Daily Archives: May 10, 2017

Why eight wins won’t be enough this season

Just a reminder about something obvious:


The skinny: The Bulldogs welcome in Kentucky, Mississippi State, Missouri and South Carolina. Uhhh, that is not a daunting home schedule. At all. Only UK among those teams had a winning record last season – and the Wildcats finished 7-6.

Georgia will be favored in all six home games this year, by solid margins.  Putting neutral-site Jacksonville to the side, the remaining games are on the road at Notre Dame, which has already been discussed, Tennessee and Vanderbilt, both of which went down to the wire last season and, based on returning talent, should on paper tilt towards Georgia, and Auburn and Georgia Tech, against whom Georgia has enjoyed notable road success over the past several seasons.

If the Dawgs can’t manage at least a 3-2 record in those five games, that’s going to be a major disappointment and open up some serious questioning about Smart’s ability to take the program to the next level.



Filed under Georgia Football

Georgia Man trumps all.

Gee, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say Seth Emerson detects a trend.

What we do know is that this is yet another case of UGA’s tendency to look inward when it comes to hires, big and small.

Kupets-Carter is a Georgia alum. So is Kirby Smart, who when Georgia hired him was very qualified and had been sought after by other schools. But if Smart ends up struggling the next few years critics will continue to wonder why Georgia did not take longer to look and have a truly national search.

Greg McGarity was the Kirby Smart version of that search seven years ago. An alumnus  and an Athens native, McGarity was serving as the No. 2 administrator at an SEC rival. He was the obvious choice, given his connections and Florida’s all-sports success. But unfortunately that success hasn’t translated to Georgia since McGarity came home.

When UGA women’s basketball team had an opening, the school spent nearly a month looking and then hired the team’s top assistant, Joni Taylor. The book is still out on Taylor, who has recruited well, but missed the NCAA tournament this past season.

It’s not just athletics: Even the search for a president at UGA a few years ago ended up with the school just promoting the provost – and UGA alumnus — Jere Morehead. That was a fairly popular hire among the rank-and-file at UGA, as Morehead was one of them and had been for years.

Were he as aged as I, Seth could have gone farther.  Every AD since Joel Eaves has been someone with previous or existing ties to the school.

This isn’t so much a condemnation of the administration as it is us.  “That was a fairly popular hire among the rank-and-file at UGA, as Morehead was one of them and had been for years.” — how many times have we seen that kind of comfort pass for deep thinking among alumni and the fan base about someone the school hires?  You’d think if that was really a valid benchmark for excellence, the University of Georgia would have a far more prestigious recent past than it actually has.  Yet we never seem to learn.  Go Dawgs!


Filed under Georgia Football

Pythagoras is impressed with Kirby Smart.

If you had “5-7 was more likely than 11-2” as the pick in the Oh, How Georgia’s 2016 Season Could Have Gone Pool, Matt Melton is here to tell you that you may be on to something.

And here are the APR standings sorted by division with conference rank in offensive touchdowns, touchdowns allowed, and APR in parentheses. This includes conference games only with the championship game excluded.

Finally, SEC teams are sorted by the difference between their actual number of wins and their expected number of wins according to APR.

Look who’s number one!  The question is whether that could be chalked up to coaching or luck.  We’ll see what regression to the mean has to say about that in 2017.


Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

He did NOT have sexual relations with that shark.

Seeing this…

… I can’t help but be reminded of this.

… there’s the (possibly true!) story about LBJ spreading a rumor that his opponent was a pig-fucker. Aide: “Lyndon, you know he doesn’t do that!” Johnson: “I know. I just want to make him deny it.”

That probably takes the edge off SEC Media Days (poor Clay Travis!), but the next time ESPN Gameday appears at a Florida game, the signage possibilities are delicious.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

At Butts-Mehre, better times are always just around the corner.

I had more than a few comments and questions sent my way yesterday after the Kupets-Carter hire was announced.

My thought?  This is the most remarkable hiring/firing decision of Greg McGarity’s career.  For one thing, there’s Kupets-Carter’s resume.

Courtney Kupets-Carter has, quite possibly, the most impressive competition resume of any collegiate gymnast ever, but until she was named the head coach of the most accomplished college program in history, she had not been a full-time coach anywhere at the college level. She has coached at the club level for Oconee Gymnastics and Cheer for one year, and she was a student assistant under Jay Clark in 2010. That’s it. That’s the resume. The rest of Kupets-Carter’s work history consists of broadcasting for the SEC Network and USA Gymnastics, and a stop as a performer at the La Reve show at the Wynn in Las Vegas. (Seriously.)

If you were at least somewhat taken aback by McGarity’s decision to hire a career assistant coach to replace Mark Richt, Kirby Smart’s resume reads like a college Hall of Famer’s compared to that.  Those aren’t the qualifications — at least I hope they’re not — of an athletic director’s first choice in finding someone to right the ship of a historically prominent gymnastics program, which is something that Suzanne Yoculan acknowledged at yesterday’s presser.

“I don’t know that anyone that’s at another school who’s a really great head coach wants to come to Georgia, where there’s a dynasty here. They want to create their own,” Yoculan said.

Speaking of Yoculan, there’s the second notable feature of yesterday’s announcement.  She’s the first hire of Kupets-Carter’s staff… as a “volunteer” coach.  (Insert your McGarity has to appreciate the cost savings crack here.  I already did.)  Again, Yoculan herself acknowledges how different that is.

… Yoculan believes she is the only former head coach in the country who will be working for no pay as an volunteer assistant. But it’s not a small role she’ll assume. And as anybody who knows anything about Yoculan will tell you, no role she fills is a small.

As a volunteer assistant, the 63-year-old Yoculan will be able to coach in the gym, which is something she’s relishing doing again. She will also be able to call recruits on the phone and she’ll be able to meet with recruits and their parents when they come to campus. Her only limitation is she won’t be able to go on the road recruiting.

“It was all her idea,” Yoculan insisted. “Honestly, I live here, I have plenty of days where I sit around and not do a lot. My primary focus is my family, but we’re going to work it out and work on the schedule together. It will be an unusual arrangement.”

Everyone should have a hobby.  But as a way to manage what is perceived as a major college sports program, that seems a bit, well, amateurish.  It also begs an obvious question about McGarity’s plan for a replacement after canning his second gymnastics coach in less than a decade.

… The only bigger splash he could have made would have been to hire Yoculan herself as the head coach. He did admit Tuesday that Yoculan was the first call he made when he turned his attention to this coaching search, but he insists it was for nothing more than advice.

“I asked her to help me,” McGarity said. “I asked her to provide me some advice. I ask her for advice a lot. But I wasn’t going to asked that question.”

Yoculan sort of hems and haws around that discussion. She finally admitted that “there was conversation of that,” but it’s not something she seriously considered.

What, no search firm?  That is the course of action of a man who is sadly out of options.

Hey, maybe this will all turn out fine.  Both Kupets-Carter and Yoculan sound confident about the future, and, as McGarity pointed out yesterday, Yoculan’s background when she was hired by Dooley was that of a local club gymnastics coach.  But there’s so much flakiness and out of the box thinking from a man who’s known for an almost complete absence of such an approach that it seems irrational to assume this is all sunshine and roses.

All of which brings me to what makes this decision so remarkable for me.  Look who was at yesterday’s presser.

Kupets was introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, also attended by Yoculan, UGA president Jere Morehead, board of regents member Don Leeburn…

Don Effing Leeburn?

With Leeburn’s public blessing, McGarity has all but proclaimed himself to be in formal ass-covering mode.  If hiring a 30-year old with no previous collegiate coaching experience works out, fine.  If it doesn’t, he’s made sure that he’s got all the right people buying in to his call.  He wouldn’t go down alone; in fact, the reality is that he’s insulated himself from going down at all.

It’s a smart way to keep your job.  As far as the athletic department goes, though, and excuse me if you’ve heard this before, it’s a helluva way to run a railroad.  At least you have to give these people credit for their consistency.

Kirby Smart sure better win big.  And soon.


Filed under Georgia Football

Amateurism’s new worth

If you’re looking for a silver lining in what ESPN’s current troubles may mean for the value of future college football broadcast rights, look no further than this.

The future front in the cable-digital war is a likely reduction in rights fees. For all but the most premium content, prices are likely to drop. One lawyer present for the negotiations chuckles when he recalls ESPN’s most recent NBA contract. “If that deal was being done today, it would look much different…. We’re talking 30%-less different.” That deal, mind you, was made 16 months ago.

In a world of fragmented viewership, professional leagues will try to make up the decline in revenue in other ways. That means finding new partners. (Amazon, Twitter and Verizon have all made recent deals to stream NFL games.) Leagues can—and will—reduce labor costs (that is, player salaries) when revenues fall. They can tinker with ticket pricing. They can attempt to penetrate new markets, as the NBA has in China and India.

College athletics, though, is different. For one, there are no player salaries to slash…

Well, how convenient.

What happens when the rights-fee bubble does burst? And what happens if student-athletes ever become salaried employees?

The antitrust exemption argument just wrote itself.  Thanks, Mickey!


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

“But the sensationalism of the discussion is quite disturbing to me.”

By now, I assume most of you are aware that Governor Deal has signed the campus carry law.  As usual, you can’t count on the General Assembly to pass something coherently written, and there is already plenty of discussion about how the law will be applied and enforced.

In the law, one of the excluded places for concealed weapons includes “buildings or property used for athletic sporting events.”

But those eight words, written in line 26 of House Bill 280, could be interpreted in different ways.

One scenario has raised an interesting question for Georgia: Given the fact that up to 100,000 fans, if not more, partake in tailgating festivities many hours before kickoff, how will the law be interpreted on its campus for a Saturday football game?

Georgia’s athletics department is unclear whether this law will strictly mean that guns are disallowed inside venues such as Sanford Stadium or if they will be banned from all tailgating sites. The University System of Georgia and attorneys likely are still sorting out the best way to enact the new law.

Athletics director Greg McGarity was reached twice during the past five days since the signing of the law and said he isn’t sure of the details yet. The University System of Georgia Regents declined further comment on the topic.

Two of HB 280’s sponsors, Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton) and Rep. Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper), did not respond to requests to comment. Deal’s office didn’t respond to multiple requests for clarification on the language either.

An opponent of the law, Rep. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), said the phrasing is “100 percent unclear” and that it could wind up in litigation not too long after it goes into effect July 1.

“They use the term ‘athletic sporting events’ and ‘property used for athletic sporting events,’ ” Holcomb said. “One could definitely say, ‘Where people park is property used for athletic sporting events.’ Someone else could argue, ‘No, it’s just where the sporting event itself takes place.’ It’s not well constructed at all. It’s really poorly drafted.”

Lot of “no comment” there.  Well, except for this dude.

Rep. Alan Powell (R-Hartwell), one of the six HB 280 sponsors, later said in a speech that Trammell was exaggerating his claim while stating a joke.

“Not everybody starts drinking corn liquor at 5 o’clock in the morning to go to the ballgame,” Powell said. “A lot of us quit doing that when we were in college. And then a lot of us learned there was something better than corn liquor, and it was called bonded whiskey.

I’m not worried about the folks drinking bonded whiskey, fella.  It’s the people abusing Fireball and Natty Light who are more of a concern.  Especially if they’re likely to mix with opposing fan bases after a long day of imbibing.  Hey, maybe there’s something after all to be said for those noon starts.

Bottom line:  choose your tailgating spot prudently.


Filed under Georgia Football, Political Wankery

“The easier the viewer can get the material, the better they like it.”

This is a pretty amazing data point.

On the flip side, ESPN’s costs for content have skyrocketed to well over $7 billion a year, more than any competitor, according to projections from Boston Consulting Group and SNL Kagan. That compares to $5 billion by Netflix and $4.3 billion by NBC. Rights to “Monday Night Football” alone cost ESPN $1.9 billion a year, not to mention hefty deals with the NCAA and NBA.

That gets back to what I posted yesterday.  Even if you credit ESPN with focusing on the core value of its business plan, which is monopolizing live sports (or at least coming as close as possible), the expense is coming up on the edge of what is currently sustainable.  Firing 100 talking heads and reporters won’t make a dent in that.

There are two things to take away from Mickey’s current bottom line bleeding.  One is finding other ways to control delivery of live sports, which is why you see the WWL scrambling to make its way into the digital domain.  The other is re-calibrating what sort of value the content has.  The latter is obviously dependent on the former and will take some time to develop, especially when you consider that Mickey is contractually locked into a lot of costs now.

The former is not without its perils, either.  Consider the story that led of the linked article.

A friend in Little Rock decided to cut the cord when he moved. He planned to do without cable TV altogether, at least until college football season began.

His thinking reflected one of cable’s last hopes as viewers increasingly rely on streaming, social media and even that ancient throwback, the free airwaves.

For years, sports was a deal-saver. For live events, you had to have cable, and ESPN was the giant holding the strings keeping millions of fans tethered.

But when college football season rolled around in September, my friend surprised himself. “I never went back to cable,” he said. “I was able to go to friends’ houses, or to bars, to see games. I could watch clips on my phone. I also could learn not to give a care.” OK, he used an earthier word than “care.”

Sure, it’s just one unnamed friend.  The story struck a chord with me, nonetheless.  You see, I’m dipping my toes into cord-cutting waters.  I’m dumping my satellite provider and going to a package of high-speed Internet and local stations to get my sporting fix.  I’ll pick up access to ESPN and the SEC Network through Sling TV for football season and dump what I don’t need during the rest of the year.

I’ll be curious to see if going with little sports broadcast access for half a year has a similar impact on my viewing habits.  It sort of gives a whole new meaning to cord-cutting, doesn’t it?

If I were Greg Sankey, I’d be a little concerned.


Filed under ESPN Is The Devil

Today, in the relentless pursuit of excellence

In case you’re wondering what occupies the most space on Kirby Smart’s crowded plate after spring practice, let Jere Morehead explain:

“I think our program is on an upward trajectory. I’m getting ready to leave on a trip right now with Coach Smart to do some fundraising for the new end zone. That is certainly our priority this spring.”

It’s good to have priorities, I suppose.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness