Daily Archives: June 1, 2017
I don’t know that this is a case of Kirby getting an early jump on his tenth assistant, but today’s hire is still interesting.
Head coach Kirby Smart has hired former Auburn assistant Scott Fountain to join his staff with the Bulldogs.
Fountain’s wife posted the news on Facebook and Fountain’s Twitter handle was changed to show he has joined the Bulldog program.
Although it’s unclear what position Fountain will hold with Georgia, he brings a wealth of experience coaching having served as the Tigers’ special teams coordinator and tight ends coach from 2013-2016 after spending the previous four seasons (2009-2012) as Auburn’s player personnel director.
He left the Auburn program on February 7 after his contract was not renewed. He was earning $325,000 in a contract that expired today.
Fountain came to Auburn with former Tigers head coach Gene Chizik in 2009.
At Auburn, Fountain coached some of the finest specialists in Auburn history, including three-time Ray Guy Award semifinalist punter Steven Clark, placekicker Cody Parkey, who ranked second in the SEC in PATs made (66), and kicker/punter Daniel Carlson, a Lou Groza Award finalist as a sophomore who has already set five AU records. He also coached H-back Jay Prosch, who was a fifth-round draft pick of the Houston Texans in 2014 and tight end C.J. Uzomah was a fifth-round selection of the Cincinnati Bengals in 2015.
He also spent two years as Chizik’s tight end coach and recruiting coordinator.
This report adds that the hire has been in the works for some time, so Fountain appears to be someone Smart definitely wanted to bring on board. Can’t think it hurts for Shane Beamer to have another set of eyes, that’s for sure.
Although I wonder if Kirby has said anything to Fountain about Ken Blankenship yet.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why that made me think of Georgia’s offensive play calling from last season.
I won’t say it rises to the level of pure shock, but I am a little startled to find Pat Dye’s suggestion that Auburn should be allowed to change divisions turns out not to be just a casual thought tossed out there, but a stalking horse for what the athletic department wants.
The idea of Auburn moving divisions for football apparently isn’t that farfetched.
Auburn athletics director Jay Jacobs indicated on Wednesday that he would like to begin a dialogue with other members of the Southeastern Conference that could send his school to the SEC East. Speaking with reporters at the 2017 SEC spring meetings at the Sandestin Hilton, Jacobs said SEC officials and athletics directors will meet later this year to discuss scheduling, and that “everything will be on the table.”
That includes, theoretically, eliminating divisions to help ensure a team from the SEC is selected for the College Football Playoff every year. Currently, the winners of the SEC East and West meet in Atlanta for the SEC championship game. There have been informal talks about adding an extra SEC game to regular season schedules, scrapping the divisional format and pitting the top teams in the conference against each other at the end of the season.
“I think all that would be on the table when we talk about football,” Jacobs said. “Because when we established the SEC championship, the NCAA rules were you had to have two divisions. Well, that’s no longer the case.”
For the past three years at SEC spring meetings there have been rumblings of Auburn wanting to move to the East. While SEC commissioner Greg Sankey seemed to shoot down the idea Tuesday, the drumbeat is getting louder. Earlier in the day, Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said Auburn moving to the East was “common sense.”
If, by “common sense” you mean “we’re tired of Nick Saban blocking our path to the SECCG”, then sure. But if you’re trying to make some tired argument based on geography, get out of here. First of all, look at a map and you’ll find that Nashville lies west of Auburn. If we’re going to be all about geographic order, why aren’t Jacobs and Malzahn asking for Alabama to accompany them Eastward and to ship the Commodores out West with Mizzou? Secondly, if this is such an obvious thing, why didn’t Auburn raise holy hell about it when it was assigned to the SEC West way back when?
What’s really pissing me off isn’t so much that Auburn’s whining about this as that some ordinarily sensible people seem to be taking this as an overture to discuss conference realignment and the path to the SECCG. Take this laughable bit from Andy Staples:
Perhaps Jacobs is playing the long game and hoping the SEC eventually moves to nine conference games, which would create the flexibility for the Auburn-to-the-East-Missouri-to-the-West arrangement. Among the league’s power brokers, Saban is the only person who has been a vocal proponent for this. The league’s TV partners would love it as well, but the majority of the decision-makers want to stay at eight. This also could be a idea the Tigers keep planting so it remains top of mind if the league winds up expanding should more radical realignment hit in the middle of the next decade when the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 media rights deals expire.
C’mon, man. If Jacobs got his way and Auburn moved to the East, only to see the divisional balance of power shift in a few years (perhaps because of Saban’s retirement), would Staples or anyone else be even slightly surprised if Auburn started talking about the common sense of moving back to the West to be in the same division as Alabama again? Of course not.
As far as a nine-game conference schedule goes, get back to me when Jacobs and Malzahn state for the record they’re in favor of it.
These assholes (more accurately, these assholes’ boss and his peers) made a mess of things, not because the fans were clamoring for change, but because Mike Slive and his presidents were unhappy that the Big Ten had struck a better TV deal for itself than the SEC enjoyed and conference expansion was the ticket to getting an SEC Network. If the fourteen-team conference that resulted has shown itself to be every bit the round peg in the square hole challenge many anticipated, well, that’s our tough luck.
And now, Jay Jacobs thinks moving Auburn to the SEC East will fix things, or, at least, will lead to a process that will fix things. Seth Emerson outlines the reasons that’s nonsense, although even he thinks ultimately realignment should be on the table.
Auburn’s wish to avoid Saban aside, much of the self-inflicted wound caused by conference expansion could be healed with one simple move, embracing the nine-game conference schedule to which Staples alludes. Alas, that’s never been on the table and, according to Greg Sankey, still isn’t.
A nine-game conference schedule is also not on the agenda, Sankey added…
“The 2013-14 year, this conference spent a great deal of time at every level of leadership, our presidents and chancellors, our athletics directors, really looking across the landscape of options, from a football scheduling standpoint, and landed where we are currently: Eight conference games, with the expectation of a ninth game played against a colleague conference institution, with the divisional alignment that’s in place. And it’s worked well.”
Sure it has. Just ask Jay Jacobs.
Buffetwise, I’m on a roll.
- Regarding the early signing period, I think Kirby Smart is on to something here: “I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on whatever you call them, middle-range, not the elite, elite guys that’s waiting till signing day. But all those other guys are going to get hammered.”
- If you pay the players, think what will happen to all those poor associate athletic directors for new and creative media.
- Here’s a look at ESPN’s early college football broadcast schedule.
- Andy Staples mentions something I wonder about if the NCAA goes ahead and puts a cap on the size of coaching support staffs, namely, how would that survive an antitrust challenge?
- Arrogance or ignorance? SEC coaches claim to be stunned by the new NCAA recruiting rules. It’s only your livelihood, control freaks, and you’re not paying attention?
- Kirby Smart’s gonna take his sweet time adding a tenth assistant coach.
- If playing a conference championship game after a round robin schedule sounds like a stupid belt-and-suspenders approach to the problem of having a team make the CFP, the Big 12 isn’t listening: “Nobody else in college football can say that they can guarantee their two best teams will play each other at the end of the year.” That nobody else thinks it’s necessary should be a clue, Bob.
- Seth Emerson counts roster numbers and finds Georgia just under the 85-man limit.
The Crimson Tide hasn’t faced a non-Auburn in-state opponent since 1944, and that doesn’t appear to be changing any time soon.
Georgia, to its credit, is pushing a rule at this week’s SEC meetings to allow student-athletes who have completed their undergraduate degree to transfer within the conference. It would seem obvious that Kirby Smart, who clearly benefited by such a transfer when Nick Saban relented and allowed Maurice Smith to play for Georgia last season, would be in favor of formalizing such a change, but if Gus Malzahn is to be believed, that may not be the case.
While Smart has publicly shared that viewpoint in the past, that wasn’t the vibe Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn got in the football meeting room.
“I think it was unanimous within our coaches that we weren’t for intraconference transferring,” Malzahn said. “I think we got a good room. I think that could complicate things.”
Maybe Gus is just presuming there, and Kirby didn’t speak of the matter after the coaches’ meeting, so it’s hard to know if there’s been a legitimate change of heart on Smart’s part. If he has switched sides, though, that makes it a little awkward, given McGarity is leading the charge for the new rule. Not to mention a little convenient, given that Maurice Smith has moved on.
The one thing I don’t get about this debate is this particular fear enunciated by Mark Fox:
“What guys are leery of is that we don’t want to create free agency, where guys are in the handshake line being recruited by the other team,” Fox said. “That’s what you don’t want. You’re shaking hands after the game and you don’t want guys trying to poach your roster. That’s probably the No. 1 concern.”
If you’re really worried about poaching, why not create a rule that punishes a head coach for doing just that? And before you say who’s going to file such a complaint with the league office, let’s recognize that the stated rationale here for not allowing the current transfer rule to change is because these coaches don’t trust each other to play fair. If you’re a coach and that’s what you believe, yet you’re reluctant to police the practice, why is it fairer to restrict the choice of student-athletes who have lived up to their responsibilities for four years?
Um… those were rhetorical questions. We all know why.
McGarity, who played and coached tennis at Georgia and worked in its athletic administration before leaving for Florida, said “there is nothing greater than being part of championships. That’s why we do what we do.
“At the end of the day,” he continued, “all the time you put in at the office, the fun comes when you’re competing for championships and you see what these coaches have done over a number of years to finally get to the top of the mountain and you’re able to be just a small piece of that.”
So what is expected for next year? McGarity did not specify anything, but indicated that he didn’t need to.
“Our coaches know what our goals are,” McGarity said. “You ask Mark Fox, his goal is to make the NCAA tournament. I promise you Scott Stricklin’s is to be in the NCAA tournament.”
Jesus. Regardless of what I thought of the process that led to the decision, at least I could rationalize Mark Richt’s firing as McGarity’s clumsy attempt to live up to the standard he set for himself at the time of his hiring.
What naive bullshit that was. If making a watered down playoff field is all it takes to keep the AD comfortably numb — and, admittedly, for many of Georgia’s sports programs, that would be an improvement over their recent performance levels — then there are no real standards for Georgia athletics any more, other than “don’t cost us too much money, son.”
I suppose you could argue that Smart is being held to a similar mark of excellence, except there’s a rather significant difference between making a field of four and a field of sixty-four. But it’s the kind of facile argument I could hear McGarity make a few years from now at the presser announcing Smart’s firing if things don’t work out well.