Daily Archives: November 3, 2015

A fine mess: about the boosters

Holy mother of crap – this article indicates things are moving much faster away from Richt than I thought.

And while Georgia’s defense has played relatively well — the Bulldogs are fifth in the SEC in total defense (321 ypg) and second against the pass (183) — defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt is not above reproach. According to more than one source close to the program, Pruitt increasingly has been the source of friction not only within the football office but throughout the athletic department.

Pruitt denied having run-ins with fellow coaches, as has been asserted, but declined comment.

Richt was asked Tuesday if he had been dealing with disharmony or dissension on his coaching staff. He did not forcefully deny it.

“Not really,” he said. “You know … there’s always things that happen in the heat of the battle and all that in every game. I think if you put a microphone on everybody, if you’ve got a play-caller upstairs and you’re calling a game and every word was recorded, you know, there would be like people get hot about this, that or the other. But it’s just typical game-day type stuff. But we’ve had no issue there.”

Obviously, any and all dysfunction falls at the feet of Richt. One of his strengths — being easy to work for — is turning into a weakness, say some sources close to the program. They worry that Richt has not moved quicker to quell the dissension, or to make structural moves to fix the offense, such as moving Schottenheimer to the press box during games, or taking over play-calling himself, or giving it to someone else on the staff. Richt called plays the first six seasons of his tenure before handing off those duties to Bobo.

That’s a lot of background chatter directed to members of the media, more than I’ve ever seen, from insiders.  It’s McGarity, the man who gave that infamous interview to Mark Bradley last year, who’s tight-lipped.

This isn’t to say Richt’s gone, but no doubt there are battle lines being drawn over his future.

Meanwhile, Richt’s support has dwindled considerably among individuals who are intimately connected to the program through financial support and/or past or current service.  The level of discontent among them with regard to Richt in wake of the Florida game is “very high,” according to one source. Some longtime Richt advocates flipped afterward.

That said, there is no immediate movement afoot to initiate a change at the top. Among those who most loyally support the program, Richt is given credit for his 15 years of mostly good work and exemplary representation as the face of the football team. They take into account the fact that Richt has won at a higher rate than almost any other coach UGA at a time when SEC football is more competitive than it has ever been.

It’s one thing to read that kind of stuff in a blog comment thread.  It’s another to hear it from the people who supposedly have some degree of juice inside Butts-Mehre. From them, it’s an effort to work the refs, i.e., McGarity and Morehead. That’s not good for Richt.  But you know what?  It’s probably worse for the program.

This isn’t going to work out well, I’m afraid.  No matter what Richt’s fate may be.

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Rea-line-ment

It’s shake up time for the o-line.

Right guard Greg Pyke has been benched and only one other starter is in the same spot, judging by the lineup at Tuesday’s practice.

Dyshon Sims, a sophomore, was in Pyke’s place at right guard. And while junior Brandon Kublanow remains at center, the other three spots were shuffled.

John Theus had switched from left to right tackle. Kolton Houston moved from right tackle to left guard. And Isaiah Wynn moved from left guard to left tackle.

If that’s what comes on Saturday, it’s not done out of panic, but necessity.  They had to do something, although if you’d have told me before the season started that Pyke would be the odd man out, I would have doubted it.

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Sometimes, gallows humor is all you’ve got.

Malcolm Mitchell, ladies and gentlemen.  He’ll be here all week.

Asked to describe a Georgia offense that has gotten its points solely off the foot of its kicker the last two games, wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell kept it light:

“Scoreless,” he said with a laugh. “That’s all I’ve got.”

Rim shot!

And it’s an admission like this that makes me feel like I know where Malcolm’s coming from.

A caller on Richt’s radio show mentioned a lack of screen passes this season.

“It’s funny you mention that,” Richt said Monday night. “A big thing we did talk about today, not that I want to give away the whole gameplan, but we do need throw more screens. There’s no doubt about it. People that come as hard as these guys come you’ve got to do more of that whether it’s wide receiver tunnel screens or just your old-school running back showing like he’s blocking and slipping out with a guard and center out front. …We’ve got it in the system, we just haven’t called them that much.”

Funny strange, or funny ha, ha?

Remember when we were solemnly told that, coming in, Schottenheimer wasn’t going to make big changes to the offense, because what was working didn’t need fixing?  Good times, then.

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“So … about that “competence” thing.”

Bill Connelly gently damns Brian Schottenheimer.

Bobo coaxed a 155.8 passer rating out of Hutson Mason in 2014 and a 135.9 out of Joe Cox in 2009. Three Georgia QBs have combined for a 131.5 so far in 2015, and that includes Greyson Lambert’s long-forgotten early stretch against South Carolina and Southern. Take those two games out of the equation, and UGA’s combined passer rating falls to 107.8.

For a frame of reference, Wake Forest’s passer rating this year is 110.1. New Mexico’s is 109.5. Purdue’s is 111.2. Yeah.

Georgia had to replace its longtime coordinator, quarterback, and top two receiving targets. Regression was conceivable, even likely. But this goes beyond regression.

Beyond regression lies incompetence.

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The three stages of Cocktail Party grief

You know, something funny hit me walking out of Everbank Stadium after the game.  For a long stretch that began with Spurrier’s arrival, my departure mood would be largely one of frustration that the series could be so one-sided.  Last year, I was angry that the team took a rival lightly and got its ass handed to it in an embarrassing way.

This year, and for the first time ever, I left after a Cocktail Party loss without thinking of it in terms of losing to the Gators.  I just saw it as another generically depressing loss by a team that’s lost its way on the path to mediocrity.

The sad thing is that I didn’t find that Florida was particularly more talented than the Dawgs are.  It’s just better coached in the sense that it avoided making more stupid plays than did Georgia.

If you want a better idea of what I mean by that, read David Wunderlich’s advanced stats analysis of the game here.  He’s spot on with this bit:

I don’t like to say that a game would’ve been completely different if you just changed a few plays throughout. Different numbers on a scoreboard will change the way coaches call their games. For example, maybe if Team X didn’t get that cheap touchdown in the first half, Team Y could have gone with its strong run game more in the second half instead of having to lean on its shaky pass game. The scoreboard dictates strategy to a great degree, so unless you’re just tweaking a few plays at the end, there’s usually no way to say how a game might’ve been different. That’s not even taking into account swings of momentum, if you believe such things exist.

I’m not so sure that’s the case with this one. Both offenses were bad throughout, but I didn’t detect much of a change in strategy from Florida until the game looked out of hand in middle of the fourth quarter. If Davis doesn’t fumble that punt, and Bauta doesn’t throw four interceptions, this game probably would have just ended up more in the 7-3 or 14-3 range. And maybe if the score was closer late in the game, Mark Richt could’ve pulled out some kind of special trick play to get a quick score and possibly win.

From that standpoint, Richt might have lost this game by going with Bauta over Greyson Lambert—especially because we never saw Bauta’s claimed mobility ever come into play. For all of Lambert’s faults, he hasn’t been a turnover machine. His interception percentage is 1.3%, which is on the low end for a starting quarterback. I feel comfortable in saying that the Bulldogs would’ve been in a better position to win had their quarterback not thrown four interceptions. I know that might be controversial, but I stand by it.

On the flip side, this was another game where Florida looked like the better coached team that prospered by not screwing up and letting the other team screw up. It’s a big change.

I know there’s a certain random factor to turnovers, but it’s by no means totally random.  Georgia’s drop in turnover margin after the Cocktail Party from last season’s +13 to this season’s minus-3 is disastrous, not just on its face, but also because Richt’s overall management strategy which worked so well in 2014 was to rely on turnovers and field position to support a run-oriented offense.  Those are gone now.  Without decent quarterback play, he’s got nothing left in the tank.

That’s why I’m depressed.

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Observations from the 10, Cocktail Party edition

The things I do for you people. 😉

Given that I’ve already devoted plenty of bandwidth to what blew chunks on Saturday, I think pithiness is the order of the day.  Let’s keep things short and sweet.

Here’s what was good:

  • The weather.
  • Malcolm Mitchell’s and Terry Godwin’s hands.
  • Jake Ganus.
  • Jeremy Pruitt’s gameplan.  Hey, at least somebody had one.
  • Brice Ramsey’s foot.
  • Trent Thompson, until he got hurt.
  • Our pregame tailgate.

I posted before the game that I didn’t have a particularly good feeling about it going in.  I also thought Georgia’s chances depended on line play and turnovers.  That pretty much explains the brevity of this post.

I now return you to our regular broadcast, the “Which QB Starts For Georgia?” Show, which is already in progress.

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“In the big picture, the replay process is in good shape.”

Shorter Rogers Redding:  yeah, the replay process bites and needs fixing, but since when have the conferences cared about spending money to make officiating more credible?

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Waiting for Butts-Mehre

And while I’m on the subject of challenging the mindset of the “it’s so easy” folks about the future of the head coaching position, here’s a little mental exercise for those of you who think the Georgia job is one of the five or so best in the country and, as such, will have little trouble attracting top tier candidates.

For the sake of argument, let’s say that Mark Richt does enough to hang on to his job for another year.  (Hey, if Ray Goff got another year…) Let’s also assume that the general perception in response to that decision is Georgia football wallows in mediocrity next season, which is hardly a stretch.

Here’s my question:  If you’re [insert HOT NAME here], do you wait to see how things play out?

I mean, this offseason is going to feature an insane bidding war.  As I type this, there are already ten open positions in D-1, including several P5 schools.  If you’re HOT NAME, do you take the money that’s going to be offered by other programs like South Carolina and run, or do you tell Jimmy Sexton you want the Georgia job so much you’re willing to roll the dice and see what comes of 2016?  After all, it’s Georgia, right?

I’ll hang up and listen to your responses now.

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A fine mess: about McGarity and Morehead

Skip past Dean Legge’s sturm-und-drang to get to what’s important.

According to published reports, terminating Schottenheimer’s contract would result in the Bulldogs being forced to pay the remaining $1,914,400 the two sides agreed to in January. Pruitt’s contract is structured the same way, but there is no talk of him being let go.

Richt’s contract, on the other hand, is more complicated. The most current extension agreement has either not yet been signed, which has been a practice that’s gone on under McGarity for one reason or another, or has not yet been requested and therefore released under Freedom of Information laws.

With that said, according to the contract that is public, Richt would be due $66,000 per month through the end of 2019. That’s at least a $3,168,000 buyout for Richt alone. Terminating Richt would also certainly trigger the termination of Schottenheimer ($1,914,400) and likely Pruitt ($2,600,000). UGA-Richt-Mark-2012-16-contract.pdf

That means if the extension Richt agreed to – the one that is not public has the same clause for compensation for termination without cause – then dismissing Richt after the 2015 would cost Georgia at least $7,682,400 as it stands today. That would be Richt, Pruitt and Schottenheimer all gone.

It could be done, sure, but that’s not a small amount of money.

For those of you who don’t think that’s a big deal for the athletic director and president, given Georgia’s resources, all I can say is that it’s easy to be dismissive when you’re not the one writing the checks.

Here’s the other thing to remember about being in their shoes.  After the bowl game – and much to our satisfaction at the time – they bought into Richt and the program big time.  To pull the plug less than one year later is not only an expensive proposition, but it also calls into question their judgment in agreeing to those contracts in the first place.  Add to that what it will likely cost to get the kind of coach that will calm the waters for a fractious fan base (not to mention what happens down the road if the next hire doesn’t click, either) and you’re talking some serious jack.  And serious questioning about their decision making comes with that territory.

Now, if the big money boys are grumbling as much as is being reported in the media, then maybe McGarity can reach into some deep pockets from those who are willing to put their money where their mouths are and cushion the financial blow to the reserve fund.  But that doesn’t get away from the difficulty of the fire/hire decision itself; indeed, it’s likely to intensify it because those same folks are going to feel they’re entitled to some real say in it.

That’s not to predict which way he and Morehead jump.  I have no clue, although I tend to lean in the direction of that’s a lot of money you’re asking people to commit, people who don’t like to spend that kind of money on athletics.  But I don’t see how anyone can believe it’s a slam dunk call for them.  Or that they know what they’re doing anymore than Richt appears to right now.

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Mumme Poll results, Week 9

LSU continues to rule the roost after this week’s games.

Rank Team Votes
1 LSU 25
2 Clemson 24
3 Ohio State 23
3 TCU 23
4 Alabama 22
6 Baylor 21
7 Michigan State 20
8 Stanford 15
9 Oklahoma State 14
10 Memphis 11
11 Iowa 10
12 Notre Dame 9
13 Oklahoma 7
14 Houston 5
15 Utah 3
16 Toledo 2
16 Florida State 2
16 Florida 2
19 North Carolina 1
19 Navy 1
19 Appalachian State 1
19 Florida International 1
19 Michigan 1

Looks like there’s a consensus that the Pac-12 is the odd man out on the playoffs right now.  Of course, we’ll see where things stand after LSU-Alabama and Baylor-TCU play out.

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