Daily Archives: July 23, 2018

Those integrity fees ain’t gonna pay themselves, folks.

tfw you can smell a sweet new revenue source rolling your way.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said college football should issue weekly player availability reports in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to lift a federal ban against gambling on college sports.

Echoing leaders in the ACC and SEC last week, Delany on Monday advocated for a “player availability” report covering not just injuries but eligibility issues and off-field problems that could impact participation.

Delany said that other than home field, personnel availability has the biggest impact on gambling “legally or illegally.”

“When players are unavailable, we should know that,” Delany said, adding that the weekly report is “something we should do and probably should have done it before.”

Eh, don’t beat yourself up too much, Jimbo.  It’s not like anyone was ready to pay you for the effort.  Now, just think of the programming you can add to your network!



Filed under Bet On It, Big Ten Football

Georgia 2015: Pruitt abhors a Richt-induced vacuum.

I was going to post something about Dean Legge’s post on what went wrong during Georgia’s 2015 season tomorrow — I’d say you “let it go” types can skip it, but we both know you won’t — but since I’ve gotten a few emails about it (and since it appears to be a multi-part story), I figure I’ll throw my two cents in now.

And two cents is probably all it’s worth, to be honest.  I don’t know how much more he has to throw out and I don’t want to get into what I heard/know versus what he relates, but I will say that if you want to drill down to the real problem that season, this quote will do very nicely:

“The root of the problem was that Pruitt was running the show,” another player said. “Coach Richt is a non-confrontational guy. He didn’t check Pruitt, and it went from there…”

That was the essence of the frustration with the program going both up and down the chain of command and while there are plenty of folks to point the finger at, Richt and his management style deserve much of the blame.  That is all… for now, at least.


Filed under Georgia Football

“Cannon shot” go Boom!

For the sheer entertainment value of reality leaving it in the cold, cold dust, I could keep re-posting this quote weekly.

UGA’s staff knows that the talent margin is closing, that we are no longer a team with a couple of nice pieces – that we are getting deep. Sandridge was a cannon shot. A championship playoff run, at a position of need, and we still get the commitment – regardless of what is being written about currently (and make no mistake, it isn’t a coincidence).

It has been a long time since we’ve been this deep. On the staff and on the roster. It’s the middle of July and we are all in the same range of commitments and we are ahead of them. Pressure is all on them.

I could be wrong, but it appears that Georgia’s staff is handling the pressure rather well.


Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football, Recruiting

Today, in damning with faint praise

Talk about your “of all the coaches I know, he’s certainly one of them” takes, here’s Alabama’s Damien Harris on new face in town Butch Jones:

“I think he’s going to do a great job and get with the coaches however he can. Whatever his job … I don’t really know what an analyst is supposed to do but whatever he’s supposed to do, I’m sure he’s going to do it at a very high level.”

Boy, I hope Booch puts that on his résumé.  It’s nothing less than what you’d expect to hear about a five-star champion of life.


Filed under Alabama, Blowing Smoke

Only the best people

Just a reminder that Corch sure can pick ’em.

A domestic violence civil protection order was filed against Ohio State wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator Zach Smith on Friday.

The protection order, filed by Smith’s ex-wife Courtney Smith, 33, was served at 6:10 p.m. Friday, according to a City of Delaware (Ohio) police spokesperson.

The order continues a history of domestic violence allegations against Zach Smith.

In 2009, when he was a University of Florida assistant, he was arrested for aggravated battery on a pregnant victim, according to a Gainesville Police Department report. Courtney Smith was 8-10 weeks pregnant at the time.

That alleged assault occurred on June 21, 2009 – the Smith’s one-year wedding anniversary. Courtney Smith, however, ultimately decided not to press charges.

On Wednesday, Zach Smith, 34, also was charged with a misdemeanor charge of criminal trespassing, according to an arrest report from Delaware Municipal Court. The criminal trespassing charge was for dropping their son off at his ex-wife’s house – and not at a pre-arranged public place – which was a violation of an earlier criminal trespass warning. That warning was provided to him on Dec. 19, 2017, according to the criminal complaint.

Ohio State and coach Urban Meyer have not issued a comment on Smith…

Oh, I’m sure they will, just as soon as some PR flack can find the perfect way to express both their deep sorrow and total surprise about how something like that could happen.  That’s how the pros do it.


Filed under Urban Meyer Points and Stares

The new redshirt rule — point, counterpoint

You know who thinks the new redshirt rule is no big thang?

Kirby Smart, that’s who.

“I think you guys are making way to big a deal about this redshirt rule, and here’s why. I don’t really have a philosophy. The guy can either play or he can’t. I think y’all think we sit around a table and go ‘well, we should wait and hold this guy because in four years . . . These kids these days, they can either play or they can’t play.”

Last year, five of the 25 players who made it to campus for Georgia’s 2017 signing class redshirted for the Bulldogs, although if the rule had been in effect last year, linebacker Jaden Hunter (who played in just one game), would be classified as a redshirt freshman instead of a sophomore this fall.

Holding players back who can help the team now doesn’t serve any purpose, according to Smart.

“You want to develop them, you want to grow them, but by four years they’re either waiting to leave, they’re graduating, getting out of there or they’re possibly transferring,” he said. “So, if they can help your team now, you play them now. You don’t sit there and say well, he’s going to better his fifth year if he redshirts. Think about redshirt seniors, and tell me how many redshirt seniors have really been effective, played a lot, played major roles on teams. They really don’t.”

Snarky response:  maybe that’s because of the ones who leave early for the NFL.  But I digress.

What’s fascinating to me is comparing Kirby’s point of view with Paul Johnson’s.

Johnson called it “very much needed” and “good on so many levels.” One reason Johnson gave was that, because Tech’s walk-on depth is limited because of the difficulty in gaining admission to the school, having all of the scholarship players available to play will give coaches more flexibility.

However, Johnson isn’t quite sure how it will play out.

“There’s going to be some strategy in when do you play them,” Johnson said at the ACC Kickoff on Wednesday. “I don’t think you just go throw ’em out and play ’em the first four games. You kind of have to watch and see.”

… One issue Johnson raised is getting freshmen ready to play. In the past, freshmen who were to be redshirted played on the scout team, preventing them from gaining experience practicing the team’s offensive or defensive schemes. A freshman who works solely with the scout team would have a difficult time playing with the offense or defense in an actual game. Special teams might be a different matter.

“That’s going to be a challenge to transition them to see who’s going to play,” Johnson said.

Johnson also was hopeful that, for such players, the chance of playing in games will improve morale.

“It’ll keep those guys more interested,” he said. “They feel like they’re more part of the team.”

When you’re a coaching have, like Kirby Smart, you’ve got the threat of competition to keep a deep roster motivated.  When you’re Georgia Tech, you now have the carrot of playing time to accomplish the same end with a thinner one, with more flexibility to evaluate your talent without handicapping the future.

For what it’s worth, I suspect Kirby is underselling his end of it.  For one thing, I believe the new rule is an enormous help for special teams management, an area that’s profoundly impacted by the kind of recruiting depth he’s brought in.  For another, even deep teams like Georgia can face in-season injury problems at a key position.  Also for what it’s worth, I expect that most coaches, if asked, would side with Paul Johnson on the new rule’s impact.

In any event, it’s going to be interesting to watch how this changes the college football landscape as it rolls out this season.


UPDATE:  Here’s a good analogy from Andy Staples.

Rebuilding teams

These are the teams most likely to use the freshman class the way a Major League team uses the 40-man roster at the end of the season. Just like Clawson at Wake Forest in 2014, new coaches in programs that need major work don’t want to throw true freshmen to the wolves. But if they can replenish the roster before game nine with players who have spent the previous three months practicing, those teams have a chance to get better faster. Players will have some experience heading into the following year’s spring practice, and coaches will know how the young players responded in game action and what they need to improve upon most.


Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, Georgia Tech Football

The luck of the turnover

Data dude says one thing

“The analytics say that turnovers are way, way more random than coaches or fans think,” said Ed Feng, the curator of The Power Rank analytics service who has a Ph.D. in applied math from Stanford. “It’s not a perfect way to say there’s no skill. It’s just that turnovers are a really subtle thing, and randomness plays a much bigger role than people want to think.”

… coach says another.

Every data set has its outliers, and when it comes to takeaways in college football, the man standing on the far end of the bell curve is Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt. If luck is the determining factor in turnovers, Pruitt’s got a pocketful of four-leaf clovers.

Pruitt spent five years as a defensive coordinator at three different schools before being hired in December to head up the Volunteers’ rejuvenation. In that span, Washington leads all Power 5 programs with 136 takeaways. But add up each of Pruitt’s stops — Florida State, Georgia and Alabama — and he’s got even more, 139. His defenses exceeded the Power 5 average in takeaways every season, and he ranked in the top 10 three times. At each new stop, Pruitt increased takeaways from the prior regime by an average of nearly 10 per season.

Luck? Nah, Pruitt’s got to have a real strategy.

“Some of it starts with recruiting,” Pruitt said. “You want defensive guys that are used to handling the ball. When you talk about playing pass plays in general, the most important thing is playing the ball. That’s stressed.”

David Hale discounts.

And that all sounds pretty good, except that the data suggests there might be some other significant factors playing into Pruitt’s success that have very little to do with all that practice and scheme.

Over the past 10 years, no team has a better turnover ratio than Alabama, where Pruitt has spent five years as an assistant coach. The Crimson Tide’s turnover margin is a whopping plus-93 since 2008, and they’ve hauled in an impressive 250 takeaways during that span. But of those 250 takeaways, 205 came when Alabama already had the lead (82 percent), and 147 came when it led by 10 points or more (59 percent). And statistics show that teams playing from behind are far more apt to cough up the ball.

Alabama also has faced the third-highest rate of pass plays over that span, and teams are about three times more likely to turn the ball over on a pass play than a run. And Alabama’s defense has faced more third-and-long plays than any other FBS team in that stretch. Turnovers occur at a far higher rate on third-and-long than any other down and distance.

I love David, but I’m not convinced by his reasoning there, at least if what he’s trying to argue is that Alabama’s success is more random than by design.

For me, the gist is that things lie somewhere in the middle.  Fumbles?  Yeah, there’s definitely a residue of luck involved in which way the ball bounces, but don’t forget that the likelihood of a turnover via fumble increases the farther behind the line of scrimmage it occurs, probably because the numbers game favors the defense in those situations.  As far as interceptions go, certainly there’s a share attributable to lucky tips, but there sure seem to be plenty that result from defensive pressure forcing misreads and bad decisions from quarterbacks.  And it’s hard to credit having defensive backs coached well on how to corral bad passes to sheer luck, isn’t it?


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics

Think of the children, but don’t let the children think.

While I’m on my high horse about playoff expansion, let me not forget to mention Nick Saban’s objection to the same.  Yeah, he’s against, but not for the same reason.  His reason?  He’s Nick Saban, bitch!

“And we can have another discussion about the future of the playoffs and how many teams should get in the playoffs, but you’re going to minimize the effect of bowl games, which I stood up here ten years ago and said, as soon as we do this, it’s going to diminish bowl games, the importance of bowl games. Everybody would just be interested in the playoffs.”

If fans are no longer interested in the bowl games, Saban sees more seniors and NFL-bound juniors sitting out their final college game.

“Well, that’s where we are right now. I mean, we have players choosing not to play in bowl games because it’s not important because they’re going to save themselves for the draft. All of these things are not good for college football. So there’s a lot of philosophical questions that everybody needs to sort of take into consideration as what the best way to do this whole thing is, and I don’t think I have the answer to that. That’s not what I get paid to do.”

If anybody’s gonna sit for a meaningless game, it’ll be Saban’s choice, damn it, not some player’s.


Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Nick Saban Rules

Tastes deserves! Less best!

Articles like this, where it’s suggested that the selection committee should ditch its quest to determine college football’s four best teams and favor an approach that excludes teams that don’t win their conference, won’t have an effect in the short run, but I expect they’ll leave a mark down the road.

Note that what really drives the argument there is frustration about the SEC landing two teams in the CFP semi-finals.  It’s clothed in a complaint about the subjective nature of picking the field.

Of course, a committee of some sort is necessary when you have four slots and more than four major conferences. But the committee is handed four criteria to consider — championships won, strength of schedule, head-to-head competition and comparative outcomes against common opponents — only when “teams are comparable.”

That’s too much wiggle room.

But don’t expect a change. Not even Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby endorsed limiting the field to conference champions.

“The original arguments in the early stages of this were, do we bring forward the four best conference champions or do we bring forward the four best teams? To some extent that discussion is continuing,” Bowlsby said.

Of course, that’s part of the problem. The idea that the committee can identify the four best teams. It’s a god complex. The idea that the committee’s intellect can supersede a championship process. Just go back to Penn State-Ohio State if you don’t believe it.

“We had some discussions at the CFP meetings in April about how … to value conference championships,” Bowlsby said. “What weight should that carry in the portfolio of each of the teams under consideration? We invited 13 honest people to go in a room and pick the best four teams and take into account a lot of criteria that may be weighted differently depending on who’s vantage point you have.

“I don’t think that we are in a situation where we want to get too prescriptive on that.”

Why the heck not? The committee is a necessary evil. Picking four teams to fill out the tournament is not a good idea, it’s just the best idea available. College football is too big, too unwieldy, to produce a non-subjective process. The NFL can do that. The NBA can do that. The college scene cannot, at least not in the current landscape.

But college football can at least lay more parameters for the decision-makers.

The problem with that, of course, is there are five power conferences and only four spots in the tourney.  In other words, even if you go to a conference-champ only field, a choice still has to be made about which team to exclude.  Even Tramel recognizes it.

The four-team playoff always was going to leave at least one conference on the outside. Five leagues, four spots.

But allowing non-champions creates the possibility of two leagues on the outside, and that’s what happened in 2017.

Alabama is a great program and had a great team. But Bama in 2017 played nine Power-5 Conference opponents before the playoff and wasn’t a conference champ. Southern Cal played 12 Power-5 foes before the playoff and was a conference champ. Alabama made the playoff. USC didn’t get a sniff.

Yeah, yeah.  The problem with arguments like there, which attempt to de-legitimize Alabama’s presence in last year’s CFP field, is that the Tide won the damned championship.  In other words, when you elevate most deserving over best, you may very well wind up with a different debate about the team crowned in the end.

That being said, we all know what the playoff is really about — spreading the wealth.  That’s why I think Tramel’s argument will eventually win out in the form of an eight-team playoff which will further dilute the strength of the participants by combining the objectivity of automatic berths for all P5 champs with the subjectivity of a guaranteed slot for a mid-major along with a couple of wild cards.  That, in turn, is going to lead to a slippery slope argument about the ninth team being better than at least one, if not more, of the chosen squads.  And that, in turn, will lead to moar expansion.  Boy, I can’t wait to fill out those brackets!


Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Randy Edsall’s epiphany

All coaches are control freaks, to some extent.  Randy Edsall has always struck me as being more rigid than most on that front, so it surprises me how passionate he is about allowing player compensation.  Regardless of your feelings about that, check out where that’s led him to go regarding the NCAA ($$), an organization that’s even more rigid than he is.

“People don’t pay attention to anything,” Randy Edsall says. “There’s nobody combing through the rulebook and saying, ‘This is outdated. This doesn’t apply. Here are things we need to do.’ That’s what’s frustrating. Who are those people at the NCAA or in college football who have played the game, coached the game, who have the best interest in the game and integrity of the sport to do the things that do right by the sport and by the student-athlete?

“We got away from all that, and the only thing that matters now is how much money can we make from TV? How much money can we share with our institutions?”

Welcome to my world, Randy.


Filed under The NCAA