Monthly Archives: April 2009

Message to NCAA: you can’t beat Twitter, you can only hope to contain it.

Birds do it.  Even this guy does it now.

The Zooker contemplates how much can be said in 140 characters. (Photo courtesy Seth Perlman/AP)

The Zooker contemplates how much can be said in 140 characters. (Photo courtesy Seth Perlman/AP)

Tweets, that is.

… New accounts on Twitter, a burgeoning social networking service, have been started by Illinois coach Ron Zook, USC’s Pete Carroll, Notre Dame’s Charlie Weis and Tennessee’s Lane Kiffin, to name a few.

It might not be the same as texting a recruit directly, but Zook is clear about why he was willing to start on Twitter.

“The whole reason obviously had to do with recruiting, period,” he said. “I guess others have been able to follow us. It’s amazing what (students) have now and how they communicate, and guys are able to see what we’re doing.”

Why?  Because for some inane reason some of us care.

… At least 18 Division I head coaches have Twitter accounts, and their audiences grow daily. Carroll has more than 12,000 following his posts, while Georgia’s Mark Richt, Washington’s Steve Sarkisian, Weis and Kiffin all have more than 2,000 followers.

I’m not sure where ultimately the envelope pushing on this vis-à-vis NCAA enforcement will come from, but rest assured, it’ll happen. Just ask the Zooker.

… But as the legion of followers continues to grow among the first generation of users, Zook figures more coaches will give it a shot.

“I would imagine so,” he said, “until the NCAA tries to regulate it.”

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Filed under Science Marches Onward, The NCAA

Is the Pac-10 structurally flawed?

Tom Dienhart posted something about Southern Cal that made me think (yes, there’s a first time for everything, it seems).  Take a look at this chart he compiled:

Most draft picks since 2005
USC: 43
Ohio State: 30
Oklahoma: 29
LSU: 28
Georgia: 28
Florida State: 26
Texas: 25
Virginia Tech: 24
Miami: 23
Virginia: 22
Auburn: 22
California: 21
Wisconsin: 21
Michigan: 21
Louisville: 21
Florida: 20

Yep, that’s right – in the past five years, the Trojans have had almost fifty percent more players drafted into the NFL than the next team on the list.  That’s one helluva spread.

But USC hasn’t won a national title in that time.  In fact, the program has only played in one BCS title game in the last five years.

As Dienhart points out, that’s because the Trojans have gotten into a bad habit of losing a game or two a season to a clearly inferior conference opponent.

… In 2006, losses at Oregon State and UCLA were USC’s undoing. In 2007, USC was dumped at home by 41-point underdog Stanford in the greatest upset in college football history; the Trojans also lost at Oregon. Last year, the Trojans were stunned at Oregon State when Beavers true freshman tailback Jacquizz Rodgers ran for 186 yards and two TDs against a USC defense that had eight players drafted over the weekend.

Does Pete Carroll deserve some criticism for what seems like a now annual practice of having his team crap the bed like that?  Absolutely.  However, one other thing that comes to mind with this is how small the margin for error is for Southern Cal.  Don’t forget that last year’s team finished with the same number of losses as the national champion Gators; the same can be said for the ’07 Trojans.  Yet neither squad was seriously in the mix to play in the BCS title game either season, even though many thought that by year’s end, the 2007 edition was playing the best football in the country and the 2008 team was by far the best defensive team in the nation.

Nor was it a matter of schedule strength.  Sagarin ranks Southern Cal’s strength of schedule at 29th for 2007 and 16th for 2008 – not the best, but certainly more than credible, especially given the fact that Ohio State played in the title game two seasons ago with the 53rd-ranked SOS.

What I do think is a problem for the Trojans is the conference they play in.  Even with the yearly slip ups, they still wind up dominating the Pac-10, having won seven conference titles in a row now.  There’s no other team that has emerged in that time period as a credible, consistent rival that the public can measure USC against.

Also, there’s no conference championship game for Southern Cal to play in.  Don’t get me wrong – I actually think the Pac-10’s round robin format is the ideal way to structure a conference’s football season.  But if you look at the recent trend of which schools play in the BCS title game, it’s apparent that not having a conference championship game leaves the Trojans at a disadvantage when it comes to the postseason.

The BCS title game is eleven years old now.  During that time, a school from a conference with a championship game has played for the MNC in all but two of the games.  There hasn’t been a BCS title game without a team that won a conference championship game since the 2003 Fiesta Bowl.

I can think of several factors for that.  A conference championship is a high profile game, so it gives the poll voters one more chance to see a team win against very good competition.  As was the case with LSU in 2007, it can provide an opportunity for redemption for a team that suffered its share of regular season disappointments.  It provides a strength of schedule boost to the winner that the computers absorb in their calculations for the BCS rankings.  And, as USC learned to its chagrin in 2003, sometimes there’s not as much of a downside to a conference title loss in the minds of the voters and computers as there is in a regular season defeat.

I’m not a huge fan of conference title games.  Like I said, I think a round robin schedule is a far superior means for determining a conference champion.  But given the extra revenue such a game generates as well as the impact it has on the postseason order, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least to see the new Pac-10 commissioner take a look at going that way.

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Filed under College Football, Pac-12 Football

Tuesday morning buffet

You know the drill.

  • See ‘ya, Terence Moore. Don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.
  • You know, this is one badass ride.  I can understand why they’d want tinted windows.
  • No waiver for Richt to attend Chris Burnette’s graduation, evidently because the kid isn’t the class valedictorian.  I’ll never get the NCAA, I swear.
  • The SEC East race is over before it even starts, according to these guys.
  • Rich Brooks doesn’t go for that Twitter crap.
  • Two days ago, the spin was that Stafford won’t succeed in the NFL because he gets too angry.  Yesterday, it’s because he won’t get angry enough.  I’m so confused.
  • College faculty reps may not reach a consensus on a D-1 postseason format, but they know they don’t want ESPN making the kids play into February.
  • Junior responds to B. J. Coleman’s allegations by forcefully saying a bunch of mush.  At least he didn’t blame the kid’s grandmother.

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

UPDATE: Make sure you read Mr. Hinnen’s spot on obituary for Moore’s column.  Good stuff.

7 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Science Marches Onward, SEC Football, The NCAA

Monday afternoon buffet

Meat and two sides, or you can just get the vegetable platter.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Media Punditry/Foibles, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

Where the rubber meets the road

By the way, for all this talk about having a program that helps kids make it to the next level, keep this in mind:

Andre Smith is one talented but very lucky guy: I was glad to see that after a series of bad decisions that could have cost him dearly, Alabama OT Andre Smith was the No. 6 player picked in the draft by the Bengals.

Not long ago it looked like Smith, the Outland Trophy winner, had blown his chance at becoming a wealthy man. He was suspended for the Sugar Bowl after it was determined that he or someone connected to him had had contact with an agent’s representative. He shows up at the NFL combine out of shape and then doesn’t work out. He then leaves the combine without telling anybody and gets a ton of well-deserved bad press.

Smith got his bacon saved because he fired his first agent and hired a pro in Rick Smith. Andre is also lucky because Alabama coach Nick Saban went to bat for him with the NFL teams who wanted the real skinny on this kid…

Say what you like about Saban, but that’s going to come across extremely well to an eighteen-year old on the recruiting trail.

And does anybody think that Junior’s got the gravitas to pull off something like that?

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

NFL Draft question: will the spread spread?

Well, another NFL draft is in the books.

It occurs to me that we’re about to see an interesting experiment unfold in the next few years with regard to the fate of quarterbacks coming out of college pro-style offenses vs. college spread option quarterbacks.  This year we saw two junior quarterbacks picked in the top five, including a kid in Mark Sanchez who only had fifteen collegiate starts under his belt.  What they had in common was that both played in pro-style offenses at Georgia and Southern Cal.

It’ll be worth watching to see how the three high profile quarterbacks in next year’s draft – Bradford, McCoy and Tebow – fare.  And, of course, how they develop over time in the pros in comparison to Stafford and Sanchez.

But the other issue here is whether the NFL finds itself over time adapting more elements of collegiate offenses to better utilize the quarterback draft pool.  Chris Brown (of course) has some thoughts about that.

… College coaches’ jobs are to win football games and succeed in college, not to run an offense the pro guys like. And, while some scouts might chafe at having to evaluate a guy who stands in the gun all the time with four or five wide, Kubiak at least recognizes that it is their job to succeed with whatever colleges are being produced. But all this — and the whole article — assumes an answer to Chase Daniel’s question:

“I’ve been telling some coaches I think that’s the way the game’s going,” Daniel said.

Is Daniel right? Or are these pro guys right? The best you get is Jim Zorn saying, “But they also find the whole game is not played that way at this level. It’s just not.” “It’s just not,” of course, is not an argument (it’s just not). But let’s assume that he is right that the all-spread (and this article is about the pass-first spread, not just the spread-to-run) is inappropriate for the pros: why? Is it the speed? The specialization of talent?

Chris doesn’t have an answer to that, and neither do I.

And that’s why I’ll be interested in following the NFL career of Pat White.  The Wildcat offense is the trendy offensive development of the moment in the pros and it will certainly be intriguing to see White given a shot to run it in Miami.  But the real question for me is whether he’s limited to running a exotic scheme for a few snaps a game, or whether he’s given the opportunity to develop into something more – either by becoming a full-blown NFL quarterback in the traditional sense, or as a result of Miami, or some other team, making a leap and embracing the spread as its primary offensive scheme.

Because if this experiment – and that’s pretty much what it is at this stage – succeeds and Pat White, or someone with a similar skills package, becomes part of the status quo at the next level, that’s going to make it easier for a college coach to sell himself and the kids he’s looking at for his program that the spread attack isn’t merely a way to win on the college level, but something that his players can immerse themselves in without giving up their dreams of playing on Sundays.

And that’s going to have a significant effect on the college game’s approach to the recruiting and development of offensive talent.  We’ll see where this goes.

10 Comments

Filed under College Football, Strategery And Mechanics

J-E-T-S!

For those of you NFL mavens who mock college football fans for showing up in great numbers to watch meaningless spring practice games, I would submit that showing up for an indoor event in your team’s jersey to watch a frickin’ draft is infinitely lamer.

Exhibit “A”:

Get a life, morons.

Get a life, morons.

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Filed under College Football