Daily Archives: December 19, 2016

The meaning of “Bama ain’t played nobody”

Bill Connelly does a deep, advanced stats-driven dive into conference strength rankings and discovers that while the SEC may be down, it’s far from out.

With a decent bowl season, the SEC might end up with the top S&P+ average in the country. It would be the eighth straight year. The last time a conference other than the SEC ranked first was 2008, when the Big 12 did it. Back then, the ACC was barely better than the Mountain West. Fortunes change, but the SEC’s has stayed mostly the same.

Still, this is the worst SEC since probably 2005, and that’s with maybe the best Alabama team of Nick Saban’s tenure. The ACC could end up first.

But the real story of 2016 is conference parity. The top four conferences are closer together than they’ve been in quite a while.

The SEC is the best long-term conference in college football because it is the most consistently strong. It still holds that mantle, but the slippage of the last two seasons has been undeniable.

I’m not gonna argue with that.  But the SEC had best hope some of those new coaching hires and the young quarterbacks come in to their own sooner rather than later.

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8 Comments

Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

That roster management stuff’s a beyotch, mane.

This is what comes of two star junior running backs sticking around:

The elation that resulted from Georgia’s top two running backs deciding to return for their senior seasons was tempered a bit on Monday when running back commitment Toneil Carter announced he was decommitting from the Bulldogs.

The reason, he said in a message he posted to his Twitter account, is that Georgia would not have room for him to be able to enroll next month as he had planned after Nick Chubb and Sony Michel decided to return in 2017.

The four-star recruit from Houston, Texas wrote that “for the past week I’ve been in contact with the Georgia coaches (and) due to the two seniors staying something came up with the early enrollment process…So at this moment I would like to thank the Georgia Coaches and the entire Georgia program. I will be decommitting from the University. I want to thank each and every Georgia fan. I love you guys. This was totally out of my control.”

What’s a little embarrassing about this is that not even two weeks ago, Smart and staff headed off Tom Herman at the pass by getting Carter to confirm his commitment to Georgia.  Now, things have cooled.

The interesting part is the “something came up with the early enrollment process” bit.  If Georgia didn’t want him enrolling early, what does that say about the way numbers are building up for this next class?

Let’s hope this isn’t the recruiting version of clock mismanagement.

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UPDATE:  Well, now.

Carter announced his decommitment from Georgia on Monday after showing full dedication to the program since his decision was made on July 10. While he still has plenty of desire to play at Georgia, that’s no longer possible.

Even after signing financial-aid agreements, Carter’s offer was essentially pulled by the University of Georgia, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. While Carter was told this over the weekend, he was not previously aware the coaching staff wouldn’t want him as a part of the class of 2017 if Chubb and Michel both returned for their senior seasons.  [Emphasis added.]

Carter originally planned to enroll at Georgia immediately after playing in the Under Armour All-American Game in Orlando on Jan. 1. This was finalized when Georgia head coach Kirby Smart and running backs coach Dell McGee visited Langham Creek during the recruiting period. Carter’s head coach at Langham Creek High School, Todd Thompson, reiterated that the decision was no longer in his former player’s plans.

“This was not Toneil’s decision, I just want people to know that,” Thompson said. “Toneil graduated on Friday and we found out about this news on Saturday.”

Throwing a perfectly good four-star back in the water?  Man, this 2017 class had better turn out to be something else.

86 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Today, in adventures in amateurism

Christian McCaffrey jumps on board the Fournette Train.

Naturally, panties are in a wad over this.  How can he skip a game?  How can he bail on his team?  Doesn’t he understand the meaning of commitment?

In rebuttal,

Bidness decision.

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UPDATE:  You can probably guess what Herbstreit thinks about this.

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UPDATE #2:  A little more

“Put yourself in their shoes, an injury could change the course of the rest of their lives,” the veteran NFL personnel man said. “We’re not talking about a left guard here. We’re talking about a skill (position) player who is a huge target. That’s the reality of it.

“Look at what these coaches are making now. Those guys are making $5 or $6 million a year and they may pressure these kids to play? Look at what these coaches and ADs are doing. It’s OK for them to leave, but it’s not OK for players to think about their futures? For coaches to (be critical), that’s incredibly selfish. Hold on a second here, guy. You pressure these kids to play, and then one of them (suffers a career-altering injury) and it’s, ‘I love you, and you’re a great teammate. Sorry about that.’ And it’s all for some bowl game who no one cares about? That’s a joke. I’m looking at it practically. If it was your son, what are you gonna say? It makes sense.”

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UPDATE #3:  And a little more…

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UPDATE #4:  Last word goes to a former Dawg.

71 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Fixin’ to fix what’s broke?

For those of us who have complained for years about the neglect at offensive line recruiting, this is chicken soup for our souls:

When the entire class of O-line commitments is measured as a whole, it is clear that the program has never recruited this week in the modern era. At least as long as the recruiting rankings have been around. Let’s go back to 2000 and add up the total number of offensive line recruits in each Georgia class which were rated among the nation’s Top 16 players at their respective positions.

  • 2002: 0
  • 2003: 1
  • 2004: 2
  • 2005: 1
  • 2006: 2
  • 2007: 5 (Included a trio of 3-star junior college prospects)
  • 2008: 2
  • 2009: 2
  • 2010: 2
  • 2011: 1
  • 2012: 2
  • 2013: 1
  • 2014: 1
  • 2015: 0
  • 2016: 1
  • 2017: 5 (All rated with at least 4 stars)

I can go on for a few graphs to chronicle that UGA has never recruited offensive linemen as well as it has this year, but I think that just about covers it.

The only comparable year looks to be back in 2009. But that’s a year that was beefed up by a trio of junior college prospects. The junior college rankings pool is much smaller than the high school crop and each of those JUCO Bulldogs carried only a 3-star rating.

Hayes — the only JUCO option this year — is even rated as a 4-star recruit.

No, we don’t know if any of ’em will pan out, or even if they’ll all sign in February, but merely as an example of a change in focus, you have to be a little awed by what Pittman has accomplished in one year on the recruiting front.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Owning up: a look back at my preseason SEC predictions

Okay, it’s time to see how much I got wrong in my August SEC prediction post.  (SPOILER:  quite a bit.)

As usual, schools are listed in the same order as they were in the preseason post, with this year’s regular season won-loss totals.

SEC WEST

ALABAMA (13-0, 8-0)

  • What I posted:  I’m really having to stretch to pick holes.  It’s hard to find many flaws with this team.  It’ll take some freaky bad luck for ‘Bama to lose two games this season.
  • How I did:  Duh.  (Not that it took much effort.)
  • Grade:  A

MISSISSIPPI (5-7, 2-6)

  • What I posted: Lots of talent and lots of controversy that threatens to distract.  With that difficult early run of games, if things don’t break right, I could see this team let things get away from it, especially when you consider the loss of top-flight talent on defense.  For the moment, I’ll stick with nine wins.
  • How I did:  The Kelly injury didn’t help, and, yeah, I got the “if things don’t break right” part right, but I never thought the Black Bear Rebels would finish last in the West and whiff on bowl eligibility.
  • Grade:  C-

LSU (7-4, 5-3)

  • What I posted:  It’s not often that I have something as a plus and a minus, but the hiring of Dave Aranda qualifies.  I have little doubt he’s a major upgrade over Kevin Steele, but he’s moving LSU from a base 4-3 to a base 3-4 and I feel like there will be some growing pains as they sort out the inevitable personnel issues that come with that.  Still, this should be at worst the second-best team in the West.  If they get improvement at quarterback, the Tigers could exceed that.
  • How I did:  Miles got fired.  Defense was okay.  LSU finished second in the West.  Meh.
  • Grade:  B-

ARKANSAS (7-5, 3-5)

  • What I posted:  This team is the poster boy for steady improvement.  Can they continue to build on that?  Arkansas plays in a tough neighborhood.  The Hogs look like an eight-win team that goes .500 in the conference to me.
  • How I did:  One game short on both counts.  So much for that poster boy stuff.
  • Grade:  B-

MISSISSIPPI STATE (5-7, 3-5)

  • What I posted:  I don’t see how you can look at the Bulldogs post-Prescott and not think they’re in reset mode.  I’m thinking eight wins, tops.
  • How I did:  I thought MSU would regress, but not lose to South Alabama regress.
  • Grade:  C

TEXAS A & M (8-4, 4-4)

  • What I posted:  Last year I said Chavis was a great hire, but warned Rome wasn’t built overnight.  The defense still has some holes, but should be improved.  Not sure how Mazzone fits with what TAMU does, though.  Eight or nine wins seems right.
  • How I did:  Okay, I got this.
  • Grade:  A

AUBURN (8-4, 5-3)

  • What I posted:  This is the year the “Auburn plays its best when it’s under the radar” meme gets its stress test.  Given the schedule, I’m not sure it survives.  From where I sit, I have a hard time seeing any improvement in the record.
  • How I did:  Auburn passed the stress test, which means I didn’t.
  • Grade:  F

SEC EAST

FLORIDA (8-4, 6-2)

  • What I posted:  Jim McElwain did a heckuva job in his first year.  Can he keep it going?  There are depth issues on offense that concern me; it’s a team that could go south in a hurry with a few key injuries.  Even if Florida’s health doesn’t suffer, it’s hard to see ten wins again.  That defense and a weak East should keep the Gators in contention, though.
  • How I did:  Pretty much got it.
  • Grade:  A

TENNESSEE (8-4, 4-4)

  • What I posted:    The Vols have improved their talent base steadily under Jones, and their record has followed.  Shoop is the best offseason hire in the SEC.  In the end, he’s why I think you have to pick Tennessee to win the East.  Vols win ten in the regular season and do no worse than lose two conference games.
  • How I did:  Major swing and miss on Shoop’s impact, which means I misread UT’s season.  (Not that I’m complaining.)
  • Grade:  D+

GEORGIA (7-5, 4-4)

  • What I posted:  After the quietest 10-win season in major conference history, exit Mark Richt and enter Kirby Smart.  There’s talent, but it’s not spread out evenly.  The schedule eases significantly in the second-half of the season, so it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a modest start followed by a win streak to close out the season.  I’ve waffled between nine and ten wins, but I think I’ll take nine at this point.
  • How I did:  Throwaway season?  Ah, crap.
  • Grade:  D+

KENTUCKY (7-5, 4-4)

  • What I posted:  The only team in the conference whose 2015 record was identical to 2014’s.  I like UK to make it three years in a row.
  • How I did:  Finally got over the hump — Kentucky, I mean, not me.
  • Grade:  D+

VANDERBILT (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I posted:  Mason is a top notch defensive coordinator and it showed last season.  The Commodores have an SEC-quality defense.  Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for Vandy’s offense.  That being said, Vanderbilt’s saving grace is that it doesn’t appear to be the worst team in the division.  Bowl eligibility may be a stretch, but I can see the ‘Dores squeezing out one more win in 2016.
  • How I did:  Vanderbilt was gritty and a little better than expected.
  • Grade:  C+

MISSOURI (4-8, 2-6)

  • What I posted: Things sure went south in a hurry last season, didn’t they?  It’s hard to see how the offense can be fixed quickly, especially with a new staff.  Bowl eligible at best.
  • How I did:  Offense was fine; defense not so much.  Overall, about what I expected.
  • Grade:  B-

SOUTH CAROLINA (6-6, 3-5)

  • What I posted:  The HBC didn’t do Boom any favors in the personnel department, that’s for certain.  Having a staff that’s more focused is a plus, but the SEC is a Jimmies and Joes conference and there isn’t enough focus in the world to offset the disadvantage Muschamp faces.  He’ll win more games than he’ll get thrown out of, but that’s about it.
  • How I did:  Technically, I got the “He’ll win more games than he’ll get thrown out of” part right, but give Boom credit for pulling out a couple of wins more than I expected.
  • Grade: C-

I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory this season.  How did things turn out for you?

17 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Monday morning buffet

Get ‘yer feedbag on…

15 Comments

Filed under Academics? Academics., ACC Football, General Idiocy, Georgia Football, Look For The Union Label, Recruiting, Stats Geek!, The NCAA

Bigger, faster, stronger — a continuing series

As someone who is occasionally bummed by college football turning its back on tradition, it’s reassuring for me to see that S&C happy talk is still on the menu in Athens.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple