Daily Archives: April 16, 2018

Moar Vegas

And moar Georgia love…

If that turns out to be accurate, the SEC East could be in for a bigger rout than last season.

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Filed under SEC Football, What's Bet In Vegas Stays In Vegas

“I think Hugh Freeze is a really good coach…”

Evidently Nick Saban is far from alone with that sentiment.

According to this Al.com story, at least five SEC schools had contact with Freeze about on-field jobs this offseason.  All five were supposedly shot down by Greg Sankey.  (I say “supposedly” because the SEC office wouldn’t comment on the story.)

Multiple SEC schools looked into hiring Freeze as their offensive coordinator, including LSU and Missouri, but no deal was ever reached because of the league’s opposition, according to sources. Freeze was publicly linked to the Missouri offensive coordinator position before Barry Odom hired former Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley.

While it seems implausible a coach as influential and successful as Saban couldn’t get what he wanted, a nearly year-old SEC bylaw gives the league’s commissioner additional oversight into schools’ hiring practices. According to bylaw 19.8.1.2, a school must consult directly with Sankey before offering a job to a coach “who has engaged in unethical conduct as defined under NCAA Bylaws or who has participated in activity that resulted, or may result, in a Level I, Level II or major infraction.”

That’s relevant because Ole Miss received a two-year bowl ban, scholarship reductions through 2018-19 and had to vacate wins after the program was deemed to have “fostered an unconstrained culture of booster involvement in football recruiting,” according to the NCAA Committee on Infractions.

The committee, though, seemingly viewed it as more an institutional than Freeze issue at Ole Miss. While multiple Ole Miss assistants and staffers received multi-year show-cause penalties, Freeze was hit with only a two-game conference suspension should any school hire him as a head coach before Nov. 30.

All of which seemingly begs the question, if this was more of an institutional problem than a personal one, why is Hugh Freeze currently persona non grata with the SEC, while Ole Miss isn’t?

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Filed under Freeze!, SEC Football

In a not-so shocking development…

Guess who’s not thrilled about the new NCAA rule that bans blocks below the waist happening five yards beyond the line of scrimmage?

You only get one guess.

Paul Johnson doth protest.

A day after the NCAA approved a rule change that will ban blocks below the waist that occur five yards beyond the line of scrimmage – a small facet of the Georgia Tech option offense – the Yellow Jackets coach called it to question.

Following his team’s spring-practice scrimmage Saturday morning, Johnson said that the rule may affect Tech to some degree, “but I noticed it’s five yards downfield, so it doesn’t affect the bubble screens or the RPOs or anything.”

Bubble screens and the run-pass option (RPO) are plays that have gained in popularity that can include cut blocks – blocks thrown below the waist – within five yards of the line of scrimmage. The topic of cut blocking often irks Johnson, as the block is often claimed to be dangerous and his offense frequently is associated with it. Johnson’s typical response has been to ask for research that supports the contention. He also has noted that the Jackets are hardly the only team that employs blocking below the waist.

“Either blocking below the waist is dangerous or it’s not,” Johnson said. “It’s not anymore dangerous five yards down the field than it is on the line of scrimmage. If it’s that scary, they ought to not tackle below the waist.”

To which I can but say, be careful what you wish for, genius.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football

Florida is back, baby!

If by “back”, you mean reading something significant into what appears to have been a goofy spring game.

And there were big-time celebrations, from a game of “duck, duck, goose” to Franks punting a ball into the stands to Kenmore Gamble’s Scarface impression.

You can’t often take much schematically from spring games, which are at best a test of technique and football IQ. But you can learn about a culture, and Florida’s, toxic when Mullen arrived last November, is healing and laying a foundation for the future.

Look, I get the value in exorcising demons, but I don’t know how many games in October are won playing “duck, duck, goose” in the spring.

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Filed under Gators, Gators...

Props for being props

And while we’re on the topic of G-Day, it appears I’m not the only old-timer who’s noticed the change in emphasis from the fan’s perspective.  Here’s Bill King on that:

But, while G-Day used to be mainly for the fans, letting thousands of potential future paying customers into the stands for free to soak up some of that Between the Hedges atmosphere — and for coaches to see how young players react to performing in front of a crowd — nowadays fans’ warm bodies are wanted in Sanford Stadium seats primarily to provide an impressive backdrop for a national telecast and impress high school prospects. 

As athletics director Greg McGarity said this past week in one of his periodic emails to boosters, “We all recognize the influence a packed house can make on prospective and current student-athletes, so let’s show up and have a day of excitement for an entire nation to witness on ESPN, along with those of us in attendance in Sanford Stadium!”

Be still, my heart.  Don’t forget to smile for the cameras, peeps.

The amusing thing here is that but for Kirby pushing the game for recruiting purposes, you know McGarity would have been totally comfortable with business as usual.  Remember, it wasn’t too long ago that G-Day routinely bumped heads with the Masters.

You would think that Georgia’s outstanding 2017 season would be enough to gin up plenty of excited fans for Saturday’s game — no doubt McGarity is relieved he won’t have to agree to have someone fetch condoms for a rap star this go ’round — without needing any fake juice for the cameras.  Evidently the brass expects that to be the case, so now we’ll get to see their awesome management skills put to the test.

Unfortunately, the days when early arrivals could sit wherever they wanted have fallen victim to the athletic administration’s growing need to micromanage every facet of the game-day experience.

Upon entering the stadium at the G-Day game this year, fans will be given a “commemorative pass” instructing them to sit in a particular section (though not assigning specific seats). If there’s a section you prefer, you’re encouraged to enter through the gate closest to it, though there’s no guarantee you’ll get the section you want.

All of this is in the name of ensuring “that each guest has an enjoyable experience” in the face of “expected high demand and temporarily reduced seating,” as an athletic association press release explained.

Believe it or not, I’m trying to keep an open mind about this, though I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being as curious about how this plays out as I am to see what Justin Fields looks like.

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Filed under Georgia Football

12 down, 3 to go

As the team heads down the spring practice road towards this Saturday’s G-Day game, we’ve learned… not much.

The Bulldogs are also a work in progress this spring after their run to the national championship game last season but on this day the defense held its own a week after the offense was said to have moved the ball well.

“We tried to run the ball some more trying to test the defense and I thought the defense had one of their better practices when it comes to being able to stop the run,” coach Kirby Smart said. “The offense kind of dominated the third down period and the defense had been dominating that so it was almost a see-saw effect of some of the periods with the defense winning the offensive periods and vice versa. It was very competitive and thought the guys played very hard.”

The scrimmage was closed to the media.

It was the first time inside Sanford Stadium for Georgia’s early enrollees. Cornerback Divaad Wilson is out with a torn ACL and running back Zamir White didn’t scrimmage as he returns from a torn ACL last November, but seven other early enrollees took part.

That includes right tackle Cade Mays, guard Trey Hill and center Warren Ericson.

“All three offensive linemen, they go with the twos and the threes,” Smart said. “They get reps. They compete. They block people. (Outside linebacker) Brenton Cox gets to go with the ones every now and then and pass rush, he’s learning what to do. There’s a lot of guys who have gotten better and helped us and I think it was really critical to get those guys in considering what we lost.”

Not that I expected much more.  Although there is this:

Smart said Georgia has thrown the ball more this spring “than we have in the past.”

Pretty low bar there, true, but I guess you could say perhaps that reflects a combination of trust in the running game, a reflection of the improvement on the offensive line and a lesson learned from losing your starting quarterback in the opening game of the season.  In any event, I’ll be curious to see if any of that is reflected on the field for G-Day.

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Filed under Georgia Football