Daily Archives: April 14, 2016

Spring games as a point of pride, and something more

Read this piece about the history of Alabama’s A-Day game in the Saban era, and I think you’ll get a sense of why Kirby Smart wants the numbers up big time this Saturday.

The attendance marks aren’t just a point of pride. It’s all part of the massive recruiting pitch a few bus loads of prospects and families will see. That was a point Saban subtly made last week in a news conference pitch to fans requesting their presence at A-Day.

If Georgia draws a bigger crowd than Alabama this year, will that make for a new pitch on the recruiting trail?  You tell me.


Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting

Gus surrenders.

This is what comes of being in the same division with Nick Saban and Les Miles.

If Greg Sankey had a sense of humor, he’d call up Malzahn and tell him he had some good news and some bad news:  Auburn’s moving to the East, but so is Alabama.  Oh, and by the way, the Tigers’ permanent cross-division rivalry game will be against LSU.

Of course, this follows in the fine Auburn tradition of Tuberville dropping FSU from the schedule as soon as he took the job.  As the head coach on the Plains, if you can’t beat ’em, walk away from ’em.


Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

“So why shouldn’t Georgia have 93,000 for every spring game?”

I’m sure this will shock some of you, but count me in the easier said than done camp on management of a larger than usual G-Day crowd showing up.

It’s no small undertaking, however. To date, the largest crowd ever to attend the annual intrasquad spring game was 46,815 last year. So Smart is hoping to double that his first year.

And it hasn’t come without some hiccups. Already UGA was unable to achieve its stated goal of lining up a major musical act for pregame entertainment. Administrators reached out to several front-line stars but ultimately could not get a deal done, primarily because of the limited window of entertainment time available (roughly 15 minutes).

Instead, UGA has produced a 15-minute “behind-the-scenes” hype video that they will show on the videoboard right before kickoff.

“We didn’t know what this was going to look like and once we got the schedule and started talking about the pockets of time … we figured we had a 15-minute time span there, and it just didn’t work out,” Athletic Director Greg McGarity said. “But I think the videos will be something nobody has seen before. Our video staff does a great job with that. Really in a way it will hype the fans. The next thing that comes out of the tunnel is the team.”

The game will also represent a challenge from an event management standpoint. They obviously sold no tickets to it and admission is free. But they also didn’t issue any vouchers or distribute anything that would give organizers an idea of how many fans might actually show up.

So they’re planning for a full house. They will have every section open, all the way up to the 600 level in the upper tier, and they will be filled from the bottom up on a first-come, first-serve basis. All concessions stands and restrooms will be opened and most general game-day parking is expected to be available, though not on a reserved basis.

“It’s a lot more difficult planning for this than it is for a normal game because you (don’t) know what you have as far as numbers,” McGarity said. “So we’ve got plans in case it fills up, what do we do if it goes over the amount? So that’s how we’re planning this event. Everything is staffed at full strength. We just don’t know.”

There’s a certain sense of “what have we gotten ourselves into?” there that’s inevitable, I suppose.  In a real way, G-Day is as much of a test for how the athletic department can manage heightened expectations as it is for the coaching staff.  Here’s hoping for a day full of pleasant surprises.


Filed under Georgia Football

Smart talk

Go ahead and find yourself twenty or so minutes of me time this morning, because you’ll definitely want to give a listen to Stewart Mandel’s excellent interview with Kirby Smart.  (Mandel’s introduction starts at the 17:00 mark and the interview itself kicks in at about 18:30.)

When done right, as this one is, an advantage a podcast Q&A has over one you read in print is that it’s easier to gauge how involved the interviewee is in the discussion.  Kirby seems a little withdrawn at the start, but you can sense he becomes more engaged in the conversation at the point when Mandel asks him about, ironically, what kind of offense he prefers to run.  That level is maintained until the interview’s end, when Mandel asks a couple of questions that Kirby prefers not to discuss.  And doesn’t.

Feel free to draw your own impressions from their conversation, but here are a few things I took away from it:

  • The vision thing.  Obviously, there’s a big difference between preparation and implementation, but if there’s one thing that shines through the entirety of the interview, it’s that Kirby has a very clear idea of what he wants to do in running a football program.  I suppose it’s no great surprise that someone who’s worked closely with Nick Saban for more than a decade has both a big picture in mind and a sense of how to go about achieving it.  While we don’t know how Kirby the game day coach will fare yet, we have seen the way the staff has been recruiting since his hire; listen to what he says about recruiting mid-way through the interview and match that up with the way the staff has been pursuing recruits since the changeover.
  • The return of the alumnus.  He’s given a lot of thought to how coaching at the school where he played impacts things, especially on the recruiting trail.
  • Quarterbacks.  The conversation about offense morphs into a more specific discussion about the quarterback position and that’s where things get most interesting, starting with Smart’s ideal, who, essentially, is Deshaun Watson, a pro-style quarterback with the ability to escape when the pocket breaks down.  The most revealing moment in the entire Q&A is when Mandel asks Kirby if he currently has a quarterback on the roster who fits the bill in that regard and Kirby replies after a moment that he doesn’t.  Which isn’t to say that none of the three currently battling don’t have their redeeming features – Smart goes on to list those for each of them.  That’s the part you should listen to most closely, especially if you intend to watch their G-Day performances to get some kind of idea of how the battle is shaping up this spring.  I don’t want to give away too much, but I will say that I came away from listening to that feeling (1) Lambert has a stronger chance of being the starter on opening day than many of us might think and (2) Smart’s comment about Ramsey’s footwork shouldn’t be taken as some kind of sly remark about his punt work.
  • Transition.  Listen to what Smart says about how he and Tucker approached the question of terminology with the change in defensive coordinators and compare that to what Richt and Schottenheimer said and did post-Bobo.

Anyway, enough of me rambling about it.  Go listen and let me know what you think in the comments.


Filed under Georgia Football