Spring practice: what’s in it for us?

Some of you didn’t agree with my snark the other day about Kirby pimping G-Day for his own purposes, and that’s cool.  Maybe I’m allowing my unhappiness over Butts-Mehre’s apparent apathy regarding the fan’s game day experience to wash too far ashore.

Then, again, how hard would it be to make an effort to reach out to us, to let us know that our enthusiasm and love for the football program is appreciated and reciprocated?

Ben Kercheval has a post up about ways to improve spring practice, and a couple of his suggestions are on point, although one would be a lot easier to implement than the other.

Here’s the easy one.

Open at least half of the practices to fans: I won’t annoy you with a plea for greater media access; in fact, I’ll do the opposite. Schools are allowed up to 15 practices in spring. Let’s push for greater fan access across the board. Yes, this means everyone. NFL teams do this in varying degrees for training camp for a couple of hours. Let’s have college football teams open up practices more for the public. If you’re an Alabama fan, for example, don’t you want to see five-star early enrollee Dylan Moses, who is absolutely crushing offseason workouts, in the flesh? Have autograph sessions (sorry, compliance) and picture time afterwards. Don’t limit those to the spring game (more on that later). Of course, many coaches will inevitably freak out about losing their veil of secrecy, but they’ll still be able to keep some of what they do behind closed doors. We’re talking about college football, not nuclear codes.

Hells, yeah, I say.  In his defense, Smart did allow fans to have a crack at watching a practice last August, so this wouldn’t exactly be groundbreaking.  But allowing fans the freedom to choose from a few spring practices to attend, particularly on a weekend, would be a great gesture, as well as helping to build enthusiasm, as Smart himself recognized.

“I’ve always felt like that’s an opportunity to give back to your fan base,” Smart said. “Not only is it exciting for them, but it’s exciting for the players. I think that’s a good way to give back, to give them an opportunity to come out and watch a practice. I don’t think they know exactly what our players go through in practice.”

Nothing’s changed in that regard, has it?

As for the hard one,

Turn spring games into major scrimmage events: Of all the spring practice suggestions floating around, this is the one that has been featured most often. The concept is simple: Instead of the garden variety spring game, two bigger-name programs will scrimmage against one another. And unlike normal, regular-season scheduling, this doesn’t need to be done years in advance. Michigan traveling to Georgia? You’ll take that, right? Harbaugh will; it’s another opportunity to have a presence in SEC country. Put it on a major media rights carrier for the sport *wink wink* and treat it like a preseason game…

Absolutely.  Unfortunately, this isn’t something Georgia can pursue unilaterally.  But it sure could start publicly lobbying for the opportunity with the SEC and the NCAA.  (If they can try it for a uniform drug testing policy, they can certainly pursue it for this.  Just sayin’.)  Even if they don’t achieve immediate success, at least we’ll know their hearts are in the right place.  What’s the hashtag for that?

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41 Comments

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41 responses to “Spring practice: what’s in it for us?

  1. I think Dabo has been pushing the Spring Game opponent for awhile.

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  2. The spring game idea is great, but does anyone really believe a P5 coach is going to put a single starter at risk in a game like that?

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    • Why is there necessarily a greater risk of injury in such a game than in the traditional spring game format?

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      • Starters in an intra-squad scrimmage aren’t going to go for the big hit on each other in a game like this. What happens in a spring game against another school if a starter gets tossed for targeting in the 2nd half of the game? Does he miss the 1st half of the opener?

        As I say, I like the idea in concept. We would need to accept that you would see starters for the first series max like most of the NFL preseason games.

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      • Macallanlover

        Agree Senator, we have lost starters who were injured celebrating a TD, football is a contact sport and injuries can occur under any situations throughout the year. You can make a case they would be less likely to be injured because they would be more focused/engaged.

        Not so sure about playing teams from other regions, but we could play Clemson and FSU a home and home in alternating years and raise a lot of money for a local charity. (Suggest all money above expenses be given to charity, not the schools. Clemson could be a day trip and use a bus, not sure Clemson’s have ever done any more than circle the stadium at 7 MPH.) Those games would insure your 93K without any entertainment costs.

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        • I just don’t see the entertainment value beyond the first 5 minutes of the game when coaches may have 1s vs 1s playing. I just don’t believe many coaches would think the benefits outweigh the potential cost of playing their starters beyond the first series.

          Yes, I understand injuries can happen anytime. Why would you put an important player at risk in what amounts to not much more than a glorified scrimmage?

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          • Macallanlover

            Why use them beyond the first series in a cupcake game? We lost a key starter on the opening kickoff of a game against Ga. Southern in the early aughts. You cannot fear injuries so much you don’t play the game any more. I also feel we should contact the QB in scrimmages, especially if they have happy feet/panic syndrome. It may be why Eason looked accurate in last year’s spring game and struggled during the season.

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            • A cupcake game in September is different from a spring scrimmage against a D1 opponent. One counts and the other doesn’t. There’s a reason coaches pull their starters as soon as a cupcake is under control – 1) to prevent injury and 2) to give younger players a chance to develop. That was the MOST frustrating thing about the abortion that was the Nicholls game last year. Our starters had to play for 60 minutes risking injury and not giving younger players a development opportunity because we had to win the game as first priority. This is pretty simple to me.

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    • There is plenty of ways to do a practice game without putting QB’s at risk…whether putting non-contact shirts on them, etc….

      You can restrict tackling at some points if you want….and other rules that could be put in place before the game.

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      • I get it with the QBs and non-contact jerseys. It’s like it is now. I’m actually not worried about whether QBs get hurt in a game as described.

        “You can restrict tackling at some points if you want … and other rules” In my opinion, that’s not football at that point. You might as well put flags on all of the players and play 7 on 7.

        Honestly, Kirby is absolutely BS speculating that #93kDay prepared the team to beat UNC. He wants as big of a crowd as possible as a backdrop for recruiting. That’s fine, and just admit it.

        I went last year because I wanted to show I was behind the program after the coaching change. I followed through on that commitment and really have no interest in doing that again.

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  3. HVL Dawg

    Why don’t we have a 5 week round robin-ish spring game season with the winner getting to assign every team’s open week for the fall season?

    Too much?

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  4. How about we all just shut up and appreciate that they put on a spring game at all. One minute we are talking about how these kids are being screwed and should be paid for the amount of time they put in and the next we are bitching that we need more access to them plus want to see them play an out of season game? Whatever.

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    • One minute we are talking about how these kids are being screwed and should be paid for the amount of time they put in and the next we are bitching that we need more access to them…

      Not following you here. What does one have to do with the other?

      As far as playing in an out of season game, they’re already doing that. All we’re talking about here is changing the opponent.

      Whatever, indeed.

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      • If you think that the players, who many think should already be paid for all the work they put into the program, now should have to come over to the chain link fence every day after practice to sign your hat…then go for it. I personally think they should hit the shower then the books after, but that is just me.
        As far as only changing the opponent? It’s pretty darn obvious that you don’t know the difference between a team scrimmage and a jamboree game. One is friendly out there on the field, the other is not. Obvious, indeed.

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        • I’ve never had any interest in having a hat signed. That being said, it’s not like UGA hasn’t had Picture Days before.

          Who said anything about a spring game being a jamboree game? As somebody else pointed out, Dabo is a fan of the concept of two schools scrimmaging. Why don’t you let him know he obviously can’t tell the difference?

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  5. Spring game against another team would quickly turn into the NFL Pro-Bowl: all vanilla plays and everyone taking it easier than they would in an intra squad game. If Georgia hosted Michigan all it would do is benefit Michigan. Wait, I am wrong–there is also a chance of a walk on blowing up a start player and a fight breaking out…that would surely benefit both teams.

    At least Georgia playing Georgia is some sort of practice.

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    • Half you guys are arguing players would get hurt because they’d be going balls out, unlike in an internal scrimmage, while the rest of you are telling me they’d just fart around.

      I can’t win. 😉

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      • PTC DAWG

        They would just fart around in a scrimmage..and I have zero interest in playing a team in a game that doesn’t count. Problem is, in some minds it would count, Coaches would know that, go all out to win…I see no upside for our players..

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      • I am perched on the farting around throne. Kids are already skipping bowl games to protect their bodies and draft status. You know the best players would either skip a preseason match up or walk through it for a series or two.

        Also, I feel like you do win Senator–but only when you agree with me…

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  6. PTC DAWG

    I don’t like the scrimmage thing at all, for all the reasons listed above,

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  7. Kevin V

    Here is why there is more apathy.. and the luster of last years excitement of new coach and 93K has worn off:

    UGA Football 2016 – 8-5
    UGA Basketball 16’-17’ – 19-14, first round loss NIT
    UGA Baseball – currently – 8-10

    We are the state school. Talent rich in every single sport listed above. How in the world are we this mediocre? Any compelling reason to let McGarity continue? Or half of the Butts-Mehre staff?

    Damon Evans was AD from 2004-2010 (6 years)
    Total Football record – 58-19, 1 SEC Title
    Baseball – 3 World Series appearances, 4 Tourney appearances, 2 Conference Champions
    Basketball – 1 NCAA Tourney appearance, 1 conference tourney champ

    Greg McGarity has been AD since 2010 (7 years)
    Total Football record – 64-29, 0 SEC Title
    Baseball – 0 World Series appearances, 1 Tourney appearance, 0 Conference Champions
    Basketball – 2 NCAA Tourney appearances, 0 conference tourney champ

    If you recall, we were also more dominate in other sports a decade ago: gymnastics, tennis (both), golf, …. We are still good at all of these ‘secondary’ sports, but not at the same level.

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  8. DawgPhan

    I have enjoyed the times that I have seen spring practice.

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  9. Bulldog Joe

    We like the spring game as it is.

    A (usually) nice spring day to hang out in Athens plus an opportunity to get a preview of the team and the incoming (football) talent is enough for us.

    Moving it off of Masters weekend and expanding the special teams format were good moves and will increase fan interest in attending the game.

    No need to hype it into something it is not (like a rap concert).

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  10. Otto

    I am just in it for the GDay QBRs.

    I also commend you for in your own way, asking more from the program than ever before, even if I disagree with your complaints.

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  11. 92 grad

    I still want a spring 7 on 7 league. Organize it similar to intramural ultimate tournaments and make Chaney trot out the new kids that need to contribute right away in the fall. It would be great tv and great for the skill position/safeties to get up to sec speed.

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  12. Rocketdawg

    We start spring football for middle school in a few weeks and we are having a “spring game” against another school. The kids are jacked to get to strap it up against other kids before the fall.

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  13. Georgia V Michigan – enter

    ESPN

    20 years later, we have a spring playoff system.

    do not want.

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  14. Otto

    Agreed CFP excludes teams from 16 team playoff for a play weak Spring game against another P5 program.

    Leave the spring games and grad transfers as they are.

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  15. If NFL owners will do it (that is, practice/scrimmage against other teams), then it’s probably something that can happen.

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  16. South FL Dawg

    The University of Miami has always had open scrimmages but this year Richt is closing them. He also got rid of the spring game and they’re doing another scrimmage instead, at Boca Raton Senior High. The natives – all 15 of them – aren’t happy.

    I don’t even know what’s worse – that they took away a game at the only time of year that it’s nice to be outside, or that fans that don’t bother going to regular games are whining about a closed scrimmage.

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  17. 69Dawg

    I always thought it was funny as hell that Mark was so secret about his practices. Heck every DC in the SEC could take the week off before our games. True Bobo could change a few things but it always boiled down to whether we had better players than our opponent more than if we were going to change our schemes. Everybody in the NFL knew every play the Green Bay Packers were going to run but they still worked because the Packers were great at execution and had good players. You can have the greatest schemes on both sides of the ball but if the players can’t execute it just does not matter. These college coaches treat everything they do as top secret. I liked USCw under Pete Carroll, heck all their practices were open. If you’re great it just doesn’t matter.

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