Daily Archives: June 17, 2020

“I’m sure he’ll be a great coach for the special teams.”

“I trust Kirby Smart,” said Pittman, who spent four years on staff as offensive line coach and was also associate head coach. “Kirby, with his hires, has been outstanding in what he’s done. He knew Coach Cochran. I promise you he’ll be a good special teams coordinator because Kirby’s not a guy that just hires guys on whims or anything of that nature, on recommendations of other people. He does his homework.”

That’s a quote from the guy who hired away Smart’s last special teams coach, the move that opened up the spot for Cochran’s hire.

And here’s an indication of how Cochran is going to go about his business in the new job:

“Coach Cochran has said he would like to use me as a resource to kind of help him be the best special teams coach he can be and best relate to the specialists that he’s going to be dealing with in the future,” said Blankenship who won the Lou Groza Award last season as the nation’s top kicker and wrapped up his Bulldog career as the program’s all-time leading scorer.

Blankenship plans to take Cochran up on that.

I’m sure there’s going to be a learning curve for him, but you’ve got to appreciate the thought that went into the decision to hire, as well as Cochran’s natural drive to do his job well.  We’ll see where things go.



Filed under Georgia Football

Steelemas is back.

Good news.

Another sign of returning normalcy…


Filed under Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water

Montana senses a gap.

From today’s Mandel Mailbag ($$):

We’ve read (and heard) Andy Staples’ take on the Gators, but what are your thoughts on Dan Mullen in Year 3 and beating Kirby Smart to get to Atlanta? — Oscar U.

… But I don’t think the talent gap between Georgia and Florida has narrowed nearly as much as most Gators fans believe. First of all, Smart has recruited better than any coach in the country over the past four years, so it’s a tough measuring stick to begin with. Using the aforementioned Blue Chip Ratio metric, Florida under Mullen has improved from a dismal 37 percent in 2017 (thanks, Jim McElwain) to 63 percent in 2020, but that’s still 20 points behind Georgia’s 83 percent.

That gap is probably most pronounced at two positions: offensive line and running back. Georgia had two tackles, Andrew Thomas and Isaiah Wilson, picked in the first round in April, and another starter, Cade Mays, transfer to Tennessee. All were former five-star recruits. Their possible replacements include six former top-100 recruits. Conversely, Florida hasn’t produced a first-round O-lineman since 2015, was fairly average on the O-line last season and has just one former top-100 recruit among its current group (left guard Richard Gouraige). And we all know Georgia’s ridiculous line of running backs, most recently D’Andre Swift, a high second-rounder. Conversely, when Florida’s Lamical Perine went in the fourth round this year, he somehow became Florida’s highest-picked running back since 2005.

Maybe they haven’t heard about the Portal Master™ out there yet.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Hoisted on amateurism’s petard

If you have a subscription to The Athletic, you owe it to yourself to read Andy Staples’ column today on why college football players have the leverage they suddenly have ($$).  There’s a long history leading up to where we are today.

The tl;dr version is this:

When such situations arose in the past, scholarships would be threatened and the players would be brought to heel. That won’t happen now because the players grasp exactly what the disparate events described have combined to create.

The players understand the economic power they wield by their participation in the games. ESPN, Fox and CBS are paying for TV shows, and if the schools don’t deliver those shows, the networks don’t have to pay…

The players understand the schools would be quite unwilling to yank the scholarships of more than a handful of people because regular students don’t get their scholarships yanked for political activism or for raising issues about the environment on campus. When you’ve built an entire legal defense on that idea, it probably wouldn’t be wise if school leaders did to players what a business might do to employees in a similar situation. That probably would open the door for more lawsuits.

Of course, the leverage would be very different if college athletes’ received monetary compensation for their services that could be withheld.  Ironic, ain’t it?


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Your 6.17.20 Playpen

I may make this the official logo of the Playpen:


Anyway, let’s get to it.

In one corner, Clay Travis.

In the other, Andy Staples.

But there’s something unique about the power dynamics in college football. I spoke with Andy Staples, a college football writer at the Athletic, who told me that football players at big-time programs have realized something very important: “Without them, there is no athletic department.” As many universities make deep cuts to athletic programs in a fiscal response to the coronavirus pandemic, Staples said that athletic directors are well aware that college football, a multibillion-dollar industry attracting hundreds of thousands to stadiums and tens of millions of viewers every year, is the golden goose they need to survive.

“[Programs] have to have a football season or basically everybody loses their jobs because there’s no money,” he said. “So the football players are looking at this and going, ‘Wait a second, they need us at this point even more than we need them.’”

… Staples noted during our conversation that many coaches are trying to educate themselves during this moment. “Most coaches really do care about their players. They want them to succeed. They want them to be happy. And I think there’s a lot of coaches that are looking and saying, how can I help understand better so that I can do the job better?” (And it doesn’t hurt, from their perspective, that speaking out in favor of racial equality could also help recruit and retain future players.[Emphasis added.]

So, who you got?  More to the point, who you got, personally speaking, as a college football fan, versus who you got, if you were a head football coach?

Have at it in the comments.  (Don’t make me send you to time out, you scamps.)


Filed under GTP Stuff

“In other words: sign here, you’re on your own.”

Ohio State AD Gene Smith, on the Buckeye Pledge:

“You have to put yourselves in the shoes of a 17- or 18-year-old,” said Smith, adding that he worries only about the behavior of a small share of the 118 players on the football roster. “When they go to their apartment, we don’t control that environment. We don’t control what they do on the weekends. We don’t control what they do on July 4.”

He’s got a legitimate point there.  Teenagers can certainly do their fair share of risky behavior and there’s only so much a school can do in response.

The problem is, the school in this case isn’t really promising to do much of anything at all in response.

At the moment, it looks like this: being required to sign a “pledge” of all the things you will agree to do — monitor yourself for symptoms, quarantine after a positive test, follow the medical staff’s instructions, stay home if feeling sick, frequently sanitize your hands and keep personal and shared spaces clean.

Nowhere does the two-page document detail any steps that are required from the school — like how a player in isolation would get food or medical treatment, or how frequently he and his teammates will be tested. Also, Ohio State is among the schools not releasing any testing data to the public.

But the document does say that the virus is highly contagious and that Ohio State, which has opened its campus for essential programs like elective medical procedures, dental training, lab research and football, is following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

Show up and play, kids.  They’ll keep their fingers crossed.

In loco parentis, my ass.


Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

The next LSU?

Bruce Feldman, bringing the Dawg porn ($$):

Last year at this time, few pegged LSU as a national title contender…

Is there another top-10-caliber program primed to make a similar leap in 2020? The Athletic talked to several coaches around football to gather some intel on the programs we think have the best shot at finding such a springboard…

And your leading contender, with 6-1 odds, is…


The Dawgs feel pretty close to being a national title team. Lord knows, they’ve been bringing in five-star recruits at a staggering rate since Kirby Smart took over. Two years ago, they had Alabama on the ropes in the national championship game. Last year, Georgia got blown off the field by LSU in the SEC championship. Smart shook up his offensive staff and brought in 53-year-old Todd Monken, who has done some very impressive work as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State and with the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Plus, he turned around the Southern Miss program during a three-year run as head coach from 2013-15. He is a really well-respected offensive mind by his peers.

Here’s the book on Monken from those who have worked with him: He’s a whiz with the passing game. He’s got some Air-Raid background with a little NFL influence. He’s very creative, very detail-oriented and great with receivers. His quarterbacks and wideouts know where the ball needs to go and Monken has a lot of savvy in terms of what passing concepts work best against certain looks. The Dawgs could use a jolt in their pass game. They ranked No. 47 in passing efficiency in 2019 and were No. 65 in pass plays of 20 yards or longer.

The downside is what you’d expect — no spring… er, um, Monken having to work a bunch of new faces into the offensive attack.

But there is plenty of talent.  Smart’s seen to that.  I’ll take my chances with that and a guy who’s seen as a whiz with the passing game, even if that doesn’t quite lead to the second coming of LSU, 2019.


Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“I think Newman’s way more talented.”

Greg McElroy compares Jamie Newman with Alabama’s Mac Jones.

But he doesn’t think Georgia’s offense is as talented as Alabama’s.


Filed under Alabama, Georgia Football

Today, in open records requests

Shades of Pork Rind Jimmy.

It just means more.  Yar!


Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!

Keeping up with the Joneses.

Bud Elliott updates what he calls The Sunshine State Scorecard, and it’s not pretty if you’re one of the home state teams chasing elite in state talent.

In recent years the trends for the state of Florida have not been encouraging for the in-state schools. For three consecutive classes more than half of the state’s four- and five-stars have left for out-of-state schools.

A rolling four-year average also provides an interesting look.

2005-08: 60% of Florida blue-chips stayed in-state.
2009-12: 52%
2013-16: 47%
2017-20: 47%

It has been even more drastic for top-100 players leaving the state. For four classes running, top-100 players from Florida have left the state more often than they have stayed home.

Again, a rolling four-year average also provides an interesting look.

2005-08: 66% of Florida top-100 recruits stayed in-state.
2009-12: 58%
2013-16: 56%
2017-20: 44%

Of the three Florida powerhouses, Elliott thinks the Gators may hold an advantage over the other two for the 2021 class, but Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Clemson are still getting more than their share of Florida’s top recruits.

This is the Portal Master™ we’re talking about, though, so he’s got a plan to make inroads out of state for elite talent, right?

You’ve got to figure coaches like Saban and Smart are chomping at the bit right now to get back out on the recruiting trail with out of state kids, frustrated by the pandemic’s restrictions on direct contact, but doing the best they can with what they’ve got to work with.  Mullen, on the other hand, sees the current state of affairs as a handy workaround for the future when things return to a semblance of normality.

That probably helps to explain the latest Sports247 Composite average recruit scores:

  • Alabama:  94.29
  • Georgia:  94.05
  • Florida:  89.73

Good thing Dan’s such a wizard with three-stars.


Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Nick Saban Rules, Recruiting