Daily Archives: April 17, 2018

Nick Saban likes a challenge.

Okay, the Jon Fabris analogy is a little unfair, because I have to admit that this actually makes sense.

If you missed the news, the NCAA has changed a kickoff rule which will go into effect immediately next season. The rule change makes any fair catch on a kickoff result in the ball being dead and giving the receiving team the ball on the 25-yard line.

The Crimson Tide coach was asked to share his thoughts on the rule change during his latest media availability.

“I would have liked to have seen a different solution. I understand the reason, I respect the reason — which is player safety, but I guess I’ve been around long enough to remember when we use to kick off from the 40-yard line,” Saban said. “There were too many touchbacks, so we moved it back to the 35.

“So, for us old timers, I thought it would be an easier solution to just move it back up to the 40-yard line, because you’d get more touchbacks but you could still sky kick, onside kick — which you can still do some of those things, but you sky kick trying to give someone bad field position and they can fair catch the ball on the 15-yard line and get it on the 25.

“That takes some of the strategy out of the game, to me, with the result that we had. And you would have had the same result if you just moved it up five yards because almost everybody in college football would kick nothing but touchbacks… and you still would have all the strategies that you could have used in other circumstances.”

Really, having thought about it, it’s hard not to reach a conclusion that if the NCAA is so concerned about kickoff injury issues that it came up with a rule that basically strips strategy out of the kicking team’s approach, perhaps it should eliminate kickoffs altogether.

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Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NCAA

Fulmer to the left of me, Kirby to the right, here I am…

… stuck in the middle of spring game expectations.

This begs the question: How will Pruitt’s first spring game stand up against the other first-year head coaches?

Even more precisely, how will it stand up against division rival Mullen’s or even Kirby Smart’s from two seasons ago?

Smart made sure to relate to fans right out of the gate when he was hired from Alabama at the end of the 2015 season. As soon as he returned in Athens — where he played defensive back — he made sure fans got the message for the spring game.

They responded in kind, stuffing Sanford Stadium with 93,000 fans to get just a glimpse what was in store for a program that had seen 16 consecutive seasons of Mark Richt.

I’m never going to feel sorry for anyone making close to $4 million a year, but, man, does any SEC coach have a tougher row to hoe in 2018 than Jeremy Pruitt?

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange

“He’s whipping us into shape real quick.”

Florida, proving once again there’s no preseason happy talk like new S&C coach — and I gotta admit “Nick Savage” is a perfect name for an S&C coach — preseason happy talk.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., The Body Is A Temple

You just can’t quit me, baby.

Nick Saban is a reasonable man.  Like all reasonable men, he simply wants what’s fair.

In the past, individual programs had certain authority to dictate where one of their student-athletes could transfer, often placing selective restrictions that kept them from leaving to go play for a rival or a team on their schedule that coming season.

But in August 2016, former Alabama defensive back Maurice Smith successfully lobbied the SEC and Sankey to transfer to Georgia for his final season of eligibility without having to sit the league-mandated year of residency before being able to play.

The move prompted quite the discussion at last year’s SEC Spring Meetings in Destin, Fla., where Saban described a proposal by Georgia to make inter-conference transfers easier to collegiate “free agency,” though no conference-wide decisions were made while the NCAA sought to reevaluate the entire Division transfer model in the coming year.

“I’ve never been in favor of free agency in our league. I don’t think that’s a good thing,” Saban said last May. “I wasn’t for it last year. I don’t think I’ll ever be for it. I mean, why should guys leave your team and go play for somebody else and you have to play against them? I don’t think that’s fair.”

Fairness, though, is in the eye of the beholder.

Quarterback Riley Ferguson began his career at Tennessee, but went to Coffeyville C.C. before landing at Memphis. Ferguson said former Tennessee coach Butch Jones wouldn’t sign his release and prevented him from going directly anywhere in the SEC or ACC.

“Most of the time kids are 18 years old – everybody makes mistakes, everybody chooses the wrong school sometimes. That happens,” Ferguson said. “I think there’s positives. There’s pros and cons for letting people be able to transfer and not sit out. I feel like some guys would come in and see the hardships and just want to leave because it was hard and they weren’t playing. For me that wasn’t the case, I just didn’t feel like home when I was there. I feel like guys would just want to up and leave quick if they can just go and play somewhere else right away.”

And this beholder.

Such a change would’ve helped former Western Kentucky quarterback Mike White, who began his career at USF.

“I committed to a school under the impression of we were running a pro-style offense, which that’s what I do,” White said. “So when we made the transition like a complete 180 turn to more of a read-option running quarterback style, that didn’t fit my skill set. Under the current NCAA rules I had to transfer and sit out a rule.

“Luckily, I played as a true freshmen, a true sophomore, I had a redshirt year so it didn’t really hurt my eligibility, but for guys that don’t have that, they’re losing a year because what their coach left? That’s not under their control. Because they decided to change a system? That’s not their fault.”

Interestingly, Greg Sankey thinks there’s a groundswell for change because of perception — better PR for the student-athete’s case.

“I think there’s been a power shift,” Sankey said during his annual Q&A at the APSE Southeast Regional meeting Monday afternoon at Samford University. “The ability for people to communicate that, ‘hey, I’m leaving,’ we’ve seen over the past years in any number of circumstances raises an issue. The ability to control communication, destination, and financial aid upon departure, I think that’s a piece that needs to change.

He went on to say the mechanics are tricky, which is, if anything, an understatement.  Just ask the NCAA’s Fearless Leader.

“It’s an interesting topic because it seems like one of the simplest of all,” Emmert said. “How complicated could this be? It’s about students changing schools. And yet I’ve never seen anything that’s quite as intractable a problem as this one because you just can’t get agreement.

“There’s this constant tension between what’s simply the ease for any one party, whether it’s a coach or players or the school, or what’s the right balance between the investments that everybody makes whether they’re individuals or not.”

It’s tense, alright.  I’m not holding my breath that a reasonable outcome is just around the corner, but maybe we’ll all be surprised.

3 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

The SEC’s “decades-long tradition that’s been in place”

You know, before you read this post, think about what traditions are left for the Southeastern Conference to hold near and dear to its collective old heart.  This is, after all, the place where football teams can go over a decade before visiting some stadiums in the other division and the place where basketball schedules seem to be set almost on a whim.

So what is Greg Sankey feebly defending the honor of?

The NCAA this week is likely to abolish long-standing legislation outlawing alcohol sales at its championship events.

In the Southeastern Conference, meanwhile, prohibition reigns.

The NCAA Division I Council is set to vote on a proposal to eliminate a policy that has long kept booze out of championship events. The governing body for college athletics has used a waiver the past two years to sell alcohol at various championships, including the College World Series.

Such a waiver would no longer be needed if the council approves the proposal at meetings Tuesday and Wednesday in Indianapolis, which is expected.

The potential decision only furthers the growing push from some SEC schools — LSU included — to lift the league’s ban on stadium-wide alcohol sales. Commissioner Greg Sankey on Monday insisted that it won’t be “easy” to overturn such a “decades-long tradition that’s been in place,” he said during a panel discussion at the APSE Southeast Region meeting at Samford University.

The NCAA’s decision is only a “data point,” he said, in the conversation and not a “determinative for our direction.”

The no-brainer here would seem to be to let each conference program decide what’s best for itself with regard to beer sales, but that’s not how the SEC rolls.

So what’s stopping stadium-wide alcohol sales? Some member schools.

“We have some that would like to remove the policy and have others that have no interest in that,” Sankey said. “From a stadium wide (standpoint), there are those that think ‘Let’s just take the restraint off the conference level.’ But that’s not a unanimous or, I’m not sure right now, a majority position.”

The policy only can change through a majority vote of the 14 league presidents and chancellors…

Do I detect a faint whiff of the Georgia Way here?  Why, I believe I do.  Stadium booze is only for those who can hold their liquor; it’s a lucky coincidence that only those in the fancy seats are capable of that.

I still think at some point in time the dollars will rule.  It’s too easy a revenue stream to ignore forever, but in the meantime, I guess it’s hard to put a price tag on feeling holier than thou.

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Filed under SEC Football