Daily Archives: May 28, 2013

New blog motto?

Man, I’m tempted to steal this.

I don’t know what kind of coach Butch Jones will turn out to be, but I will say that based on their tweets, I’d sure rather go out and have a drink or two with him than Bret Bielema.

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4 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

‘Hey, I’m an Alabama fan, but that game y’all played against us was the greatest game I’ve ever seen in my life.’

Make sure you read this great Ivan Maisel piece about how Georgia’s staff and players cope with last year’s SECCG heartbreaking ending.

You think Aaron Murray was dialed in on the game’s last play?  Put it this way – he didn’t learn how the ball wound up in Conley’s hands until he watched the tape the next day.

And Richt’s quote at the end will just tear at you.

“Sometimes,” Richt said, “the farther away I get from that type of thing, and the more time that I might have to reflect — my life slows down a little bit — yeah, we were just so close, so close to being able to play for a championship. Win an SEC, obviously, and play for a national championship, which we’ve not been able to do at Georgia since I’ve been here.”

The tone of his voice softened, and he dug out a small piece of the hurt.

“It was just, tough,” he said. “It was tough.”

9 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

What’s fair got to do with it?

I’m starting to get very tired of this.

LSU coach Les Miles doesn’t have a problem playing eight SEC opponents every season.

Miles also realizes the Tigers could play nine SEC games in the very near future.

Miles just doesn’t think it’s fair that LSU has to play Florida every season, while other teams in the SEC West don’t.

Cry me a river.  When did life in the SEC become fair?

I don’t mean that rhetorically, either.  This is the same conference that prohibited Mark Richt from running his no-huddle offense ten years ago simply because the officials and other coaches were too damned lazy to keep pace.

“Mark Richt would eat their lunch,” he said. “He would go straight to the ball and snap it. He’d get in 100 plays. We have about half the coaches who think we go too fast and about half who think we go too slow so we must be in about the right spot.”

Cut to 2013, when the SEC began experimenting with an 8-man officiating crew… to keep up with no-huddle offenses.

There’s been no rules change in the interim.  Just a change in what’s perceived as fair.

So if Les Miles is appointing himself SEC Director of Fairness, by all means let’s hear what else he’s got on his to-do list.  Otherwise, it’s time to quit whining and play the hand he’s dealt.  Listen to the new guy, dude.

“There’s never going to be a fair way,” said Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin, whose Aggies drew Missouri as a permanent crossover opponent. “If you look back seven or eight years ago, you would have said the SEC East was the strongest division. You can’t say what’s fair, because things change in this league…”

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Filed under SEC Football

The official start of the offseason

It’s violation of team rules time again!

There is a chance Georgia will without starting safety Josh Harvey Clemons when the Bulldogs open the season against Clemson on Aug. 31.

At least there was no sign of Mudcat’s car being involved.

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UPDATE:  JHC’s suspension for Clemson is official.

Georgia coach Mark Richt confirmed to the AJC that Harvey-Clemons would indeed be suspended for the nationally-televised opener when asked about it before the SEC Meetings in Destin on Tuesday. He declined further comment.

That’s probably wise, since I can’t imagine that anything else Richt might say about it would be suitable for a family publication.

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UPDATE #2:  Seth Emerson has some advice for Butts-Mehre.

By the way, if Georgia is going to keep its drug policy, and there’s no evidence it won’t, then it would probably be a good idea to stop scheduling Clemson and Boise State to start the season. Just a thought.

Word.

74 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

More Lesmentum

There’s something inherent in the argument that the SEC needs to ditch its permanent cross-division rivalry games that leaves me shaking my head.  It’s the presumption that some conference games will always be inferior.  Take this:

College athletics is nothing without its traditions. But there is such a thing as clinging to your traditions too hard.

What would anyone say about a conference that for the sake of keeping a couple of football rivalries going (really one) gerrymanders its divisions and sets up a scheduling plan that keeps schools from playing each other for years and forces competitive imbalances on most of its members? Any logical person would be hard-pressed to think that conference would be as successful and proactive as the SEC.

But that is exactly what the SEC has become. For the sake of Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia (but really just Alabama-Tennessee) the conference has forced permanent opponents down everyone else’s throats.

That’s the LSU beat writer parroting the company line.  It’s a violation of Marketing 101 – you never crap on your own product.  Besides that, if you’re really convinced of the inequity of the situation, how do you turn around and in the same breath crow to the selection committee about how tough your conference is to get that extra team in the playoff field?

And it’s not just the local guy drinking his AD’s Kool-Aid.  Here’s the usually sensible Bruce Feldman on the subject:

The issue to me is at what cost should the league go to try to preserve a few big rivalries? Keeping in mind, Bama’s arch-rival is Auburn, not the Vols, and where would the Tigers rank on the Bulldogs’ list of rivals? I know the latter two have played seemingly forever, but the game for UGA fans probably ranks behind the rivalry with Georgia Tech and the one with the Gators. And we know South Carolina’s arch-rival is Clemson, not Arkansas.

Oy.

Some of this argument is fueled by a misperception Miles has been happy to trumpet that these games have been lopsided series that have worked against LSU’s interests.

Les Miles made the case to CBS this week that the current SEC scheduling gives certain teams “unintended and unearned advantages” in the pursuit of a conference title. He said he would like to see the end of the permanent crossover rivalry game, allowing more rotation in the cross-division matchups.

How does facing Florida work out for the Tigers (and vice versa)? In the past 10 years, both teams have been ranked in the Top 25 nine times. Compare that to Arkansas-South Carolina (a combined one time both were ranked in 10 meetings); Bama-Tennessee (one time); Vandy-Ole Miss (zero) or Miss State-UK (zero).

In reality, things haven’t played out that way over the last ten years.  No SEC team has won more than seven games in one of these series.  And one of those series – Georgia/Auburn – has seen the Dawgs’ seven wins forge a tie in the overall win-loss record between the two schools.  I can’t think of a better example about how all of this is nothing more than the natural ebb and flow between rival schools in a tough football conference.  Too bad Miles can’t see that.

Then again, that’s not his agenda here.  This isn’t about fairness.  If it were, then Miles shouldn’t have a problem with the conference adding a ninth game to the schedule.  But he’s opposed to that out of concern that it would make LSU’s path to the postseason a more difficult one.  And, again, he’s a coach, so I understand why he’s taken the stance he has.  There’s a lot at stake for him with scheduling.  What’s everybody else’s excuse?

25 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

SEC football is fan-tastic.

It turns out the SEC has created something it calls the Working Group on Fan Experience and charged it with coming up with recommendations to keep us bringing our wallets on Saturdays.

The problem is they seem to be going about their business bass-ackwards.

“Every industry that depends on people showing up for your events has to worry about this one,” said Stricklin. “One of the biggest challenges we have to deal with is how good the product has become on TV. And we have to make the in-stadium experience as good or better than watching it at home on TV.”

If you’re making TV watching your benchmark, you’re already losing.  Look at some of the issues they’re exploring – wi-fi, replay, the secondary ticket market.  None of those are about enhancing the quality of the live product.  They’re just hole plugging, trying to keep up.  Now the last item Barnhart mentions, game quality, does help, but it doesn’t make it less easy to stay home (since you could see such games on the tube, anyway) and in any event, there are plenty of coaches and ADs who aren’t thrilled with the idea because it doesn’t suit their agendas.

But the conference is worried about this, to its credit.  Or at least it says it is.

The SEC is going to invest some real money into high-level market research to discover what fundamental changes have to occur that will allow the conference to at least hold on to the attendance it currently enjoys.

“What is the real attitude of our fan bases?” said Strickland. “We know about all these issues, but what are the real world solutions? Soft attendance is something we’ve been dealing with a few years. We have to get a handle on this now.”

If it helps, I’ll save you some money with a few suggestions.

  1. Tailgating.  Some places, like Ole Miss, get how big a deal this is.  Saturday in the Grove is an amazing experience, one that can’t be duplicated at home in your backyard.  But there are also places like Athens, where the administration seems to have been if not outright hostile to making the tailgate an enjoyable experience, at least indifferent to it.
  2. The in-stadium assault on the senses.  The constant commercialization inside Sanford Stadium grows ever more relentless.  Ads run constantly on crawls.  The scoreboard has its fair share of them, too, and you hear their blare on the PA system.  You can’t get away from them.  At least when I’m at home and the ads show up I can either mute the TV, hit the head or go grab a beer.  If the athletic department really needs the money that much, throw a couple more Jason Aldeen concerts to cover it.  And while we’re on the twin subjects of blare and music, is it really necessary to play as much inane pop music as loudly as possible as is done?  I could go to any number of professional venues for that.  (Which is one reason I don’t.)  In Athens, it seems particularly silly given the presence of a school band throughout the game, but what do I know?
  3. Traffic and parking.  When I first got season tickets back in the 80’s, getting into town and parking was a relatively easy and inexpensive experience.  Now it’s a bitch, and if you want to park anywhere within shouting distance of the stadium, it’ll cost you pretty good.  Some of that’s the result of on-campus improvements and some of that’s what you get when you expand stadium capacity, but if you’re going to take in the extra money all that generates, it seems the least you can do is spend a little of the extra jack to make traffic control both before and after the game efficient.

I keep saying it, but college football is a unique experience.  The SEC should be looking at ways to preserve and enhance that.  Do that, and we will come.  Trying to entice a student population that doesn’t seem particularly interested in showing up by giving it another venue to tweet and text doesn’t strike me as exactly what the doctor is ordering here.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this.

51 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

“What is in the long-term best interest of the Southeastern Conference?”

Mike Slive manages to distill everything I fear about postseason expansion into a few short sentences.

Slive: Georgia-Alabama was just a terrific game. And one of the things you hope when a team like Georgia plays a team like Alabama and loses close at the end is that the selection committee understands that they are looking at very comparable teams and that they both deserve to be playing for the national championship. And when Alabama goes out and wins (against Notre Dame) the way that they won, it just reinforces the concept. We’ll see how that plays out.

Look, I’m a Georgia fan.  That SECCG was a fantastic game and the Dawgs proved they belonged there.  But they lost.  Call me an idiot for believing so, but that loss should have consequences.  If all the game does is punch a ticket for both to compete for a national title, why play it at all?  (Yeah, I know.)

And of course, as they expand the playoff field even further it becomes ever easier to validate the inclusion of both division winners.  In other words, I think we know how this plays out, Commissioner.

11 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs