Daily Archives: April 2, 2014

Splitting the baby

Georgia’s basketball season pretty much played out as I anticipated in this post.

If you’re Greg McGarity, you pretty much know what you’ve got with Fox’ five years in Athens.  The only question left to answer is whether this season represents a floor from which Fox will inspire recruits to come to his program and lead Georgia basketball to bigger and better things, or a ceiling that shows the limit on how much Fox can wring out of the talent he’s able to coax to come play for him. That’s a conclusion you should have already reached by now.  We shouldn’t be reading tweets like the above and nodding our heads in agreement.

There are three possibilities about Fox’ fate.  One, McGarity is waiting to deal with an extension until after the season is over.  (That begs the question why, but roll with me here.)  Two, maybe Fox is gone, but McGarity doesn’t want that news to affect the rest of this season.  And three, McGarity is reluctant to make a decision, and is waiting to see if a decision can be forced upon him by a turn of events, like, say, Georgia shocking the world by winning the SEC Tournament and landing as a high seed in the NCAAs, or the opposite in a two-game flame-out in the SEC and NIT.

I have no idea which is the case.  If it’s the third scenario, what he’s likely to get is something in between, and what he’s likely to do as a result of that is uncertain.

He got something in between and has decided to give Fox a two-year extension.

Again, this is a football blog and my focus isn’t on what Fox deserves.  It’s on McGarity’s decision-making process, since he’s the guy the football coach – or any successor – answers to.  My thoughts on this are still muddled.  The extension smacks of somebody calibrating Fox’ fate based more on what happened in that brief four-game postseason period than on his entire body of work at Georgia.  If I’m wrong about that, and the extension was in the cards all along, it’s hard to understand why McGarity had to keep news about an extension to himself until now.  The surer Fox’ future in Athens is, the better you would think it has to be for him in recruiting.

I don’t want to make too much over this, but as I wrote before, Butts-Mehre doesn’t have the greatest track record in this area.  This call, like many others, strikes me as reactive and not definitive.  Just something to file in the back of your head the next time you think it’s time for a change.

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UPDATE:  If you’re interested in his thinking about the extension, here’s Chip Towers’ Q&A with McGarity.  The essence of the man:

If next season is similar to this one, are we back here having this discussion?

“I’m not going to comment on any could-have, should-haves. You know my stance on that. Time will tell.”

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Filed under Georgia Football

Much ado about nothing

Once again, here’s a post that shows, contrary to the insistence of many who love to believe otherwise, that penalties committed have little to do with a team’s wins and losses.

34 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Mark Richt has lost control over random ESPN lists.

You gotta love it – here’s a list of the fourteen SEC programs, ranked in order of having “the most to accomplish this spring”.  Georgia’s smack dab in the middle, with this description:

Georgia: Jeremy Pruitt should breathe some new life into a struggling Georgia defense. Having Hutson Mason to replace Aaron Murray helps as well. But off-the-field problems continue to plague Mark Richt’s program. With stars such as Todd Gurley, the players are there. The pieces just need to come together. [Emphasis added.]

Guess how many other programs he cites as having off-the-field problems.  You don’t really need to guess, do you?

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, ESPN Is The Devil, Georgia Football, SEC Football

Jeremy Pruitt, speaking truth to power

This is pretty amusing:

New Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt was unhappy with the play calling. He had just finished watching his father’s team at Plainville (Ala.) High lose a game in which it unsuccessfully ran the same deep pass play a half dozen or so times.

So when his father and staff met after the game to discuss what they could have done differently, Pruitt sarcastically spoke up. “If you ran that play one more time,” Pruitt said, “it might have had a chance.”

That’s hardly what the elder Pruitt wanted to hear from his then-fourth-grade son, who he proceeded to spank with a belt in front of his coaching staff.

“I guess I’ve always had a passion for football,” Pruitt said with a laugh.

There’s no truth to the rumor that Paul Johnson runs his coaches meetings the same way.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Steve Patterson, poster boy for what’s wrong

You know, there are plenty of candidates for biggest jerk in college athletics.  We’ve discussed our share of them here, that’s for sure.  But I’m keeping my eye on Texas’ athletic director these days.  Patterson’s always had plenty of potential, but he’s really stepped up his game lately.  I mean, how else do you explain somebody who thinks scheduling a game in Dubai is more important than the rivalry with Texas A&M?

What’s really special about that is Patterson’s not dissing TAMU merely out of a sense of arrogant petulance like DeLoss Dodds did.  Naw, it’s just good bidness.

“There’s a lot of great tradition with Texas A&M. At some point in time, does it make some business sense, some branding sense to play again? I don’t know,” Patterson said. “It’s not at the top of my list. I’m really more focused on how we grow the footprint of the department.”

… Patterson reportedly has expressed interest in playing a nonconference football game in Mexico City. Another possibility Patterson acknowledged Tuesday could be a future sporting event in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

“We have a lot of folks in the oil and gas industry,” Patterson said. “Houston is the center of the world in terms of the gas industry. A lot of those alums spend time in the Middle East, and Dubai is a place that wants to use sports to help put itself on the map. So we’ll have some conversations, and we’ll see where they lead.”

This, we are assured, “… should be done in a fashion that grows the profile and the interest of the university of a broad scale internationally.”  Because?

This is the distillation of everything that’s sucked about college football in the last decade.  Note the complete absence of the word “fans” in his master plan.  But podnah, Steve Patterson’s gonna do what he can to make sure them oil and gas fellas have a great venue to pursue a couple of Mideast energy deals.  That’s why we love college athletics!

There’s something else missing from Patterson’s inspiring vision.

Stupid kids.  Don’t you know employees never play in Mexico City?  Leave the bidness to bidnessmen.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

“I’ve got to scale him back a little bit and tell him, ‘Hey, don’t do that.’”

Keith Marshall abides.

Tailback Keith Marshall is “a lot further along” in practice than running backs coach Bryan McClendon expected, he said.

The junior is getting treatment at least twice a day after tearing the ACL in his right knee against Tennessee on Oct. 5 and is pushing what he can do at practice.

He’s out there drillin’ with the rest of the backs.

If he plays this season, that’ll make for a helluva comeback from a brutal injury.  Fingers crossed…

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Filed under Georgia Football

Envy and jealousy: unionization and the unintended consequences game

One of the well-used arguments against unionization is the Pandora’s Box.  Let student-athletes form a union and it’ll be an invitation for all kinds of trouble – Title IX, taxes, you name it.  Things will be worse and nobody’s thought that through!  How can unionization possibly go ahead before all the peripheral questions are answered?

Brian Phillips neatly skewers that line of reasoning.

Fine, but do we have to pay squash players? And what happens to athletes’ student status if they’re also employees? Can they be fired? What if some teams vote to unionize and some teams don’t? And what about tax implications? What about Title IX?

I have no idea! One of the neat strategies you’ll see the NCAA’s defenders deploy in the wake of the Northwestern ruling is to start throwing out a million practical questions that have yet to be resolved, as though, if you can’t immediately answer all of them, they must be totally impossible to solve. “I don’t know what happens to their meal cards!” you’re supposed to cry in this situation, throwing your hands up to the heavens. “Therefore change is futile and I have no choice but to agree that the student-athlete system is the key to success in the classroom, on the field, and in life!”

But this is ludicrous. Reform of a big organization like the NCAA is inevitably going to involve a lot of tough questions. Maybe Ultimate Frisbee at Middlebury isn’t a job in the same way basketball at Kentucky is. Maybe some provision will be necessary to make sure women’s sports are treated fairly. But you know what? People build multinational corporations and reasonably functional democracies. People deal with trickier problems than college-sports revenue distribution all the time. Raising objections as though the mere existence of practical difficulties shuts down the conversation is the stalling tactic of an exhausted debater. It’s the move of someone with nothing left to defend.

Of course, it’s possible that college football is run by people who really aren’t capable of dealing with tricky problems.  (Mark Emmert, our nation turns its lonely eyes to you.)  Even that doesn’t mean you don’t try, though.

Anyway, good stuff, nicely put.

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Filed under Envy and Jealousy

With friends like Corch…

Urban Meyer describes himself as “pro-student”.  I do not think that word means what he thinks it means.

“But to say (players) can go out and get their own shoe contract and things like that,” Meyer said, “I think, ‘What would that do for this great sport, and really, what would that do for college athletics?’ ”

According to NCAA rules, coaches can have only 20 hours per week of hands-on involvement with players.

The reality is that players are expected to put in considerable time on their own, making it closer to the commitment required for a full-time job, as Northwestern’s players contended.

“A quarterback can’t play college football at a high, high level at 20 hours per week,” Meyer said. “He’s got to do it on his own. I think it’s a great rule. Players, just like coaches, can decide to be great. If they’re watching the hours, punching the clock and saying, ‘I’m done at 20 hours,’ you probably have a pretty average player.

“Coaches created that (20-hour) rule (because) if you give us 40 hours, we’ll keep them 40 hours. And they still have to take care of their academics.”

As a general rule of thumb, beware of people who drop “this great sport” homilies.  Can’t have players competing with coaches for shoe contracts, you know.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, Urban Meyer Points and Stares

Wednesday morning buffet

Grab a plate.

  • Tracy Rocker sounds pretty no-nonsense about his charges:  “You produce, you stay,” Rocker said. “You don’t produce, next. It’s all about playing with the right combination and to get guys to produce with full-speed effort. That’s the most important thing. That’s what I’m working on up front is effort. Try to eliminate the MA’s (missed assignments) and go forward.”
  • Bill Connelly looks at how the 2013 FBS teams ranked in order of their per-game difference between projection and reality as to offensive and defensive scoring efficiency.  Georgia ranks 116th.  He didn’t speculate how much of that to chalk up to luck, randomness or something else, but perhaps I need to dust off the ol’ “regression to the mean, bitchez!” meme.
  • Another day in paradise on Finebaum.  (Do any of his listeners actually care about basketball?)
  • Athlon ranks the SEC head coaches.  I don’t get how you can put Malzahn ahead of Miles, but that’s just me, I guess.
  • Kirby Smart is coaching defensive backs again, drawing upon his experience at Georgia“He just coaches us at a different level, trying to get us to understand it from his point of view because he played the position and he knows what’s going on…”  They should be awesome in run support this year, if that’s the case.
  • Today, Quayvon Hicks is Georgia’s only healthy scholarship tight end.
  • One reason CAPA is going to Washington “One obstacle in securing some of the protections we want is the NCAA is colluding and excluding opportunities for trust funds. To solidify an antitrust exemption would be to the detriment of player protections.”
  • Malik McDowell has outlasted his momma.
  • I missed this when it came out, but Pete Fiutak’s April Fools’ story about Herschel finding a loophole in the NCAA eligibility rules and announcing a return to Georgia is a fun read.  Richt then joked, “If you can find an extra year of eligibility for Champ Bailey and Richard Seymour, we’d find a spot for them, too. ”

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Filed under Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Media Punditry/Foibles, PAWWWLLL!!!, Political Wankery, Recruiting, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Misplaced angst

I approached spring practice worried most about the state of Georgia’s secondary.  Midway through, and I’m starting to think there’s another area that deserves the honor.  The offensive line sounds like it’s a mess right now.

Two weeks into spring practice, Georgia’s offensive line looks a lot like it did when it started: The center is the “bell cow,” the tackles are settling in, and the guards are anyone’s guess.

Georgia lost both its starting guards after last season, and offensive line coach Will Friend made clear Tuesday that no one has done anything yet to grab one of the open spots. Greg Pyke, a redshirt sophomore who has played sparingly thus far in his career, has come the closest.

“Nobody’s kind of stepped up and said they want to be the guards yet,” Friend said. “Pyke’s had a good spring, and I think he’ll get better as we go through it. But we’re not performing the way we need to inside right now.”

How bad is it?  Bad enough that the incoming class of o-linemen who won’t be in Athens until August and were seen as likely redshirt candidates are now being used as a threat to motivate the guys already there.

That means that there could be an opening for Dyshon Sims, Isaiah Wynn, Jake Edwards or Kendall Baker, the four incoming freshmen. Friend said he told his current players when spring practice began that they better take advantage before the new guys arrive.

“A bunch of you have a shot this spring,” Friend said he told his players. “And if we don’t see things like we need to in the spring then it’ll be the guys’ who get here’s chance. So they kind of know that. Those guys were recruited to give them an opportunity, and we’ll give them a shot.

“Now if we can get some guys going … There’s still eight days left, I guess we’re halfway there.”

Ugh.  It’s gonna be a long offseason, I’m afraid.

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Filed under Georgia Football