Daily Archives: May 24, 2013

There’s no delusion like offseason delusion.

In the summer of 2002, if you visited the fever swamps of the Gamecock message boards, you would have learned that South Carolina was getting ready to deploy that season’s Heisman Trophy winner, a former baseball player named Corey Jenkins.

Jenkins didn’t win the Heisman.  In fact, if memory serves, he didn’t even make it through the season as the starter.  He did have one memorable moment, though not one that ‘Cock fans particularly cherish.

I only bring this up because it looks like we may have a new sheriff in town, boys.

Auburn fans are so cute this time of year.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

This is how prejudice starts, y’all.

If Finebaum is perceived as somehow representative of us denizens of the South, does that mean the rest of the country is going to start wondering why we tongue bathe Nick Saban so much?

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Filed under PAWWWLLL!!!

Feel the Lesmentum!

Well, looky here – Kevin Scarbinsky and Andy Staples follow in Matt Hayes’ footsteps and come out in favor of Les Miles’ campaign to end the SEC’s permanent cross-division rivalries.  It’s a veritable media groundswell.  It’s kind of funny watching the same institution that’s routinely mocked Miles for some of his less than brilliant game management at times find wisdom in the man’s judgment now.  (If Chris Huston is the next to chime in favorably, I quit.)

The funny thing about all this is that Miles has said embarrassing stuff about scheduling for years.  But now he’s being taken seriously.  I don’t get it.

Scarbinsky’s piece is easy to dismiss.  It’s more of a giant “boy, do Auburn and Tennessee really suck these days” wankfest than anything else.  Staples takes a more thoughtful approach, although in the end, it doesn’t get him to a different destination.

The SEC has tossed tradition before, and sometimes with happy consequences. Florida and Tennessee played quite irregularly before the divisional split. From 1992-2006, theirs was the league’s most exciting rivalry. South Carolina and Georgia, who played some fun games when South Carolina was an independent, have become excellent border-state rivals. Besides, the Iron Bowl, the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party and the Egg Bowl remain untouchable thanks to divisional alignments. So the league can still cling to some traditions while also ushering in a bright — and lucrative — future with a scheduling philosophy that gives teams a more even road to the SEC and national titles.

If you’re Mike Slive, “bright” and “lucrative” are redundant terms.

I know Andy’s a Florida guy so ignoring pre-1990 SEC history is wired into his DNA, but that Florida-Tennessee reference is too brief.  In the old days before divisions, conference teams never played round robin schedules, so yes, some matchups were infrequent.  But others were forged over a long period to become part and parcel of the SEC’s identity.  And even though the ’92 expansion was a money grab at its heart, Roy Kramer was smart enough to know that it was important to preserve the legacy of games like Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia because they helped define the conference even as it changed.

Behind Miles’ complaint is a pernicious attitude that winning the SEC should be viewed as little more than a means to an end and that the only goal of scheduling should be as a useful tool to help the powerhouse schools find their way into the national postseason picture.  Now he’s a coach, so I get where he’s coming from.  But as a fan and as someone who appreciates the history behind the Oldest Rivalry in the South, that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

And Staples is kidding himself with his “cling to some traditions” silver lining.  Because if there’s one thing we know, it’s that we all know what the SEC will do with its scheduling in the end – carefully weigh all of its options and choose the one that makes the most money, history be damned.  As I’ve said before, that’s the only tradition the SEC believes in these days.

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UPDATE:  Barnhart reiterates why we can’t have nice things.

I can tell you that the last time this issue was seriously discussed in Destin it was very contentious. Missouri and Texas A&M were coming into the conference and one side felt strongly that at 14 teams, the SEC couldn’t afford to hold on to the old scheduling model for the sake of those two traditional rivalries. The old model survived but there was an understanding that the issue would be revisited.

He says LSU doesn’t have the votes for change.  That may be, but this issue isn’t going away.  And you can thank the lack of thought that went into the last round of conference expansion for that.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

High Plains Grifter

What can you say about a guy who managed to parlay the greatest loss in college football history into a deal that’s still paying him more money from Notre Dame than Brian Kelly received from the school after taking the team to the national title game?

Well, all I can say is that’s it’s a long way down from touting yourself as Mr. Decided Schematic Advantage to picking up flotsam and jetsam from the MAC.

Sadly, however things play out at Kansas, there’s likely another sucker waiting to take a shot with Weis.

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Filed under Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat...

A contingent contingency

You gotta love the semantics of recruiting.  An offer by a school isn’t binding.  A verbal commitment by a kid isn’t binding.  So I’m not exactly sure what is gained by this wrinkle:

Alabama’s scholarship offers at some positions, most notably quarterback, are non-committable and pending an evaluation at summer camp, reported al.com’s Mike Herndon. Alabama has non-committable “offers” out to two Georgia high school quarterbacks, Gainesville’s Deshaun Watson (committed to Clemson) and Pierce County’s Tyler Harris.

“It is our philosophy at certain positions that we really like to learn a lot about players and one of the best ways to learn about a player is when they come and visit you, because you’re limited in terms of the contact you can have with them off-campus,” Saban told the website.

So a high schooler gets an “offer”, but it’s an offer he can’t accept when it’s made.  That’s not an offer; it’s an invitation to come visit.

It’s common for colleges make non-committable scholarship “offers” to rising seniors that are pending an evaluation at summer camp – especially at the quarterback position. It’s just rare for a college coach, especially Saban, to publicly admit it because then it may cause confusion for other kids at other positions offered by the same college on whether or not they have a “true” or committable offer.

Jeez, ‘ya think?

But let’s not forget the real problem with recruiting is high school seniors who can’t make up their minds.

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UPDATE:  John Infante adds some pertinent thoughts.

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Filed under Recruiting

The buddy system

As deferential as Tony Barnhart can be on many issues, he’s always been credibly consistent with his criticism of the flaws in the Coaches Poll.  (If you’re a longtime reader here, no doubt you’ll remember an old Barnhart column on the subject served as the inspiration for the Mumme Poll.)

So it’s no surprise that he bats down David Cutcliffe’s suggestion that the coaches continue to have a say in the composition of the postseason field.  Nor is it a surprise that he mines the last Coaches Poll for another blatant example of a conflict of interest.

Remember that at the end of last season Northern Illinois (12-1), the MAC champ, needed to finish No. 16 or better in the final BCS Standings to earn an at-large spot, probably in the Orange Bowl. If Northern Illinois finished No. 17, then it was all but certain that No. 11 Oklahoma (10-2) would get that Orange Bowl bid as an at-large team. So every single vote counted.

An analysis of the final vote in the Coaches poll (the only one that is made public) by Steve Berkowitz of USA Today, revealed that four Big 12 coaches (Oklahoma is a member of the Big 12), including Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, either voted the Sooners No. 6 or Northern Illinois No. 24. Stoops did both.

Maybe I need to rename the MP.

Of course Barnhart can’t resist pulling a punch or two.  After reciting the usual trinity of why the Coaches Poll as it’s now configured is problematic – bias, conflicts of interest and lack of time to research the field thoroughly – plus a bonus pot shot at Junior, he thinks there should still be a place in the room for Big Game Bob’s, um, perspective.

The coaches will continue to do their poll. I like the idea of not releasing the first poll until mid-October. But that poll, and no other human polls, will be in the room with the selection committee.

I’ve already suggested putting Grant Teaff, the executive director of the AFCA, on the selection committee to represent the coaches. Teaff would get input from his coaches and meet with his board of directors before the selection process and then serve as their voice in the room.

I’m not really sure what that accomplishes.  If there’s a poll, warts and all, the committee would be able to see it without the need for Teaff’s presence.  All that’s likely to occur with him being in the room is that the coaches lobby Teaff and Teaff in turn lobbies the committee.  Is there any reason to think that, behind closed doors, he would serve as an effective filter of the bias and conflicts that corrupt the poll?  Given that Teaff has long fought making the Coaches Poll more transparent, I’m skeptical.

If the coaches want to make a credible pitch to be included in the discussion, they need to clean their poll up first.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles, Mumme Poll