Daily Archives: November 27, 2017

The most interesting SEC coaching story of the offseason

… may be unfolding at Mississippi State, which has reportedly offered its head coaching job to Jeremy Pruitt.

I have no idea if he’s ready to become a head coach, but it’ll sure be fascinating to watch and find out.

64 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Jimmy Sexton is having (another) good day.

Holy mother of crap.

“If Dan Mullen is worth $6 million a year, how much is a coach who crushed Mullen’s team worth?”  You can see the thought balloon forming above Sexton’s head as you read this.

Enjoy your offseason, Greg.

35 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

Gawd still likes me.

Todd Grantham is rumored to be one of the assistant coaches at Mississippi State expected to follow Dan Mullen to Florida.

20 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

How much does “been there, done that” matter?

Chip Towers argues that Kirby’s version of “in the arena” is a positive for Georgia’s players.

It was fascinating to hear Smart matter-of-factly break down where the Bulldogs were in terms of preparation for the SEC Championship Game while he was still standing in the Georgia Tech weight room a half hour after Georgia’s 38-7 season-ending victory. At the time, the Bulldogs still didn’t know whether they’d be facing Alabama or Auburn in the SEC title game.

“We’ll be getting ready as the game goes on,” Smart said as Bama and Auburn were just kicking off in the Iron Bowl. “They’ve got everything broken down on Alabama and we’ve got everything broken down on Auburn, so we’re set to go. I’ve been through this several times before where you didn’t know, where you had to wait until the last week. That’s just the way you prepare.”

Last season was the first time Smart hadn’t participated in the SEC Championship Game since 2013. Five times he prepared for it as Alabama’s defensive coordinator and once as running backs coach at Georgia in 2005. Four times his team came out on the winning side.

So Smart enters this game with a tried-and-true method. Ultimately, it will come down to execution and blocking and tackling as football always does. But if the Bulldogs fail, it’s not likely because the coaching staff didn’t see something coming.

“You don’t make the moment any bigger than it is,” Smart said of getting ready for this game. “Our team will do a good job of preparing and do the best we can. That’s what it is. I’ve been in a lot of big games as a coach, and I don’t see this one being any different. I wanted to win as a defensive coordinator just as bad as I want to win this one.”

I will say that when it comes to knowing Auburn, Kirby’s got an extensive background.

That the opponent is Auburn isn’t a bad break for Smart either. It would have been the case for Alabama, too, but there probably isn’t an opponent Smart knows better than the Tigers.

“We have a lot of information,” Smart acknowledged.

Do the players buy in to Smart’s message?  Does any of that really matter?  I’d like to think so, but…

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

The definition of chutzpah

If this ain’t it, I don’t know what is.

You’re a major component in the “again”, Junior.

15 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin

What’s more important than taking the four best teams?

How about “diversity“?

I think I’m gonna fwow up.  Just go ahead and make it a sixteen-team field, so I don’t have to read bullshit like that.  Or, even worse, hear it from the selection committee.

82 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Today, in nice work if you can get it

One little side note on the Matt Luke retention:

Two straight calls to keep the guy you’ve already got on the payroll?  That has to be the easiest money since McGarity paid $40,000 to a search firm to ratify a hiring decision he’d already made.

15 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

At the intersection of “it just means more” and “life comes at you fast”

So, I step away from the computer for a few hours yesterday to run errands, do a few chores around the house, get dinner and come back last night to find all hell has broken loose on the SEC coaching front.  To recap (and I hope this is still accurate):

  • Texas A&M shows Kevin Sumlin the door.
  • Ole Miss takes the interim label off Matt Luke, naming him its permanent head coach.
  • Florida hires Dan Mullen.
  • Tennessee manages another coaching hire shit storm.

The Sumlin firing was in the works for a few weeks and comes as no surprise.  He leaves with a handsome golden parachute and rumor has it will be named the new head coach at Arizona State shortly.  Meanwhile, TAMU, is supposedly trying to chase Jimbo Fisher, which is certainly good news for Jimmy Sexton.  Nothing like lots of money and grandiose perceptions of your football program.  Although let’s not lose sight of that part of the fan base that doesn’t care so much about who the next coach is, as long as he’s a white person.

I saw a little Internet criticism about the Ole Miss decision, claiming that it was an emotional overreaction to the Egg Bowl win.  I actually think it may have been the sanest call of the hiring/firing season.  Ole Miss is going to be in a dark place for the next few years, because of NCAA sanctions.  To sign a decent coach in that setting means overpaying at a time when a number of peer programs are chasing coaches.  Why not let Luke hold things together — something he showed this season to be eminently capable of doing — until things settle down and you pass through the sanctions period?  Given that the school didn’t have to pay Freeze a buyout and that Luke is likely to be the conference’s lowest paid head coach during his tenure, Ole Miss will have a stocked war chest when it comes time to move on to the next coach.

That Florida got a solid hire as its third choice says a lot about the program, like it or not.  Mullen comes in knowing the AD, knowing the expectations of the fan base and bringing one thing that the Gators haven’t had since he left, a coach who can develop quarterbacks.  In return, he gets a better recruiting base to work from and gets away from the insanity in Mississippi.  From where I sit it looks like a good match.  Unfortunately from Mississippi State’s vantage, this is your classic one door closes, another one opens situation.

And then… there’s Tennessee, which, after a few days of seeing Greg Schiano’s name floating out there as a potential head coaching candidate, got serious enough with him to negotiate a memorandum of understanding, only to see the whole thing blow up in its face.  Screaming on social media, including Clay Travis’ patented douchebaggery (he posted the AD’s cell phone number on Twitter), politicians lining up to condemn the hire, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders weighing in (apparently she’s more offended by the Penn State sex scandal than Roy Moore), all wound up leading to the school and Schiano agreeing to terminate what once looked like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

I’m not going to get into who’s right and who’s wrong here.  Schiano does come with some baggage, no doubt, and has the reputation of being something of a prick, but he did an excellent job at Rutgers, something that’s a lot harder than it sounds.  He’s also a solid defensive coach.  None of that matters at this point nearly as much as the way events proceeded to get out of hand.  In any event, Currie, the athletic director, has managed to live up to a long tradition at Tennessee of creating dumpster fires out of the hiring process.  Why this wasn’t more thoroughly vetted I’ll never know.  How he goes forward from here — indeed, assuming he’s even allowed to go forward from here — I have no clue.  You’d think Cutcliffe becomes the obvious choice to heal the breach, but that means falling back on a guy who’s in his sixties and, while a terrific coach, is lacking in recruiting prowess, which is kind of a big deal in Knoxville.  What a mess.

You know what the really crazy thing is now?  Boom and Kirby rank as the SEC’s fifth-most senior head coaches at the same school.  This is fine.

93 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

First thoughts on the SECCG

[Ed. note: Actually, I have to start with a pre-first thought:  how great is it to be able to pen a post like this again!]

Twelve games in, I hold these two truths to be self-evident.

  1. If you can’t match Georgia along both lines of scrimmage, you can’t beat the Dawgs.
  2. Auburn doesn’t have that problem.

Okay, fine.  So where does that leave us for Saturday night?  Well, with a bunch of questions for which I am far less sure of the answers.  Here’s a list of what’s already come to mind:

  • How much of the debacle from three weeks ago can be attributed to line play, and how much to it being just one of those games?
  • How much of a difference will it make to play in Atlanta and not Auburn?
  • Does the changed psychology flipping the favorite (in Kirby’s vernacular, Georgia going from the hunted to the hunter) improve Georgia’s chances?
  • Assuming that Georgia’s offensive line remains over-matched against Auburn’s defensive line, which I do, how does Jim Chaney effectively scheme around that?
  • How does Auburn coach around what might have been the biggest wild-card factor in the first meeting, namely, Mecole Hardman’s return game?
  • How much will the injury situation at running back affect Auburn’s offense?
  • Can Georgia’s front seven get more pressure on Jarrett Stidham than it did after the first quarter?
  • Does the familiarity of playing a rematch in a relatively short time favor either team?
  • How much does the return of Natrez Patrick to the starting lineup matter?

Answers:

  • A little of both, which means Georgia has an opportunity to make the rematch more of a competitive game.
  • A lot, in my mind.
  • I hope considerably, but I am somewhat skeptical of that.
  • The $64,000 question.
  • Another good question.
  • It can’t help, but with that offensive line, it won’t be a disaster, either.
  • They’d better.
  • I always think this situation favors the loser, because it goes in with the mindset that things have to be fixed/changed to win.  Winners, understandably, tend to stand pat with what worked before.
  • Before the Tech game, I might have shrugged the question off, but in his first game back as a starting ILB, the defense played noticeably better than it had in weeks.

I’d be curious to hear your thoughts and answers.  Lay ’em on me in the comments.

73 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands, Georgia Football

SEC Power Poll, Week 13

secpowerpoll2008_medium

Alabama’s loss highlights an observation I’m making for the third consecutive season.

And so, another regular season comes to an end.  This last week made one thing painfully apparent:  this is the most mediocre the SEC has been in years.

The East is remarkably bad.  Sagarin’s gap between his top team in the division, Georgia, and his second-best team, South Carolina, is an astounding 17.16 points.  That’s bigger than the gap between the Gamecocks and Tennessee, his lowest ranked East team.

The West is better, but not enough to overcome the awfulness of its divisional partner.  I’m sure replacing five (at least for the moment) head coaches will have that turned around overnight.

Anyway, here’s my last regular season power poll of 2017.  (I’ll do one more after the playoffs.)  As is my practice with the last shot, I include each team’s net yardage per game number in a weak attempt to offer some context on the conference’s over- and under- achievers.

  1. Auburn (+167.0).  Give ’em credit.  The Tigers are the SEC’s hottest team and they’ve done it without having to rely on Gus’ rabbit’s foot.
  2. Alabama (+207.6).  The loss didn’t surprise me nearly as much as how poorly the Tide played did.
  3. Georgia (+162.8).  The class of the East, and, no, I’m not damning with faint praise there.
  4. LSU (+100.4).  The conference’s fourth-best team lost to Troy, at home.  If that doesn’t sum up the state of the SEC, I don’t know what does.
  5. Mississippi State (+117.8).  It’s a good thing the Bulldogs get some time off.  They look like they’ve been slowly running out of gas for the past three weeks.
  6. Missouri. (+86.2).  Bombed the Hogs into submission, capping off a remarkable recovery after getting spanked by Georgia.  And while it came against a run of teams that won’t make a bowl game, so what?  Mizzou wasn’t going to make one either, until it took off.
  7. South Carolina (-34.4).  Boom got eight wins, five in the conference, with a team that finished in the hole in net yardage.  That’s good coaching in my book.
  8. Texas A&M (+.09).  Everything about this team shouts average.  Paying $5 million a year for average is how a coach gets canned.
  9. Ole Miss. (+2.8).  I thought this team was on the verge of collapse twice this season and both times they pulled back from the abyss.  Given the circumstances, Matt Luke did a helluva job holding the fort at 6-6.
  10. Kentucky (-74.9).  This is the team that benefited the most from a weak SEC East.
  11. Florida (-13.4).  The Gators were the SEC’s biggest underachiever this season.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
  12. Vanderbilt (-42.3).  Not as big a flop as Florida, but, man, did their season turn south after beating Kansas State.
  13. Arkansas (-64.9).  The only team in the division underwater in net yardage, and the head coach is getting paid $4+ million a year… what did you expect, Bert?
  14. Tennessee (-121.8).  Did Booch’s platitudes make a bad season worse, or did a bad season make Booch’s platitudes seem even dumber?  Either way, the end result is glorious.

12 Comments

Filed under SEC Football