Daily Archives: December 7, 2017

Anonymous coaches speak anonymously.

Pete Thamel talks to some folks who coached against the Rose Bowl participants this season to get some impressions.  I wouldn’t exactly say there’s anything earth-shattering included in the discussion, but I liked this bit about Georgia’s defense:

The biggest thing with Georgia, and the biggest difference since Kirby Smart took over there, is just how hard they play. That’s not a little thing, it’s a huge thing. And along with playing a lot harder, they are also playing a lot faster. That’s a hard combination. And they are playing a lot harder this year than last year. And much harder than the year before that, which means he has the whole culture of the program heading in the right direction.

“Defensively, they are talented but it seems as if the sum is better than their parts. They have good players and good speed, but they’re not all that big for an SEC team. But they’re very athletic and can run sideline-to-sideline.

“Everything starts defensively with Roquan Smith. He’s one of the best linebackers we saw in the SEC this year. He can really run and make plays. He looked fast on film, but when I saw him live I was still shocked at how fast he was. He was back-dooring some zone runs and counter plays, it was stunning. Up front, no one stands out, but they do a really nice job rotating six or seven guys up front.
Oh, and Baker Mayfield throws piss rockets.  Sounds messy.


Filed under Georgia Football

Rose Bowl ticket news

Here’s the official announcement from UGA:

Ticket Limits

  • 6 tickets: 2017 Hartman Fund donors who contributed $10,000 or more OR Magill Society members in the midst of $100,000 commitments or above with a Hartman Fund priority points score of 34,400 and higher were able to secure up to 6 tickets.
  • 4 tickets: 2017 Hartman Fund donors who contributed $5,000 or more OR Magill Society members in the midst of $50,000-$99,999 commitments with a Hartman Fund priority points score of 34,400 and higher were able to secure up to 4 tickets.
  • 2 tickets:  2017 Hartman Fund donors who contributed $1,100 or more OR Magill Society members in the midst of $25,000-$49,999 commitments with a Hartman Fund priority points score of 34,400 and higher were able to secure up to 2 tickets.

All Rose Bowl game tickets will be on commemorative paper stock and mailed by Wednesday, December 13.

Not as bad as Notre Dame, anyway.


Filed under Georgia Football

Jimmy Sexton sleeps well after a kill.

Pruitt’s reportedly getting a six-year deal worth about $24 million.

Kirby is about to make so much bank it isn’t even funny.



Just another offseason…


Filed under Jimmy Sexton is the Nick Saban of agents and is Nick Saban's agent

A bargain at twice the price

Of the fifteen assistant coaches now making more than $1 million a year, only three are with teams in the CFP.  Coincidentally, there are at least three names on that list coaching with teams that won’t even make a bowl game.


Filed under It's Just Bidness

About Pruitt to Tennessee…

Events may prove me wrong about this — it certainly wouldn’t be the first time for that — but assuming it goes through, I think Fulmer’s decision to hire Jeremy Pruitt as UT’s next head coach will be the most fascinating decision to play out in the conference next season.  Not for Fulmer’s supposed wish to hire a disciplinarian, either.

No, start with this.

I don’t know that fitting is the word I’d use there.  More like making the best of a bad situation, as Vols beat writer Wes Rucker lays out.

There are three ways to attack coaching searches at places like Tennessee. You hire a proven, power-five-conference head coach, an up-and-coming head coach or a proven power-five coordinator.

Option No. 1 didn’t seem to be an option for Tennessee this time. Maybe the Vols didn’t have the financial firepower or the backbone to do that. Maybe they had both of those things, but they couldn’t find anyone willing to take the plunge — which is totally understandable, given the turmoil of the past 25 days in this beautiful mountain town. Even the biggest Tennessee fans should be able to look at those circumstances and understand why a proven, power-five heavy-hitter politely would say, “Thanks but no thanks.”

In reality, the Vols were left with two options. They could take a proven, smaller-conference head coach or a up-and-coming, power-five coordinator.

They went with the former the past two times, and it didn’t work.

So now they’re going with the latter.

All the bravado about how Fulmer was reaching out to head coaches and getting good feedback was nonsense.  After the public reaction to the Schiano offer that led to Currie’s abrupt withdrawal, along with Fulmer’s sabotaging of Currie’s handshake deal with Mike Leach, no proven P5 coach was going to risk taking a deal with Tennessee.  Like it or not if you’re a Vol fan, Jeremy Pruitt ain’t Jon Gruden.  Not even close.

That per se doesn’t make it a bad hire, of course.  Pruitt does bring some very attractive features to the table.  He’s a relentless recruiter, an excellent evaluator of talent and a top-notch defensive coach, among other things.  As we learned at Georgia, though, he’s got a problem with patience when it comes to dealing with administration.  How that plays out with an athletic director who’s already made it clear he intends to be hands on with the football program remains to be seen, but I think that Pruitt’s embarking on his fourth job in five years is a clear indication of both his skills and his volatility.

Besides dealing with Fulmer on a daily basis, there are other reasons to think Tennessee will be a more trying venue for Pruitt than any of his other recent stops.  For one thing, recruiting at Tennessee is a far more challenging affair than it is at Alabama, where Saban has built a machine, or Georgia and Florida State, where both schools have large pools of local based talent to draw upon.  Indeed, Pruitt walked into loaded situations at Alabama and FSU, something that will not be the case in Knoxville.

The other reality Pruitt will be dealing with is the obvious comparison to Kirby Smart, his predecessor at Alabama.  Smart won the conference in his second season, and, fair or not, if Pruitt doesn’t strike the same mark, there will be disappointment.  It’s going to be a harder job for Pruitt than for Smart.  When Smart took over in Athens, the East didn’t have a powerhouse program.  Pruitt also doesn’t have the same level of talent walking in that Smart did when he started.

He does have one advantage over Smart, in that he’s not stepping in after a coach popular with much of the fan base was fired.  On the other hand, Pruitt has no previous ties to Tennessee, so absent winning, there isn’t a pool of good will for him to draw on if it takes a little time to gain traction.

None of this is to say that Pruitt isn’t talented enough to overcome these challenges.  But these are unique pressures escalated by the process that led to Fulmer’s ascendance.  There’s a lot of uncharted territory for somebody who’s never run a program before, which, again, is why I think this will be a fascinating exercise to follow.


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

A player after my own heart

Give Kirby credit for telling this story with a sense of amusement.

Delivering the keynote address at Monday evening’s Bronko Nagurski Trophy ceremony in Charlotte, North Carolina, Smart offered a humorous anecdote on how composure and physicality applied to him personally in the SEC Championship.

On the game’s first drive, Georgia forced Auburn into a third-and-long situation. Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham dropped back to pass and threw an incompletion. However, an official called Georgia cornerback Deandre Baker for pass interference, giving the Tigers a first down.

Smat remembered being livid at the call.

“I’m going nuts,” Smart said. “I’m on the sideline ripping into an official, going nuts, chewing him out.”

That’s when an unnamed player came up to Smart on the sideline.

“Coach – composure, composure,” the player told Smart.

Smart admitted that after telling his players to keep their cool throughout the week, he lost his in that moment.

“If you know anything about me, I’m passionate about the game,” Smart said. “I’m pouring my heart out on the field, and I kind of lost my composure.”

On Georgia’s ensuing offensive drive, Smart felt the physicality of the game.

On the second play of the series, running back Sony Michel took a toss and fumbled the ball. Smart’s eyes widened as he followed the football rolling out of bounds. But as he was watching the ball, he saw left tackle Isaiah Wynn “road-grading” an Auburn safety.

All of a sudden, Smart felt a hard impact from the players involved on the play.

“The next thing I know is I catch a fist right on my nose,” Smart said. “I’m seeing stars, I go down. But the first thing I think about is physicality, physicality. If I don’t get up they’re going to kill me.”

Smart said a strength and conditioning coach – presumably Scott Sinclair, who also acts as his “get back guy” on the sideline – asked if he was OK. Smart said he was fine and brushed off the hit.

Then, that same player who reiterated Smart’s need for composure walked up with another message.

“Physicality, Coach,” the player told Smart, drawing laughs from the Nagurski Trophy crowd. “It’s going to be a physical game.”

I’m gonna have to go back and check the replay to see if I can figure out who the wiseass is, but, damn, that’s some well-placed snark.


Filed under Georgia Football

Forget about coaching trees.

This is real influence.



Filed under Jimmy Sexton is the Nick Saban of agents and is Nick Saban's agent

Loss of institutional control

While most of us fans are fascinated by the nuts and bolts of who Tennessee winds up hiring to replace Booch (more on that shortly), that doesn’t seem to be where the heads of some of those who administrate college sports are at.  And maybe that’s something deserving of a little more attention from the great unwashed.

Here are a couple of examples of what I’m referring to.  First, a quote from Penn State’s AD:

Penn State AD Sandy Barbour on the impact of the Tennessee coaching search on the future: “Our stakeholders were watching that. They go, ‘Next time Sandy makes a decision we don’t like, we’ll go on social media and get that changed.’ We all [as athletic directors] have to know that.

For some reason (I know, I know), Mark Emmert felt the need to weigh in, as well.

NCAA president Mark Emmert said when a school isn’t in alignment with all of its key leaders on an important personnel hire, “Then you get Tennessee.”

Yes, the president of the NCAA critiquing another organization’s dysfunctional behavior is about as pot calling the kettle black as it gets, but don’t let that distract you from the underlying reality that these folks are troubled by what happened to John Currie as he botched the coaching search.  Here’s another example:

Uh, dude… what’s happening in Yemen is a tragedy.  Currie being removed because he misread his fan base is more in the shit happens category.  Speaking of which, I suspect what really bothers the likes of these folks isn’t so much the fan reaction in and of itself, but the way somebody like Phil Fulmer was able to manipulate that reaction into staging a palace coup of a sitting athletic director.  Weasels, weasels everywhere and uneasy lies the crown, peeps.


Filed under College Football, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

An introduction to college football’s greatest monster

It’s hard to believe this, but Seth Emerson conducted a Baker Mayfield interview without deposing him under oath or subpoenaing his cell phone so that an independent expert could prove that Mayfield made shit up out of whole cloth.  What the hell is journalism coming to these days, anyway?

Mayfield said this season has been one of “ups and downs,” with the ups being on the field, the downs being off it.

“The thing for me is I’m learning and growing. I’ve addressed those things. I’m not going to put on a front and act like I’m some perfect kid. I’m 22 years old. I’m learning and going through life. I’m proud to say I’ve gone through this process and let people know I’m growing and I’m becoming a better person.”

That included taking it in stride when Georgia fans blew up his phone.

“Respect. I respect them,” Mayfield said. “People ask me if I was really that mad. No, not really, it was pretty funny. Creative stuff. I’d hope that our fans would do the same thing if they got a chance.”

Fake news, man.

On a far less snarky note, speaking of introductions, Matt Hinton’s got a nice primer on the offense that Mayfield directs when he’s not otherwise occupied.  It’s worth a read.  One thing perhaps a little surprising is that Oklahoma has a robust running game.

Coach Lincoln Riley comes out of that tradition, having played and coached for Mike Leach during the peak Air Raid years at Texas Tech, but in fact the Sooners have been much more balanced this season in terms of both quantity (they keep it on the ground about 55 percent of the time) and quality: OU leads the Big 12 in both rushing offense and yards per carry and ranks No. 1 nationally in Offensive Rushing S&P+ by a wide margin, even without producing an individual 1,000-yard rusher – together, the top three backs, Rodney Anderson, Trey Sermon and Abdul Adams, piled up 2,212 yards on 6.5 per carry without any of them claiming the spotlight. The offensive line, which returned all five starters from 2016, ranks No. 2 in Adjusted Line Yards.

It’s gonna be a challenge for Smart and Tucker, methinks.


Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Today, in just shoot me already

Oh, FFS.

Hardcore college football fans across the country undoubtedly will be tuned in for the College Football Playoff. But what about casual fans outside SEC, ACC and Big 12 country?

With the Pac-12 and Big Ten not represented in the four-team playoff, a TV sports viewership analyst said interest could be tempered on the West Coast, upper Midwest and Northeast.

The campuses of Clemson, Georgia and Alabama are in close proximity in the Southeast — Clemson and Georgia are just 75 miles apart. Oklahoma is the outlier, a good day’s drive west of Alabama.

“I think it’s too regional this year,” said Jon Lewis, editor of Sports Media Watch. “That hurts in every sport — unless it’s the Super Bowl.”

I had planned on a post in praise of Barrett Sallee’s piece arguing that further playoff expansion is unjustified, but in truth, I’d just be wasting my time.

It’s seeing crap like the above normalized that makes me fully aware of the reality that I’ve already lost the playoff expansion debate, and decisively at that.  The glory of college football, its greatest attribute, is its unabashed regional appeal.  That appeal is being tossed aside because the morons running the sport are convinced that ESPN knows best as it directs their attention towards the casual fan.  I don’t use the term morons casually here; these are the same people who have debased the value of college basketball’s regular season by mining March Madness for casual fans like they were loose change stuck in the cushions of the NCAA’s couch.

You’d think the Delanys and Sankeys would know better.  The problem isn’t that they don’t.  It’s that they think they do.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs