Daily Archives: March 11, 2015

Give the committee what it wants.

Bob Bowlsby said something to Heather Dinich about nonconference scheduling that bears repeating.

“I really do believe that nonconference scheduling should reside with the institution,” Bowlsby said. “They know best what they think it takes to get their team ready for the regular season. Having said that, we have talked about the very real circumstance of a situation where you have a weak schedule and you’ve got two teams that are about the same, and one played a good nonconference schedule and one played a poor nonconference schedule. I don’t think there’s any question the one with the good nonconference schedule is going to get in.”

Talk is cheap.  Control is real money.

Compare Bowlsby’s laissez faire attitude with Mike Slive’s on SEC nonconference basketball scheduling.

For as much as the SEC is seen as a football-driven conference, the people who run the conference have long felt strongly about their basketball reputation. So when things hit rock bottom two years ago, being called a glorified mid-major, they sprung to action.

The commissioner hired a basketball czar and also retained an outside expert. They sat down with their coaches and hammered away at the same message: Improve your scheduling to get those RPI numbers up.

It didn’t end there, though.

But lack of knowledge with what the NCAA tournament selection committee wants figured into it, too. Slive couldn’t quite get it through to his coaches, so he called on Whitworth and Shaheen to re-emphasize it.

One of the first things Shaheen did in 2013 was produce a 20-page document analyzing each team’s non-conference schedules during the 2012-13 season. The SEC also instituted a rule saying that every school had to send its non-conference schedule to Birmingham for approval.

That’s paid off, as this season the conference is widely expected to reverse an alarming trend.

Between 1999 and 2008, the SEC never had fewer than five teams receive NCAA bids. Then the drop-off began: Only three made it in 2009, followed by four apiece in 2010 and 2012, and three apiece the past two years.

As Shaheen puts it,

“These are institutions that are used to playing at a high level,” Shaheen said. “Sure, there’s an extraordinary amount to be proud of here. But the issue in response has to be: ‘What do we need to do to make sure the rest of America knows that?’ ”

Shaheen emphasized the need to “play anyone, anywhere, anytime.” And that led to what he called a “healthy dialogue,” with the coaches, and they proceeded to improve their schedules the last two years.

“The schools have done all the heavy lifting here,” Shaheen said.

Now SEC football has the luxury of banking on a reputation that SEC basketball doesn’t have.  That’s why it’s been able to get away with avoiding the hard choices of going to a nine-game conference schedule in football and doing away with games against FCS cupcakes without doing any damage to its reputation.  But nothing lasts forever.  A few more seasons of the SEC West falling flat on its face and other conferences whining about the SEC’s strength of schedule, and who knows what the selection committee will think of SEC schools’ nonconference scheduling?

If that day should come, I doubt we’ll see whoever’s running the SEC share Bowlsby’s attitude.  The question will be how stubborn the member schools will be in response.

4 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Big 12 Football, SEC Football

What Nick Chubb did on his spring break.

Welp, there’s at least one Georgia player I don’t expect to hear any suspension news about.

Although I’d feel better if he said something derogatory about Sharpies.

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Sometimes it’s okay to leave well enough alone. This is one of those times.

Oy.

 “We have to take the Georgia-Florida game and turn it into something that resembles a National Championship game,” Gator Bowl Sports President and CEO Rick Catlett told 1010XL Jax Sports Radio.  “The events that go on around Georgia-Florida need to significantly be enhanced.  It’s a nice tailgate party in the pavilion area, but it needs to be all down the river.”

“We have to…”“The events… need to…”.

Such urgency.  And for what?  The only thing my cynical heart can suggest is for separating more of the contents of our wallets and purses from us.

You’ve got a great, great game, one of a dwindling number of such with a special tradition.  And you think the Cocktail Party needs to have the amps turned up to eleven.  Of course, there’s only one go-to source out there for making things extra special.

“You’ve got to create a three or four day festival around it.  Friday all day you’re going to have to have special events going on.  When you go to the NFL Experience (at the Super Bowl) it’s not just a tailgate party.  It gives people an opportunity to go to the facility, touch the game, touch the sport, but it also gives all the people coming in from out of town major entertainment, parties, events,” he said.  [Emphasis added.]

Be still, my heart.

This is part of what’s killing college football for me.  There seems to be a concerted effort to shed what makes the sport special to its fans and wrap the pro experience around it.  Rick, if I wanted an NFL Experience, I’d go buy Falcons’ season tickets, dude.

By the way, Chadd Scott’s P.S. is totally delusional.  I don’t care how magical an experience Catlett’s “festival” turns out to be, the minute the schools make more playing the game on a home-and-home basis, they’ll be out of Jacksonville like a shot.

49 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

The human element and gaming the system

Something the MAC commissioner said in the Heather Dinich piece I linked to yesterday…

“In the case of the BCS, they started it from scratch, so they were building metrics as they went. To think that there wouldn’t be a time period of calibration, that’s just logical to think that’s going to occur. One of the big complaints about the BCS was the lack of the human element. Now we have a big dose of the human element. Some people like it, some people don’t. You don’t overreact. You let it play out a little bit to really get a sense of it.”

… is kind of amusing in light of last year’s big struggle over what to do with the Big 12’s two best teams.

If a team from the Big Ten, SEC, ACC, Pac-12, Big 12 — or Notre Dame — finishes the regular season undefeated and wins its conference championship, it’s a lock for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff, right?

“I don’t think it’s automatic or should be automatic,” ACC commissioner John Swofford said, “but I think it would take some unusual circumstances for an undefeated Power 5 team not to be one of the top four.”

Makes sense.

But then why schedule aggressively? Why put an Oklahoma or a Clemson on the nonconference schedule if the only goal is to win every game? Because winning isn’t enough in the sport’s new postseason.

Teams must now answer the question, “But who did they beat?”

Well, that’s the story this week, anyway.  The problem with the human element is that it isn’t necessarily consistent.  Nor is it necessarily transparent, Jeff Long’s insistence to the contrary notwithstanding.

There are 12 people tasked with comparing teams with similar résumés, and one of the criteria that “must be considered” is strength of schedule. There’s no doubt the selection committee honored that mandate in its inaugural season. It’s the reason Marshall was locked out of the committee’s poll for weeks. It was a factor in all seven of the weekly rankings, as committee chairman Jeff Long consistently noted wins over the committee’s top 25 teams as justification for where teams were slotted. It was one big reason TCU was ranked ahead of Baylor all season. TCU had a win over Minnesota. Baylor had a win over Buffalo.

Bill Hancock explains.

“Clearly, teams that have faced tougher opposition are generally going to come out ahead,” said Bill Hancock, executive director of the College Football Playoff. “There’s just no question that the committee compares those nonconference schedules. I know that the playoff will usher in a whole new era of scheduling and that teams who want to be in this playoff are going to have to prove themselves with their schedules.”

That’s exactly what Ohio State did.

Well, that was certainly convenient for the Big Ten.  But what happens to Ohio State when it’s in the mix next time and doesn’t have an advantage in strength of schedule?  If there’s one thing Urban Meyer has demonstrated in winning three national titles, he knows how to work the selection system to his advantage.  I’ll believe Hancock when his argument is used to keep a Ohio State or Alabama out of the semifinals.

Which is not to say that Baylor, between its insistence on playing a weak ass nonconference schedule and not getting a conference championship game bounce going into selection time – and don’t think Ohio State’s crushing of Wisconsin wasn’t a big, big factor there at the end – doesn’t face an uphill struggle.  But let’s not kid ourselves about how the human element can be influenced at a timely point.  Computers may have their flaws, but at least you know they’re using the same criteria at the end they were using at the start.

15 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

You ain’t alone.

If you’re fretting about Georgia’s quarterback situation, at least you can take comfort in the fact that there are plenty of other SEC teams in the same boat.  Message to SEC defensive coordinators – you’d best be gearing up to stop the run, especially early in the season.

(Musical accompaniment to the header follows.)

12 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

“A lot of sleepless nights” in Gainesville

Florida is down to seven offensive linemen for spring practice.  Three of them are redshirt freshmen.  A traditional spring game is just about out of the question (“I don’t see how you can (have a game) when you don’t have two units,” McElwain said.).

But there’s a silver lining to that cloud.

“The way I look at guys not being able to go in spring is it now gives the other guy an opportunity to get valuable reps. So, that’s what we really try to accomplish with them.”

McElwain intends to conduct a competition for the starting quarterback position.  If I were one of the candidates, I’m not sure how eager I’d be to step up right now.

24 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

Now we know why the Patriots keep winning the Super Bowl.

According to Craig James, they’re doing Satan’s work.  Bill Belichick’s got impressive connections, that’s for sure.

Ol’ Craig sounds like he’s a fun guy with some interesting ideas about building camaraderie in the locker room.  I bet Mike Leach wishes he’d have known more about him from the get go.

54 Comments

Filed under The Honorable Craig James

Mark Richt has officially lost control of the lost control meme.

Per CFN, it’s official.

The whole Mark Richt Hot Seat narrative is over – he’s not getting fired unless Georgia totally goes into the tank

Boy, I’ll bet he’s relieved to hear that.  All though I guess there’s still a small segment out there asking the question.  You know the one.

 

23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football