Daily Archives: February 3, 2017

Why there will be expectations.

Paul Myerberg has this chart of the SEC, based upon using the composite standings compiled by 247Sports.com, tallying the average final class ranking for each Power Five team during the past five years, that serves nicely as a rebuttal to anyone out there who wants to push a throwaway year narrative about this coming Georgia football season.

2-3-sec-graphic-fw

At least in the context of the SEC East, that “cupboard is bare” excuse really isn’t going to fly, even taking into account what happened to the 2013 class.

And as far as the future goes, note that Georgia is only one of two SEC teams that managed to sign their best-ranked classes in 2017.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Doing the math, Kirby-style

With regard to roster management, Dorothy, we’re not in Mark Richt’s Kansas any more.

Kirby Smart didn’t seem worried on Wednesday when asked about the team’s potential numbers crunch. The direct quote: “We’ll be fine with the 85.”

And that was about an hour before it emerged that graduate transfer kicker David Marvin was on the way this fall, expecting to receive a scholarship. The media didn’t know about that yet, so Smart wasn’t asked, but no doubt he knew about that, and still felt “we’ll be fine with the 85.”

That would be, for the uninitiated, the NCAA’s scholarship limit of 85. A reminder: Georgia doesn’t need to be at or under the limit until the summer begins and the new recruits enroll. What that means: There’s going to be attrition between now and then.

Based on what is publicly known, Georgia is now probably committed to 89 scholarships for the 2017 season. It signed 26 players, and Marvin’s scholarship would make it 27.

As closely as Smart managed the recruiting numbers, you have to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he says he’s comfortable sliding in under the 85-man limit.  Which isn’t to say there aren’t plenty of moving parts to be managed between now and August.

This of course is a relatively hard count that doesn’t include walk-ons who have been on scholarship. The exceptions are Frix, as noted, as well as senior Aaron Davis, who came to school as a walk-on but long ago was put on scholarship, and has been such a key player that it’s hard to see him being anything but a scholarship player.

There’s obviously the Rodrigo Blankenship situation. If you were under the belief that eventually a scholarship would be found for Blankenship, then the Marvin news throws a giant wrench in that. Fullback Christian Payne is also a walk-on, and would have a good case for getting a scholarship. But only if there’s room.

If the above numbers are right, then Georgia is four over the limit. How does it make room? Smart pointed out that “you’ve got guys who are graduates who may transfer.” That includes Davis and John Atkins, but they’re in line for major playing time and there’s been no inkling they’ll leave. Other players are set to graduate this summer, and they include Ramsey and Wilkerson, for what it’s worth.

Some incoming players could always not qualify. But more likely it will come down to players leaving because of playing time. That could happen prior to spring practice, or players could wait to evaluate their situation after spring practice.

Say goodbye to the feel good era of handing out short-term scholarships to a half-dozen or so deserving walk-ons at a time.  The numbers simply aren’t there.  And there may be a few more kids than usual moving on to other opportunities as the summer draws nigh.

Enjoy the sausage making, peeps.  If you don’t want to see your team field a short-handed roster, it’s what they’ve got to do.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“I always relate it to Chick-fil-A.”

After listening to Kirby Smart speak about quality control, I’m wondering — since he’s got recruiting running in its properly greased groove, is there any chance they could turn control of Sanford Stadium concessions management over to him?  It sure sounds like he’s got a better handle on what’s important about customer service than the folks running the show now do.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“The first lesson I can take from that is that really good players play really good.”

One of the things I like about Kirby Smart is that he has a functional bullshit detector.  It was good to see him push back on this suggestion:

Kirby Smart’s first full recruiting cycle as Georgia’s head football coach is now complete.

Now, the obvious question.

Can his first full class of Bulldogs signees have an immediate impact similar to Alabama’s first full recruiting class under Nick Saban in 2008, when Smart was beginning an eight-year run as the Crimson Tide defensive coordinator that eventually included four national championships?

“Please don’t,” Smart said at even the hint of a comparison during Wednesday’s signing day news conference.

At this point, it’s exciting, but it’s nothing but untapped potential, or, as Smart put it, “… we don’t really know for sure if we’ve got good players until they get here.”

For that matter, we really don’t know for sure if he’s got good players until they get coached up.  If they get coached up, that is.

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Filed under Georgia Football

I’d like to accept this award on behalf of the reserve fund.

Booch can keep his championship of life trophy.  Greg McGarity has the best championship of all, bitchez.

The Southeastern Conference continued flexing — and growing — its financial muscle, showing revenue of $639 million during its 2016 fiscal year, according to its new federal tax return.

The return, provided to USA TODAY Sports by the conference on Thursday, showed that the distributions to its 14 members schools ranged from $41.9 million for the University of Georgia to $39.1 million for Alabama and Mississippi.

Yeah!  Your Process didn’t win that, Tuscaloosa.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

A rising tide lifts all non-amateur boats.

Hey, for those of you who were saying a couple of years ago that there simply wasn’t enough money available for SEC schools to pay student-athletes in revenue producing sports…

… will there ever be?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Georgia recruiting, a zero sum game

If you’re looking for a nice summary of how Georgia’s signing day measures up against the rest of the division, SB Nation has it for you here.  This chart, in particular, speaks volumes:

UGA blue-chips vs. the SEC East

Class Year 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012
Georgia 4/5-stars 20 13 14 13 15 10
Ratio of UGA blue chips vs East 1.3 2.4 2.8 3.5 2.1 3.8
Rest of SEC East Combined 26 31 39 46 32 38

The total number of blue chips signed by SEC East teams runs in a range of the mid-40s to the mid-50s from year to year, and 2017 fits neatly into that pattern.  But Georgia signed nearly half of that total, which is a radical departure from the previous five seasons.  The biggest reason for that is the mythical fence Kirby Smart erected:  “In total, Georgia’s 2017 class is made up of 26 members; 18 are from the state of Georgia alone, including 16 blue-chips.”

You think about the other East programs like South Carolina and Tennessee that have to make a living off Georgia talent to succeed because they lack the in state talent base, and you realize that Smart’s killing two birds with one stone here.  If 2017 turns out to be anything but a one-year wonder, the longer term implications of what that means for the division are pretty apparent.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, SEC Football

‘Ya gotta have heart.

Tennessee was 2016’s heavy favorite to win the SEC East.  Tennessee flops.  Butch Jones responds:  “They’ve won the biggest championship — that’s the championship of life…”

Fast forward to February, 2017.  Tennessee comes out of national signing day with a middling result by SEC standards.  Two of its permanent opponents, Alabama and Georgia, dominate the final recruiting class rankings.  Butch Jones responds:

“We’ve spoken about the competitive nature, and I think that’s really, really big in today’s world,” Jones said. Everyone gets into the whole two-star, three-star, four-star, five-star thing. The only five-star that we even concern ourselves with is a five-star heart.

“We want five-star hearts and five-star competitors.”

I’m sensing a pattern here.

Jones and Tennessee director of player personnel Bob Welton said they evaluate a player’s competitive spirit throughout the recruiting process, and not just on the football field, basketball court or baseball diamond.

The Vols entertain recruits with games throughout their weekends in Knoxville. They play games on campus, go bowling downtown and play ping pong, billiards, corn hole and even charades during trips to Jones’ house.

Welton said Tennessee isn’t just entertaining the players in those situations. He said they’re also evaluating them.

“It could be something as a simple as a corn hole game, but our guys are competing, talking trash,” Welton said. “We watch that. We observe that. We’ve actually shied away from some kids on visits when all these kids are out there competing, and that kid’s over there just sitting. That tells you a lot about a kid.

“That competitiveness, you can’t coach it, and you usually can’t change it once you get ‘em. You can’t put that into a kid. They have to be born with it and live with it.”

I can’t wait ’til Booch proclaims his team the SEC’s 2017 corn hole champions.  Is there a bonus for that in his contract?

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Blowing Smoke

Art Briles delenda est.

I posted yesterday the news that Baylor’s former head coach dismissed his libel suit against the school, claiming he “wants some peace in his life.”

Unfortunately for Art, some of the Baylor regents want something entirely different.  Blood.

Former Baylor coach Art Briles and his assistant coaches actively intervened in the discipline of football players, worked to keep their cases under wraps and tried to arrange legal representation for their players, according to a series of emails and text messages released by three university regents in a legal filing Thursday.

The document filed in a Dallas County court was in response to a libel lawsuit that former football director of operations Colin Shillinglaw had filed Tuesday against the school and several members of its senior leadership.

The regents’ response alleges Briles and his coaching staff created a disciplinary “black hole” into “which reports of misconduct such as drug use, physical assault, domestic violence, brandishing of guns, indecent exposure and academic fraud disappeared.”

Some of the stuff alleged is even more appalling than I imagined, and I’ve got a pretty good imagination.

The woman, a Baylor student, declined to pursue the criminal case and left the state. She returned to Baylor in the summer and fall sessions of 2013 but withdrew after more encounters with Oakman. In January 2015, the woman and her mother met with a learning accommodation specialist at Baylor who, upon hearing her story, immediately contacted judicial affairs, the Title IX office, the student life office and the office of general counsel. The legal filing states the specialist wrote, “I haven’t seen a student as scared and upset as she was in a long time. She mentioned that she lives in constant fear, 24 hours a day she is scared that [Oakman] or his friends will come beat her up. The mom also talked about Baylor protecting the guy because he is a Baylor football player and that he had an assault record before he was at Baylor.”

According to the response, the first allegation of gang rape involving Baylor football players surfaced in April 2013, when a female student-athlete confided in her coach that five players raped her at an off-campus party in early 2012. According to the response, the woman told her coach that the incident “started with one football player and the other players were soon ‘all over her.'” She identified each of the players who allegedly sexually assaulted her, and the coach wrote their names on a piece of paper.

The regents’ response says the woman’s coach — Outside the Lines previously confirmed the coach was former Baylor volleyball coach Jim Barnes — addressed the woman’s allegations with McCaw, who told him to talk to Briles. The response says Barnes showed Briles the names of the players, and he replied, “Those are some bad dudes. Why was she around those guys?” The response says Briles “offered no defense of his players and told the coach he should have his student-athlete inform the police and prosecute.” McCaw allegedly told the coach that if his player didn’t press charges, there wasn’t anything the athletic department could do.

The response says the woman’s mother later met with a football assistant coach at an off-campus delicatessen and provided him the names of two of the five players who allegedly sexually assaulted her daughter. The assistant talked to the players, who claimed it was consensual and “fooling around” and “just a little bit of playtime.” The assistant coach said he contacted other Baylor coaches. According to the legal filing, their “apparent response was to engage in victim-blaming.” The assistant concluded the accusations were in a “gray area,” and Pepper Hamilton attorneys found that no one, including Briles, notified police, judicial affairs or anyone outside of athletics about the alleged gang rape.

Briles and other coaches would state that any failure to report accusations of assault or related behavior was due to the fact that Baylor lacked any clear instructions on what to do, noting that the university did not have a Title IX office until November 2014 and that none of the coaches received proper training. But the response filed Thursday would note that Briles should have been aware that judicial affairs had jurisdiction in investigating allegations of sexual assault because on April 23, 2013, “the very same day Coach Briles learned about the student-athlete’s account of being gang raped — he was forwarded a letter stating that Judicial Affairs had investigated and cleared another one of his players of sexual assault allegations.”

I’d call that a lack of institutional control, except it sounds like Briles and McCaw had all the control they needed.  Oh, and along those lines, let’s not forget Ken Starr.

The regents’ response also claims Briles personally appealed to Starr on behalf of former Bears defensive lineman Tevin Elliott when he was charged with a second count of plagiarism, which made him ineligible for the 2011 season. After Elliott missed an April 2011 appeal deadline, according to the response, Briles “personally took up Elliott’s cause more than two months later” in June.

“The coach notified President Starr in an email that Elliott wanted to appeal the suspension,” the response says. “The unusual request by Coach Briles triggered concern among top Baylor administrators, who complained to President Starr and among themselves that overturning Elliott’s suspension after the appeal deadline would send a message that athletes were above the rules.”

The response says Elliott’s appeal letter was suspect and “appeared to have been authored by an academic adviser in the Athletics Department. Nevertheless, President Starr ignored the decision of his Provost and overturned the suspension.”

In another break with university policy, according to the response, Starr put Elliott under the probationary watch of the athletic department and not judicial affairs, which was responsible for overseeing enforcement of the school’s honor code. Because of Starr’s decision, the athletic department became the sole arbiter of whether Elliott was complying with the terms of his probation and what consequences he should suffer if he failed to adhere to them, according to the response.

In the fall of 2011, according to the response, Elliott had “attendance problems, was in danger of flunking his human performance class and was caught cheating on quizzes.” On Oct. 21, 2011, an athletic department employee wrote to McCaw: “Wow, what is this kid thinking?” McCaw replied: “Unbelievable!”

On April 1, 2012, a woman told Waco police that Elliott raped her at her apartment three days earlier. Two weeks later, on April 15, Jasmin Hernandez told police that Elliott raped her behind a pool house near one of his teammates’ townhomes. When the coaches learned of the allegation, an assistant coach texted Briles and told him that Elliott “firmly denies even knowing the girl.” But, after interviewing Elliott the next day, the assistant told Briles that Elliott “admitted he lied to us. He was with her and said when she said stop he did.”

“Wow – not good – I’ll call you later,” Briles replied.

When the assistant texted Briles later and told him that Elliott had been contacted by Waco police, Briles replied: “Dang it.”

On Jan. 24, 2014, Elliott was convicted of raping Hernandez and was sentenced to the maximum 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine. His trial would reveal accusations by three other women that he raped them and a conviction of misdemeanor physical assault of another.

Not a good look, fellas.

As disgusting as most of that seems, I can’t say that Briles, McCaw or Starr were the most odious people in this little saga.  That honor belongs to this fine, upstanding citizen.

Thursday’s legal filing recounts a meeting that Baylor alumni and donors had with regents, who were unwilling to share more details of the investigation, citing privacy concerns. It states that the regents tried to explain why they couldn’t keep people whom they found responsible for Title IX failure because that would not uphold the “mission of the university.” It quotes a donor as responding, “If you mention Baylor’s mission one more time, I’m going to throw up. … I was promised a national championship.”

Damn it, Baylor.  You had one job.

Really, this entire response is remarkable.  It’s hard to see any player in the drama who wasn’t thrown under the bus by the regents; that can’t be good for the school.  And while I don’t have any reason to think the NCAA is going to involve itself in this debacle — the Penn State fiasco appears to have burned Mark Emmert badly — I won’t shed a tear if everyone involved is tied up in litigation for the rest of their lives.

I can’t help but wonder if this is a bridge too far even for Jimmy Sexton, assuming that concept exists, of course.  Briles at this point appears so radioactive that he glows in the dark.  I bet it chaps his ass that he’s on the outside, likely for good, while McCaw is gainfully employed.

Speaking of which, you gotta love that.  McCaw is the AD at Liberty University.  His boss, Jerry Falwell, Jr., announced he was just tasked by President Grab ‘Em to find ways to reduce regulations coming out of the Education Department, including this:

Falwell has been particularly interested in curbing rules that require schools to investigate campus sexual assault under Title IX, a federal law that bans discrimination in education.

“(Falwell) has an interest in eliminating what he feels are overreaches by the federal government, particularly the Department of Education, as pertains to colleges and universities across the country,” Stevens told CNN in an email.

“Title IX is one of the areas he mentioned where there is over-regulation,” Stevens added, adding that Falwell feels issues regarding investigating campus sexual assault are “better left to police, attorneys, judges.”

Irony is dead, so maybe there’s one place left on Earth where Art Briles can coach a little football.

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Filed under Baylor Is Sensitive To Women's Issues