Coaches and schedules and playoffs, oh my!

I’m not sure that much of this stuff links together, but it’s worth taking a look at anyway:

— Start with the Birmingham News’ Ray Melick’s smackdown of Master Lane Kiffin.  Basically, Kiffin and his school are acting like an SEC version of the Barbarians at the Gate-like hostile takeover pros, with top recruiters playing the target.  Except that this is Kiffin’s first dance as a college head coach.  And he flopped miserably in his previous head coaching stint.  And his basic success to this point is due more to bloodlines and rolodex entries than actual wins and losses.  And his tendency to gloat in public, of course.

… Between the money and dangling the lure of learning from his father, Lane Kiffin managed to go out and put together a staff of some of the top recruiters of Tennessee’s rivals.

And the younger Kiffin is crowing.

“With the staff now complete,” Kiffin said, “not only do we have the best recruiters in the SEC but some of the best in the country. To be able to take South Carolina’s recruiting coordinator, Mississippi State’s recruiting coordinator, Alabama’s best recruiter and Auburn’s best recruiter over the past 10 years was a great accomplishment for us.

“Once again, I would like to thank Mike Hamilton, the athletic department, and our donors for making this possible.”

As one of my commenters noted the other day, it sure should be a fun SEC Media Days this year.  Even if nobody subpoenas Tennessee’s head coach this time.

— Next, I’m not quoting this because he cited me (although it doesn’t hurt), but David Hale gets one of my arguments about a playoff for D-1 football.

The SEC tournament last year was a high point in Georgia sports. It was a miracle run, it was lots of fun to watch, and it was something to be proud of. But it wasn’t reality. Senator Blutarski over at Get the Picture regularly rails against a football playoff because it is no more a true determination of the best team as is the current system. A playoff, as the Arizona Cardinals have shown, rewards the hottest team, not the best one. That’s all the SEC tournament was — a four-game enigma, a blip of statistical fluctuation that is hardly uncommon amid a small sample size. Do the Dawgs deserve credit for the accomplishment? Absolutely. But it shouldn’t cloud the view of the bigger picture.

Make the postseason pool big enough and you’ll get your Cinderellas every year, in one form or fashion.  Statistical anomalies mean more in the postseason.  But some of that success, while inspiring in the short term, often winds up being little more than a mirage.  That’s a helluva tradeoff for a diminished regular season.

And Groo’s got a great post up looking at the non-conference schedules for the primary 2009 national contenders.  Pretty much every school there should be ashamed of what’s been lined up, with the exception of Southern Cal (which will probably lose a road conference game to an inferior opponent anyway, so it won’t matter).  And they all pale in comparison to  Georgia’s.

— Lastly, did you know that there are only two schools in the SEC that don’t have former head coaches on their current staffs as assistants?


UPDATE: Doc Saturday shows us the new math on assistant coaching salaries.

… Consider that at the start of last season, the most expensive assistant coach in the country was Florida State’s offensive coordinator/coach-in-waiting Jimbo Fisher, at a base salary of $600,000. Tennessee not only nearly doubled that for Kiffin’s grizzled dad, Monte, to come on as defensive coordinator (he’ll make a little more than $1 million, half his salary with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers), but also topped it for Ed Orgeron’s noted recruiting prowess (Coach O will bring in $650,000 as recruiting coordinator and defensive line coach). Last week, they went for broke to lure Alabama’s ace recruiter, Lance Thompson, for $400,000 — as an outside linebackers coach who’ll play second fiddle to Orgeron on the recruiting trail. That’s well over $2 million for three assistants, more than most schools — even SEC schools — allocate for their entire staff of assistants.

With the new TV money rippling through the conference, trust me, this is just getting started.



Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Media Punditry/Foibles, SEC Football

15 responses to “Coaches and schedules and playoffs, oh my!

  1. Seems like Tennessee has unloaded a crotchety but proven winner just so that they can bring in a new guy with a lot of recruiting chops but not much else of proven substance on his resume. I would say “Ask Ole Miss how that turned out,” but UT doesn’t have to: They’ve got a guy with intimate knowledge of that situation on their own payroll!

    And supposedly UT’s interest in Lane Kiffin was only lukewarm until he started about bringing his dad along for the ride. Dating the so-so-looking girl so that you can eventually get with her hot friend: Somebody tell me, has that ever worked?


  2. Senator, check out Peter King’s MMQB over at He mentions the anomaly of the last few years in the NFL playoffs where the regular season haven’t been accurate indicators of playoff potential. I think you and I see eye to eye on this issue. Many that argue with us here inherently assume that we think a playoff is just wrong and can’t work. The point we try to make is that just because USC could beat anyone on the field today shouldn’t discredit the fact that they lost to Stanford or Oregon State back in September. I think that the importance of every regular season game is what makes college football so special. With a playoff, there could be some 3 or 4 loss conference champion that gets hot like the Arizona Cardinals and win the whole thing. Should we just ignore those three losses in determining they were the best team the entire season? That’s the difficulty in the BCS vs. playoff argument. At least the BCS factors every win or loss no matter who you played, not just three wins at the end of the season. In no way am I a BCS proponent, but I find it difficult to believe a playoff automatically solves all problems with the BCS. I’d like to believe we value the entire work of a team in college football, not just the results of a three game tournament.


  3. OLE MISS: Kent Austin (Saskatchewan Roughriders).

    Do they have a store I could purchase a t-shirt from?


  4. JasonC

    I guess if Lane fails, he wants to take everyone else down with him.


  5. Aligator

    Lane Kiffen is a first class, USC, douchebag. He may have some good coaches and good recruiters, but he is going to get his ass handed to him this year and the next. this is not the PAC – 10. geez…


  6. ArchDawg

    Right on, Audit. What the playoff proponents don’t seem to get is that every playoff proposal laid out will damage the regular season as we know it.


  7. Brandon

    it is always taken as a foregone conclusion that USC could beat anyone at the end of the year, they have never had to face the SEC Champion in a bowl game, Ohio State and Oklahoma would be smelling a lot better if they could say the same


  8. kckd

    Basketball and pro football are just different than college football.

    That’s my guess, because I don’t think you would get anything lower than a top ten school winning a national championship. An upset or two? Sure. But no more than that.

    One thing that you might want to look at Senator, since you rail at anything bigger than a sixteen team playoff, what’s the lowest seeded team in Div. 1AA to ever win.

    I still don’t think it would tell you what would happen at IA, because there is a bigger difference between the top ten best and the rest compared to IAA. Playing ground is more even there.

    But it would interest me to look at IAA since they’ve had a 16 team playoff and bigger, who is the lowest seed to win it.

    I know when Ga Southern won in 1986 they were ranked way lower than they should be. They lost to two decent IA schools by close margins and because of that a lot of IAA schools were ranked higher. But no IAA school even came close to them in their run. That’d be a case where the larger playoff actually let the best team win, instead of keeping them out of it.


    • Here’s the link to the NCAA site that has the complete brackets since 1999. It’s poorly set up – there are cutoffs on some of the pages and for some reason it stops listing all the seeding numbers after ’02, but it’s still pretty clear that there are a number of multiple loss teams that go deeply into the playoffs (in 1999, #9 played #2 for the title and in 2002, #1 played #7 for the title).

      Me, I think it shows pretty much what you’d expect from an enlarged field. You’ll get your Cinderellas every year and some team that played well enough in the regular season will get bumped in the postseason prematurely.

      Your mileage may vary, of course.


    • Basketball and pro football are just different than college football.

      And yet they all have postseason tournament expansion in common. Hmmmm…


  9. kckd

    So your argument is not that a cinderella could win, it’s that it’s unfair for a great team to lose to or have to play a good team early on?

    Hell, it may not be a playoff, but we’ve got that crap every year with the BCS matchups. What if FSU had beaten UGA in 2002? Or Illinois had beaten USC last year?

    You know what everyone would’ve said. USC and UGA weren’t that good.


    • No, my argument is that an expanded playoff waters down the importance of the regular season. Expand it enough, and the regular season gets reduced to little more than a seeding delivery system (see Madness, March).

      Maybe you think it’s great that a #9 seed plays for a national title, but I don’t get the point.


  10. kckd

    It’s conceivable in college football that a # 9 seed may very well be good enough to play for the NC. We are talking about 120 some odd teams. Many never play each other. At best, most only play legit competition outside their conference twice a year.

    Schedules are not even close to being even and even that really is a guessing game as to who truly has the toughest. So much in college football is left up to opinion. We’ve been through nine seasons now in this century. So far, there has only been two title games where there were no good complaints about the selection of the top two teams. Two out of nine???

    Also, a playoff would give us a much better chance of matching up SEC teams against Pac 10 teams etc. than the current format. The bowls are so locked in that you can’t tell anymore about the best conference than the regular season tells you.