Daily Archives: March 11, 2020

Kirby’s dilemma

This ($$), I think, fully qualifies as an existential choice for Georgia’s head coach.

Coley’s connections in the area, and his recruiting prowess in general, was partly why Smart was so reluctant to let him get away. But the ability to bring in Todd Monken to rejuvenate the offense ultimately took priority.

Not that he sought my approval, but that was the right call.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

Your 3.11.20 Playpen

It’s spring, when an older man’s heart turns to pondering the coronavirus.  (If you were married to someone as obsessed with it as my spouse is, you’d be pondering, too.)  I thought I’d throw a couple of topics related to the illness out for discussion today.

First, the scariest thing right now is that we simply don’t know enough about it.  We also probably won’t have a vaccine available for the general population until 2021.  In the meantime, that leaves us with mitigation as the best defense.  We’re already seeing a number of sporting events around the world being affected, with, I suspect, plenty more to come.

Along those lines, I wonder if G-Day is going to be open to the public next month, or cancelled outright.  That, at least, is a decision that doesn’t cost the athletic department money.  But what happens come September if the best advice from experts is to stay away from big crowds, especially in a closed setting, like Georgia’s opener at MBS?  Where does Butts-Mehre take things?  Or the SEC, for that matter?  I really don’t know right now, but that has the potential to be an expensive proposition.

On a somewhat lighter note, I was sitting around with several friends last night, Georgia fans all, and one suggested a marketing idea that… well, I wanted to mock, but started to think in this day and age wasn’t as crazy as it first sounded.  The idea?  Medical masks with school logos on them.

Yeah, me, too.

Have at it in the comments.

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UPDATE:  Saying it out loud

A top federal health official told lawmakers on Wednesday that the coronavirus would continue to spread in the United States, issuing a stark warning: “The bottom line: It is going to get worse,” said Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

He indicated that the National Basketball Association should bar audiences from its games. “We would recommend that there not be large crowds. If that means not having any people in the audience as the N.B.A. plays, so be it,” he said.

He really means more than just the NBA, right?

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UPDATE #2:

154 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

Is The Portal Master™ upping his recruiting game?

Bud Elliott explores the question and concludes it’s too soon to tell.

The Florida Gators may be changing their fortunes now with two-consecutive double-digit win seasons under Dan Mullen.

Between in-state schools, Florida is in clear position this spring to take advantage, with recent failures by Florida State and extended struggles by Miami. The last two times two programs struggled mightily for a prolonged period, the third program in the state pounced (Jimbo Fisher beating up on Will Muschamp and Randy Shannon, and previously, Urban Meyer taking advantage of Bobby Bowden and Larry Coker). Could Dan Mullen and the Gators be in line to do the same? It’s possible.

So far, Miami has four commitments from four- and five-stars in the state of Florida. The Gators have three, and Florida State has one. But the Gators clearly hold the edge early on.

As far as out-of-state schools, there isn’t much to report so far. Clemson has two commitments from four-star recruits, and no other out-of-state school has any.

But — and there’s a big one:

Safety James Williams, the state’s top prospect, is widely expected to pick the Georgia Bulldogs. And feedback from recent Under Armour camps in Orlando and Miami suggest that schools such as Georgia, Clemson, Alabama, and LSU have a lot of traction with the best of the very best.

In other words, don’t quit your day job scouring the transfer portal yet, Dan.

13 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

Containment

I have to admit I’m guilty of the mindset that Georgia’s containment quality on defense is largely a matter of how good the line play is, but Dayne Young and Brent Rollins suggest that with Kirby Smart, it’s much more a matter of overall defensive alignment.

Dayne: You’ve probably noticed that Kirby Smart tends to avoid giving firm answers when reporters ask about the defensive schemes. Part of that is because the Bulldogs play multiple defenses and ask defenders to be versatile. There is no quick and simple explanation of Georgia’s defensive tendencies because it all adjusts based on what the opposing offense is showing.

Old Base

Georgia clogs the interior on an inside run.

Georgia clogs the interior on an inside run.

Dayne: The problem with having five players prowl the line of scrimmage is that it allows for running plays to bounce outside, as defenders are clogged inside. Georgia is making a shift away from leaning so heavily on bigger outside linebackers/defensive ends, and relying on fast and tall defenders who can line up at a variety of spots.

Brent: This is the old school, base 3-4 defense: nose tackle occupying the center, two 275-plus pound defensive ends, two outside linebackers (Nolan Smith and Walter Grant on this play) along the line of scrimmage, and two inside linebackers (Monty Rice and Quay Walker here). The defense is then rounded out by the two corners and two safeties in the secondary, with Richard LeCounte being the eighth defender in the box on this play. Given the evolution of offenses, and particularly the rise of 11 personnel (remember? One RB, one TE, three WRs), it is rare to see the Bulldogs in their “base” 3-4. In fact, in 2019, only 12.5 percent of plays were played from this base 3-4 personnel.

New Base

The Bulldogs are fast enough to make up ground quickly.

The Bulldogs are fast enough to make up ground quickly.

Dayne: Georgia’s base has adjusted over the years to better cover every quadrant of the field. The star position has become vital to Georgia to increase the athleticism on the field.

Brent: While often not the true star of the defense, the Star position is a part of Georgia’s true base defense. Mark Webb above is the “star,” or fifth defensive/nickel cornerback. Especially on early downs, this gives rise to the typical alignment you see from a Bulldog defense. The 4-2-5 look with three true defensive linemen, mainly functioning as run stoppers and an edge defender, or “jack,” (Azeez Ojulari above) on the line of scrimmage. Then, two linebackers in the middle, one of which is typically bigger, and the force player against the run on the strong side (e.g., Monty Rice), and another on the weak side that is faster and better in coverage (e.g. Tae Crowder). The star then plays in the slot, two outside corners and the two safeties, one of whom typically plays on the wide side of the field (J.R. Reed) and the other typically on the short side of the field (LeCounte). Georgia had this 4-2-5 alignment on 62 percent of its defensive plays last season.

Based on that, the secondary’s role in containment is more significant than I credited before reading that.  (It also illustrates why Webb, who did struggle at times in pass coverage last season, was on the field so much at star.)  Definitely food for thought.

3 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

The price you pay your broadcast partner

This is not a pretty picture.

Screenshot_2020-03-11 College football must innovate as FBS attendance dips for sixth straight year to lowest since 1996

As you can imagine, there is a lot of flopping around concerning solutions to stem the decline, most of them tired, like better wi-fi.  There are also duh suggestions, like winning and beefing up home schedules (great, if you’re a P5 athletic director who can cut deals with your peers; not so great if you’re working at, say, a MAC school).

One big problem is structural.

TV ratings continue to soar because it is increasingly easier to stay home. College football is the nation’s second-most popular sport. But its attractiveness as a live event is slipping.

Mickey’s money is so good, it reduces the pressure on schools to find a long term attendance fix.

Speaking of ESPN, here’s the other problem:

We already know the attendance drop has reached the highest level. The seven games run by the College Football Playoff posted a record low in cumulative attendance following the 2019 season. That marked the halfway point of the 12-year CFP contract with ESPN.

Not to mention, the CFP has contributed to making it a playoff-or-bust discussion in the country. Check those Tuesday nights in November when ESPN has made appointment viewing out of the weekly CFP Rankings.

“If you watch college football in this day and age, the only teams people are talking about is the six teams that can make the College Football Playoff,” Dykes said. “If you’re not one of those six teams, you lose interest in your team a little bit.”

That’s the price you pay for letting a network nationalize the appeal of your product.  Wi-fi won’t do a damned thing about that.

43 Comments

Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil

The next gold rush

If I didn’t make the context clear enough in my post yesterday about Scott Frost and Nebraska’s move to help its athletes market themselves, allow The Athletic’s Nicole Auerbach to spell it out for you ($$).

As the biggest sports brand in a state without any professional franchises, the Huskers are uniquely positioned to profit off of the coming legislative changes; a star receiver in Lincoln won’t be competing against NBA players for endorsements and sponsorships to the extent he might in Los Angeles or Miami. And they aren’t alone. Auburn and Alabama share a state without professional sports, too, with rabid fan bases focused on the only game(s) in town. Iowa has no professional sports teams, either, and it’s not hard to imagine local companies falling all over each other to sponsor the latest, greatest Hawkeye tight end. And those are just some of the more extreme examples of colleges located a considerable trek from the nearest big-league franchise.

What’s the over/under on the number of staffers Saban’s already got working on this?

6 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Recruiting

Don’t bogart that drug penalty, my friend.

When I hear a coach say something like, “My deal is the welfare of the student athlete and what best helps that”, my initial tendency is to wince, but Lincoln Riley’s comments about the NCAA’s stance on marijuana make me wonder if that’s the next big frontier the organization is forced to confront.

When asked about if he anticipated the NCAA enacting looser marijuana rules similar to the MLB and NHL, Riley said he sees it in the future, but is unclear as to when it would happen.

Marijuana is now legal medically in 33 states, including Oklahoma, but Riley said players with medical cards are not exempt from marijuana tests.

Testing positive for weed means a half-season suspension under current NCAA guidelines, something that’s bound to be tested as society continues to move closer to de-criminalization or outright legalization.  It’s a stance that’s hard to justify, considering that marijuana isn’t performance enhancing.

22 Comments

Filed under Crime and Punishment, The NCAA