Daily Archives: January 18, 2017

If you sell it, they will come.

I’ve said it before, but the one area of unquestioned improvement under Smart is recruiting.  In little more than a month’s time, he locked down a good class in his first attempt, but that appears to be nothing in comparison to what Georgia will bring in after his first complete year chasing recruits.

How good an effort could this turn out to be?  Well, if things hold up (insert usual it’s not signing day yet caveat), unprecedented would be an accurate description.

If National Signing Day were today, Smart would have put together the SEC’s statistically greatest first full class in the 247Sports composite era. The Bulldogs were third in the 2017 recruiting cycle as of Tuesday, with 301.11 points. Those points come from recruits in the class, so the more higher-rated recruits a team has, the higher number of points its class has.

Only one first full recruiting class ever broke 300 points. That was Urban Meyer’s 2013 Ohio State class, and Meyer was a proven coach after winning two national championships at Florida.

That’s basically off the charts type stuff there.  The article goes on to compare Georgia’s potential 2017 class with other first full SEC classes to drive home the point.  One of those I found particularly interesting:

Hugh Freeze, 2013 points/class rank: 275.5/8th

Names to remember: 5-star OT Laremy Tunsil, 5-star DE Robert Nkemdiche, 4-star WR Laquon Treadwell

This class brought a lot of success to Ole Miss, as its members were key pieces in beating Alabama in two of the past three years and the Rebels’ winning the 2016 Sugar Bowl. But it has brought its fair share of problems. The NCAA has been investigating Freeze and the Rebels for Tunsil’s recruitment.

It’s an interesting point of reference not because of the rule-breaking — okay, alleged rule breaking — but because it’s an example of how one talented class can turn a program around in short order.

Sure, two words in response:  Ron Zook.  You’ve gotta coach ’em up and the program’s future won’t be sustainable unless Smart keeps repeating that success on the recruiting trail, but, damn, sitting here in January, 2017, that looks pretty impressive to me.



Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Tough guy

Willie Taggart is Oregon’s new head coach and like many of his ilk, wasted little time in regime change.  This time of year, that means tougher strength and conditioning work, under the direction of a new S&C coach he brought in.

Things are going swimmingly.

At least three Oregon Ducks football players were hospitalized after enduring a series of grueling strength and conditioning workouts at UO last week, The Oregonian/OregonLive has learned.

Offensive linemen Doug Brenner and Sam Poutasi and tight end Cam McCormick are in fair condition and remained at PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center at Riverbend in Springfield on Monday, a hospital spokeswoman said. They have been in the hospital since late last week after workouts that occurred during the team’s return from holiday break.

Poutasi’s mother, Oloka, said that her son complained of very sore arms after the workouts and had been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome in which soft muscle tissue is broken down with “leakage into the blood stream of muscle contents,” according to the NCAA medical handbook. Depending on the severity, it has the potential to lead to damaged kidneys.

Nice.  But the school is very sorry.

“The safety and welfare of all of our student-athletes is paramount in all that we do,” Oregon wrote in a statement on behalf of the entire athletic department. “While we cannot comment on the health of our individual students, we have implemented modifications as we transition back into full training to prevent further occurrences.

“We thank our medical staff and trainers for their continued monitoring of the students and we will continue to support our young men as they recover.”

Actually, I have to give Oregon a little more credit than that.

The University of Oregon suspended football strength and conditioning coach Irele Oderinde one month without pay after three players were hospitalized following a series of intense workouts last week.

The school announced the decision in a statement Tuesday evening and detailed a review of the incident. It added that all future workouts have been modified and the strength and conditioning coach will now report to director of performance and sports science Andrew Murray instead of coach Willie Taggart, who apologized in the statement.  [Emphasis added.]

Oregon’s statement detailed that players began an off-season conditioning program last Tuesday after six weeks away from “football-related activities” and Oderinde led those workouts.

I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs after only one month on the job.  For that matter, I wonder how many other D-1 head coaches have lost control over their strength and conditioning programs.

But here’s what I really don’t get.

The NCAA medical handbook listed “novel workouts or exercises immediately following a transitional period” such as a winter break as one of its 10 factors that can increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis. It also cautioned that “all training programs should start slowly, build gradually, include adequate rest and allow for individual differences.”

The NCAA constantly blathers about its concern for the well-being of student-athletes.  Where is it in this mess?  The reason this came to light was because of media reports.  But for that, it’s likely that Taggart wouldn’t have been penalized.  Is waving a medical handbook the best the organization can offer?  Don’t answer that…


Filed under The Body Is A Temple, The NCAA

Today, in just win, baby

Tom Herman hired former Baylor football staffer Casey Horny, who was among several at Baylor who took to defending his former boss on Twitter, something that many UT fans found troubling, to say the least.

Well, not to worry, peeps.  Texas athletic director Mike Perrin has investigated the matter and pronounced it resolved.

Texas athletic director Mike Perrin said in a statement Tuesday that the hiring of former Baylor football staffer Casey Horney “is in total alignment with our culture of integrity.”

How was this accomplished?  It was easy, once Perrin identified the real problem.

“Like others, I question coach Horny supporting some commentary on social media,” Perrin said. “After further discussion with coach Horny, he understands such actions will not be tolerated at Texas.”

Only in the world of college football could social media be seen as a bigger cultural threat than sexual assault.


Filed under Baylor Is Sensitive To Women's Issues, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

“The kid’s world went into disarray.”

Yeah, the optics surrounding this ain’t pretty.

Ryan Dickens beamed for the crowd Sunday night, his mind racing over all he had accomplished and the future he was ready to tackle.

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound senior linebacker from Raritan High School had just been honored with a 2016 Mini Max Award for his football excellence, strong academics and devotion to community service, which includes roles in teen suicide prevention, breast cancer awareness and fundraisers for families in crisis.

Dickens also had his most important decision locked up, having verbally committed seven months earlier to accept a scholarship offer to play football for the University of Connecticut. He wore UConn T-shirts to school, chatted in group text messages with other UConn recruits and had already planned to major in business. Now, he was only 17 days from signing his name to a National Letter of Intent and making his dreams official.

Or so he thought.

Dickens’ cell phone rang while he and his parents, Matt and Patti, were still in the parking lot of the awards banquet in Princeton Junction Sunday night. UConn coach Randy Edsall was on the other end. Ryan Dickens excitedly answered the phone, but in an instant his world was shattered.

Edsall was calling to tell Dickens the unthinkable: The school no longer had a scholarship for him.

“And the next thing you hear is Ryan’s like, ‘You’re kidding, right?’” Patti Dickens said. “And then he put the phone on speaker and Edsall said, ‘No, Ry, we just decided we’re going to go in another direction. We don’t have a spot for you.’”

The timing certainly makes it something of a dick move and I’ve never been a big fan of Randy Edsall, but I can’t say I’m totally unsympathetic to his decision to pull the scholarship offer.  Diaco was fired because UConn performed poorly; if you’re hired to improve upon that, it’s hard not to start by taking a close look at what the last guy left you with and evaluate what your best options are.  Being bound by the promises of a coach who didn’t win isn’t what they’re paying you for.

And it’s how the recruiting rules are set up, which is why there’s resistance among coaches to early signing dates.  Anything that lets a kid bind a school a minute earlier than a coach prefers represents a threat to the current order of things that coaches control.  Having the freedom to pull offers until the last minute, along with raiding your old school’s commitment list the second after you take a new job, are features, not bugs.

An early signing date won’t have much impact on the elite prospects, but it should make for some interesting changes in what coaches tell the lower-tiered kids like Dickens.  My bet is Randy Edsall won’t be too happy about that.


Filed under Recruiting

There’s a fine line between parity and mediocrity…

… so you tell me on which side of the line this season’s version of the SEC fell.

1 SEC team won at least 10 games this season – Alabama, which posted a 14-1 record. This is the first time since the 2000 season that the SEC had only one team reach 10 victories. Florida went 10-3 in 2000. In the 15 seasons in between, the SEC had two double-digit winners in two of them and reached a high of six in 2012. At least four SEC teams had won 10 or more games in each of the previous six seasons.


Filed under SEC Football