Monthly Archives: February 2011

Slippery mother tongue

So tell me, what conclusion did you jump to when you read this header?

Newton has accuracy issues, explains himself at combine

Me, too.

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17 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

It’s so easy, oversigning edition.

Over at Oversigning.com, Joshua turns the conversation in a different direction:

… What we think we are seeing with the abuse of the medical hardship scholarship and the large number of players that are being pushed into it is that some coaches who run their college football programs like a professional NFL team are using the medical hardship scholarship as an injured reserve loophole.

This raises a lot of questions.  Let’s take Alabama and Nick Saban’s name off of this and just talk about the issue — this is not a hit piece on Alabama or Nick Saban and this topic can be discussed without focusing in on the particulars of the Alabama case in the WSJ.  Here are some general questions for discussion…

3. How do you feel about coaches trying to make college football more like the NFL?

4. At what point does college football become so much like the NFL that players have to start being paid?  It appears in some places they are already dealing with annual roster cuts, being placed on an IR list, and essentially drafted and placed in farm systems…all we need is a player’s union, free agency, and to have the players quit going to classes and we’ll have a mini NFL.

We ask these questions because we see the direction all of this is heading with the oversigning, roster cuts, medical hardships, pay-for-play, etc., and if you love college football like we do all of this is headed in the wrong direction.

If there’s one thing that really troubles me about what we’re seeing at some programs it’s this quasi-NFL approach to roster-making.  And regardless of where you stand on oversigning, it’s only a part of that trend.  Put a hard cap on signings (i.e., require the 85-man roster limit to be in effect in February instead of August) and all you wind up doing is moving up those coaches’ timetables for pruning student athletes from their teams.   You could address that by remaking scholarships into automatic four-year deals, but I doubt even Bernie Machen has the stomach to push that solution.

Further complicating things is that pesky question of motive.  I don’t know anyone who thinks it’s proper to screw kids over, especially when you consider that the recruiting process is the last time any of them will have some degree of leverage with the coaches and schools who seek their athletic services, but I suspect there are more than a few people who aren’t being honest about the real reason for the stand they take.  As Gamecock Man notes,

… It’s appropriate here to acknowledge that many of the critics of oversigning clearly have motives other than the well-being of kids like Mauldin. The aforementioned oversigning.com is written by a Big 10 homer who would presumably like to see his conference’s honor restored with some much-needed wins over SEC teams, while the commenter at GTP is a Georgia fan who’s likely not too keen on Spurrier and South Carolina’s recent success. A kid like Mauldin who is trying to strategically make the most of the opportunities available to him is caught in the middle. For the arguments produced by the two sides, he’s more a prop and a placeholder than anything else. That’s what’s probably most concerning to me about this situation, that in an argument between coaches trying to obtain a competitive advantage and self-righteous opposing fans wanting to take a moral high ground we’re actually failing to really address what concerns this kid…

That’s why I don’t expect big changes at the SEC spring meetings when the subject is broached (if we’re to believe Chris Low).  The SEC doesn’t do nuance well – just ask Rogers Redding – and I don’t see some sort of global change to signing being brought up without fierce resistance from a number of schools.  A lot of people on both sides of the debate care more about the competitive aspect of oversigning than they do its impact on recruits.  That makes progress hard, in my humble opinion.

If you think this is easier than I do, let me pose a hypothetical.  Suppose Mike Slive surprises me and pitches a sensible framework for one troublesome area, grayshirting.  Let’s say that what he comes up with requires a clear, standard disclosure of what the recruit is being offered, a disclosure which the athlete and his parents must acknowledge they fully understand before signing and a requirement that the school must hold a roster slot in the next class for any recruit who signs the acknowledgement (unless the kid later changes his mind and signs elsewhere, of course).  Implicit in that deal is that the SEC will continue to support the practice of grayshirting.

Here’s your tradeoff:  such a deal would certainly be better for recruits than what exists now, but it doesn’t address the competitive advantage issue which bothers so many critics of oversigning.  In fact, it locks it in.  Ask yourself how such an arrangement would suit you.  Let me know in the comments.

And keep in mind as you ponder that, this is just one small area of the debate.  As you saw, Joshua has a longer list, one that most of us could probably add to without too much effort.

96 Comments

Filed under College Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

If you’re wondering why Paul Hewitt still has a job…

Take a look at Kristi Dosh’s breakdown of ACC athletic finances.  It’s not a pretty picture, at least in comparison to the conference’s – and Georgia Tech’s – next door neighbor.

From a conference standpoint, Tech actually comes off favorably in terms of football revenues, ranking third in the ACC behind Virginia Tech and Clemson.  But the end result is grim.

Athletic Dept Profit
Univ. of Virginia $10,971,219.00
Virginia Tech $7,874,833.00
Univ. of Miami $5,247,495.00
North Carolina State $3,155,910.00
Clemson Univ. $1,442,057.00
Boston College $1,211,197.00
Wake Forest University $888,960.00
Duke Univ. $442,226.00
Univ. of North Carolina $238,644.00
Univ. of Maryland $223,424.00
Georgia Tech $138,659.00
Florida State Univ. $0.00

Hewitt shouldn’t rest easy, though. There’s a new component scheduled to kick in which isn’t reflected in those numbers.

One thing to note, however, is that revenue in the ACC should spike in 2011 under a new television contract with ESPN.  The ACC currently averages $66.9 million per year under a contract that ran through the 2010 season.  Under the new ESPN contract, the ACC will average $155 million…

That works out to about $7.34 million in new income for each team.  Hewitt’s buyout is reportedly in the neighborhood of $7 million.  You do the math.  (The interested parties on the Flats already have, I’m sure.)

In any event, Tech football is comfortably paying its way, with over a $9 million profit, per Dosh’s numbers.  That pales in comparison to the $52+ million profit Georgia’s football program racked up, but no doubt Mark Bradley can explain why that’s further proof of Paul Johnson’s prowess as a head coach.

19 Comments

Filed under ACC Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Just Bidness

The least surprising “where are they now?” news you’ll ever read.

From the recent annals of the Indoor Football League:

… Former Georgia Tech standout Reggie Ball went 13/31 for 72 yards and one touchdown while running for 24 yards for the Bricktown Brawlers.

Dog, you’re still missed.

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football

Athens, 2011, where even the drama is boring

Washaun Ealey isn’t going to Statesboro.  He isn’t transferring.  He isn’t being run off the team to make room for Isaiah Crowell.

He’s just doing what he’s supposed to do to be reinstated to all team activities.

This continues to be one of the least soap opera-ish offseasons in recent memory.  As a blogger, I could wish for more material, but as a fan of the program, I hope they can keep it going.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Sunday morning buffet

Not particularly lengthy, I’m afraid.

  • December 3rd has the makings of a monster day of college football.
  • Alabama’s new House Speaker roomed next door to Herschel Walker in college.  Then it all went downhill when he left for a job at Auburn.
  • Ironically, by going public when he did, Harvey Updyke may have given Auburn the chance to save the Toomer’s Corner oaks.
  • Matt Barkley, I could have told you that some people don’t like it when you mix sports with politics.
  • It’s too bad that Goldman Sachs doesn’t invest in one of the BCS games.  Then PlayoffPAC might be doing something beneficial for the public.

4 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, BCS/Playoffs, College Football, Political Wankery, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Change of approach

Another sign that it’s not Urban Meyer’s team anymore:

Florida is spending more on assistants than it is on first-year head coach Will Muschamp.

The Gators have committed $3.05 million to Muschamp’s nine-man coaching staff in 2011, according to contracts released Friday.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis signed a three-year deal worth $2.465 million. He will earn $765,000 in 2011, then $850,000 the next two years. Defensive coordinator Dan Quinn signed a two-year deal worth $1 million. He will get $490,000 in 2011, then $510,000 the following year…

Ol’ Charlie’s not making Malzahn money, but he’s doing alright there.  I believe that makes him the third highest paid assistant coach in the SEC.

Not only that, but it looks like almost all of Florida’s staff works under multi-year deals now (a trend that did start under Meyer).  I wonder if that’s something Greg McGarity will be forced to react to down the road.

35 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

Child’s play

If you’re looking for a succinct comment on motivating the college football player, it’ll be hard to top Kirk Olivadotti’s:

“ . . .  But at the same time people are people.  You’re going to have guys that are going to work their butts off; you’re going to have guys that you’re going to have to motivate, and you’re going to have guys that you have to always make it their idea in order for them to want to do it. Those are the different things that you do in life. I have to do it with my 3-year-old daughter.”

Remember, this is coming from a guy who survived six head coaching changes in Washington.  He must have some idea on how to read people.

11 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Tennessee State’s loss is Paul Johnson’s gain.

With this, I think we can bury the “Georgia Tech has trouble recruiting because of its higher academic standards” myth for good.

That’s not to say the Jackets don’t have trouble recruiting, of course.  It’s lucky for Tech that all the rooms at Nutt’s Inn were occupied.

20 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Tech Football

“We’ll see how it plays out down the road.”

If you wonder why I keep seeing shades of gray in the oversigning debate, meet Lorenzo Mauldin.  Chip Towers tells an involving story about Mauldin, a South Carolina recruit from Atlanta who’s overcome a rough life – he’s been a ward of the state most of his life and his mother has been incarcerated since he became a teen-ager – to be on the verge of going to college to play football.

South Carolina offered Mauldin last summer, he gave a verbal then and never wavered despite interest from other schools.  Except that he didn’t sign this month.  South Carolina ran into a numbers problem and pulled its offer.  And did so in a pretty classless way.

… But Mauldin didn’t end up signing with South Carolina as expected. He found out via a letter faxed to his school the day before national signing day that the Gamecocks would not have room for him in their Class of 2011. South Carolina signed 31 players on national signing day and added one more — Jadeveon Clowney, the nation’s No. 1 prospect — on Feb. 14th.  [Emphasis added.]

Terrible, right?

Well, yeah.  Except for one thing (there are a lot of “excepts” in Mauldin’s story):  as of National Signing Day, Mauldin hadn’t qualified academically.  Even Mauldin sounds conflicted about Spurrier’s call.

“I kind of feel like I’ve been shoved away,” Mauldin told me recently. “Then again, on the other hand, I realize that I wasn’t academically eligible and I understand that was on my part. And I can’t really use the times I’ve been through as an excuse for that. It’s all right.”

Except (see?) South Carolina signed other kids who to date haven’t qualified.  Which raises all sorts of questions about how Spurrier elected to pick and choose who got to sign and who didn’t, not to mention the awkward position the school finds itself in now as it waits to see what happens if all of these kids wind up qualifying by the summer.  It’s not a pretty picture.

And yet, with all that out there, Mauldin’s first choice – still – is to attend South Carolina.

“I’m pretty much set on South Carolina because of the fact that they will, if I don’t make the score that they need, they will put me into prep school for a semester and I will be there until early January,” said Mauldin, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end at Atlanta’s Maynard Jackson High School. “So I mean that’s pretty good. I’m used to making good decisions in life and to me that sounds like a pretty good decision.”

And that’s despite the fact that, as his high school coach makes abundantly clear, he’s got other viable options.

So what do you say here?  If a hard cap on signings were in place, it’s highly unlikely Mauldin would have a shot at his first choice.  Would that be better or worse for him?

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

UPDATE: Chris Low adds more details about Mauldin’s recruitment.

… Yes, the Gamecocks offered Mauldin a scholarship last July. And, yes, Mauldin accepted. But he was also told that there was a chance he might have to wait until January 2012 before enrolling on scholarship, which is more commonly referred to as grayshirting.

South Carolina coaches told him that possibility would only strengthen if he had not met NCAA entrance requirements prior to signing day.

Two weeks prior to signing day, South Carolina coaches reminded Mauldin that there might not be a scholarship available in this signing class.

If that’s how South Carolina handled things, I’m having a hard time seeing what’s wrong there.  Which leads to this point Low makes:

… The key is communication and being upfront with prospects and their families throughout the process and not springing a surprise on them at the last minute.

If a kid really wants to go to South Carolina or Alabama or LSU and is willing to wait it out and grayshirt, and that’s presented as a possibility all along, then maybe it’s not such an ugly practice after all.

What that suggests to me is that perhaps where Mike Slive ought to start the conversation in the June meetings is in setting meaningful disclosure standards which every coach in the conference has to comply with – and real penalties for those who don’t.

38 Comments

Filed under Recruiting