Sure it is.
Daily Archives: August 4, 2016
Sure it is.
Another day, another rationale.
Now, instead of the
dog eating the homework paperwork getting lost, it’s just your basic “we didn’t need the kid anymore, so we wish him well” stuff that’s SOP at ‘Bama. That at least has the virtue of familiarity going for it.
By the way, I just bet Saban can prove that every incoming transfer to his program has come for “clear non-athletics reasons”. In other words, they’re still BSing.
Yes, America’s least relevant vote is here again, for what it’s worth. Georgia starts out ranked sixteenth, also for what it’s worth.
Somehow, I keep fooling Marc Weiszer into thinking I have keen insights to share about Georgia football. If I have you fooled, too, then check out today’s edition of the Bulldog Bytes podcast in which Marc was gracious enough to have me on to chat about some things.
One of the talking points in the Maurice Smith transfer situation is that Alabama let another player, Chris Black, transfer to Missouri last season, which is inconsistent with Saban’s stance now regarding Smith. Evidently the school is prepared to let everyone know that Black’s transfer doesn’t count. Wanna know why?
Because nobody was paying attention. No, really.
Schools have seven business days to either approve or deny a player’s request for a release, according to an NCAA Bylaw.
What happens if a school doesn’t respond within seven business days? The school has to give the player a full release.
That’s what happened with Black, sources told AL.com.
The wide receiver put in for his release leading up to Alabama’s game against LSU in early November.
It was a huge game, No. 4 Alabama against No. 2 LSU. With people inside the Tide building being as busy as they were leading up to that game, Black’s request for a release either got forgotten about or went unnoticed until it was too late, according to sources.
Like with Smith, coach Nick Saban didn’t want Black transferring to another SEC school. But that’s why Black was able to.
We’re supposed to believe that the man who embodies being a control freak with the largest support staff in college football didn’t keep track of a player’s transfer request because he was too preoccupied? Sorry, but that dog won’t hunt.
I hope somebody calls Saban on this whenever the topic of Smith’s transfer is raised in his next presser. Maybe the Coke bottle can shed some light on it. Seriously, if this is the best he’s got, he might as well go ahead and throw the towel in already.
So let me get this straight: Georgia won nine regular-season games last year with a veteran head coach, a veteran (albeit transfer) quarterback and a fully healthy Nick Chubb. Now they have not only a first-year head coach but a first-time head coach, who is walking into one of the most high-pressure jobs in college football without having ever coached a game? And he’s doing it with (likely) a true freshman at quarterback and Chubb coming off injury? And we expect the Dawgs to actually be better than they were last year? Especially when you add in a brutal schedule that includes an improved Tennessee, cross-divisional games against Ole Miss and Auburn and an opener against an 11-win North Carolina team? Plenty believe Georgia will be good in time under Richt [sic] (I’m a bit more dubious than most), but they feel like a nine-win team at best this year.
While there is some stuff in there I disagree with — for one thing, the schedule isn’t any more brutal than last year’s — I can’t quibble with his nine-win projection. And he’s not the only pundit less than impressed with Georgia’s chances in 2016, as you can see from his stable mate Stewart Mandel’s latest top-25 projections, which leaves Georgia off entirely.
Lest we forget, Georgia is coming off a weird 2015, in which it finished unranked despite being a 10-win team in a P5 conference. That’s not an easy thing to do.
And yet, there are plenty of pundits and folks who do stat projections who see better things ahead for the Dawgs this season. Are they right? Or is Georgia simply that hard to get a solid handle on right now?
I’m leaning towards the latter, to be honest, and I have a theory about why. First off, I don’t question the coaching change as much as the writer of the quote above does. Certainly you have to say Kirby is a question mark until we see him in action, but even the most diehard cynic would have to admit that spending almost a decade around Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa had to result in some knowledge rubbing off. On top of that, there are clear areas where the staff has been upgraded, and I can’t really point to a single area where I feel like Smart has settled for a less able coach than his predecessor.
That leaves the talent base, the players. And here’s where I think the ambiguity rests. Georgia recruits well, we tell ourselves. Certainly, as I noted in that post about Pick Six Preview’s SEC East projections, it’s recruited at least as well as its divisional competitors have. But I think most of us have mixed feelings about the talent on the roster, or perhaps more accurately, the depth of talent on the roster, especially when you factor in experience.
And that I think has its roots in Mark Richt’s neglect in maintaining roster numbers a few seasons back, but maybe not in the way you think. Because, to his credit, Richt did finally wake up about that and take big steps to correct it.
The problem he ran into — and the one Kirby Smart will have to deal with this season — is Georgia’s 2013 recruiting class.
That class, if you’ll recall, was a big one, with 34 kids who signed, although only 32 wound up enrolling. Despite the class size, though, it only finished 12th in the 247Sports composite rankings. That was only good for seventh-best in the SEC.
But even that’s not the real story, as we sit here today. The real story is the way that class subsequently vaporized. Take a look at the list of those enrollees. It is staggering to see how few of those four-stars ever became significant contributors, let alone starters, not to mention how many of them are no longer on the team at all, a mere three years later. And much the same can be said for the three-stars.
That’s had the result of blowing an enormous hole in the roster. So a class that was assembled in part to address a numbers gap has had the opposite effect. And these are the kids who should be stepping up now as juniors and seniors to assume major roles on the team. Instead, we’re seeing the scrambles of the next three classes being used to make up for what’s not there.
The quarterback situation Smart’s got is a perfect example of that. Brice Ramsey is part of the class of 2013 and to date he’s made more of an impact as a punter. Christian LeMay washed out and so Richt found himself last season in a hole at the position, which he attempted to plug with a graduate transfer. Smart is trying to solve the problem with that same transfer, who is coming off a mediocre season, Brice Ramsey, or a true freshman. It’s not exactly your ideal situation.
But it’s the hand he’s been dealt and it’s the reason I’m willing to give Kirby Smart some time. At least as long as I think he’s making good use of that time, anyway.
In a little bit of a surprise, Nick Chubb met with the media yesterday.
Then again, at this point, I’m not sure anything Chubb does should come as a surprise. And I don’t think it’s unrealistic at all now to be optimistic about Chubb’s chances to contribute in the opener, as it’s hard for me to think Kirby Smart would let him interview if it were still a very unlikely possibility.
To watch Chubb on Georgia’s practice field is to say the qualifiers “maybe” and “hopefully” can be removed. Beating all reasonable expectations set last October, when Chubb suffered the gruesome knee injury, he’s been running, cutting and carrying the ball without limitation this week at Georgia’s practices.
The only thing he hasn’t done is absorb hits. That’s the next, and potentially final, test. But Chubb’s availability for the season opener against North Carolina – once considered a long-shot – is now approaching a certainty.
“I am who I am,” Chubb said after Wednesday’s practice. “I feel good. I have my teammates with me. So just emotionally and mentally the support is there. I feel good.”
Chubb admitted that some of the things he’s been able to do – squatting and running, for instance – have surprised him.
“But I’m doing everything I used to do,” Chubb said.
Emerson goes on to say that Chubb starting against North Carolina is “an increasingly likely scenario”. If so, what a story. And I can only imagine the crowd reaction in the Dome if that turns out to be the case.
This is why I love the law: the NCAA lost the O’Bannon case in front of U.S. District Judge Claudia Wilken and has appealed her decision to the Supreme Court, but meanwhile is invoking O’Bannon as a shield against Jeffrey Kessler in his antitrust suit… and finding that Judge Wilken is sympathetic to its defense.
What a country, eh?
Kevin Scarbinsky wades into the Maurice Smith affair and finds — surprise! — it’s not so clear cut as to how badly Alabama has behaved.
The latest development was a contentious meeting Tuesday between Smith, his parents and Alabama coach Nick Saban. Smith’s mother, Samyra, described it to me as “a knock-down drag-out.”
Samyra Smith said she believes Saban and Alabama are doing their best to force her son to stay and play one more season for the Crimson Tide, even though the idea of forcing a disgruntled player to stick around seems counterproductive. Smith will not report for fall camp Thursday, his mom said, and will not play for Alabama this season.
She said Saban told the family Tuesday he had “penciled in” her son as a starter. She said her son responded to the coach, “Pencils have erasers.”
Alabama declined an opportunity to comment Wednesday, but it’s clear the school disagrees with Samyra Smith’s contention that it’s been stalling to keep her son on the roster.
One example: Alabama already had renewed Smith’s scholarship for the upcoming year, and there’s no stated NCAA process to rescind such a renewal. But Alabama did work with the SEC and the NCAA to rescind the renewal, which was necessary to allow Smith to meet the transfer requirements. That process was finalized within the last week, which helps open the door for Smith to transfer to any school outside the SEC.
I don’t want to say this is about two egos, because I honestly don’t think Saban operates that way. But it’s clearly devolved into a test of wills, which is something I doubt Nick Saban is used to experiencing with one of his players.
At its most basic level, transfer policy is about coach control. That’s what we’re seeing here. With this showdown, Saban is managing his roster the way Saban’s always managed his roster. Smith has some leverage as a graduate, but only so much. (And time is working against him, if coming to Georgia is his goal.)
So while I don’t think this is anything personal on Saban’s part, it’s clear that someone on Alabama’s staff has taken the coach’s hunkering down on Smith’s transfer as a green light to behave like a complete ass. The irony is, presuming the media heat continues to be dialed up, that this may wind up being the lever that sets Smith free to pursue the move of his preference. And if that happens, I’d hate to be the guy responsible for that.
I guess the strength and conditioning coaches have been busy this summer.
Fifty-nine players weigh more than they did since the last updated roster, including 21 by double digits after an offseason under new coach Scott Sinclair and staff.
The biggest gainers in listed weight were freshman quarterback Jacob Eason and offensive tackle/tight end Aulden Bynum each up 24 pounds. Eason, nicknamed “Skinny”, is now listed at 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds. Bynum goes 6-5 and 292.
Quarterback Greyson Lambert also is up 14 pounds to 6-5 and 234 pounds. Brice Ramsey is up 3 to 6–3 and 210.
Running back Nick Chubb is up eight pounds to 228.
Sam Pittman wants his offensive line to be supersized: Dyshon Sims is up 16 pounds to 309 and Brandon Kublanow up 11 to 293 and 6-6 Sam Madden up 12 to 334.
“Big Country” Ben Cleveland isn’t quite as big. The 6-foot-6 freshman dropped four pounds to 341. Freshman Solomon Kindley was listed at 370 entering but he’s now at 336.
The defensive line also has more beef.
DaQuan Hawkins is up 18 to 320 and Michael Barnett 16 to 292.
Outside linebacker Chuks Amaechi now is 250, up 20 pounds.
Inside linebacker Natrez Patrick drew praise for the shape he is in from Kirby Smart. He’s down 10 pounds to 238. Freshman defensive lineman Michail Carter (if this isn’t a misprint) had the biggest drop in weight down 24 to 293.
By the way, muscular Elijah Holyfield, the freshman running back, is listed at 5-11, 215, up six pounds.
Of course, we’ve seen weight changes in summers before. What we don’t know until we see them play is to what end they’ve been made.
It’s also worth remembering that while the team will be on its third offensive coordinator in three years, the changeover in S&C has almost kept pace, as I believe this marks the third head strength coach in four seasons. Is one offseason enough for a complete remake of what went before? You got me.