Damned if this doesn’t sound all too familiar.
(h/t Gil Salter)
Tomorrow’s the eighth practice of spring. Marc Weiszer gives us eight takeaways from what’s gone on. Most are unsurprising. But maybe I wasn’t expecting the defense to be quite so dominating against the run as it’s been so far.
According the statistics provided by Richt, there 98 rushing yards on 33 carries in the scrimmage. That’s 2.97 yards per carry. It was more of the same in Thursday’s practice that was entirely open to the media. When Todd Gurley isn’t carrying the ball, no surprise there’s an obvious drop-off.
“He busted a couple on screens, but on the run we were stopping him,” Green said of the scrimmage.
Defensive linemen James DeLoach, Ray Drew, Mike Thornton and John Atkins were credited with five tackles for loss in the scrimmage.
“Chris Mayes had a heck of a day,” Drew said. “The entire segment had a pretty good day.”
Green basically said the same thing.
“It’s way harder to run on them,” he said.
Much of that no doubt should be chalked up to an offensive line that’s still sorting itself out. But you figure early on there should be a fair amount of sloppiness on both sides of the ball, and even more so this spring with a new staff figuring out how to deploy personnel. That there hasn’t been much evidence of that makes you wonder if there really is something to all the happy talk about the defensive line.
All of which probably explains Marc’s next observation.
4. Gurley is getting more work than expected.
What sold Georgia Tech’s latest commit on playing for the Jackets? Why, moral victory.
Ratliffe’s heart was stolen when he attended his first Georgia Tech game, last November’s thriller against archrival UGA. “When I went to the Georgia-Georgia Tech game, I just fell in love that night. To me, the atmosphere was like an SEC game. I fell in love with it. They took it to double overtime. If you can go double overtime with Georgia, you can win against anybody. They were up 20-0 at the end of the third quarter. I fell in love with Georgia Tech that night, and wanted to come back and see the campus this spring.”
I hate to break it to you, kid, but the only reason you sensed an SEC-like atmosphere at that game was because 40% of the stadium was decked out in red and black. Get back to us after your first home game against Duke.
Instead of gnashing our teeth over players getting paid and strikes for bigger dorm rooms, how come more attention isn’t being paid to how college football got to this point in the first place? Whatever reality the NCAA’s ideal of amateurism was initially grounded in is long gone. What’s left is little more than a myth.
If we make sports the embodiment of American ideals, it makes a certain amount of sense, however irrational it is, that we want athletes to focus on something other than money. It would be too uncomfortable to acknowledge that the games we set up as objects of worship are really just a way for us to venerate a few talented people for extracting the highest possible compensation in exchange for their gifts.
But the lie the myth of amateurism lets us tell about college is at least as pernicious as the one it perpetuates about our love of sports. Suggesting that the hours athletes spend training, in practice, in strategy sessions and on the field or court represent just an activity, rather than a job, is a way of trying to shrink the definition of work to a level we are comfortable with…
Athletes are generating revenue for their schools through ticket sales and broadcast fees, while their peers may be simply working for the money to pay for tuition, room and board, and books. But either way, they are participants in a system that makes a lot of money for colleges and universities, even as students spend time working rather than having an idealized and balanced college experience.
Think about all the changes that have occurred across the college athletic landscape in the last half century: the demise of the four-year scholarship, NCAA v. Board of Regents of the University of Oklahoma, an increase in the length of the regular season, conference championship games, expanded postseasons, the joke that is “voluntary” summer practice, conference realignment and expansion, etc. What it all adds up to is a relentless march of commercialization as academic institutions look to monetize college athletics as much as possible.
The idea that college administrators, conference commissioners and coaches are free to frolic like Scrooge McDuck in the money while insisting that student-athletes must not take part in receiving the benefits of the revenue stream as well as accepting without question the burdens placed upon them by the powers that be placating the commercial interests creating that stream is quaint at best and remarkably cynical at worst when you realize that the suits running the show are using amateurism as a sales tool to promote college athletics to the public.
That’s how you get Mark Emmert promoting the false dichotomy of “do you want to have college sports played by unionized employees of universities or do you want to have them be college students playing games?” with a straight face. It’s either players play for love or money – nothing in between. And he gets away with it because in loving the romance that amateurism represents, we’re willing to be deceived.
The truth is that today, big time college sports are as much a commercial enterprise as any professional sports league. And until we’re all willing to admit that, nobody on the management side of college athletics is going to take the hard step of looking at what’s really worth preserving and moving to compromise on the rest, for the greater good.
We know who will man the left offensive tackle and center spots. And right now it looks like right tackle is Kolton Houston’s job to lose (although it would be nice to see some sort of viable competition for the position emerge).
But the guard slots… who the hell knows? Pyke and Kublanow are the right size, but still need polishing.
Kublanow is working this spring on grasping exactly what he has to do, improving his footwork and his hand placement. Pyke said his technique is getting better and he has a better grasp of the plays.
Beard can’t seem to hold down left guard – “Senior Mark Beard began the spring as the starter at left guard and junior Zach DeBell worked that spot Friday and Saturday.” – and DeBell sounds like he needs more time in the weight room.
“When a guy goes right down the middle of him, it’s kind of tough on him at times,” Richt said. “When you’ve got to pull and get out in front of a screen pass or pass protect, people trying to edge rush him, he does very well.”
Your proverbial work in progress, in other words. I’ll be surprised if we hear anyone’s locked down a start at offensive guard more than a few days before the opener.
As much as everyone keeps focusing on the money, the real threat of unionization is to control. Gene Stallings is no fan of the NLRB ruling.
“I’m not for a players’ union,” Stallings said Friday night before his speech celebrating the 10th anniversary of Ability Plus. “First of all, you don’t go to college to play football. You don’t go there to work. You go to college for an education. Education is the key. If you’re going to unionize the players, you unionize the entire student body.”
Stallings noted that one reason offered for a union is the health of the players.
“I don’t know anybody that doesn’t take care of their players when they’re injured,” he said. “I read one of the reasons (to unionize) was so they could get full medical attention. I think everybody gets that anyway.”
Sure they do, Gene. Just ask Decory Bryant.
Anyway, Coach Stallings knows what it takes to fix things – a little “laundry money” and player dorms.
“Where the NCAA is hurting, you can’t hardly pick up the paper any more without reading about somebody getting in trouble at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said. “Because there are no longer athletic dorms, when the players are scattered off everywhere, it’s hard to keep control of them. One thing I know about competitive athletics, you’ve got to sleep properly and you’ve got to eat properly. We can’t feed them three meals a day and you can’t keep them where we can sorta check on them.”
At least he’s not subtle about it.
But he’s not as inspiring as constitutional scholar Tom Izzo, who must have his kids ready to run through brick walls for him when they hear stuff like this:
“I think sometimes we take rights to a whole new level,” Izzo said. “ . . . I think there’s a process in rights. And you earn that. We always try to speed the process up. I said to my guys, ‘There’s a reason you have to be 35 to be president.’ That’s the way I look at it.”
People earning rights. That’s what’s made America great. Forget those pesky Amendments granting things. The Founding Fathers never had to coach college athletes.
(By the way, that whole Jenkins piece is more than a little embarrassing. Comparing Kane Colter to Che Guevara? Insisting that Kwame Brown would have benefitted more from a couple of years in college than getting paid millions? We’ve got commenters here who’ve made more coherent arguments against unionization than Jenkins.)
While we’re hearing from basketball coaches, Jim Boeheim is always good for a laugh.
Anyway, back to the main point. Control. I suspect this is where the unionization battle is going to play out.
Far less enthused was Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), a former U.S. Department of Education secretary and former president of the University of Tennessee.
“Imagine a university’s basketball players striking before a Sweet 16 game demanding shorter practices, bigger dorm rooms, better food and no classes before 11 a.m.,” he said. “This is an absurd decision that will destroy intercollegiate athletics as we know it.”
Expect a lot more of that kind of talk as things proceed.
Randy Edsall is a bit miffed with coaches like Les Miles running around tossing scholarship offers out to fourteen-year old prodigies. He thinks college football needs to do something about that, by damn. If it were up to him, football scholarships would not be extended to players until a recruit’s senior year of high school and that offer would only come from the university’s admissions department.
Edsall says his plan would still allow for the football staff to do the recruiting and make the sales pitches to determine to which players they want an offer to be extended. Going through the admissions department allows for a sort of extra layer of security to assure all parties involved the player will be able to attend the school without any hassles. In a sense, placing an emphasis on education is Edsall’s goal.
“Figure everything out academically first and then offer,” Edsall said. “Not the other way around. The model to me is broken.”
Uh hunh. More rules always fix everything.
Whenever this comes up, I keep saying the same thing: Andy Staples has the right idea. Make Les’ offers binding on the school, and we’ll see how quickly he keeps handing them out.
As you might expect, there’s a little extra union-y seasoning in the chafing dishes this morning.
Mark Emmert was on Face the Nation this morning. It went about as well as you’d expect.
College football fans, this is why we can’t have nice things.
And keep in mind, it’s not going to improve. If the NCAA keeps losing in court, eventually it’ll turn to Congress for relief.
So those of you opposed to unionization, ask yourselves a simple question: how should student-athletes seek to have their grievances addressed?