Daily Archives: March 15, 2015

“Everybody should have a boss.”

I don’t know if serving as the grand poobah of the CFP’s selection committee has gone to his head, or if it’s something else, but Jeff Long wants you to know he’s the man, damn it.

“It comes down to a simple thing. Many times, these coaches have been allowed to be their own bosses and take their programs and operate it as a single entity more powerful and more important than the rest of the athletic department or university. That’s wrong. Our coaches know it. I don’t say this because I’m some big tough guy, but our coaches know they have a boss. They have to answer to me. They know we’re going to keep things focused the right way.

“I have a boss. I have a chancellor, I have a system president, I have a board of trustees. Those people are my bosses, and they’re going to keep me in line and make sure I’m running our program the way they want it run.”

Long believes you see schools getting in trouble when that hierarchy isn’t in place.

“I think our profession is guilty of allowing certain high-profile individuals become larger than the program, larger than the department, larger than the university, and that’s wrong. I think that’s where you see these coaches and programs get into trouble,” Long said. “I don’t puff out my chest and say I’m Bret Bielema’s boss, but I am.”

Easy to say when Nick Saban isn’t your head football coach, dude.  Too bad Bobby Petrino didn’t get the message.

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Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal

Power corrupts, unless you’re talking about offense.

Ian Boyd looks at what Mike Gundy is up to at Oklahoma State and wonders if he’s coming up with the next big thing.

The nature of the spread offense is to isolate defenders in space and attack whichever defender is out-leveraged with someone fast. Originally that focused mostly on the passing game with the run game as a constraint if the defense spread too wide and left themselves outnumbered up front.

Oklahoma State’s spread-I looked to add the component of attacking the interior of the defense with size and versatility in the running game but with the main overall purpose of still setting up fast people to out-leverage opponents.

The Power run offense is a different beast than the spread and power generally hasn’t been combined much with spread offenses save for the 3rd generationsmashmouth spread” systems that use the QB as a runner or with the RPO-heavy Baylor and West Virginia attacks.

The power run is about imposing your will up front with a scheme that will drive defenders off the ball and put hats on hats so that the running back is generally always running for a gain, potentially a big one if he can juke a safety or the defense wears out and huge holes appear.

It makes for a ball-control run game that is often accompanied by a deep strike passing game off play-action.

Maybe I’m missing something, but that sounds familiar to anyone who’s watched what Mike Bobo was doing the past couple of seasons.

Not that this is dumb by any means.  If defenses all over the country are retooling themselves to deal with conventional spread offensive attacks, going after those with power running games makes very good sense.

Then again, Alabama, which already runs a power attack, may be taking steps to meet Gundy in the middle.  Take a look at a quarterback Saban is chasing right now:

Despite his name, Pass’ greatest weapon is his legs. At 6’5 and 220 with incredible athleticism and the potential to play at 240-plus, he’s drawn comparisons to Cam Newton or Cardale Jones. Pass is not yet a refined passer, but teams running the spread option don’t care much. Even some elite pro-style programs believe Pass can be a great passer from the pocket.

North Carolina, Alabama, Auburn and Louisville are major players. Alabama’s recruitment, following its use of mobile QB Blake Sims, could signal a change in recruiting philosophy.

And offensive philosophy.

Saban’s no dummy.  He knows what gives him problems defensively.  He’s already shown a willingness to let Kiffin introduce some hurry up principles into Alabama’s offensive scheme.  A big running quarterback seems like another example of going “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”  And perhaps an acknowledgement by a defensive guru that it’s the offense’s world that the game is living in now.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Should Georgia be the preseason favorite to win the SEC East?

Athlon thinks so.

Georgia is the early favorite in the SEC East for 2015, but the Bulldogs will be pushed by Florida, Missouri and Tennessee. The Volunteers are a team on the rise under coach Butch Jones, while the Gators have the talent to rebound in coach Jim McElwain’s first year. The Tigers have key personnel losses to address, but coach Gary Pinkel’s team always seems to find the right answers to reload the roster.

Looking down the list of questions for each program, it seems like there are plenty of warts to go around.  And maybe Georgia’s are smaller than everyone else’s.  But that’s just a maybe before spring practice.

It is interesting that the perception of South Carolina has dropped so precipitously in just a year.  But there are good reasons to have doubts about the Gamecocks.

Florida is a mystery to me, as I’ve previously said.  The Gators lack the horses to be élite on offense, but would mere competence on that side of the ball be enough to make them a factor in the division race?

Tennessee has certainly recruited well the last two seasons.  But it’s not as if the Vols are the only SEC East program to do so.

Missouri has lost a lot, true.  But based on their track record of the last two seasons, if the Tigers are healthy, I’m taking them seriously.

Your thoughts?

47 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Lesson from a collegiate athletic postseason, part two

Ultimately, this is what the people running college athletics really mean when they talk about broadening an audience for their product:

For the next three weeks, according to gaming industry estimates, nearly 40 million Americans will gamble more than $2 billion on the outcome of a tournament featuring the nation’s best unpaid basketball players.

The tradition starts Sunday evening, with the unveiling of the 68-team NCAA tournament field, and will continue this week in offices across the country. Come Thursday at noon Eastern, when games tip off in earnest, sports bars will fill and Internet streaming capabilities will strain as bettors keep track of their wagers on an event run by a nonprofit organization vehemently opposed to gambling.

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament bracket pool is an inimitably American tradition that encapsulates all that is complicated, contradictory and, some say, hypocritical about the cultural and financial heft of sports in our society.

Ask the casual fan about NCAA men’s basketball, and the response will involve brackets.  But there’s real money in those numbers, which is why the NCAA likes those broad numbers.  And chases those broad numbers in every way it can.  (96-team March Madness, anyone?)

Which is also why it has a hard time getting its story straight on gambling.

… Otteman credits the NCAA’s anti-gambling publicity and education campaigns, but he is still bothered every year when the organization, on its Web site, provides printable brackets that are inevitably used for gambling.

“That’s where it goes sideways to me,” Otteman said. “It’s a very hypocritical stance, in terms of fighting against legalization but still profiting from the popularity of the brackets.”

The stance likely won’t change. On Tuesday, in a federal courtroom in Philadelphia, attorneys for the NCAA will continue the fight to keep sports betting illegal. A hearing is scheduled that day in a case between the NCAA, professional sports leagues and the state of New Jersey, which has been trying to legalize sports betting for years.

Meantime, on Monday morning, many federal employees will be reminded that their standards of conduct prohibit them from participating in any gambling activity while on duty or on government property. And if they have ESPN, they can watch live later this week as President Obama fills out his bracket.

Hey, Obama!  No wonder he’s in favor of an expanded college football playoff.

The days of root, root, root for the home team seem to grow ever more quaint.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Lesson from a collegiate athletic postseason, part one

What’s so pathetic about college football’s current concern about keeping asses in the seats in the new CFP era is that the suits have had a laboratory experiment running for decades now with men’s college basketball.  And it’s as if nobody learns anything from anything.

If the whole product of college basketball doesn’t intrigue, could attendance numbers continue to freefall?

“If the game doesn’t present a compelling product, I don’t think you can expect people to pay for it,” Bilas said. “It just doesn’t work that way.”

Read the litany of options and issues expressed in the article.  Most of them are distressingly familiar.

And as for presenting a compelling product, how compelling can it truly be when the regular season is nothing more than a holding pattern for March Madness? What do I mean by that?  This is an example:

Fox’ team played a meaningless game yesterday; it’s already in the Tournament and nobody’s getting by Kentucky today, anyway.  So from his standpoint, it’s prudent to let one of his key players rest and heal.  But from a fan’s standpoint, what kind of message is being received from a decision like that?

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs