Daily Archives: May 11, 2014

“We like our path to the national championship playoff.”

The Big 12 thinks the Pac-12’s whining about the SEC’s eight-game regular season conference schedule is just crazy talk.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said the SEC struck a compromise by staying at eight and requiring a nonconference game against a power-five conference starting in 2016.

“It isn’t the number of games, it’s who you’re playing,” Bowlsby said. “The committee will be more than sophisticated enough to make those distinctions, just like my experience with the basketball committee. They could very easily tell the difference between a 9-9 record when everybody plays each other twice and a 9-9 when there’s been some no-plays and one-plays.”

Then again, wandering soul and current Arizona State head coach Todd Graham doubles down by jumping on Bowlsby’s conference for not playing a nine-game schedule and a championship game. Never mind that the Big 12 is a ten-team conference playing a round robin schedule that makes a conference championship game as useless as tits on a boar hog.  Todd thinks that everyone should model themselves on what the Pac-12 wants:

“If we’re playing Stanford and if we didn’t play that extra (Pac-12) game, we’d be playing a [FCS] team,” Graham said. “What if we go undefeated and lose to Oregon in the championship game and the team in the Big 12 doesn’t have to play a championship game?”

The response to that is so obvious that I’m not going to insult your intelligence by typing it here.  But even Jim Delany recognizes the obvious overarching issue.

Graham’s and David Shaw’s delicate fee-fees and Chris Fowler’s aesthetic sensibilities aside here, with regard to the selection committee’s analysis, the issue isn’t the number of high-profile conference games played.  It’s how many cupcake games a team in consideration for a playoff spot schedules, assuming that more than lip service is going to be paid to strength of schedule.  If there’s one area that needs to be painfully transparent when the committee rules from on high, that’s it.  If strength of schedule is given due deference, the big schools will find themselves lining up in accordance, one way or another.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, Pac-12 Football

“Then we have a lot of guys who can do it.”

As hard as the coaches try to convince everyone that the prospects for the defense are up in the air – admittedly, not a hard sell to make right now – it’s hard to ignore the quality there is at linebacker, especially on the outside.  It will be fun to watch Pruitt mix and match this season.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Expectations for the opener: your guess is as good as mine.

Bill Connelly’s updated his preseason S&P+ rankings.

This time around, my major tweak was in looking more closely at offensive and defensive trends instead of full-team trends as a whole. Instead of using a weighted five-year history figure for the team, I tinkered with the proper weights for offense and defense. It’s the same with returning starters — attrition affects the units differently.

Using eight years of returning starter data, bouncing it off of S&P+, and using some general regression, I was able to derive the following:

Returning Starters Proj. Change in Off. S&P+ Proj. Change in Def. S&P+
1 -21.3% -10.1%
2 -16.1% -8.4%
3 -11.5% -6.6%
4 -7.4% -4.6%
5 -3.9% -2.6%
6 -0.8% -0.5%
7 +1.7% +1.8%
8 +3.7% +4.1%
9 +5.2% +6.5%
10 +6.2% +9.0%
11 +6.7% +11.7%

Inexperience matters more on offense than on defense, while experience makes more of a difference on defense, if that makes sense. Let’s put that another way: returning almost no starters will hurt an offense more than a defense, while returning 10 starters helps a defense more than an offense. And returning 5-8 starters affects each unit pretty much equally.

The reason I bring this up is Georgia’s season opener.

  • Yes, Clemson fifth. I’ve removed draft points from the equation for now, simply because I don’t like the way I do it and don’t think it has much of a positive effect, so losing Sammy Watkins will look like simply losing a starter. But the major positive impact for Clemson comes from experience on defense; the Tigers have improved by quite a bit over the last couple of years, and they return a relatively experienced unit in 2014. They’re one of only three teams projected in the top 15 on both offense and defense. (The other two are pretty obvious.) You don’t have to actually believe the Tigers are a top-5 team if you don’t want, but you might want to set the bar a little higher than you were thinking.

Now, Georgia did alright against that defense on the road last season (35 points, 545 yards total offense), despite losing Malcolm Mitchell for the season and Todd Gurley for over a quarter’s worth of action.  And Bill’s analysis doesn’t take into account a starting defensive lineman and reserve defensive back being suspended for the first game.  But it does suggest that Georgia’s strength may be going up against Clemson’s.

Yeah, Georgia’s defense is in a state of flux, to put it mildly.  But don’t forget Harvey-Clemons didn’t play in last season’s opener.  And that as far as impact goes, Clemson’s departures on offense far outstrip Georgia’s departures.  (There’s also the possibility that Pruitt has a better idea how to defend Clemson’s offense than Grantham did.)

At this point, it’s a lot harder to put a finger on what to expect than what we thought going into last season.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!