Daily Archives: July 24, 2013

Is there a middle ground on pace?

As I mentioned the other day, Mark Richt seems to think so.

“I understand the need for speed, so to speak,” Richt said. “I think everybody needs to be in place, in a good football position, ready to go, within reason. If teams are not substituting fast enough because they’re not organized, that’s their fault. But if you’re highly organized, you’re running your guys on the field and they’re not even set when the ball is snapped, I think that’s the thing that might need to slow down just a tad.”

He fleshed that out a little more when he was on the ESPN set earlier this week, as you can hear in this clip.  His concern was with inconsistent officiating.  Interestingly, both Miles and Sumlin agreed with Richt on the matter.

And now you can add Ellis Johnson to the mix.

“If both teams are not lined up, then you’ll find out who got there fastest, I guess,” Auburn’s defensive coordinator said Tuesday. “In some cases, it’s not football. But I think that when the referees are consistent, then the defenses have no disadvantage. I think in the early years with the speed-up offenses, the officials — especially in the SEC, because they didn’t see it very much — they weren’t as good with the consistency of the mechanics. And I think that they’ve gotten better, and probably we’ve gotten a little bit more accustomed to it on defense.”

Johnson sees no problem with an offense trying to run as many plays as it can — in fact, he said he likes it. What he could do without, however, is offenses snapping the ball before the defense has had time to set up.

“I’ve seen it snapped so fast the offense isn’t lined up,” he said. “So I don’t know what you’re trying to prove there. But the pace to me is part of the game, and I think it is good when you challenge somebody else from a conditioning and toughness standpoint. That’s part of the game.”

Johnson’s solution is to regulate the time between snaps:

“I’d want a minimum of five seconds, three seconds, whatever,” he said. “When that ball is put on the ground, you will not snap it for five seconds. If you can’t get lined up by then, then tough.”

Another possibility, suggested by the Big 12′s Bill Snyder, would be to add another official who would be tasked with monitoring substitutions.

“With the fast-pace offenses, one thing that’s been happening is offenses are running wide receivers 200 miles an hour 85 yards down the field,” Snyder said. “Then four new guys come on and are ready to go right now, and your defensive backs are 85 yards away from the line of scrimmage trying to get back — and they’re snapping the football.”

According to the rules, defenses are given time to substitute when offenses substitute first. But as officials scrambled to get in position before the next snap, Anderson said they often would miss those offensive subs and fail to give the defense the opportunity to sub, too.

“That was my recommendation, that the eighth official would be somebody who could pay attention to that,” Snyder said.

The conference has adopted Snyder’s recommendation for the extra official, but not for the same purpose exactly.

Instead, the eighth official will be charged with spotting the ball as quickly as possible after each play.

“Relative to the pace, I hope the presence of the eighth official will allow us to allow the game pace to be dictated by the teams on the field, to where we’ve removed officiating from it,” Big 12 officials coordinator Walt Anderson said. “We don’t want to artificially speed the game up or slow the game down. Within what the rules are, we just want to be sure they’re fairly being administered.”

Should make for an interesting experiment, one that I’m sure other conferences will be watching closely.  I bet Steve Shaw and Mike Slive are going to be subjected to further intense lobbying from the coaches after this season on this issue.

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Filed under Big 12 Football, SEC Football

A better man than I

Weiszer reports that Mark Richt sat down on radio row with Chuck Oliver at SEC Media Days. Per Weiszer, “(t)he interview was cordial.”

Give Richt credit for being far more generous with his time and spirit than a guy who’s had no problem questioning Richt’s character deserves.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“It’s been one misstep after another.”

He’s lost the press.  And now Mark Emmert’s in the process of losing the support of staff

The Penn State announcement was supposed to be the defining moment of Emmert’s tenure. But instead of signifying his and the organization’s status as tough on NCAA crime, it has become Emmert’s Waterloo moment. Since that announcement, his leadership style, combative personality, and most of all, his decisions, have directly intersected with an NCAA in deep crisis. Employees are headed for the exits in droves, and instead of helping to alleviate the NCAA’s problems, the man at the top may be compounding them.

… and other powerful constituents.

But there is no doubt that, in the opinions of many, his mistakes and approach have helped sever the tenuous trust between membership and the association, and if Emmert remains at the helm amid such substantial change, it will be over the objections of some of the NCAA’s most powerful school athletic administrators.

One source said that at least one major conference has gone so far as to send a directive to its representative on the NCAA Executive Committee — which, among other duties, hires and fires the association’s president — to make it “crystal clear that they were not at all happy with the direction of the entire enterprise under Emmert.”

Emmert, of course, thinks he’s doing a swell job.  At least publicly.

In an “Outside the Lines” interview last week at the NCAA’s headquarters in Indianapolis, when asked if there was anything he would have done differently in the Penn State case, Emmert, 59, said there was nothing.

What about a mulligan on any decision in his almost three years on the job? “I can’t think of one decision, no — if that is what you are asking.”

But it sure doesn’t seem hard to find plenty of people who disagree with him about that.

Several staffers have left, including two NCAA enforcement directors and five investigators, and some claim that the same executive branch that is pushing to make cases won’t support its investigators in the end.

“I know people who have worked there for 10 years,” one source said. “They said the first nine years and the last one are completely different. It’s not a good place to work right now.”

The organization is incurring hefty legal bills, at least in some part from enforcement actions. In its most recent tax filings, the association reported $9.5 million in legal fees, more than double each of the previous two years and a figure certain to escalate with bills coming due from, among others, the outside independent review of the NCAA’s investigation of Miami, and the class-action suit brought against the NCAA over its use of athletes’ likenesses in video games, which resulted in Moody’s Investors Service recently downgrading the NCAA’s credit rating.

And maybe that’s had an effect.

“From what I have seen the last few months, he has certainly pulled back in style and is starting to try to go back and make amends,” a former NCAA administrator said. “I think he has had a meeting with [athletic directors] recently, a select group of ADs, to analyze what he is doing — what he has done wrong and those things. Whether he can recover … he obviously has been a lot quieter. He may have gotten word from the Executive Committee, too. Their message of support was a pretty guarded message in how they said it. It is his style more than anything else, and people have trouble with his style.”

The Executive Committee still has Emmert’s back for now.  So he survives.  But it’s never a good sign when this many people are willing to pull out the knives.  And if you keep blundering, changing your style only goes so far.  In any event, it’s hard to deny that the NCAA is a hot mess.  And that probably means even if he keeps his job, there’s going to be a move to limit what he can do in it.  Which is another reason to watch what happens when the power conferences make their move to set up a new bracket for themselves in D-1.

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Filed under The NCAA

Rich is the new poor.

“As president of the American Football Coaches Association this year, I’ve been very involved with Coach Teaff and the American Football Coaches Association board, in looking at rules, potential rules changes, and size of staff is one that has been very discussed because Alabama has had so much success, and their staff has been bigger than any of the other staffs in college football.”

“So there was a thought at the board level of the American Football Coaches Association that, for the first time, along with the NCAA, maybe there should be a cap or a number to make it more fair across the board.”

If you’re thinking that’s a quote from a guy who’s the head coach at an SEC school with decent but not incredible financial resources, or maybe a mid-major program that simply has no chance of keeping up… well, you’re way off.

Mack Brown said that.  That would be this Mack Brown.

Despite his call for a cap on support staff, Brown made several new additions to his own support staff this offseason, including hiring away a member of Saban’s staff at Alabama.

“What we did is we were looking at ways to improve our staff,” Brown said. “So we brought in a recruiting coordinator from Alabama named Patrick Suddes, and he’s done a tremendous job for us.”

Next on Mack’s agenda is a rule limiting the number of hours a head coach can spend thinking about his job.  Because Saban is obsessed and maybe there should be a cap or a number to make it more fair across the board.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules