Daily Archives: August 16, 2015

Name that caption, seriously? edition

I have no idea who’s in charge of PR at Vanderbilt…

… or even if there’s a person in charge.  But somebody should’ve asked Nike what the hell it was thinking with that.

Your observations are welcomed in the comments, as always.

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Filed under Name That Caption

Just your typical student

Part of college football’s power over us comes from what I call the romance of amateurism, the idea that the kids we see on television and cheer on in our stadiums are in school for the same reason our next-door neighbor’s son is, and that, outside of those game days when we connect with them, they lead the same lives.  It’s an ideal that the NCAA and the schools have done their damnedest to exploit to their profit.

But it’s nothing more than a convenient fiction.

Unless you think this is the kind of thing every college kid utters about himself…

“I’m here to serve the people,” sophomore running back Sony Michel said. “They’re fans and if they ask for something, I’m willing to give them my autograph. It’s no big deal.”

… while in almost the same breath his head coach is close to calling for an outright ban on the practice.

“You’re just about to the point where you say don’t sign anything for anybody,” coach Mark Richt said. “But that’s tough. I don’t think we can get to that point. But if you are doing it for pay, then you are wrong and you just shouldn’t do it.”

That isn’t to say Richt is a hypocrite.  He’s only pointing out the consequences of living with the risk of violating NCAA norms. Sadly, between the Green and Gurley suspensions, he’s the closest thing we’ll find to an expert on the subject.

But it’s not just about autographs and some money on the side.  More than anything else, it’s about control.

At Clemson, Dabo Swinney has banned his players from social media during football season.

Don’t expect to see any tweets, snapchats or Facebook posts from the Clemson Tigers the next few months.

As has become standard practice, the Tigers’ social media ban went into effect on Aug. 3, reportsUSA Today.

Players are not required to delete or deactivate their accounts, but are “forbidden” from being active on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or other social media during the season, according to the report.

The ban is intended to keep players’ focus on football as opposed to the outside world.

Now some of you may applaud this as a necessary or wise step.  But if that’s the case, why is focus only important for players during football season? Why doesn’t Clemson apply such a ban to all students attending school on full scholarships, or all of its enrollees?  For that matter, if the academic mission of a school is as important as the athletic one, why doesn’t Swinney ban his players from social media during the entire school year? (And while I’m asking, if you’re the parent of a child attending college and you approve of what Swinney has done, have you imposed such a ban?)

Whatever happened to letting kids learn a few life lessons from their experiences along the way?  Isn’t that supposed to be part of a college education?  What’s the point of treating twenty-somethings, people close to having to step out and make it in the real world, in the way we’d treat our eight-year old daughter?

It happens because they’re football players, because their coaches make millions of dollars a year and because those coaches think that control equals accountability (for them, not their players).  All of which may be true, but has nothing to do with the way the average college student is allowed to lead his or her life.

Another thing to keep in mind here is that those of us outside the arena don’t see student-athletes as mere students.

Carter and teammate Jake Ganus said the attention they get is nothing compared to that of running back Nick Chubb.

Even some of the other players get extra attention simply for knowing Chubb.

“I’m not Nick Chubb, but I am Nick Chubb’s friend,” Ganus said.

Chubb is aware of the public persona that comes with being a star on the Georgia football team. He likes having the ability to have his peace and quiet every so often.

“That’s part of job,” Chubb said. “You come here to be a football player, but other things come with it and that’s one of it. People want to see me and greet me and I enjoy it. But sometimes I just like to fall back into the shadows.”

Just like… I’ll let you finish the sentence there.

But it’s not just us fans who are guilty of that.  The schools themselves, the purveyors of amateurism romance, are just as bad in their own way.

Unless you think that Tennessee paints rocks for every kid who applies there.

Believe it or not, my point isn’t that this is why players deserve to be paid.  It’s that the system surrounding them is corrupt and hypocritical. The NCAA and its member schools try to straddle a divide of amateur innocence on one side and big money with big demands on student-athletes on the other.  And it’s a gap that grows ever wider as more money flows into the system and raises the stakes.  The romance isn’t sustainable, and the sooner we realize that, the less we’ll be hurt by the sport’s changes.

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Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Playing the hand you’re dealt.

Possibly coming soon, to an Alabama sideline near you…

(Mike Kittrell/mkittrell@al.com)

But, though Nick Saban didn’t commit Alabama to being a hurry-up team again, they’re dabbling in the play card business. Players referenced their use in the spring and a few were used in the open practice Aug. 9 in Bryant-Denny Stadium. Unlike other teams that divide the posters with multiple pictures, Alabama’s appeared to have one prominent image on each sign. One was the helmet of the Miami Dolphins, Saban’s employer from 2004-06.

Saban said the signs resulted from meetings with coaches from Ohio State, TCU and others who use no-huddle offenses. The idea was to minimize communication.

“We felt like last year we were kind of learning how to be a no-huddle team on the run because of the personnel we had,” Saban said. “We thought it was best suited for Blake (Sims), and we’ve talked about that many times before, but we didn’t go in with the idea that we were going to be a no-huddle team.

“So we visited a lot of people during the offseason to try and come up with the best system – Kansas, Washington, a lot of people that go no-huddle ― It’s just a methodology of how some people get formations and plays in the game.”

Man, Nick Saban, I don’t know you anymore.

At least they shouldn’t have any trouble finding somebody to hold up the signs – if there isn’t someone on the payroll now for that, they’ll get one.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules, Strategery And Mechanics

Munson’s still got it.

At least Nick Moore, professional baseball player turned Georgia walk-on inside linebacker, thinks so.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Replay? Take your time, fellas. It’s not that big a deal.

We live in an imperfect world, I know.  And so it’s not reasonable to expect perfection from college football replay.  But with all the money rolling into the sport, is it too much to ask for better effort from the conference offices than this?

Carollo said he considered in 2009 making the Big Ten command center the sole place for replay decisions, but the bandwidth wasn’t good enough and “quite frankly, our replay officials in the Big Ten needed more work.” Today, technology is so much better. The new competition committee plans to discuss ways to improve replay after 2015.

“The people in the stands have HD phones that they know are better and faster than what we use,” Carollo said. “We think we need to stay at least even, if not ahead, of the game…”

Gee, that would be nice.  In the meantime, they can always farm out replay calls to the fans with the better technology.

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Filed under College Football

Ayy! Number Onnee! You’re the Duke! You’re the Duke!

The rehabilitation at Auburn isn’t going smoothly, it seems.

D’haquille Williams didn’t see the end of Saturday’s scrimmage at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Two days after his return to the practice field, Williams was seen being taken out of the stadium on a golf cart before the second scrimmage of preseason camp ended.

Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn attempted to downplay the situation claiming the senior receiver didn’t get banged up during the 100-play scrimmage.

“I don’t believe he left,” Malzahn said. “We took him out. He was out there. He got to play some.”

Gus wants to make it clear we all know who’s in charge.

I’m sure ongoing turmoil surrounding your best offensive player is no big deal, though.

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

If misery loves company, the SEC is a comforting place.

The quarterback battle at Georgia is shrouded in mystery, some of it because no candidate has truly separated himself from the pack, some of it because the coaching staff has been closed-mouthed about it.

Georgia coach Mark Richt kept the information sealed pretty tight as well afterwards about what happened inside. Instead of offering up any statistics, he took the quite unusual step of offering zilch on numbers that would undoubtedly be sliced and diced.

“You don’t all have to get carpal tunnel and all that stuff trying to click all the keys,” he told a room of reporters.

He later added: “There’s a method to the madness here. I think it’s important that we’re the ones that watch the film, we’re the ones that decide who the guy is. We don’t need anybody in the media telling us who should be the starter and that kind of thing.”

Richt said the quarterback competition between redshirt sophomore Brice Ramsey, redshirt junior Faton Bauta and Virginia graduate transfer Greyson Lambert is still close.

“Right now, it’s been very equal as far as reps and there hasn’t been a huge landslide of one guy just running away with it,” Richt said. “If you had rounds in boxing, you might have said that guy won that round, that guy won that round, that guy won that round. I will say it’s still a very tight race. I don’t believe we have any separation at this point.”

Georgia is far from alone in that department.  Take Alabama, where Nick Saban, other than the Miss Terry reference, sounds like a Richt clone on the subject.

“Miss Terry was here today and I’m sure when I go home I’m going to get a real ‘earful’ about the quarterbacks, and who played best and who she likes the best and all that,” Saban said with a smile.

Point being, Saban knows everyone has an opinion on who they like or who they believe should be the Tide’s next quarterback. But coming out of the team’s first scrimmage, nothing has been decided. Senior Jake Coker, junior Alec Morris, sophomore Cooper Bateman, redshirt freshman David Cornwell and freshman Blake Barnett are still competing for the job.

Saban’s post-scrimmage message was very similar to what he said following the Tide’s scrimmage during last year’s preseason practice. No statistics were provided following the session.

“From a quarterback standpoint, I can’t really say that one guy was better than another,” Saban said Saturday. “I think all did good things and I think all did some things not so well. I would love to see one of these guys sort of take the bull by the horns and play with a sense of urgency that affects everybody else, that shows leadership and sort of the kind of command and confidence that I think our team needs.”

But what if no one stands out? What if no quarterback emerges and “takes the bull by the horns” as Saban wants someone to do? To those questions, Saban initially responded “I don’t know.”

Then the coach gathered his thoughts.

“The way I see it happening is as soon as we start gaining a little bit of confidence in a guy and we put him in a situation where ‘Ok, you have a chance to be the guy,’ then they have to take advantage of that,” Saban said. “They have to be able to take the ball and run with it. And we’ve seen that a couple of times and then it’s a little bit like, ‘Giddy up, whoa!'”

Aight?

Meanwhile in Columbia, the famously impatient OBC sounds like he’s already rounding into midseason form.

“We’re too slow. We just too slow. Our quarterbacks don’t move their feet and fire the ball,” Spurrier said. “The thing all quarterbacks have to do is get the ball out of their hands. (Freshman Lorenzo Nunez) is our only true scrambler. He can take off. Our (other) guys need to find somewhere to throw the ball.”

The Gamecocks aren’t close to being comfortable enough to name a starting quarterback but are faced with the reality that practice snaps are becoming more and more scarce between now and the Sept. 3 season opener against North Carolina in Charlotte.

“We have to stop training four, we do know that, so we’ll start training two and a half, maybe three and a half,” Spurrier said.

The “and a half” you can bet is Nunez, whose athleticism will get him on the field in some capacity this season, even if it’s as a part-time Wildcat QB.

Who the other two are is up for debate after Saturday evening. Sophomore Connor Mitch was 5-for-11 for 42 yards and one interception. He benefited from playing behind the first-team offensive line but was the victim of a couple of bad drops. (Spurrier: “He hit a few here and there.”) Junior Perry Orth was 3-for-6 for 42 yards and one interception while often being swarmed by defensive linemen behind the second-team offensive line. (Spurrier: “Perry struggled a bit today.”) Redshirt freshman Michael Scarnecchia was 11-for-14 for 81 yards behind the first-team offensive line. (Spurrier: “Scarnecchia did a few good things here and there.”) Nunez was 5-for-8 for 25 yards and one interception.

The best of the bunch?

“We didn’t have one,” Spurrier said.

“Hopefully, we can continue on and try to find out who the best is,” he said. “Obviously, you can’t play four quarterbacks like we’re doing right now, so we’ll look at the tape and try to make some good, realistic decisions.”

They didn’t leave Williams-Brice Stadium any more confident in those decisions than they were when they entered.

If I were a visor, I’d be a little concerned right now.

And if I were an SEC running back, I’d be gearing up for heavy usage.

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Filed under SEC Football