Daily Archives: July 7, 2017

Let the big Dawg speak.

Quite the dividing line here:

Georgia is holding two August events in the state for Bulldog fans that will feature some of its head coaches but not football coach Kirby Smart.

Men’s basketball coach Mark Fox, gymnastics coach Courtney Kupets Carter, baseball coach Scott Stricklin and football staffer Mike Cavan will take part in a panel discussion Aug. 9 in Valdosta.

Fox, women’s basketball coach Joni Taylor, men’s golf coach Chris Haack and Cavan, Smart’s special assistant, will be on the panel Aug. 10 in an event in Columbus.

The events are characterized by the school as an outreach program. They were organized by the UGA Bulldog Club, are being called “Dawg Days” and will be emceed by radio voice Scott Howard.

“These events will be open to the public and focus on allowing current Bulldog Club members the chance to interact with UGA staff members and educate UGA Fans who are not involved on how to support UGA Athletics,” according to an announcement from Georgia.

Smart will be a part of a separate donor event July 19 in Atlanta’s Buckhead that is invitation only and organized by the president’s office. He attended four similar events this spring in Charlotte, Nashville, Jacksonville and Houston.  [Emphasis added.]

“… and educate UGA Fans who are not involved on how to support UGA Athletics”?  Oh, I think we’ve already got that part figured out, homes.

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23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

The SEC will rise again, y’all.

I don’t think you’ll get too many arguments that 2016 was a down year for the conference.  I also think if you asked why that was the case, most people would point to two factors, quarterback play and coaching.

Barrett Sallee, in this post, suggests that’s on the mend for this season.  I’m not sure I find his arguments that convincing.

Here’s his argument for improvement at quarterback.

Georgia’s Jacob Eason (16 touchdowns, eight interceptions), South Carolina’s Jake Bentley (nine touchdowns, four interceptions) and Ole Miss’ Shea Patterson (six touchdowns, three interceptions) all evolved into starting quarterbacks as true freshmen as the season progressed, and had moments of brilliance.

The lumps taken by those young quarterbacks, combined with the departure of defensive studs like Alabama’s Jonathan Allen, Ryan Anderson and Tim Williams; Auburn’s Carl Lawson; Tennessee’s Derek Barnett; Florida’s Caleb Brantley; Texas A&M’s Myles Garrett and many other defensive studs should light a few more fuses in a conference in desperate need of offensive fireworks.

Toss in the arrival of former Baylor quarterback and hot-shot recruit Jarrett Stidham at Auburn, former Notre Dame quarterback Malik Zaire at Florida and Kentucky’s Stephen Johnson getting a full offseason to learn the Wildcat offense, and the SEC has its best crop of quarterbacks since 2013 when Manziel, Aaron Murray, A.J. McCarron, Zach Mettenberger and Connor Shaw were the headliners.

The problem with that is “best since” isn’t in the same ballpark as “same as”.  In 2013, those five quarterbacks Sallee cites all finished in the top twelve nationally in passer rating.  (Beyond that, McCarron and Murray went one and two in that category the previous year.)  Is anyone really expecting similar results out of the 2017 group?

That’s not to say some improvement shouldn’t be expected; Eason, Bentley and Patterson should be more polished as sophomores.  But let’s also not forget that last year’s top two quarterbacks in terms of passer rating, Dobbs and Kelly, are gone.  If last year was subpar (Dobbs’ 150.59 rating would have been only sixth-best in the SEC in 2013), perhaps the best way to describe what is coming in 2017 overall is “work in progress”.  I suspect that whatever programs benefit from above-average quarterback play this season are going to be among the conference’s top teams.

As far as coaching goes, I am not sure I understand the distinction Sallee makes when he writes,

There’s a prevailing thought that the SEC is down in the coaching department.

The real problem isn’t coaching talent, it’s coaching sustainability.

He explains that as follows:

Texas A&M’s Kevin Sumlin, Auburn’s Gus Malzahn and Ole Miss’ Hugh Freeze have all enjoyed variable amounts of success early in their coaching careers. But they’re all still relatively new at this, unlike the 900-pound gorilla in the room known as Alabama coach Nick Saban.

Sumlin veered a little too much towards exotic offenses in the post-Manziel era and has been struggling to find the right mix of creativity and physicality over the last two seasons. Malzahn has bounced from hands-off to hands-on the Tiger offense like a pendulum ever since Auburn was within 13 seconds of a national title after the 2013 season. Freeze led Ole Miss to consecutive New Year’s Six bowl games despite massive offensive line issues — including a seven-game suspension to star left tackle Laremy Tunsil in 2015 — and a rushing attack that couldn’t gain traction between the tackles.

There’s pressure on those coaches for a variety of reasons. But it’s clear that they’re all dedicated to picking a lane and staying in it.

Again, what that means is unclear.  Freeze has run the same offense since he’s gotten there and is already on record as staying this season with what’s worked for him.  How you can acknowledge Malzahn’s hands-on, hands-off approach to his offense and go on to accept as a given that this year will be different strikes me as little more than a leap of faith.  Sumlin looks more and more like somebody who caught lightning in a bottle with Johnny Manziel, hardly someone for whom lane picking will make a big difference.

Beyond that, the argument doesn’t even touch on Kirby Smart, who sure seemed like he stayed in a lane last season, Butch Jones, who couldn’t take the preseason favorite to win the East over the finish line, Bret Bielema, about whom, whatever else you might say, failing to pick a lane and stay in it hasn’t been an issue, and a couple of coaching retreads in Muschamp and Orgeron.

Like it or not, as a group, there’s been a clear regression, and, just like the quarterback situation, it’s hard to see how this year’s bunch is going to reclaim the old magic quickly.  (Again, if any one of last year’s question marks breaks out of the pack, some program is going to rise up the conference ranks in a hurry.)

Maybe I’m being too pessimistic here.  Maybe it’s time for the SEC to be great again.  I don’t know.  From where I sit, it looks like there’s still a fair amount of heavy lifting to be done.

29 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Second time’s the charm, Jacob.

Serious question:  is there an SEC player under more pressure to produce in 2017 than Jacob Eason?

Talk about your reasonable expectations…

Stafford’s sophomore season saw a two-win improvement, to 11-2 and the Sugar Bowl. Aaron Murray’s sophomore year saw a four-win improvement, to 10-4 and the SEC East championship. David Greene’s sophomore year saw a five-win improvement, to 13-1, the SEC championship and the Sugar Bowl.

No worries, kid.

39 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Your first mistake was saying John Kincade has a good point.

This is what happens when you take trolling seriously.

Aside from that, does anyone really believe Smart will be under the slightest bit of pressure if his second year goes as well as Richt’s second season did?

Kirby Smart, the Georgia man, walked into the head coaching job with way more good will than Mark Richt did.  (Initially, Richt wasn’t even the unanimous choice of the men making the hiring decisions then.  If that doesn’t convince you, compare their compensation.)  Richt built his good will with the results he achieved in his first five seasons.  Eventually, he overdrew at the good will bank, as Towers points out, but to the extent he was pressure-free, it was due to his own efforts.

Smart has an obvious path to eliminating pressure on himself.  The reason he’s facing more right now is because (1) the fan base has those first five years of Richt’s career to point to as a baseline; (2) it’s been promised results by the man who hired Smart; and (3) the 2016 season was a disappointment. Duh.

Rocket science, this isn’t.  I suspect John Kincade knows that as well as the rest of us do.

51 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Trickle down economics, amateurism-style

A rising tide lifts even student-athletes.  As much as administrators and coaches?  What, are you kidding?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Have they got a tailgating deal for you.

I mentioned the tailgating deal that Alabama recently entered into.  There’s a follow up on some of the specific contract terms at Al.com worth sharing.  Even McGarity might find some of them of interest:

— Perhaps the most interesting one was No. 16. The university wants no part in turning the Quad into a battle ground or a nonpartisan zone. It reads: “There are to be no opposing team logo’s (sic) displayed.” The second part of the listing seems like it would be harder to enforce. “No opposing team boisterous chanting or cheering will be allowed.”

— The uniform look of the tents in the middle of the quad isn’t a coincidence. The school “requires tents to be ALL WHITE.” (It’s in all caps in the contract). They can be no larger than 20×20. The company offer packages with tents of 10×10 and 20×20.

— “There shall be no alcohol exposed within the tailgate area,” reads the entirety of No. 14 of the list of contract specifications. Reading between the lines, it’s the red cup rule.

— The contract also states that the company can arrange for catering for delivery. And in bold lettering, it states “Bama Dining is the University’s caterer of choice.” (Bama Dining is the official food service provider on Alabama’s campus)

— No loudspeakers or any kind of amplified sound is not allowed. As with similar rules, the company is responsible for enforcing the rules set by the school by supervising the area its tents cover.

Sounds to me like if Georgia were interested in adapting something similar, it could both maintain most of the Michael Adams-imposed restrictions that currently exist and turn a few extra bucks.  Add in a contract provision requiring the service provider to assume responsibility for keeping the designated tailgating area clean and you’d have a real win-win on your hands.  At a price, of course, but what’s new about that?

23 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Whoa, oh, Alabama

Friday morning buffet

Indulge yourself.

  • Kirby Smart is “hoping and praying” the two players from the 2017 signing class not yet on campus are able to enroll.
  • There are how many new coordinators in the SEC this season?
  • Penn State and its former defensive coordinator Bob Shoop (now at Tennessee) are suing each other.  Play nice, fellas.
  • Here’s a list of the ten teams that Phil Steele says will enjoy the biggest drop in schedule strength from 2016 to 2017.  (I’m not sure I’d argue Ole Miss is getting that big a drop from last year’s Georgia team to this year’s Kentucky team, though.)
  • There’s more than one way to skin a cat, offensively speaking.
  • Jeez, I hate this question.
  • Dawg fans, if you’re looking for some nice UGA-themed photo work, take a peek here.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, SEC Football, See You In Court, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics