Daily Archives: August 2, 2014

Jumpin’ on the Herbstreit bandwagon

USA Today’s Dan Wolken goes there.

And over at MrSEC.com, John Pennington uses an old news analysis about penalties (and I do mean old… you can find similar stuff Matt Hinton wrote years ago about penalties and winning in the archives here if you search) as a platform for this “I’m not sayin’, but some people would say” observation:

Georgia has come under fire of late due to a spate of player arrests.  They also begin each season with a number of players serving suspensions (though we feel that’s a product have having tougher mandatory punishments than other league members).  Still, some will take a look at the number of flags tossed at UGA over the last seven seasons, marry it with the arrest/suspension issues and decide that Mark Richt’s program might lack discipline overall.

It’s starting to look like this year’s Mark Richt meme is rounding into shape quite nicely.

I’m as unhappy about the arrests and suspensions as anybody, but here’s the thing – exactly what would anyone critical of Richt’s management suggest he do differently on the discipline front?

Is he chasing the wrong kids?  If so, he’s got plenty of company.

“From the standpoint of coach Grantham not picking the right guys, there’s teams that have – I’m not picking any names in particular – there’s teams that are picking up guys who have done way worse things than here,” Jenkins said. “People who make that statement need to go check the other schools and who they’ve recruited, and who’s on their team now.”

That was a point Richt made a bit obliquely as well, defending the screening process his staff does in recruiting.

“The reality is, if you look at who we sign, they’ve got offers from five to 20 schools that we compete with,” Richt said.

Not to mention the kids who have left Georgia and gone on to contribute at other D-1 programs.  And nobody can claim those coaches didn’t know they were bringing on baggage.

And even further, allow Damian Swann to retort.

“How many regular students do you hear about getting DUIs? Or just being arrested? We don’t know any. We might see a guy get arrested when we’re out, but we don’t see it on the news or on ESPN. It’s the spotlight we’re put in, and we have to deal with it.”

Actually, you can check the arrest logs of the ACCPD and see that the number of students arrested is legion, but Swann’s larger point is correct.  It ain’t news unless you’re already in the spot light.  Does that make the fault lie more with the institution that is the University of Georgia than it does with the football head coach?  In my mind, hells, yeah.  But that’s not the way the fingers are pointing these days.

Bottom line, it’s the same deal I mentioned the other day about Greg McGarity’s fretting over the situation.  If there really is a valid fix for Mark Richt’s problem, society as a whole needs it more than Georgia’s football team does.  So what I’d say to critics of Richt is simple.  If you’re gonna wag your finger, offer a suggestion for improvement while you’re at it.  My bet is that’s too hard for most of you.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

“I know some guys left,” Swann said, “but I want to play for this guy.”

Jeff Schultz has a good piece on how Georgia’s defensive players – at least the ones who are still in Athens – have taken the transition from Todd Grantham to Jeremy Pruitt.  In a nutshell,

Returning defensive players — those who haven’t already been dismissed from the program or left because their feelings were hurt — seem to speak in ways about Pruitt that they never did about Grantham. There’s reverence, respect, a belief in their coach. Before, it seemed more focused on whether their coach was their pal and played to their ego.

Defensive back Damian Swann said Pruitt brings something to Georgia that was missing under Grantham:

“The demand. He tells you what he wants, and he demands it. And I don’t mean that in a bad way — he shows you. He’s an excellent teacher.”

Linebacker Jordan Jenkins referred to Grantham, now at Louisville, as “an NFL coach.” It wasn’t meant as a compliment.

“He’s good with guys who aren’t wrong,” Jenkins said. “But young guys would get confused (at his scheme). I just feel like we all are going to understand things a lot more now. I was in a meeting today when he was going over a play, and coach Pruitt said, ‘Now, don’t not listen to me about this play just because it doesn’t relate to your position. Knowing this will help you understand the defense.’

“While he was speaking, I kept picturing myself in a similar situation last year where if I understood the principle better I could’ve made a play. I got goose bumps just thinking about it. Really, I got goose bumps.”

Hell, that last comment by Jenkins gives me goose bumps.  And it feeds into this observation from Pruitt:

I asked Pruitt what struck him most when he first watched game film from last season.

“Inconsistency,” he said. “There’s one quarter when they don’t give up any points and the next quarter when they give up 21. What was different? Sure, the other team is going to make plays, but once they do you can’t duck your head, you have to keep fighting and make plays.”

Ain’t that the troof.

There’s talent.  There’s been talent.  There have been plenty of smart coaches. That hasn’t been the problem.  I wrote a few years ago about how the issue with the defense under Martinez was a complete breakdown in faith – the coaches didn’t trust the players to make plays and the players didn’t trust the coaches’ calls.  That wasn’t last year’s problem.  Under Grantham, the players didn’t trust themselves and there wasn’t a transcendent talent like Jarvis Jones to bail everyone out.

Job number one for Pruitt is to restore a level of player confidence that eliminates inconsistency.  We joke about last season’s pre-snap frantic hand waving, but the only people who will be more relieved than us to see that gone will be the players themselves.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The Internet version of walking and chewing gum at the same time

This gave me a chuckle.

Fifth-year senior quarterback Hutson Mason abandoned social media more than a week ago to help his concentration for the season.

“I’ve got all these great fans tweeting me on how to do things,” Mason said. “I knew I was going to get off of it before camp.”

So how has the hiatus been for Mason, who has more than 23,000 followers on Twitter?

“I miss it when I have free time,” he said, “like when you’re on the toilet.”

Hey, at least he sounds focused.

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Filed under Georgia Football

First practice day roundup

Here’s the perspective from the usual suspects:

Obviously, given the ridiculously small sample size, I don’t want to go overboard with the tea leaf-reading, but still, I can’t completely help myself.

  • The early leader in the stud clubhouse has to be Lorenzo Carter.  The sooner he figures out what he’s doing out there, the sooner he’ll see the field.  And with the two-game suspension to Bellamy, that could be real soon.
  • Ray Drew running with the threes – I’m not sure if that says more about Drew or about the depth on the defensive line.  Sure hope it’s the latter, though.
  • It sounds like Pruitt likes what he sees in Shattle Fenteng.  It would be nice to see Georgia buck a trend with JUCO defensive transfers who’ve come in with high expectations and failed to deliver on them.
  • The situation behind Mason still makes me nervous.  Stay healthy, Hutson.
  • As disappointing as Scott-Wesley’s health situation seems, Keith Marshall’s is grounds for legitimate optimism.

What do you guys glean from all this?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Pay to play.

Andy Schwarz has a lengthy, but interesting, take on NCAA reform about player compensation you ought to take a little time to read.  There’s a part in it I wanted to focus on that makes for an interesting thought experiment, especially for those of you who are convinced that paying student-athletes would destroy the attractiveness of college sports for you.

… Another option is one Dan Rascher and I proposed in a paper we published in 2000, which is that if you feel you absolutely need to have athlete-compensation agreements among teams, do it at the conference level. If the surveys you may have seen saying fans don’t want to watch paid college athletes play football or basketball are true, the market rate of compensation won’t be very high. Schools will only spend money on players if they feel it will generate value for their consumers—alumni and other fans—and that they can charge for that value through ticket prices, broadcast contracts, and requests for donations. If “buying” talent makes the talent less valuable as a revenue generator, the price for that talent will stay close to zero.

If, contrary to all evidence that fans prefer winning, it is “amateurism” that drives demand and fans will only cheer on their alma maters if the players on the field are kept in a perpetual state of price-fixed pay, then those few misguided schools foolish enough to try paying their players will suffer with lower attendance and ratings, and the schools that stay “pure” will grow in popularity. Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany wrote under penalty of perjury:

…it has been my longstanding belief that The Big Ten’s schools would forgo the revenues in those circumstances [if players get paid more than the cost of attending school] and instead take steps to downsize the scope, breadth and activity of their athletic programs. Several alternatives to a “pay for play” model exist, such as the Division III model, which does not offer any athletics-based grants-in-aid, and, among others, a need-based financial model. These alternatives would, in my view, be more consistent with The Big Ten’s philosophy that the educational and lifetime economic benefits associated with a university education are the appropriate quid pro quo for its student athletes.

Maybe Delany is right when he implies that the Division III version of The Ohio State University football team will continue to command TV ratings and ticket revenues on par with the ratings and revenues of today, despite a dropoff in quality. I seriously doubt it—I mean seriously; I would bet my mortgage and my wife’s and my retirement funds this is not actually true—but the beauty of the solution Team Market offers is that we can actually answer the question.

Skip Delany’s bullshit for a minute and ask yourself this question instead:  if tomorrow the NCAA settled all the antitrust suits and agreed that it would leave setting compensation levels up to each individual conference, where do you think the SEC would land in response?  Bonus question:  where do you think the SEC would have those levels set five years later?

Me, too.  And the reality is that the conference would have no choice about it, because that’s what the majority of its fans would demand.

Now I do think this vision provides a powerful incentive for schools to lobby Congress for an antitrust exemption.  But the schools won’t be doing that for the benefit of us fans.  It’ll be to keep those reserve funds fat and healthy.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness