Daily Archives: November 18, 2010

Georgia, recruiting, player development, chicken, egg: which comes first?

Seth Emerson’s got a good article up today tracing a link between Georgia’s dwindling fortunes on the won-loss front and the falloff in the number of Dawgs taken in the NFL draft.

… During head coach Mark Richt’s first five years, the Bulldogs were 52-13, won two SEC titles and won three East Division titles.

The past five years, the Bulldogs are 42-20.

From 2002-06, the draft years that followed Rich’s first five seasons, the Bulldogs had 32 total players drafted and 15 in the top three rounds.

In the past four drafts, the Bulldogs have seen 19 players drafted and only seven in the top three rounds…

That’s just a description of the symptom, not the disease, though.  Those numbers don’t tell us whether the program is slipping in its ability to recruit talent, or in its ability to develop that talent once it arrives on campus.  (Stewart Mandel notes that it’s not an illness confined to Athens, either.)

Over at his blog, Emerson takes the time to flesh things out a bit more, with class by class breakdowns of the top-rated recruits.  His conclusion – “Somewhere over the past five years, it seems there’s been a gap between recruiting and production once in college” – is logical if you assume that the recruiting services do a competent job analyzing talent.  Talent isn’t everything, though.  Are the players coachable?  And will they develop physically in a suitable manner?

Yes, overall, it still comes back to the coaches.  They’re the ones who identify their needs and they’re the ones responsible for turning high schoolers into functioning collegiate athletes.  But it’s critical for Mark Richt (and Greg McGarity) to reach a determination about how much of each side of that coin has contributed to the slippage.  Things won’t get better unless you’re fixing the right problems.

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64 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

More evidence that football in this state has changed forever.

Here’s something I never thought I’d see:

Hmmph.  Maybe the Tech faithful are buying into Paul Johnson’s assertion that the game’s not that big a deal.  It’s not like there’s a scheduling conflict.

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football

For the Auburn fan: rationalization can be your friend.

Seriously, how can you not be a little sympathetic about the plight of Auburn fans?  They’re sitting on the brink of a dream season, an unexpected dream season, yet their excitement over that has been marred over the past three weeks by national attention to a recruiting scandal involving the team’s best player which (at least based on what’s been alleged to date) doesn’t directly involve the school.

What’s a mother to do?  Well, if nothing else, you can always try to spin away the angst.

You could blame the NCAA for being a bunch of petty, inconsistent bastards.

… As for the risk of extra sanctions here is where I’ll show some of my true colors and ultimately my disdain for the NCAA as a group. They wield absolute power and unlike an actual court of law – where there are maximum and minimum penalties – the NCAA sets standards but then gets to decide if they wish to adhere to them or not.

So technically the risk of playing Newton should be the same today as it was in September but because of the NCAA’s personal sensitivity, as we’ve seen in the Reggie Bush and Dez Bryant cases, they might get more than they deserve. That pettiness is what Auburn should worry about although this case is quite an interesting and unprecedented one, given the evidence we have.

I’ll use the standard Al Means example where the young man was ruled ineligible at Alabama because of the money changing hands with that particular institution. No evidence implicates Newton took money from Auburn, shady evidence points to Newton’s father soliciting Mississippi State for cash. If the Al Means example holds true Newton would be ineligible at Mississippi State but not at Auburn, just like Means was eligible at Memphis.

Aside from the emotional satisfaction of railing against the NCAA for its, um, flexible approach, that’s a defense which also has the virtue of accuracy.  Where I think Michael Felder’s argument falls short is that the game for Auburn changed when it was informed by the NCAA of the potential for Newton to be declared ineligible as a result of his father’s (alleged) actions.  From that point on, Auburn’s cast a bet that the Newton family will be completely vindicated.  If the school has guessed wrongly on that, it’s going to pay a price for ignoring the NCAA’s notice.  On that front, the organization won’t see any shades of gray.

If that fails, though, there’s one sure fire winner left for the beleaguered Tiger fan:  absolve your school because of the season of 2004.

… I’m sure Nebraska fans feel that way about their so-called national championship in 1994. And I’m sure USC fans couldn’t care less about Auburn’s claim to the 2004 title. We are selfish beings. As an Auburn fan, I cannot blame you if a part of you does not really care if Cam Newton took that money or didn’t take that money, or if a part of you hopes that Newton took that cash and got away with it. I cannot blame you if, say, this Auburn team wins the national championship, and six months later you find out that Newton’s entire family was offered $700,000, a live polar bear, and the services of a fleet of hyperintelligent robots, and you still consider this team a legitimate national champion. Because the system is based on completely unobjective truths. Because the system has screwed your school, just as it screwed my alma mater a decade earlier, just as it has been screwing athletes like Cam Newton for decades. Until it changes, why shouldn’t you screw the system in return? Amid this skewed landscape, your definition of legitimacy is as rational as anything else.

That season is the gift that keeps on giving, isn’t it?

75 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, The NCAA

Better days

Once again, Mark Richt makes the case that he waited one year too long to make changes to his defensive staff:

“We’ll definitely be better a year from now defensively because we won’t be brand new,” Richt said. “Our players will understand our coaches better, and our coaches will understand our players better. I’m sure Coach Grantham had some learning experiences just playing through the league one time and getting out of the pro game to the college game.

“I think all those things will come together for our improvement.”

I’ll buy that, but it sure would have been better to have paid that price last year.

In that spirit, Southside Johnny has today’s theme song.  Maybe they should substitute it for “Baba O’Riley” during the pre-game warmup.

“Better days are comin’… because you know and I know, they can’t get no worse.”

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UPDATE: More thoughts on the present and future defense from Gentry Estes.

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Really, it’s no big deal.

Between the Pac-10 and the SEC, it really is hard to say which conference does a worse job managing its officiating crews.  But at least in one area, the Pac-10 rules.

… Nothing is more disconcerting, however, than a Pac-10 policy that allows its officials to work games that feature their alma mater.

Conflict of interest, anyone?

The issue came to light during the Arizona-Oregon State game in October when several instant-replay reviews went against the Beavers.

Oregon State fans were livid to learn the replay official was Jim Fogltance, a former Pac-10 football crew chief who also is an Arizona graduate.

He apparently is a donor, too.

A check of the school’s website Wednesday showed someone named “James Fogltance” listed as a member of the Wildcat Club’s “Bear Down Circle,” which requires an athletic department donation of $500.

Even the SEC was quick to point out that it prohibits that.  Amazingly enough, the Pac-10 changed its policy to allow it two-plus decades ago.

3 Comments

Filed under Pac-12 Football

In for a penny, in for a pound

When it comes to expanded playoffs, I think I need to come up with a catchy expression and call it “Blutarsky’s Rule”.  In the meantime, here’s one of the more naked statements about expansion you’ll ever read:

“I think the more teams you have in it, the month of September will obviously be more meaningful,” said Toronto Blue Jays president Paul Beeston, Selig’s onetime No. 2. “The minuses — two of them obviously are the integrity of the schedule and the history of the game, where you know the best teams always moved forward. But we really crossed that bridge, didn’t we, when we went from two teams to four teams, and then four teams to eight teams? So that bridge has been crossed. I’ve changed. I could add more teams.”

They’ll try to tell you it’s for the fans“It’s all about postseason baseball. That’s what fans like,” Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers said. – but we all know whom it’s really meant to benefit.

… While Selig hasn’t ruled out proposing the change for 2011, nearly all baseball officials say the extra round of playoffs would likely start in 2012. If Selig decides to go ahead, owners would have to endorse the plan, baseball’s television partners would have to receive it positively and the players’ association would have to agree. Union head Michael Weiner says players are open to the idea.

If the fans say yes, but “baseball’s television partners” say otherwise, anybody think expansion is a go?

Putting it in a NSFW way…

5 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, It's Just Bidness

Are we having fun yet?

Bet Mike Slive was thrilled this question got asked:

2 Comments

Filed under SEC Football