So true. So deep.
I hate it when Boom gets on my good side.
So true. So deep.
I hate it when Boom gets on my good side.
Here’s a list of five meaty topics which, if rumors are true, will be addressed at this week’s SEC spring meetings and their “likely resolutions”. I use quote marks there because there’s a definite element of kick the can down the road to several of those.
Anyway, look at that list and tell me what you think is most likely to be resolved this week and what you think is least likely. (I’d rank a change in transfer policy most likely and the high school misconduct policy least likely. The gambling stuff is largely pissing in the wind, but I suspect they’ll get things started on that, at least.)
In case you were wondering why Kirby was keen to retain Stetson Bennett’s services, as best I can tell from sniffing around the Intertubes, here’s who’s left after Fromm and Fields:
If that list doesn’t scream KIRBY’S LOOKING FOR A GRADUATE TRANSFER QUARTERBACK EVERY WAKING MOMENT OF THE DAY, I don’t know what does. The irony here is that he’ll likely have to spend the scholarship he was reluctant to give Bennett to get a transfer in the door. Such are the vagaries of roster management, circa 2018.
One thing stassen.com does in the preseason is compile composite rankings of the projections from all the preseason college football mags. Three are out — Athlon, Lindy’s and Street and Smith — so here’s what that batch looks like.
National Top 25
Rank Team Total
Lindy 1 Alabama 89 1 1 2 2 Clemson 88 2 2 1 3 Ohio State 83 4 3 3 4 Georgia 82 3 4 4 5 Wisconsin 73 9 6 5 6t Miami-Florida 72 6 8 7 6t Oklahoma 72 10 5 6 8 Washington 70 8 7 8 9 Auburn 65 7 12 9 10t Michigan 61 5 9 18 10t Penn State 61 11 10 11 12 Michigan State 60 12 11 10 13 Notre Dame 52 15 14 12 14 Stanford 49 18 13 13 15 Florida State 46 13 18 16 16 Virginia Tech 44 16 16 17 17t Boise State 39 19 21 14 17t Mississippi State 39 14 20 20 19 Southern Cal 38 21 15 19 20 West Virginia 34 22 22 15 21t Central Florida 19 – 20 23 21t Texas 19 20 23 – 23t Oregon 17 23 – 22 23t Texas Christian 17 24 – 21 25t Florida 14 17 – – 25t Louisiana State 14 – 17 – 25t South Carolina 14 – 24 24
If that holds up, you’ve got a noticeable gap between fourth and fifth, which should make the selection committee’s job pretty obvious. Which means it’ll be the Big 12 and Pac-12 getting shut out of the playoffs. Makes me wonder how long Bill Hancock’s “all is well” shtick will hold up if that’s the case.
Here’s an early look at SEC win totals, courtesy of South Point Hotel and Casino (last year’s records in parentheses):
My first thought on seeing that is a general perception that the conference is still mediocre outside of Alabama and Georgia. There are only three teams listed with projected win totals better than the 2017 results — Florida, Tennessee and Arkansas (Missouri’s 7/7.5 is a wash to me) — and all three can be categorized as being in positions where there’s nowhere to go but up. (And even with that, I still think it’s a stretch to predict Arkansas, which has significant personnel issues and a new coaching staff, will wind up bowl eligible.)
My second thought is a corollary to the first: if the 2018 season does play out like this, it’s gonna be one boring year for the SEC.
Other random thoughts:
That this is even a question (okay, series of questions) summarizes the current sad state of affairs otherwise known as transfer rules.
What are the rules for other teams to recruit your walk-on players? With Stetson Bennett potentially leaving UGA how does a walk-on player like him see what options he has available with other programs? Are other schools able to actively reach out to him to gauge his interest and offer him a scholarship? Can we put restrictions on where he potentially transfers (i.e. not within the SEC)?
Stetson Bennett is a walk-on. He has no scholarship. He signed no national letter of intent. The carrot Kirby Smart offered to entice him to stick around Athens another year was the mere possibility of a future scholarship.
In short, the school owes Bennett nothing. And yet…
According to Will Lawler, UGA’s director of compliance, “another institution would have to receive permission to contact a walk-on student-athlete who has enrolled at UGA before making contact.” Lawler said there is more flexibility to contact potential walk-ons without permission prior to enrollment.
Also, there was this interesting caveat, which may apply to Bennett: “Generally speaking, a football transfer student-athlete would have to serve a year in residence if he transfers to another FBS institution unless he meets an exception to permit immediate eligibility. Exceptions are fact-specific and depend on a number of factors that must be evaluated by and in the context of the future institution (e.g., recruited status, participation in practice, sponsorship of sport, and many more).”
The tl;dr version of that? For all intents and purposes, minus Georgia’s consent, if Bennett transfers to another D-1 school, he’s treated as a walk-on about the same way he’d be if he were a star player on scholarship. “Generally speaking”, in other words, he’s just as fucked.
And some of you think I complain about this stuff too much. Jeebus.
For those of you having trouble grokking the challenges widespread sports betting will bring to collegiate sports, take a look at this opening Pandora’s Box piece. There’s plenty to unpack there, but I want to hone in on a subject I touched on yesterday, the looming conflict between coaches’ mindset to control information about their rosters and the desire in the market place to access that information.
Clearly coaches and athletes are recognizable figures and they have access to information which can aid gamblers. But, they are not the only ones who might be vulnerable and have access to the same information. We certainly live in a society where individuals are not afraid to leak sensitive pieces of information, at any level of our democracy, and for whatever benefit the leaker hopes to achieve.
Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, wrote in a piece on May 14, immediately after the SCOTUS announcement, “the same piece of information can serve different information needs for different people.” In other words, the news that a freshman running back is getting reps with the first team at practice could mean very different things for the team’s fanbase and a bookie.
Citing Anthony Downs’ 1957 An Economic Theory of Democracy, Benton discussed how the ruling moves sports reporting from entertainment information, which is consumed for enjoyment, to production information, which is used to make sound business decisions. But he omits the fact that sports organizations have long been the owners of both entertainment and production information.
Benton asks the question, “Is there a way you can get the folks willing to pay top dollar — the ones for whom the information has real, tangible value — to subsidize information gathering that also benefits a wider audience?” Before addressing his question, we must ask “who are the folks willing to pay top dollar for information?” The easy answer is bookies and gamblers. A more nuanced answer might include fans, boosters and alumni.
For sport organizations, and college athletic departments in particular, providing entertainment information to those groups has long been in their domain. Now, production information grows in importance and, as such, the job of the college athletics communications professional (or media relations professional or sports information director, or whatever they are called) probably just got a lot harder.
As the gatekeepers for all news and information which comes from a football or basketball practice, athletics communications staffers should prepare to be besieged with phone calls from bookies and Tweets from gamblers, all seeking that production information necessary for a sound business decision. For beginners, communications staff might wish to remove their cell phone numbers from media guides. At a minimum, training student workers and staff who might answer the office phone is a first step in preparing for a potential influx of calls… [Emphasis added.]
Digest that paragraph I bolded for a second. If you’re going to be inundated with requests about information that benefits the gambling public, why wouldn’t it make complete sense to monetize access to it, if it’s something that’s also of keen interest to your fan base? And if that information has significant value, won’t that motivate an athletic department to control the flow of that information as tightly as it can?
The SCOTUS ruling guarantees that all information – entertainment and production – will become an even more valuable commodity in the gambling economy. Depending on how conferences and universities are able to monetize the Court’s decision, there may be little incentive for university athletic departments and their communications staff to be forthcoming with any information.
A byproduct of this could be acceleration of reduced access for traditional journalists, something we witnessed last fall at Notre Dame, Tennessee, as well as LSU and Texas. I doubt many coaches would mind if fewer media attended practice, and the threat of information being used for gambling purposes might be the perfect excuse to travel down that road. This does not mean the information does not exist and odds are (pun intended) that it will surface one way or another.
You see the irony there, right? What starts out looking like a threat to coaches’ control turns into an opportunity to try to restrict access even further.
I say “try” there because I think there are forces out there wanting access that have enough clout to force schools’ hands in a way they ordinarily might not prefer.
The speculation is consumer demand for information will alter how broadcasters approach their content. Awful Announcing’s Andrew Bucholtz suggested five ways broadcasting will adapt, including the creation of specialized sports betting-focused shows on networks such as ESPN and increased spreads on ticker scrolls.
You think the SEC is going to tell its broadcast partner to butt out when Mickey puts together its first regular show on betting lines? Surely you jest. Greg Sankey will posture… and then deposit the new check for his troubles. Information may want to be free, but the SEC wants to be paid.
When it comes to preparing players for the next level, Mike Leach couldn’t be more different than Nick Saban (or Kirby Smart, for that matter) in his sales pitch to recruits.
JM: As a collegiate coaching staff, how do you balance winning games with developing players for the next level?
ML: I pay no attention whatsoever to developing them for the next level. That’s somebody else’s job. Why would I care? We coach them the best that we can. We worry about putting them in the best positions they can be put in here at our school to accomplish the things that we need to accomplish. I do think it goes hand in hand though. I think if they’re in a good place and they get the proper coaching, then the better their chances are at the next level. We’re not gonna sit here and monkey around and worry about the next level. There’s no point in me sitting around trying to guess what they want at the next level. That would be a bunch of foolishness.
A lot of that can be chalked up to perspective, of course. Unlike Leach, Saban has coached in the NFL, and thus likely has a better feel for what the pros look for. That gives him a different message to sell recruits.
And that’s a second difference. Leach, up in Wazzou, doesn’t have the rich vein of talent that Saban has to tap into in assembling a recruiting class. Rather than accumulating gobs of talent with which to bludgeon opponents, Leach has to go out and find kids who best fit his system, however many stars they may have.
Ironically, there is one sales pitch Leach does have at his disposal, and it may indeed be another reason why he can be so dismissive of being a production factory for the NFL.
JM: I’m curious to get your overall thoughts on the NFL’s shift towards incorporating more spread principles on offense.
ML: It seems like they’re more conscious of how it could benefit their offense nowadays. I’ve been doing it since the beginning. Everywhere I’ve been, we’ve always spread it out. I guess we’re credited by a lot of people for kind of starting that. It’s reached the NFL level now. It’s just a more efficient way of playing football. It’s about attacking all the space available to you. I think it’s a very efficient approach.
No, he doesn’t have any rings to show for it, but there’s little doubt that the Air Raid has been one of the most influential offensive schemes to come down the turnpike in the last two decades. Maybe that’s what gives Leach the confidence to say, “I think if they’re in a good place and they get the proper coaching, then the better their chances are at the next level.”
It goes with sports like a box score. A cup of suds at a baseball game is considered as much a necessity as the ticket to get in the gate. Tailgating outside a football game with a trunk full of iced-down coolers is often the activity for the many hours before and after the actual contest.
There’s drinking at South Carolina’s Williams-Brice Stadium, Colonial Life Arena and Founders Park, but only in private suites and exclusive areas not available to the general public. The SEC has a rule prohibiting alcohol sales in general admission seats.
But as the annual SEC spring meetings approach — coaches, athletic directors and executives are due in Destin, Fla., Monday for a week-long session — changing that rule is likely to come up. LSU, Auburn and Texas A&M have been on record saying they’d like to see a change in the policy, and if the SEC does so — like going to a Big 12 model where the school makes the decision…
What do you think the odds are that this week’s SEC spring meetings are alcohol-free?
By the way, kudos to Boom for being rational about it:
“I don’t have any problem at all,” Gamecock football coach Will Muschamp said. “I look at different ways you have to generate revenue as an athletic department, so I’m all for it.”