Daily Archives: February 22, 2019

“The West is about to get screwed.”

Leave it to Roll ‘Bama Roll to cast the upcoming Auburn-Georgia game shift in an entirely different light.

For the Bulldogs, the schedule becomes an outright disgrace down the stretch. A century-plus of SEC tradition versus two rival programs will be jettisoned by the league, making UGA’s already-cupcake November softer than a toddler’s diaper after a chili dog.

A Varsity chili dog, I hope.  He’s just getting started, though.

Alabama on average has, and will continue to have, the hardest November stretch of the four teams. Auburn is a very close second, and some years has the more difficult November. LSU is reliably almost always behind those two. However, facing four SEC teams in a row at season’s end, with Alabama usually beginning the month, is nothing many coaches are going to sign up for. We’ll give them a slight pass here.

Georgia has by far the weakest schedule here: it already has a scornful November slate: one that boils down to a one-game month — perennial cellar-dweller Kentucky/Mizzou, outmanned Georgia Tech, a body bag game, and then one meaningful opponent, Auburn. In fact, had LSU’s opponents Arkansas and Tennessee both not cratered in 2017, resulting in new coaches, Georgia would have had been dead-last in opponent quality every single year…and by a wide-damned margin.

The righteous indignation, she burns.

The best part is the assumption that Georgia has been playing three-dimensional chess with the SEC.

Alabama on average has, and will continue to have, the hardest November stretch of the four teams. Auburn is a very close second, and some years has the more difficult November. LSU is reliably almost always behind those two. However, facing four SEC teams in a row at season’s end, with Alabama usually beginning the month, is nothing many coaches are going to sign up for. We’ll give them a slight pass here.

Georgia has by far the weakest schedule here: it already has a scornful November slate: one that boils down to a one-game month — perennial cellar-dweller Kentucky/Mizzou, outmanned Georgia Tech, a body bag game, and then one meaningful opponent, Auburn. In fact, had LSU’s opponents Arkansas and Tennessee both not cratered in 2017, resulting in new coaches, Georgia would have had been dead-last in opponent quality every single year…and by a wide-damned margin…

For the first time since the Bridge era, Georgia has a reasonably comparable SEC West slate to finish the season, and even then, is is because that SOS is largely buouyed by a cross-division matchup with A&M. Yet, this is what Georgia was eager to flee? This is what the SEC was quick to agree to? The possibility that Auburn plays as tough a final schedule as Alabama? That Georgia may, just may have scheduling parity with the West by season’s end?

And, if it is because of the ND intersection game, why then is the conference rewarding a self-inflicted wound?

Georgia was “eager to flee”?  When did that happen?  And, why?  Why?  Thus we come to the dramatic conclusion.

The problem isn’t Auburn’s schedule as presently constituted, it’s Georgia; it has always been Georgia — and this proposal will only make the matter worse.

The problem — sorry, Alabama’s problem — isn’t Georgia’s November schedule.  Alabama’s problem is that Georgia has become a formidable SECCG opponent.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Phil Steele and average performance

Phil Steele looks at every team in the country — because that’s what Steele does — and measures its offensive and defensive performance in the context of where it sits in the opponent’s season.

A couple years ago during the season I was wondering how certain offensive and defensive performances that a team had vs a particular opponent stacked up on how the other opponents fared against that team. Not every performance as far as yards gained and given up is created equal due to the quality of opponent played. So to the right of the net yards and points columns, you will see an offensive vs foe and defensive vs foe numbers. The first # is what that performance ranked compared to every other team their opponent allowed throughout the year (#1 being the best, with #12 being the worst since most teams play 12 games) while the second column contains the number of yards positive or negative against their opponent’s average.

I have broke down the offensive and defensive averages and in today’s blog I took all those averages (both offense and defense) and combined them to come up with the most impressive teams in the country compared to how they fared against their opponent. Here is a ranking of all 130 teams and how they did. This list does take out Garbage yards that may occur during overtime and/or blowout wins/losses.

As far as it goes, then, that’s a relatively neutral method of analysis, relative because not all schedules are equal.  Dominating a lineup of MAC opponents isn’t the same as doing so in the ACC or Pac-12.

Still, it makes for an interesting top twenty in certain ways.

Screenshot_2019-02-22 College Football Offensive and Defensive YPG vs Opponents avg thru the National Championship – Phil S[...]

More confirmation, as if we needed any, that Clemson and Alabama were the two best teams last season.  Georgia’s fourth is no real surprise, either.  Nor is Oklahoma’s defense, or Ohio State’s, to a lesser extent.

That Mississippi State defense, though… I knew it was good, but not that dominant.

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Filed under Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

“It would have to be the market value.”

Another day, another legislative shot fired across the NCAA’s bow.

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Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

It’s a bold strategy, Tom. Let’s see if it pays off for you.

This is the kind of thing you expect from a guy who thinks he’s the smartest person in the room.

It does hold down buyout exposure, but it may not work out so well when it comes to his assistants’ complacency for staying in Austin.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Dawgs on top

If you liked what Brett McMurphy had to say about Zach Smith/Corch, you’re gonna love his CFP prediction.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

When it comes to Butts-Mehre, Occam’s razor is your friend.

It’s been a little funny seeing the conspiracy theory takes on Georgia’s generous gesture allowing the Auburn and Tennessee games to be switched for the 2020 season without any apparent consideration.  Nefarious motives have been attributed to all sorts of folks — CBS, ESPN, the SEC, Greg Sankey personally, just for starters — although the suggested rationales for their actions remain a bit murky.

To those folks, I offer a gentle reminder.  Greg McGarity has a track record, and it’s not one of being a genius super-villain.  Need proof?

Lucky for Greg he’s earned some brownie points with the conference in agreeing to move the Auburn game, because he’s going to need every one of them when he lobbies the SEC over Georgia’s October schedule.  The sad thing to contemplate is what he’ll throw in the pot when Sankey’s office stops laughing and asks him what else he can do to make that work.

Maybe that’s why he’s working under a one-year contract extension.

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UPDATE:  I know we call him Mr. Conventional Wisdom around here, but I won’t argue the point that Tony Barnhart is wired into the SEC office.  This is worth reading.

So Greene had talks with the SEC office trying to get some relief.

Now understand how the football scheduling process works in the SEC. Each school has its priorities of what it wants out of a football schedule. Example: For the 2019 season Georgia wanted its two open dates to fall on Sept. 28 (after Notre Dame and before Tennessee) and Oct. 26 (the week before Florida in Jacksonville).

Every school makes its priorities known to the SEC office which begins to circulate drafts of future schedules to the schools. The athletics director at each school consults the coaching staff for its input. Any concerns from coaches are then sent back to the SEC and the process continues until the final schedule is released in September, about a year in advance.

The No. 1 rule of football scheduling in the SEC is: Nobody gets everything they want.

And that’s what happened with the Georgia-Auburn game. The SEC gave Georgia a draft of the schedule that had moved the game to September or October. McGarity sent it to the coaching staff to study. Smart had said at the 2018 spring meetings at Destin that he would like to get some relief from playing both Auburn and Georgia Tech on the road in the span of three weeks every other year.

So at the end of the day, Smart felt the schedule was one he could live with.

Still not seeing a quid pro quo there.  Which isn’t to say Barnhart doesn’t see one.

But why, the angry fans want to know, didn’t Georgia just say no? Why didn’t they fight? Why should Georgia do ANYTHING to help the SEC help Auburn? Nick Saban wouldn’t do it. Why should WE do it? What’s in it for us?

Again, let’s take another deep breath.

The answer is the Southeastern Conference asked for help. Georgia is a member of the Southeastern Conference. And it never hurts to have the SEC owe you one. And Georgia was getting something out of the deal by not having to play both Auburn and Georgia Tech on the road in a three-week span.

Those angry Georgia fans have suggested other means to that particular end.  Not that it matters.

The real news Barnhart drops comes at the end, and it’s something I immediately wondered about when I first heard about the move Wednesday night.

And let me share this and it is strictly an opinion: The next big battle involving the Georgia-Auburn game is not WHEN it will be played but IF it will be played on an annual basis. I’m getting some rumbles that more and more athletics directors in the SEC are hearing from their fan bases who want to a better variety of conference games in the season ticket packages.

Example: On Nov. 23 Texas A&M will play at Georgia for the first time since the Aggies joined the conference in 2012. If the current scheduling model (which expires in 2025) stays in place Texas A&M will not return to Athens until 2029.

One way to speed up that rotation is the elimination of permanent crossover games from each division. Each team in the SEC plays a permanent team from the other division and the other rotates on a five-year cycle. Georgia’s permanent crossover opponent is Auburn. Alabama’s is Tennessee. LSU’s is Florida (and they ain’t happy about it).

Do away with these permanent crossovers and teams would play against each other on a much more frequent basis. But SEC fans would have to give up Auburn-Georgia and Alabama-Tennessee on an annual basis to do it. That will be an interesting fight.

One man’s opinion is another man’s favor.  That has all the earmarks of running an idea suggested by the conference up a flagpole to see who salutes.  My bet is that the permanent divisional crossover game is already on very quiet life support.  Could saving the series be Georgia’s quid pro quo for the move?

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Last Chance U on its last chance?

If college football is seen as the NFL’s feeder system, what does that make junior college football for college programs?

The Big 12, Pac-12 and SEC combine to sign nearly 80% of junior college players who join Power 5 teams. No conference is as reliant on jucos as the Big 12, whose 10 teams signed 203 juco players in the last five years compared to the 65 signed by the 14 teams in the ACC.

The linked article reminds us that Georgia alone signed four juco kids in its last class.

So, it’s probably not good for college programs if jucos are facing tough times.  Start with what drives almost every conversation about college athletics these days — money.

Figures range widely from state to state and school to school, but most within the junior college ranks believe every football program at this level loses money—some significantly. Take, for example, Itawamba Community College in Mississippi. The school spent $666,806 in 2016–17 on football, including more than $400,000 in salaries and scholarships. It made $17,436 in football ticket sales.

Scott Cathcart, the ranking junior college athletic director in the CCCAA, oversees athletics at Palomar College just north of San Diego. His annual athletics operations budget of $310,000 is so low that his 22 sports teams must fundraise about $200,000 each year. “We know we’re going to run out of money March 1, the fiscal year,” says Cathcart, who previously worked as an administrator at Temple. “It’s nothing like Division I. We’re not intended to make money. We’re intended to be educators.”

Juco football programs’ supporters would counter that even four-year college programs lose money—according to NCAA data, 46% of FBS teams finished in the red in 2016. There are other points to be made in their favor. Many states fund junior colleges based on their enrollment numbers, and football teams normally bring in north of 100 students, many of whom aren’t on any athletic aid. California’s football programs do not offer athletic scholarships, while about 60% of NJCAA football programs offer at least partial athletic scholarships, Parker says.

All seven juco programs in Arizona have been shut down due to funding.

Then there’s this recent development:  “The big thing that’s killing us is this dang transfer portal,” Minnick says. Using the NCAA portal, many transferring players who traditionally would have dropped to the junior college level for a year are remaining in Division I now that schools no longer can control or limit their options.”

Add in that NCAA academic requirements for junior college players transferring to Division I schools (2.5 GPA) are more rigid than for those entering from high school (2.0), and you’ve got jucos being squeezed in every direction.

There’s a need for juco players (just ask Les Miles), but not so much of one that D1 schools are going to provide financial support (duh).  Can jucos scramble well enough to save themselves and remain relevant?

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Filed under College Football