Monthly Archives: May 2018

Proof that beer fuzzies your thinking

Apparently this is what passes for thoughtful consideration by SEC athletic directors.

As an old person myself, I don’t know whether I should feel insulted or confused by that.

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24 Comments

Filed under I'll Drink To That, SEC Football

Whoa, oh, Alabama

So, last week I posted about an interview with Maurice Smith in which he discussed the circumstances surrounding his transfer to Georgia.  One thing he made very clear in that discussion was that Kirby Smart never approached him about joining him in Athens, despite having plenty of opportunity to do so.

TRO: Did coach Smart (Alabama defensive coordinator) or coach Tucker (Alabama defensive backs coach) let you know before they took their jobs with Georgia that they may be moving, and that there would be interest in bringing you along if they did move? 

Smith: Honestly, it sounds funny, but we never even spoke about it. My relationship with coach Smart at ‘Bama was not what it could have been — it was not that strong or close. He recruited me out of high school, but once I was there a couple of things happened and went the route they did just because of him. It wasn’t like I didn’t like him or anything like that. I just didn’t understand what was going on.

Before the National Title game, we knew he was leaving, but he never spoke about it. Obviously, there were the little things: “You do what you do, and you will have success”. That kind of thing. But in terms of a conversation about me following him, that never crossed our minds.

The fine folks at Roll Bama Roll ain’t buyin’ that story, no siree.  Their version of reality boils down to a simple assertion of “There is outright alleged player tampering — looking at you Maurice Smith.”

Nice strike through, fellas.  Why don’t you just come out and call Smart a real shitbird and be done with it?

This comes in the context of defending the current order.

When players sign their LOI at Alabama, they freely enter a bargain that goes like this: You will receive the benefit of years of the best housing, development, training, national exposure, coaching, nutrition, career and professional mentoring, health care, rehabilitation, dining, and facilities in the nation, all on top of a free world-class education and monthly stipend, and you shall do so against the best competition that the sport provides. In return, you covenant that if you wish to transfer, after haven taken hundreds of thousands of dollars of the university’s investment in you, tangible or otherwise, that the university will not waive your transfer. Morever, in order to cut down on tampering, skullduggery and free agency, such transfers as you wish to make may generally not be inside the conference or with a team on our schedule. If you want to do so, you’ll have to go through the league, the NCAA, and then sit out. We’re not waiving it. Deal?

And, in the end, they have all agreed to the bargain: to the obligations that each side owe another and that each side shall act in good faith towards the other.

That’s really what’s at stake here. The university is not profiting off of Player A that has ridden the pine for two years, so much as the University has made a significant material investment in that player. And that player has willfully taken those benefits and did so knowing what the university promised to do for him during the course of a career. But, by entering into that agreement in a sport with limited finite resources, and more than a little bit of cheating, the player knows that the school has a right to safeguard its intellectual property — so this is what he promises back to the school; obligations do not flow one way.

It is all I can do not to laugh out loud reading that.  They lost me at “freely”, admittedly, but besides that, what seventeen-year old kid do you know who can firmly grasp concepts like a school having “a right to safeguard its intellectual property”?  Especially in a world where coaches leave one school for a rival seemingly at the drop of a hat (looking at you, Jeremy Pruitt, to borrow some snark here), this is more than just a slight stretch.

And this is particularly rich:

LOIs are not cash contracts; they are in-kind contracts. The players wish to be treated as paraprofessionals and adults. Honoring a contract you freely enter into, even the liquidation provisions that you do not like; honoring your end of contract that you have knowingly taken the benefits from, is part of being a professional. And it’s absolutely the grown-up, real world.

So we’re talking contracts now, and the grown-up, real world?  Not sure what a “paraprofessional” is, although I suspect it’s a weasel word made up to avoid the full consequences of what a contractual relationship implies, but let me say as someone who reviews contracts for a living that if you want to restrict an employee’s movement upon leaving your place of work, that’s what non-compete clauses are for, not some amorphous understanding of a right to safeguard intellectual property.  And non-competes are notorious for having to be specific to be enforceable.

Again, the whole problem here are the mental gymnastics on display to somehow distinguish making it proper for coaches to do to student-athletes what they don’t do to each other (Bert being a notable exception).  It’s a flimsy argument at best that’s demolished by what happens in the real world they point to — a real world that, by the way, doesn’t allow kids to have legal representation before signing a letter of intent.

What’s really going on here is that these guys know just as well as Saban does that his line of patter about how changing the in-conference transfer rule would benefit Alabama more than any other school is utter bullshit.  If you accumulate the most talent, you’ve got the most to lose if player movement is liberalized.  There’s no shame in admitting that.  The problem comes when you try to shame  players into staying when their preference lies elsewhere.

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Filed under Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

Nick Saban has lost control of Mr. Conventional Wisdom.

As the cliché goes, when you’ve lost Tony Barnhart…

It’s officially time to throw in the towel, Nick.

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Filed under Mr. Conventional Wisdom, Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

Scheduling note

I don’t this comes as a surprise to anyone, but it’s still nice to see the confirmation.

Should be hot as hell, so I think I’ll catch this one in the comfort of my man cave.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Play to play

While I give Kirby credit for being on the side of the angels when it comes to graduate transfers, let’s not pretend he’s entirely selfless.  He’s a head coach, after all.  He’s paid big bucks to win, which in the SEC means fielding the best roster he can assemble.  So when a somewhat obscure walk-on, third-string quarterback who’s never taken a live game snap announces his departure from the program, leaving a gaping hole in scout team preparation for this season, you can’t blame Kirby for doing a Saban-esque reflection on what that says about human nature.

Smart, attending this year’s SEC spring meetings in Florida, said much of the movement among college quarterbacks stems from what he sees as a learned impatience at the high school level. Smart said he has observed quarterbacks’ families searching for high schools for their sons to play for as freshmen and sophomores. When that sort of immediate playing time doesn’t materialize in college, those players are leaving earlier than maybe they would a decade or longer ago.

“They’re positioning from eighth grade to ninth grade, ‘Where can I be the quarterback in ninth grade at this high school program?’ ” Smart said. “And when they go shopping and searching, they find a place they can go. A lot of them start for three or four years (in high school), where it used to not be that way. It’s now trickling up to us.”

… But the fact that Georgia won’t go three deep on scholarship at quarterback is a bit baffling to Smart.

“That’s crazy to me you’re not going to have that,” Smart said. “It’s a me-now society. They want the self-gratification. They want to know they’re going to be able to play. It’s different than any other position on the team. Every other position on the team, other than maybe kicker, they know they can have another role.”

Kind of like how coaches stay forever at the places they get hired at.

It’s a shame Kirby has to deal with so much self-gratification.  Obviously, this is what every parent wants to hear:

“I’d argue if you were the parent of a quarterback that you would say, you know what, where is my son going to get the best development? Where is he going to get the best reps, where is he going to learn to play the quarterback position like it is in the NFL, not necessarily play first. Where is he going to learn to play the position, sit in the meeting room where they teach you protections and the things they are going to learn at the next level,” Smart said. “They don’t draft you at the next level just based on your play performance, they want to see what system you played in, where you played, and did you grow as a quarterback. They want to know have you learned? But it’s tough keeping them around. They want to go where they can play right away.”

The selling doesn’t stop there.

“You’ve got to sell it to them that it’s about the team. It can’t be just about you, even though there is a me generation, a me society,” Smart said. “I think sometimes when you explain it to them, this is what’s best for you, then you can help them understand what you’re doing what you’re doing.”

I bet it’s news to Stetson and his parents that he’s throwing away his big shot at playing in the NFL one day.

56 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Taking one for the team

This is so Georgia Way.

… McGarity said Georgia and Auburn simply made a sacrifice in 2012 for the good of the league, and it’s not one they can just take back.

“When Missouri and Texas A&M joined the conference, three schools had to move some traditional dates in order to make the schedules work,” McGarity told reporters. “Auburn and Georgia were two of those schools. It was to make the 6-1-1 work. If we hadn’t done that, a bunch of other schools, many more than three would have had to make all kinds of changes. To undo it now, again, you’d need a much larger [group] of teams make changes, many more than three.

“So it’s one of those things where it might not have been the best for Georgia, but it was best for the conference.”

It was too much like work for the conference, so McGarity just said, “screw it, we’ll take the hit”.  If there were no quid pro quo for that, it was a stupidly noble gesture.  (The only thing more depressing would be if it turned out there was a quid pro quo that nobody can talk about years later.)

The topper is ignoring your successful head coach’s wishes now because it’s still too much trouble for the league office to fix a mess of its own making.

A man who’s willing to go out and fight for his football program like that deserves all the contract extension he can get, amirite?

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UPDATE:  If you don’t subscribe to The Athletic, it’s a shame you can’t read Seth Emerson’s piece today on this subject.  It’s a pay site, so I’m not going to excerpt from it, except to note that Seth asked Mark Womack, the man responsible for football scheduling for the SEC, if there was indeed a quid pro quo for Georgia’s sacrifice.  Seth’s pithy summary of Womack’s response:  “So, essentially, Georgia’s reward was the thanks of a grateful conference.”

Consider the cockles of my heart warmed.

42 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Executed by poor execution

David Wunderlich is taking a look back at Dan Mullen’s playcalling at Mississippi State to get a handle on what’s in store for Gator fans this season.  I know you’ll enjoy this Twitter thread about the Georgia-MSU game as much as I do.

If it makes David feel any better, Florida looked worse against Georgia than Mississippi State did.  Nowhere to go but up, at least.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics