Daily Archives: February 12, 2019

Coaching ’em up, coaching ’em down

I always enjoy Bill Connelly’s peek at overachieving/underachieving coaches, mainly because he asserts something I think is an essential truth.

You can potentially distill coaching into two things: building a team that produces great stats and figuring out how to maneuver in tight games when neither team has a statistical advantage.

That really is the game, isn’t it?

Saban is the living embodiment of the first example and Tom Herman appears to be the best representative of the second, at least according to Bill’s rankings of every coach since 2005 who’s run a program for at least three seasons, which are based on “average difference is per year — actual wins vs. win expectation”.

By the way, Mark Richt ranks one step higher than Kirby Smart.  But I digress.

Bill acknowledges there is certainly some randomness involved.  That being said, there’s a fair amount of affirmation of the second type of coaching prowess when you see people like Jeff Monken and Pat Fitzgerald ranked highly.  It’s just that, because of sample size, we don’t know for sure how much credit goes to each factor.

Along those lines, here’s what he says about Tom Herman:

Texas’ fans collective response to being projected in the mid-30s in S&P+ was, shall we say, high in volume. And Herman’s presence atop the overachievers list here seems to verify that S&P+ is not well-equipped to handle a Herman team.

Maybe. But I need to see more because really, this four-year overachievement is a two-year overachievement.

Per second-order wins, his 2016 and 2017 teams should have won 15 games and won 16 instead. That’s pretty dead on. But he tops this list because of 2015 and 2018 — Houston overachieved by a whopping 3.3 wins in 2015, and Texas tacked on 1.7 more last fall.

So what’s the reality here? Has Herman, with his QB-Power-heavy third-down play-calling and his ability to craft big performances in big games while just barely skating by in the others — as if he knows his team has a finite number of good plays and deploys as few of them as possible against lesser opponents — unearthed a recipe for steady overachievement? Or is this a product of small sample sizes?

If you take to dice and roll 12 twice in four rolls, that doesn’t automatically mean you’re better than anyone else at rolling 12. But if you do it for eternity, it might mean you’ve got loaded dice. We’re just not going to know in four rolls.

If after a 20-year head coaching career, Herman has produced about 10 drastic overachievers, we’ll know. But maybe after 20 years, he’ll have still only produced the two. I hate saying “time will tell,” but…

Herman had that crazy season at Houston, where his team upset two top-five programs bookended around losses to Navy and SMU, and then proceeded to lose its last two games of the season.  Last season, his Texas team started out losing to Maryland and wound up kicking Georgia’s ass.  Maybe he’s a real overachiever, or maybe he’s just the opposite of Bob Stoops.  Time will tell.

One thing’s for sure.  It’s easier to measure the coaches who are excellent builders.

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17 Comments

Filed under Stats Geek!

Grantham’s progress

It looks like Todd Grantham is still waiting for that offer he can’t refuse.

If he takes it, no doubt the defensive players who just signed with/committed to Florida will appreciate David Shaw’s point that “The hopscotch approach to college really hinders their ability to have success in life.”  And if he doesn’t, well, there’s always a next time.  Life lessons, for the win!

19 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Transfers Are For Coaches.

Winning the transfer portal

Ian Boyd makes an intuitive point with this post.

While much of the discussion about the NCAA’s new transfer portal surrounds the blow struck for player agency, it’s likely there are other changes afoot. An easier transfer process is going to drive the evolution of the game like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey, imbuing particular programs with new weapons.

The college game has already cycled through updates such as the hurry-up, no-huddle spread. The HUNH spread made the game simpler, allowing the offense to wait until the defense was set before checking into one of a few limited options.

One of the more stunning aspects of Clemson’s dominating win over Alabama was the role played by freshmen Trevor Lawrence and Justyn Ross. Lawrence hit Ross six times for 153 yards and a score on 10 targets.

But while they were both amazing high school talents, they still offer a takeaway for teams looking to plug any kind of talent into an offense. Modern spread attacks like Clemson’s make it easier to install new players, whether they’re freshmen or transfers.

Offenses that rely on schemes that are more challenging for new players to learn, like a certain one in Athens, need to face the reality that for every Jake Fromm who has the ability to grasp the basics as a true freshman, there are going to be Jacob Easons and Justin Fieldses who don’t.  Those kids will have every incentive and, more importantly, plenty of opportunity to take their skills to another program that will find a way to unlock those sooner.

That doesn’t mean Georgia should give up the chase.  Quite the contrary, it behooves Smart to grab all the elite quarterbacking talent he can.  You never know whether a quarterback is ready until he’s had time in your program, and with the new transfer protocol, those who don’t measure up will move on to greener pastures, reopening roster spots at the position for the staff to fill.

There is something to be said for efficiency when your coaches are good at talent accumulation.

23 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics, Transfers Are For Coaches.

2019 SEC spring game schedule

We get football in less than two months.

The best is saved for last, of course.  All by itself.

7 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

The new normal

This is some statement — and keep in mind this is a formal release offered after some semblance of thought went into its making — from Southern Miss’ president regarding his head coach who tried to hire Art Briles and sign a player accused of raping two women at knife point, both decisions made without first informing the school.

Coach Hopson assured me of his commitment to overseeing a program that upholds the values of The University of Southern Mississippi. I know Coach Hopson to be a man of high ethics and integrity, and I assured him of the University’s dedication to continuing a winning tradition.”

Our conversation included many topics, including the events of the past week. As a matter of practice, Coach Hopson seeks approval from and works in good faith with athletic administration on prospective student athletes who have special or unique circumstances for admission to the University, which is consistent with University protocol in student-athlete recruitment. Additionally, Coach Hopson notified the University of his desire to meet with Art Briles, which is his right to do so as a head football coach and is in line with normal University processes. After an intentional and thorough review of Mr. Briles, candidacy, I expressed my reservations, and ultimately that review led to the decision that Mr. Briles was not a viable candidate.

I consider the matter closed, and I am looking forward to working with Coach Hopson on our mutual priorities and shared goals for the Southern Miss football program and how it contributes to our vision for The University of Southern Mississippi.

Can someone explain to me exactly what the school’s mutual priorities and shared goals are for its football program?  Because I don’t think terms like “high ethics and integrity” or “good faith” mean what I thought they meant.

Not to mention referring to a kid with felony charges hanging over his head as one of a group of “prospective student athletes who have special or unique circumstances for admission” made me throw up in my mouth a little.  Hope it’s worth it, Mr. School President.

13 Comments

Filed under It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant

Those oxen aren’t gonna gore themselves.

There is nothing quite as shameless as a football coach facing the threat of a loss of player control.

Coaches view the loosening of transfer restrictions as running counter to values they promote in their programs. Many cite stories of how older players fought through adversity early in their careers, stayed with the program and became stars or major contributors.

“We have seen kids that have entered the transfer portal and haven’t been on campus for a semester,” Penn State coach James Franklin said. “How do you learn to overcome adversity and fight through battles and learn to compete? I worry about that for our sport; I worry about that for kids and our country. The path of least resistance very rarely is the answer. How do you have discipline and structure and tough conversations in your program if there’s always a Plan B, an outlet with no real repercussions?”

A question that I’m sure more than a few Vanderbilt fans asked themselves when Franklin up and left for Penn State.

Coaches generally like the portal itself and don’t oppose graduate transfers making moves without having to sit out a season. Their beef is with the percentage of waivers being granted and the reasoning behind those approvals.

“It’s too easy right now,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “It’s too easy to let kids quit.”

Umm… they’re not quitting.  They’re still playing, just for another coach, Dave.

Added Shaw: “The hopscotch approach to college really hinders their ability to have success in life.”

Yeah, just look how things have turned out for Baker Mayfield.

“There’s 1,000 kids in the portal right now,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said. “Everyone wants to talk about player safety. What happens when a position group has three less guys left in it? I don’t think we can manage our rosters the way we used to be able to.”

Penn State had 11 players enter the transfer portal this winter, although most have graduated (a 12th, safety Lamont Wade, entered the portal but then withdrew and will remain with the Nittany Lions). PSU also had five underclassmen enter the NFL draft.

“That’s probably the biggest challenge for administration, as well as coaches: How do you ever know who’s actually on your roster and who’s not?” Franklin said. “A lot of coaches have said as soon as you enter the transfer portal, they’re going to take you off scholarship, but that’s another problem with this. They’ve left it kind of gray that each school and each coach can handle it differently.

“You’re in a very, very challenging position in terms of managing your roster, how to recruit, all those types of things.”

These guys are paid hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars, to manage football programs.  It must really suck to have to work a little harder at a well-paid job.

But let’s hear it for TCU’s Gary Patterson, who manages the most shameless quote of all:

Patterson admits he’s “just as guilty” of adding two graduate transfers this year, in quarterback Alex Delton (Kansas State) and defensive end Shameik Blackshear (South Carolina).

“The portal will get worse — transfers, waivers — if we don’t do something about it,” Patterson said. “And, eventually, we’re going to hurt the high school senior.”

Yeah, let’s do it for the kids who aren’t even in your program yet!  Gary, I hate to tell you what the fix for the unfortunate high school senior who gets screwed by your call to bring in a transfer player at his position ought to be.

These people.

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UPDATE:  Speaking of those high school seniors…

91 Comments

Filed under Transfers Are For Coaches.

“In a way it’s just a piece of paper because you saw those games.”

My first instinct is to say there’s no lamer NCAA penalty than vacating wins, except then I remember the way Bobby Bowden bitched about it.  So maybe there’s more to it than meets the eye.  Maybe.

I only bring this up in light of yesterday’s news that Ole Miss has to vacate a total of 33 wins over six seasons, including Georgia’s horrendous loss in Kirby’s first season.

That, in turn, leads me to ask what the official GTP policy for referring to that game should be going forward.  I think it’s only fair to let the people decide, so, without any further adieu, here comes today’s reader poll.

Further suggestions are, of course, welcomed.

25 Comments

Filed under Freeze!, Georgia Football, The NCAA