Monthly Archives: March 2016

Another day, another reader poll

Nick Chubb just keeps chugging along.

… Chubb isn’t just out there taking straight-ahead handoffs anymore. He’s doing some light cutting and was running a few routes and catching balls out of the backfield on Tuesday. He’s not ready yet and that’s pretty clear. At times he looks a little sore or unsure about that surgically-repaired left knee. But the fact that he’s improving, and doing so at an impressive pace, is impossible to ignore.

Wait a minute… he’s unsure about something?  Can we really trust this report?  (I keed.)

So how optimistic are you about Chubb’s playing time this season?

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Tennessee tries to move a road game.

Because we all know your chances to win are always better at home.  Unfortunately, no go.

A federal judge on Tuesday denied the University of Tennessee’s request to move a sweeping Title IX lawsuit to Knoxville.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Aleta Trauger found that UT is an “arm of the state” and therefore can be sued in any federal court district in Tennessee.

“The entire state has an interest in the resolution of this case that has lodged serious allegations against the state’s premier higher education institution,” Trauger said in the ruling.

The eight plaintiffs argued it would be traumatic for the case to be considered in Knoxville. Trauger ruled that she was not swayed by UT’s argument about convenience because witnesses in the case live in both judicial districts.

“While it would clearly be more convenient for UT employees and other third party witnesses located in Knoxville to litigate this action there, UT has not pointed to any evidence, aside from the distance between Knoxville and Nashville, to show that this inconvenience would be so significant as to tip the scales in favor of relocating this lawsuit,” Trauger said in a memo supporting her ruling.

I guess they’re worried about a jury box being filled with Vanderbilt fans.  What are the odds they’d find twelve of those folks at one time, anyway?

10 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, See You In Court

Addition by subtraction, or subtraction by addition?

Alabama’s lost its defensive coordinator and its defensive backs coach, but it’s only gonna get better.

Last season, under secondary coordinator Melvin Tucker, Alabama was in a zone scheme more than we’ve seen in years past. That is not a coincidence either.

In 2014, Alabama faced an unreal 495 pass attempts, yielding over 3000 yards through the air and 24 passing touchdowns surrendered (24th S&P passing defense.) In 2013, Alabama faced nearly 30 passes per game, and gave up 13 passing touchdowns; still, opponents were very efficient, as the Tide was just 32nd in S&P passing defense.

With several young players cracking the 2015 rotation, and with Alabama’s inability to get its man-defense up to the levels the Crimson Tide is accustomed to, Tucker simplified the schemes, put an emphasis on creating turnovers, and went to much more of a zone look to protect against the deep shot that had been Alabama’s bane the previous three seasons. Alabama finished 3rd in S&P pass efficiency defense last season; really only being torched in one game against the Heisman runner-up. Alabama surrendered 13 touchdowns in 14 games, before allowing four to Deshaun Watson, half of which occurred in a wild fourth quarter.

With Tucker’s departure, Nick Saban brought in former Troy DB Derrick Ansley to compliment Jeremy Pruitt’s more aggressive scheme. And, yes, Pruitt is considered somewhat more aggressive than Kirby Smart, blitzing well over 60% of the time during FSU’s title run. Last season, a Georgia secondary that had been somewhat maligned in years past finished the nation with the No. 1 pass efficiency defense in the country, and Georgia had the No. 1 defense against explosive plays allowed. Both bode well for an improved Tide team that nevertheless finished 7th and 9th in those categories.

Bully for the Tide.  What does it mean for Georgia?  I’m not sure it means much, for one big reason:  Georgia’s front seven in 2016 isn’t going to be anywhere near the quality of Alabama’s 2015 front seven.  Tucker played a ton of zone because he knew he could get away with it, due to Alabama’s dominance up front.  And Pruitt blitzed a bunch last season because he had to enhance the pressure that Georgia’s defensive front usually delivered.  Given that both shoes are now on the other feet, isn’t it likely we should expect each to gravitate a bit more towards the other in their approaches?

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UPDATE:  Here’s some of what I’m talking about.

… The theory is that the previous defensive staff used Floyd and Jenkins’ pass-rushing prowess to “protect” the young secondary, which benefitted by being in better coverage situations.

Not surprisingly, Floyd and Jenkins agree.

“That definitely was a goal me and Jordan had set going into every game: Make the quarterback get rid of the ball as quick as possible so the DBs can cover,” Floyd said.

“We definitely wanted to take some of the stress off the younger DBs. Because we didn’t want to put them in a lot of man-on-man type situations,” Jenkins said. “We knew they were younger, and we just wanted to make it easier for the freshmen coming in.”

That doesn’t mean Jenkins thinks the secondary was overrated.

“Oh no, there are still some good athletes back there,” Jenkins said. “We just wanted to eliminate that from even being in the mindset. We wanted them to be able to go ball out and play without worry.”

39 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Click bait is alive and well at the AJ-C.

I’m saving you the trouble of reading something this morning.

Kirby Smart’s best UGA blueprint may be following Jim Harbaugh’s lead” isn’t about showing that you have the biggest Johnson on Twitter.  It’s about being better on offense than Georgia was in 2015.

Awesome.  I bet that’s never even crossed Kirby’s mind.

Oh, and you’re welcome.

7 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“Exploited? Try blessed.”

Some of you will no doubt nod your heads in complete approval of Seth Davis’ ode of joy to the wisdom and good sense of the NCAA and its current amateurism protocols, but as you read his “players have never had it so good and they know it” explanation as to why things won’t get any stickier in terms of a player boycott…

Yes, the “system” (whatever that means these days) needs to be constantly upgraded to deliver more and more benefits to the student-athletes. But many people are unaware of the extent to which the NCAA has reformed itself over the last two years to do a better job taking care of the players. Thanks to a new governance structure that allows the Power Five conference schools to take the reins, players are now permitted to receive several thousand dollars in stipends in addition to their scholarships to allow them to cover the costs of attending school. There are basically no restrictions on how much food the schools can serve. For the second straight year, schools are permitted (but not required) to pay the travel expenses of players’ families so they can attend NCAA tournament games. (This applies to the women’s tournament as well.) Also for the first time, there are seats reserved on the NCAA’s primary governing councils for players, which allows them to have a direct say over legislation that affect their lives.

The problems facing college sports will be addressed this week, as well they should, but keep in mind that most of these same problems have been around since the enterprise began in the late 19th century. College sports, or at least college football (and later basketball), is big business, and wherever money is changing hands, corruption is sure to follow. But the transaction that will be on display this weekend is worth preserving. No, the players won’t be paid like professionals, but they will be feted like kings. They have earned that by working hard at their craft, under the supervision of some of the best coaches who ever stalked a sideline, in concert with the best strength and conditioning trainers money can buy, in front of the biggest audience most of them will ever see.

… keep in mind two things.  One, all those improvements he cites in his first paragraph there came not voluntarily from the NCAA, but in response to pressure the student-athletes brought in the courts and with the NLRB.  And those kids aren’t so stupid as to avoid noticing that pressure gets results, even with a bunch as stubborn as the schools are.  After all, learning lessons is what students do.

Two, as far as his last paragraph goes, those were exactly the kinds of things that were said about major league baseball players in the reserve clause era.  Once that time passed, it was off to the races, and that included strikes (and lockouts).  Given the level of stubbornness we see from the likes of Mark Emmert as well as the ever increasing wads of cash being handed out for mediocre to above-average results, it’s hard to see how college athletics avoids that same fate if the NCAA and the schools get their collective asses handed to them in an antitrust suit, players being “feted like kings” notwithstanding.  There’s too much money to expect otherwise.

No, we won’t see a player strike crippling this year’s Final Four.  But players have already struck, or threatened to strike elsewhere.

Too bad it’s still not the late 19th century.

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UPDATE:  If you’re wondering about my MLB analogy, read this story about the time Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale held out.  Some of the quotes in there are eerily reminiscent of you know what.

“It was astonishing to me,” Koufax wrote, “to learn that there were a remarkably large number of American citizens who truly did not believe we had the moral right to quit rather than work at a salary we felt — rightly or wrongly — to be less than we deserved. . . . Just take what the nice man wants to give you, get into your uniform, and go a fast 25 laps around the field.”

Also, this.

Players skilled in hitting or pitching were not permitted to employ an agent skilled in negotiation.

“They had to go in and talk to the general manager about their contracts, alone,” Moss said.

“Players at the time were told they were lucky to be playing baseball. If it wasn’t for baseball, they’d be driving trucks. Or, if they were black, they were told they would probably be picking cotton. It was a very primitive time.”

Kind of like the 19th century.

15 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Andy Staples has a good piece up about the upcoming media rights battles facing three of the P5 conferences, the Big Ten, the Big 12 and the ACC.  Two of those fights (Big Ten and ACC) are likely to be of interest simply as gauges of where the broadcast market is heading from a value and delivery of content standpoint (“ESPN has reportedly lost seven million subscribers over the past two years. Assuming those people only had ESPN and none of the network’s other channels—most likely did, but let’s estimate conservatively—that’s seven million people who are no longer paying $6 a month for ESPN. That’s a loss of $42 million a month, or $504 million a year.”), but the Big 12’s contest is more existential than that.

That’s because of that conference’s 800-pound gorilla, the University of Texas.  There is a growing number of Big 12 voices who call for the end of the Longhorn Network, Texas’ sweet $15-million/year deal, so that all the schools can join together and create a conference network.  Never mind that the other Big 12 schools sold their third-tier rights just as the ‘Horns did.  The real irony is that the Longhorn Network is what saved the Big 12 a few years ago in the first place.

For those who don’t remember, the Longhorn Network is one of the main reasons the Big 12 still exists. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado were headed to the former Pac-10, but then the Longhorns pulled an 11th-hour okey-doke on commissioner Larry Scott when the schools out west wouldn’t agree to let Texas form its own television network. So, the Longhorns made nice with the rest of the Big 12 and got their network.

So now, to make this work you have to (1) convince Texas that it won’t lose a penny by terminating the LHN in exchange for a conference broadcast arrangement; (2) require every other conference member to terminate their third-tier media rights deals while making sure that Texas is at the front of the line being made whole from however the new revenue stream is recast; (3) probably add two schools into the mix, which means making sure the pie is enlarged enough that the existing members don’t miss a beat on the money flow; and (4) convincing Texas that ensuring the Big 12’s stability is in its best interests.

Does that sound to you like something Bob Bowlsby can pull off?

3 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Those decided schematic advantages aren’t always what they’re cracked up to be.

Agent Muschamp now seems to admit the possibility exists that hiring Charlie Weis to be his first offensive coordinator at Florida may not have been such a hot move.

Will Muschamp, South Carolina’s new coach, says he made a mistake as a rookie coach at Florida when he tried to completely change the Gators’ offense. You’ll recall that Muschamp hired Charlie Weis as his offensive coordinator in 2011 and tried to install a pro-style offensive attack. Florida had won two national championships under Urban Meyer (2006, ’08) using a spread attack that relied heavily on the read option.

Muschamp went through three coordinators in four years as the Gators got into an offensive hole and never could get out.

“I probably made a mistake at Florida trying to change schematically from what they had done before,” Muschamp told me on a recent visit to his office. “As a result, we ended up not being very good at anything. These days you just don’t have time to make a lot of changes. You have to adapt to what your kids can do.”

Well, either that, or you just get rid of your kids.

This is one second act I’m really looking forward to watching.

13 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Agent Muschamp Goes Boom

“It’s beneath us.”

In case you missed it, Georgia Tech finished last season 3-9 and missed a bowl game for the first time in almost two decades.  This post isn’t about the sense of entitlement that is embodied by the header.

It’s to note what the genius considers to be a big fix of the problem.

Johnson is trying to change the Jackets’ fortunes.

He fired special teams coach Ray Rychleski, and hired long-time college assistant Ron West to aid offensive line coach Mike Sewak.

The Jackets’ vaunted spread rushing attack, which finished in the top six nationally in each of Johnson’s first seven seasons, slipped dramatically last season. And Thomas often wound up running for his life in passing situations.

“I wanted to experiment with a special teams coach, and I like the old model better, so I wanted to get back to having two offensive line coaches,” Johnson explained. “I think it’s virtually impossible for one guy to coach five guys with what we do.”

Special team duties will be split among the entire coaching staff and coordinated by wingback coach Lamar Owens.

In other words, when it comes to special teams, he’s embracing his inner Mark Richt.  Talk about your “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” solutions…

24 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football

“I knew about Frank Beamer.”

Excuse my heresy – and, yes, I know that much of Georgia’s special teams play could stand any sort of improvement – but are we making a little too much out of Beamer Ball?  Read carefully what its namesake had to say about his son’s position in Athens.

Now Georgia has one coach with a special teams coordinator title.

“I think it makes a statement,” said Frank Beamer, who was at UGA for a coaching clinic on Friday. “You’re going to have an offensive coordinator, you’re going to have a defensive coordinator and now if it’s one-third of the game, you probably should have a special teams coordinator. I think that, No. 1, makes a statement to your team, and No. 2, if someone is concentrating in that area, you’re concentrating on a third of the ballgame. Generally, that’s the quickest way to win and the quickest way to lose.”

Virginia Tech and Beamer Ball became known for special teams play. The Hokies blocked 67 punts, 41 field goals and 28 extra points under Beamer dating back to 1987 and scored 55 special teams touchdowns including a 67-yard punt return in his final game as coach.

“At a time when we were having a lot of success blocking kicks and returning kicks and so forth, I think it became a time when things changed within college football,” Frank Beamer said. “Ten years, 12 years ago, I think you could outcoach people in special teams. I don’t think you can anymore. Most people have taken a different look.”  [Emphasis added.]

Those diminishing returns in special teams coaching are reflected in some of the Hokies’ stats.

Between 2000-08, Virginia Tech blocked an average of 4.9 kicks a year. Between 2009-15, the Hokies blocked an average of 1.9 per year.

Now, again, I’m not trying to toss out a lot of cold water here.  Special teams appeared to be a real hit-or-miss proposition over the past few seasons, so an upgraded level of attention and organization certainly can’t hurt.

Reading between the lines, though, the times appear to have caught up with Beamer Ball to some extent, at least in part, probably because of the emphasis on upgrading special teams personnel that we’ve seen from coaches like Urban Meyer.  And as we saw from the past couple of seasons, upgrading personnel was an idea that Mark Richt had begun to adopt, albeit belatedly.  That makes me wonder how much of an improvement we should expect to see out of changes in tactics.

27 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in strained political analogies

Feel the Bern:

For Bernie Sanders, superdelegates are “kind of like” college football recruits, his campaign press secretary remarked Monday.

“I think what’s important to remember here is that superdelegates are kind of like football recruits,” said Symone Sanders in an interview with CNN’s “New Day.” “You know, they say they are coming but until they have signed on the dotted line and they’re in practice, you don’t know that they’re all the way with you and that they’re on your team…”

Hoo, boy.  If Nick Saban suddenly shows up as an advisor to the Sanders campaign, I guess we’ll know why.

By the way, Bernie, you know they say to win over recruits, you have to start by winning over their mamas.

6 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery