Daily Archives: December 17, 2020

At Auburn, the more things change…

Why, look who’s keeping his hand in things!

He’s like a fucking football vampire.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer program.

53 Comments

Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

My first SECCG question

Can Florida survive against Alabama if it loses the turnover margin battle?  I’m thinking hells no.

48 Comments

Filed under Alabama, Gators, Gators..., Stats Geek!

“This is part of a surprising trend in recent days.”

I do not think surprising means what he thinks it means.

South Carolina owed Muschamp $15 million after firing him last month, when his record after four-plus years was 28-30. In September, athletic director Ray Tanner reported the Gamecocks were facing a $58 million revenue shortfall. His department has taken pay cuts, furloughs and other measures to reduce expenses. In June, university president Bob Caslen also issued a dire message to faculty and staff.

“The budget outlook before us is more serious than any the university has faced since the Great Recession, and the loss of revenue next fiscal year could surpass the recession in terms of a single year impact,” Caslen said. “It will require a new level of creativity and shared sacrifice from our entire campus community.”

South Carolina didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ray Tanner is the poster boy for business as usual.

Unless it’s Auburn, that is.

14 Comments

Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Is there a perfect storm coming in roster management?

Sure sounds like there could be.

An unprecedented confluence of events — the bloated NCAA transfer portal, a blanket extra year granted because of COVID-19 and the expected one-time transfer rule — threatens scholarship opportunities for football players and will eventually undermine the ability for coaches to keep full rosters.

“We’re going to see a situation this year where there could be up to 1,000 players in the portal with nowhere to go,” said South Florida coach Jeff Scott.

How will that happen? As of Wednesday morning, there were more than 750 FBS football players in the NCAA transfer portal. That number is increasing by dozens each day, and will only get bigger with the end of the semester. The players are looking to take advantage of the NCAA’s one-time transfer rule, which is expected to be passed early next year.

But that giant number comes with a jarring reality that has some coaches startled. The NCAA’s ruling this summer to give all fall athletes staying at their school an extra year of eligibility is going to expand rosters past the 85-man roster limit for next season. That will limit places transfers can go. (As of now, there’s a one-year waiver to go beyond 85 in 2021.)

The seniors returning for an extra year are going to limit opportunities for younger players within the program, which will mean even more transferring. Also, the one-time transfer rule is expected to lead to a flurry of Group of Five transfers looking to upgrade to bigger schools.

The ramifications come in a year.

The scary part of a player going into the portal is that they essentially give up their scholarship at their current school once they enter, which means players could end up dropping levels or not playing at all because of lack of opportunity. Not all players fully understand that risk. Scott points out that while coaches can monitor the portal for players, players lack a real time dashboard of which schools have what amount of availability on their roster. There’s no available statistical indicator of how limited spots are, which leads to bad decisions.

What are the ripples of the roster logjam? One Group of Five head coach pointed out two potential reverberations. He said that the real roster issues are going to come in 2022, as the exemption to be over 85 scholarship players is expected to be gone, but a majority of the roster still has an extra year. That’s going to potentially limit the amount of high school players in the class of 2022.

“What 2022 looks like is crazy,” the Group of Five head coach said. “Now that you have to get under the 85 threshold, it’s a scramble. What can you bring in in 2022? That’s a problem.

It’s kinda like running up credit card debt when your creditor gives you a couple of months off from making payments.  Sooner or later, that bill is still going to come due.

There’s going to be a premium on coaches’ ability to manage their rosters.  Nick Saban invented the genre, so I doubt he’s sweating any bullets over this.  (He’s probably had a team of analysts sweating bullets over it for the past three months.)  Kirby Smart has learned from the master, so I expect Georgia to be prepared equally well.  In fact, this was the first thing that popped into my mind when I saw the final numbers on the size of the class he signed yesterday.

Flexibility is going to be king for the next two seasons.  Be prepared.

25 Comments

Filed under College Football, The NCAA, Transfers Are For Coaches.

It’s for their own good.

This is Mark Emmert’s just desserts for sitting on his hands.

The most recent congressional proposal to reshape college sports aims to go far beyond codifying a college athlete’s ability to earn endorsement money.

The College Athlete Bill of Rights, proposed Thursday by co-authors Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., would create sweeping changes for college sports, including provisions that would force some schools to share revenue with some of their athletes, guarantee lifetime scholarships to athletes in good academic standing, establish health and safety rules enforced by hefty fines for violators, and set up a fund to cover some out-of-pocket medical expenses for current and former athletes.

The rules and requirements laid out in the bill would be enforced by a newly formed Commission on College Athletics, which would be run by nine board members who are appointed by the president of the United States. They would hire a staff to resolve disputes, suggest changes to rules and investigate wrongdoing with the power to subpoena witnesses. This group, which would receive $50 million in taxpayer funding for its first two years, would take on a lot of the work of policing college sports.

“This is one of the few industries in America that is allowed to exploit those who are responsible for generating most of the revenue,” Booker told ESPN. “I feel like the federal government has a role and responsibility that we’ve been shirking in terms of protecting athletes and ensuring their safety. I just really believe there is an urgency here that has not been met for decades and decades. We need to step up and do something about it.”

They are from the government and they are here to help.  And the NCAA, in the process of inviting the camel to stick its nose inside the tent, deserves every bit of unforeseen consequences it gets from its sheer obstinacy.

All this could have been avoided with some proactive effort, but when you’re a maximalist hammer, everything looks like an amateurism nail.  Enjoy reaping the whirlwind, fellas.

24 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

“You have to look at the eye test.”

You hate to see it.

American Athletic Conference commissioner Michael Aresco strongly criticized the College Football Playoff selection committee for dropping undefeated Cincinnati another spot in its rankings — behind three two-loss teams.

During an interview Wednesday on SEC Network’s The Paul Finebaum Show, Aresco said the CFP selection committee needs to do some “soul searching” and is “undermining its credibility with rankings that defy logic and common sense and fairness.”

“I never thought I’d say it, but if this continues, bring back the BCS and the computers because it would be a fairer system than what I’m seeing now,” Aresco said. “This is the seventh year [of the CFP], and it does appear the deck is stacked against us and against other [Group of 5 teams].”

It took him seven years to figure that out?  It was obvious from the get go.

It’s important to note that what Aresco is complaining about isn’t that one of his programs should be in the CFP semifinals.  No, he’s upset that Cincinnati finds itself behind Iowa State, Florida and Georgia.  But, honestly, what does he expect?  His crisis was engineered from the moment the powers that be put the decisions in the hands of a hackish selection committee.  And I use the word “crisis” loosely — it’s a feature, not a bug, in the eyes of the CFP.

At least the Coaches Poll was only a segment of the BCS math.  Now, you’ve got the likes of Florida’s Scott Stricklin sitting in the room that makes the final decisions, pretending he’s not sticking his thumb on the scale for his school (and most likely, Georgia, because it makes the Gators’ win look better).  Not that Stricklin is the first nor the last with an obvious conflict weighing in.

Gary Barta’s fumbled explanation of the standings and the reasoning behind them is just evidence that these guys are making up as they go along, with the primary goal being to make sure the money goes where it needs to go.  It’s just more obvious this season because 2020 is such a cock up when it comes to talent evaluation and because the pandemic has squeezed the finances of so many P5 athletic departments.  Make no mistake, though, it’s been the CFP’s underpinning all along.

That being said, going back to the BCS formula won’t solve the problem.  Not when the Coaches Poll gets a third of the weight of the standings.  Nothing has changed with these jokers.  If they really want to get rid of the appearance of bias and conflict of interest, as well as focus on making sure the field is comprised of the best (The most deserving?  Fuck their feelings.), then devise a new formula.  Say, half derived from advanced stats and related computer algorithms and half from a much larger pool of selectors (a couple of hundred, at least) who select the top teams not by ranking them individually but through approval voting like we do here with the Mumme Poll.

Not that that’s gonna happen.  Can’t mess with the money.  Sorry, Michael.

26 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Talkin’ about that gap again

Here’s a question Smart was asked at yesterday’s early signing day presser:

On whether Florida securing the East signals a shift in or balance of power in the SEC and if something like that can play into recruiting…

“I think everybody will have their own opinion on it, but I think it has to do with not playing well in a game. I don’t think it has to do with a balance of power. I will say that a lot of football boils down to the line of scrimmage and I still think that we have really good line of scrimmages. Obviously that game, we didn’t play well enough and they out competed us and out played us. I’m very comfortable with where we are in terms of the team and program. So much of a game falls, and I hate to say it, falls on the quarterback position. At the quarterback position, they make a decision every play and they’ve got a really good quarterback. They have a guy who has played for a long time. We caught him on a younger year the year before that, we caught Felipe [Franks] one of his younger years before that and we’ve had Jake Fromm prior to that. So, we had a lot of experience at that position but I’m not pointing or blaming anything, I’m just comfortable where we are. I think the SEC East will always be competitive and it’s one of those things that we know we have to win that to get to the big show.”

Most of that answer isn’t about the defense or the running game.  It’s about the quarterback.  I can’t help but think that, between last year’s SECCG and this year’s Cocktail Party, reality doesn’t keep smacking Kirby Smart in the face.  In his defense, and even if you want to say better late than never, he does appear to be getting it.  Read what he said about Vandagriff in particular.

“… When you look at a quarterback nowadays, that’s one of the things you have to say and that’s the new deal when you look across the NFL. The arm angle, the ability to have mobility to escape—the game has changed. The athletes upfront are explosive, fast, pass-rushers. They come in attack mode. They play pass first, not run first. When you look at the success maybe Kyler Murray has had, or guys in the NFL, you right away say, ‘The athleticism is the overriding factor.’ You want to have someone that can do those things, but they have to have the ability to process all of the information, to put you in the right situation to make plays, to change plays, to do a lot of things. We think he is a good athlete, and he’s shown that over his career. He’s a little dinged up right now. He’s dealing with some injuries, but you get those things when you run and you get out of the pocket a lot. That’s one of those things that you have to be able to protect him, but he’s got to be able to make good decisions on where to slide.”  [Emphasis added.]

This was the first year in a long while when the team that gained the most yards on the ground didn’t win the Cocktail Party.  My guess is it won’t be the last.

16 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“I think what coach Collins is doing is going to be epic.”

There is so much to unpack from this article about Georgia Tech’s 2021 class, starting with the fact that the Jackets have a “football general manager”.  No, really.

Collins and Suddes take a more precise approach to the transfer market, honing in on positions where the team needs to add experience or depth, as opposed to having a broader shopping list for high-school signees. (Aside from offensive and defensive linemen, which always are in demand.) Suddes compared it with the NFL.

“You’ve got to build through the draft, but you’ve also got to add some key free-agent pieces,” Suddes said. “We can definitely use that to our advantage here in Atlanta.”

I can’t wait to hear this dude discuss the salary cap and potential trade options.

Seriously, given the overwhelming talent deficit Coach ATL faced walking in the door, I don’t blame Tech one bit for chasing transfers to fill in the holes.  It would have been negligent not to do so.  And, to their credit, it looks like they’ve brought in some players who can contribute.

That’s a good thing, because Waffle House dude has slipped on the recruiting trail with this next class.

As for the high-school signees, the class ranked 46th in the FBS and 11th in the ACC as of Wednesday evening, according to 247Sports Composite. It’s a considerable drop from Collins’ 2020 class, which was 27th, Tech’s highest ranking since the celebrated 2007 class. (The ranking does not incorporate transfers and won’t be final until after the February signees are added.) The class has one four-star prospect (BlackStrain) compared with four in the 2020 class, although Harris and Watson were four-star prospects coming out of high school.

“We all know as a class, we’re more of an underrated bunch,” BlackStrain said. “We’re all just ready to get in and work for everything.”

Yeah, underrated.  That’s how you sell the ACC’s eleventh-rated group.  Not good in a conference where Clemson’s gonna Clemson, North Carolina and Miami have considerably upped their respective recruiting games and even the likes of Pittsburgh and Virginia are showing some recruiting momentum.

Collins is gonna need a bigger coffee cup.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting, Transfers Are For Coaches.

2020 early signing day, SEC edition

As of this morning, here’s how the 247Sports Composite shapes up for the conference:

Screenshot_2020-12-17 2021 SEC Football Team Rankings

Bullet points:

  • It’s the continuing story of the rich getting richer.  Alabama signed six five-star recruits; the rest of the conference combined signed a total of eight.  Along with ‘Bama, Georgia and LSU are clearly a cut above every other program.  Again.
  • Speaking of Alabama, if you worry that Nick Saban is playing chess while Kirby Smart is playing checkers, consider that four of the nation’s top 10 receivers signed with the Tide.  That was out of necessity, considering what ‘Bama is about to lose, but still, Saban knows where his bread is buttered these days.
  • Ed Orgeron has to wake up every day thanking a higher power for how LSU dominates in state recruiting.
  • Believe it or not, even with the whiffs like Sorey and Adeleye, that is the best class Dan Mullen has signed to date.  No, that gap ain’t closing.
  • Remember all that momentum with Tennessee’s class?  Pruitt suffered 10 decommitments, and another top commit, Dylan Brooks, elected not to sign yesterday.
  • Kiffin, Pittman and Drinkwitz all did well, leading their respective programs to their best showings in years.
  • That came at the expense of Auburn, where the new coach will obviously have a lot of scrambling to do, and South Carolina, where Beamer will have even more.  I’ve never seen a signing day finish with a team behind Vanderbilt in the rankings, so congrats, ‘Cocks.  (What’s the opposite of a cannon shot?)

22 Comments

Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

Early signing day, Georgia edition

Here’s the thumbnail sketch:

  • Positions: four linebackers, four offensive linemen, four defensive backs, three defensive linemen, two wide receivers, one tight end, one running back and one quarterback;

  • Rankings: four 5-stars, 11 4-stars and five 3-stars.

  • Locations: 12 players from Georgia, two from Alabama, and one each from California, Florida, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Texas.

The most extraordinary thing about this class is how ordinary it seems.  I mean that as a compliment.  Georgia is again going to finish with a national top-three recruiting class under Kirby Smart and it’s almost to the point of being ho-hum.  That, despite it being accomplished in the face of strong pandemic headwinds.  It’s been an enormous challenge and it’s to Smart’s credit that he’s landed another strong group.

A few specific observations:

  • Over half the 2021 group comes from in state, which is a strong reversal of recent trends in Georgia’s recruiting.  Some of that was driven, no doubt, by COVID restrictions that hampered the way Smart normally goes about his business.  But it’s worth noting that the high school crop in Georgia this year was very strong and Kirby made sure he got his fair share of that.
  • Another reason early signing day seems a bit low key is because there really weren’t any surprises.  Georgia signed whom it expected to sign, or, as Kirby put it, “We have what we expect to have today.”
  • One thing I appreciate about this group is how balanced it looks on paper.  There is quality at every level and no real need to overload a particular position.  That’s what the luxury of building top-three classes on top of each other for five years gets you.
  • That being said, it’s obvious the key signee is Brock Vandagriff.  It’s been said ad nauseam that you aren’t going to win these days without a stud quarterback and he appears to fit the bill in that regard.  More importantly, it sets up something Georgia hasn’t seen in years:  assuming JT Daniels returns next season, the opportunity to organize a smooth transition at quarterback with highly rated talent.  I don’t think it can be understated how big that would be, not just for the next two or three years, but, considering how organized Georgia’s recruiting is, perhaps for the next decade.
  • The other takeaway of note is the size of the early signing group.  Georgia signed 20 kids yesterday, which means there are still open spots.  How those are going to be filled, between February signings and transfers (more on that in another post), will be something to watch.  Smart tried to pretend things were up in the air yesterday when he said, “Unfortunately, we have to get the groceries before we know what we need,” but I suspect he knows a lot more about it than he’s letting on.

If you want a deep dive on what Georgia’s done, you might want to watch this:

What’s your take on yesterday’s doings?

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting