Daily Archives: May 14, 2021

Full speed ahead in Charlotte

North Carolina Governor Cooper just opened the doors for Georgia’s first game of the season.

Today, Governor Roy Cooper and North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D. shared an update on the state’s COVID-19 progress. Throughout the pandemic, state officials have taken a data-driven approach and have been guided by the science in making decisions. Following yesterday’s guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that fully vaccinated individuals can safely do most activities without wearing a mask or the need to social distance from others, the state will remove its indoor mask mandate for most settings. Additionally, the state will lift all mass gathering limits and social distancing requirements. These changes are now in effect as of 1:30 PM today.

I’m happy, but not as happy as the two schools’ athletic directors, who just saw the gate receipts skyrocket.

16 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, The Body Is A Temple

Envy and jealousy, historic Mark Richt Field edition

In response to a reader’s question about which 2021 opponent might be the most sneaky-dangerous team on Georgia’s schedule, Seth Emerson had this to say in his Mailbag ($$):

Georgia Tech could even push for that tier, too, what with the game being in Bobby Dodd Stadium, although now that I type that last clause never mind.

23 Comments

Filed under Envy and Jealousy

The Pac-12 gets its man.

I have no idea whether this works, but I will say that coming from Larry Scott, the bar is set pretty damned low.

The Pac-12’s new commissioner is MGM Resorts Int’l President of Entertainment & Sports George Kliavkoff, who, like the previous commissioner, Larry Scott, will oversee the Power 5 conference without any previous experience in college athletics.

What is interesting, to say the least, about the hire is what it says about the conference’s priorities.

Kliavkoff comes from a background steeped in digital media, live events and sports wagering, as well as a league stint at MLB Advanced Media. In his three years at MGM, Kliavkoff was president of one of the largest live events companies in the world. His responsibilities stretched from operations to finance, strategy, booking, marketing, sponsorships and ticketing for MGM Resorts’ 35 theaters, arenas and showrooms. Among them are T-Mobile Arena, MGM Grand Garden Arena and Mandalay Bay Events Center. In his role, he also provided direction for BetMGM.

Twenty years ago, a digital media background would have been scoffed at, no previous experience in collegiate athletes would have raised serious questions and sports wagering management would have been outright death for a P5 commissioner’s job.  Now, they’re helpful bullet points on a resume.

It’s money that they love and it’ll be his job to do a better job bringing that in for his bosses than Larry Scott did.  That means cutting broadcast deals that will be broader in scope, first off.  But there’s also got to be a better product to broadcast, and that means attracting more talent.  Hence, this:

“I want to go on the record that the Pac-12 is in favor of both the expansion of the College Football Playoff’s four teams and the implementation of consistent guidelines for name, image and likeness,” Kliavkoff said during his introductory news conference. “We think that both CFB expansion and NIL legislation are good for college sports fans, good for our student athletes and can be a significant competitive advantage for the Pac-12.”

The academic mission, she burns.  Welcome to the next phase of twenty-first century big time college athletics, peeps.

15 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

“The vaccine is a competitive advantage.”

Why am I not surprised to learn this?

Two weeks before summer training begins and less than two months before fall camp opens, dozens of college football teams are struggling to vaccinate their athletes. Similar to the country’s regional discrepancy in COVID-19 protocols, the U.S. is a fractured mess as it relates to the vaccine. And that goes for universities as well.

Some, such as Ohio State, Notre Dame and Navy, have at least 90% of their football team vaccinated. Others, like Clemson, Charlotte and Ole Miss, are below the 20% mark. And then there are those like Tennessee, Oregon State and Troy, hovering around 50–60%.

While administrators expect a surge of vaccinations when players return to campus in June, many of them fear that athletes will continue to eschew the shots for some of the same reasons as those in the general population—religious beliefs, conspiracy theories and misplaced guidance from others.

“The low vaccination rates are worrisome,” says one ACC school administrator who asked for anonymity. “I’m battling trying to figure out how to normalize this vaccine.”

This is a bigger deal than you might think, because of the logistics.

Though college-age people often experience little to no ill effects from COVID-19, vaccinations are imperative, NCAA medical experts say. They clear a path back to normalcy. A team reaching enough vaccinations will likely avoid the coronavirus protocols and disruptions that marked the 2020 season.

In fact, officials expect a different set of protocols for those vaccinated and unvaccinated. Players choosing not to vaccinate will find themselves subject to contact-tracing and quarantine rules—the biggest disrupter of 2020—as well as regular testing. Those vaccinated will be exempt from such. In short, COVID-19 outbreaks on or around a team will likely affect only unvaccinated players and staff.

As the article notes, at Clemson, the Tigers are only at a 10% vaccination level.  And the meter is running.

“The two-shot vaccines take six weeks to be fully effective,” says Jeff Dugas, Troy’s team doctor and an orthopedic surgeon in Birmingham who chairs the Sun Belt’s COVID-19 advisory panel. “They need to be vaccinated by mid-June. They’ve got five weeks before they need to have the first shot.”

I have to believe Dabo is going to move heaven and earth to hammer that number.  But what happens if he can’t move the needle sufficiently?  How will that impact Clemson’s approach to the opener with Georgia?  Beats me, but I’ll be watching to see.

80 Comments

Filed under College Football, The Body Is A Temple

“Is the SEC Championship Game Loser an Auto-Fade in Bowl Season?”

That’s a question Matt Melton poses here.  The answer is, it’s complicated.

The SEC Championship Game has been around since 1992, but I limited my analysis to the BCS and College Football Playoff eras (since 1998). We’ll start with the BCS era (1998-2013). Here is how those sixteen SEC Championship Game losers fared in their bowl games.
No matter which way you parse the results (either straight up or against the spread), they don’t appear to be a great deal different from flipping a coin. However, there is one thing this generic analysis leaves out. The reason SEC Championship Game losers have a reputation for under-performing in their bowl game is because they are disappointed to not be playing for a national championship. Having to play in the Capital One Bowl instead of the BCS Championship Game is a recipe for a flat performance, or so the theory goes. What if we only looked at SEC Championship Game losers that had legitimate national title aspirations going into the SEC Championship Game? By my count, there were only five such teams in the BCS era: Tennessee in 2001, Alabama in 2008, Florida in 2009, Georgia in 2012, and Missouri in 2013. Outside of Alabama, those teams did surprisingly well in their bowl games.
SEC Championship Game losers don’t appear to have performed more poorly than expected in the BCS era. Maybe things have changed in the Playoff era. With four teams now able to compete for a national title in bowl season, perhaps the SEC Championship Game loser is more despondent and not motivated for their bowl game. In the Playoff era, here is how the seven SEC Championship Game losers have fared in their bowl games.
As in the BCS era, the overall results don’t appear to be much different than what we might find if we flipped a coin to determine the outcomes. Again though, not all SEC Championship Game losers are created equal. What if we limit our analysis to those teams with legitimate national championship aspirations entering the SEC Championship Game. There have been four such teams in the Playoff era: Auburn in 2017, Georgia in 2018, Georgia in 2019, and Florida in 2020. Their bowl performance has been mixed at best.
In the Playoff era, SEC Championship Game losers with national title aspirations have not fared well. However, four games is not nearly a large enough sample to offer any definitive proclamations. Instead of auto-fading the SEC Championship Game loser, you would be much better served reading the tea leaves before their bowl game. Florida had a host of opt-outs prior to the Cotton Bowl and the betting line in the game reflected that. At full strength on a neutral field, Florida would have likely been a slight favorite against Oklahoma. As the spread was more than a touchdown in the other direction, its obvious something a little stronger than motivation was influencing the number.

I think what his data shows is that the effect of the opt-out in these games has increased as the playoff field has expanded.  That may be because of the perfect storm resulting from Alabama’s dominance and a four-team CFP field.  Would further expansion change those dynamics?  Quite possibly.

19 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football

“This is an inevitability.”

Just to give you an idea of how quickly the NIL ground is shifting under the NCAA’s feet, in the midst of the Louisiana Legislature’s rush to pass a bill granting college athletes the right to be compensated for their NIL rights, Tulane’s AD is threatening to allow its athletes to receive that funding even in the absence of a state law.

States which pass NIL laws appear they could indeed have an advantage over those which don’t, if state laws are the only rules in effect for a period of time. Florida state Sen. Travis Hutson told 247Sports that NCAA president Mark Emmert assured him the NCAA wouldn’t penalize Florida schools or athletes for using their NIL rights, even if there were other states that didn’t have such laws.

That assurance toward Florida, Tulane’s Dannen said, signals an unfair precedent that schools in states without NIL laws could challenge because of an important distinction: there are no federal or state laws prohibiting college athletes from pursuing NIL contracts. The NCAA is the governing body that penalizes such deals, and the forthcoming state laws bar the NCAA from doing that. So, if the NCAA doesn’t punish one state that does have NIL laws, Dannen argued, it can’t punish others that don’t.

“If Louisiana doesn’t do anything,” Dannen said, “I’d be hard pressed understanding why we shouldn’t as an institution do something because, again, I want to make sure my student-athletes are protected and entitled to the same opportunities every other kid is.”

Mark Emmert’s fatal flaw was underestimating the power of recruiting.  Considering the organization he runs, kind of ironic, ain’t it?

14 Comments

Filed under Political Wankery, The NCAA

About beating Saban’s ass…

Kind of a puzzling rationale to this piece about the next SEC coach who can beat Nick Saban.  The premise is that, other than Auburn, the only teams to beat Alabama in the past five seasons featured top quarterbacks.

Okay, fine.  Malzahn’s gone, TAMU and Florida are breaking in new starting quarterbacks, LSU is rolling the dice with a new offensive coordinator who’s trying to figure out whom to start at QB and Ole Miss doesn’t have enough defense to make Matt Corral relevant in the discussion.

For better or worse, you’d think that would leave Georgia as the last team standing.  Wrong, bacon breath.

But Smart has struggled to develop quarterbacks, a useful ingredient to beating Saban.

Under Smart, who is 0-3 against Saban, Georgia has resembled an old-school version of Saban’s Alabama teams.

Now, don’t get me wrong here.  I’m a member of the school that says I’ll believe an SEC coach can beat Saban when I see him actually beat Saban.  But is it too much to ask to keep up with the here and now?

19 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules