Daily Archives: April 18, 2016

That’s so Defensive Line U.

Jon Solomon looks at which college teams did the best at delivering defensive line talent to the NFL.  Your Number One school:

1. Georgia: Kirby Smart arrives in Athens with a strong pipeline of defensive linemen who have thrived in the NFL above expectations. Consider this: Georgia is our Defensive Line U winner despite not having a defensive lineman drafted in the first round since Johnathan Sullivan (who did not pan out) went No. 6 in 2003.
[Emphasis added.]

Richard Seymour turned into a Pro Bowler as a first-round pick in 2001. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins became a Pro Bowl defensive tackle despite being a fourth-round pick in 2010. Otherwise, it’s a long list of Georgia defensive linemen who became solid starters since 2006, including Charles Johnson, Chris Clemons and Kedric Golston. The Bulldogs had 15 defensive linemen on NFL rosters in 2015…

Yeah, I know.

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If you can’t make the game day experience more unique…

… your next most profitable option is making it more like staying home.

GameDay Traditions, an innovative leader in the premium hospitality sector, helps their partners monetize under-utilized real estate surrounding stadiums and arenas and deliver world-class fan experiences for the most discerning premium customers. Through the company’s commitment and passion for the ultimate game day experience, it delivers partners new revenue streams and their fans a lifetime of memories.

Nice.  You can’t put a price tag on memories like this:  “Hey, honey, remember when we used to spend a shitload of money at the games so we’d still have a kitchen and bathroom when we went?  Good times, right?”

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Because you can never get enough Jim Harbaugh.

Per NCAA honcho Oliver Luck, the new satellite camp rule may be revisited.

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Filed under The NCAA

“It’s a new beginning.”

If you’d like something to harsh your buzz, picture Kirby Smart working as Georgia’s head coach while Michael Adams was still school president.

“I don’t think Georgia’s going to become Alabama,” said Michael Adams, who served as Georgia’s president from 1997 to 2013. “It’s a different constituency, it’s a different mindset, it’s a much different state, a much more pluralistic state. There probably are some elements of what Coach Saban has done that will work at Georgia, and there’s some elements that have been there a long time, through a number of coaches at Georgia, that I don’t think will change.”

Wuh.  I just got shivers.  And not in a good way.

Eh, maybe I’m just overreacting.  After all, Greg McGarity would be on the job, right?

“He’s coming from a culture of accountability,” McGarity said. “Not that we didn’t have that, but it’s a level of accountability where everybody’s going to be on their toes to a different level.”

Not a minute too soon.

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So, where do we go from here?

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Photo by David Alexander Barnes/Chattanooga Times Free Press

It’s all downhill from 93,000 at G-Day. (I keed, I keed.)

Seriously, watching the stadium steadily fill up for a G-Day game was one of the more amazing experiences of my life.  And it’s largely a tribute to Georgia’s new head coach.

I can’t say I know what I expected for sure coming in with the new hire.  Just like most of us, I hoped that a certain amount of Nick Saban had rubbed off on Kirby Smart, but I had to counter that with my misgivings over how shabbily Greg McGarity handled the transition process.  At the time of the hire, I was left with the realization that much would come down to whether Smart could give as good as he got.

Four months in, I’d have to say my expectations have at least been met.  Really, perhaps even exceeded.  It’s clear from the get-go Smart’s been given a cleaner rein than any head coach Georgia’s had since Dooley’s salad days.  To date, he’s used it shrewdly to get the fan base on the same page, as well as to marshal the program’s resources in a more Tidely direction.  No, it’s much too early to know how that will pay off, but judging from what we’ve seen so far in recruiting and G-Day, it’s reasonable to be optimistic.

Smart was careful in Saturday’s press conference not to promise much, or even speculate about where the program was, but I couldn’t help but pick up on his hope that the players improve their standing as much over the summer as they have during the spring.  It’s not hard to infer from that he’s at least satisfied with the direction in which he has things headed.

And really, that’s all I can ask for at this point.  I’ll say it again, more than anything, what eventually killed Mark Richt’s career at Georgia was his inability to attend to detail in a consistent and overarching way.  Georgia football needs something stronger than that.  That Richt answered to people who were unable to provide him with any consistent and overarching direction or support to do a better job with that only exacerbated the problem.

Those folks may still be here, but now they’re dealing with a different type of cat… er, Dawg.  And while I’m a big believer in the “if it ain’t broke” school of thought, there’s certainly something to be said for “I know what I’m doing, just get out of my way so I can do my job”.  If Kirby is indeed that guy and whether through hope, fear or inertia is able to get the level of support he needs from Butts-Mehre to run the program, we could indeed be in for a good run.  Lord knows we certainly deserve one.

Obviously, there’s a giant “if” there.  And Smart’s had a stumble or two already.  But he’s done enough on the plus side that I’ve got no problem keeping an open mind about the program’s future. Trust, but verify.  It’s only fair to judge him the way he’s judging his own players.

Man, it’s gonna be a long summer.

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If you’re an SEC school, you’re not missing any meals.

USA Today published its annual report on athletic department finances yesterday and much of it is what you’d expect.  Basically, the rich continue to get richer.  So while you get the annual fretting about bubbles bursting…

NCAA president Mark Emmert says the very fact that so few athletics programs are self-sufficient demonstrates their worth in terms of building community and providing opportunity.

“A very small number of the 1,100 (NCAA members) have a positive cash flow on college sports, so those schools are making a decision that having a successful athletic program is valuable to them despite the fact they have to subsidize it with institutional money,” Emmert says. “The same thing is true for a lot of academic programs. So every school has to sit down and say, ‘What is this worth to us?’ ”

… it’s wise to remember the annual aspect of that.

Kansas State president Kirk Schulz, chair of the NCAA board of governors, believes the bubble metaphor is overwrought.

“I’ve heard that now for the last 20 years and I don’t want to be skeptical and say nothing like that could happen that would ever change the direction of intercollegiate sports,” Schulz says. But he compares it to predictions of a bubble in higher education where prospective students would one day decide that degrees for ever-higher tuition just aren’t worth it anymore.

“And guess what? We all have record numbers of people who want to come and pay these tuition rates and get these degrees from our institutions,” Schulz says. “So I’m a little skeptical about the gloom and doom of a bubble that’s going to burst and everything is going to go south.”

Even so, Schulz agrees that athletics departments cannot continue to outspend revenue indefinitely.

The SEC isn’t guilty of even that.  Every athletic department in the conference that reported – i.e., except private school Vanderbilt – disclosed that it took in more money than it spent in the last fiscal year.  When you consider how schools manipulate those numbers on the expense side, that’s pretty telling.

Only one team, Alabama (shockingly) reported a decline in revenue year over year.  Only two schools, LSU and Mississippi, reported revenue increases of less than $10 million.

Like I said, nobody’s missing meals here.

As far as Georgia goes, let Seth Emerson lay it out.

UGA ranked 15th nationally, and eighth in the SEC, in total athletics revenue, at $116.15 million, during the 2014-15 school year.

Meanwhile, the school ranked 25th nationally, and 10th in the SEC, in expenses, at $96.56 million. Only Missouri, the Mississippi schools and presumably Vanderbilt spent less. (Vanderbilt, as the SEC’s lone private school, did not have to report its finances.)

Georgia’s spending should be increasing a lot for the 2015-16 school year. The athletics department has outlayed more financial resources for new head football coach Kirby Smart, but had already increased the previous football staff’s recruiting budget as the summer of 2015. Plus, the school is paying more than $6 million in buyouts to Mark Richt, Brian Schottenheimer and Jeremy Pruitt.

The school is also building an indoor athletic facility budgeted for $30.2 million, but athletics director Greg McGarity has said the majority of that is being fundraised through donors.

UGA’s total from subsidies is $3.212 million, an amount higher than every SEC school except Auburn, according to USA Today.

When you net the expenses reported from revenues, Georgia stands third in the conference in, for want of a better word, profitability, behind Texas A&M, with that ridiculous revenue jump and Florida.  Nice subsidy, Greg!

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  About that bubble bursting thing…

Yeah, I might hold off on that doom and gloom stuff a little while longer.

 

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

About a quarterback… or four

Who is anointed to take the first snap in the Georgia Dome is the topic I expect most Georgia fans will be chewing over the longest until the season opener.  One good thing about the way G-Day played out is that we got to see plenty of passing, so there’s plenty to argue about until then.

As far as my observations go, as you read them, please keep in mind that I’m the same guy who thought after watching last year’s G-Day game that the Dawgs had at least one quarterback on the roster who was capable of being a consistent SEC-caliber starter. So… yeah.

Anyway, here’s the cast, in alphabetical order:

  • Jacob Eason.  Is he the most physically gifted quarterback on Georgia’s roster?  He is.  For all the arm strength, did he manage to show good touch on his throws?  He did.  Were his footwork and mechanics more polished than I expected for a kid in his fifteenth practice?  They were.  And what about his presence in the huddle – did it look like his teammates responded to him?  They did.  Is he ready to start?  Yea… um, wait a minute.  He faced a vanilla defense, and even with that, looked a little tentative against the occasional blitz.  Nor did he operate much under center, which no doubt added to his comfort level.  He held the ball a little too long now and then, something that’ll get him killed against a good SEC defense.  I had a sense in the latter part of the game that he pressed a little to make things happen, which was understandable.  But, damn, there sure was a lot to love, starting with that first beautiful throw to Ridley.  They’re not going to hand him the job, and, in fact, I suspect the coaches are going to hold his inexperience against him a little harder out of a general sense of prudence, but you know they’re hoping hard he grows the most over the next four months.  Eason is the future.  We just don’t know when the future is scheduled to arrive.
  • Greyson Lambert.  Let’s get the obvious part out of the way first.  The pick six was the culmination of everything that Lambert does wrong – bad mechanics, bad read, bad placement.  Before that, though, he hadn’t been bad.  The pass to Chigbu that should have been a touchdown was beautifully thrown.  Lambert’s footwork was better than I saw much of last year.  He does have a good sense of what to do in the offense.  But there was still too much locking on targets for my taste.  In the end, though, if Lambert doesn’t hold on to the starting job – that’s not a prediction, by the way – I suspect it will be for something that Smart claims is very important.  He clearly lacks mobility, more than any quarterback who played Saturday.  He lacks escapability when the pocket breaks down and looks flat out uncomfortable rolling out and throwing.  If he keeps the spot, it’ll be because the coaches think he’s the best at avoiding trouble, but his limitations will restrict what Chaney can call from his playbook.
  • Brice Ramsey.  Lost in all the excitement over Eason was Ramsey’s very, very nice day.  He made some good reads, he rolled out and threw, he had enough presence of mind not to fold on a busted handoff, and, best of all, showed touch on several passes that he hadn’t shown last season.  More than any quarterback out there, he made me think that Jim Chaney’s a pretty decent position coach.  He had a couple of good looking deep balls of his own.  Bottom line is that he’s legitimately back in the mix, and after last season, that’s something I didn’t expect.
  • Nick Robinson.  Who?  Geez, he didn’t look bad at all.  Robinson went 5-7 with a touchdown on his one series and looked crisp making decisions doing so.  He also did a terrific job selling play action.  I made a facetious comment to my friend after the game that maybe he should have gotten the start against Florida last year, but, honestly, for a fourth-string quarterback, he hardly looked embarrassing.

I definitely don’t want to get too far ahead of things here.  For one, as I mentioned, last year’s experience is a good reminder not to do so.  Beyond that, D’Andre Walker and a couple of blitzes aside, the quarterbacks as a group didn’t face the kind of pressure they’re going to see come September.  Smart is right to emphasize who can make the best decisions as the key.

As well as the staff appears to have managed the group so far, the big decision to come is when to pull the trigger on making the big decision to come.  I thought last season’s hesitation to name a starter until very late in fall camp hurt when it came to developing timing and communication – and that was when Georgia had some experienced wide receivers and most of the offensive line returning.  This year, that’s not the case, and when you toss in the possibility of starting a true freshman quarterback, I’m not sure holding off until a week or so before the first game is where you want to go.

On the other hand, Smart thinks competition is the way you forge successful college players.  If he’s not satisfied with how the group handles the challenge, I don’t think he’ll name a starter just to name a starter.  Sure, Eason is the tantalizing option here, but as much as I’m sure we’d all like to see the young stud out there, what Smart wants more than anything is for one of these guys to take the bull by the horns and run with it, no matter who that may turn out to be.  In short, stay tuned for further development.

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