Daily Archives: December 26, 2015

“I just see the potential in what Kirby wants to bring in and what he wants to build with the program.”

So, while you were sitting around unwrapping presents and eating your Christmas meal, this happened:

Kirby Smart’s first Christmas as the head coach at UGA won’t have an empty stocking. Peachtree Ridge 4-star linebacker Breon Dixon chose the day to make his commitment to UGA.

Dixon tweeted out the news to wrap up a quick commitment. He only received a UGA offer from the new staff less than two weeks ago. The 6-foot, 215-pounder didn’t have an offer from the previous staff at UGA, but Smart made sure that situation was quickly rectified.

“He said ‘If I offered you at Alabama why wouldn’t I offer you here? You know you have a scholarship to the University of Georgia’ in so many words,” Dixon said. “That was what I wanted to hear from Kirby.”

That can only mean one thing.  Kirby Smart is such an awesome recruiting machine that he can get kids to commit to Georgia while he’s 100% focused on being Nick Saban’s lackey.  Imagine what he’ll be able to do upon going full time in Athens!

Okay, enough with the facetious stuff.  Evidently Smart and his staff are able to spend some current time on recruiting, even as he chases a national title for Alabama.

Look, I’ll be the first to concede there are plenty of unanswered questions about Georgia’s new head coach. Who knows how the new staff will wind up looking, whether Smart is ready to make the jump from solid assistant to head man or, most importantly, proves to have a better grasp of details than what did his predecessor in?  All are big concerns at this point.

But what I don’t worry about with Smart is the effort he’ll put into recruiting.  As well as anyone, he knows it’s the lifeblood of any successful program.  More importantly, he’s got a far better framework in place than Richt did coming in to the program back in 2001.  If you’ll recall, Richt assembled a staff with zero ties to the state, other than the one holdover on the staff in Rodney Garner.  Somehow, that class managed a few success stories.

Smart’s got resources now that Richt could only dream of back then, starting with an enlarged support group for recruiting.  On top of that, he’s retained two good recruiters in Rocker and Sherrer and added the best recruiting o-line coach we’ve seen at Georgia in decades.  Not to mention that Smart’s ties to the state, along with the recruiting efforts he’s made here for years, are far stronger than what Richt brought to the table when he arrived.

Take it easy, Chicken Littles.  It’s not the bringing in of talent that should have you anxious in the short run.  It’s what the staff will do with the talent after it gets here that’s the question.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

‘Self-contained’ profit

It’s a good thing Clemson doesn’t have to pay Deshaun Watson a piece of what he’s helped the school generate this year (“As a Heisman Trophy candidate and with Clemson having the year that they’re having, (Watson’s) value is probably well beyond $2 million,” Brown said.), since it’ll need every penny of it to erase the operating deficit of $3 million it ran in 2014.

Thank Gawd for amateurism, I say.

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Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, It's Just Bidness

Getting what you pay for: academics and Georgia football

When it comes to Georgia putting its money where its mouth is concerning player academics, there’s a delicious combination of butt-hurt (George Mason University professor of public policy James Finkelstein:  “If the team wins, why shouldn’t the professors get a bonus?”) and ass covering (McGarity told the AJC earlier that the academic targets “are difficult to achieve.”) in this piece about Kirby Smart’s bonus package.

For all the lip service about academics – and you can guess the source of that without breaking much of a sweat…

UGA athletics officials were not available Wednesday, but Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Matt Kempner asked athletic director Greg McGarity earlier what message is conveyed by academics being such a small part of Smart’s potential pay.

It shows “an emphasis on academics is an essential part of the expectations of a head coaches’ responsibility, and there are rewards for going above and beyond what is expected,” McGarity texted.

Helping players do well academically is a “top priority,” he added.

… the reality is that, like so many things under McGarity’s watch, academics for the football program have been in a state of decline.

Former coach Mark Richt’s deal called for a $50,000 academic performance bonus, too. That bonus was based on the football team’s average grade point average matching or besting UGA’s average undergraduate GPA.

Smart’s bonus is tied to a slightly different measure: the team ranking in the top third among SEC schools for graduation rates and academic eligibility measures.

UGA football’s academic performance today is far short of the top third ranking Smart would need to earn the academic bonus. In fact, UGA football’s academic ranking relative to other SEC football teams has actually dropped over time.

Six years ago, UGA had the second highest academic progress ratein the conference. Today, it’s number nine. UGA’s NCAA graduation rate puts it seventh among SEC schools.

That’s what $50,000 gets you these days, I suppose.  Now the article is smart enough to concede that even a huge bonus to a head coach based on player academics wouldn’t necessarily solve the matter (although you’d have to think it might cause more attention to be paid in that direction) and could open up an incentive to cheat.

But no matter.  Because what it really illustrates is that once you get past the threshold of eligibility, academics are low on the priority list.  The people who pushed McGarity to replace Richt don’t care about GPA nearly as much as they do about CFP – and Smart’s bonus package reflects that.

In other words, the Georgia Way isn’t more removed from sausage making than any other big time football program is.

37 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., Georgia Football