Daily Archives: June 27, 2019

Bill Connelly’s first effort at ESPN…

… is not behind a paywall (yay!) and is a look at what the major national title contenders have to do to, you know, contend.

Here’s what he has to say about Georgia.

If … James Coley can make a difference in the red zone. Everything above about Bama’s goal-line issues? Multiply it by a couple of orders of magnitude, and it applies to Kirby Smart’s Dawgs. Georgia was fifth in overall offensive success rate … and 109th inside the 10. Remember that series against Florida, in which UGA had five consecutive snaps from the Gators’ 1 (seven including penalties), gained zero yards, and kicked an 18-yard field goal? The entire season wasn’t that bad, but that certainly distilled the issue. Coley moved from co-coordinator to sole coordinator when Jim Chaney left for Tennessee. He can top his predecessor by showing just a bit more creativity when a touchdown is on the line.

If … Dan Lanning can dial up pressure. In theory, anyone hoping to win the national title will face the prospect of beating both Alabama and Clemson. Georgia theoretically might have to do the former twice. That’s an almost impossible task, but any chance you’ve got of pulling it off requires a pass rush. Georgia ranked just 76th in sack rate last season, and the only Dawg who recorded more than two sacks (Jack linebacker D’Andre Walker) is gone. Recent recruiting has produced plenty of pass-rushing options — among others, sophomore and 2018 reserve Channing Tindall had two sacks among his 9.5 tackles — but someone’s got to step up, and Lanning’s scheme needs to be of assistance.

If … the defensive front is a little less flexible. Thanks to Deandre Baker & Co., Georgia was still awesome against the pass even with the iffy pass rush. The run defense was strangely mediocre, though. Georgia ranked just 67th in rushing marginal efficiency allowed and got beat up by opposing run games in both regular-season losses: LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire rushed for 145 yards on 19 carries (quarterback Joe Burrow added 89 yards in 10 non-sack rushes), and Alabama’s Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs combined for 135 yards on 17. There’s too much raw talent up front for Georgia to lose the battle in the trenches.

“Georgia was fifth in overall offensive success rate … and 109th inside the 10.”  Yeah, that one left a mark, Jim Chaney.  The good news is that, as Bill notes, Coley has a low bar to surmount from there.

I don’t know if I’d call this quibbling, but with regard to his very last point, I think one reason Alabama’s running game was successful in the SECCG was that Smart and Tucker decided they had to sell out stopping Tua and the ‘Bama passing game.  That worked well until Tua wasn’t there to stop any more.



Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

More thoughts on California’s “Fair Pay to Play Act”

There are a couple of good passages from this post at The Athletic ($$) about the showdown between the NCAA and the California legislature over the latter’s “Fair Pay to Play Act” worth sharing here, not from an advocacy standpoint, but as an informational reference in response to questions I’ve seen in the comments section regularly.

The first is regarding where student-athletes who aren’t the star quarterback or point guard could possibly look to find a way to monetize themselves.  It’s easy to forget the kind of world we live in today, but there are more options for that than perhaps we realize.

… In response to a frequently heard criticism of the bill that it would only enrich a few big-name football and basketball stars, Skinner notes that local businesses, not just national name brands, would be interested in running commercials and giving other NIL-earning opportunities to multiple athletes on college teams. Skinner cited the example of a star female wrestler from a small California town who will never make money as a professional athlete, but under SB 206 would be entitled to receive NIL money from a proud local sponsor.

It’s not just athletes in the traditional “money” sports who would benefit. Skinner points to UCLA superstar gymnast Katelyn Ohashi, whose perfect floor exercise has been viewed by almost 44 million viewers on YouTube. Why, Skinner asks, shouldn’t she be allowed to monetize her athletic success in the way that other YouTube personalities, with far fewer views, have found ways to do?

Why, indeed.

As for the concern about abuse of the rules by boosters, University of San Diego School of Law adjunct law professor Len Simon, who had a role in crafting the bill, maintains that the NCAA would not be precluded from regulation of that problem.

Asked about the possibility that alumni groups or wealthy university supporters could form sham sponsorships, and thereby unleash a bidding war for athletes far beyond what legitimate business sponsors truly intent on gaining athlete endorsers would be willing to pay, Simon told The Athletic that the NCAA still would be within its rights to police such activity, by requiring that NIL agreements with athletes satisfy a legitimate commercial test. Further, the NCAA could insist that NIL payments not be used to steer an athlete to a particular school – a limitation which the NCAA also would have to enforce.

That might not be as hard as you think.  For one thing, players would have different incentives under the new regime that would undercut such behavior.

Simon adds that one virtue of an unrestricted, but legitimate NIL market is that it could “dry up” the under-the-table payments from certain companies to athletes that have been at the heart of the recent college basketball scandal. He asks: “If nationally recruited high school basketball players knew that legitimate payments were around the corner, why would they risk their college eligibility by taking secret payments?”

That’s similar to arguing that additional revenue flowing to student-athletes might also serve to keep more of them in school longer, rather than leaving early trying to take a questionable jump to the NFL and NBA.  I’m not sure how that’s a bad thing for college athletics.

Food for thought, anyway.


Filed under It's Just Bidness, Political Wankery, The NCAA

Steele on Georgia, 2019 edition

Okay, time to dig into my initial impressions on Phil Steele’s take on this year’s model of Georgia football.  I hinted at some of it yesterday — overall, it’s quite positive (third in his power ratings; fourth in his rankings once scheduling is factored in), but a little lackluster in comparison to Alabama and Clemson.

To illustrate, here’s how the three shape up in his unit position rankings:


  • Clemson 1st
  • Alabama 2nd
  • Georgia 9th


  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 4th


  • Alabama 1st
  • Clemson 2nd
  • Georgia 25th (and that’s counting Holloman)


  • Georgia 2nd
  • Clemson 3rd
  • Alabama 6th


  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 5th
  • Georgia 17th


  • Alabama 1st
  • Georgia 6th
  • Clemson 14th


  • Alabama 3rd
  • Clemson 7th
  • Georgia 16th


  • Alabama 18th
  • Georgia 20th
  • Clemson outside top 57

In areas where Georgia is best, the other two are generally close behind.  But there are significant gaps at several positions where the Dawgs lag behind the other two.

All of this, it should be said, is extremely relative.  Georgia is ranked in his top twenty-five at every unit position, which is nothing to sneer at.  In fact, it reinforces a point I made a while back when I was debating Allen Kenney and Ian Boyd about Lincoln Riley’s comment about Georgia, namely that Kirby’s built his team to excel by making sure that there are no true weak links.

This is nicely illustrated with Steele’s SEC unit comparison chart.


The Dawgs may not be the best in the conference at everything, but they’re no worse than above-average in any category.  There is no other team on that chart, including Alabama, that can make the same claim.  (Don’t miss his coach rankings for Georgia and Florida, by the way.  But I digress.)

Coming from someone who watched Mark Richt fail to manage to field consistent units from year to year, that’s not damning with faint praise, either.  In fact, it’s hard to do.  Even Alabama during its current run has had seasons fall short because of poor special teams play.

The problem is that in the context of the 2019 season, Georgia’s high level of consistency may not be enough.  For one thing, it appears that Saban’s team can make the same claim, except at an even higher level.

None of this is etched in stone, of course.  But I don’t think it’s unfair to state at this point in the preseason that Georgia has some work to do in order to catch Alabama and Clemson by the time the postseason rolls around.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

NCAA, when you’ve lost Lou Holtz…

Company man bites dog.

As for the state of college football, Holtz can only shake his head at coaches like Clemson’s Dabo Swinney making more than $9 million a year or coordinators getting multi-million dollar contracts.

“When I went to the University of Notre Dame they told me the policy was the head coach was not allowed to make more than the president,” Holtz said. “And the president was a priest who took the vow of poverty.”

For the record, Holtz said his salary was $95,000.

“The salaries have escalated and gotten out of hand,” he said. “I can understand why players are upset that they’re not getting part of that money. If you can pay a coach seven or eight million dollars …”

Although it wouldn’t surprise me if his real gripe is that he’s not twenty years younger and coaching today.


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Today, in doing it for the kids

I don’t find this either surprising or a good look.

About 19% of college athletic trainers reported in a recent survey that a coach played an athlete who had been deemed “medically out of participation,” according to results released Tuesday by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association that reveal concerns about college coaches having too much influence in medical decision-making.

NATA president Tory Lindley said such actions put athletes at a “major risk.”

“To think that we’re in 2019 and that would still happen is really concerning,” he said. “It should be concerning for everyone involved in that institution. It should certainly be concerning to the parents, and certainly concerning to the athlete.”

No shit.


Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

Okay, you convinced me.

I have to admit that I’ve finally found a positive to moving the Cocktail Party out of Jacksonville.  It would eliminate the topic as a source for this kind of dreck from Connor Riley.

I mean, Steve Spurrier, “power player”?  Seriously?


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Your Daily Gator is excited about recruiting.

You may not be aware of this, but Florida’s recruiting is on something of a roll over the past week.  The Gators now stand at a lofty sixth overall in the 247Sports Composite.

The eminently sensible David Wunderlich points out why it’s wise to temper some of that Orange and Blue excitement over that ranking.

In the SEC alone, there are five teams with better average rankings than Florida’s 89.82:  Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M and Auburn.  (And South Carolina and Tennessee aren’t that far behind Florida, either.)

In short, it’s a decent effort but not elite by national or even SEC standards, which is the point made by Florida’s 247 guy in this message board post:

1) Dan Mullen has done a good job shoring up the talent at the bottom and in the middle of the roster. I think in the SEC those spots on the roster are more important than other leagues in terms of maintaining success.

2) There’s still no doubt that UF needs to be a little more competitive with the programs currently on top of the CFB food chain in winning battles for elite prospects (i.e. five-stars and Top 100 types).

3) The difference between a Top 5 ranking and somewhere in, say, the 7-10 range or so, is typically just one or two truly elite recruits. UF hasn’t had those.

4) The improvement in building out the depth and talent on the bottom and middle of the roster (Point 1 in this thread) probably helps even more if you buy the theory Mullen and his staff are better evaluators than most.

5) I’m not convinced yet one way or another that Mullen and his staff ARE better evaluators than others. Few thoughts on this. Next tweet.

6) A) Not like they’re not going after most of the same top recruits the big dogs are; just not winning enough of those battles. Yet. B) The 2019 class is a tough data set in that regard, it actually looks better on paper by far than it already is (Steele, Jones, Black all gone).

7) Basically, I still don’t think it’s unfair at all to still have some lingering concerns about Mullen’s recruiting — see our jumping off point for this thread — while also realizing he’s improved the roster in spots that also matter considerably.

8) Recruiting will always have swings. Usually not as good or as bad as it seems. Florida’s on a good run right now. That’s encouraging. Not worth making any sweeping declarations one way or another still.

I’d quibble with his number three, because I’ve seen the results from years of Richt recruiting at that level and the distance between Georgia and the truly elite teams, talentwise, was greater than he suggests.  But the rest of what’s there is rather sound and not particularly blindly optimistic.

Needless to say, a lot of his message board readers aren’t seeing eye to eye with him.  Again, the general effect of this stuff is pure déjà vu if you’re a Georgia fan.  Only the jersey colors have changed.  Any season now, Florida will be back.  Count on it.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

One more look at the NCAA’s transfer waiver tweak

You know that famous line from Shawshank — “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”?  There’s an exception to that rule.

It’s when hope is the cornerstone of an NCAA policy.

There was plenty of negative reaction to yesterday’s announcement that the NCAA offered new guidelines meant to adjust the considerations that go into granting a waiver request for a student-athlete transfer.  The bulk of the criticism centered around two particular changes.

The first concerned players who are being shown the door by their current programs.

When a school requests a waiver because it asserts a student-athlete no longer has the opportunity to participate at his or her previous school, the new school must provide proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward-degree requirements at the new school and a statement from the previous school’s athletics director indicating whether the student could return to the team; whether the student was dismissed from the team and the date of dismissal; whether the student was in good academic standing at the time of departure; and the reasons the student gave the previous school for the transfer.

Can anyone really imagine Greg McGarity sitting down to write a letter of explanation about how Kirby Smart no longer wanted one of his players who was otherwise in good standing affiliated with the program?  I can’t, at least not voluntarily.

But — and here’s a big one — I can certainly see McGarity wilting under media pressure when that same kid (and maybe that kid’s momma) takes his problem publicly.  It’ll be a rerun of what we saw a few years ago when coaches would routinely, often to an absurd degree, block a kid’s transfer plans.  And just like those exercises of raw control led to NCAA changes in transfer policy, a few rounds of this will do exactly the same thing.  Generally speaking, athletic directors don’t have the stomach to front for their head coaches like this.

The second objection deals with health-related transfer waiver requests.

In cases where a student-athlete transfers because of the recent injury or illness of an immediate family member, the new school must provide contemporaneous medical documentation from the treating physician showing how the family member is debilitated; an explanation of the student-athlete’s role in providing care; confirmation from both the athletics director and faculty athletics representative that the student-athlete will be allowed to depart the team to provide care; a statement from the previous school’s athletics director explaining why the student-athlete said he or she was transferring; and proof that the student-athlete is in good academic standing and meeting progress-toward degree at the new school. The transfer must occur within or immediately after the academic year after learning of the injury or illness, and the guideline requires the new school be within 100 miles of the immediate family member.

So, you’ve got all this incredibly detailed and invasive information needed in order to consider the request, ladled on top of an arbitrary 100-mile requirement.  Sounds very workable.

I can’t get as worked up as many commentators have over this — Stewart Mandel ($$) simply throws his hands up and argues that the NCAA should do away with all restrictions on transfers — because I think even the NCAA itself knows this is little more than window dressing that isn’t likely to fix the problem.  (In its own words, “The changes were acknowledged as minor adjustments to the waiver process intended to clarify the requirements…”)

That’s because the problem isn’t with the specific guidelines.  It’s with the subjective nature of the waiver process itself.  As we’ve seen over the past few months, the schools and the NCAA aren’t equipped to split hairs in a way that is perceived as equitable.  These adjustments aren’t destined to work any better than the current arrangement; they’re simply offered in the hope that people will get off the organization’s back because it’s trying to do the right thing.

Good luck with that.

The real fix is simple.  Replace the subjectivity with an objective, one free bite at the transfer apple.

The solution here is so obvious, and so easy, that it almost defies logic schools haven’t already pushed for it. It’s time to give college football and basketball players a one-time pass during their career to transfer free and clear — no waivers, no extenuating circumstances, no questions.

While a consensus of athletics directors and coaches isn’t yet mentally ready to embrace that step, you can sense in conversations across college sports that it’s coming. This year? Probably not. Within five? Absolutely.

While the NCAA attempted to bring clarity to the waiver process Wednesday with what it characterized as small tweaks — the truth there lies deep in the weeds of NCAA policy wonkism — it’s still as transparent as mud. And the fundamental problem of two seemingly similar cases being adjudicated differently won’t go away, leading to more mistrust and frustration of the system both inside and outside the industry. And it’s going to create mountains of unnecessary work for compliance departments and NCAA staffers whose time could be much better spent on stuff that actually matters.

It’s a reaction to a reaction, which means there will be another reaction. So why not just get to the point here and let everyone play by the same rules?

Well, we know why.

Because the people in charge of big time college athletics are either dumbasses or control freaks.  Or both.


UPDATE:  Oops, I almost forgot.  John Infante does bring up a good point with the one, free transfer policy.

APR would have to be tweaked, I suppose, since it’s a standard that schools love to cling to as proof of their commitment to academics (I know, I know).  It’s an issue to be addressed, but it’s not an insurmountable one.


Filed under The NCAA, Transfers Are For Coaches.

A rising tide lifts all cupcakes.

You want to see another reason why Georgia has embraced home-and-home series against marquee opponents?  As this AJ-C chart indicates, the cost of bringing in sacrificial lambs keeps on climbing.

Screenshot_2019-06-27 What UGA spends for non-conference opponents

You can pay Directional U a couple of million to show up on a Saturday for a game that likely won’t engage your fan base, or you can schedule a two-game series with Notre Dame that electrifies them or take a big payout from a Kickoff Classic in Atlanta.  This might have been a tougher call a decade ago, but now the math is making it easier and easier.


Filed under Georgia Football