Daily Archives: December 12, 2016

Stocking stuffer

A little Christmas cheer is in order for the Georgia staff:

Georgia’s football coaching staff will receive nearly $300,000 in bonuses for the Bulldogs’ appearance in the Liberty Bowl.

The Dec. 30 game in Memphis against TCU falls in the SEC’s “pool of six” bowls, along with the Outback, Music City, TaxSlayer, Texas and Belk bowls.

Landing in any of those bowls triggers a 10 percent bonus of the gross salary for each of the nine on-field assistant coaches, Georgia confirmed. Six of the assistant coaches also get additional compensation beyond salary in supplemental pay.

Not too shabby for a throwaway season.

Hell, I don’t mind guys getting paid.  And McGarity’s got this covered by not having to come out of pocket for the IPF.  (Thanks to our donors for their generous support, yadda, yadda, yadda…)  Still, I seem to have this nagging suspicion that those on the inside have gotten a better year out of Georgia football than the fans have.

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64 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

In Florida, the recruiting pickings may be about to shrink.

Butch Davis is the new head coach at Florida International.  Charlie Strong is taking the South Florida gig.  And Florida Atlantic is sniffing around Junior.

That’s a lot of front line recruiting talent.  Davis and Strong, in particular, have strong ties to the state of Florida.  All told, it’s starting to look like Tommy Perkins’ metaphor on steroids.

The twist is that if this plays out in the way I sort of expect, it’s going to make it much harder for out of state programs to grab the state’s second-tier talent.  And if you don’t think that’s such a big deal, maybe you should consider this year’s Heisman Trophy winner as Exhibit “A”.

24 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

The biggest thing that’s gotta get fixed

Georgia’s defensive stats declined pretty much across the board from 2015 to 2016, but the Dawgs still managed to finish a credible sixteenth nationally in total defense this season.  Unfortunately, where the rubber meets the road — scoring defense — the story isn’t as good, as Georgia ranks 39th, a major drop from 2015’s eighth place finish.

The blame for the tumble doesn’t lie with turnovers forced, where the defense improved from 22 (43rd nationally) in 2015 to 25, which was tenth best this season.  And some of it can be chalked up to a steady decline in field position efficiency.  Brian Fremeau’s FEI field position rankings over Georgia’s past three seasons are 4th, 31st and 53rd.  Special teams and offense are both contributors there, and it’s not hard to think of examples that made life harder for the defense throughout this season.

But that all pales by comparison with the biggest sore spot, red zone defense.  Georgia is next to last in the country in opponent’s red zone conversion percentage, but even that doesn’t give you the true flavor of how poorly things have gone this year.  Check out Georgia’s percentage over the past nine seasons:

  • 2008:  80.43%
  • 2009:  82.93%
  • 2010:  80.58%
  • 2011:  90.63%
  • 2012:  73.91%
  • 2013:  85.42%
  • 2014:  77.50%
  • 2015:  67.65%
  • 2016:  94.59%

That’s right.  As bad as you thought Willie Martinez was at the end of his run — and you weren’t wrong about that — and as bad as you thought Grantham’s defense was his last season in Athens, both of them were more competent at keeping the other team from scoring once inside Georgia’s twenty-yard line than Smart and Tucker have been capable of preventing this season.

It’s an understatement to say that has to be addressed if Georgia is going to be a better team next season.  I have no idea if the obscene drop from ’15 to ’16 was a product of scheme or personnel (both, most likely), but, then again, I’m not the guys being paid to figure that kind of stuff out.  What I do know is that going from first to last in the SEC in an important defensive stat like that ain’t gonna cut it over the long haul.

The tough thing is that it’s not reasonable to expect a complete reversal of fortune in one season.  That being said, a return to at least middle of the road respectability is close to a necessity if next year’s defense is going to be a factor in making the program competitive.

45 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Unlimited talk and text

If I were a sought after recruit, now would be the time to send my phone on a winter vacation.

2 Comments

Filed under Recruiting

“I understand the entertainment value of an eight-team playoff.”

Big Jim Delany strenuously objects to the suggestion that another round of postseason expansion is in the works.

Whether or not these are legitimate depends on perspective – but they’re legitimately held, anyway, by many across the college landscape. Delany likes to describe it as “too much ice cream isn’t good for anybody” – the idea being, eight might be too much of a good thing, with unintended consequences.

… “But we’re just really three years into a 12-year arrangement. It only took about three months to start this discussion (about expanding), and I’m sure I will be viewed as too conservative on this point. But that’s how I feel. That’s how our (Big Ten) members feel. That’s how our coaches feel, that’s how our athletic directors feel and that’s how our presidents feel. So I’m going to reflect that, for sure.”

Oh, for sure, for sure.  Just like before.

Of course, it’s worth recalling that the Bowl Championship Series was never, ever going to be scrapped for a playoff, either. For a long while, the commissioners were so resistant to even discussing the possibility, they actually referred to a playoff as “the ‘p-word’”). And then suddenly the BCS was gone. After the 2011 season a playoff was necessary.

LSU and Alabama played in an all-SEC rematch and the conference commissioners suddenly saw the virtue of doubling the access and having a small tournament. So there won’t be an eight-team bracket – until there is.

“There is” depends upon concerns, you know.  Like these:

They’re splitting $500 million annually. While the sum would increase if they expanded, it’s unclear by how much (and if part of the increase might be offset, potentially, by other factors; as one example: would conference championship games continue?). There are concerns: more wear and tear on players, more missed class time, a devaluation of the regular season and so on.

They’ll rationalize the latter if there’s enough thrown in the pot.  Or, if you prefer the cruder punchline to the old joke, we know what they are and we’re just haggling over the fee.

Really, it might be amusing if they could walk away after recognizing they went too far, but that’s not a road on which you can retrace your steps once the journey has commenced.  So enjoy what you’ve got while you can, because at some point in time, Delany will give in to more entertainment.  That’s the business he’s in, after all.

16 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

“People don’t want to pay for what they don’t want to get.”

It was the best of times for Mickey and it was the worst of times.

For the second year in a row, Disney is poised to have another “Star Wars” megahit on its hands with the company on track to sell $130 million in U.S. pre-release tickets for next week’s “Rogue One.”

But no matter how well it performs at the box office, the film’s success may be overshadowed by Disney investors’ rising alarm about another part of the Magic Kingdom: ESPN, which is shedding viewers in record numbers.

ESPN was thrust into the spotlight in November when the ratings company Nielsen predicted the sports juggernaut would lose 621,000 cable subscribers that month. Nielsen estimated the sports network would lose another 555,000 subscribers in December.

The staggering losses have led to calls by analysts for Disney to spin off or sell the beleaguered network, which has lost 9 million subscribers in three years, according to company filings.

Contrary to this incredibly well-researched suggestion, it appears that even the WWL is not immune to a growing number of viewers who don’t like paying for things they don’t use.

The challenges ahead are not unique to ESPN. The pay-TV industry as a whole has seen many consumers trim back their cable subscriptions in favor of online video services — or, fed up with the rising cost of TV, forgo cable altogether.
“There’s an underlying theme of the bundle being the problem,” said Gene Kimmelman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge.

Ummm… that’s kind of a problem, isn’t it?  Well, yeah, it is.

But ESPN remains one of the world’s most profitable sports networks, and its struggles raise troubling questions about the entire TV ecosystem. Long considered the linchpin of the traditional bundle, live sports is often what compels viewers to stay with their cable provider rather than cut the cord. But as more consumers defect in the face of growing cable bills, what is happening at ESPN could end up affecting channels up and down the lineup. And for Disney, one of the world’s most powerful media companies, the problems at ESPN risk dampening the success of its other brands, such as Star Wars, Marvel Studios and Pixar.

“Most of the Disney empire is healthy, but its stock price has been suffering to the downside because we have weak subscriber growth at ESPN,” said Laura Martin, a media analyst at Needham and Co. “So that weak subscriber growth is a shadow over the whole empire.”

That empire shit is kind of creepy, but we’ll save that for a later day.  The short term problem for Disney is that ESPN is bleeding subscribers, but the sports division is still it’s biggest revenue generator, and by a pretty wide margin.

ESPN and its siblings, such as ABC, account for the biggest chunk of Disney’s business by far, pulling in $24 billion in revenue this fiscal year. The company’s next biggest segment, theme parks, made $17 billion.

So while it would be an exaggeration to start tossing around expressions like death spiral, there’s no question that Disney’s stock price has taken a short-term hit.  Big companies like that don’t tend to take short-term hits in stock prices well.  What to do, then?

There’s only so much you can do to reduce internal overhead.  That only leaves one other area to generate savings.

ESPN is hardly the only programming company facing long-term pressure as consumers increasingly opt for Internet-based video streaming that undercuts the legacy cable bundle. TV providers such as Dish Network and AT&T have raced to offer packages of traditional channels as Internet-based apps; the outlook for those efforts is still uncertain, but some analysts say ESPN faces a steeper challenge than most because of the rapidly rising cost to the network of acquiring sports broadcasting rights.

“Let’s face it – sports has changed,” said Jim Hill, a longtime Disney analyst. “It’s gotten so expensive … it’s a scary time all around the barn right now for sports, and that’s another thing that Disney’s eyeballing.”

The rights to broadcast live sports cost cable companies a collective $16 billion last year, according to a report from PricewaterhouseCoopers — up 50 percent from 2011. That figure is expected to grow another 30 percent by 2020.

Disney is in better shape to weather that storm than most of its competitors for live sports programming are — as one media analyst puts it about the others, “They’re losing subscribers, but they don’t have theme parks to protect them.”   That doesn’t mean live sports will become a programming bargain as much as it means there may wind up being fewer interested buyers for the product if cable subscribers keep voting with their feet.

Which brings us to the tricky question:  if you’re a conference commissioner, or a school president telling said commissioner what to do, do you really want to live in a world where ESPN as the last buyer standing has an even more commanding presence over broadcasting contracts than it already enjoys?

It’s a question I figure the Delanys and Sankeys will worry about after it’s too late to do anything about it, except take what’s offered.  And if they think they’ll eventually be better off with their own home-grown media empires (to borrow a phrase), just remember that a few years ago, everybody thought Larry Scott was a genius.

Down the road, we may be using that best of times/worst of times reference to describe ourselves.

15 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

SEC survey sez…

If you’re a Georgia season ticket holder, chances are you’ve already seen this survey the conference office sent out, but if you’re not, it’s an interesting walk through of what the SEC is trying to gauge about our fandom/wallets.

Depressingly, there appear to be more questions about Wifi than bathrooms.  Ah well, them’s the breaks.

The only comment I left was that I wish the folks at Butts-Mehre would take a few lessons from the Masters.  I’m sure they’ll get right on that one.

41 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football