Friday morning buffet

Wrapping up the working week with some tasty stuff –

  • Self-promotion time:  Clark at The ACC & SEC Blog was nice enough to invite me to come bloviate all over his place with a Q & A preview of Georgia.  Feel free to mock.
  • Sagarin’s 2009 preseason rankings are out.  Three SEC teams are in the top ten – but none are in first and ‘Bama ain’t one of them, either.  Georgia, however, checks in a number seven.  Wow.   (That’s higher than where he ranked UGA last year.)  Also, if I understand his methodology, he’s got Georgia +3.5 minus 3.5 in the opener against Oklahoma State.
  • And speaking of the Cowboys (since the Cowboys aren’t speaking for themselves these days), The Quad shares its analysis of #15 OSU with us today.  Everyone tends to focus, understandably, on the Okie State offense, but make sure you read Paul Myerberg’s take on the defense.  Lots of good stuff – and he also predicts Georgia wins the game.
  • No sir, Phil Fulmer’s not bitter about being replaced by Lane Kiffin.  Not one bit.
  • I don’t get this.  Sure, blame the media if you like, but it still doesn’t explain why Saban seems more contemptuous of the folks covering his team than most of his peers.  Is there something particularly shoddy about the Alabama football media?
  • MaconDawg interviewing David Hale is as entertaining as you might expect.  Good job, fellas.
  • Here’s another SEC position rankings that I just don’t get.
  • And The Valley Shook runs its SEC quarterback analysis for the past three seasons.  Check out Stafford’s steady progress.  Mike Bobo must be doing something right.
  • Let’s finish with a great recruiting story:

In 2007, Penn State coach Joe Paterno watched on TV as Drew Astorino hit the game-winner for Edinboro (Pa.) General McLane High in the Class AAA state hoop final. A few months before, Astorino scored the winning touchdown in the AAA football final. Astorino, who doesn’t run a 4.3, had one offer (Kent State) before Paterno called. Astorino “made plays in the clutch, so we took him,” Paterno told the Philadelphia Daily News. The 5-foot-10, 193-pound redshirt sophomore is starting at free safety. That’s recruiting, old-school.



Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting, SEC Football, The Blogosphere, The Glass is Half Fulmer

19 responses to “Friday morning buffet

  1. kckd

    One thing the guy fails to point out about Kiffin and Fulmer when comparing the situation to Fulmer/Majors is that Fulmer actually won three out of three games as the head coach of UT.

    Kiffin has won nothing at UT and is 5-15 as a HC overall.


  2. David H.

    It seems Sagarin’s starting ratings are based simply on recent historical data. This is why Ga. Tech and Ole Miss are #42 and #43. I don’t think this ranking has anything to do with the actual point spreads. The lines on the UGA-OSU game that I’ve seen have UGA as a 6-point underdog.



    • Actually, here’s what he says about his power ratings:

      To make predictions for upcoming games, simply compare the RATINGS of
      the teams in question and allow an ADDITIONAL 3 points for the home
      team. Thus, for example, a HOME team with a rating of 92 would be
      favored by 5 points over a VISITING team having a rating of 90.
      Or a VISITING team with a rating of 89 would be favored by 7 points
      over a HOME team having a rating of 79.

      Now he may be wrong about his ratings, but he clearly says you can figure the point spreads from them.


  3. NCT

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it looks to me like the Sagarin predictor for 9/5 is UGA -3.5. There’s a 6.51 advantage for Georgia based on the “predictor” numbers, but that’s reduced by three points for the Cowboys’ home field.


  4. capstonereport

    Is there something particularly shoddy about the Alabama media? Yes. Most of the time they don’t challenge Saban enough. The best guy on the beat was Ian Rapoport. He now covers the Patriots. Others in the state who are anti-Saban usually are just hack columnists who aren’t covering the day-to-day stuff. So, they don’t really provide any information, just negative opinion–Josh Moon of the Advertiser comes to mind.

    I kind of assumed people would get that my post was mostly tongue-in-cheek since I mentioned reporters picked the wrong major and they didn’t get picked for kickball. However when I covered my first beat, I did realize I picked the wrong major. 😉 The other criticisms were various ones I heard, and some I consider valid. I do believe it is hard for reporters, who have never managed anyone other than themselves, to comprehend the difficulties involved in running a football team.


    • I got the humor shots.

      I’m legitimately curious about this, though, because Saban seems unduly prickly with the press (and, yeah, I know that part of that is because he can get away with it).


      • capstonereport

        Saban admitted to Chris Low last week (and has admitted to others in the press) that he uses his press conferences to send a message to both the fans and press.

        When Saban talks about fan and player attitudes, he usually is trying to use the press conference to reinforce some lesson he is screaming at players internally.

        For all his anti-social traits with the press, Saban worries a great deal about what players think. It could be the greatest failure of Saban’s system, but for him to win, players must be self-motivated and willing to work. (Other coaches kick people in the ass like a Marine drill instructor.) Saban yells, but also brings in life coaches and positive thinking gurus. In his book, Saban admits military style negative leadership can do great for the military, but Saban doesn’t think it works as well for college football players.

        It is an interesting departure from a more Machiavellian image under which Saban labors. When I reviewed Saban’s book, I was struck by this positive view of human nature. I don’t share his optimism. I think people suck.

        But back to the media and Saban. The coach admits the media is a tool for shaping player and fan perception. When a player needs praise, Saban mentions the player in the press conference. When the player isn’t doing so well, he challenges the press for building the young guy up into a star or starter.

        Saban’s relationship with the media goes further though. He certainly distrusts the media. And he has good reason. Saban has been the victim of at least three serious ethical lapses by journalists.

        First, while coaching LSU, the Alabama media reported an Internet hoax before the week before the annual clash. Saban supposedly said lots of negative things about Alabama’s cheating. Saban was so irritated by this hoax, he wrote about it in his book. The hoax was written by an LSU student, but the press just read it on a message board and repeated it.

        Second, when he took the Alabama job, a Miami Herald reporter recorded off-the-record comments and then shared the recording two weeks later with a radio host. Such a breach of off-the-record is a serious blow to the ethical standing of the media. It was the coonass comment that was on the tape. Should Saban have made the comment? I don’t know. But I do know I would NEVER have provided that tape to anyone if the comments were off-the-record.

        Third, a Gannett sports editor down LSU way repeated an Internet hoax filled with supposed Saban statements. The hoax was easily debunked, but not until after publication.

        Anyway, there are reasons Saban behaves the way he does in front of the press. Some good. Some bad. To be honest, I’d enjoy getting to ask him several questions about this as it would make a great contribution to our understanding of Saban the leader and Saban the man.


        • Dog in Fla


          From what I remember down here from his salad days with the Dolphins, Nick’s preferred method of a press conference is one with a gag order. Not that there’s anything wrong with that unless you’re the one being gagged.


          • capstonereport

            This is where you have to understand Saban’s view of the media. He believes it influences how his team performs. Constant questions about Saban’s status as coach would theoretically undermine the player’s focus on the upcoming game. Now, your link to the end of season press conference is different. The season was over, it would have been better to address the question at least once.

            Saban mishandled the entire Miami-Alabama situation. And often mishandles the press today. I attribute some of this to what was revealed in a Chris Low interview–shyness. Saban is an introvert, and is uncomfortable around people.

            However, nobody was gagged in that press conference. They still asked the question. In fact, if I said I’m not taking a question on subject X, and someone asked that question, I’d walk out of the press conference to teach the media a lesson: You don’t get quotes if you don’t play by the rules. Of course, having been on the other side, I’d ask the question anyway knowing the consequences.

            This is where I think Saban has a disconnect with the media. He really doesn’t understand the media’s role. I think this is the case because most sportswriters aren’t really reporters; they are fans (of some sport and team) who just happen to be able to write. Many sportswriters are pushing an agenda that would get a reporter fired on the real newspaper beats (politics, business, etc.) That doesn’t mean there aren’t great sports reporters out there; it just means there are lots of bad ones.

            One other little note, even when Saban rants at a question, he usually answers it and provides great depth into understanding his strategic and personal decisions.


            • Dog in Fla


              You are right and your last paragraph is absolutely correct. I have seen him rant but still be able to weave detailed information in between rant segments that appear, to me at least, to actually answer the question that was asked, a rarity with something beyond a it is what it is answer but still ream the questioner. It’s like a work of art and he is exceptionally good at it.

              Not to be meant as a pick or a needle, but I though Saban’s post-game press conferences after the SECCG and Sugar Bowl showed that those were tough ones for him and his team and that your guy has a heck of a lot invested in it. It was like a family member had died.

              Who can’t admire his coaching skills? And acknowledge that fact that he was good enough to blast us and appreciate that he did not run off at the mouth about it. If Mark ever decided on his own to leave, most, at least me, would be more than happy for Nick to coach UGA but I don’t think anyone is going to be able to outbid Bama for him. Good luck v. Va Tech but stay out of Atlanta for awhile.


  5. Chuck

    It isn’t particularly popular in these here parts, but I love Joe Pa and that is a good example of why. It is also an indicator of how UGA has found an untouched gem every once in a while like Thomas Davis: some kids are just players, and that isn’t a factor considered very effectively in most recruiting analysis.


  6. Macallanlover

    This is why I have a problem with computer rankings: if everyone started at the same basepoint and then the computer made changes off the actual interaction/crossover of teams as they played throughout the year, I could see how it could be objective, and perhsaps, better than human polls. But Sagarin, and others I have seen, all assign some numerical value to teams as a beginning point which can only be determined by some human, which means some level of bias.

    If you start from a viewpoint based on humans input, when does the computer overcome that flawed start and become reliable enough for us to have confidence it is any better than other polls. And if so, why don’t all computers end up in the same place…unless they have a “glitch”?


    • willwc

      Sagarin accounts for this, if you look at the fine print at the top of his page:

      “For the first few weeks of the season, the starting ratings have weight in the process(BAYESIAN), but once the teams are all CONNECTED, then the starting ratings are no longer used and all teams are started equal and the ELO-CHESS is then done in an UNBIASED manner from that point on.”

      I’m pretty sure all the computer rankings used by the BCS ignore pre-season data except for the Billingsley poll (which uses weighted values for returning starters and the AP and Coaches polls), and at least from glancing at least year’s results, it looks like it recovers sensibly from cases where the preseason ranking differed from reality (Auburn, Illinois, Michigan, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas Tech). I completely agree that subjective data such as using the pre-season AP/Coaches polls really shouldn’t be part of the process for any of the BCS computer rankings, though.

      And as for your last question… each of the computer rankings uses different algorithms/heuristics to rank teams however they feel is most accurate. There’s no consensually-agreed-upon way to rank football teams–otherwise the human polls would all be moot to begin with. If the ‘better’ team won every game this wouldn’t be an issue, but when you’re trying to create accurate rankings when the actual data is giving you nuggets like “Stanford (+41) d. USC,” it becomes a really, really difficult problem to try and solve.


      • Macallanlover

        Thanks for the explanation. I guess I always looked at mathmatics as being absolute, and the interactions should end up the same if they had started as the same base. Guess that is why I was pretty good at simple “figuring” but always found higher (or new) math a complete puzzle. Comforting to know they at least reset to the same base line. Since they have wide variances at the end, computer rankings are no better than opinion polls. Further solidifies my contention that a playoff is the only answer!


  7. Toom

    Nice job on the Q&A. “I also think Richt would love to be able to deploy four and five receiver sets on occasion to get single coverage for Green”

    This would be awesome. Not only because it would open up the passing game but it would signal that the OL is really living up to its potential. I’d love to see it but don’t remember our guys being this creative in the past.

    Good point too on Stafford’s LSU performance v his Florida one. Oh, what might have been if we don’t crap our pants in Jacksonville!


  8. As somebody who actually covered Saban while he was at LSU, his issue with the media can best be summed up in one word: control.

    Control is the essence of his ability as a head coach — he tirelessly seeks it (and in a lot of cases he succeeds), but its those things that are beyond it that anger him the most. His word for it is “clutter.”

    He sees the media as an outlet to get his messages out to both fans and players, yet he’s aware that he can’t fully control the media (and that the media will actively fight his control whenever it can because that’s what the media does whether it’s sports, government or what have you). Hence he’ll let media members into practice, yet still get testy with them if they report what they see in a manner that is contrary to what he wants.


  9. Bulldog Bry

    Hale is pretty high on Boykin. As in “I don’t think Georgia’s going to miss Asher Allen too much” high.

    Hope he’s right.


  10. SoCalDawg

    Well done on your interview. . .I think you are right on. . .the path to glory is paved with the steamrollers on both lines, they will be our coronation or our undoing. Undoing being a relative term to the tune of 7-5, 8-4. Hale’s interview was hysterical. . .15 days, sic em.