Daily Archives: December 25, 2015

Kirby Smart and second chances

Well, now.  Suddenly the Internet’s abloom with all sorts of chatter about Tosh Lupoi joining Kirby Smart’s staff in Athens, possibly as defensive coordinator.

That would be an interesting development, to say the least.  Lupoi is highly regarded as both a position coach and a recruiter, but it’s worth remembering how he first showed up at Alabama, and why.

Who is Tosh Lupoi? He’s the latest in a line of eventual assistant coaches who started their respective careers at the Capstone as graduate assistants or “analysts.”

In Lupoi’s case, it was the latter, as he joined the Crimson Tide defensive staff as an analyst for the 2014 season after serving in various defensive coaching capacities primarily in the PAC12. On January 26, Lupoi became the youngest member of the Alabama Crimson Tide coaching staff with his promotion from analyst to outside linebackers coach…

After an unfortunate end to his career at the University of Washington in 2013, Lupoi was snapped up by Saban for an Alabama defense in need of a return to its previous level of dominance…

Er, “unfortunate end”, you say?  What’s that all about?

A week before Christmas, Tosh Lupoi was eating dinner with his girlfriend at a Seattle restaurant. It was an exciting time for the 32-year-old Washington D-line coach. The Huskies were preparing to play BYU in the Fight Hunger Bowl.

Lupoi also knew an interesting decision loomed on the horizon. Steve Sarkisian, his former boss at UW, had just taken the head coaching job at USC. Lupoi was well aware that several of his colleagues were headed to join the Trojans staff after the bowl, and that USC’s former D-line coach was paid a reported $1 million a year. Lupoi, though, loved Washington and loved living in Seattle. He was intrigued by the prospect of working with the Huskies’ new head coach Chris Petersen, who was coming from Boise State, where he had a 92-12 record. He knew he had some very good options in front of him.

Then, Lupoi glanced down at his phone and got an alert regarding a story on Twitter about himself. It was a Los Angeles Times report about a man alleging Lupoi had paid him $4,500 for tutoring services and online classes for a former Washington signee (who had never qualified.)

Lupoi was forthright in his defense and was ultimately cleared by the NCAA.  But the incident left his reputation toxic enough that he wasn’t retained by Petersen at Washington and wasn’t hired by Sarkisian, his boss at UW, when he moved to Southern Cal.  Which is how he wound up at Alabama as a highly-paid analyst.  Can you say second chance?  I thought you could.

He’s clean and he’s good.  But he’s got “abundance of caution” written all over him as a potential Georgia hire.  If Smart’s allowed to bring on Lupoi, that will tell us much about the authority Smart’s managed to negotiate for himself as the head coach.  Stay tuned for further developments.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

“It is the job of the recruiter to use anything he can to get that kid,” Smith said. “This stipend is another tool.”

Just another wrinkle in recruiting:

Jimmy Smith, the football coach at Cedar Grove (Ellenwood, Ga.) High School, looked at his three players, Netori Johnson, Tre’ Shaw, and Justin Shaffer, standouts in the Class of 2017, and asked this recruiting question:

“If Kentucky and Auburn were recruiting you, and you thought the quality of the education was the same at both schools and the playing time was the same at both schools, but you knew Auburn was going to give you this for expenses, and Kentucky was going to give you this for expenses, where would you go?”

Smith pointed to a sheet of paper listing Cost of Attendance (COA) stipends for each of the 14 SEC schools. Auburn’s number was $5,586. Kentucky’s number was $2,284.

Shaw, a defensive back who has 24 offers, didn’t hesitate with his answer.

“War Eagle,” he said with a smile.

There are a lot of “ifs” in Smith’s question there, and for some kids, no doubt those will matter.  (Note what Netori Johnson had to say about his Alabama commitment, for example.)

But there are plenty of high schoolers out there for whom I suspect money will indeed talk loudly.  And recruiters will take note of who they are and target their sales pitch accordingly.

Rush Probst, the head coach at Colquitt County High School, which has won back-to-back 6A titles, said some recruiters already are trumpeting their stipends. COA is “huge” in recruiting, Probst said.

“Coaches are using it in two ways: to get in the mix with a kid or close the deal,” Probst said. “Bret Bielema has used it. He’s like me, he doesn’t beat around a bush. There’s a big difference in what one school can offer over another and kids are told that.”

Probst said he cannot blame high school football players if they pick a school based on the size of a monthly check.

“They can’t work for four years from the time they show up on campus; they are in football,” Probst said. “When are they supposed to have jobs? They need money. With all the money being made in the game, I can’t blame kids for thinking about it.”

This is not the kind of talk Greg McGarity wants to hear, dammit.

SEC athletics directors met in Birmingham, Ala., for their annual December meeting earlier this month. Greg McGarity, the Georgia AD, said COA would come up in discussions.

In a fall meeting, the athletic directors of each school had to submit the data they used for arriving at the Cost of Attendance stipend. The criteria and the methods for arriving at the COA, McGarity said, was different for all 14 schools in the SEC.

“No two were the same,” he said.

McGarity would like to see a more uniform method of arriving at the Cost of Attendance, perhaps along guidelines provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Labor. It might remedy arbitrary calculations.

There are charges that athletic departments, and their recruiters, are influencing schools’ Cost of Attendance calculations. The COA applies campus-wide, not just to athletes, but if you have been following the influence of college football nationally it is not hard to imagine athletics’ influence on campus-wide issues.

If an athletic scholarship out-of-state is worth $42,000, schools do not want the actual Cost of Attendance (travel to home, etc.) to be much higher and scare away all prospective students. Schools have an incentive to keep the COA number low.

Obviously, there are schools in the SEC that would like to level the playing field, so to speak. There is quite a difference between a monthly check for $620 and $253.

“There are several of us who would like there to be some threshold there,” McGarity said. “Those at the top are not worried about it. Those at the bottom are concerned about it. There is more concern from those where it could be a recruiting disadvantage.”

And here I thought the Georgia Way was a recruiting advantage.

Welcome to the new amateurism, folks.

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Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

Season’s greetings, y’all.

Hope everyone’s having the Christmas they want… maybe finding a couple of Dawg-related items in their stockings.

In the spirit of the season, here’s one of GTP’s traditional Christmas tunes, Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas From The Family”.

Never fails to get me in the right mood.  Enjoy the day.

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Filed under GTP Stuff