Daily Archives: December 16, 2016

Flatlining

A trend continues.

Home attendance at all major college football games declined for the sixth consecutive year, though once again at a smaller rate compared to some past seasons.

Football Bowl Subdivision crowds averaged 43,106 fans per game in 2016,downby less than 1 percent from 2015, according to a CBS Sports analysis of NCAA attendance data. The 2015 crowds also declined by less than 1 percent after a 4-percent drop in 2014.

This year’s average crowd was again the lowest since 2000 (42,631). Crowd sizes were down 7 percent since peaking in 2008 (46,565). Universities have tried with mixed results to keep fans in stadiums instead of watching for less money from the comfort of their home.

Better get moving on that improved Wifi experience, dudes.  And maybe turn the music volume up a notch while you’re at it.

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67 Comments

Filed under College Football

You gotta start somewhere.

All the usual caveats (it’s only one year, it’s not signing day yet, you still have to coach ’em up, etc.) apply, but, still, this is damned impressive to consider:

In particular, so is this.

Size on the o-line is what Kirby and Pittman wanted coming in and size on the o-line is what they’re getting.  Say what you will, but it’s been a long time since we’ve seen Georgia devote this kind of attention to recruiting offensive linemen.  Sure hope it pays off.

85 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

If that’s how you feel, don’t watch.

With all the legitimate stuff out there to bitch about, it never ceases to amaze me to see some people complain that college football produces too many games for us to watch in December.

48 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

Banged for the bucks

Jon Solomon hands out the price per win ratios for every P5 coach here.  The story in the SEC?

SEC Coach Price Per Win 2016 Record
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt $426,146 6-6
Will Muschamp, South Carolina $500,416 6-6
Mark Stoops, Kentucky $501,943 7-5
Butch Jones, Tennessee $513,750 8-4
Jim McElwain, Florida $533,541 8-4
Nick Saban, Alabama $533,800 13-0
Kirby Smart, Georgia $536,229 7-5
Barry Odom, Missouri $587,500 4-8
Gus Malzahn, Auburn $591,188 8-4
Bret Bielema, Arkansas $592,143 7-5
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M $625,000 8-4
Les Miles, LSU* $626,510 7-4
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State $840,000 5-7
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss $940,700 5-7

Man, those SEC West wins don’t come cheap. Then again, who’da thunk Nick Saban would turn out to be a better deal than Kirby Smart?

15 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

When two narratives collide: throwaway season vs. rising expectations

I’m not sure if we’re all with Pete Fiutak yet…

Now the narrative shifts to Kirby Smart. Kirby, win the SEC East in 2017, or else.

There’s absolutely no excuse to not get into the SEC championship next year. There wasn’t really any excuse this season, either, and it was a missed opportunity. Next year, Florida still probably won’t have an offense, Tennessee will still be Tennessee – and will miss a slew of key players – and Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt, while fine, are still Missouri, South Carolina, Kentucky and Vanderbilt.

It’s not just Chubb returning. Key backup running back Sony Michel – a likely late-rounder – is returning, along with likely top 100 picks Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy for the defensive front. Safety Dominick Sanders hasn’t declared one way or another, but no matter what, the Bulldogs have around 19 starters returning, a franchise quarterback in Jacob Eason, and an NFL-caliber backfield to work with.

Yeah, there are road games at Notre Dame, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Auburn and Georgia Tech, but there’s no Alabama, no LSU, and it’s a manageable enough schedule to roll through if the team full of experienced talents can develop. And that puts it all on Smart to combine the experience, along with the big-time young talents coming in, to win right away and at least get to Atlanta.

Should Georgia be a preseason top ten team on talent? After losing three of the five games by a total of five points, and with the defense coming off a great regular season, now the offense has to kick it all in.

Again, with all the talent coming back, there’s no excuse in Year Two – at least to take the East.

… but there’s little doubt our perception of the 2017 season changed dramatically after hearing the news yesterday that Chubb, Michel, Carter and Bellamy have elected to return to play for the school.

While the immediate emotional impact of their decision is centered primarily on Chubb, because of his epic effort to return from serious injury, this may in time be appreciated more.

One major reason Carter’s excited about returning is due to the returning players he’ll line up with. Georgia is now expected to return its entire starting front seven from this season, considering there were no contributing seniors on the defensive line or at inside linebacker.

The lone rotational player the Bulldogs lose at outside linebacker is Chuks Amaechi.  [Emphasis added.]

Instant stability — a 180 degree change from what Smart walked into on his first day in Athens.

Yeah, there remains a chaotic situation to address on the offensive line, but consider what a coaching staff with a year under its collective belt, a defense that should be loaded with players who know what’s expected after a transitional season, a starting quarterback who’s no longer a true freshman, more depth and experience from his surrounding cast of skill position players and what should be a noticeable rise in the overall level of talent if what appears to be perhaps Georgia’s strongest recruiting class ever holds up through signing day will mean for expectations next season.

I’m sure we’ll hear from some inside and outside the program that such feelings are premature and need to be damped down in order not to place too much of a burden on Smart and the team (Process, baby!), but after signing day, it’s hard to see what team in the East will possess more talent than the one training in Athens.

Maybe it’s time to put the big boy pants on and embrace the opportunity for what it presents.  That’s why they changed coaches.  That’s why those four kids elected to stay.

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

UPDATE:  This, too.

38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“… It’s important that we continue to work together as we move through this difficult time.”

You know when a school issues a statement like that, somebody’s done screwed up.

Those of you who’ve been looking for a political post to sink your teeth into here just had a developing controversy served up to you by the Minnesota football team, which announced a boycott by the entire roster of all football-related activities, including a scheduled appearance in the Holiday Bowl, unless and until the school’s president rescinds a decision to suspend ten teammates as a result of a September sexual assault allegation.

Those 10 suspended players stood directly behind seniors Drew Wolitarsky, Mitch Leidner and Duke Anyanwu — with the rest of the team arrayed behind them in support — as Wolitarsky read from a typed, two-page statement, laying out the players’ demands.

“The boycott will remain in effect until due process is followed and the suspensions for all 10 players involved are lifted,” Wolitarsky said.

Wolitarsky said the players want an apology from university President Eric Kaler and athletic director Mark Coyle, adding that the players “demand that these leaders are held accountable for their actions.”

Asked if the players were worried about losing their scholarships, Wolitarsky responded: “We’re all in this together. What are they going to do, pull 120 guys off the team? They won’t have a team if that’s the case.”

If you hear an echo of what happened a year ago at Missouri, then your hearing is good.

While the players’ tactics in these two matters may be similar, the underlying cause of discontent is different.  The Missouri action was taken in response to a concern that the school administration was indifferent to minority students.  The impetus to the Minnesota boycott is a Title IX decision that came after no criminal charges were pursued.

On Tuesday, the school suspended 10 players indefinitely from all team activities, with those players facing new sanctions from the university’s office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action (EOAA).

According to the players’ attorney, the EOAA recommended expulsion for Ray Buford, Carlton Djam, KiAnte Hardin, Dior Johnson and Tamarion Johnson. The attorney said the EOAA recommended one-year suspensions from the university for Seth Green, Kobe McCrary, Mark Williams and Antoine Winfield Jr., and probation for Antonio Shenault.

Some of the players were directly accused by a female student in an alleged sexual assault in the early morning hours after the Gophers’ Sept. 2 season opener; the involvement of others is unclear. The school discipline comes weeks after a criminal investigation resulted in no arrests or charges. The woman’s allegations were documented through police reports and court testimony, and ultimately led to the EOAA investigation.

Wolitarsky said the team wants the players reinstated because they were punished “for things they didn’t do.” Attorney Lee Hutton, who is representing all 10 players, said he is working on their appeals.

Besides the threat to sit, the other common thread in both circumstances is player dissatisfaction with the way the administration responded to the situations.

Wolitarsky said the players were incensed after a brief meeting with Coyle following Wednesday’s practice.

“We got no answers to our questions about why these kids were suspended when they were just found [innocent] by the law,” Wolitarsky said. “He basically told us that he didn’t have answers, and that led us to believe that this is kind of unjust. He has the power to reverse this, and he won’t.”

The sticking point with the Minnesota situation appears to be one of timing.

A source tells ESPN’s Adam Rittenberg that the primary issue for the boycott was the school suspending the players before a hearing based on the Title IX investigation had been held. That hearing wouldn’t have taken place until January, after the bowl game.

The source also said the Title IX investigation started at the same time as the police investigation.

Wolitarsky also asked that the Holiday Bowl committee “be patient” while the team waited for a resolution to the suspensions. The coaching staff is planning to come in on Friday, a source tells Rittenberg, but there isn’t expected to be another team practice until players get their meeting.

“We are concerned that our brothers have been named publicly with reckless disregard in violation of their constitutional rights,” Wolitarsky said. “We are now compelled to speak for our team and take back our program.”

So, we’ve got Missouri mixed in with a little Title IX business (certainly a hot button issue in these times) and maybe a little Duke lacrosse scandal tossed in, to boot.  I mean, what could possibly go sideways there?

Oh, and there’s one more wrinkle.  The school president claims that the head coach was the man who made the call.  The players aren’t buying that.

Kaler said in a letter Wednesday to university boosters that Claeys made the decision to suspend the players, with support from Coyle. Later in the evening, Coyle clarified that he made the decision in consultation with Claeys.

But two sources said Thursday that the decision was made above Claeys.

“Mark Coyle did it,” Wolitarsky said. When told of Kaler’s statement that Claeys made the decision, Wolitarsky said, “I don’t believe that.”

Who’s right here?  I can’t say for sure, but if the head coach was the man who pulled the trigger, this sure seems like a strange tack for him to take in the aftermath.

Gophers coach Tracy Claeys expressed support for his players, tweeting, “Have never been more proud of our kids. I respect their rights & support their effort to make a better world!”

What a fine mess they’ve made.  The optimal solution would appear to be to rescind the suspensions and move the Title IX hearing date up to the here and now, but that may require a degree of nimbleness the Minnesota administration is incapable of performing.  Absent that, we may be about to find out what comes of players cancelling a bowl appearance.

60 Comments

Filed under Look For The Union Label

“It’s just bizarre. Absolutely bizarre.”

It’s pretty safe to assume that any topical college football story that contains what’s in the above header has something to do with what’s been disclosed by Wake Forest this week.

The latest wrinkle is that the Wake quarterback, about whom it’s being questioned as to whether the leaked info may have contributed to more wear and tear on his body than would have been the case under normal circumstances, was recruited to the school by none other than Tommy Elrod, who was also the kid’s position coach when he arrived.

No hard feelings, eh?

1 Comment

Filed under ACC Football