Daily Archives: June 2, 2015

Phil Steele’s All-SEC teams

We’ve turned the calendar page to June and that means Steele’s publication is about to make its 2015 appearance.  To whet our appetites, he’s released his list of annual preseason All-SEC teams.

I knew if I waiting long enough, somebody else would do my heavy lifting for me, and, sure enough, here’s David Wunderlich to the rescue:

Team First Team Second Team Third Team Fourth Team Score
Alabama 5 3 1 3 34
Auburn 3 6 1 1 33
Ole Miss 4 1 3 1 26
Georgia 4 1 2 2 25
LSU 2 3 1 4 23
Texas A&M 1 1 4 2 17
Arkansas 0 3 3 0 15
Florida 2 2 0 1 15
Missouri 0 2 2 4 14
Tennessee 0 1 5 1 14
Mississippi State 2 1 1 0 13
South Carolina 1 0 1 1 7
Kentucky 0 0 0 3 3
Vanderbilt 0 0 0 1 1

I never agree with all of Steele’s picks on an individual basis, and this year’s hardly an exception.  (The quarterbacks after Prescott are a crap shoot, admittedly, but Mauk at fourth seems like a bit of a stretch.  And haven’t we been waiting for OJ Howard to emerge as The Next Great SEC TE for a couple of years now?)  But as an overall assessment of relative talent across the conference, I can’t say I find his results too out of whack.

Which doesn’t bode well for Steve Spurrier, does it?

And speaking of the East, if you go by Steele’s assessments, it’s hard to see Georgia as less than anything but the favorite to win the division.  That’s a pretty sizeable gap there between the Dawgs and the next highest team, Florida.

As for what he’s got with Georgia, it’s clear he’s really high on Greg Pyke, who I thought finished last season as Georgia’s best offensive lineman.  I probably would flip Sanders and Mauger from where he places them, and I can’t help but think Lorenzo Carter might be a little low at third team.  The guy with the most upside is Malcolm Mitchell, but with his injury history, he’s a real boom or bust pick, so fourth team is probably a safe place to park him for now.

Conference wise, if things are shaky at QB, they’re anything but at running back.  That’s a ridiculous list of talent at that position.

And the one area where I think Steele’s kind of mailed it in?  Defensive back, where three members of Alabama’s weak spot on defense made his top four teams.  The conference as a whole isn’t that weak in the secondary, so that strikes me as a little bit of a lean on Saban there.

What do y’all see there?

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Filed under Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football

“It’s an interesting dynamic of the timing.”

Mark Richt confirms and attempts to explain – it would be a real stretch to say he’s shedding any light – that Georgia is pursuing Virginia graduate transfer quarterback .

“To me, having three is a small number on scholarship,” Richt said. “It’s just like at any position, if you’ve got guys that are interested in your school you spend time with them, talk to them and see if it’s a good fit. I mean, everybody’s gotta compete for their job, and that’s true for all sports. So this is really no different.”

This is the second quarterback Georgia has been linked to over the past month: Notre Dame transfer reportedly visited Georgia before deciding on Florida State. Richt never confirmed the recruitment of Golson, and the SEC’s rule against graduate transfers who have been in trouble at their former school may have had an impact as well.

Lambert is under no such restriction. He will have two years of eligibility at his next school, and is coming off a year in which he started nine games for Virginia, but struggled at times with interceptions.

“If there’s a transfer who has the talent base to help you win, then you recruit him, you talk to him.” Richt said. “It’s well wtihin the rules. I don’t know if the word is honoring, but you’re rewarding a guy who’s gotten his degree and given him an opportunity to make a change if he wants to or stay if he wants to.”

As someone who watched Lambert play last season, all I can say is that if he elects to come to Georgia and winds up in the final mix for starter, Richt and Schottenheimer will have done an impressive job coaching him up.  More depth can’t hurt, though.

It sure would be interesting to hear what the coaches are saying in private on this, no?

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Filed under Georgia Football

The best things in life are free, SEC recruiting edition

Today’s dose of nicely timed COA sarcasm…

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Filed under Recruiting

“I’m just happy to be a Georgia Bulldog.”

For those of you who thought Roquan Smith’s decision to forego signing a NLI with Georgia was some evidence of him being a prima donna, he won’t even talk about it now.

And now, he flat out refuses to discuss the whole UCLA debacle. I tried several times to get him to share some details about the experience and his interactions with them since, to no avail.

“I don’t really have a comment on that; I’m just going to let it lay where it lay,” Smith said. “I try not to remember that day. I’m just happy to be a Georgia Bulldog. My main focus is just getting up there and doing what I can do to get on the field and help my teammates out.”

There are a lot of kids in this class I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can contribute this season, but Smith’s the one I’m most intrigued about, because of his fairly unique (for Georgia, anyway) skill set for the ILB position.  He’s kinda this year’s Isaiah McKenzie in that regard.  It doesn’t sound like there’s anything to worry about as to his mindset.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“There shouldn’t have to be a rule that deals with this.”

Andy Staples has the story behind the SEC’s adoption of the rule banner transfers of players dismissed from other programs for certain transgressions.  Those of you who thought that Georgia, which introduced the rule, compromised to get to the league vote, you’re right.  But probably not in the way you thought.

The original proposal by Georgia included more offenses. This makes sense, since the Bulldogs have donated more contributors to other SEC teams by kicking off players than anyone else. Zach Mettenberger (accused of groping a woman, signed with LSU after junior college) and Nick Marshall (accused of theft from a teammate, signed with Auburn after junior college) played quarterback against the Bulldogs. This season, safety Tray Matthews (accused of double-cashing a scholarship check, verbal disruption in a class) will start at Auburn…

The ADs and presidents were worried about the players coaches can and do recruit. Georgia, for example, could not recruit a player with any of those offenses on his rap sheet. The Bulldogs have that written into an athletic department policy. But like drug-testing policies—another area where Georgia’s stance becomes a competitive disadvantage—every school has different standards for the players it takes and the offenses that trigger a dismissal.

There is a waiver process in place, so the new commissioner can overturn a ban if the circumstances warrant it.  But bottom line, there is at least this much we can take away – if Georgia dismisses a player for grounds involving sexual assault, it’s very unlikely we’ll see him suiting up in another SEC school’s colors to take the field against his former team.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football

Phil Steele All-American teams

Here’s the list of his top four teams for 2015.  If you’re too lazy to do the counting, there are a total of five Georgia players on them.

Sophomore running back Nick Chubb was named to Steele’s 1st Team on Offense, while junior offensive guard Greg Pyke was named to the 3rd Team.

On defense, sophomore Leonard Floyd was named to the 1st team and senior linebacker Jordan Jenkins was named to the 4th team.

Sophomore Isaiah McKenzie was named to the 2nd Team on Special Teams.

For comparison, there are seven from Alabama listed by Steele.

I’ll have more on Steele’s list later on, as I’m a little swamped this morning, but figure this is a good place to start a discussion.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

The Zombie program

I don’t want to take too much luster off the announcement that UAB President Ray Watts has reversed his decision of six (!) months ago and decided to reinstate football at that school – I have no doubt that it means a lot to the players, coaches and supporters of the program – but it’s hard not to be cynical about it.

At a news conference, Watts said the biggest reason for the reversal is UAB now has “tangible” additional financial support it did not have before. UAB supporters have committed $17.2 million to cover the athletic department’s operating deficit and need to produce an additional $13 million for facilities, Watts said.

Watts laid out three conditions for the return of football: UAB can’t exceed the amount of institutional support it currently provides for athletics; public and private donors must meet “reasonable” timelines to convert their pledges into money, a timeframe Watts said he will make public at a later date; and UAB won’t borrow money to improve outdated athletic facilities. UAB is a rare Football Bowl Subdivision School that for years has not carried an annual debt service due to athletics.

At times, Watts became annoyed by specific questions, such as why the university couldn’t have better analyzed football’s future on the front end before eliminating the sport. “I don’t want to pursue a lot of time looking back,” Watts said.

I bet you don’t.

There is so little of substance there, nothing that constitutes a firm commitment to anything, that I can’t help but cynically wonder if this is just Watts’ way of keeping the school in Conference USA for at least a little while longer.

For months, Conference USA played the long game with UAB’s future while the university couldn’t get a grip on what to do. C-USA commissioner Britton Banowsky elected not to rush UAB into a decision about reinstatement, thus avoiding giving the UAB administration an out to kill the reinstatement possibility sooner. C-USA was content to let the issue run its course.

“I hoped that the longer it played out, the better the chances would be for it to be reinstated,” Banowsky said. “I was trying to encourage everyone just to be patient and give them the space they needed to get the answers they needed.”

Watts confirmed UAB plans to remain an FBS program in C-USA. New UAB athletic director Mark Ingram said the goal is to play football again as soon as possible, which may be 2016. There will be NCAA issues to navigate through for UAB to regain its FBS status.

Banowsky described UAB’s immediate FBS status as “unchartered territory” because he doesn’t think there has ever been a program to take this route. A school can stay in FBS if it has 76 scholarships — 90 percent of the maximum 85 scholarships.

“My initial thought is I think they’ll be able to maintain FBS status, even though they don’t field a team in a given year,” Banowsky said. “The sooner they can get back to 76 (scholarships), I think the better off they’ll be under the NCAA’s eyes. I think UAB’s intention is to move it along as quickly as they can within practical reasons.”

Getting those sweet checks is about as practical a reason as I can think of.  Hey, maybe UAB’s new athletic director can schedule a few cupcake games while they’re putting the band back together.  How much of a guarantee can a FBS team without a roster get for a road game these days?

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major