Daily Archives: May 18, 2018

Throwaway year in Knoxville?

Remember, Vol fans, it’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how well your football coach and athletic director manage expectations.

“The big thing to me is everybody wants to ask about a number,” Pruitt said. “To me the thing is, when you watch a team play, do you say ‘Hey, when the game is over with, that’s my team, I like the way they play, I like their enthusiasm, their toughness, their competitive spirit, they play together as a team they never quit.’

“That’s kind of what I’m looking for, playing the right way.”

I guess that beats five-star hearts and trash cans.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Is this Missouri’s year?

I’ve seen a fair amount of buzz about Missouri being a darkhorse candidate in the SEC East, including a couple of pundits who have suggested the Tigers will have Georgia on upset alert when the two meet.  Some of the buzz is over Drew Lock likely to be one of the conference’s top quarterbacks; some of it comes from Mizzou’s sizzling 2017 regular season finish.  Me, I can’t quite bring myself to buy in, for reasons Matt Melton does a good job of explaining here.

Back around Columbus Day, you probably could have gotten decent odds that Barry Odom would not be coaching Missouri in 2018. After an uninspiring 4-8 debut, the Tigers were 1-4 in his second season with their lone win against an FCS opponent. Overall, the Tigers had three victories against FBS teams and just two conference wins under Odom’s guidance. The Tigers would lose their next game against Georgia, although they were somewhat competitive against the eventual national runners up, scoring 28 points against a stout Georgia defense. Following that defeat to the Dogs, Missouri would not lose again (in the regular season), pulverizing their last six foes by an average of 30 points per game! Their regular season finale against Arkansas was close, but the other five wins all came by at least four touchdowns. So Missouri is naturally an SEC East darkhorse heading into 2018 right? As the esteemed Lee Corso might say: Not so fast, my friend.

Missouri was quite dominant in their last six games of 2017, but let’s pause and consider the quality of opponent. The Tigers won non-conference games against Idaho and Connecticut, two teams that combined for seven wins in 2017. In addition, the four conference opponents the Tigers slaughtered did not sniff the postseason. Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, and Vanderbilt combined for a 5-27 SEC record with three of the wins coming against each other (Florida and Vanderbilt over Tennessee and Florida over Vanderbilt). Outside of Arkansas, the Tigers did not struggle to put these teams away, but this is about as easy a closing slate as you could ask for in the rugged SEC. Contrast this with Missouri’s five-game losing streak. That quintet of teams all qualified for the postseason, with Auburn and Georgia winning their respective divisions. South Carolina won eight regular season games and both Kentucky and Purdue eked out bowl eligibility. If you change the sequencing by swapping say Tennessee with Georgia or Idaho with South Carolina, the narrative of a hot finish is not nearly as strong.

… In a more formidable SEC, Missouri will have the luxury of tempered expectations. The Tigers do bring back a talented quarterback, but lose their offensive coordinator as well as their leading rusher and receiver. Derek Dooley was brought in to be the new offensive coordinator and his hire does not inspire the utmost confidence. 2017 was the worst season for both Florida and Tennessee in a generation, so the window for a real breakthrough under Barry Odom could be slamming shut. Betdsi currently has Missouri’s over/under win total at 6.5. On the surface, this seems low considering how the Tigers finished the 2017 season, but upon further examination of the schedule and the dearth of quality teams the Tigers faced after mid-October plus the fact that Florida and Tennessee (and even Vanderbilt) are unlikely to be as bad as they were in 2016, this number seems right on the money.

Two things here.  First, it’s struck me for a long time how well Missouri manages its schedule.  If you’ll recall, the Tigers built up a ton of momentum in 2013 by running through their first five games against weak opposition, before rolling through Georgia and Florida en route to a division title.  Last year, the easy stuff was back-loaded.  (To be fair, nobody knew in advance Florida and Tennessee were going to be that bad.)

The 2018 schedule doesn’t appear from here to have a stream of layups at either end, though.  The first two games are against cupcakes, but game three is a trip to Purdue and then comes a run of Georgia, at South Carolina and at Alabama, before facing a good mid-major team in Memphis.  The schedule finishes with five straight conference games and Missouri must travel to both Florida and Tennessee during that stretch.

Add to that giving Derek Dooley, of all people, his first crack at an offensive coordinator position.  Missouri has some excellent talent on that side of the ball, but expecting a smooth transition under a new coach who’s changing schemes seems like a bit of a stretch.  Maybe I’m wrong, but I have a hard time seeing how all that adds up to much improvement over last season’s seven wins.

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Filed under Georgia Football

House money

Vegas remains impressed with Georgia.

  • Georgia’s 10.5 wins is tops on the board, along with Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma.
  • Georgia is tied at third, with Ohio State, for national title odds.
  • Jake Fromm is third in Heisman odds, tied with Tagovailoa.  (Swift is also on the list, at 33/1.)

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

A different pay to play

The NCAA weighs in on the new world of sports betting.

To ensure integrity in sport, the NCAA supports a federal model addressing legalized gambling and has suspended its championship host policy related to sports wagering.

“Our highest priorities in any conversation about sports wagering are maintaining the integrity of competition and student-athlete well-being,” said Mark Emmert, NCAA president. “Sports wagering can adversely impact student-athletes and undermine the games they play. We are committed to ensuring that laws and regulations promote a safe and fair environment for the nearly half a million students who play college athletics.”

Now, mind you, throwing games is illegal under state law and the Supreme Court’s ruling doesn’t affect that in the slightest.  But that’s not the cause of Emmert’s anxiety, in any case.  This is all about keeping student-athletes away from sports books by criminalizing yet another NCAA regulation.  Good luck with making that work.

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Filed under The NCAA

“If you want excellence, you have to invest in it.”

This shit is insane.

Though college athletes aren’t paid, recruiting them is an enterprise that has many of the wine-and-dine hallmarks of the corporate world. Powerhouse programs, like those at Texas A&M University and the University of Texas at Austin, can afford those prices. Both schools put more than $2 million toward recruiting last year while raking in millions more in revenue.

But recruiting costs are also rising at other Texas schools that compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision: Texas Tech, the University of Houston, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at El Paso, UTSA and Texas State University.

Unlike A&M’s and UT-Austin’s athletics programs, the programs at those six schools can’t sustain themselves financially. Last year, those six athletics programs were subsidized by a combined $116 million in student fees and other institutional funds.

Spreadsheets and receipts provided to The Texas Tribune under open records laws show that many schools’ recruiting costs go toward travel expenses – like airfare for recruits and coaches, rental cars, chartered buses and limousine companies — and meals that ranged from a $7,200 catered breakfast to $21.11 spent on Torchy’s Tacos.

The expenses also document the presence of cottage industries that have sprung up around college sports recruiting, like coaches’ packets that contain information about up-and-coming high school players.

“Sold at recruiting events,” these packets “include booklets with information on potential recruit schools, stats on scoring, heights, weight, etc.,” reads a note at the bottom of a ledger of expenses from UTEP.

Last year, coaches at UTEP and two other schools paid more than $12,000, collectively, for these packets about prospective football players and women’s and men’s basketball players. At least another $100,000 was spent among those colleges on scouting services, specialized software, access to databases and certain fees.

There aren’t enough student fees in the world for UTEP to keep up with Texas’ obscenely deep pockets.  That’s why I don’t get all the hand wringing over the power schools buying players if amateurism dies.  They’re already doing it, albeit indirectly, now.

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Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major