Daily Archives: January 12, 2020

Shoes to fill

It’s been amusing, to say the least, to see the social media reaction to the Newman signing, particularly in regard to Gator Nation, which, in addition to already measuring the space to add the 2020 SEC East trophy, has shown a proclivity for knowing what Georgia’s offensive scheme is and will be.

(As an aside, I had no idea those folks were so butthurt over Beck’s decision to come to Georgia.  But, as usual, I digress.)

Not so funny, though, is what I read from Newman’s training guru about the same.

“In the offense that they are running, they haven’t been in a position where they could add to the game with the quarterback runs,” Avery said, citing Fromm’s limited mobility. “They’ll be able to do that, but I think it will be limited.”

The modified version of the Bulldogs’ offense will stay balanced, but Newman adds a dimension Fromm could not.

Avery indicated Georgia coach Kirby Smart isn’t looking for any offensive gadgetry from Newman.

“He’s going to allow Jamie to pass the football, drive the ball down the field and outside the hashes,” Avery said. “When things break down and they’re not available outside, then I think they’re going to be able to use his legs.

“It’s not gonna be a bunch of quarterback runs, although, he has the ability to do that as well as anyone in the country.”

I’m not looking for any offensive gadgetry from Newman, either, but I sure am hoping for less of that “outside the hashes” stuff.  Georgia’s passing game desperately needs to reacquaint itself with the middle of the field.

I assume Avery is getting some of that from Newman himself, but I’m still uncertain how much anyone can rely on anything about Georgia’s offensive philosophy going forward until we see how Smart fills the open position on the coaching staff.  (NOTE TO READERS:  I am probably putting too much hope in the new guy and you are free to mock me for doing so when Kirby brings on somebody he touts as being a wizard in the run game.)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“This conference is loaded with quality coaches. That’s what makes it exciting.”

For the record, I don’t see Mike Leach ever collecting that million dollar bonus at Mississippi State.  Or the half-million one, for that matter.  I suspect his AD doesn’t expect that, either.

But I don’t see his situation as hopeless, either.  For one thing, he’s made a decent career out of raising a program’s profile and success, as Andy Staples ($$) summarized:

… Leach has succeeded in two far-flung Power 5 outposts with marginal history already. Texas Tech has a .540 winning percentage without Leach and a .661 winning percentage (84-43) with him. Washington State had a .494 winning percentage without Leach and a .539 winning percentage (55-47) with him, and that includes the three years it took to dig out from Paul Wulff’s disastrous tenure.

Like him or not, Leach has made an also-ran SEC West program relevant in a way few other hires Mississippi State could have made.

“Ah”, you say (assuming you’re a skeptic), “but now Leach has to try to win in a significantly tougher setting than he’s ever faced before.”  Skeptical you has a good point there.  There are a couple of good rebuttals to offer, though.

For one, this isn’t the Air Raid’s first rodeo in the SEC.  As I’ve noted before, Leach and Hal Mumme had a pretty notable run together at Kentucky in the late nineties.  Don’t think Leach doesn’t lack confidence he can be an offensive PITA again.  And he’s probably right.

The second rebuttal is that, while the opposition has gone up a degree in toughness, so has Leach’s access to resources.  Again, from Staples:

Mississippi State is like Texas Tech and Washington State in that it is one of the more remote campuses in its league. But it is different in its proximity to talent. The state of Mississippi is rich with players, and it’s close enough to Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia and northern Florida to attract players from those areas. Also, the Mississippi junior college system — which the coach at Mississippi State is expected to mine — can provide ready access to players from other places who may have needed a little extra work coming out of high school.

It’s not just players, either.  Mississippi State may have one of the lowest athletic budgets in the conference, but compared to where Leach has been, it’s flush.

Leach will enter the league facing doubts about whether his offense can succeed in the most cutthroat division in college football. He’ll also do it at the place that spends the least on football in the SEC West, according to figures provided to the U.S. Department of Education for the 2017-18 school year.

Texas A&M: $82.6 million

Alabama: $62.9 million

Arkansas: $44.6 million

Auburn: $43.6 million

LSU: $31.5 million

Ole Miss: $30.2 million

Mississippi State: $23.2 million

But least is relative. Washington State spent $20 million last year. And look how close Mississippi State is to LSU, which is playing for the national title on Monday. At a certain point, you’re just rich. And everyone in the SEC is rich at the moment and about to get richer when Disney/ESPN kicks in a few more hundred million a year to buy the SEC’s top game each weekend in a deal that will replace the bargain CBS currently gets. Leach has never been at a place with this kind of resources — monetary or natural.

Washington State doesn’t have an indoor practice facility.  According to USA Today, the salary pool for Leach’s assistants at Wazzou totalled $3,463,790.  Mississippi State just upped that amount by more than a third.  You may disagree, but Leach probably feels like he’s died and gone to heaven a little bit.

So, do I think Mike Leach is about to establish some sort of SEC West dynasty?  Nah, not even close.  Do I think he’s going to up MSU’s game, enjoy the occasional upset of one of the West’s powers and entertain the fan base?  Yeah, pretty much.  I expect they’ll be pretty happy about where that $5 million salary will be going.

What do you guys think?

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Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!, SEC Football

“Is it worth the $20-per-ticket price?”

I’m not going to pretend this piece has all the answers to the question why college football appears to have an attendance problem, but I will say the geniuses who run college athletics ignore the students who will become the alumni base they need to sell tickets to in ten to twenty years at their peril.

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Filed under College Football