Daily Archives: February 26, 2020

Your 2.26.20 Playpen

I really have nothing in particular for y’all today, so how ’bout I share this amazing clip of a javelina racing through Tucson, Arizona?

Now I understand how a hunter can be killed by a feral pig.

And with that, the comments are yours.

47 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

Credit where credit’s due.

This is such a smart take by Jeff Schultz ($$) on why Kirby Smart’s offseason has been so impressive.

Since the end of a season that again came up short of the primary objective, Georgia head coach Kirby Smart has made over his offensive coaching staff (and possibly his philosophy), lured a highly regarded transfer quarterback to Athens, signed the nation’s top recruiting class and, as if banging a gong from the roof of the Butts-Mehre building, and with an evil laugh, stole renowned strength coach and motivational ninja Scott Cochran away from Alabama.

Imagine if all decision-makers in sports responded this way to failure.

This should not be taken as some declaration that Georgia is going to win the national championship, or even the SEC title, in 2020. But in the past eight weeks, Smart has exemplified how the steward of a sports program should operate after anything less than a championship. If the Bulldogs don’t win titles, it won’t be because Smart didn’t acknowledge that for as much as he has accomplished in his four seasons, it wasn’t nearly good enough.

There are no guarantees, in football or in life.  But as I wrote after Smart brought Monken on board,

As for Smart himself, again, I’m more impressed by his willingness to challenge himself in how best to manage his program.  I don’t know how Monken works out, but at least we now have evidence that Smart is open-minded about how to achieve success.  And as I also pointed out last week, in hiring two former head coaches to round out his staff, he’s also shown that he’s comfortable with himself.  (Not to mention that in hiring Luke and Monken, both of whom will have an opportunity to rehabilitate their reputations after being fired from their last positions, Kirby’s following a certain process á la Tuscaloosa.)

That last paragraph, more than anything else in this post, is why I’m optimistic about where the program is headed from here.

I don’t know if everything he’s done will work, but I’m impressed he’s trying.

38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Today, in when pundits fantasize

So, which of these two scenarios do you find more likely?

Scenario A:

 

Scenario B:

What comes next will determine whether this becomes a really good season or a great one. It’s Alabama, after all, which hasn’t lost to UT since Nick Saban took over the Tide in time for the 2007 season. But with this one being played in Neyland Stadium and ESPN’s “GameDay” crew in the house, make it Tennessee 27, Alabama 21 — and number of unlit victory cigars returned to Tuscaloosa 115 or so.

The problem with big victories is how you handle them. Because of that, the Vols catch a scheduling break in that the next two games after Alabama come on the road at woeful Arkansas, then home against the SEC team UT owns like no other — Kentucky.

This is not to say that neither of those teams absolutely, positively can’t beat the Big Orange. Just that they won’t. So if you’re doing the math, the Vols will arrive at Georgia’s Sanford Stadium on Nov. 14 with a 9-0 record, a Top 10 ranking (No. 4) and dreams of a College Football Playoff berth dancing in their heads.

Fortunately for UT, the Dawgs will arrive at this one more physically and mentally drained than the Vols, having just faced Florida in Jacksonville and South Carolina in Columbia. Once again, UT wins 24-22 to keep its date with the SEC title game alive.

The final two regular-season games are anticlimactic. Troy at home. Vanderbilt in Nashville, with 80% of the crowd clad in pale orange. What awaits is an SEC title game against Auburn. What awaits is a loss made tougher to swallow by Auburn true freshman defensive lineman Jay Hardy, the former McCallie School star who shockingly said no to the Big Orange, twice sacking Guarantano in the final quarter.

Still, 12-1 and heading to the Sugar Bowl is nothing to feel bad about.

48 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Gators, Gators...

Meet the new staff

Jake Rowe hands out the resumes of Kirby’s assistants, and it’s pretty clear one of those is unlike the others.

Cochran’s hired at Georgia came seemingly out of nowhere on Monday. Cochran arrives at UGA with zero years of on-field coaching experience. He spent the past 13 years at Alabama as the head strength and conditioning coach, helping the Crimson Tide to five National Championships. He was an assistant strength coach for the New Orleans Pelicans before that and was on LSU’s strength staff from 2001 to 2004. The first three years at his alma mater were as a graduate assistant and the fourth was as an assistant strength coach. According to Nick Saban and former Alabama players, Cochran has been aiming for an on-field job for awhile and he was reportedly pursued for such a role by Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffen earlier in 2020. [Emphasis added.]

It may not be a fatal flaw, but it’s certainly a gamble.  Although Seth Emerson indicates ($$) it may not be as big a gamble as it appears on its face.  For one thing, he’ll have plenty of help.

One former SEC coach told The Athletic that he thinks Cochran will be fine, having not only spent enough time around special teams units, but also because Georgia will give him staff resources to assist: Quality control coaches, graduate and/or student assistants, etc. (Greg Meyer is currently listed as a special teams analyst and Adam Ray as a quality control coach for special teams.) Georgia tight ends coach Todd Hartley was Miami’s special teams coordinator from 2016-18, so he can also assist.

For another, he apparently coached the special teams scout team at Alabama.  Obviously, that’s no substitute for real game experience, but it’s not nothing, either.

A couple of other notes about the coaches — one, note how every one of them who’s been in Athens for a couple of years at this point has notched some big wins on the recruiting trail. Cochran will be expected to make an impact there, as well.

Two, look at the experience Luke and Monken bring to the table, not just as position coaches, but as head coaches, too.  If Smart wants to give his key assistants some autonomous space, they’ve certainly got the chops to know what to do with it.

All in all, it’s the most intriguing mix of assistants Smart’s assembled.

9 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Is this time different for Saban?

David Ching suggests there’s something to that with Scott Cochran’s departure.

However, something felt different about veteran strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran’s departure, which was announced on Monday. Kirby Smart swiping Cochran away from Saban’s staff was Alabama’s most deflating defection since … Georgia swiped Smart away near the end of the 2015 season.

Aside from Saban himself, these were the cornerstones of the Alabama dynasty. Smart was the longtime defensive coordinator who teamed with Saban as architects of some of the most fearsome defenses the SEC has ever seen. Cochran was the guy who held it all together behind the scenes, leading a strength program that was widely credited for helping Alabama return to glory.

Now they’re both in Athens and Saban will be forced to make yet another landmark hire.

Screenshot_2020-02-26 Scott Cochran’s Departure Could Be The Landmark Event That Places Nick Saban’s Dynasty In Jeopardy

Five years from now, it will be fascinating to retrace the ripple effects of this move. Will this be the turning point in Saban’s tenure – the sea-change event where the 68-year-old coach’s good fortune began to fade? Or will it be business as usual, with Saban filling Cochran’s position just as capably as he did after parting ways with Smart, Major Applewhite, McElwain, Nussmeier, Kiffin, Brian Daboll and Mike Locksley?

This is about more than simply hiring another great strength coach, though. Saban will surely manage to do that – particularly given the stature of his program and the salary Alabama is able to dedicate to the position. Cochran, 40, was one of the nation’s highest-paid strength coaches ($595,000) last season according to USA Today’s annual coaching salary database.

Replacing Cochran also means replacing a major portion of Alabama’s football culture – a staff member on all six national-championship teams that Saban has coached, dating all the way back to his first title at LSU in 2003.

Man, two Herbstreit tweets on Cochran.  Is that like DEFCON 3, or what?

Even after writing that, Ching can’t quite bring himself to say it marks the end of an era in Tuscaloosa.  After all, this is Nick Saban we’re talking about.

Meanwhile, replacing an assistant of Cochran’s stature will be no easy feat. But if any active college football coach is capable of doing it, Saban has a lengthy track record that suggests he will be just fine.

All I can say is that I find it remarkable that a strength coach can have this much apparent impact on a football program.

20 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules

Forget it, Jake. It’s Athens.

Devonte Wyatt, come on down.

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

UPDATE:  Kirbs is definitely feeling “been there, done that” today.

19 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, Georgia Football

TFW it’s just another year in Athens

Shockingly, Bud Elliott’s list of coaches facing pivotal years (“a list of coaches for whom the 2020 season could be pivotal in their tenure at their current schools, and thus their career”) doesn’t include Kirby Smart’s name.

How can that be?  Somebody needs to catch up on their message board reading.

3 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football