Daily Archives: April 3, 2019

Your 4.3.19 Playpen

Today’s topic for discussion:  is Fox News genuinely that stupid, or does it pander that relentlessly to the stupid?

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Filed under GTP Stuff

A few more thoughts on Georgia’s scheduling news

I wanted to unpack a couple more things from yesterday’s announcement about Georgia beefing up its future scheduling.  First, here’s how what we’ve had confirmed plays out:

2019: Notre Dame, at Georgia Tech

2020: vs. Virginia (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2021: at Georgia Tech

2022: vs. Oregon (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2023: at Georgia Tech, at Oklahoma (not official yet)

2024: vs. Clemson (in Atlanta), Georgia Tech

2025: at UCLA, at Georgia Tech

2026: UCLA, Georgia Tech

2027: at Florida State, at Georgia Tech

2028: Florida State, at Texas, Georgia Tech

2029: Texas, at Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2030: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2031: Georgia Tech

2032: Clemson, at Georgia Tech

2033: at Clemson, Georgia Tech

Add in one more home game with Oklahoma, and that’s really something.

Now, I like to think I have a decent grasp of how Kirby’s football mind works, and while I have little reason to believe this wasn’t a primary consideration behind the push…

… I do not doubt for a moment that he offered this ($$) sincerely.

They also believe that in an era of dwindling attendance for weaker opponents, Georgia fans will respond well to strong home-and-home agreements. “We think that’s going to be the lay of the land,” Smart said. “The fan, what they’re asking for and what they’re paying for tickets, they want to see those kinds of games.”

This is, in all facets, one of those rare win-win-win situations, good for recruiting, for the fan base and for the box office.

It’s pretty obvious from these comments (as well as the few tepid remarks McGarity added), that Kirby is driving this particular train.  He deserves a ton of credit for getting B-M to abandon its knee-jerk approach to scheduling seven home games regardless of the number of cupcakes it takes to get there.  Raising the quality of the schedule is good for business, because at its heart, it’s a fan-friendly call.

Certainly there’s a greater risk of losing a game as a result, but Smart deserves credit for embracing that risk.

“We’re not running from Power 5s,” Smart said. “(The selection committee) has proven that later games in the year have more impact on who makes the Playoff, so if you can get a Power 5 team late in your schedule, I’m talking the last three or four weeks, you’ve got a chance to spike and send yourself into that conversation.”

It’s not exactly on point, but that strikes me as somewhat echoing the calculated move Bobby Bowden made with FSU’s “we’ll play anyone” scheduling approach early in his tenure in order to elevate the national perception of that program.  That canny decision worked as intended, and it’ll be interesting to see if this move pays similar dividends with the selection committee’s appraisal of Georgia in the coming years.

Mike Griffith makes this point with regard to another position Smart has taken:

Smart, a former All-SEC safety at Georgia himself, has been a proponent of a nine-game SEC schedule, too.

“I’ve always been in favor or a nine-game schedule, (but) it’s not my decision to make,” Smart said last October, asked his thoughts on adding another league game with respect to the fact that UGA made its first trip to LSU since 2008 and under the current model wouldn’t be in Baton Rouge again until 2030.

“I think it (would be) a good thing, but I think you will have teams with more losses,” Smart said. “Does it affect a team getting in the playoff? I don’t know, but I know you have a lot more games to get up for, a lot more good rivalry games.

“It’s not just about traveling, it’s just as much about the atmosphere of playing an SEC opponent, I think you are playing more comparable teams to your talent level, I think it’s important for college football.”

You’re preaching to the choir there, Kirby.

Of course, the difference is that upgrading the home-and-homes only takes McGarity’s consent; a nine-game conference schedule is a matter above McGarity’s paygrade.  (Yeah, yeah, keep your snarky comment to yourself here.)  But again, from a business standpoint, over the long-term it makes more sense because it gives the fans more product to be engaged with.  Will Georgia take a more public lead in getting the rest of the conference to change its mind?  It would sure beat the hell out of Michael Adams’ crusades.

Which brings me to what provided the most impetus for this post.  You may recall that Nick Saban has groused a good bit about students cutting out early from Alabama’s routine seal-clubbing of cupcakes.  While you might think that a schedule upgrade would be the most obvious way to fix some of that, apparently that’s not how they think in Tuscaloosa.  This is how they think.

An email sent Monday to every corner of the University of Alabama campus had Nick Saban’s fingerprints all over it.

The message from the school’s athletic department alerted students about their options for buying tickets, informing them of their eligibility for both full and split packages that included a select number of home games.

There was also a section outlining the prices — $20 for an SEC matchup and $15 for one of those rent-a-win affairs.

Then, at the very end, was a note describing a new initiative called “Tide Loyalty Points.”

“Through the Tide Loyalty Points program, students will earn points for attending home football games and for their support in the 4th quarter,” the email read. “Those points will contribute to students’ priority access to regular and postseason tickets.”

What a grim way to get kids — you know, the folks you hope will turn into future season ticket holders one day — to hang around long enough to satisfy the head coach.  That’s meant literally, by the way.

“Look, our players work too hard and they deserve to have everything and people supporting them in every way and have tremendous spirit for what they’ve done,” Saban said last fall. “And they might not be able to continue to do it and we’re going to work hard to continue that but there’s a part of it that other people need to support them, too. And there has to be a sprit that makes it special to play here because that’s what makes it special to be here. And it that’s not here, does it continue to be special to be here or not? That’s the question everybody has to ask and I’m asking it right now.”

Admittedly, I’ve done my share of mocking the way Kirby has tried to turn the fan base into a G-Day prop for recruiting, but he’s never pretended that the program is entitled to fan support in the way that Saban proposes.  When it comes to spending my money and my passion, if I’ve got to choose between a place that’s made a conscious decision to chase both by offering a higher level of entertainment in the competitive sense and a place that makes it an almost joyless obligation… well, that’s not really much of a choice.

I never thought I’d see the day when I could honestly say that the Georgia football program has approached something in a way more worthy of respect than Alabama has, but here we are.  At least in one area, the pupil has clearly surpassed the master.  Thanks, Kirby.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules

“If we could just think of the coolest, most fun class we wish we could’ve had in college, let’s do that…”

This piece in The Athletic about the first session of Mike Leach’s Insurgent​ Warfare​ and Football Strategy​ class ($$) is worth the price of admission.

Although the most Leach story in it didn’t happen on campus:

Last spring, Leach traveled with a group of Washington State representatives to Cambodia and Laos. While traveling, former state Sen. Michael Baumgartner noticed that there were topics that would randomly pique Leach’s interests to the nth degree.

Treehouses and old movie theaters were two that came up in conversation early. And as the group embarked on a tour of a local floating village, Baumgartner noticed another: Leach was fascinated by the brightness of the locals’ clothes despite the water — waters in which the fishermen wouldn’t fish because it was too contaminated — the people use to clean them.

“He asked so many questions about the laundry,” Baumgartner said.

“It’s kind of amazing because you have the silted soil, and I don’t know how they got the laundry so clean,” Leach added. “It’s pretty brackish water, but it would be hard to get your laundry clean there. I don’t have the details on that.”

LOL.

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Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Some blunt advice about what the XFL can take away from the AAF’s early demise:

The XFL would be better off shutting things down now and just accepting that a second pro football league will NEVER work.

The XFL 2.0, like the AAF and the original XFL before it, is destined to fail. It does not matter how well things are planned out, there just isn’t a demand for a second professional sports league of any kind — regardless of the sport. The NFL, along with college football, is more than enough for football fans.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the last fifty years, is that there’s not enough of an appetite for spring football to support a professional league.

I tried to snark about that yesterday when I noted that the AAF’s death was good news for the NCAA and schools, but I’m not sure everyone got my point.  So let’s try that another way:  for those of you who claim it should be easy to provide high school football players who don’t want to go the college route with a professional outlet, how’s that working out for you now?

20 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Has anybody heard from Herbie?

I was gonna go there, but according to Seth Emerson ($$), it sounds like others have already beaten me to the punch.

Smart is far from the first coach to deal with this. Mark Richt did. Nick Saban did and still does. Steve Spurrier did. But Smart is going through it now, and this gives outsiders a chance to question the player leadership on the team, the overall discipline of the program, or just ammunition to tweak the meme to “Kirby Smart has lost control.” (Plenty are already doing that.)

(For yuks, here’s a particularly irate version of that from an outsider.  But I digress.)

For what it’s worth, it sounds like Kirby is taking this personally.

So what is a head coach to do? Smart was asked exactly that Tuesday and indicated that harsher punishments may be necessary. He called playing at Georgia a “privilege,” and one that could be revoked.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think sometimes you don’t realize it until the privilege is lost. Sometimes it takes a catastrophic event to change your course,” Smart said. “And when I’m talking a catastrophic event that is losing your privilege of being here. That’s unfortunate. But we’re going to follow the rules and policies on these guys and move forward.”

“Losing your privilege” sounds like a serious threat, potentially at least.  And as Seth goes on to note, if you really want to make an example of someone, outside linebacker, where Georgia is loaded, is a convenient place to make one.  Perhaps that point is already seeping through some thicker skulls, as Brenton Cox had the good sense to delete his dumbass tweet from yesterday.

That being said, it’s not like Mark Richt didn’t dismiss a few miscreants from the team.  A lot of good that did his meme.  Best of luck going forward with this, Kirbs.

*************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Hell, I forgot to mention that Smart did a little gallows humor yesterday.  You guys know I love gallows humor.

Two more Georgia football players were arrested on Tuesday, adding to a growing list on the team running afoul of the law this spring.

So when coach Kirby Smart was asked 12 minutes into his postpractice press conference where his team had gotten better this spring, he said bluntly: “Well, it ain’t off the field I can promise you that.”

In case you can’t tell, he’s pissed.

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Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

“There will always be disagreement on decisions I make as the athletic director.”

For some reason, Southern Cal decided it was important for Lynn Swann to make an official statement in response to that LA Times article about his trip east to sign autographs.

In regards to today’s story about me in the Los Angeles Times, the article would have you believe that I traveled to sign autographs with no concern for what is going on at USC. Nothing could be further from the truth.  While on this brief weekend trip back East, I was constantly connected with people at our university.  Also, as a matter of principle, I live up to my commitments and contractual obligations.  I signed a contract months ago to appear at the event, well before news broke of what is going on at USC now.  Not showing up would have been a breach of contract.

Calling this a principled business decision!  The First Rule of Holes must not have made it to the West Coast.

The former USC player quoted in the article may not have understood these details.

Details, schmetails

For former USC linebacker Riki Ellison, images of Swann’s appearance that subsequently were posted on social media raised a question: During a time of crisis for the school’s athletic department, why would the person in charge be all the way across the country just to pocket a few extra bucks?

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Ellison, a member of USC’s 1978 national co-championship team who runs the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance, a Virginia-based nonprofit. “Lynn’s a good guy, but isn’t his salary in the millions? Why does he need to do this? It’s just embarrassing.”

… Organizers for the Virginia show declined to disclose Swann’s appearance fee. Ben Litvin, a talent and marketing agent who show organizers said managed Swann’s booking for the show — and also has worked with Heisman Trophy winners, including O.J. Simpson — declined an interview request.

Celebrity booking websites list Swann’s appearance rate for motivational speeches and corporate meet-and-greets as ranging between $20,000 and $50,000.

“My understanding for these shows is that the athletes get paid by the promoter in a lump sum, and then the promoter decides what to charge for the autographs,” said Bert Lehman, editor of the Sports Collectors Digest.

Nah, I’d say he’s got a pretty good grasp of the situation, Lynn.  But at least you’ve got your principles.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

Tripp’n with Walter Grant?

Jeez, Walter, I hope this works out for you.

When reporters made their way out to the Woodruff practice field for Georgia’s seventh workout of spring, it was easy to see something wasn’t quite right with the Bulldog running backs.

The usual suspects were there with D’Andre Swift, Brian Herrien, James Cook and Zamir White, but there was also a 6-foot-4 240-pound guy taking handoffs wearing a white No. 84 jersey. That guy was outside linebacker Walter Grant and yes, he was practicing in full with the running backs.

After practice, Kirby Smart explained why.

“He’s done a hell of a job,” Smart said. “I recruited Walter so I got to see Walter run the ball at Cairo. We said “hey, who on our team can help us the most right now at tight end and running back. I saw Walter run it, he played a lot of running back in high school. We recruited him when I was at Alabama as an either-or. He’s really bright, picks things up, catches the ball well. He’s big, but he’s done a good job back there. It’s an experiment I would say. Walter’s bright, he’s been in our system. He can sit in our meetings defensively and know what to do.”

I get Kirby’s rationale for the move.  Between injuries and trying to protect Swift before the season starts, there aren’t as many bodies in the backfield as he’d like for spring practice.  But every day Grant is an experiment instead of a linebacker is a day less for him getting reps where he’ll be playing in the fall… which kind of makes me wonder if the coaches already know something about that.

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Filed under Georgia Football