Daily Archives: February 2, 2018

Not your usual rule of thumb

I must have missed the original quote when it surfaced, which is a shame, because this is one of the more intriguing comments I’ve heard from a Georgia coach in a while:

Offensive line coach Sam Pittman said his philosophy is that if it’s a close call between a freshman and a veteran, he’ll usually go with the freshman, because they figure experience eventually will make him better.

He’s the bizarro Willie Martinez!

There’s an appealing logic just to that thinking, but even more so, consider the continued pressure that puts on upperclassmen not to rely on coaching inertia to keep their spot on the two-deep.

I think I like this Pittman guy.



Filed under Georgia Football

The greatest trick the devil ever pulled…

… was convincing the world that a YouTube video of a student-athlete throwing a football on the beach with his girlfriend was an NCAA violation.


Filed under The NCAA

Time to pay the piper

The first moment last season when it really, truly dawned on me that Smart had taken the football program in the direction we were all hoping he would came in the wake of the Dawgs’ evisceration of Florida.  Sure, Georgia had of late won a few more games above the sad rate that had been the case during the run that lasted from Spurrier through Corch, but we hadn’t witnessed a seal-clubbing like that in two decades.  (This one turned out to have a lot more staying power than the 1997 one did, too.)

That revelation prompted two quick thoughts from me.

One“If you’re a little bummed about Kirby’s success rubbing off on McGarity and need something to make you feel better, just consider what this off-season’s negotiations with Jimmy Sexton are going to be like.”

Two“On the other hand, McGarity is probably warming the cockles of his heart with the thought of what he’s about to do with ticket prices and Hartman Fund contributions.”

Now, I’m not gonna pretend either of those observations required any great act of genius on my part, which isn’t to say that it’s not worth noting how prescient both have turned out to be in as short a time as could be expected.  (That being said, it would be amusing to know the exact timing of when those two concepts trickled through Greg McGarity’s head for the first time.  I suspect I didn’t beat him to the punch by much time, if any at all.)

That all came back to me when I saw this post yesterday from Jake Rowe outlining the justification for making Kirby Smart the third-highest paid head coach in the Southeastern Conference.  That’s no little thing, either.

Nick Saban (Alabama) — $11.125 million

Jimbo Fisher (Texas A&M) — $7.5 million

Gus Malzahn (Auburn) — $7 million (reportedly)

Dan Mullen (Florida)  — $6.103 million

Mark Stoops (Kentucky)  — $4 million

Jeremy Pruitt (Tennessee) — $3.8 million

Kirby Smart (Georgia) — $3.753 million

Chad Morris (Arkansas) — $3.5 million

Ed Orgeron (LSU) — $3.5 million

Will Muschamp (South Carolina) — $3.3 million

Matt Luke (Ole Miss)  — $3 million

Joe Moorhead (Mississippi State) — $2.7 million

Derek Mason (Vanderbilt) — $2.72 million

Barry Odom (Missouri) — $2.35 million

Rowe goes into a lengthy dissertation, laying out a logical basis for the raise, based on the accomplishments of each man.  Here’s the key passage:

He’s also one of just two coaches in the conference to lead their team to the College Football Playoff final. Fisher, while at FSU, and Malzahn led their teams to the National Championship game in 2013, but that didn’t require conference championships and first-round playoff wins to get there. Fisher led the Seminoles to the first ever College Football Playoff but they were knocked off in round one against Oregon. Smart and Saban are the only two.

Malzahn has an SEC title and a separate appearance in the game to his credit.  While Mullen did a tremendous job at Mississippi State and took the Bulldogs to heights previously unknown within that program, he hasn’t yet led his team as far up the mountain as Smart did in just 24 months.

With all due respect to Pruitt and Stoops, I think most would agree that it’s a little silly that, as of right now, both are set to make more than Smart in 2018. Stoops, like Mullen at MSU, is consistently doing things at Kentucky that few have but he’s 0-2 against Smart coached teams and hasn’t really challenged for a division title. Pruitt hasn’t yet coached in his first game as a head coach.

At the very least Smart should and, almost certainly will, jump those two. But should he A) stay behind Mullen and Malzahn B) fall between them or C) become the conference’s third highest paid coach?

I get what he’s attempting there, but it’s irrelevant to what McGarity is facing.  First of all, to the extent you’re making the argument that an existing set of coaching accomplishments on the field sets a future salary, that’s actually something that’s been addressed, at least in Smart’s case, with the bonuses structured in his existing contract.

In any event, it’s not the coach’s resume that sets the terms.  It’s the coach’s leverage.  Jeremy Pruitt isn’t getting a bigger regular paycheck than Kirby Smart right now because he sports a better track record.  He’s getting it because Jimmy Sexton was able to exploit a dumpster fire at Tennessee and squeeze a somewhat desperate Phil Fulmer into cutting a generous deal because he knew the AD needed the head coach more than the head coach needed the AD.  (And don’t think that same scenario won’t be revisited in the near future if Pruitt enjoys any greater level of success in Knoxville than Booch did.)

It’s the same dynamic in play in Athens.  McGarity may be happy Richt is gone, but I bet he’s a little nostalgic over how little pressure Richt usually gave him on the contract front.  Not now.  Jimmy Sexton — hey, what a coincidence! — may politely mention 13 wins, an SEC championship, a berth in the CFP, etc., but what he won’t have to say is “you don’t want to think about me exploring Kirby’s options elsewhere” because he already knows that’s in the head of every soul in Butts-Mehre.  That’s what’s going to drive the number that will be inserted into the contract extension.

Kirby’s the one holding the cards.  That’s why it really doesn’t matter what Gus is getting paid.  McGarity will agree to something that’s not based on what Dan Mullen’s done, but on what he fears some other heavyweight program might believe Kirby is worth.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

I sense a crisis is in the making.

On the surface, the good times continue to roll for the SEC.

After total SEC revenue soared past the half-billion dollar mark for the first time in 2015-16 to $565.9 million, the conference announced Thursday that it is splitting $573.8 million among its 14 member schools.

That comes out to a few dollars under $41 million per school ($40.986 million), up slightly from $40.4 million per school the year before. The revenue distribution does not count a total of $23.1 million retained by SEC schools that played in bowl games after the 2016 season.

Up!  Up is good!

Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll see the key word in that quote isn’t directional.  It’s “slightly”.

SEC revenue distribution took an enormous leap upward after the debut of the SEC Network in August 2014. The 2015 calendar year was the first full year for the network, taking each school’s SEC revenue from $20.9 million for the 2013-14 to $32.7 million per school for 2014-15 and $40.4 million last year.

When you’re used to seeing multi-million dollar bumps in revenue year-over-year, a few hundred thousand ain’t gonna feel the same.  Not even close.  No, sir, not when you’ve got ever-enlarging coaching contract terms (with their attendant buyouts, heh), facilities arms races and the general ego trip with the Big Ten over which conference’s financial Johnson’s bigger to handle.

Rabalais writes, “Such huge gains probably could not be expected again this year. Still, SEC revenue distribution has increased every year since 1980”, which sounds like a sound bite tailored perfectly for Greg Sankey’s use, but I have a hard time believing it’s going to mollify school presidents over the long haul.  Which means… well, if you’ve followed SEC football long enough, you probably know exactly what it means.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

A disturbing trend line

This doesn’t strike me as good news for the sport’s future.

Just days before the Super Bowl, 48 percent of Americans say they’d encourage a child who wanted to play football to play a different sport due to concerns about concussions — up 8 points since the same question was asked four years ago, according to the latest national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.

That includes 46 percent of parents with a child in the household (up 9 points since 2014), 53 percent of mothers (up 13 points) and 39 percent of fathers (up 6 points).

If you want a picture painted, here you go.

That’s not a subtle change over a four-year period.  And there really isn’t anything going on in the present to re-direct the direction of that trend.

Schools and the NCAA are currently reacting — if you want to be generous with a description — to litigation threats, but longer term, what happens to the sport if the talent pool begins drying up because more and more parents refuse to let their kids play?  Do you think anyone on the collegiate level has even begun seriously considering the possibility?


Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

“I was a knot on the log there.”

The more I read about Phil Fulmer’s level of involvement in the UT football program, the weirder it seems.

Fulmer took the unusual-for-an-athletic-director step of getting NCAA-certified to recruit on the road during Pruitt’s two-jobs-in-two-cities period, and he even went on the road with Pruitt a couple of times. And he claimed to love every bit of what he saw.

“I was a knot on the log there,” Fulmer said. “He was the focal point. He handled the room. When he sat in the home, he was great with the mom and dad and the kid.”

So Pruitt in essence was selling himself on the recruiting trail to Mama and his boss.  I’m sure that wasn’t the slightest bit awkward.  Nor was this:

Fulmer knew about Pruitt’s reputation as an elite recruiter. He got excited when watching Pruitt get up “on the edge of his chair” with a “nervous twitch in his leg” when the two talked recruiting during the interview process.

Jeez, guys.  Get a room, would ‘ya?


Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

ESPN sez good times are coming.

ESPN looks at the numbers and sees a lot of things coming up roses for Georgia in 2018.

  • “Georgia is projected to return as many as eight players who were primarily starters from an offense that ranked fifth nationally in overall efficiency.”
  • “…Georgia will enter signing day with ESPN’s No. 1 class for 2018, a spot that Alabama has claimed five times in the past six years (Florida State signed the No. 1 class in 2016).The Bulldogs have signed 15 players in the ESPN 300, including seven from the top 50 prospects — the most by any school.”
  • “The Bulldogs will play one road game in 2018 against a team that finished in the final AP poll (Oct. 13 at LSU), and their non-conference schedule consists of an FCS team (Austin Peay), two Group of 5 teams (Middle Tennessee and Massachusetts) and Georgia Tech. Even better? All four games will be played at Sanford Stadium.”

It looks like it’s okay to be a little excited.


Filed under Georgia Football

But he meant well.

Based on this tale, I guess I’ve got a better understanding of what Hugh Freeze meant when he recently said “I have a total new appreciation for integrity…”.

Six Ole Miss players seeking immediate transfer waivers have assembled what are being portrayed as previously unknown smartphone and electronic interactions showing they were allegedly misled as to the extent of potential NCAA violations and punishments for the Rebels in statements made by former coach Hugh Freeze, CBS Sports has learned.

The documents will go into packages the players will submit seeking an appeal for immediate eligibility at their new schools. Without that waiver, they would have to adhere to NCAA rules that require transferring athletes to sit one year in academic residence.

In a series of texts that will be forwarded as part of these materials, there is evidence that shows players and their parents believed Freeze as he allegedly minimized the scope of the NCAA investigation concluded last year.

I am shocked, shocked to hear that there was misleading going on in Oxford.

Now, certainly these kids have motivation to put a particular spin on what they say happened (not to mention they’re all represented by the same attorney who represented Houston Nutt in the matter that eventually brought Freeze down), so maybe we should take them just saying that with a grain of salt.  I mean, if there were any specific examples, maybe it would be more credible… eh, what’s that, you say?

Two hours before to that text exchange, a screenshot shows — what the appeal will say is — Nixon questioning Freeze: “If this is mainly about basketball and the other sport and the football is already dealing with the penalties then way hasn’t Ole Miss or the AD come out and said [it’s] not the football team[?] I would think that would help.”

Patterson’s message to Nixon was sent based on specific information Freeze had given the quarterback that afternoon about the notice of allegations, Mars said.

“Here, you have a recruit who has lots of other options,” Mars said of Nixon. “He’s questioning, in a very intelligent way, why doesn’t the school say more, reveal more. Here’s a player who’s doing due diligence.

“Then he reaches out to Shea Patterson, who not having any reason at all to distrust [Freeze], … repeats verbatim what Hugh Freeze had told him in his office.”

If Freeze ever makes it back into the coaching ranks, he’d better have Jesus on his side, because the negative recruiting he’s in store for is gonna be brutal.


Filed under Freeze!