Daily Archives: February 25, 2016

About that whole football and politics thing…

This, apparently, is a real thing from a guy running for governor in Missouri.

Does that mean if elected, he wants to hire the next head coach?

22 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery

“We’re having to teach things we’ve never had to teach before.”

Honestly, you’ve got to love the NFL.  It’s not enough that college football provides a cost-free feeder system for its talent.  Nah, there’s still the problem that college football coaches aren’t keeping the NFL front and center in their minds in developing their players.  How can those selfish bastards dare think winning on that level is more important?

“The college game is quite a bit different than the game we play, especially on the line of scrimmage,” San Francisco 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said.

That comment or something along its lines was repeated several times before lunch on the first day of the combine. Baalke was referencing the spread offense, which has become so prevalent in college football that it’s making it harder and harder for professional scouts to evaluate how players will adjust to the more traditional offenses that still dominate the NFL.

This started as quarterbacks-only concern, but it’s starting to bleed into other positions, specifically offensive line and tight end. NFL evaluators are shocked now to see tape on college offensive linemen who never get into a three-point stance and tight ends who never venture near enough the offensive line to be graded as blockers.

“There is a little bit of development once you get to the league,” Oakland Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “I think that’s the biggest part of it. You’re still getting big, strong, talented young men with feet to move and the ability to play, but maybe their development isn’t as far along as it was when colleges were more closely aligned with what we’re doing in the NFL.”

The offensive changes in the college game affect the defense as well. If fewer offensive linemen are drive-blocking anyone then fewer defensive linemen are having to handle that technique, etc. and etc.

“We’re having to teach things we’ve never had to teach before,” Arizona head coach Bruce Arians said. “The athletes are much, much better, but the fundamentals are worse than they’ve ever been.”

Poor babies.  What to do, what to do?  The NFL threatening to start its own minor league is a threat nobody in his right mind would believe, so the next best thing is pretending there’s another chump out there ready to step up and fill the gap.

For a long time, college football has been able to put this particular complaint in the “That’s a you problem” pile. The college game was, and at the moment still is, the only legitimate commodities supplier for the NFL and therefore didn’t need to worry if the product they were supplying didn’t meet every single need of that product’s consumer.

The recent emergence of at least one professional spring football league could change that in the future. Major League Football (MLFB) already has hired coaches and drafted teams (one of which features a half dozen former South Carolina players including quarterback Stephen Garcia) and will begin training camps in March. There also is talk of a new USFL. Both of these leagues will sell themselves as feeder systems for the NFL, a chance for former NFL players to show they’ve still got what it takes or unsigned players to catch someone’s eye.

Stephen Garcia and a new USFL – now those are names to conjure with.  Maybe they can bring Steve Spurrier back while they’re at it.

At the moment, the business model for MLFB is to employee players post-college, but business models can change. What if the league decides, “Hey, let’s save some roster spots for college-age players who don’t have the desire or the ability to be student-athletes.”? That recruiting pitch might be pretty persuasive – “Come make a little money and play the exact same way they play in the NFL instead of sitting in math class for another minute of your life.”

“Yeah, I think there’s a way to make it work that there could be a developmental system in place,” Tampa Bay general manager Jason Licht said when asked if there was ever a day a developmental league might rival college football as a scouting option for the NFL. “I think it would be pretty beneficial for all of us.”

If by “us” he means the NFL, well, duh.  As for the rest of us, let’s just say that if there were an alternative to college football that was both a feasible pipeline to the NFL and profitable, it would already exist.

41 Comments

Filed under The NFL Is Your Friend.

Return this.

Although the decision to start Bauta for the Florida game, along with the manner in which that decision was implemented, will go down as last season’s biggest mystery, it wasn’t the only one.  Take, for example, this:

Isaiah McKenzie and Reggie Davis combined to return three punts for touchdowns last season. McKenzie averaged more than 12 yards per punt return last year, and also had a kick return touchdown as a freshman.

It’s strange, then, that McKenzie has been used so little as a kick returner since then, while Georgia ranked among the worst nationally in kick return average. (18 yards per return, 117th nationally and 12th in the SEC.)

Now a little of that can be chalked up to injuries and other matters Seth references, so last year’s staff deserves a pass to some extent.  Still, when you compare the stats from last season with those from 2014, it’s hard to avoid scratching your head.  Hopefully Beamer and Smart can figure out a better approach.  Which, given the numbers, would include the possibility of taking every touchback opportunity the opponent gives you.

31 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Some advice for Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s friends

Andy Schwarz neatly skewers the “we’re doing it for the kids” argument Emmert and Sankey continue to make about Jim Harbaugh’s Florida spring break excursion.

Anyway, that’s not the outrage. No, the public reason people like National Collegiate Athletic Association president Mark Emmert have expressed deep Concern over Harbaugh’s plan can be summarized as such: college athletes shouldn’t have to devote their Spring Breaks to practicing football. At least not when they could be doing what other college students do during Spring Break, which we can only assume involves violating the alcohol laws of Florida, California and Texas, though probably not Mexico.

Here’s Emmert:

“There is a big debate going on among administrators right now about how to provide more time off for student-athletes so the use of Spring Break for practices caused a lot of people to be concerned about it, and that’s an appropriate concern. … We are trying to find ways to dial back the demands on student-athletes, not ramp them up. … There’s a difference between not being prohibited and being OK.”

Are college sports power brokers actually concerned that Michigan’s football players will be working on out patterns instead of holding down the business end of beer bongs? I doubt it. To the contrary, I think their supposed reservations are basically a tell—you know, the subtle tip-off a bad gambler does when he’s bluffing—that lets the rest of us know just what actually matters in major college sports…

…Let me explain. Let’s start with the NCAA rulebook, and its description of our old friend amateurism:

2.9 The Principle of Amateurism.

Student-athletes shall be amateurs in an intercollegiate sport, and their participation should be motivated primarily by education and by the physical, mental and social benefits to be derived. Student participation in intercollegiate athletics is an avocation, and student-athletes should be protected from exploitation by professional and commercial enterprises.

What’s an avocation? A hobby, basically. The literal opposite of vocation, which means job. This is where things get weird. Why would Emmert (or anyone else) be upset because college athletes are being asked to participate in their chosen hobbies during their free time? Isn’t that pretty normal?

Sure, it would make sense to be deeply concerned if Harbaugh was asking players to work during their vacations. Especially without getting paid overtime. Most of us would want to punch our bosses—and/or the nearest available union card—if asked to do the same. Who wants to give up their vacation for a vocation? That’s just wrong…

… To put things another way: nobody is expressing concern that kids pursuing Model United Nations or College Bowl trivia or Dance Squad or any of a hundred other geeky hobbies over Spring Break needs to be “dialed back.” Why? Because those things really are avocations. By contrast, football practice is work. Emmert can’t say that out loud, because then he’d be admitting that amateurism is a sham; on the other hand, he can’t really hide the fact, because even colluding college sports administrators know that punching the clock during what’s supposed to be a vacation really, truly sucks.

There’s an irony here: if the complaint about Harbaugh’s plan is that is it further distances college athletes from their student-ness, well, that has things upside-down. Football is a full-time job. Being a student—at least, being a competent one—is also more or less a full-time job. Both pursuits take lots of time and energy, and as such, finding ways to prevent sports and academics from overlapping should be encouraged by the NCAA and other people who proclaim that the purpose of major college football is, ahem, education.

Boy, that’s what hoisted on one’s own petard looks like.

The longer the NCAA, the SEC and any other P5 conference go along with this fiction, the weaker they’re going to appear.  Everyone on both sides of this debate is a prick; Emmert’s and Sankey’s problem is that, unlike them, Jim Harbaugh is a clever prick.

The smart thing to do here is to change the terrain by abandoning the nonsensical insistence of a concern about student-athlete’s time, focusing instead on the reality that this is about recruiting, and then trying to outflank Harbaugh by proposing something equally clever that neutralizes the advantage he seeks at IMG.  Gee, I wonder if anybody has any ideas like that.

Reality check:  I’m losing sight of who I’m writing about here.  With bated breath, I await the report from the NCAA’s yet-to-be-announced executive study group on the subject of time demands on student-athletes.  It should be a real page turner.

10 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

“I explained to him that it was a one-year deal, and that’s all it is.”

I’m sure those of you who have proclaimed your faith in the sacred contractual bond between football program and scholarship athlete in the context of the Missouri boycott will feel just as holy about this.

12 Comments

Filed under College Football

Thursday morning buffet

Enjoy part of the culture at GTP with this morning’s servings.

  • Gus visits Art Briles.  Maybe he’s just a big fan of Baylor basketball.
  • The NCAA’s gonna NCAA.
  • A few tips from a team’s new coordinator on installing a new offense.
  • Georgia Tech’s recruiting is even more Chantastic than you thought.
  • With each passing day, the genius of Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott becomes ever more genius-ier.
  • Kirby really wants to hear from you about G-Day QBR, folks:  “Y’all email my secretary. She’ll send them to me. I’m sure there’s a lot in here smarter than me with quarterback play.”  Based on message boards and comment threads, I can vouch for that.
  • Those of you who think you’ve shared enough life experience to know how every twenty-year old college athlete should behave ought to see this.  (You really don’t, in other words.)  Not to mention it makes for a pretty jarring juxtaposition with this.

18 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football, It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football, Recruiting, Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA