Daily Archives: February 7, 2017

Not the departure we were expecting.

This is both abrupt and mysterious.

Tracy Rocker has left Georgia after three years as defensive line coach.

The circumstances of Rocker’s departure are not clear. A team spokesman simply confirmed that Rocker was “no longer with the program.”  He becomes the first member of head coach Kirby Smart’s staff to leave this offseason.

I sure thought he was a major upgrade as a position coach over Garner. However, it sounds like there are more than a few hints out there about his recruiting being subpar, like this one.

Still I’m sorry to see him go.  At least we’ll have something to speculate about before spring practice.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Three offensive coordinators in three months, Tuscaloosa?

Sometimes, life comes at you suddenly.

Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian has been named the Atlanta Falcons’ next coordinator, the team announced Tuesday.

One game in Tuscaloosa.  That’s all.

Multiple sources have confirmed to SB Nation that after meetings with Alabama head coach Nick Saban following the Championship, the relationship between Saban and Sarkisian deteriorated amid disagreements in “system philosophy,” per one source. Both parties planned to move on following Signing Day last Wednesday, and Saban was aware of Sarkisian’s contact with the Falcons.

One source described the problems between Sarkisian and Saban as “too similar” to the relationship between Saban and former coordinator Kiffin.

“There was an effort on Saban’s part not to repeat the same problem. This wasn’t going to work out,” a source close to Sarkisian told SB Nation.

The “same problem” covers lots of possibilities.  We talking personal issues on top of coaching philosophy conflicts?  Inquiring minds want to know.  If it’s the just the latter, where does Saban want to take the ‘Bama offense going forward?

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules

What if the NCAA sees a drawn out investigation as a feature, not a bug?

A couple of posts at Red Cup Rebellion caught my eye this morning.

This one charts the hit Freeze took with this year’s recruiting class, while this one sounds a bit wistful about Ole Miss’ predicament.

Yea, the NCAA situation hurt Ole Miss this recruiting cycle. A couple of hours after piecing together the country’s No. 30 overall class on National Signing Day, Hugh Freeze himself referred to 2017 as “a penalty” and griped about other schools using the ongoing investigation for negative recruiting.

It was a decent class considering the limitations, but the reality is that the Rebels can’t have another like it and continue to compete with the top of the SEC (this year’s class ranked 12th in the conference). Ole Miss needs a bounce-back cycle in 2018.

Whether or not the NCAA will break camp by next Signing Day is anyone’s guess, though it’s hard to believe they can drag this thing out for another full year.

It’s the NCAA, sunshine.  I wouldn’t be too sure about anything, when it comes to the NCAA.

And that’s the thing.  We all know in an age of enormous conference television contracts, no program is ever going to get slammed with the death penalty again.  But slow playing an investigation so that a program’s recruiting suffers over a period of a few years while the sword of Damocles dangles overhead?  Yeah, I can see that.  If you think about it, that’s a pretty effective penalty in its own way.

The only thing I’m not sure of is if the NCAA is actually that clever.  If it is, though, that’s something an overly aggressive head coach might have to factor into his approach on the recruiting trail.  Assuming there’s a next time, of course.

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Filed under Recruiting, The NCAA

February means it’s not too early to talk depth chart.

Over at Dawgs247, Jake Rowe takes a stab at putting together a post-signing day offensive depth chart for 2017.  It’s certainly an entertaining read.  It’s no surprise to see a lot of young faces on that side of the ball filling up the two deep.

The two most interesting questions Rowe’s projection raise are (1) will the staff redshirt Jake Fromm? and (2) who is Pittman going to pick to start at right tackle?

I am not one of those who thinks Fromm has a serious chance of unseating Jacob Eason (Heisman Trophy candidate!)  as the starter.  You just went through [euphemism alert!] a throwaway season partly because you tossed a true freshman quarterback to the SEC wolves.  Why would you want to conduct that experiment all over again?

That being said, you would think the optimum approach with Fromm would be to give him a redshirt, which would create another year’s worth of separation between him and Eason while also giving him a full season to get acclimated to the college game.  Redshirt freshmen quarterbacks have done better in their first seasons at Georgia than have true freshmen at the position.

The question is whether the staff will have the luxury of giving Fromm the time to do so.  It’s pretty clear at this point that nobody thinks Brice Ramsey is an answer as the backup.  (For that matter, it’s not exactly clear what Ramsey, who will graduate this spring, intends to do about his future at Georgia.)  It’ll be an interesting development to watch.

So will the fight at right tackle.  Notice that Rowe has six names listed at the position.  Four of those names are freshmen.  Given that one of those names is D’Marcus Hayes, who is more likely to start at left tackle, you would think the odds are pretty good that Pittman may be doing something we haven’t seen in a while, which is turning over a starting tackle slot to a freshman.  Can any of the newbies handle the responsibility?

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Filed under Georgia Football

Moar today, in Baylor, a continuing series

Hands down, this is the greatest thing Bob Bowlsby has ever and will ever utter:

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby, meanwhile, didn’t pull punches Friday while speaking to ESPN during an appearance at a regularly scheduled conference board meeting in Dallas.

“I think everybody’s pretty much in the barrel, but I don’t know if anybody knows where the bottom of the barrel is,” Bowlsby said of Baylor.

It’s kind of like a prequel to the Rule of Holes — before you stop digging, you have to recognize you’ve hit the bottom.

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Filed under Baylor Is Sensitive To Women's Issues, Big 12 Football

Second time’s the charm?

Andy Staples says it’s a coach’s second recruiting class that really sets the table.

“Somebody had told me when I got the job that your first full cycle will be your best class,” Smart said. Smart didn’t say who told him that, but his former boss Nick Saban might agree based on history. Saban’s 2001 class at LSU included a huge contingent of difference-makers (Joseph Addai, Rudy Niswanger, Andrew Whitworth, Marcus Spears, Michael Clayton, Marquise Hill, Travis Daniels, Ben Wilkerson) that would help LSU win the national title in 2003. Saban’s 2008 class at Alabama might have been even better. It included a group (Julio Jones, Barrett Jones, Courtney Upshaw, Mark Barron, Marcell Dareus, Mark Ingram, Damion Square, Dont’a Hightower, Terrence Cody, Robert Lester) that helped turn Alabama into the monster that continues to dominate the sport.

Urban Meyer, the other coach atop Smart in this year’s recruiting rankings, also has signed his most important classes to start year two. In 2006, Meyer stood behind a lectern in the south end zone at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and said this: “I’ve been fortunate to coach a bunch of guys who never had any stars by their names. I’ve got a bunch of championship rings upstairs because of those players.” But Meyer didn’t have any national championship rings at that point. He hadn’t had access to four- and five-stars at Bowling Green and Utah. The Florida job offered his first chance to recruit against the best, and Meyer proved dominant. His 2006 class in Gainesville included Tim Tebow, Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Riley Cooper, Brandon James and Marcus Gilbert. Some of those players—Harvin and Tebow, for example—helped put an already talented 2006 team over the top for a national title. The rest of that group formed the nucleus for the 2008 title. But like Saban, Meyer’s best second class came at his second national championship stop. His 2013 Ohio State class included Ezekiel Elliott, J.T. Barrett, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Joey Bosa, Gareon Conley, Jalin Marshall, Billy Price and Tyquan Lewis. Some of those players played critical roles in the Buckeyes’ 2014 national title, while others emerged in the two seasons since.

Will that translate successfully to Athens?  No way of knowing, of course, but Smart gives every indication that a lot of careful thought and planning went into assembling the 2017 class — and maybe beyond.

… Smart, knowing he’d have better relationships and better evaluations for his second class, purposely did not sign a full class in 2016. “We had slots open and people wanting to take them, and we didn’t jump at anybody,” he said. “We didn’t reach for anybody. We kept those spots knowing that we could use them this year more judiciously.” That also allowed the Bulldogs to begin recruiting in earnest the players who signed Wednesday.

Either luck or careful selection—and probably a mixture of both—gave Georgia a relatively drama-free ’17 class. Twelve of Georgia’s new players never took an official visit anywhere else—and not because no one else was interested. “You don’t have that much anymore in college football,” Smart said. “Those kids were committed to Georgia and committed to each other.”

That should help Smart and the Bulldogs in the ’18 cycle. While other programs tied up loose ends on the ’17 class, Georgia had turned the page to the next class. Smart also had a chance to recruit some more critically important players for the ’17 season. The decisions of tailbacks Nick Chubb and Sony Michel and linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Davin Bellamy to return for their senior seasons will make Georgia far deeper than originally expected. “It’s probably more important, I would think, to have them than the guys coming in,” Smart said. “They can impact the game more.”

One great class does not a championship make, of course.  But you’re not going to get started on the road to there without one, either.  As I’ve posted before, now comes the hard part.  We’ll see if the staff is up to it.

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UPDATE:  More second year stuff here.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Today, in Baylor, a continuing series

Progress of a sorts:  an assistant strength coach was arrested in Waco and charged with a crime of a sexual nature, but the good news is that at least the sex was consensual.

Hey, you gotta start somewhere.

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Filed under Baylor Is Sensitive To Women's Issues, Crime and Punishment