Daily Archives: February 15, 2017

When you gotta go…

While I’m on the subject of the new west end zone project — you didn’t think I was done with that, did you? — there’s something else besides the money that sticks in my craw a bit.  Listen to Kirby Smart wax eloquent about his new present:

“Really, it’s something we need to enhance our gameday experience for recruiting, but also make it better for our overall fan experience,” football coach Kirby Smart, entering his second season, said after the indoor facility dedication.”Then also for our players to have a locker room over there.”

… Smart said the stadium is used not only on gameday but on recruiting visits when hosting dinners. He said “a lot of teams on the (SEC) West obviously have had these venues. Most of the places I’ve been at stadiums they have had a recruiting room or a place to host recruits so we want to try to catch up to that, but we also want to go beyond them and do a better job and have a nice place for our players gameday locker room.”

“The biggest thing was just to have a recruiting venue at your site,” he said. “When kids come for a gameday experience, you’re able to have somewhere to take them.”

What about when the fans come for a gameday experience?

Look, I get that recruiting is a big deal for Smart.  Use whatever adjective you like — obsessed, laser-focused, driven — recruiting is über alles for the man getting paid almost four million a year to win big.  Really, I get that.

What I don’t get is why I have to be made to feel like my fandom is reduced at times to being a prop for recruiting.  We saw that last year with the #93k exhortations to make G-Day a special occasion for the recruits and it appears we’re seeing more of the same with the new project if, as it appears, the recruiting lounge is centered between the students on game day.  We’re not there to be entertained.  We’re there to contribute to the experience of kids who aren’t even part of the program yet.

Yes, there are some fan friendly improvements in store for the west end, such as the new plaza area (not that Reid Plaza has been that terrific), redone concessions (a professional staff would be more welcome) and more bathrooms.  But you get the feeling that most of those come almost as an afterthought, more of a throw in along the way as the facilities are upgraded for recruiting.

Doubt me on that?  Well, maybe you should read Seth Emerson’s piece from yesterday about… bathrooms.

Georgia’s massive new stadium project hadn’t even been formally approved yet, and school president Jere Morehead was already going into fundraising mode. The goal, you see, is for most of it to be paid by fans, and only a bit for the reserve fund, so Morehead apparently knew he had to justify it.

“I share the athletic director’s optimism that these two initiatives the indoor athletic facility and the west end zone project, are certainly going to put the University of Georgia at a very competitive advantage in the Southeastern Conference,” Morehead told the athletic board. “And I hope and expect they’re going to lead to even greater success for our football program in the future.”

Then the board unanimously approved the $63 million project to rebuild Georgia’s dilapidated locker room on the other side of the stadium, along with a recruiting room that Kirby Smart was urging, and a nice plaza to accompany the project.

Great, right? Well, based on the feedback from many fans upon news of the stadium project, there are plenty of grumbles that the fan experience isn’t getting financial attention too. For instance, the fans are, er, ticked about the state of bathrooms at Sanford Stadium. The locker rooms may be old, but the bathrooms are from the 1970s, one fan said in a phone call. The concession facilities are also below par, fans say, leading to over-crowding and just a cramped, uncomfortable experience in the concourses.

So acting on behalf of those fans, this reporter asked athletics director Greg McGarity about just that.

Great question (by the way, if I can wander off from my stated topic for a second, can I take the opportunity to question once again why Seth gets the criticism he does from some of you, when there are moments like this when he’s clearly doing the Lord’s work?), but the answer shouldn’t surprise anyone in not being great.

“We’re trying to maximize everything we can,” McGarity said, speaking about the stadium as a whole. “As far as renovating restrooms, we’ll start with another – sort of our normal standard operating procedure is to make them as new as they possibly could be. But with this addition it does relieve a lot of the pressure in the main gate area and the west end of the stadium.”

That does not sound like a man who concerns himself with the fans’ game day experience, does it?  Maybe he’s just too focused on improved wifi.  Or maybe he’s simply not focused at all.

Then there’s the vision thing. UGA seems to be hopping from one major facility project to another, while sprinkling in many smaller projects, not only for football but other sports.

Why not go with a big master plan, as some other schools (like Clemson) have done?

McGarity pointed to a master plan that did exist in the late 2000s, that included an indoor building further off campus. He also pointed to a plan he saw in 1999 that had an indoor facility being built right on this spot.

“You prioritize stuff as they become important,” he said. “A master plan, it probably touches every facility that we have. So there’s a lot of other projects for other facilities that are in a master plan. But a lot of things are important as we go on, and some things rise to the level of importance.”

Like recruiting.  And the Magill Society donors.  For the rest of us unwashed, Emerson has some practical advice.

And for now, bathrooms in areas other than the west end zone don’t reach that level of importance. Fans will just have to hold it a bit longer.

Or stay at home where the lines are shorter and the facilities are friendlier.  I’m not kidding myself when I write that; it’s not a perceived threat to Butts-Mehre, but merely the expression of a personal choice that some fans will make.

How to make it a perceived threat that would force McGarity to prioritize this as important stuff?  I dunno.  Hey, they’re big on Twitter hashtags.  How does #flush93k work as an attention getter?  It’s not like they’ll be using the last three characters for G-Day this year, anyway.

Eh, who am I deluding with this?  It’s been a steady regression on the game day front for us since Michael Adams worked his magic on tailgating and it’s hard to see that changing, at least as long as everything is working from the administration’s point of view.  That appears to be going swimmingly, so don’t miss your opportunity to commit to the G and support the West End Zone Project.  And, in the meantime, hold it.

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140 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

If it’s the offseason…

… then it must be time for the NCAA to revisit the targeting rule.

College football targeting penalties may become more lenient through a proposed rule change that could result in fewer player ejections.

As targeting ejections have doubled over three years, the NCAA Football Rules Committee is looking at changing the replay standards so a targeting ejection only occurs if the penalty is confirmed. Currently, if replay doesn’t have enough evidence to confirm targeting but can’t rule it’s not targeting, the call on the field stands and the player gets ejected.

NCAA associate director Ty Halpin, the liaison for the rules committee, said ejecting a player is “a pretty expensive deal” if targeting isn’t certain. Halpin said the “vast majority” of targeting flags thrown on the field should be confirmed, but there’s a fairness issue to consider for players.

“We still want to the official to throw the flag there,” Halpin said. “But if replay says there’s a little bit of contact on the shoulder and it’s more because the player adjusted and it wasn’t a dangerous attempt by the player delivering the contact, then maybe that player deserves to stay in the game. It’s a reasonable thing to go with.”

Whatever, man.  Just don’t pretend you won’t be doing more soul searching a year from now, no matter how you tweak things.

Of course, if you’re talking about changing penalty rules, you’ve got to bring our old friend Rogers Redding into the discussion.  He’s certainly on top of things.

National officiating coordinator Rogers Redding said he is not alarmed by more targeting penalties. He attributed the rise to officials becoming more comfortable making the call, a less narrow definition of targeting, and new players coming in each year who aren’t accustomed to the penalty.

This is fine, in other words.  And why shouldn’t it be?

The SEC had the most targeting ejections overall (26) and per game (0.27) and the fewest calls overturned among the Power Five. “I personally think it’s changing player behavior,” SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw said.

The American Athletic Conference, which will use collaborative replay for the first time in 2017, had the fewest targeting penalties per game (0.1). The AAC was the only conference with more targeting calls overturned by replay than upheld.

Why is there such a discrepancy by conference in targeting penalties?

“I’ve thought about this a lot,” Redding said. “We do see different styles of play in different conferences. Some are more wide open than others. I think in conferences that are dominated by teams that run wide-open spread, faster-pace offense, you’re more likely to see more plays run in a game. If there’s more plays run, there’s more opportunities for fouls. That may be one thing. We haven’t analyzed it carefully.”

Shit, why should you?  It’s only your job.

Of course, given that it’s Redding saying that, you know there’s a punchline, and Jon Solomon delivers it.

That theory doesn’t appear to hold up. Offenses in the Big 12 and the AAC ran the most plays per game in 2016, yet those leagues finished in the bottom three with the Mountain West for targeting penalties per game.

Maybe the problem isn’t the rules, but the morons paid to enforce them.  Just sayin’, NCAA.

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Filed under The NCAA

Butts-Mehre is a money raising operation that happens to control a football program.

Georgia’s new IPF — or, as we choose to refer to it around these parts, the JPMIPF™ — was given its formal introduction to the masses yesterday and the school’s powers that be took the opportunity to make mention of the athletic department’s next big thing.

The University of Georgia Athletic Association is pleased to present details on a major enhancement to the west end zone of Sanford Stadium.

The project covers 120,000 total square feet of new and improved space. These enhancements include a new home locker room for the Bulldogs, a space to host and entertain prospects on game day, improvements to restroom and concession areas below the bridge, and a new scoreboard and upper plaza. The project is expected to take approximately 17 months to complete and is estimated to cost $63 million. When completed prior to the 2018 season, the west end zone expansion will have a transformational impact on Sanford Stadium.

It won’t have a transformational inpact on the reserve fund, though.  That’s because Morehead and McGarity plan on sticking with what works.

The athletic board approved a $10 million request that will come from athletic reserves. The other $53 million will come through fundraising over two or three years. The board approved using a line of credit during fiscal year 2018 to help pay for the project…

Morehead said Georgia, which had $67 million in reserves at the end of the fiscal year 2016, is one of the most financially sound athletic programs in the nation and cautioned that he will be hesitant to support more facility projects anytime soon.

“We are going to be extremely careful moving forward while we are in this fundraising initiatives until the pledges and payments are coming in,” he said.

He asked the athletic board to “help us stay focused on the donor prospects and energy and excitement to raise the funds to make this success.

“I have news for you in the next few years, there will be something else with respect to football or one of our other athletic programs,” he said. “I am absolutely committed for our athletic director and our head football coach as they make the case for this project (in fundraising).”

McGarity said Georgia has just “scratched the surface” in fund raising.

“We have 16,000 season ticket holders,” McGarity said. “There’s naming facilities (in the indoor facility) as well as in these new areas. I think there’s tremendous upside for maybe a once in a lifetime chance for naming opportunities that are going to be available in Sanford Stadium.”

He sounds more excited about naming opportunities than winning SEC championships.  Maybe he should be — Chip Towers reports that word is they already have nearly $10 million of their $50+ million goal after donors stepped up past the goal of $31 million for the IAF.

Keeping in mind that pledges from the some 475 members of Georgia’s Magill Society have exceeded $36 million, it’s easy to see where the athletic department’s priorities are focused.  No wonder they just brought this guy on board; he’s gonna be a busy dude just taking care of the (almost) 500.

It’s a great thing they’ve got a football program that inspires passion among the fan base that can be financially tapped as needed.  It’s almost like if they didn’t, they’d have to invent it.  Best of all with this business model, championships appear to be optional.

25 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

“… a pro-style concept that hints at where the sport is going.”

Here’s an interesting piece about Carson Wentz, the Eagles’ quarterback, who came out of North Dakota State.  The Eagles were particularly enamored with the system Wentz played in at NDS.

The ultimate prospect in Childress’ eyes is a quarterback that ran some spread concepts in college that can be incorporated into the offense for whatever NFL team he plays for.

The NFL game has become much different from college football because of the way the offense gets into a huddle and has a play called. In college, many of these quarterbacks are playing fast break style football without a huddle and calling plays with hand signals.

While it may seem sexy at the college level, this kind of football can hurt a prospect’s adjustment to the NFL.

“[College spread quarterbacks] never had to say ‘red switch right closed end right split z halfback flat’ — they don’t know who to talk to when and when to take a breath,” Childress said. “You don’t realize how big a problem the center-quarterback exchange is until the ball is rolling on the ground at practice and you’re saying ‘Oh my God.’”

Carson Wentz is the rare prospect that was able to make adjustments at the line of scrimmage, call actual plays in the huddle and execute some spread concepts. Childress mentioned Wentz as one of the prospects that will benefit from running a scheme in college that blended spread and pro-style concepts.

I’m not so much interested in Wentz per se as I am in whether the real difference these days in what goes into calling a college offense a spread or a pro-style attack is the type of responsibility placed on the quarterback’s shoulders.

Listen to what Wentz says about this.

While many knock Wentz’s college playing days because North Dakota State is an FCS school, his scheme there actually gave him an advantage over others. Wentz pointed out how his time in college will help him make the jump to the NFL.

“You know, it helped me tremendously,” Wentz said at his introductory press conference in April. “I think the transition for me will be a lot smoother than most would think and than [it might be for] most other prospects.

“At North Dakota State, I was in charge of a lot of things at the line of scrimmage, a lot of play-action pass; I was in charge of the audibles, run game checks, you name it. I think that helped me tremendously, set me up for an easier, smoother transition.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds a lot like comments we heard from players such as Matt Stafford when he transitioned from Georgia to the NFL.  Maybe the spread ain’t nothing but a state of mind.  If so, how does that translate on the recruiting trail when you’re chasing quarterbacks who have dreams of playing on Sundays?

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

Was Nick Chubb improving while we weren’t paying attention?

From PFF’s Gordon McGuinness’ post about the SEC’s ten best returning players:

5. Georgia HB Nick Chubb

There’s somewhat of a leap to be made with Chubb, in that 2016 wasn’t his most impressive season, but he was coming off a serious knee injury. Despite that, the way he ended the season gives a realistic expectation that he can be back to his best in 2017, with 20 of his 39 missed tackles forced coming in the final five games of the year. Over the past three seasons, Chubb has averaged a forced missed tackle once every 4.3 carries, and has averaged 3.7 yards per carry after contact…  [Emphasis added.]

If you do the math, that means Chubb’s shiftiness was back on track, career average-wise, over those last five games.  If that wasn’t a mirage, with another offseason to prepare, imagine what kind of season he could have running behind an offensive line that’s merely competent.

27 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!