… It appears that Athlon Sports sees what I see in Dan Mullen when it comes to being the head coach at the University of Florida. As I wrote in the “Revisiting the Mullen vs. Smart Argument”, Mullen tends to get the most out of the players he coaches. And according to Athlon Sports that is a big but not the only reason for projecting Mullen as a better coach than Kirby Smart among SEC coaches.
… But what seems to set apart Mullen from Smart and many other coaches is what we talked about this week… his ability to prepare and develop players that may not have all of the recruiting rankings of other programs.
Uh hunh. Tell us more, Bob.
But the edging of Smart on the list probably has them frothing from the mouth in Athens.
I don’t get paid for what I do here at the blog, but I really hope I’ve never written anything that embarrassing.
Dating to the start of 2018 when Mullen started in Gainesville, Florida and Georgia have a combined East record of 26-3. Again, that’s excluding games played against each other. Two of those losses came in Mullen’s first year after taking over a 4-win team.
The last time an East team swept Florida and Georgia in the same season was 2016 Tennessee … which then followed up that momentum by immediately losing 3 consecutive games (the Vols went 2-12 in their next 14 SEC games). That was also Year 1 of Smart, and Mullen was still at Mississippi State.
Meanwhile, the rest of the SEC East has yet to earn a New Year’s 6 bowl berth since Mizzou earned a Cotton Bowl trip in 2013 (Arkansas is the lone SEC West squad that hasn’t been to a New Year’s 6 bowl in the Playoff era). That obviously predates the start of this Florida-Georgia run to Atlanta in 2015. Kentucky had its best season in 40 years in 2018, and it still got left out of a New Year’s 6 bowl.
Is it gonna get tighter? Well, the challengers have a long way to go.
That 2018 Kentucky team, to its credit, ended its 31-game losing streak to Florida (in Mullen’s first game vs. FBS competition at Florida) and hosted what was essentially an SEC East Championship vs. Georgia that year. That also was Kentucky’s first winning SEC season since 1977.
Perhaps there’d be more conversation about Mizzou sneaking into one of those top 2 spots if that Year 1 included a better showing against Florida or Georgia. That wasn’t the case, though. The Tigers were outscored 90-31. Also, away from Faurot Field, Mizzou was 1-3 with the lone road win coming against a South Carolina squad that had just fired Muschamp midseason.
Shane Beamer fits that mold, as well. The difference is that Beamer has a rebuilding job ahead. Sure, he inherited some talent , especially on the defensive line, but let’s be real: South Carolina went 2-8 and ranks No. 125 of 127 FBS teams in percentage of returning production…
Tennessee hasn’t beaten a top-10 team in 15 years and South Carolina played 80 of its last 81 games as an unranked team dating to 2014.
The lead dog doesn’t show much of a sign of slowing down, either.
In the 21st century, we haven’t seen a team so far above the East for 4 years like Georgia has been. At least not with a coach who stayed for multiple years after that run (see Meyer, Urban). Compare these 4-year windows to some of the other great East runs:
2002-05 Georgia vs. East: 16-4
2006-09 Florida vs. East: 19-1
2010-13 South Carolina vs. East: 18-4
2017-20 Georgia vs. East: 22-2
Notice those runs don’t overlap with each other. You know, like Florida and Georgia’s are right now.
The thing that was notable between 2006-09 Florida and 2010-13 South Carolina’s East runs was that things went downhill in a hurry for both programs, and 2 legendary coaches left less than 2 years removed from those runs. Richt was around much longer obviously, but from 2007-15, how many top-3 classes did he sign? Zero. From 2017-20, Smart signed nothing but top-3 classes (that streak ended in 2021 when his class ranked a measly No. 4).
The only other comparable run of talent and East dominance was Meyer’s stretch from 2006-10 when he signed classes ranked No. 2, No. 1, No. 5, No. 7 and No. 1.
Of course, Corch has a couple of nattys to go along with that, although he had the good fortune of dominating when Saban was just putting the pieces together in Tuscaloosa. Smart hasn’t had that luxury.
Still, in the end, the road to the CFP starts with winning the East. Georgia sits in good position for that.
Shorter Bob Redman: Smart vs. Mullen, you ask? Sure, Kirby’s blowing out Dan’s doors in recruiting, but if you use my completely invented metric to score the way Mullen prepares his players for football after Florida, you can see who the real winner is!
As self-entitled as I’ve heard many football coaches sound about player transfers, this quote from Geno Auriemma, the women’s basketball coach at Connecticut, takes things to an entirely new level:
“And there’s something wrong with this idea of … student-athlete welfare, that everything should be done to accommodate the student-athlete, with no regard whatsoever to the coaches who work their ass off, to recruit these kids in the first place, work with them, help them get better, make them the player that they are. And then they up and leave with no consequences whatsoever.”
Geno’s making $2.7 million a year for his troubles. But, shit, will no one think of the head coaches?
Not saying NIL won’t make a difference in recruiting, but the really big bucks come in the NFL draft and the programs that can sell that opportunity the best to elite talent are still gonna make out fine.
Georgia is also planning on upgrades to the concourse on the South 100 sections of Sanford Stadium, where Brooks said many loyal, longtime fans sit.
“We’re going to get in there soon and start looking at conceptual designs of how we can improve circulation,” Brooks said. “That may be blowing out that concourse and doubling the width and building new concessions and restrooms around that.”
Sounds like somebody wants to make sure folks have a reason to keep coming back to the stadium, as opposed to opting out for Section HD at home.
Derion Kendrick sounds like he was quite the discipline problem at Clemson.
… Despite the way his time at Clemson ended, Kendrick is still thankful for the opportunity he had to play for the Tigers and Dabo Swinney.
“I give highly thanks to Dabo for just believing in me while I was there, always being on me, trying to get me better, to do better at everything, even if it was on the field, off the field,” Kendrick said. “And everybody around me just pulling for me, even if I was down, just pulling for me. You’ve gotta play with people like that. You’ve gotta play for people like that. That’s why I played with so much passion. I played with so much passion in the game because I wanted to play for them.”
Kendrick, who is a father of two, is hoping to boost his draft stock in his final season of college football.
He considered turning pro following his junior year but opted to return for one more season in hopes of earning his degree and improving his draft grade.
“The reason I came back to school was to finish, graduate, get my degree and then do whatever I wanted to do after that. It wasn’t really like, ‘Oh, go get the money right now.’ … It’s not just about football,” Kendrick said. “I’ve got a 3-year-old and a 1-year-old, so that’s what I’m really doing this for. And I’ve got a family that’s behind me 100 percent.”
Total thug. Why on earth would Kirby Smart want that headache?
Due to his current situation, Derion Kendrick presents a difficult evaluation. He surprisingly entered the transfer portal following the conclusion of the 2020 season. Furthermore, he currently remains without a team and was caught up in off-field issues involving law enforcement during the winter.
From a purely talent-based perspective, Kendrick would comfortably be in the top five of the top cornerbacks in the 2022 NFL Draft. A former wide receiver who snagged 210 receiving yards at 14 yards per catch in 2018, he transitioned to the defensive side of the ball to help the team.
The ball skills that he possessed as a receiver have helped him become a playmaker at the cornerback position. His experience of playing offense helps him to read the play. Furthermore, he demonstrated physicality both against the run and at the line of scrimmage.
Kendrick has the explosive athletic profile and playmaking ball skills to be a first-round pick. However, his projection is far from clear.
As I said the other day, essentially Kendrick is in a contract year. Play well, and he’ll dispel the doubts and collect a big payday from an NFL team. Does anyone really doubt Smart can motivate a player in that situation?
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