Daily Archives: July 28, 2020

COVID, you’re not helping…

the NCAA get its antitrust relief from Congress, that is.

All of this is happening in the shadow of the raging debate over athlete compensation, an issue that has reached the steps of the U.S. Capitol. The NCAA is asking Congress to create friendly legislation to govern name, image and likeness (NIL). Their requests are aggressive. The NCAA is seeking a federal universal standard to preempt differing state NIL laws and an antitrust exemption from NIL lawsuits, while also requesting any bill include a bevy of athlete restrictions.

The handling of virus-related matters from college leaders is under the watchful eye of lawmakers who say the two issues, NIL and the virus, are related. “I hope Congress is watching,” says Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.). “I hope Congress is seeing what the real priorities for these schools are because it will educate our decision on how much power to give the NCAA and schools when it comes to an NIL bill. There’s definitely an interest in handing over a lot of power of endorsement deals to the schools and the NCAA. Given what’s happened in the last few months, that increasingly looks like a bad idea.”

In an interview with SI, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says the two issues are related in that they are exposing a “hesitant leadership team” at NCAA headquarters. The NCAA only last week released detailed, in-season medical guidelines—a week after an NIL hearing on Capitol Hill turned into an inquiry about the NCAA’s lack of leadership as it relates to the virus. “The lack of leadership issue is what is swimming through the offices at the NCAA and I don’t know if it’s a curable disease,” Blackburn says.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is at the heart of the NIL debate in DC. He’s calling for more expanded reform at the NCAA and plans to craft legislation he refers to as an athlete bill of rights. “The question in both the (virus) and NIL is whether athletes again are going to be exploited by schools for the benefit of the institutions over the interest of the athlete,” Blumenthal tells SI in a recent interview.

These days, it takes a rare talent to generate bipartisan hostility in the Senate.  So, at least college athletics has that going for it.

5 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

Saban vs. the field

Screenshot_2020-07-28 Chris Marler on Twitter What if I told that only 3 SEC Head Coaches had a career winning record vs To[...]

Welp, seeing as most of them face Saban regularly, I can’t really say I’m too surprised.

Changing divisions might be the best thing that ever happened to the Portal Master™, though.

33 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

This could be the year. Or not.

You will be shocked, shocked to learn that there isn’t a Georgia play in this clip.

Ah, well.  Tre’ McKitty, you’re up next.

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Plan? What plan?

I honestly feel for Greg McGarity here.

Meanwhile, the SEC and Big 12, the other two conferences that make up what’s known as the Power 5, want to hold off as long as possible before making a determination. They’re both known to favor sticking to their 12-game schedules as is, if at all possible. But their actions eventually may be dictated by other leagues’ decisions.

McGarity doesn’t have a sense either way. But he hopes there is some finality soon.

“I hope it’s imminent because we need to move on,” McGarity said.

I’d be frustrated, too.  But what can you do when you’ve got a commissioner saying something like this?

As the Power 5 conferences continue to navigate the return of fall sports amid the coronavirus pandemic, and more decisions could be made this week about what that might look like for college football, it’s plausible each league’s plan is ultimately different — and Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby told ESPN on Monday that can work.

“They can’t be incompatible,” Bowlsby said, “but they don’t have to be identical.”

Thanks for narrowing that down, Bob.

Translated from the original commissioner-ese, all that tells me is the suits are going to get some games in, come hell or high water, and worry about the consequences later.  That’s got to be a tremendous comfort for folks like McGarity, who get to face the impatience of their fan base while trying to make sense of a season.

8 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, Georgia Football, SEC Football

“… and I think it depends on how you define ‘good.’”

DawgOutWest asks the musical question,

With Georgia returning nine starters off of the country’s number one defense in 2019, how insanely good should we expect Georgia’s defense to be in 2020?”

His take is that we should expect some regression, for two reasons.

The only SEC teams that didn’t have their starting quarterback go down last year were Texas A&M, Auburn, Georgia and LSU. Georgia’s defense was incredible last year, but facing backup quarterbacks does help the numbers. That being said, there’s a bigger reason why I think Georgia will give up more points and yards in 2020 than they did in 2019, and that reason is Todd Monken.

Monken left the Browns because they didn’t give him full control over play calling. Logic says that he was promised creative control over the offense when he left the NFL and took a job in the college ranks.

If you look at Monken’s history, there are some formational similarities, but he appears to be the type of coach who lets personnel dictate scheme. Some folks have labeled Monken as an Air Raid offensive coordinator. That’s not correct, but it is definitely fair to say that he is a pass-first play caller.

What’s also clear is that Monken offenses score points. That’s good. It will make Georgia a healthier and more well-rounded football program to have an offense that is more capable of explosive plays than the one in 2019 was. So what does this have to do with the defense?

Well first off, explosive plays create more possessions in games. Georgia ranked 18th in average time of possession in 2019. The Dawgs struggled to get chunk plays through the air, especially after Lawerence Cager was lost for the season due to injury. When the team scored touchdowns they did it on long drives.

Another effect of Georgia’s offensive woes last season was that the Dawgs didn’t build big leads very often. That means teams tended to stay in their base offensive packages and run the gameplan that they came into the game with. If Monken’s offense is as successful as I expect in 2020, you will see more games where teams scrap their plans in the third quarter and run full no-huddle air-raid attacks in an attempt to lengthen the game. That is another factor that would leave to more possessions and more yards given up by the defense.

With regard to his first point, true, but we don’t know to what extent that will play out in 2020.  Given the circumstances, it’s not unreasonable to expect some teams having to turn to their backup quarterbacks this season.  What we do know, though, is that Georgia won’t see Joe Burrow this season. Thank Gawd.

Screenshot_2020-07-28 seth galina on Twitter 51% of Joe Burrow's throws went to the middle of the field last season (15 yar[...]

I, for one, will not miss that guy.  But I digress.

The more important point is the second one he raises.  Monken’s track record running college offenses does in fact suggest that Georgia will run more plays than it had previously under Chaney and Coley.  Here’s their record of offensive plays per game:

  • 2016:  70.7
  • 2017:  65
  • 2018:  65.9
  • 2019:  67.1

And here’s Monken’s (first two seasons at Oklahoma State, last three at Southern Miss):

  • 2011:  75.9
  • 2012:  78
  • 2013:  68
  • 2014:  71.5
  • 2015:  73.8

That looks like roughly five more plays per game.

That’s only half the story, of course.  The other half is how many plays Georgia’s opponents ran.

  • 2016:  64.3
  • 2017:  63.6
  • 2018:  62.9
  • 2019:  62.2

For what it’s worth, I took a look at OSU’s numbers for 2011 and 2012.  Both seasons saw their opponents run more plays per game (83.8 and 79.5, respectively) than the Cowboys did.  How much of that reflects Monken’s success on offense and how much reflects how bad OSU’s defenses were those two seasons, I couldn’t say.  (Not to mention Big 12’s gonna Big 12.)

If I had to guess, though, I’d expect that if Monken is able to improve Georgia’s offense, Georgia’s run defense numbers will be at least as stout as they were in 2019.  As for the pass defense, it will be tested more, but it will be in circumstances where the Dawgs have made the opposing offense more one-dimensional.  Which brings up another point:

In the lead up to the 2019 season, we read article after article about how Kirby Smart was preaching “havoc rate.” Havoc rate is measured by the percentage of plays that a defense creates a turnover, tackle for loss or a sack. Despite leading the NCAA in team defense, Georgia only averaged just over one turnover a game last year. Every other team in the Top 14 averaged at least 1.5 turnovers a game. The Dawgs also ranked just 83rd in the NCAA with only 1.8 sacks per a game.

Havoc, baby.  No way to know how that plays out, but it does lead me to the weirdest stat I came across in researching this post:  your national leader in turnover margin in the 2011 season.

Needless to say, I’m curious to see what’s coming.

22 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

“We’ll be following pro sports to see what they do.”

Shot ($$).

Less than a week into the start of its regular season, baseball appears to have been caught flat-footed and it demonstrates the need for college football to have a clear plan about handling an outbreak. For as much as college football has been criticized over the past month for its lack of a national plan, its leaders have focused on flexibility and the ability to adjust on the fly. That sounds great in theory, but as the past two days have shown us, it’s tougher than it sounds to react to a major outbreak in the moment. The potential ripple effects for a sport in-season are very real, and those effects spread quickly.

Clear plans and strict protocols are more important than ever.

Chaser.

The Marlins learned Sunday morning that their starting pitcher for the afternoon and two other players had tested positive for COVID-19 and would be unable to play.

An apparent coronavirus outbreak was underway in the visitors’ clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park and the Marlins responded by asking their shortstop to determine if the game against the Phillies would be played.

“He’s kind of an unofficial team captain of our club,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said of Miguel Rojas. “He’s always texting the group and getting the feelings of the group. So when we’re dealing with situations or things, that’s usually who we’re working through.”

Major League Baseball issued a 113-page operations manual to all club employees before the start of the season. It outlines everything from on-field rules to testing procedures and what happens if a player tests positive. But Sunday afternoon, the status of the game amid a coronavirus outbreak was decided by a group text message among Marlins players.

“We made the decision that we’re going to continue to do this and we’re going to continue to be responsible and just play the game as hard as we can,” Rojas said.

Yeah, that worked well.  Best laid plans, and all.  Makes you wonder which college football coach decides to take a similar bull by the horns, safety protocols be damned.

As hard as some of y’all try to reduce this to a binary choice of live free or cancel living, the people running college football are doing the same thing almost all of us are doing in real life, assessing their tolerance for risk.  Sure, their task is complicated by the PR of insisting college athletes are not employees, but bottom line, they’re simply trying to figure out where the tradeoffs lie ($$).

In a conference call with SEC coaches and athletic directors on the morning of July 9, SEC commissioner Greg Sankey suggested that watching the NFL would provide the most analogous data. Earlier that week, an athletic director suggested all the pro leagues could offer some information that could be useful as college football leaders try to stage a season. “It would be nice if these pro leagues could get started so we could get a better idea about best practices,” the AD said then.

Although the people in charge of college sports would like to play football because not playing could cause a financial catastrophe within the industry, most ADs and coaches seem sensitive to the idea of college football players being the figurative canaries in the coal mine when it comes to full-contact football. They aren’t professionals. They don’t have a union to negotiate on their behalf. So most of the people who run college football would prefer the pros deal with all of this first if possible.

The problem is there isn’t enough data out there to know with any certainty where the reasonable limits are.  So they wait and hope the pros can enlighten them, but even that can only tell them so much because college athletes exist in a different environment from their professional counterparts.  There’s no way to put those kids in a bubble, like the NBA is doing, for example.  And that’s before you even get to the question of rogue behavior by coaches and players.

What’s left is a combination of putting off hard decisions as long as possible and moving the goal posts as time runs out.

“Just look at (Big 12 commissioner Bob) Bowlsby’s quote already,” they said. “First, we said if students aren’t on campuses then we wouldn’t play sports. Now that many schools won’t have students, we have found a way to rationalize that away. Then, we talked about how monitoring the successes and failures of our pro sports peers would be informative for us, but we will rationalize this away, too. It’s already starting.”

They’re going to start a college football season.  The question is what the finish will look like.

17 Comments

Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

Bonus political snark

This may not be as good as that last shot they took at Tuberville, but it’s good.

I almost hate to say this, but these guys are going to make me feel a little sad when this election season is over.

2 Comments

Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Political Wankery

Today, in Tubs love

Alabama Democrats, you magnificent bastards, I read your tweets!

You’ve outdone yourselves with this one.

Screenshot_2020-07-28 Alabama Democrats on Twitter We are informed this graphic is inauthentic Also, getting worked by Regg[...]

I am Senator Blutarsky and I approve this message.

7 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, Tommy Tuberville - Mythical National Champ