Monthly Archives: August 2009

And some post-hot seat talk…

Phil Fulmer reflects on one very special part of his legacy:

Q.

Obviously, your successor, Lane Kiffin, has been in the news. You know those players. What do you see for this season and what they can accomplish?

A.

I love Tennessee and I love those players very much. If you’re going to be brash, you better be willing to back it up. You know, I’m hopeful that they can. We kind of screwed it up last year, honestly. We should have won eight or nine. Eight at least. They’re going to have to get great quarterback play or a lot better quarterback play…

Yeah, Lane Kiffin thanks you very much for that quarterback play, Coach.

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More hot seat talk

I’m not sure if it’s possible for a head coach to be on a hot seat after only one season, but I’ve got to admit that Rich Rodriguez is giving it his best shot.

The University of Michigan football team consistently has violated NCAA rules governing off-season workouts, in-season demands on players and mandatory summer activities under coach Rich Rodriguez, numerous players told the Free Press.

I don’t know how big a deal this is, to tell you the truth (Chris Brown does a nice job breaking that down, if you’re interested), and Rodriguez denies the charges, but at a minimum, Michigan is going to have to deal with an internal look at this which may in turn lead to an NCAA investigation and Rodriguez continues to deal with players who have issues with his coaching style.  Neither of which sounds like a particularly good thing, especially when you’re coming off of a 3-9 season.

Plus, if it turns out that NCAA guidelines were violated, it’ll be hard to characterize Rich Rod as anything other than a blatant liar (unless he’s got some serious plausible deniability built into whatever went on, in which case he’ll merely make himself and the school look foolish).

Bottom line – it’s hard to argue with this:

A final thought: Going into this year, I thought the people who claimed that Rich Rodriguez was already on the hotseat in just his second year at UM were crazy. Now, I am not so sure. He better win some games.

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UPDATE: More on that player friction concern here.

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Filed under Big Ten Football, The NCAA

Beano goes there.

If you check around the 13:40 mark on ESPNU’s College Football podcast from August 26, you’ll be treated to Beano Cook’s reasoning as to why Mark Richt will be on the hot seat after this season.

To his credit, Maisel knocks that down with one quick point, but still…

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football

Sattidy mornin’ buffet

Grab a plate, folks.

  • Tennessee could be starting as many as five true freshmen in its opener.  That’s a pretty good indication of what Kiffin thinks of the level of talent he inherited.  You might want to dial back the 9-3 projections a little, Vol fans.
  • I’m certainly not saying this kid is the one, but sooner or later Paul Johnson’s going to find his version of Pat White – someone who no other major school will seriously consider playing at quarterback, but turns out to be the perfect match for what Tech runs.
  • Smart Football’s Chris Brown now has a football column in that pinko liberal bastion of journalism, The New York Times.  It’s a step up – for the Times.
  • Another list that makes little sense to me.  (Frank Beamer ahead of Mack Brown?  Why, exactly?)
  • The new buzzword for the remaking of Tim Tebow, quarterback:  “enhanced”.  (I prefer the more old-fashioned description of “bullshit”, personally.)

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Tech Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting, The Blogosphere, The Glass is Half Fulmer, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

Herbie is not impressed.

Here I am thinking the Dawgs match up well in the season opener with Oklahoma State, and Kirk Herbstreit goes and spoils my vibe by telling us the only roadblock to a Cowboy win is what’s in their heads:

“My theory on Oklahoma State is that I think their offense is Top 10, but their defense is a mystery. You bring (new defensive coordinator) Bill Young, who is one of the great minds of our game, back to Oklahoma State, and I think that gives you a chance to improve. There is some leadership there — a lot of players back with experience. But for them to be this Top 10 team, especially in that conference with a lot of scoring, they’ve got to become better on that side of the football. If they want to beat Texas and they want to hang with Oklahoma and beat Oklahoma, they cannot just get into a scoring match. They’ve got to play good defense. … All this hype about Oklahoma State is justified, but it’s uncharted waters. And here comes Georgia in week one … and they come limping in and nobody is expecting anything. I think Oklahoma State has to be very careful in week one, just because of the psychological effect of being in an area that they’re just not quite used to. Oklahoma is used to it. Texas is used to it. Oklahoma State is not. They need to show some maturity, not listening to all that hype and just playing their game, and if they do that, they’ll be fine. But if they get caught up in it, Georgia will come in there and get them.”

“Limping in”?

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UPDATE: Mike Gundy’s not impressed with Herbstreit’s “limping” narrative.

Gundy on Georgia: “They lost a couple of first-round picks last year, but when we played down there last time [2007], they were talking about the difficulty in the running game and that they didn’t know who was going to carry the ball.  And that was the first run-in we had with Knowshon Moreno. So we’re not really buying that Georgia is doing this rebuilding.”

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There’s never a tight end around when you don’t need one.

All that talk about Florida playing more I-formation football sounds, well, a little sketchy when you consider that the Gators go into the season without a backup tight end.

The Gators are so thin at tight end, DE Justin Trattou has been taking first-team snaps in the goal-line package.

“As far as a backup tight end, it’s an issue,” Coach Urban Meyer said. “Huge concern.”

Junior Aaron Hernandez is one of the country’s best tight ends. After that it gets interesting.

Freshman Desmond Parks will likely red-shirt because Meyer says “he’s not ready to play.” Former walk-on Chris Coleman just received a scholarship, but he’s not an everyday player. Trattou, a 270-pound junior, would be used primarily for goal-line blocking.

If Hernandez got injured, Meyer said the Gators would operate without a tight end and use fullbacks for all the functions.

You know what Mel Kiper would suggest Meyer do.

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Random, partially formed, Georgia preview thoughts

With all due respect to the bloggers and the Web media out there who have been busy projecting and predicting what this season holds in store for us for a while now, as I’m a child of the printed media era, this is the weekend that’s always been preview time for me with regard to football, as it’s the traditional point that the papers laid things out for us.

I’ve been working towards my own preview of Georgia’s chances, but I’m having trouble putting together a coherent overview of what to expect in ’09.  So instead, this time around, I’ll explore a few themes that I’ve spent the most time pondering in the offseason leading up ’til now.  Maybe a larger truth will emerge from that, maybe not.

  1. The pessimism, boss, the pessimism. I get that Georgia shows up on most preseason lists as a mid-teens program this year.  It’s easy to see the departure of two first round draft picks and downgrade the team significantly.  And the Dawgs’ disappointing 2008 season (more on that in a second) doesn’t help, either.  But I also get the feeling that a certain amount of overreaction is in play here.  Here’s something that Year2 posted over at Team Speed Kills yesterday that resonates with me:  “This is one of the most misunderstood programs in the country since, despite going through perhaps its most prosperous era ever right now, a lot folks focus more on what it hasn’t done-win a national title or beat rival Florida on a regular basis.” One-fifth of all BCS-conference schools won at least ten games last year; as dysfunctional as Georgia looked at times doing it, that 10-3 record still put the school in the upper crust of D-1.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t things to fix, or that Stafford and Moreno weren’t high quality contributors, just that I’m not sure the cupboard isn’t a good bit better stocked than many pundits surmise.
  2. It’s the line play, stupid. I don’t know that I’m quite at the point of saying you can forget about everything else, but I’m pretty damned close to it.  This team will live and die on how well the offensive and defensive lines perform this year.  A solid offensive line will let Bobo use the playbook to his best advantage, which in this case means giving Cox the time to play an intermediate passing game and keeping some degree of double coverage off of Georgia’s one offensive superstar.  I don’t worry about the situation at defensive tackle, but without some upgraded play from the defensive end position, Martinez will be hearing a lot more of this.
  3. Georgia’s got a puncher’s chance to win the SEC. Look, I’m not insane, nor have I been drinking the Kool-Aid (yet, at least).  I know that Florida deserves to be a prohibitive favorite to play in the SECCG – it’s got the schedule, defensive depth worth drooling over and the best returning quarterback in the conference.  But once you get past the non-conference stuff, their schedules really aren’t too different.  The rest of the East is as weak as we’ve seen it in a while and Georgia, like Florida, only plays one of the powers from the West (Georgia’s the one that gets LSU at home, to boot).  Assuming that the Dawgs hold serve against the rest of their SEC opponents, even if they lose to LSU and Florida wins, they still go into Jax knowing that if they beat the Gators (yeah, yeah, I know), they’re in the driver’s seat on the road to Atlanta.  And don’t forget that this year, it’s Georgia with the open week before the Cocktail Party.
  4. It’s foolish not to give Mark Richt the benefit of the doubt. The man’s won at an 80% clip.  His team’s record in opponents’ stadiums is ridiculous.  His program recruits as well as any other in the country.  Seriously, how much do you want to downgrade him?  No, that doesn’t mean he’s perfect.  His misread what he had to do with his team last year and it cost him.  But every little thing I’ve seen out of Richt in this offseason reinforces my image of a head coach who identified the shortcomings – both in himself and in his program – and has taken them head on.  That’s no guarantee of success, of course, but given Richt’s track record, I’ll take my chances.

No one, including me, has any idea how this will translate onto the field.  For one thing, there’s that team disappearance thing that’s plagued these guys for several seasons now that’ll be the canary in the coal mine as to this year’s chances as far as I’m concerned.   If Richt’s truly got things fixed, that’s where we’ll see it, even if there’s a loss or two on the way.

I’ve seen the resolve and the focus show up in ways that you hope will pan out.  Things feel much more business-like; I don’t think you’ll hear any talk about black outs or endzone celebrations in 2009.  But you can’t account for the impact of injuries and you don’t know how the team will respond to that moment of crisis until it happens.

I’m not going to predict the results of individual games here.  From my not so lofty preseason vantage point, that stuff tends to wash out – a team wins one unexpectedly, and loses one it shouldn’t.  The concern I do have about the schedule is the cumulative effect of Georgia playing seven straight weeks against conference opponents and BCS-conference teams.  I don’t see how the Dawgs emerge from that run without a blemish or two on their record.

If they can get out of that stretch 6-1 or even 5-2, though, things actually set up well for the remainder of the season.  There’s the bye week leading into the Florida game to allow for recharging the batteries, followed by Tennessee Tech, the one true breather game of the year.  And after that, the team doesn’t leave the state.

Right now, I don’t think it adds up to any worse than a 9-3 regular season mark.  And with a little luck on the injury front (and surely they deserve that, at least), I think 10-2 is the likely result.

Now you can pass me that tasty beverage.

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