Daily Archives: May 20, 2009

We are not the enemy.

Tony Barnhart wrings his hands over the possibility that college football coaches might have to behave less boorishly in the offseason.

College football coaches are boring enough during the season. But it used to be that we could get them to take off the blinders and loosen up for a few weeks in May and June. Is college football going to become like the NFL (No Fun League) because the coaches just get tired of every word being dissected and, in some cases, being blown way out of proportion? I hate that phrase because “proportion” is in the eye of the beholder but it seems to apply here.

First of all, most college football coaches are boring year ’round.  That’s one reason why guys like Spurrier and Leach get so much media attention to begin with.  Second, it’s not in the job description for them to entertain the media.  Third, as much as coaches like Spurrier and Meyer claim they’re going to change how they act, I’ll believe it when I see it.  Old habits tend to die hard.

And fourth, where Barnhart seeks to cast blame really pisses me off.  He finds it’s time to dust off the sportswriter’s favorite scapegoat, the unbathed basement dweller.

… I guess I  have to remember that in the blogosphere little nuggets grow into big boulders if enough people chatter about them. But those of us in the business learned a long time ago that the stuff said at booster meetings has to be taken with a grain of salt. What coaches say in front of reporters is one thing. What they say in front of the booster clubs is another. In my opinion, you just can’t take it that seriously.

Apparently people do.

Am I missing something here?

Quite a few things, since you ask.  But let’s just start with the basic premise.  For the most part, these “little nuggets” make it out into the square of public discourse because the media, of which Mr. Barnhart is a prominent member, reports them.

For example, I haven’t sat in a single Vol booster meeting.  Everything I’ve posted about Lane Kiffin has come from media reports.  Lots and lots of media reports.  If this stuff is as irrelevant as Barnhart insists it is, then why the barrage of info from he and his peers?

And let’s not forget the gradual blurring we’ve seen over the past year or so of bloggers becoming Internet journalists (like EDSBS’ Orson Swindle morphing into TSN’s Spencer Hall) and traditional journalists, like so many of Barnhart’s peers at the AJ-C, becoming bloggers.  Be careful where you point; that guy at the next desk in the newsroom (maybe it’s a virtual newsroom these days) may be the target as much as me.

This crap was tiresome when Stewart Mandel was trotting it out a couple of years ago.  It’s not wearing well with age.

These coaches are grown men.  They’re paid a lot of money for what they do.  If some of them decide that they don’t like their comments held up in a mirror for anyone with a computer to see, that’s their damned business.  Deal with it.

And don’t wag your finger at bloggers for expanding on what the media provides them.  I appreciate the efforts made to gather the information, but once the data is out there, it’s out there, free to be poked and prodded.  If you don’t want us writing about what you and your cohorts dig up, keep it to yourselves.

If you can.



Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, The Blogosphere

Let me tell you how it will be…

These are words that should chill the souls of every school president and athletic director in the country:

“The high share of commercial revenue for some sports programs raises the questions of whether those programs have become side businesses for schools and, if they have, whether the same preferential tax preferences should apply to them as to schools in general.”

That’s something written by the director of the Congressional Budget Office.  Not a crank, in other words.

If Washington wants to push D-1 schools around, it’s got plenty of leverage.  It’s just a matter of political will, and there will be more of that if the playoff debate begins to center around economic fairness.  How the schools respond will be the big question.


Filed under College Football, Political Wankery

The Preseason of If

It’s a fairly common practice right now to do the whole preseason prediction thing.  Never mind that there’s a whole class of potential contributors who haven’t shown up on campus yet – it’s a slow time in college football, and you’ve got to expand that energy on something.

In Georgia’s case right now, the speculation about this season is even idler, if that’s possible, because of the injury situation.  I thought Herbstreit and Nessler had it right in the G-Day broadcast when they said that the Dawgs didn’t look like an elite SEC team because so many starters and key backups weren’t available to play.  Yet pundits everywhere will tell you right now that Georgia is something like the thirteenth to sixteenth best team in the nation.

That’s kind of a crazy assessment at this moment when you ponder all the unknowns.  Here’s my breakdown of the question marks on who first trots out on the field in Stillwater, Oklahoma, based solely on the here and now:

  • Offensive line. We know who the starting center is, and we know that Clint Boling will start somewhere.  But until Sturdivant and Vance are cleared to play, nobody has a clue who’s going to line up where.  Except maybe for Stacy Searels, and he ain’t telling.
  • Tight end. Aron White, by default.  No idea who’s number two, or who takes on the role of blocking TE.
  • Wide receiver. A. J., of course.  (Thank God.)  Michael Moore should play, but in Massaquoi’s vacated position, or in the slot as the number three receiver?  Everybody else is as green as they get.
  • Quarterback. Outside of Green, Cox is the biggest lock on offense right now, but if he were to get hurt…
  • Tailback. You tell me.
  • Fullback. The position is in good hands with Chapas and Munzenmaier.
  • Defensive line. There’s plenty of depth at tackle, but they can’t set the rotations in stone until Owens is back.  Defensive end?  There’s the Swiss Army Knife of the team, Kiante Tripp, who’s inexperienced, and a cast of question marks.  Easily the biggest challenge the coaching staff has to face when fall practice starts, if contributors (as in plural) can’t be found there, I’m afraid Okie State is going to be the start of a long season.
  • Linebackers. Hooray!  The one every down position on the team with clear stability and depth.
  • Defensive backs. The starters at safety seem to be set with Jones and Evans.  Miller has one of the cornerback slots locked down.  The other side is completely up for grabs right now.
  • Special teams. Butler is the punter by default, but has shown little to date.  We have no idea who will be kicking off, or attempting field goals right now.  There are some returners with experience, but there’s no clear indication that they will be the ones given the jobs this season.

This isn’t a “woe is us” post.  There’s plenty of talent on that team and I believe Richt is serious about getting it properly deployed this year.  I just find it impossible at present to assess the quality of the team that will open the season.  Your thoughts?


Filed under Georgia Football

Kiffin watch: it’s a Junior round up!

The good news is that Junior and Pahokee have kissed and made up.  There’s even a public record!

Tennessee football coach Lane Kiffin and his staff are “welcome any day, any time” in Pahokee, Fla. His latest apology — frankly, we’ve lost count of how many he delivered — apparently did the trick Tuesday afternoon. Either that, or the fact that cameras were on hand to record it this time.

“Everything is a go,” Pahokee vice mayor Henry Crawford Jr. told the Knoxville News-Sentinel. “[Kiffin] apologized once again, and they are welcome any day, any time.”

Peace in our time, it’s wonderful.  Is there a Nobel Prize for college football?

On the other hand, it’s not all peaches and cream in Knoxville.  There’s another self-reported secondary violation on the table.  This one’s not Junior’s fault, though.

Tennessee plans to self-report another NCAA secondary violation after a high school recruit was mentioned by name Tuesday on Lane Kiffin’s Twitter page.

Tennessee athletic director Mike Hamilton said it wasn’t actually Kiffin who penned the post in question but an employee in the football office who was updating Kiffin’s Twitter page for him.

It’s not easy getting the hang of that whole Twitter thing.  But here’s the ominous part:

“It was one of Lane’s personal assistants, and it was his first day on the job,” Hamilton explained. “He posted the message on Lane’s Twitter account without asking compliance. It was an inadvertent error, but it’s still a violation and one of those things where you’ve got to know what the deal is. We’ll report it.”

The termination notice is being typed to the strains of O Fortuna as you read this.

Finally, Junior is still doing his it’s-all-been-planned shtick… with a slight twist.

… After signing day, Kiffin made disparaging comments about Pahokee and Richardson’s high school while speaking to fans in Knoxville. “For those of you who haven’t been to Pahokee, there ain’t much going on,” Kiffin was quoted as saying. “You take that hour drive up from South Florida, there ain’t a gas station that works. Nobody’s got enough money to even have shoes or a shirt on.”

“That’s really the first thing I really regretted saying,” he says now.

So there’s that.  Until the next time, at least.


Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

You sure you wanna do that?

Speaking of one-liners, this is the best one I’ve seen in a while.  Mark Schlabach’s got a piece up about Florida tinkering with the GPOOE’s™ mechanics to make him more NFL-ready.

Echoing the thoughts of many who can’t understand why that’s necessary is this anonymous quote:

“Hopefully, they’ll screw him up,” said one coach at a rival SEC school.

I’d love to know who said that.


Filed under Tim Tebow: Rock Star

Delany vs. Obama vs. Notre Dame

There are a couple of one-liners worth sharing with you this morning.

First, the most arrogant human being in college athletics gives us the low down on the POTUS:

“It’s very hard to be disagreeable with a popular president, that’s my first thought,” Delany said. “The reality is that he has a pulpit and people listen. I think his strength is probably basketball brackets.”

Har har!  In case you didn’t catch the contempt, Delany adds this thought:

The president initially voiced his wish for a football playoff last fall while campaigning and has remained an advocate. “He probably has an interest as a fan,” Delany said. “He’s a scholar and a lawyer and a great politician, but I don’t think he really understands the complexity of the issue.”

It’s moments like that that make me wish Obama would pull Delany aside and tell him he’s got the votes to pass a bill mandating a 64-school football playoff, just to see the reaction.

But don’t feel too sorry for the President.  He was dishing out as good as he got yesterday.

Having put up with hecklers at Notre Dame, President Barack Obama got in a shot of his own at the school whose renowned football team has gone its longest stretch without a national championship.

After giving the commencement speech at Notre Dame, Obama spoke at an Indianapolis fundraiser Sunday night for the Democratic National Committee. He began his remarks by joking that he told The Rev. John Jenkins, the university president, that the controversy surrounding his campus appearance “paled in comparison to what to do about the football team.”

The Fighting Irish had records of 3-9 and 7-6 the past two seasons — the most losses at the school in a two-year period — and haven’t won a national championship since 1988.

“That’s an issue we may not resolve within my four years,” Obama said.

“Eight,” shouted someone from the audience.

“All right, well, maybe in eight we might get it done,” Obama said.

Everybody’s a comedian these days.  Okay, well maybe not Delany…

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Charlie Weis Is A Big Fat..., Political Wankery