No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man

Trust me, you never like it when something you post causes another blogger whom you like to take umbrage.  Such was the case yesterday with my reaction here at the blog to Lincoln Riley’s comment about Georgia’s defense made during his interview with Danny Kanell.

In response to that, Allen Kenney, who publishes the terrific Sooner-centric Blatant Homerism blog and has been gracious enough to have me on his podcasts occasionally, had this more in sorrow than in anger comment about my post:

Bending over backwards far enough to read that as sour grapes from Riley over the Sooners’ loss to Georgia in the Rose Bowl requires superhuman contortion.

Yeah, I’m a little bummed that he’s bummed, especially because I thought we had a pretty good Twitter exchange about Riley’s comments yesterday.

That being said, I do have a few things to say after further thought.  After all, if you can’t make a mountain out of a molehill on the Blogosphere, where can you?  And this really does qualify as such.

To start with, though, I do have one unqualified mea culpa to offer here.  I made the mistake of taking Kanell’s troll bait and reacted without reading the entire give and take surrounding Riley’s observation about the Georgia defense.  That was a mistake, so let’s rectify that by posting the entirety of the Q&A now.

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For Allen, that qualifies as nothing more than an anodyne response about measuring defense in the Big 12 and as such makes all the criticism of Riley’s point about Georgia overwrought.  Me, I look at that and my first thought is now, wait a minute.

Kanell, whose agenda isn’t exactly something he’s been shy about sharing, may have been fishing, but he didn’t mention the SEC, let alone Georgia directly, in his question.  He struck gold when Riley decided to bring that up on his own in his answer.

Further, while some of what Riley says there is what any successful coach would say about the conference his program plays in, some of it is flat-out inaccurate.  Missouri and Auburn, for example, both had success moving the ball on Georgia’s defense last season, something I noted in a tweet in which I also made what I think is a bigger knock on Riley’s argument.

I hate to be like this, but the idea that “any team would struggle with the consistency and challenge you do week in and week out in this league” is as indefensible for the Big 12 as it is for any P5 conference (and, yes, that includes the SEC, unless you think I’m totally off base about the greatness of Arkansas and Vanderbilt, for example).  Oklahoma’s offense was peerless last season, the best in college football, but to try to cloak the rest of the conference in the Sooners’ mantle in that way requires its own kind of contorted thinking.

The Rose Bowl isn’t evidence that Big 12 teams play better defense than they’re given credit for; it’s that Oklahoma’s offense was fantastic and a complete bear to defend.  To use that game as proof of B12 defensive prowess ignores how Georgia was able to roar back from a 17-point deficit against that offense.  Maybe I’m missing something, but I seem to remember hearing a good bit of criticism about Mike Stoops’ performance from Oklahoma fans in the aftermath of the Rose Bowl loss.  That’s a funny way of going about appreciating excellent defense.

Was my sour grapes crack unfair?  Eh, maybe.  I admit I can’t say for sure what’s on Lincoln Riley’s mind.  Maybe he had just come from film study before the interview with Kanell and it was fresh in his head.  Then again, human nature being what it is, maybe losing the biggest game of his coaching career to date in overtime after blowing a large lead has left a little emotional scarring.

There’s also that Riley felt the need to offer clarification after Kanell’s tweet generated the kind of reaction Kanell was hoping for.

Riley offered a measured statement in response, but it was rare, if only because he infrequently, if ever, uses Twitter to defend himself.

“That’s not a shot at Georgia….they were absolutely one of the best defenses last year…it’s a compliment to our league,” he replied directly to FootballScooop.com.

And here’s someone with the audacity to suggest an ulterior motive, one that’s hardly new at Oklahoma.

Would Georgia and Alabama still have dominant defenses in the offense-heavy Big 12? Would Oklahoma and Oklahoma State have prolific offenses in the Southeastern Conference, which annually produces some of the nation’s the top defensive talent? It’s a common debate.

Riley is candid enough to engage in it, taking a page from the book of former OU coach Bob Stoops, who never feared making an argument against what he once called SEC “propaganda” during his tenure. OU still recruits against those schools while trying to upgrade its defense.

And Riley, as an offensive coordinator, is simultaneously selling his style of offense as part of a shifting tide in college football.

Ya’ think?  If I ever were motivated to write a book about college football, I know I’d entitle it In The End, It’s All About The Recruiting.

Riley may not have known much about Kanell’s shtick before yesterday, but I guarantee you he does now.  And that’s probably where I should leave things.

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28 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, Social Media Is The Devil's Playground

28 responses to “No one knows what it’s like to be the bad man, to be the sad man

  1. Trbodawg

    As much fun as it is to watch twitter wars, I’m really, really glad it’s only 59 days to kickoff. . .

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  2. Union Jack

    Seth Emerson tweeted back and forth with me that it wasn’t a shot. I think he is giving Riley a big benefit of doubt. Even if it wasn’t a shot – it definitely is a sour grapes kind of comment.

    Let’s face the facts … it took our defense 1/2 to adjust to their offense and then use superior athleticism and scheme to render the ineffective until 1 drive in the 4th quarter.

    Maybe they took their foot off the gas after halftime. If I recall correctly though, they had the ball first and got stoned. We scored on a long td and then I think they saw what playing top level SEC football was like in 2017.

    Each year is a new one – we might not be a Top 5 defense in 2018 but I think if we played in the Big 12 in 2017, we would have had a Top 5 defense, a high level offense and been undefeated going into the CFP. UGA was really good last year.

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  3. Dave

    I think you’ve been totally fair in your assessments.

    What happens all to often these days with social media and instant information is that people take almost everything to be turned up to 11.

    A college football playoff with 8 or 16 teams will help abate some of these arguments. But, with only a few exceptions (in an admittedly still small sample size), all the CFP games have been competitive, and there have been teams with all sorts of offensive and defensive statistics in play.

    A lot of folks figured Georgia for a slow, lumbering, ball-control offense that couldn’t possibly trade blows with Oklahoma for 60 minutes.

    At the end of the day, if you come in 11-1 or 12/13-0, and you hold your own or beat 2 of the recognized best teams in the country, then I feel like you don’t owe an apology or explanation to anyone about your offense, defense, or the league you came from.

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  4. Greg

    All about promoting their league & increasing their chances of getting a team or two in each and every year (playoffs). The SEC has been dominating, I guess I can’t blame them for trying. For the most part, the selection committee gets it right. It is certainly much better than the old way.

    FWIW, thinks Oklahoma would have probably have beat Bama in the MNCG if they got past us. Glad we made it, but thinks OU would have given them fits. Not a match up Bama would have wanted.

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  5. JasonC

    Just remember that Danny Kannell is the asshole in this whole situation.

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    • Absolutely.

      And I bet off the record, at least, Lincoln Riley would agree with you.

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    • Argondawg

      I agree that the asshole is Kanell but Riley is not far behind. Can you imagine Kirby saying “If Oklahoma was in the SEC they wouldn’t have the top offense in the country.”? No because he doesn’t have time for that shit. Kirby is careful with his words. Maybe it’s Riley’s youth but he got baited into saying something stupid about a team he lost to in the most meaningful game the Sooners or Dawgs have played In Years. He needs to get knocked around for being careless. It was a heavy weight fight and he lost.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Cojones

    OU had the #1 team in the categories of total offense, team passing efficiency and first downs. Our D-backfield overcame that hammer and stuffed the best in the country after halftime adjustment. Not only do we have a great D that stopped their onslaught, but we have the best coaches for scheming around their offensive cudgel. I’ll be interested in OU’s next year’s results when they don’t have the best QB in the country under center.

    The only way around their sour grapes (not Bluto’s) is to play each other’s conference in OOC games – all of them. We play their top teams and they play ours, but we know that top teams vary each year in the conferences and schedules are 4 years out. Maybe more top team matchups between Big-12 and SEC at the end of the season could answer that question they pose. Anyway, it was a pissy comment from people who know better in college football.

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  7. Heyberto

    This just goes to show you how the isolation of a comment is stupid, but. maes big headlines. If OU had a halfway decent offense, OU could’ve rolled that game. Mayfield was a playmaker.

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  8. Yesterday after reading this story I remembered seeing that pic of Smart and Riley together last year. I can’t remember where they were at. Anyway, I was doubting that Riley had meant to throw to much shade at UGA. These talking heads just mean to get us all arguing on the internet, of which I am as guilty as anyone. Thanks for posting the rest of the story.

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  9. Russ

    Meh, I can see where Riley’s coming from. There probably are more prolific offenses in the B12 so our defensive stats would be lower. When you constrain it to one game (the Rose Bowl), then it doesn’t make much sense and you get the kerfuffle we saw yesterday. I don’t think Riley meant it that way, but D(ic)K was happy to turn it that way.

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    • UnderDog68

      More than likely, OU wouldn’t put up the offensive stats they do if the situation were reversed and they played in the SEC West. Every conference has it’s strengths and weaknesses. In the Big-12, it’s all offense and weak defense, for the most part. In the SEC, most teams favor a strong running game and solid defense.

      Having said all that, Danny Kannel is still an SEC-hating hack.

      Like

  10. Brayman1

    Great choice for title…for future Kannel article, keep it going w/ “before I blab and act like a fool”

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  11. David H.

    Riley’s comment is probably correct.
    It doesn’t matter. You have to be good enough in all facets of the game (offense, defense, special teams) to score more than a strong opponent. Georgia developed into an all-around, well-balanced team during the 2017 season.

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  12. ASEF

    Go back and look at B12 recruiting on offense versus defense – and then look at NFL drafting on both sides of the ball.

    Largely, it’s NFL-potential offensive personnel versus defensive guys who will never see NFL camps. Aided by officiating that tilts towards the offense on issues like holding and pass interference. Yes, that will light up scoreboards.

    But it’s not B12 magic or coaching. Just their brand relative to their resources.

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  13. and the beat goes on, on the blogoshpere.

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  14. OhioDawg

    To echo some others’ sentiments, the real takeaway here is that Kanell only appears like even more of a douchebag than he did before. When a high profile coach is gracious enough to come on your show and then is willing to open up and give some real thoughts instead of the normal coach speak, you have to be a total a-hole to purposely present his comments void of context in exactly the way that supports your tired little shtick. Kanell can suck it.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Gurkha Dawg

    I’m not sure how the Senator was using the term “sour grapes”. But just for the record, it does not mean “bad sport”, it means “people who speak disparagingly of things that they cannot attain”. I’ll give the Senator the benefit of the doubt, but he might want to read “The Fox and the Grapes”.

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  16. Man, Senator, now I feel bad that I made you feel bad.

    My objection is simply that you’re inferring stuff that just isn’t there.

    Riley’s point isn’t “any team would struggle with the consistency and challenge you do week in and week out in this league.” It’s that there are more good offenses in the Big 12 than you’ll find in the other conferences, and most of them are playing uptempo. That blows the curve when it comes to evaluating their defenses.

    Riley didn’t use the Rose Bowl as “evidence that Big 12 teams play better defense than they’re given credit for.” It’s that OU put a lot of points and yards on a team that everyone agrees has a good defense. The same goes for Ohio State.

    It might be hyperbolic of Riley to say “nobody all year could move the ball on Georgia” before they played OU, but the reality is that opponents broke 20 points in two of 14 regular season games. And if Missouri and Auburn could have success versus Georgia’s defense, chances are very good that Oklahoma State, West Virginia, Texas Tech and TCU would have some too.

    “To use that game as proof of B12 defensive prowess ignores how Georgia was able to roar back from a 17-point deficit against that offense. Maybe I’m missing something, but I seem to remember hearing a good bit of criticism about Mike Stoops’ performance from Oklahoma fans in the aftermath of the Rose Bowl loss. That’s a funny way of going about appreciating excellent defense.” When did Riley say anything about OU having something remotely resembling an “excellent defense?” The two teams that he mentioned as being the best defenses in the Big 12? TCU and Iowa State. (I’d substitute Texas for ISU, personally.)

    And, yes, this is all semantics and mountains out of molehills. Thanks for responding and providing the opportunity to hash it out.

    -AK

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    • ASEF

      Georgia averaged 8.36 ypp against OU. Better performances came against Missouri, Florida, and Kentucky. Against OU, Iowa State, K State, and OK State all got north of 7, though none got close to 8.

      OU averaged 6.56 ypp. Auburn bettered that at AU, and Missouri got close to it.

      On merits similar to Riley’s claim and your defense of it, a claim could be made that OU’s offensive ranking would not survive a SEC schedule. Or that Georgia’s offense in the B12 would have an easier path to a #1 statistical ranking against B12 defenses, given that no one else in that league broke 7 ypp against OU. Or that 9.32 yp-carry was a 50% improvement on anything a B12 offense managed against OU.

      Or we can just all agree that making conference comparisons plus calling into question a season’s body on one side of the ball, all off a 1 game sample, is pointless. But that’s off-season CFB, I guess.

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      • ASEF

        broke 8, not 7

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      • What does any of that have to do with the price of tea in China? Riley didn’t say anything about Georgia’s offense.

        If OU played Georgia’s schedule last year, OU’s raw offensive stats wouldn’t be as good they were playing against its Big 12 schedule because Georgia played against better defenses and more teams that play slower offensive tempo. That wouldn’t conflict with anything Riley said.

        But to Riley’s point, none of that would mean OU’s offense was any worse – just that the numbers would be different. Likewise, Georgia’s defensive stats would be different playing in the Big 12 – it doesn’t mean Georgia’s defensive was any worse.

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        • ASEF

          Which directly contradict’s Riley’s main point: that B12 defenses get an unfair rap because of B12 offenses Based on the vast empirical data of one half of football.

          Riley learned a lesson about talk radio. No big deal.

          Like

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