David Hale’s look at talent-mining

I doubt very many of you who stop by here don’t also read David Hale’s blog (or, should I say, the acclaimed blog of David Hale), but his last two posts on Georgia’s recruiting are especially worth your attention.

The first of these is a promise versus production look at Georgia’s recruiting classes for the 2004-8 period.  It’s a very good illustration of the micro vs. macro approach to analyzing recruiting.  Again, we all love the stories of the scrappy two-star players who are dying to come to Georgia to play and wind up contributing, but it’s the repeated top-ten classes that allow a program to excel over time in the toughest conference in the country.

However, it’s the second post, the one that breaks down production by position, that’s really interesting.  Mainly because Hale deduces a pattern in Richt’s management of his staff:

… So the position coaches who appear to have had the least success at turning promise into performance are all gone now, replaced during the past two offseasons.

I somehow doubt these are the numbers that Mark Richt was crunching when he made the decisions to let those guys go (or in Eason’s case, move him upstairs), but that doesn’t mean he didn’t come to the right conclusion anyway.

Let me chime in with a few thoughts of my own in response:

  • If you’re of the “it’s not the Xs and Os, it’s the Jimmies and Joes” school, Richt’s lengthy (some would say too lengthy) approach to replacing coaches makes more sense.  A head coach may get a feeling in the shorter term about whether an assistant coach is good with schemes and on the field adjustments, but evaluating a coach’s ability to identify and develop talent on a consistent basis takes more time.
  • I think David may be reading a bit more into Rex Robinson’s post about Tony Ball and the recruitment of Da’Rick Rogers than Rex intended, but on the other hand, seeing Marlon Brown produce this season wouldn’t hurt if you’re Ball.
  • One thing David doesn’t touch on – and it’s something that I doubt anyone who doesn’t sit in on coaches’ meetings would have any way of knowing – is how much of the shortcomings in production are due to coaching the kids once they arrive on campus and how much of it is due to faulty evaluation going in.  And that doesn’t mean a failure in judging talent as much as it means a failure in judging whether the recruits you’re offering are the best fit for what your program needs to succeed in the SEC over time.  I sure would love to know how much input the recently departed had in choosing who was offered.
  • If you’re looking for the silver lining, Hale provides it:  “It’s still far too early to tell what type of impact Georgia’s new coaches will have, but it’s nevertheless encouraging to know that the problems were identified. Because if Tony Ball and Todd Grantham and Warren Belin can each take one guy per season who might have been a “failure” under the old regime and turn him into a success, that’ll mean 12 more productive players four years from now. And that’s a significant difference.”

15 Comments

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15 responses to “David Hale’s look at talent-mining

  1. Will Trane

    CI do not think what Hale has compiled is anything new to Coach Richt. I think Coach Richt had probably made a decision on the D staff early on in the season. Probably the LSU come back sealed Fabris and Janek…two plays…the kick off coverage and the LBs not getting to the outside for the run down the sideline. Richt saw enough of the DB plays in the Tech game of ’08 and again in ’09. Look at the late UK run and the strong comeback by Tech. Those two games sealed the D coaches fate. They knew they were gone, otherwise why did Richt let them go virtually the moment the ’09 season ended. I think Ball is a good coach, but is he a RB of WR…the play of the two RB early in ’10 will tell the tale on McClendon…early in 09 I did not think he was doing a good job as well as Coach Searels who I think is very good…but you had to look at the numbers, the injuries, and the youth of the players. If you evaluate and look at the OL and RBs from UF forward, the ’10 should be scary for opposing Ds. I thought the OL and RB play was outstanding the last 4 games. Outside the D, the QB position has been my complaint even with Stafford as a Jr. and Sr. I’m not sure Bobo can coach up an AA at QB. He has some guys on the roster who can be. Let’s see how Bobo does in ’10, because the play of the QB will be huge for this team.

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    • Hackerdog

      Thus far, Bobo has coached Stafford and Cox (as starters). The Detroit Lions staff was impressed with Stafford’s grasp of the game and fundamentals, in addition to his size and arm strength. I think that is an endorsement of Bobo’s coaching.

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  2. Todd

    WR recruiting is very strange. The top level guys are usually pretty easy to evaluate, but the incredible of number of guys who are 3 and 4 stars and don’t pan out is not just a UGA problem.

    I was looking at NFL WR’s and thinking about it: Jerry Rice, Steve Largent, Terrel Owens are all from small schools.

    Look at the top WR’s in the NFL today: Vincent Jackson, Marques Colston, Chad Ochocinco, Steve Smith, Roddy White, Pierre Garcon.

    Ochocinco is the only one of those from a BCS school and that was after JUCO.

    Yes, you have Reggie Wayne, Calvin Johnson and Andre Johnson, but WR recruiting looks to be nearly as big a crapshoot as offensive line recruiting.

    And, there has certainly been some mis-evaluation at all positions by the services. I love Chad Simmons and the work he does, but sometimes I think that his uber-reporting leads guys to become a lot more highly rated than they should be.

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  3. Bulldog Bry

    Also, Ball recruited four really good WR’s at Virginia Tech. Eddie Royal, Josh Morgan, and I forget the other two. And these guys were catching passes from Marcus Vick and Sean Glennon.

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  4. Based on what he’s done at Georgia, I have to figure that Tony Ball will come under the microscope this year. With both RBs and WRs, he’s basically hidden behind one exceptional talent (Green and Knowshon), while warping the development of guys like Caleb King, Richard Samuel, Dontavious Jackson (where is that guy?), Marlon Brown, Israel Troupe, etc.

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    • Todd

      I thought Israel Troupe looked good for the 10-12 plays that he got in the game last year.

      I still think that Bobo’s quote after the Auburn game, when Troupe made the splendid deep ball catch down the sideline, was very telling. Bobo basically said that they would not have thrown that pass had he not known that AJ Green was out of the game.

      So we have Troupe, who was recruited by most of the SEC, who made big plays when given the opportunity on Saturday, but does not have the confidence of the OC. I am not sure how that is Ball’s fault.

      We have already established, per the Oklahoma St. debacle, that the offensive coaching staff is not great at communicating as Bobo and Ball did not know which receivers played and which ones didn’t.

      I guess my thoughts are that Ball may not actually be warping Troupe’s development, but that there are a few other factors at work.

      Not necessarily defending Ball, but I think that AJ’s blocking has improved exponentially, and that Mike Moore turned into a very solid #2 WR. Again, Moore went about the last 1/4 of the season without seeing a ball thrown his way, but I don’t know how much of that is on Ball.

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    • Normaltown Mike

      If you’re going to hold Ball accountable for Marlon Brown, then he ought to get cred for Wooten, no? Both were freshman and both clearly illustrated divergent SEC readiness.

      Ceteris paribus, a kid from the state of Florida will be more prepared than a kid from Tennessee 9 out of 10 times. That doesn’t mean over a career things may change, but its a fact the best HS ball is being played in Florida.

      Once you accept that not all HS ball is the same, you can look at recruiting services with a grain of salt.

      As I said on a prior thread, a 5 star Parade All American LB from Maryland has a higher bust potential than a 4 star LB from Florida, Georgia, Texas, etc.

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      • Charles D.

        Not to mention that Marlon played in a division that is the equivalent of GISA ball in Georgia.

        So, you have to figure that AAAA ball in TN is like A-AA ball in Georgia, so I do not even know how a league equivalent to GISA would even be measurable in TN.

        That begs the question, though, did Marlon play because the coaches totally screwed up, or did the coaches realize that Marlon may not be physically talented enough to ever make an impact, therefore they went ahead and played him so that he would not be holding up a scholly for 5 years?

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  5. Macallanlover

    Part of David’s premise is that better talent wins out over mediocre/average talent and fans should be concerned about losing players to others schools. I don’t think anyone would argue that you shouldn’t want the top athletes that have performed the best in HS to sign with your school. Everyone does, no question about it. It is the finality of accepting what that means where there is differing opinions.

    What many of us who do not worship at the rating service’s alter feel is that the actual rating of a class can be misleading and should not be cause for, dare I say it, “doom, despair, and misery on me”. Actual class rankings are for the cumulative totals of number of players signed multiplied by the star rating number. That is a very incomplete analysis since some programs sign as many as 28 and others sign only 18. The “star average” is a better measuring stick, but even that has significant shortcomings. You can fall two dozen spots by being three tenths of a star below another class, and we all know how subjective, and inexact, the rating process can be. The difference in how fans of a program like UGA, LSU, Alabama, etc., feel about being rated #4 versus being 20th is night to day, or rosy to ledge-jumping, cocky to whining.

    Neither of the above even take into account the correlation of a class of athletes to the specific needs that team has on a position basis. Nor does it allow for athletes that may be at different stages of the development process, or the level of coaching/weight training some players have yet to receive. That is why I feel fans and media overreact to the annual Signing Day fax machine drama. It has nothing to do with not understanding great players will generally prevail over average talent, but everything to do with trust that the coaching staff is better at evaluating and developing talent than the recruiting gurus will ever be, and that some players do have the “heart” to make up the difference with effort, emotion, leadership, and raw determination. But for that component, sports would not command the audiences and passion they do. We could play all the games off the pre-season rankings, based on recruiting class numbers, and finite measurables like 40 times, bench press numbers,vertical leaping stats, and arm strength. Yes, higher rated classes over a period of years will end up ahead of lower rated classes almost every time, but do not expect me to feel pessimistic about any 18 year old’s decision. It is more likely that will end up being insignificant than devastating, and is not indicative of how Mark Richt’s recruiting efforts have gone in the past 10 years. What was missed this year can be made up for next year, our success in 2010 does not hinge on a freshman leading us to Atlanta.

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  6. I just wanted to clarify that my statements about Tony Ball are not an indictment on him as a coach, but rather how a coaches resume can be used for or against him. I think coaches get too much credit and blame for certain players. Do you think Baggett made Randy Moss an All Pro? No way, Randy made Randy an All Pro, but it looks good to a 17 year old to say I coached THIS guy or THAT guy.

    I will say this. The word is, that the marked improvement in our receivers in 2008 was because of B. McClendon. The switch with Ball was because of a promise CMR made to Ball when he came on board. That someday he would be receivers coach.

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    • 69Dawg

      That’s what really bothers me about the way CMR assigns his assistant coaches. If you treat asst coaches like some management professors claim you should ie it makes no difference if the manager has actually done the job he should be able to manage. When we got Kirby Smart and made him a RB coach I was beyond confused. It is a waste of coaching position. I can understand Ball coaching WR, he’s done it in the past but to switch him to WR and let a new GA hire coach a position he didn’t even play in college is just looking for trouble. We have a terrible TO problem and there are two areas that have caused that, QB and RB. With the QB your never really sure if it was the QB or the WR but with the RB you are sure. I am still waiting to see one of our RB’s change the ball to the correct arm on a run. They run with it like it is handed to them. Heck CK fumbled scoring against A&M but Moore saved him. This staff has some weak links still but now they are all on O.

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  7. Coastal Dawg

    I would love to see the two new D coaches’ scored in the same way at their old schools. They should have had higher marks than Jancek and Martinez over the past 4-5 years.

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  8. kckd

    I know what Rex is saying about the coaching resumes. But seriously, Ball has had one year on the job. The man had AJ as the top receiver in the conference if not injured. We got some good production out of a few other guys too. And we ended up with Cox tied with DJ and Eric Zeier for second all time in TD passes in a season to this WR group.

    Think about that: Joe Cox just threw more TD passes in a season than David Greene ever did.

    I think we need to lay off Tony Ball and see what he can do. It’s not like he had A+ talent at V Tech, not to mention that Beamer likes to run the ball and pass only when necessary.

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  9. About coaching them up and top 10 classes: In 2005 Ga. signed 19 and only 12 reported in the fall.
    In 2006 we signed another top 10 class and now 4 of the most highly rated have left early for the NFL. We even signed 4 JC players (who are now gone) to compensate for some of those losses. When fall practice opens this year, it will be the first time the Dawgs will be at full strength since 2005. Also, The DAWGs will have more SEC quality athletes on campus this fall than any other year since the NCAA went to the 85 scholarhip limits. We are one more solid class away from being able to make a 4 year run that will make all DAWGS proud. GO DAWGS.

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    • Mayor of Dawgtown

      That’s if (hopefully) the good ones will stay in school and not opt to leave early for the NFL. Think about the difference it would have made to the ’09 team to have Staff, Moreno and Asher Allen. It also would have been nice to have Rennie and Reshad back for ’10. I really hate that rule change.

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