Daily Archives: March 7, 2019

Is it too soon to bring up the “p” word?

The big picture reason offered for dismissing Mark Richt after the end of the 2015 season was that the program had plateaued.  Sure, it was good for 9-10 wins on a steady basis, along with the occasional divisional title, but that wasn’t the place Georgia should be.

Enter Kirby Smart, who’s had a helluva run in three short seasons.  More wins, a conference title, a spot in a national title game, heightened fund raising (hey, this is Butts-Mehre we’re talking about, so don’t pretend that doesn’t count), all would seem to point onward and upward.

All that is presented as background for what popped up at The Athletic yesterday, from Stewart Mandel and Bruce Feldman.  Both of them posted their lists of the 25 best college head coaches.  Mandel’s ($$) had Smart 6th;  Feldman ($$) ranked Smart 12th.  I’m not here to rail about the overall positioning, as both were complimentary, but to point out one curious thing — they both ranked Lincoln Riley fourth.

I found that… well, curious, considering that Riley, unlike Smart, hasn’t coached in a national title game, mainly because Smart beat Riley in the most memorable Rose Bowl game of my life.  Feldman dinged Smart for losing by large margins to Auburn and LSU, but had nary a word to say about Oklahoma getting smoked by Alabama in last season’s CFP semi-final game.

Both seem to put weight on Riley’s “innovative offensive mind”, as Feldman referred to it.  Smart, in turn, is given the greatest credit for his recruiting prowess.  There seems to be an implicit assumption in their rankings that the Jimmies and Joes can only take you so far as a head coach.

All of which leads me to yesterday’s Mandel Mailbag ($$), where he was asked the following question:

Not to say Georgia will fire Kirby by any means, but if he doesn’t win it all in the next two years, there’s a problem, right? He has arguably the most talented roster in the country top-to-bottom along with ’Bama and Clemson. Am I crazy to believe the Dawgs should win one of the next two?

Mandel’s response?  Winning a national title is hard, but, yeah, if Smart doesn’t come through in the next two years, he’ll be a disappointment.  Like it or not, if that’s what comes to be, Mandel will be far from alone in his assessment.  The irony here is that Smart is being dinged for the sin of being an elite recruiter over schemer, while also being held to the expectations of what elite recruiting should bring a program.

Of course, Smart’s real sin is that he’s coaching against his mentor, arguably the best coach in college football history, in order to elevate his status to truly elite in that two-year time frame.

Anyway, my question for you is this:  if Georgia continues to come up just short of the ultimate goal, when does Mandel’s take begin to trickle down Athens way?  Richt got fifteen years, but nobody expects the school to be that generous with Smart, even if he’s consistently hitting greater heights than Richt did.  When would you expect to start hearing whispers about plateaus again?

199 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

The world they’ve made for themselves.

I was watching ESPN’s Larry Munson tribute this morning…

… and it suddenly dawned on me:  would any player these days fully comprehend the excitement behind Munson’s iconic “Oh, look at the Sugar falling out of the sky!” call?  Quaint at best, depressing at worst, we’ve certainly come a long way to the current state of affairs.

Thanks again, college football.

22 Comments

Filed under College Football

In defense of Jim Delany

This appears to be the best anyone has to offer.

“People will talk about Rutgers’ competitive performance,” Smith told me. “However, when you think about our presence on the East Coast, it’s significant. Whether Ohio State goes to play at Rutgers or Michigan plays at Rutgers, the revenue generated significantly impacts our young people. I hope that people will pause and just think about the great things that [Delany’s] done to help our young people and institutions.”

He added: “Here’s one thing that people seem to forget about our move with Rutgers and Maryland. At the time, the ACC was looking to expand. Part of our move was to protect Penn State. Everyone forgets we had a teammate and partner institution that was on a [geographic] island, so what we did, beyond gaining exposure, is we further brought in a valued partner in Penn State. Had Penn State defected to the ACC, what would the conversation have been then?”

Let me see if I’ve got this straight.  The Big Ten was worried about losing a team to the same conference that lost Maryland to the Big Ten over financial concerns.  Does that bullshit actually fly with anybody?

Smith does get bonus points for wedging some sweet doing-it-for-the-kids phony justification in there.

With regard to that whole “What profiteth a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?” premise to the linked piece, the author makes the mistake of ascribing a soul to a college athletic conference.  Those people would happily gain the whole world with no regrets over whatever path led them to Rutgers.  That’s what cutting edge college football management is all about these days.

Enjoy your retirement, Jim.  You’ve earned it.

6 Comments

Filed under Big Ten Football, It's All Just Made Up And Flagellant, It's Just Bidness

A new front opens in the amateurism war.

Finally, a free market pol who walks the walk:

The NCAA must allow student-athletes to use their name, image and likeness, opening the door for players to profit while in school, under new federal legislation proposed by a member of Republican House leadership.

The bill, to be introduced by Rep. Mark Walker of North Carolina next week, would amend the definition of a qualified amateur sports organization in the tax code to remove the restriction on student-athletes using or being compensated for use of their name, image and likeness.

“Signing on with a university, if you’re a student-athlete, should not be (a) moratorium on your rights as an individual. This is the time and the moment to be able to push back and defend the rights of these young adults,” said Walker, a former college athlete and vice chair of the Republican conference.

I can’t wait to hear some of you call Walker a closet socialist.

Meanwhile, the NCAA is doing itself a grave disservice by not getting out ahead of this while it still has the chance to be proactive and construct something that’s at least moderately beneficial for itself.  Then again, this is the NCAA…

12 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“Um, this is going to be awkward.”

You may think this is a recruiting post about Carson Beck, but it’s not.

… why did he name Florida his leader?

That was also very interesting.

“So I had obviously named Florida my leader and I kind of just put that out there to say like ‘Hey this is the team that is coming at me the hardest. This is the team where I feel like I could see myself at’ but also I had two schools kind of like in the back of my head – one of those being Georgia – where if I got that offer I would pause for a second and say ‘OK, hold on. I got to kind of take this in.’”

“So I visited up there and it was absolutely awesome and everything that I expected.”

He said that Georgia just seemed like the program that was going to surround him with top-tier personnel all across the offense. In his estimation, he said he saw that at running back, across the offensive line and at receiver.

Unlike Florida, that is.

By the way, Carson, that wasn’t awkward at all.  For you, I mean.  For Dan Mullen, that’s another story.

9 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football

You can lead a newspaper to troll, but you can’t make it click bait.

Hey, guess what?  Mike Griffith has a warning for us, Dawgnation.

Georgia coach Kirby Smart didn’t come right out and say it, but the Bulldogs have leadership questions to answer this offseason.

Ooh.  Tell us more, Mike.

Veterans Jim Chaney and Mel Tucker provided leadership and expertise Smart’s first three years as head coach, so it makes sense some will speculate on how their departure affects the team.

“Some will”.  In the immortal words of Peggy Noonan, it would be irresponsible not to speculate.  And if there’s one way to characterize Dawgnation — the website, not the fan base — it’s responsible.

Other leadership questions emerged after the arrest of sophomore defensive back Latavious Brini last Thursday night. The reserve defensive back allegedly assaulted an innocent 23-year-old man.

Smart and his players often talk about being player-led, and how teammates watch out for one another and stay focused on the tasks at hand.

Smart issued a statement last week  indicating he will keep Brini on the team.

They’re doomed, I tells ‘ya, doomed.  You heard it there first.  But probably not last.

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UPDATE:  If you want to see a contrast in business models, read Seth Emerson’s ($$) take on the same topic.  Amazing what not having to chase clicks can do for sports journalism.

Also, this is an interesting point:

But now Smart, in his fourth year as a head coach, has banked largely on himself and his younger staff: When Smart took over, he was younger than all but two of his assistant coaches. Now Smart, 43, is older than all but four of them.

I would take that as a sign of man who’s grown more comfortable in his head coaching clothes.  And recruiting, of course.

16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“Coach Coley is a big tight end guy.”

Gee, where have I heard this before?

“If I am a tight end in the Georgia system right now, I would be pretty excited that James Coley is calling the plays.”

It must be preseason in Athens.

The coordinators may change, but the siren song remains the same.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics