Daily Archives: July 22, 2021

“It’s fourth and a half-inch every day at the University of Georgia.”

Buddy, you’ll never hear me utter a single bad thing about Sam Pittman.

“The reason I mention Georgia, one, it’s our crossover game, but the other is because of the indebtedness that I feel toward Kirby Smart. Kirby was very good to me. I wouldn’t be the head coach at the University of Arkansas without him,” Pittman said. “We’re looking forward to going back there and seeing our friends, and certainly trying to compete against one of the best football teams in America.”

Pittman said the lessons he learned at Georgia have been invaluable.

Yeah, but he was a good man before he got to Athens.

39 Comments

Filed under Arkansas Is Kind Of A Big Deal, Georgia Football

The team most likely to forfeit

Is there any doubt who’s the early leader in the clubhouse for that award?

I’m sure MSU’s AD is having a blast right now.

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UPDATE:  Folks, it looks like the Pirate may have a contender.

84 Comments

Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!, SEC Football

Greg Sankey’s Sweet Sixteen, the national effect

I have to admit that my first reaction to the conference realignment news was excitement about the possibility that college football might embrace my preferred playoff format:  four 16-team, two-division conferences, with the conference championships played as the CFP quarterfinals.

There is so much good that would flow from that.  No more selection committee (and no more stupid ESPN selection committee show).  No more arguing over which team got screwed the most by the selection committee.  No more Herbstreit Doctrine issues.  The importance of conference play would be cemented in place.  Best of all, from my selfish standpoint, it’s the format best suited to resist bracket creep.

I assume in all of this that the departures of Oklahoma and Texas would be the death knell for the Big 12.  Were that to be the case, the big winner out of this would be the Pac-12, which would be able to pick and choose from the rubble left in the collapse in order to expand with P5 programs, and, more importantly, would assure itself of permanent relevance in the CFP (and, even more significantly, CFP money).

If the new Pac-12 commissioner is smart, he’s trying to figure out any way he can help grease the skids, of course, but, beyond that, he should be thinking now to propose a permanent arrangement of the CFP semi-finals that would have his conference face off against the Big Ten winner in the Rose Bowl while the ACC-SEC champs play in the Peach Bowl.  Locking down the Rose Bowl’s future like that would bring some powerful support to a P4 structure, which again benefits the Pac-12 the most.

I’m down with all this.  But.

But.  There’s the money to consider.  And, if you’re not the Pac-12, that gets tricky.

To start with, you have to figure that the Big 12 makes an effort to survive.  I doubt it works, because there’s very little left in the wake of Oklahoma and Texas leaving that’s financially attractive on the football side to the networks.  But let’s say it does.  That blows up the above-mentioned P4 concept, for starters.

In my mind, though, that’s not the biggest obstacle to a 64-school college football power division.  That belongs to the 12-team CFP proposal that, among others, Sankey has been championing.  If the revenue from the postseason is distributed based on the number of schools a conference places in the tourney, adding Oklahoma and Texas to the mix increases the likelihood that the SEC will have more schools in the playoff mix every year.  At minimum, three seems like a lock, four a strong possibility and five even possible at times.

You do the math.  A P4, eight-team format guarantees a 25% share to the SEC.  A 12-team CFP distribution matches that in weaker years and betters it in many others.  And that could happen with or without four power conferences.

Additionally, a 12-team playoff format means Notre Dame doesn’t have to join a conference.  It also leaves the mid-majors with a playoff spot in the CFP.

Like I said, it gets tricky.  In the end, though, it’ll be about the money because it’s always about the money.

42 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, College Football

Greg Sankey’s Sweet Sixteen, the local effect

Yesterday’s news about Oklahoma and Texas putting out feelers to the SEC about a conference switch from the Big 12 managed to be surprising and not surprising at the same time, especially when you reflect that the proposed move, like everything else driving college football these days, is about money.  The Big 12’s deal with Fox is pretty anemic, given the market.  A move to the SEC gives the two schools and their new conference tremendous clout with Mickey (and in turn lets ESPN deliver a nice kick in the balls to a competitor).

How lucrative would that move be?  Lucrative enough that Texas could ditch the Longhorn Network and come out ahead financially.  If you don’t think the parties have already begun feeling out Disney about the numbers, you’re kidding yourself.

My gut feeling on this is simple:  if the money is there, the deal will be done.  That’s all fine for the conference and the schools, but what’s in it for us fans?

What’s in it for us is that this gives Sankey a terrific opportunity to repair the damage done to SEC scheduling by Mike Slive’s move to expand to 14 schools so that the SEC could fix the shitty TV contract Slive had previously negotiated with ESPN.  Best of all, it doesn’t take any three-dimensional chess moves, like pods or other convoluted arrangements, to restore some normality.

It could be done in three steps.

  • Flip Missouri to the West and move Alabama and Auburn to the East.
  • Go to a nine-game (7-2) conference schedule.
  • Eliminate the permanent cross-division game.

Here’s what the conference would look like after step one.

The geography is sensible.  Even better, look at how many traditional rivalries are preserved/restarted:  Texas-TAMU, Oklahoma-Texas, Alabama-Auburn, Alabama-Tennessee, Auburn-Georgia and Florida-Georgia, for starters.  (As a bonus, we get back what used to be a very entertaining series in Auburn-Florida.)

A nine-game conference schedule for most schools means ditching a cupcake game.  Again, from a fan perspective, this is a desirable outcome.  It’s even more desirable from ESPN’s perspective, as it increases the number of conference games to broadcast.

As for part three, with the geographic realignment depicted above, there’s only one significant permanent cross-division game that’s affected, Florida-LSU, and, judging from Dan Mullen’s comment at SEC Media Days, nobody on Florida’s end will miss it if it’s gone.  The positive benefit from doing that is, even with going from 14 to 16 teams overall, the time frame for a team to cycle through the entirety of the cross-divisional schedule is reduced from six years to three-and-a-half.  Every SEC player will have the opportunity to play against every team in the conference during his college career.

I grant you if the money’s there, the rest of this is irrelevant in terms of decision making, but in terms of good will and fan interest, it’s huge.  Now, if only we could count on the suits not to screw it up…

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UPDATE:

Hey, a blogger’s gotta do what a blogger’s gotta do.

88 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“… it is hard for a human being to stop Darnell, let alone a cornerback.”

JT Daniels talks about what year two brings for the Georgia offense.

“Yes, your offense did not get as much and it takes the offense more practice than it takes a defense. It affected everybody that played football last year. Obviously, it was a pandemic here.

“In terms of this year, you have a full spring. So everybody that played against Cincinnati coming back. A lot of guys that played the whole year. You just have a lot of consistent development from a lot of really good players. You just get more defined. You do simple better. Small things are not small things anymore. They’re done. They’re just details. Just a lot of things that contribute that you don’t realize contribute to a successful offense are a lot further along than they were last year.”

Every time Daniels talks about keeping the offense simple, an angel gets its wings.

Or Todd Monken smiles.  Same thing.

“It is his system,” Daniels said. “I think it benefits quarterbacks that can go to the line and change the play, can enhance the play. You have packages where do you go the line, the quarterback calls it based on certain looks and that’s all installed. If you have a quarterback that can handle it, that plays into his strengths as a coordinator. He will say it to you he will say that to anybody. That is how he wants his football to be played. He wants the quarterback to be in control of the final say.

“Because no matter what he does and this is what he says, he can never call a perfect game. Nobody can. You call the play before the defense is out there. I think his system just benefits my strengths more than the system is built around me.”

I know he’d never say it, because it’s not good form to slag your kids, but watching Stetson regularly fail to pick up the receiver who was invariably open had to drive Monken nuts last year.  Having a big arm is great, but being able to find and hit the open guy is bigger.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Minty fresh: the evolution of Kirby Smart’s defense

I’ve touched on this subject here and there, but if you’re looking for an excellent, comprehensive take on Smart’s defensive scheme and how it’s changed over the years, Graham’s post is a must read.

If you want the tl;dr version it’s simple.  Blame the spread.

Smart mentions that the coaches get weight reports on their players two times a week. In the summer of 2018, Jordan Davis went from 347 pounds to 320 in about two-and-a-half months. “Heavy guys don’t play for us. We need guys that can line up, play fast, be active, and run in space.”

Smart mentions the 2014 CFP Semifinal between Ohio State and Alabama. The Crimson Tide started three lineman over 300 pounds in that game. After OSU put up 42 points on Alabama, Smart went and met with his counterpart in that game, Tom Herman. The Buckeyes didn’t even try to block Alabama inside. They ran the ball sideline to sideline in an effort to wear out the bigger Alabama defenders and negate OSU’s size advantage. All of those body blows eventually resulted in a knock out punch when OSU running back Ezekiel Elliott busted through the line for an 85-yard touchdown run that put the game out of reach. The big Alabama lineman were too tired by that point in the fourth quarter to keep contain.

Smart’s defense to that point had been based on the opponent’s personnel. If an opposing coordinator felt they had more of an advantage against Alabama’s four-man front than their three-man front they could just stay in certain personnel packages. Smart saw that as a problem.

In his three-man fronts, Smart needed bigger linebackers because they would have to take on the guards on every play. In the SEC, guards are often 300 pounds or more. The problem? Those big linebackers also had to go cover in space. Smart puts it bluntly. “You’re not gonna cover Alvin Kamara with a 250 pound linebacker.”

The spread was stressing Smart’s defenses. The solution the? Georgia’s MINT front.

For the most part, that has served him well.  But not perfectly well, as last season’s games against Alabama and Florida demonstrated.  The latest stress test comes from teams that can deploy four and five legitimate receiving options on any given play.

By now, Georgia has adapted its defense plenty, and I’m sure we will see further tweaks after a full offseason and the addition of Will Muschamp to the staff. The high powered passing attacks has created the need for more packages that deploy five and six defensive backs, but the Mint Front is still a huge part of UGA’s base defense.

Last season, Georgia missed having a Roquan Smith-type middle linebacker who was versatile enough to contribute in pass coverage.  (Remember Monty Rice trying to stay with Jalen Waddle on that completion down the middle?  Or Florida’s repeated success with the wheel route?)  That’s why, regardless of who was staying or going, Smart was focused on bringing in some portal talent to shore up depth in the defensive backfield, because he recognized that he needed more contributors in pass coverage.

That’s also why, despite all the talk about Jordan Davis, Adam Anderson or other returning players on defense, the player on that side of the ball who will likely be Georgia’s key is Tykee Smith.

5 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Musical palate cleanser, one word edition

One reason I love this country is because of our ability, even in trying times like now, to come together and lose our collective shit over trivialities like one word in the first verse of a Bruce Springsteen song.

I mean, this is priceless.

In case anyone is wondering why this became a matter of grave national concern in the summer of ’21, you can thank the New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, who knows grave national concerns. She apparently hadn’t previously recognized this one as such, though, when she attended “Springsteen on Broadway” July 3 and innocently tweeted out what turned out to be the correct “sways” line, instantly enraging about half of America, as some Haberman tweets are wont to do.

The firestorm continued on social media for close to two weeks before Los Angeles Times contributor Rob Tannenbaum published one of the most riveting pieces of investigative journalism in the music space since Jim DeRogatis’ R. Kelly reporting. Tannenbaum’s inquiries, though, led to a “Rashomon”-ic dead end. The writer noted that Sotheby’s had two years ago auctioned off Springsteen’s original handwritten lyrics, which read, “The screen door slams Anne dress sways,” which did seem revealing but also raised the question of whether to trust a guy who’d promised both Anne and Mary he would take them away. Artists who’ve covered the song over the years aid they’d always sung “waves,” and Melissa Etheridge, who sang it as a duet with Springsteen on “MTV Unplugged,” told the Times she discussed the lyrics with him then and “he would’ve told me if it wasn’t ‘waves.’ He would’ve said, ‘You’re singing it wrong, honey.’ So it’s definitely ‘waves.’” Declared country star Eric Church, who’s also often covered the tune: “‘Sways’ is sexier.” Assessing the empirical evidence at hand, Tannenbaum firmly concluded: “Springsteen is not one of rock’s great enunciators.”

Meanwhile, Steven Van Zandt, who could have ridden to the rescue, and who expounds on so many subjects on Twitter, had found one he considered beneath him. In response to queries, the E Street Band guitarist wrote: “Oy vey. Get this Bruce lyric shit outta my feed!”

Two weeks of this!

This is healthy.  No, really.  It restores my faith in mankind that we can still lose ourselves in irrelevancies like this.  ‘Murica, you go, girl!

Eh, what’s that?  The song… oh, yeah.  Here you go.

21 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized