Daily Archives: November 30, 2012

Today, in obvious answers to dumb questions…

Reporter, please.

But Richt was asked Friday why Georgia and Alabama should right now be considered the two top one-loss teams, with the winner moving on.

“Because that’s where the BCS voted us,” Richt said, laughing.

What did you expect – an admission that his team didn’t belong there?

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

The SEC has an ungrateful viewership problem.

Boy, this news oughta strengthen Mike Slive’s hand in the TV contract negotiations tremendously.

CBS viewership for SEC regular-season football games declined 15 percent in 2012, averaging a 3.4 rating that was the lowest since 2008.

It’s the second straight year viewership has declined.

Jon Solomon seems to indicate there’s a matchup problem.

One reason why ratings are down: Blowouts. Dating back to the end of 2010, 17 of the past 30 SEC on CBS games have been decided by at least 21 points. During one stretch that extended into this season, 13 out of 18 games were convincing victories.

The SEC’s average margin of victory on CBS this season is 19.8 points. CBS had the first pick of SEC games except for two weeks when ESPN selected first as the result of a trade from 2011.

There was a significant divide among the quality of SEC teams this season. The top 6 SEC teams — Alabama, Georgia, Florida, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M — had a 30-0 record against the bottom eight teams.

The top six SEC teams accounted for 68 percent of the league’s regular-season appearances on CBS. Yet only 5 of CBS’ 14 SEC games paired two top-6 teams against each other. Those games were decided by an average of 11.6 points.

You know why there’s a matchup problem?  Because the fourteen-team conference insists on sticking with an eight-game schedule.  If there are an equal number of quality teams in each division, you can’t get enough attractive games put together when the cross-division schedule is so unbalanced.

Facts are stubborn things.  It’s either that, or we fans should just suck it up and watch, if we know what’s good for us.

34 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

SECCG thoughts, Round 3

Looking for a key to the game?  Skipping past the obvious – if Georgia’s in negative territory in turnover margin, it’s hard to see how it wins and if the Dawgs are +3, it’s hard to see how they lose – and after careful consideration, I’m not going to point to a personnel grouping, but to a formation.

I think this game is going to come down to how much success Georgia has out of its one-back, three-WR sets.  I base that on several factors.  First, and this is a purely subjective observation on my part, I think the offense has been more productive out of that formation than it has been out of the I.  Some of that is due to the flexibility Bobo has with deploying Murray from behind center, in the pistol or in straight shotgun.  Some of that is due to giving the backs more room to run with the defense not crowding the box (think Tech).

Second, and, again, subjectively speaking, Murray seems more comfortable with formations that give him more receiving options, especially since the Florida game.  He’s been better since with his check down options and that’s reflected in his passing numbers.

Third, it’s tactically advantageous for Bobo, as this post of Groo’s, ironically about ‘Bama wanting to do much the same thing, indicates.  If anything, Georgia, which has greater depth at wide receiver and two legitimate options at tight end, can spin more variations out of those sets than the Tide can.  The hope is that will cause more pressure to be put on Alabama’s defense – especially when mixed with the no-huddle – than it can handle, at least on a consistent basis.

That all sounds great, but there’s a catch.  And it’s a pretty big one:  Georgia loses a blocker in the backfield.  I’m not so sure how much that matters in the running game, because Alabama in its base defense is extremely formidable in shutting down the run, fullback or no fullback, but I fear it could be huge in pass protection.  If you’ll recall, Ole Miss pulled Georgia out of its three-wide sets by blitzing on almost every down in the first half of that game and sacking Murray repeatedly.  And Clowney made Georgia wish it had gone max-protect from the get go in Columbia.

The good news is that Alabama doesn’t blitz that much and that its line isn’t as physically freakish as South Carolina’s is.  But if the Tide’s secondary and linebacking corps are able to control Georgia’s receivers and/or confuse Murray, Saban’s defense will get to him just the same.  And that will likely force Bobo into pulling back to protect Murray more.  Unfortunately, I fear that’ll be the ball game.

Anyway, that’s what I’ll be watching in the Dome.  What’s your take on what’s key on Saturday?

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Filed under Georgia Football

They’d no longer like to congradulate one Gata.

I tell you what, watching the retake on Urban Meyer’s term in Gainesville is starting to remind me of how history used to get rewritten in the old Soviet Union after one of its leaders was deposed.

Urban Meyer was certainly not a bust, winning twice as many national titles as Spurrier, but the end of his era at Florida was messy. “Toward the end of Coach Meyer’s time here, a lot of guys were out for themselves – not buying into the team concept,” explains defensive lineman Omar Hunter. “He was out for himself, so they thought the same thing.

“A lot of things were sliding,” he continues, explaining how their coach’s sudden departure, return and re-departure impacted the team. “Guys were showing up late to practice and workouts. Guys were supposed to be back on Sunday and didn’t get back until Monday. There was no discipline.”

I do look forward to the inevitable bowl game matchup between Ohio State and Florida.  Assuming Corch sticks around long enough for that to happen…

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Urban Meyer Points and Stares

But it feels so good when it happens.

From the Department of Be Careful What You Wish For:

Over the past decade, about 1 in 10 universities at the major college level replaced their head football coaches annually for performance-related reasons. But a recent study suggests that replacements do not tend to make underperforming teams much better in subsequent seasons and frequently make them worse.

Anecdotal evidence and scientific analysis indicate that replacing a coach is no guarantee of success. Houston finished 5-7 this season after changing its coordinator. Wisconsin is a middling 7-5 after firing its line coach. The Badgers reached the Big Ten Conference title game only because N.C.A.A. penalties left Ohio State and Penn State ineligible.

A study published last month in Social Science Quarterly may provide sobering news to Auburn, Tennessee and other universities that have fired their coaches. Using data from 1997 to 2010, the study compared the performance of major college teams that replaced their coach with teams with similar records that kept their coach.

The results, tracked over a five-year period following the coaching changes, might surprise many. The lowliest teams subsequently performed about the same as other struggling teams that did not replace their coach. Mediocre teams — those that won about half their games in the year before a coaching change — performed worse than similar teams that did not replace their coach.

The reasons for this are not clearly understood, but may stem from an adjustment period required by a coach at a new university, the time players need to learn a new system and disruptions made to recruiting networks, said E. Scott Adler, an associate professor of political science at the University of Colorado and the lead author of the study.

Color me shocked that in the real world it’s far less easy to replace a head coach successfully than anybody with an attitude, a pseudonym and a keyboard insists it is.

Statistically speaking, Adler said: “There’s not much to be said for every few years dumping a coach who’s had a couple bad seasons. In the long run, you are about in the same situation down the road if you had done nothing and ridden out the storm.”

Yes, but Nick Saban!  (Who, it should be remembered, was Alabama’s second choice, after RichRod.  I’m sure things would have worked out exactly the same way if he’d have taken the ‘Bama job.)

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Filed under College Football

Friday morning buffet

A little heavy on the SECCG servings, but I doubt you’ll mind.

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, Nick Saban Rules, Political Wankery, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Hello, Inman.

Hey, how come nobody told me Dan Inman is working as a graduate assistant under Will Friend this season?

If his approach is anything other than “do as I say, not as I did”, he’s wasting his talents.  The man’s not a Lexicon entry for nothing.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Okay, so how did those preseason SEC predictions work out anyway?

With the regular season concluded, title game excepted, it’s time to go back and see how badly I whiffed on my preseason assessments of the SEC programs.  (Schools listed in the same order as they were in the preseason post, with this year’s regular season won-loss totals.)

SEC WEST

LSU (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  Les Miles broke through the two-loss barrier last year.  He looks good for a repeat of that.  Mathieu’s departure will hurt, but not as much as the pundit class would have you believe.  And Mettenberger won’t matter unless he’s a turnover machine.
  • How I did:  It turns out that with regard to Les Miles’ coaching skills, 2011 was an outlier.  This season saw the return of ol’ Two-Loss.  I think the rest of what I had there was pretty accurate.
  • Grade:  B

ALABAMA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  Neck and neck with LSU.
  • How I did:  I said one loss, and one loss it was.  That being said, this was the easiest prediction to make for any team in the conference.
  • Grade:  A-

ARKANSAS (4-8, 2-6)

  • What I said:  I’m bearish.  Petrino meant more to this team than many admit and is almost impossible to replace as a playcaller.  There’s no way this defense is as good as Alabama’s or LSU’s.  The schedule says the Hogs are a lock to win at least eight; the question is whether the ceiling is nine wins or ten.
  • How I did:  That Arkansas schedule is laughing its ass off at me right now.  My only consolations are that I did point in the right direction and that’s more than a lot of pundits can claim.
  • Grade:  C-

AUBURN (3-9, 0-8)

  • What I said:  Chizik did a decent job last year, all things considered.  But with new coordinators on both sides of the ball, a new quarterback, a power offense that has to find a replacement for its best power running back and a schedule with five of the preseason’s top fourteen teams in the country on it, getting back to eight wins will be a challenge.
  • How I did:  Well, yeah.  But I never thought Auburn would get skunked in the conference.
  • Grade:  C+

MISSISSIPPI STATE (8-4, 4-4)

  • What I said:  MSU should do no worse than come out of the gate 6-1.  Then comes a brutal four-game stretch when the Bulldogs are probably looking at going 1-3, and then a finish against Ole Miss.
  • How I did:  Basically, these guys finished about where I expected.  They just took a slightly different route than I anticipated.
  • Grade:  B+

MISSISSIPPI (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I said:  If Ole Miss doesn’t win a game before September’s out, it likely won’t win a game all year.
  • How I did:  Wrong, bacon breath.
  • Grade:  F

TEXAS A & M (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  Too many new variables for TAMU to challenge the top teams in the SEC West.  If everything clicks, eight wins is doable.  If not, no bowl game for the Aggies.
  • How I did:  “If everything clicks”?  Johnny Football does not think that phrase means what I think it means.
  • Grade:  D+

SEC EAST

GEORGIA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  If the Dawgs beat Missouri, you can make a reasonable case for an eleven-win season and a return trip to Atlanta.
  • How I did:  Yep.
  • Grade:  A

SOUTH CAROLINA (10-2, 6-2)

  • What I said:  I have a feeling the ‘Cocks get by Arkansas this year, so the season could come down to how they fare against LSU.  Ten wins look likely.
  • How I did:  Much to Steve Spurrier’s chagrin, this proved accurate.
  • Grade:  A

FLORIDA (11-1, 7-1)

  • What I said:  Overall, the trend lines are positive, but it’s hard to get excited about the Gator offense.  Eight or nine wins look about right.
  • How I did:  Behold the power of turnover margin!  Look for regression to the mean to make a triumphant return in next year’s predictions.
  • Grade:  B-

VANDERBILT (8-4, 5-3)

  • What I said:  You’ve probably heard by now that Vanderbilt has never played in bowl games in two successive seasons.  Can the Commodores do it this year?  It’s going to be a close call.  They won’t sneak up on anybody, but they get a few favors from the schedule (no Alabama, Arkansas or LSU from the West, for example).  And they’re experienced.  Depth is the thing to watch.  A couple of key injuries and Vandy’s season could unravel.
  • How I did:  Basically, the Commodores didn’t slide and several of their conference mates did.  Well played, James Franklin.
  • Grade:  C-

KENTUCKY (2-10, 0-8)

  • What I said:  Remember that Seinfeld episode when Elaine is horrified by the realization that she’s turned into George?  Well, Kentucky has turned into Vanderbilt.  It’s hard to see where the ‘Cats get a conference win, or beat Louisville.  Three wins, tops.
  • How I did:  This was the second easiest preseason prediction to make.
  • Grade:  A-

TENNESSEE (5-7, 1-7)

  • What I said:  The schedule alone should make Tennessee bowl eligible.  I can see the Vols winning as many as eight, assuming no more implosions are on the horizon.  You have to wonder how smooth the change to a 3-4 scheme on defense will be, though.
  • How I did:  I should have trusted that first comment less and that last one more.  SOD should have, too.
  • Grade:  D+

MISSOURI (5-7, 2-6)

  • What I said: I want to say eight wins again for the Tigers, but two things hold me back.  One is depth. Missouri has issues keeping key personnel healthy.  The other is the schedule.  There’s only one FCS school and one mid-major on the OOC slate.  And with three preseason top ten teams there, the margin for error isn’t that great.
  • How I did:  Injuries hurt the Tigers more than I expected.  The schedule proved tough, but they shouldn’t have blown a lead at home to Syracuse.
  • Grade:  C

I don’t think I graded myself on a curve, but let me know what you think.

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Filed under SEC Football