this just popped up on the radar screen:
UPDATE: Official announcement of “some administrative re-organization” of the football program coming later today, per Claude Felton.
While the overall point that Tony Barnhart makes in his utterly predictable post about the NCAA’s ruling in the Newton case – that the organization can only act upon what it can prove – is incontestable, there are a couple of whoppers in there that deserve to be challenged.
Like this one:
… But remember that a slippery slope can slide both ways. If the NCAA punished School A because a father solicted money from School B (and no money changed hands and school A didn’t even know the solicitation took place), now you have another slippery slope where the possibilities are endless. If I’m a recruiter at school B and lost a recruit to school A, when the head coach starts chewing on my butt I can just put it out there that the parent solicited money from me and get school A in trouble and take the heat off me…
Wait a minute. On that one narrow point, that Cecil Newton solicited benefits for himself from Mississippi State, this ain’t no “he said, she said” situation. Nobody, including the Newtons and Auburn University, is disputing that version of events. So Barnhart’s example of how the slope supposedly slides both ways here for the poor ol’ NCAA is total BS. In fact, in this very case, we have an actual example of how reality works. The NCAA chose only to believe half of Kenny Rogers’/the unnamed MSU recruiters’ stories about Cecil’s behavior. They chose not to act on the alleged statements attributed to the Newtons that the money was better at Auburn, presumably because no corroborating evidence could be found.
There is only one slope worth being concerned about sliding down here.
Second, as a Georgia fan who watched the school pay a price for Green’s jersey sale, this really pisses me off:
… We know that the mere solicitation is a violation of amateurism rules, which is why Auburn had to suspend Newton on Tuesday. An NCAA representative told me the knowledge, or the lack thereof, of the athlete is a “mitigating factor” in whether or not the athlete is eventually reinstated.
But can you punish a school that is not involved in that solicitation simply because the athlete chose that school? Do you at least have to have evidence that the school did something wrong?
So in both instances we’ve got violations of amateurism rules that the schools were unaware of when they occurred. Is Barnhart arguing that Georgia shouldn’t have been punished then, either? No, because earlier he notes the difference is that money actually changed hands in the case of Green. But if that’s the case, why should it matter if the school did something wrong?
The problem with his reasoning is that technically it’s not the school being punished. It’s the athlete’s amateur status that’s at risk. The school is an innocent victim if the NCAA decides to act. Is that fair? I’d argue that if all the high minded talk about preserving amateurism is meant to be taken seriously – and don’t forget that Auburn, last time I checked, is a proud member of the NCAA and benefits quite handsomely from the system that is supposedly being defended here – then, yes, it is fair. From the standpoint of consistency, it’s certainly more fair than saying a school’s ignorance of a violation matters in one situation and is irrelevant in another.
I wrote previously that once we get past the anger and disappointment of how the 2010 season played out, all we’re going to be left with is puzzlement.
So one thing that struck me as I was looking at the stats when I wrote the prior post about the defense was the change in Georgia’s net scoring from 2009 to 2010. Here’s my question to you guys: how does a team go from +3 per game in net scoring to +11.2 and see its record decline from 8-5 to 6-6 (with a bowl game to go)?
It’s a 6-6 year. It was supposed to be no worse than a 9-3 year. So, there’s plenty of blame to pass around. We’ve talked about the playcalling on offense in the wake of the Auburn and Tech games. Let’s take a look on the other side of the ball.
Matt Hinton offers an assessment of how things went with Georgia’s 2010 defense here. It’s hard to argue with any of his individual points: for all the talk about being more aggressive, there really wasn’t much of an increase in pressure to speak of; things did improve fairly dramatically on the turnover front; they got shredded by good running offenses; Ryan Mallett had a field day against Georgia’s secondary.
But I think he misses the big problem. This year’s defense was brutally inept on third downs. Check out this chart that Bulldog in Exile compiled:
Defensive Metric 2009 Total 2010 Total Difference ’09 SEC/Nat Rank ’10 SEC/Nat Rank Scoring 25.9 ppg 23.1 ppg +2.8 ppg 10/63 7/49 Rushing 126.15 ypg 150.25 ypg -24.1 ypg 3/36 7/59 Passing 213.2 ypg 185.8 ypg +27.4 ypg 9/51 6/19 Total 339.4 ypg 335.8 ypg +3.6 ypg 7/38 4/30 Sacks/game 2.31 2.0 - .31 3/36 7/56 TFL/game 6.89 6.25 -.64 2/22 9t/47 Int/game .77 (1TD) 1.17 (3TD) +.4 10t/83t 5/33t Fumbles Recovered 2 10 +8 12/120 6t/40 3rd down conv 37.7 % 42.59% -4.89 % 9t/45 12/87 Redzone Conv/TD % 82.93%/
In the red zone, these guys couldn’t get off the field to save their lives. They weren’t dramatically better anywhere else on the field, either. So, yeah, there’s a big problem there, Houston. The issue that Mark Richt has to analyze in the offseason is where the blame falls for that. Some of it lies in personnel, the defensive line in particular, and it’s clear from some of his recent comments that Richt is pushing hard to address that in this year’s recruiting class, most likely with an infusion of JUCO talent. But it’s certainly a fair question to ask whether the coaching has been all it could be. With the exception of Belin, that’s hard to say.
Back to Matt’s piece, I have to say that I disagree somewhat with his conclusion: “At best, 2010 was a sideways step from the season that got Martinez fired…” That ignores one big positive development, the end of the trend in defensive scoring under Martinez. Lest we forget, here ’tis:
With due respect to Matt, that’s what got Martinez fired, not just last season in isolation. And Grantham has reversed that trend, despite this being a season in which overall scoring is up, he’s installed a new scheme with the resulting learning curve issues and he has areas where the personnel aren’t a good match for what he and the position coaches like to do. So I can’t sit here and say beyond a doubt that he’s a failure. But so far, it hasn’t been the home run hire we hoped for, either.
Money quote from Clay Travis’ interview with the SEC Commissioner:
“This was a case of first impression,” Slive said. (A case of first impression has no existing precedent). “The SEC had to determine whether it violated SEC bylaws for an individual’s family member to solicit funds from an institution that is different from the one he attended. Ultimately,” Slive said, “I had to determine what the appropriate league response was after balancing all of these factors and after considering all of that I did not believe that he had violated our bylaws.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the commissioner of arguably the most powerful college football conference in America putting his seal of approval on a father shopping his son to the highest bidder.
That is bloody sad.