Daily Archives: March 25, 2009

Riding Kiffin’s coattails at the AJ-C

Tony Barnhart may have gone the early buyout route at the AJ-C last year, but he’s playing straight out of the paper’s online playbook with today’s post.  It’s not the subject matter, which is little more than the “Junior – Crazy Like A Fox!” meme that’s making the rounds, it’s that Barnhart presents it with a twist, as the header indicates:

Kiffin takes page from Spurrier’s playbook

Uh huh.  You know, obnoxious coach takes one for the team and all that.  (Except that Spurrier came out of the gate in Gainesville going 9-2.  Nobody in his right mind is expecting anything near that for UT this season.)  It’s a trite comparison, but no matter – we’re only in it for the page hits and comments anyway!

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UPDATE: Terence Moore gets in on the act.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Media Punditry/Foibles

Getting it done in spring practice

I’m pleased to see that the coaches keep identifying the symptoms that many of us have seen over the past couple of seasons that indicated there were problems with the team’s mindset.

Georgia is putting an extra emphasis this spring on building a defense better equipped to stop opposing teams from the type of killer surges that quickly took the Bulldogs out of games last season.

In three losses last season – against Alabama, Florida and Georgia Tech – Georgia did not react well to adversity.

“We’ve definitely got to improve in areas like sudden change,” defensive coordinator Willie Martinez said. “When things go bad, handling adversity better. We gave up most of our points in the third and fourth quarter. That’s when a lot of our big plays were given up, too.

“We’re working harder at it. Being more conscious of it. Not letting it happen. Those things will be stressed in the spring.”

And I’m not trying to make light of what Martinez is saying about it, but exactly how do you work on “handling adversity better” in the spring?

“The thing is changing the momentum of the game,” Martinez said. “That comes with leadership and that comes with mental toughness, physical toughness and playmaking – making something happen. You try to teach it and coach it and relate it to your players and bottom line, get it done.”

The good thing I keep seeing with these kinds of comments is that the staff and players seem to be embracing the idea that nothing should be taken for granted.  It’s also a plus that nobody’s pointing at last year’s schedule or injury situation as an excuse.  But still, the wheels aren’t going to come off the wagon in the spring as they did against ‘Bama in the first quarter last year… or against Florida in the third quarter… or against Tech… well, you get the idea.

I suspect we’re all going to be holding our breath a little until one of those moments come once the season’s underway and we see how the team reacts.

Speaking of collective breath-holding, here’s another area to watch.

… Richt said King has a slight advantage in the blocking game due to the extra year of experience and game-day snaps he has gotten that Thomas has not. After watching both of them in practice, however, neither has shown they’re ready to take over for the departed Knowshon Moreno just yet.

“We need to get both those guys quite a bit more reps in pass protection to be able to start separating them,” Richt said.

Sure, it’s way too soon to judge, but let’s hope that offensive line jells the way we’re counting on.  A little margin for error in blitz pickup won’t hurt in the least when it comes to dealing with adversity.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Slow news day

It’s just a feeling I have, but it’s articles like this that cause people to become bloggers.  Not in the sense that they become inspired to write great things, though.  More like in the sense that a fifteen year old with a computer in his mom’s basement is motivated to believe that he could deliver better insight and analysis.

After all, Troy Aikman thinks Matthew Stafford’s going to be great.  And he’s reached that conclusion after watch Staff play a lot, right?  Not exactly.

“I like him,” said Aikman. “I think he’s extremely motivated, a great young talent with a good head on his shoulders. He’s gonna be a real asset to somebody. … I didn’t get a chance to watch him a lot…

Oh.  Well, then he must have watched Stafford work out in person to have a strong idea about his skill set.

… and I haven’t worked him out, obviously.

Forget that, too, then.

So what’s Aikman hanging his hat on that makes him interview-worthy about Stafford’s pro prospects.  Well, Matt started in the SEC.

… But he also comes in to the league with 34 collegiate starts under his belt. Conversely, Matt Ryan — who came with the reputation of being a polished prospect, and proved to be one — started 32 games as a Boston College Eagle.

“That’s more football than I played when I came out and I was in college for five years,” Aikman said. “That’s more football than a lot of guys have played before they came out. Just based on experience, I think he’s played in plenty of football games, and played in enough big games, playing in the SEC.

“So I don’t know that coming back for his senior year would’ve helped him. … I think he’d played enough football so he was probably ready.”

Hey, that settles it for me.  Just think of all the quarterbacks that have started in the SEC in the past few years that are succeeding in the NFL today.  Right.

I’m not really wagging a finger at Aikman here.  He’s just promoting someone he knows and likes.  But for TSN to be passing this along as if it’s particularly newsworthy is embarrassing.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

“I’ve been in tennis my whole life…”

The Pac-10′s choice to play Jim Delany’s sidekick as its new conference commissioner is… Larry Scott, a former collegiate tennis player at Harvard and for the past six years the chairman and CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.

Interesting choice (and evidently not the first choice), to say the least.

The reasoning behind the pick seems scattered.  On the one hand, the search committee liked his background.

… Scott’s background as a tennis player and leader of a women’s pro sports organization probably eased fears among women’s and non-revenue sports advocates that the next commissioner would be all about football.

“Our search committee was most impressed with Larry’s broad range of leadership experiences in both men’s and women’s sports, as well as his extensive success in representing the commercial interest of men’s and women’s tennis,” Bob Bowlsby, athletic director of Stanford and head of the search committee, said in a statement.

But, let’s face it – women’s and non-revenue sports aren’t driving the train.  We all know what is.

… He became the CEO of the WTA in 2003, after having been ATP chief operating officer and president of ATP Properties. Under his watch, the WTA pushed for — and got — equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and the French Open.

“Despite all the financial success and commercial success, by far the achievement I’m most proud of is equal prize money,” Scott said.

“He brings a lot of great skills and experience to the job,” said Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, who led the Pac-10′s search and screening committee.

“He has great experience in branding. He has great experience in sponsorship development and in television negotiations,” Bowlsby said in a telephone interview. “He has the right energy to build upon a great foundation with the Pac-10.”

How well raising money in women’s pro tennis translates over to getting better media contracts and exposure in collegiate athletics – for that, read football and men’s basketball – is anybody’s guess.  Including Scott’s.

… An extension or change of the postseason format could sidetrack the Pac-10 and Big Ten’s long relationship with the Rose Bowl, which Scott acknowledges, “is a very sensitive issue and of great benefit to the conference.”

While emphasizing that he ultimately works for the presidents and chancellors of the 10 schools in the league, and it’s at that level that such decisions are ultimately made, Scott says he will bring a new outlook to any future discussions.

“I think the reason the presidents wanted me (for the job) was because I come with a fresh perspective and an open mind, and I think they have an open mind,” he said. “I have a lot to learn and to understand about the issues, but one perspective also is to look at what fans may want and at what will drive the most revenue.

“I am familiar with those issues from being with the WTA. Sometimes we made compromises. But I don’t pretend to be an expert yet, and whatever point of view I have, you have to work closely with other conference commissioners…”

And with that, Jim Delany leaned back in his chair and smiled.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football