Daily Archives: March 11, 2014

An asses in the seats plan that just might work.

Sometimes you see a new concept and have an immediate “why didn’t somebody think of that before” reaction.  Such is the case for me with Michigan’s 2014 student ticketing policy.  (h/t mgoblog)

The University of Michigan Athletic Department and the Central Student Government announced Tuesday (March 11) a new and improved student ticketing policy for Wolverine football games. The new policy will feature an attendance-driven reserved seating plan that will assign students reserved season seat locations based on attendance points accumulated during the previous season. Seating will no longer be first-come, first-served general admission.

Here are the goals of the policy:

Objectives of Attendance-Driven Reserved Seating Plan

·       Create a home field advantage by having students attend games and arrive 30 minutes prior to the start of the contest

·       Enhance students’ game day experience by allowing group seating; groups can be formed with a minimum of two (2) students and a maximum of 100 students.

The way it works is pretty simple.  This season is set as a baseline.

For the 2014 season, all student football season ticket holders will have reserved seats. The reserved seat locations will be based on a combination of 2013 attendance and class level. Following is the order of the seat location for the 2014 season:

  1. SuperFans – Returning students who attended at least five games on time during the 2013 football season (estimated close to 6,000 students; returning seniors/graduate school students among these 6,000 students will be seated in lowest rows)
  2. Returning Seniors/Graduate School Students
  3. Returning Juniors
  4. Returning Sophomores
  5. Returning Freshmen
  6. New incoming students (freshmen, transfers and graduate)

Students can form reserved seating groups (maximum of 100 members). In 2014, groups will be seated based on average class level in the group, with the exception of SuperFan groups consisting of all returning students who attended at least five (5) games on time in 2013. These groups will be seated with priority group #1 in the lowest rows.

Going forward is where it gets quite clever.

Starting with the 2015 season, all reserved seat locations will be decided strictly by attendance points. Attendance points are accumulated for each game attended (3 points). Arriving 30 minutes prior to kickoff earn an additional three (3) points, for a total of six (6) points. There will be no class standing-based perks or points starting with the 2015 football season. A group’s standing (and seat location) will be calculated by an average group score from the previous year’s point total.

Students can earn up to 36 points for the 2014 season, the equivalent of showing up to six (6) games at least 30 minutes prior to kickoff. Lochmann stated that the athletic department would only count six games instead of all seven, providing students with the benefit of the doubt for situations like holidays, student break, weather, etc., that can affect their attendance.

All attendance points will be tracked through scanned ticket data. Students will be seated by point totals, with the highest accumulated points at the front (maximum 36 points) and descending back to the top of the student section.

They’ve created a positive feedback loop that will net the most motivated students the best game access.  And the loop reboots annually.

There will be no carryover of points from season to season. The prior season’s point total will be used to determine the seat location for the upcoming year.

Yeah, there’s a little more work involved.  But given the result, it sure seems like it’s worth it.  Anybody down here paying attention?



Filed under College Football

From the annals of you’ve got to spend money to make money…

The budgets come as many SEC athletics departments are investing money to build up their capability to produce games. Schools are being asked to produce games for the digital component of the SEC Network.

So while Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs is budgeting “very conservatively” for 2014-15 television revenue, he’s also spending approximately $3.5 million for a new control room, fiber that runs to venues, and equipment.

“Fortunately in the last 10 years we built up a reserve over $16 million so if we have to go into the fund, we will,” Jacobs said. “It’s an investment for the future.”

“Investment for the future”?  Greg McGarity thinks that “reserve fund” doesn’t mean what you think it means, Jay.

I wonder how he’s going to ask Georgia alumni to put up half the production cost as a match.  It’s not exactly as sexy as improving the baseball facilities.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

A spring break “message”

From the Georgia coaching staff to the players:

New Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt wanted players to not forget about football while doing what college students do during spring break.

“We’re going to let them leave to go on spring break with a message,” Pruitt said. “Hopefully these guys will work out three to four times this next week and they’ll come back in shape. We’re going to go out there and hit it running.”

Funny, the message I would have sent would be “stay away from the brownies”.


Filed under Georgia Football

Dithering, a Butts-Mehre tradition

Before you get cranked up, this isn’t a post about Mark Fox.  It’s a post about the decision-making process behind Fox’ future.

Say what you will about the mediocrity of this season’s SEC basketball, Fox has coached a historical season at Georgia.  And as Towers notes, he’s done that in the wake of the departure of the most talented player he’s coached in Athens. Even so, realistically speaking, the best this team can likely hope for is a middling seed in the NIT.

If you’re Greg McGarity, you pretty much know what you’ve got with Fox’ five years in Athens.  The only question left to answer is whether this season represents a floor from which Fox will inspire recruits to come to his program and lead Georgia basketball to bigger and better things, or a ceiling that shows the limit on how much Fox can wring out of the talent he’s able to coax to come play for him. That’s a conclusion you should have already reached by now.  We shouldn’t be reading tweets like the above and nodding our heads in agreement.

There are three possibilities about Fox’ fate.  One, McGarity is waiting to deal with an extension until after the season is over.  (That begs the question why, but roll with me here.)  Two, maybe Fox is gone, but McGarity doesn’t want that news to affect the rest of this season.  And three, McGarity is reluctant to make a decision, and is waiting to see if a decision can be forced upon him by a turn of events, like, say, Georgia shocking the world by winning the SEC Tournament and landing as a high seed in the NCAAs, or the opposite in a two-game flame-out in the SEC and NIT.

I have no idea which is the case.  If it’s the third scenario, what he’s likely to get is something in between, and what he’s likely to do as a result of that is uncertain.  It seems to me that passivity in the form of letting Fox stay without a contract extension likely dooms Fox and the program to more seasons of mediocrity.  But it’s an option that wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if taken.

The reason I’m playing the pessimist here is because I hear the faint echoes of a decision made by one of McGarity’s predecessors – Vince Dooley’s infamous one-year ultimatum to Ray Goff.  It was a call that served no interests well, other than letting Dooley put off an unpleasant task for a year while hoping for a miracle to let him off the hook.  That’s not good management.  But sitting in limbo is too often the Georgia way.

When it comes to folks behaving badly, this athletic department has no problem cutting them off with alacrity, condemning and decisive all the way. But when it comes to judging how to deal with performance, that’s a whole ‘nother matter. Routinely operating in no man’s land is a sign of lacking confidence in decision-making on an organizational level.  It’s why I marvel at those of you who are so certain that finding a successor to Mark Richt is such a slam dunk.  I don’t say that because I think Richt is the man, come hell or high water.  I just don’t get why some of you fail to see what I see – that the hire of Richt, in the context of how the athletic department has often screwed around with hirings and firings since Joel Eaves’ departure, was a lucky break as much as anything else.  There’s no guarantee they’ll have the same luck the next time.


Filed under Georgia Football

The early signing shuffle

You may have noticed that Mark Richt jumped into the early signing period debate yesterday with some comments that appeared in the AJ-C.  He wasn’t as strident – or as personal –  about the subject as Stanford’s David Shaw.  Rather, it was the conservative Richt, warning about the dangers of opening Pandora’s box:

“I always say ‘Be careful what we ask for’ because I don’t know what that will do to our recruiting calendar. I think there’s some sanity to it right now. I think if everybody plays by the same rules, then it’s good as it is. I’d be afraid to change it. I don’t want to turn the regular season into such a recruiting frenzy that you can’t even coach your team on a weekly basis. I enjoy coaching football, too.

“I think if you moved the signing date up, I think you push more official visits to the football season. Sooner or later, they’ll say ‘We don’t want all these official visits during the season. Why don’t we move them to the summer?’ Then we’ll have official visits in the summer, and no one will get any time away. Not me, not our assistants coaches, not the kids, not the high school coaches, and not the families. Where does it end?

“I think we’ve got a pretty good setup now. No matter what system you use, there’s going to be some bugs in it, and there’s going to be some things you don’t like about it. That’s why I say ‘Be careful what you ask for” because if you do that, what’s going to be the aftermath? That’s what I’m worried about. I can’t even say what it’s going to be, but I’ve got a feeling it will be like ‘Why in the world did we do that?’”

John Infante agrees that there are a lot of moving parts the NCAA has to consider with such a change.

I am not a fan of a football early signing period for the simple reason that right now football sidesteps a lot of problems by signing players to binding NLIs after the coaching carousel has wound down. I do not agree with Shaw that the prospects “always” win release appeals, but the number of requests for release would go up sharply if more coaching turnover after signing is introduced. On the other hand, the emerging trend of assistants remaining in jobs until the next class is signed before leaving or being fired reduces this benefit. It is only a matter of time before a school lets a head coach sign a class, then fires him and tries to enforce the NLI against many or all of those prospects.

And while I’m normally skeptical of college football’s claims that things which work in other sports would not work in football, signing in the middle of the season would be a challenge. An early signing period, especially with the corresponding recruiting changes mentioned by Peal, do little to alleviate the frenzy surrounding the run-in to signing day. Moving it to November, the heart of the college football season, would be a significant disruption.

The alternatives would be to open the signing period sometime before or after the regular football season. A December signing period, perhaps piggybacking on the current December period for midyear junior college transfers has limited benefit and is unlikely to be popular since it gives an advantage to coaches who are not in bowls. A summer signing period would be more than two months earlier than any other sport and necessitate even greater changes to NCAA recruiting rules including official visits and greater communication with juniors.

That being said, I had to chuckle a little when I read this:

When it comes to recruiting proposals, the thing to always keep in mind is that coaches generally do not like recruiting. Only a few rare coaches enjoy the travel, the salesmanship, the handlers, and the uncertainty. Even many of the coaches who are good at it see it as a necessary evil. Anyone who has figured out a system for being good at a part of their job they do not enjoy is not going to support changes that require them to rethink how they do that task.

What about a coach who’s not good at a part of a job he doesn’t enjoy?  Well, sign Paul Johnson up for that early bad boy right now.

“It’s nuts right now. And financially, it doesn’t make sense to not have an early signing period. If you’ve got a kid who grew up wanting to go to Georgia Tech, Georgia, Alabama, or wherever, and they’ve known that their whole life, why not let them sign in November or December? Why do they have to wait until February?

“And then when they sign, the schools know exactly how many scholarships that they have left. They know exactly the numbers. It wouldn’t be as chaotic, and it would be a whole lot less expensive than trying to babysit them for three months.”

Does it surprise you that the mastermind behind the Johnson Doctrine would say something like this?

“Every other sport has an early signing period but us. It hasn’t affected basketball that much. You don’t see all the de-commitments in basketball. They are recruiting less people but they also have an early signing date. There’s a couple of reasons. Once a kid commits, they don’t let them visit anywhere else if they’re committed. If they do, they’re not committed, same as everybody else. That’s one. And number two, they sign early. So if they are committed and signing early, it’s over. They don’t have an extra 10 weeks to be hammered and talked out of what they thought they wanted to do. And it’s like I always said: If a kid isn’t sure what he really wants to do, then don’t sign early. Just go through recruiting, and they’ll have another date to sign in February.”

Still, even Johnson acknowledges the specter of player transfers that Shaw is concerned about is something that would have to be addressed with the rule change (“You could have a provision in there that if the coach changed, then the early signing was null and void. That would protect (the kids) that way.”)  Yeah, that’s gonna happen.

Whatever comes of this, you can be sure of two things if a change is made.  One, it will be justified as a move that favors recruits.  Two, that will be complete bullshit.


Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

The stat guy and the analyst

I think Gary Danielson is one of the best color guys in the business.  His opinions on other aspects of college football, though, often don’t click with me.  That being said, I found this exchange he had with Bill Connelly at the recent Sloan Sports Analytics Conference to be a fun read I thought I’d share:

Gary Danielson: To me, stats tell the story of what has happened, not what will happen. I find it interesting, but I just don’t use it a lot. I played for the Lions, and I thought we had a chance to win every game. I didn’t want to find out that we didn’t.

It’s hard to put in highbrow stats into a game. It’s not like the NFL game — it’s a lot different. So many players, such different talent levels. The stats I use are most closely associated with the credible stats that Cris Collinsworth gets in the NFL.

Let me ask you this: If a team, according to stats, gets inside the 20-yard line four times, and they don’t score any touchdowns, is that a good thing?

We actually chatted about this for a few minutes. His point was that creating scoring opportunities is a very positive thing (and potentially a sign that you’ll be creating more), but blowing opportunities is tough. Teams quite often lose because of blown chances (see: Iron Bowl 2013), but teams that generate opportunities are likely to keep generating opportunities. The bottom line: stat folks are often seen as searching for concrete, black-and-white conclusions. Yes, you should absolutely go for it on fourth down here. Yes, this is good, and this is bad. Et cetera. That’s the common perception. But really, it’s the exact opposite. Most stat lovers revel in the gray area, the total lack of concrete answers.

Both get some good points in.  A guy like Bill isn’t arrogant enough to suggest stats paint a black and white world, but there are people out there – shoot, there are commenters here – who will try to insist otherwise.  On the other hand, sometimes there’s more to learn about the sport in Bill’s gray area than Danielson seems ready to admit.

The real issue is that college football is a much harder sport to illuminate with statistical analysis than most others.  But that doesn’t mean the search doesn’t have its rewards.


Filed under Stats Geek!

Office pools and Cinderellas

It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of those “March Madness is waaay better than college football, dude” pieces, and this one manages to hit all the old, familiar high points.

But the only ones interested will be the fans of the teams that are involved and your normal college football fans. Your mother and grandmother and hipster cousin won’t suddenly jump on board to watch the college football Final Four…

He says that like it’s a bad thing.


UPDATE:  Apples and oranges.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

“As the second hour of the show began, Finebaum went to “Kellen” on Line 1.”

Sooner or later, everybody calls PAWWWLLL.

Kellen Williams was on his way to Birmingham for a job interview Monday when he simply couldn’t take it anymore.

The former Alabama offensive lineman was tuned in to the Paul Finebaum Show and heard multiple callers take shots at Nick Saban for his stance on the now-tabled 10-second proposal. So, Williams did something about it.

Yeah, he gave a half-assed defense of his coach.

“I think he’s just lobbying for the no-huddle offense to be kind of cut out but then again he also game-planned for it,” Williams said. “He knows better than anyone in the country how to stop it…”

That’s the kind of incoherent bullshit we’ve all come to know and love from Finebaum’s audience.  Williams fits right in.  Maybe he’ll become a regular with Tammy and the rest of ’em.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules, PAWWWLLL!!!

Steve Shaw, pacing himself

There is a lot to unpack from this interview with SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw about the debate over pace, but the first thing I’ve got to say about the man is that he’s much less arrogant about the topic than Bobby Gaston was.  Compare Gaston’s justification for inserting himself into the process…

Richt argued that the officials should put the ball in play as soon as they are set, regardless of how much time has elapsed, but Gaston said that would provide the offense an unfair advantage.

“Mark Richt would eat their lunch,” he said. “He would go straight to the ball and snap it. He’d get in 100 plays. We have about half the coaches who think we go too fast and about half who think we go too slow so we must be in about the right spot.”

… with what Shaw has to say about that:

“Whether we like it or not as officials, the college rule is different than the NFL rule,” Shaw said. “The college rule says when the ball is ready it can be snapped. So what we’ve got to do is be very consistent — and I’m not just talking SEC, I’m talking nationally. This is a big topic with (officiating) coordinators: How do we stay very consistent from a timing perspective on when the ball is ready and certainly any time there’s substitutions?”

That’s the difference between enforcing the rules and interpreting the rules according to some personal aesthetic agenda.  (Although, interestingly, Shaw seems to have overlooked what Gaston squelched with Richt when he noted at the time the 40-second clock was adopted, “Nobody was pressing the clock like they are now.”)

Shaw also points out that pace isn’t simply a matter of what offensive coaches try to do.

Conference officiating coordinators, along with College Football Officiating, LLC, are in the process of writing up specific standards of how to spot the ball ready for play “for every official in America to read and understand,” Shaw said.

In the SEC, Shaw said the general principle is the umpire will almost always spot the ball. The umpires are instructed to don’t sprint, don’t walk, but to jog crisply.

“I have nine SEC crews,” Shaw said. “When you talk about pace, you have different athleticism of umpires. What is a crisp jog to one guy is maybe not the exact same crisp jog to another guy.”

How much of that is due to athleticism and how much to, say, how an umpire feels about the proper amount of time to get set?  Common standards for spotting the ball seems like something that should have been established already, but in any event, it’s a welcome development.

It always seems that any time I read something about the SEC and officiating, something’s bound to turn up that’s irritating.  In this case, it’s adding the eighth official.  Shaw acknowledges that the conference’s test run had been successful, but…

The SEC tested eight officials in spring practices last year and will do so again this spring. What the SEC found was that an eighth official freed the umpire and referee to focus more on their pre-snap duties. Instead of the umpire spotting the ball, the eighth official — called the alternate referee — spots the ball.

“We manage uptempo much better (with an eighth official),” Shaw said.

More than tempo, though, Shaw said the eighth official allowed for better handling of spread offenses. For example, when five receivers go downfield, five officials become responsible to watch them, leaving just the umpire and referee to handle line-of-scrimmage play, including dangerous hits to the quarterback.

Although the early feedback is helpful, Shaw said he’s not sure if the SEC is ready to switch to eight officials during the season yet.

“We’ll be talking about it internally in the conference,” he said. “There would be latitude to do it in conference games only. Then you get to, do you want consistent officiating all year (since an eighth official is only allowed for conference games)? There’s a cost component to it. There’s one more official the schools have to pay so that always factors in. [Emphasis added.]  What I’m trying to look at is does that make us better?”

The conference is swimming in money, with more to come, but can’t swing the dough for nine guys who it admits can help manage the game better?  SEC, you’re so SEC.


Filed under SEC Football, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA