25 seconds to deliberate.

“That might drive some people nuts. I don’t know.”

There are some limits.  The offense doesn’t have complete control over the clock.  As the article notes, offenses still can’t substitute freely or go from one personnel group to another and snap the ball quickly, and defenses still will get time to make their own personnel changes.  Plus, there will be a number of situations during a game where the clock rules revert to the previous regime.

Still in all, it could be an interesting experiment.  Game management becomes an even bigger chess match between coaches that want to generate as many plays as possible and those that want to shorten the clock as much as they can.  The effect of the new rules on certain statistics related to game management, such as number of plays run and time of possession will tell some of this story.  Let’s just hope that this set of changes makes us happy… or at least comfortable.  Enough with the tweaking.

Speaking of happy, let’s let Richt have the last word here.

… Georgia’s Mark Richt labeled himself “jealous” when asked about the change, because he tried to play fast earlier this decade with David Greene at quarterback…

“Seven years ago, I would have been thrilled about it,” Richt said. “My ambition was to play as fast as we could possibly play and run the no-huddle and get to the line of scrimmage as fast as possible and get the ball snapped in a hurry and run as many plays as possible. We were not allowed to do that.

“In my opinion, the officials in this league were more deliberate than in any league I had been. The SEC, to me, was grinding it to a halt. Now, all of a sudden, you can play as fast as you want to play.”

3 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Tough row to hoe?

Maybe I haven’t been giving this schedule thing the proper amount of credit after all.

The Money Line Journal has taken a different approach to evaluating the potential won-loss records of D-1 football teams in 2008.  Essentially, he’s taking power ratings and running them through point spreads from each week’s games to calculate the probability of a given team’s record.

You can find the odds he’s calculated on sixteen teams to go undefeated here (h/t EDSBS). It’s not good news if you’re a Dawg fan – and it’s due to one reason.

The primary set of power numbers* that I used in coming up with the lines had Georgia rated as the 2nd best team in the nation yet they only have the 10th best shot of going 12-0. It just goes to show how brutal that schedule really is.

*Phil Steele’s. Don’t even think about calling me biased.

Here are the specifics behind his analysis of Georgia.


Opponent

Spread Range

Min W%

Mid W%

Max W%
vs. Georgia Southern 35-42 .99 .995 .9975
vs. Central Michigan 28-35 .98 .985 .99
at South Carolina 3-10 .5744 .6771 .7736
at Arizona St -1.5-5.5 .4752 .5336 .6513
vs. Alabama 6-13 .6642 .7547 .8303
vs. Tennessee 5-12 .6414 .7464 .8159
vs. Vanderbilt 24-31 .96 .9755 .985
at LSU -2.5-4.5 .4575 .5124 .6314
Neutral vs. Florida -3.5-3.5 .3937 .5 .6063
at Kentucky 13-20 .8303 .8905 .93
at Auburn -2.5-4.5 .4575 .5124 .6314
vs. Ga Tech 10-17 .7736 .835 .91
Average Spread -13
Underdogs 4
Undefeated Prob. .5% 1.9% 6.7%
Undefeated Conf Prob. 4.3%
One Loss Prob. 4.2% 10% 22.2%

As you can see, he projects four games where Georgia could face being an underdog.  Obviously, with the season being five weeks out, he’s using projected ranges instead of final numbers, but that doesn’t make his analysis completely out of whack.

And it’s not necessarily a knock on Georgia’s ability.

I don’t even know if 2001 Miami or 2004 USC could make it through this schedule undefeated. It is brutal.

I will say this:  a similar review of Georgia’s chances to run the table after the Vanderbilt game last year would have probably induced many of us to consider slitting our wrists.  Still, it’s food for thought.

If you’re interested in finding out a little more about his methodology, you might want to visit this link.

3 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Blogosphere

Your Sunday buffet

Feel free to choose whatever you’d like from the bar.

  • Georgia Tech couldn’t stop Georgia’s momentum.  Hawaii couldn’t stop Georgia’s momentum.  Ah, but the press?  That’s a different story.
  • Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow.  Tim Tebow.  Per Rece Davis, ESPN is incapable of laying off the talk about the GPOOE™.  Your surprise is duly noted.
  • This may be the saddest thing yet I’ve heard the OBC say about his football team:  his first team at Duke had more confidence in its ability to compete than the ‘Cocks did.
  • How will spread option quarterbacks fare in the NFL?  Who knows?
  • Ching says it’s a golden age for SEC football.

5 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football, The Evil Genius, Tim Tebow: Rock Star

Chasing the almighty dollar

The AJ-C decides to explore the issue of paying college athletes in today’s edition.  In addition to the main article, there are a couple of advocacy pieces, one pro and one con.

Just to give you some flavor for the story and the arguments, here are a few quotes:

Boston College’s Ron Brace:

“It’s like a job. We get up early, work out, meetings, class and practice,” Brace said. “We’re giving up a big chunk of our life. I see no reason we shouldn’t be paid.”

Georgia Tech’s Paul Hewitt:

“Few players truly move the needle in terms of attendance, TV ratings, or merchandising, but it would be like the free agency system in baseball; you’d get a few guys making a lot of money, and others fighting their way onto campus,” Tech basketball coach Paul Hewitt said. “I think in the long run, the majority of student athletes would lose in that type of market.

“The idea is to provide educational opportunities for a lot of kids who could not afford one. I would hate to treat the few and leave out the many.”

Syracuse Professor Dr. Boyce Watkins:

Athletes should be paid like the rest of us: If what you do earns money, then you have the right to negotiate (without oppressive restrictions) for your share. When Tom Cruise makes a film, he gets paid quite well. He doesn’t get the money because he’s a nice guy, he gets paid because he is generating revenue for someone else. That’s how capitalism works.

NCAA President Dr. Myles Brand:

So, this argument, the capitalism one, suggests that only football and men’s basketball athletes should be paid (because only those sports make money) but only in those schools where there is money left over after all the bills are paid. If you have the good fortune to be recruited in football or men’s basketball to one of the handful of schools that make money, you get paid. But all the other student-athletes in those sports — not to mention the student-athletes in all the other sports — don’t get paid even though they work just as hard.

I have to admit that when I thought about this issue previously, I assumed that payment would be made in the context of equal amounts to student-athletes.  Even with that, I questioned whether schools would be able to get around challenges like Title IX to be able to do it.  But the “capitalism” argument opens up a whole new can of worms.

Quite frankly, I can’t think of a faster way to destroy college athletics than to adopt the position Dr. Watkins advocates.  Let me just throw a few names out, and you think about how they would fare with a “whatever the market allows” approach:  T. Boone Pickens.  Kelley Washington.  Thomas Davis.  Odell Thurman.  The University of Alabama.  Wake Forest University.  Billy Gillispie and assorted ninth-graders.

Look, I’m not naive about college athletics.  But I’m not stupid, either.  There’s no way the system would survive the financial disparity and the human jealousy that Watkins’ proposal would engender.

Listen to the conflicts in these players comments:


… Others, like Brace and Tennessee senior running back Arian Foster think pay-for-play is an idea whose time should come. But Foster saw problems arising.

“How would you divvy it up among the players?” he asked. “Would one player get more than another? If you ask me should we do it I believe we should. There is a lot of money being made off of us.”

Graduate student cornerback Jeremy Gray of N.C. State has issues with paying only student-athletes from revenue-generating sports.

“It would be hard to deal with, so the best decision is probably to keep it as it is,” he said. “How would you weight a tennis player against a basketball player? It wouldn’t be fair to everybody.”

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, whose likeness in his Boston College jersey appears on “NCAA 09,” is torn.

“You do a lot for the school,” said Ryan, who signed a $72 million contract with the Falcons after he was selected third in the NFL draft. “At the same time, there’s an innocence to it that’s great about college football. I had a blast. While I do understand the concern for being paid. I also really enjoyed my experience up at BC without being paid. But I think something will happen in the future.”

All of which isn’t to say that I don’t have some sympathy for this part of Watkins’ argument:

… Coaches are allowed to jump from job to job, going to the highest bidder, while players who transfer lose a year of eligibility. Coaches and administrators earn millions from excessive commercialization of player images, while a player is not allowed to earn a penny from his/her own image.

I have witnessed students being taken out of class for an entire week to play in a nationally-televised football or basketball game, with academics (and the fact that the student’s grade has been jeopardized) becoming an afterthought. Players are treated like professional athletes, not students, and a weak performance on the field will cause them to lose their scholarship. Any institution operating as a government-sanctioned cartel, riddled with hypocrisy, disproportionate and exploitative compensation schemes, and glaring disregard for educational values should be scrutinized more carefully.

It’s just that on the one hand, he complains about excessive commercialization, but on the other, his solution is to allow even more.

And Brand has a pretty good point in response to the fairness argument, when he asks

… What is interesting to me is that you never hear the argument that student-athletes in other sports or those in Division III — where no scholarships are provided — should be paid. We’re paying the coaches, administrators and everyone else in those sports. Why isn’t that just as unfair? [Emphasis added.]

Again, I don’t have many answers to this debate.  But I have a few questions that would be interesting to get responses to:

  1. Is there really enough money in college athletics, at least in the way that current revenues are generated, to pay for this?  If not, what new sources of revenues should be permitted to pay student-athletes?
  2. Why is it acceptable for the NFL and NBA to get away with treating college athletics as a cost-free talent feeder system?
  3. In a truly capitalist setup, why would LaBron James want to go to college in the first place?  (After all, he could choose to do that now, but doesn’t.)
  4. Isn’t some of the value that the system allocates to college athletics attributable to the institutions themselves?  And if that’s the case, how do you factor that into the math?

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

UPDATE: Paul provides some added thoughts and some data on the subject here.  That in turn reminded me of this seminal post on the subject at Sunday Morning Quarterback that’s definitely worth reviewing.

11 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

Things we said today.

Some more good quotes from SEC Media Days:

  • BS from Tuberville. It sounds like Tubby does most of his recruiting at Boy Scout meetings and church choir practices these days:  “We don’t just talk about athletic ability. We go out and recruit character and attitude and work ethic, and if you’ve got those three, then athletic ability is a bonus.” Sure, coach.
  • Tuberville ♥ the spread. This offense is the future of high school football.” WTF?  Sounds like the beginning of a bee-yoo-tee-ful friendship.
  • Hip to be square. I don’t know what’s more awkward – Bobby Petrino trotting out street lingo, or the Northwest Arkansas Times trying to sound impressed that Petrino is trotting out street lingo.  Maybe the paper isn’t familiar with all of the usages.
  • I like Mike. Jasper Brinkley’s choice of words was a bit unfortunate.  Speaking of himself getting back into action, he used an interesting metaphor: “It’s going to be like having a dog on a chain and letting him go into a dogfight or something like that,” Brinkley said. Not that he does that, of course.  He’s just heard about it from others.  Or something like that.
  • More BS from Tuberville. He’d like you to believe that he and Petrino are just two regular guys around each other these days.  “Bobby and I have talked many times since then. Since he’s been head coach (at Arkansas), we’ve talked several times at meetings.” Coach, telling a guy “I think you dropped this” isn’t really talking.
  • Best of all, no ads on the jerseys. “You know, other than the NFL, there’s no better football league in the world, because we’re pretty much the only ones that play it now that they’ve disbanded NFL Europe,” Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said.

5 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

In case you were wondering…

First day of practice for all 12 SEC teams:

Alabama – Aug. 1
Arkansas – Aug. 4
Auburn – Aug. 2
Florida – Aug. 4
Georgia – Aug. 4
Kentucky – Aug. 5
LSU – Aug. 4
Ole Miss – Aug. 4
Miss. State – Aug. 3
South Carolina – Aug. 1
Tennessee – Aug. 2
Vanderbilt – July 31

(per Pat Dooley’s blog)

The sooner, the better…

Comments Off

Filed under SEC Football

Be honest.

You’ve all had days when you felt like this, right?

And I would have been surprised if this hadn’t been in the story:

She says he was intoxicated.

Serenity now…

7 Comments

Filed under General Idiocy

Saturday roundup

As the image of SEC Media Days recedes in our rear view mirrors, here are a few items for today:

  • I’m not sure if a headline like this says more about Spurrier or the South Carolina program.  Either way, that’s not meant as a compliment.
  • Paul links to a very complimentary article about Mark Richt that comes out of enemy territory.
  • Is this the next big thing(h/t AOL FanHouse)
  • Sunday Morning Quarterback sells out.  Great site; I hope he’s on to bigger and better.
  • I guess we should take this as a sign that somebody in Montana’s heard of the Dawgs.
  • How does Les Miles feel about making the big bucks“I’m embarrassed by it,” Miles said. “If I had my father alive, he’d say, ‘You’re not worth it.’ I’d say he’s right.”

Comments Off

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The Blogosphere, The Evil Genius

Now you’ve gone too far.

The height of faux outrage:

… Urban Meyer and Florida aren’t the only ones who have some bitter memories about its game against the Bulldogs. Meyer didn’t like Georgia’s end zone celebration in a 42-30 Bulldogs win.

Auburn defensive tackle Sen’derrick Marks is still smarting from the 45-20 whipping the Tigers suffered last season to Georgia.

“Their team embarrassed us,” Marks said today at SEC Media Days. “They’ve beat us two years in a row but last year, they went black out. They danced on us. The mascot danced on us. The ballboy danced on us and the commentator even did a Soulja Boy on us.”

The commentator was in on it?  The bastard!

Hey, insult our players and our coaches.   But when you jump on Uncle Verne, man, that’s like peeing on the American flag.

3 Comments

Filed under SEC Football