Daily Archives: April 27, 2014

Eight plus one

The SEC presidents and chancellors got together today to discuss football scheduling.  In case you’re wondering how things turned out, let LSU’s Joe Alleva clue you in.

The end result?  The status quo, with a twist:

But beginning in 2016, each school will be required to schedule at least one nonconference game against one of the four other major conferences. That’s not a change for teams such as Georgia, which already plays Georgia Tech every year. Florida already plays Florida State, South Carolina has Clemson and Kentucky has Louisville.

In fact the only SEC teams in 2014 that aren’t playing another major-conference team are Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt.

Slive said the change would “bolster our collective annual nonconfernce schedule” while also maintaning flexibility for each school with the remaining three games.

“The concept of strength-of-schedule is based on an entire 12-game schedule, a combination of both conference games together with non-conference games,” Slive said. “Given the strength of our conference schedule supplemented by at least one major non-conference game, our teams will boast of a strong resume’ of opponents each and every year.”

This has Slive’s Solomonic approach written all over it – a little something for everybody (I doubt Alleva agrees, but…):  no ninth conference game, but a requirement that every school make a nod in the direction of strength of schedule, to keep the playoff selection folks satisfied.  No ninth game, but the key rivalry games are preserved.  Throw in some discomfort over unbalanced home/away schedules and a desire to use non-conference scheduling to maximize bowl opportunities, and there you have it.

“Tradition matters in the SEC, and there is no denying that tradition was a significant factor in this decision because it protects several long-standing cross-division conference rivalries,” Slive said. “It has been a hallmark of the SEC over our history to be able to make continued progress while also maintaining traditions important to our institutions.”

Of course, the other part of that tradition is that there are going to be long stretches when certain teams from the East don’t face certain teams from the West.  That’s the price you have to pay for progress to preserve the right to play Wake Forest and Indiana.  (It’ll be interesting to see what happens if a SEC school can’t find a major college dance partner in a given season.)

The bitching from certain quarters will continue.  That’s another tradition.  But the real upshot to take away from this cobbled together course of action is that Slive wants to keep his powder dry on the subject of inventory for the SEC Network.  He’ll go to that ninth game when somebody’s ready to make it worth his while. Meanwhile, he’s got a consensus that no SEC school plays four games against teams from lesser conferences/divisions anymore.


UPDATE:  As an interesting side note, look what got voted down.

“I understand Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia for the history, but that’s only four schools,” Alleva said. “The rest were voting in their own self-interest. They could have kept those games and the rest of us rotated. That was brought up but voted down.”


UPDATE #2:  This is mighty big of ’em.



Filed under SEC Football

Good news, Dawg fans: it’s not the year of the quarterback.

We kinda, sorta knew that already, but this post-spring wrap up of the conference makes that clearer.

We already have our opinions about Mason.  Here’s the rest, team-by-team:

  • LSU.  A true freshman outplayed the incumbent in the spring game.  Still, Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron said the battle for the starting job will go into August.”
  • Alabama. They’re waiting on Jacob Coker, so this is another team that won’t name a starter until August.
  • Arkansas.  The Hogs return a starter who completed just 49.6 percent of his passes, and a 97.3 passer rating in SEC action (lowest in the conference).  He threw a pick on his first attempt in their spring game.  No wonder Bert would rather fret about players’ health issues.
  • Auburn.  They hope Nick Marshall improves throwing the ball, but does it really matter?  True luxury at the position.
  • Florida.  This time, the offensive coordinator really means it.  Really.
  • Kentucky.  One kid’s already left the program, which means they’ve still got to pick a starter from the other three candidates in fall practice.
  • Mississippi.  Bo Wallace is back, which means they’ve got one of the stable situations in the conference.
  • Mississippi State.  Ditto for these Bulldogs, as Dak Prescott returns and looks like he could be somebody to keep an eye on this season.
  • Missouri.  Maty Mauk takes over, and like Hutson Mason, gained some valuable experience last season when the Tigers’ starter went down.
  • South Carolina. People like Dylan Thompson, but it’s hard to see him as anything but a drop off from Connor Shaw, who was a real gamer.  (As Missouri fans can ruefully confirm.)  As noted in the article, Thompson is just a 55 percent career passer, and struggled with forcing throws — see a interception every 30 attempts — last year.  Let’s just say the jury is out.
  • Tennessee.  Oy.  Plus, the Vols have to build an offensive line from scratch.
  • Texas A&M.  Manziel is gone, his top backup transferred, his backup got nailed with an arrest for public intoxication and the other possibility is a true freshman.  Needless to say, check back in August.
  • Vanderbilt.  Patton Robinette got a 2013 audition, but didn’t wow anybody in the spring.  His redshirt freshman competition isn’t ready.  You know what that means:  Meanwhile, former LSU backup Stephen Rivers will likely arrive this summer and try to put his own candidacy forward.”

Right now, Georgia doesn’t even know who three of the starters it will face in conference play will be.  Other than Marshall, none of the rest really scare, although you have to respect Mauk’s and Thompson’s potential. Throw in new starters at Clemson and Georgia Tech, and right now you’d have to say that there are very few games this season that Georgia appears to be at an obvious disadvantage at quarterback.

Other than the secondaries they’ll be throwing at, that is.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

“I think everybody’s just kind of waiting to see what’s gonna happen…”

Seth Emerson speaks to various actors around campus about unionization and player compensation and, as often seems to be the case, the most rational observations come from the student-athletes.

Chris Conley speaking intelligently about a topic is pretty much a given:

“People need to realize that whether it’s by unionizing or it’s by another means, there are some issues that need to be looked at, other than just paying athletes,” said Georgia senior receiver Chris Conley, who is a student-athlete rep to the NCAA. “It’s student-athlete well-being. Student-athlete experience.”

That’s the thing, isn’t it?  If you take the political sentiment out of it, unionization is nothing but a means for student-athletes to get their concerns heard in a legitimate fashion.  It’s not an end.  While I don’t expect the Northwestern players to vote for a union, it was important for them to have the choice.  That’s what’s finally awakened the schools and the NCAA.  I hope the NLRB leaves the ruling in effect on appeal, because the players need the leverage that the threat of a vote brings.

As far as compensation goes, there’s the reality of being a star athlete in a non-revenue sport.  Meet Marion Crowder.

… Only her sport is women’s soccer, and Crowder knows the difference in the grand scheme.

“I think we understand that we’re not necessarily the money-makers of the university,” said Crowder, who as a freshman led the Bulldogs in goals and points last fall. “And I honestly think that we’re all happy to be playing college soccer.”

These are days of change in college sports. And on the campus at Georgia, key figures await the result, partly with wariness but also with a sense that some change will be good.

“If the Johnny Manziels and Todd Gurleys and Keith Marshalls of the world, since their names are plastered everywhere, I can understand if they have a much stronger opinion on what they want and what they see is fit,” Crowder said.

I have a hard time believing there isn’t enough money flowing into big time college sports to find a reasonable way to accommodate the commercial demands of the star football player and the star women’s soccer player.  There simply isn’t enough will on the administrative side to find a solution right now.  That’s why Mark Richt’s observation sums it all up.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

“To me it only makes sense.”

When it comes to the nine-game conference schedule, Auburn’s Ellis Johnson speaks truth to power.


Filed under SEC Football

The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

As a middle-aged man with an increasingly creaky body, I’m not gonna say this story gives me any pleasure, but it is gratifying to know that I’ve handled my share of couch-movings with less physical damage than Garrett Grayson suffered.


Filed under The Body Is A Temple

Bobo’s father knows best.

Hutson Mason got help from everybody this offseason.

One of the bigger objectives Bobo had this spring for Mason, an unheralded 2010 signee from Marietta, dealt with footwork. Bobo had detected on video that Mason’s feet had been too close together late last season, so the two studied New England Patriots star Tom Brady and how he established himself in the pocket.

Bobo’s father, George, a former coach at Thomasville High, also helped out.

“Coach Bobo’s dad really taught me a lot as far as footwork and the lower body, which is something I was struggling with at the end of last year,” Mason said. “We worked hard together in January, February and March, and he feels like I’ve come a long way. I thought as far as mentally and knowing everything in this offense, I felt fantastic the whole spring.

“It was more about mechanics for me, so that’s what I really wanted to focus on. I tried to get my lower body into every single throw this spring to where it wasn’t just all arm.”

Richt claims that Mason actually looked stronger in the two scrimmages that weren’t open to the public.  I thought he looked comfortable running the offense at G-Day.  He doesn’t sound like he lacks for confidence, but this is April.  If his offensive line plays well enough to keep him confident once the season starts, he’s got more than enough weapons around him to make things click.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Paging Dr. Bielema.

Maybe they need a second opinion about Ted Agu’s cause of death.

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Filed under Bert... uh... Bret Bielema, The Body Is A Temple