Daily Archives: October 1, 2015

“When you play under him, you want to impress him.”

You’ll enjoy reading this piece about where Jeremy Pruitt came from to get where he is today, but tucked away there is an interesting observation from one of his former bosses.

“They were a little bit more country club and lackadaisical, in my opinion, at Georgia before Jeremy’s arrival,” Propst said. “I know they had some successful teams, but the last several years, the weight room wasn’t very tough, practice wasn’t very tough. Jeremy has a way to make things tough and make kids enjoy playing for him. He makes no bones about it.”

I’m not calling Saturday the Game of the Century, by any means.  But it’s shaping up more and more as a measuring rod of where the Georgia program is heading – hopefully heading, anyway – in the wake of the program’s makeover.  Alabama under Saban is as good a way as any to judge that, in my humble opinion.



Filed under Georgia Football

Gettin’ off the Gus Bus

Damn, the media turn on Auburn has been so sudden and so extreme, I feel like I’m getting a case of whiplash.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Media Punditry/Foibles

Big game, big decision

Count me as one of those who doesn’t believe that many recruits base their choice on seeing their team win on an official visit.  But I do think Mark Richt is on to something with this:

Richt has an interesting perspective on recruiting. It would be easy to assume, especially in games like this, that the winning team comes out of a game with an edge.

Not necessarily, Richt said.

Often, a recruit may already be interested in a program and therefore rooting for it from start to finish. Sometimes, it just depends on how a game turns out.

“I don’t think the team that wins necessarily might get this guy over another,” Richt said. “I think more times than not, as the game’s being played, it reveals to the kid who he likes the best. He sees a battle. Somewhere in his gut he’s probably going to be cheering for one team over the other. I’ve seen that happen a lot. If he’s not sure, I think it comes down to, ‘Where do I fit in their plans? What kind of people am I going to be around?’”

Sometimes, as they say, the heart wants what the heart wants.


Filed under Recruiting

Number crunching

Skip the conclusion if you like, but this post at Roll Bama Roll comparing advanced stats for Alabama and Georgia is worth a look, if you’re interested in such stuff.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Jackie Sherrill just stole our meme.

I mean, what the hell, Coach?

“The bad thing for Alabama is you are going to get their best shot at every place you go to play…”

Gonna be a lot of shooting going on this Saturday, I guess.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

The Georgia Way, where virtue is its own reward

This Dan Wolken piece has obviously struck a chord with many of you, judging from the emails I’ve received about it.

And though the drought may be mostly a product of happenstance, it is also true that Georgia’s nearly endless supply of natural resources has been counterbalanced by an institutional ethos that makes it more difficult for the school to be a year-in, year-out superpower in the hyper-competitive SEC.

“Georgia football has tried to do things the right way,” said Richard Tucker, a member of the University System of Georgia’s Board of Regents and a prominent supporter of the school’s athletic program. “UGA is more to me than just football.”

Whether it’s academics, commitment to building high-end athletic facilities, marijuana testing policies or intolerance for off-field behavioral issues, the perception — and in many cases the reality — is that Georgia holds itself to a slightly higher standard than the programs it is compared with annually on the field.

Or, as Wolken put it more succinctly a few months ago,

That tweet of his led me to ponder where the program was at back then.

I’m sick of writing these existential posts about the program every couple of years or so.  And it seems like every time we think we’re seeing a real turn around the corner, reality comes back to bite us in the ass with more evidence of the Georgia Way.  This time around, I looked at last season, with a team that fought in every game despite an injury-riddled offense, subpar defense and special teams and thought at least Georgia was hitting a point where it was no longer going to fail to show up on a consistent basis.

Wrong, bacon breath.  What I saw was how much Aaron Murray meant to the competitive spirit of this Georgia program.

The reality is that Georgia is a program that believes it’s better than it is.  I can almost envision the congratulatory speech McGarity was constructing in his head as Georgia nobly fell on its sword about Gurley and kept winning.  Too bad about Jacksonville, Greg.

But it’s not like that’s anything new.  It’s a recurring drama.  And when things fall short, as they inevitably do, the decision makers shrug, make some vague sounds about the coaches needing to do more, maybe even fire somebody if they’ve dawdled long enough, check the bank statements and console themselves with the thought that at least they’re doing things the right way.  Whatever that is.

What they’re unwilling to give any hard thought to is how to win doing things the right way.  Whether that’s out of a sense of guilt, as Wolken surmises, or because it’s too hard to make the effort, I can’t say.  But it’s clear, and not just to me.

And while I like to think that we’re in a different place now, when you read some of the comments Wolken gathered from in and around Butts-Mehre, you can’t help but shake your head.

“Do I like losing? Hell no, I want to win every one,” said Dink NeSmith, president of Athens-based Community Newspapers, Inc., and a former Board of Regents chairman. “But I’m not willing to sell my soul to the devil just to say we won. There’s a certain pride, without being condescending, where we try to hold ourselves to a higher standard.”

You may remember Mr. NeSmith from such hits as this.  And this.

Then there’s the expected self-satisfaction of Greg McGarity.

“There are some schools that are like we are in so many areas, but more attention is brought to us as a result of maybe what we do in situations that deal with discipline in general,” Georgia athletics director Greg McGarity said.  “It’s publicized more. Everything we do is under a microscope, but I think we just try to do things the right way. Are we perfect? No. We’ve had our own problems, our own situations that have been troublesome in the past.

“But I don’t think that’s a reason or a problem that has held us back from anything. I just don’t think that’s an excuse.”

In other words, if the program’s underperformed, don’t be pointing a finger at those pesky school policies, peeps.  Even if McGarity and his bosses have tried to lobby the SEC to embrace the Georgia Way on more than one occasion.

And then there’s money.  There’s always money.

Some would also look at Georgia, particularly in this era of escalating costs, as a standard-bearer for fiscal responsibility. Though McGarity bristles at the notion that Georgia hasn’t spent money to build competitive facilities — he said $39.6 million has come out of the athletic department reserves in the past five years for enhancements that benefit multiple sports — Georgia is careful not to operate in the red or borrow money to fund new projects.

McGarity said the athletic department will front the $30 million for its new football building out of the athletic reserves and raise back half of that money through private contributions.

“Facilities are very important, but it’s not the end-all,” McGarity said. “Some schools do extremely well that don’t have facilities that even we have. I’m looking out at our grass fields; I’ve got two 100-yard turf fields and two grass fields. It’s an amazing facility we have.

“It’s just like, ‘Who’s driving the bigger car?’ Do those things really matter? At some institutions it does. Our video board, for our stadium and our size, it’s really big. Would I want to spend money to get a bigger one or spend money in another bucket that might service our student-athletes? Those are the decisions you have to make and we’re fortunate we have a big bucket.”

I believe that’s a subtle dig at Auburn.  And, yes, there’s a good example of a school that’s spent money more freely and, in retrospect, less wisely than Georgia has of late.  But the biggest factor in that department isn’t a giant scoreboard.  It’s coaching turnover, with its buyouts and big checks for the next set of coaches.

Which makes Mark Richt such a convenience for the people running the athletic department.  He lets them get in touch with their inner sanctimony…

“I think as a rule our fans are somewhat disappointed we haven’t achieved championships, but also as a rule I think they’re by and large immensely proud of what we have done,” Tucker said. “I’ll take any day, any time, the way coach Mark Richt coaches, what he believes in and how he runs his program. Where we are based on that, I’m very satisfied. What would it take to get to that next level? We may get there under those guidelines. We may set the standard for how programs should be run.”

… while at the same time providing a level of financial stability that is unmatched in the conference.

And really, this is all about Mark Richt.  After all, where do you fit Jim Harrick into that standard?  Or Damon Evans?  Or Frank Crumley?

These guys need Richt.

The truly ironic thing here is that if Richt manages to succeed at this point in pulling Georgia football up the mountain to its top is that will happen despite the Georgia Way – Tucker’s use of the word “may” in that last quote is a quiet acknowledgement of that reality – because he’s been willing to embrace what’s worked at a another program that I doubt McGarity, NeSmith or Tucker would proudly point to as a source.

Georgia coach Mark Richt also has downplayed the Alabama influence, saying he didn’t set out to hire so many with ties to the Crimson Tide. It started when Will Friend, the team’s offensive line coach from 2011-14 and also an Alabama product, helped lure Pruitt, his college teammate away from Florida State in early 2014. Then Pruitt set about helping to bring in people he knew from Saban’s staff.

“It kind of spread from there,” Richt said. “But originally it was more a coincidence.”

Still, it’s hard not to see the creeping Saban influence into Richt’s program.

A number of quality control staffers have been added, including a few with Alabama ties. The recruiting department’s staff was increased. Practice routines were tweaked, with a  lot more energy on the defensive side the past two years. Media access was curtailed, especially to assistant coaches. Less information has been getting out in general.

It also is evident in the way some coaches talk. Pruitt referred to the “organization,” a Saban-ism.

Hell, there’s no shame in that.  If something works, use it.  And I don’t mean to suggest that Richt doesn’t have certain standards in how he goes about his business that aren’t worthy of admiration.  But let’s not lose sight that the very people who are puffing out their chests about doing things the right way are the same people Richt’s been dealing with for years.  And it’s taken that very creeping Saban influence Wolken describes to get the movement we’ve seen in the past few months since his tweet.

A large grain of salt is in order, in other words.


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

O’Bannon appeal: winning the battle, losing the war?

By now, I assume you’ve learned of the appellate ruling on Judge Wilken’s order.  If not, here’s the gist:

The N.C.A.A. may restrict colleges from compensating athletes beyond the cost of attendance, a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled Wednesday in an apparent victory for the college sports establishment as it fights efforts to expand athletes’ rights.

As college football and, to a lesser extent, men’s basketball have generated millions of dollars in revenue through television broadcast deals and merchandise sales, some critics, including former and current athletes, have lobbied for greater financial compensation. The appeals court bluntly said that limiting compensation to the cost of attendance in exchange for use of the players’ names, images and likenesses was sufficient under antitrust law.

The use of the word “apparent” in the first sentence shouldn’t be glossed over, because the plaintiff’s lawyers established the beachhead they were looking to take.

The ruling upheld a federal judge’s finding last year that the N.C.A.A. was, in the panel’s words, “not above the antitrust laws” and that its rules had been too restrictive in maintaining amateurism.

More specifically, the panel smacked down the main legal underpinning of the NCAA’s argument.

Since 1984, when a group of universities sued the N.C.A.A. over restrictions on their television broadcast rights in a case known as N.C.A.A. v. Board of Regents, the association has cited a passage written by Justice John Paul Stevens that declared that banning payments to athletes was essential to the “revered tradition of amateurism.”

That was kicked to the curb.

In the opinion, the panel acknowledged that “the Board of Regents Court certainly discussed the NCAA’s amateurism rules at great length, but it did not do so in order to pass upon the rules’ merits, given that they were not before the Court. Rather, the Court discussed the amateurism rules for a different and particular purpose: to explain why NCAA rules should be analyzed under the Rule of Reason, rather than held to be illegal per se. The point was a significant one.”

The appellate judges wrote that the 1984 Supreme Court case “did not approve the NCAA’s amateurism rules as categorically consistent with the Sherman Act. Rather, it held that, because many NCAA rules (among them, the amateurism rules) are part of the ‘character and quality of the [NCAA’s] product … no NCAA rule should be invalidated without a Rule of Reason analysis. The Court’s long encomium to amateurism, though impressive-sounding, was therefore dicta.”

So, the big question remains:  where do things go from here?  In the short run, there’s no doubt that this is a win for the NCAA and the schools, in that they’re not on the hook for anything more than what they’ve already agreed to pay out to student-athletes.  (“This provides some level of uncertainty, but also a welcome level of certainty,” Mr. Bowlsby said…) But their problem is that the people they’re fighting with over amateurism aren’t playing a short game.  That’s why Sonny Vaccaro was crowing after the ruling came out.

“They specifically went in and said the N.C.A.A. violated antitrust law,” said Sonny Vaccaro, a longtime N.C.A.A. critic who helped start the O’Bannon lawsuit. “That opens things up, and it’s tremendous.”

And Hausfeld, more interestingly, isn’t going to pursue an appeal.

O’Bannon attorney Michael Hausfeld said he was “thrilled” with the decision and has no interest appealing to the Supreme Court. He noted that it was Wilken’s idea to allow $5,000 per year to players, not O’Bannon’s.

“I think this is an even worse position than the NCAA has been in,” Hausfeld said. “Remember, the court did not strike down the unlawfulness of the regulation. They just said the relief wasn’t necessarily a less-restrictive restraint. So is there other relief? Now they’ve opened it up to us to propose reforms of relief. This opinion shakes up the entirety of the relationship that the NCAA has had with the athletes. They can no longer exercise economic dominion over athletes’ values. it clearly underscores the responsibility of the schools and the association to make sure athletic participation does not diminish academic success.”

If that’s the case, look out for Jeffrey Kessler, NCAA.

1 Comment

Filed under See You In Court, The NCAA

Morning in Montana

Stewart Mandel isn’t exactly all in on Georgia’s chances this season, but he’s at least willing to consider the possibilities.

Indeed, the way the schedule is shaping up, this may be Richt’s best opportunity to win an SEC championship since his last one in 2005. After this week’s Alabama game, the Dawgs face only one other team currently ranked in the Top 25, and that team is Florida, whose tenure as a Top 25 team may last only a week. (Then again, they weren’t last year, either, and still ruined the Dawgs’ season.) Even if the Dawgs don’t beat Alabama this weekend, they should still win the East. If they don’t, something went very wrong. And once in Atlanta they’ll meet someone pretty good from the West, but not of the same caliber as the 2011 LSU and 2012 Alabama teams that beat them there.

But all of this will depend largely on one guy: Greyson Lambert. Yes, he broke the NCAA completion percentage record against South Carolina, but the Gamecocks are terrible — as are every team he’s faced. Beginning this week, Georgia will not be able to win with Lambert throwing mostly screens and quick slants and letting his receivers do the rest. Unless Nick Chubb goes full-on Fournette against Alabama’s defense, Lambert will have to make some of the deep throws into tight windows that Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly did in beating the Tide two weeks ago. If Lambert does that, and if Georgia beats Alabama, I’ll line up to buy stock in the Dawgs’ SEC title chances.

I think it’s gonna take more than Lambert Saturday, but I agree that if he doesn’t show up, it’ll make Georgia’s day a lot more difficult.


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

History, a cause for pessimism

This, on the other hand, is something that’ll have to be overcome Saturday:

The past seven times Georgia has taken on a top 15 Power 5/BCS automatic qualifier opponent as the higher-ranked team, it has lost six of them. The past nine times Alabama has entered the game as the lower-ranked team, it has won seven of them. As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Mindset, bitchez.  I keep saying it’s the key to Saturday.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

Narrowing the gap, a cause for optimism

I’ve got a fascinating tidbit to share with you that comes from GTP commenter Granthams replacement:

In 2012 UGA had signed 84 players from 2009-2012 during the oversigning period.  Bama signed 103.    This time around UGA has signed 102 from 2012-2015, Bama has signed 102 as well.

It’s the below the waterline stuff like this that lets a program’s progress sneak up on you.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football, Recruiting