Daily Archives: July 29, 2021

Fresh meat

Steve Spurrier welcomes one of the SEC’s newest members as only Steve Spurrier can.

Hey, Longhorns, the sooner you learn he’s a dick, the better.

50 Comments

Filed under Texas Is Just Better Than You Are., The Evil Genius

Numbers don’t lie.

Remember this scene from Moneyball?

Well, things in this year’s SEC are kind of similar.  Take a look at this graph:

There’s Alabama.  Then there’s Georgia, and maybe TAMU.  Then, Florida and maybe LSU.  Then there’s the rest of the conference.

Bottom line, the SEC shouldn’t be much of an obstacle to Georgia’s regular season.  That’s not a guarantee it won’t be, but it shouldn’t.

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Welcome East, brother.

As a Georgia fan, one unexpected benefit of all the realignment chatter is that it’s shifted the “SEC’s most underperforming program” narrative westwards.

60 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Dropping the big one

What cracks me up the most about what’s gone down since word came out about Oklahoma and Texas gutting the Big 12 is how people who know better are trying to present facts of the past week as somehow particularly revelatory about the way college football is run, when, in fact, they’re nothing more than the same old, same old.  I mean, gee, are we supposed to pretend that ESPN’s behind the scenes machinations are a new thing?

It’s not just pundits, either, who are guilty of wearing blinders.

And the messiness that came out of the Bowlsby Bomb neatly summed up the fraught landscape in college athletics. One athletic director summed it up this way Wednesday: “This has created a lot more mistrust, a lot more dissension and a lot more hard feelings. If anything, that to me is why [the expansion to a 12-team playoff] slows down.”

Added another: “Most everyone in college athletics outside the SEC is mad as hell. This is a black mark on the enterprise … federal intervention may be the last resort to save us from ourselves.”

Chimed in another longtime college official: “An industry destined to blow itself up.”

Oh, boo fucking hoo.  You know what the real issue is?  In an industry full of Jed Clampetts, Greg Sankey wound up exercising a little more foresight than his peers.  And they can’t handle the aftermath.

With the SEC preparing to add Texas and Oklahoma, attention shifts to the three options at hand for each of the remaining Power Five conferences:

  • Expand in an attempt to keep pace with the SEC from a competitive and financial perspective, with each move triggering a series of corresponding moves across the entire Football Bowl Subdivision;
  • Stand pat and batten down the hatches in an effort to prevent other conferences from raiding or poaching teams from its current lineup of members;
  • Or, in the case of one league in particular, decide whether to remain a conference altogether.

Myerberg puts his finger on the source of their dilemma, at least in the immediate term.

… the genuine lack of productive expansion targets outside of current members of Power Five conferences and a small handful of teams playing in the Group of Five. Even in that case, options left behind by the Big 12, for example, simply don’t move the needle for the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

Every other member of the P5 needs to expand, but where do they go for that?  No other football program out there brings the cachet of a Texas or Oklahoma, at least if no P5 actor wants to go on an outright raid of another conference’s schools.  Sankey, to his credit, shrewdly read the room, took full advantage of it to land his big fish and left everyone else scrambling to escape the wreckage.  (Yes, with a little help from Mickey.)

It’s not any better in the intermediate term, either.

Another is the possibility that the SEC isn’t done yet, and if so whether there is anything another conference can do to hold down the fort should one of its schools be extended an invitation — especially with the SEC on a path to rake in $1.3 billion in revenue during the 2024-25 fiscal year with the addition of the Longhorns and the Sooners.

The answer is no for the ACC and Pac-12 because the money isn’t there.  The Big Ten is probably in a better place in that regard.  There’s no reason to even bring up the Big 12 in the discussion.  That is what Sankey hath wrought.

I’m not saying he’s a genius, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and Greg Sankey has that one eye.

25 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“… based on the whims of a pointy ball, eccentric boosters and a bunch of 18- to 22-year-old players.”

A post about college football stability, 2021 edition?  Now?  I have to give Bill Connelly credit for an impeccable sense of humor, if nothing else.  Here are the parameters of his piece:

  • Coaching stability (up to 20 points). Points will be awarded according to three factors: how long your current coach has been on the job, how many head coaches you’ve had over the past five years (so, 2017-21, not including late-year interims) and how many coordinators you’ve had to replace this offseason. Air Force, Clemson, Iowa, MTSU, Navy, Oklahoma State, Stanford and Utah get the full 20 points in this category.
  • Roster stability (up to 20 points). This will be based on two factors: your returning production averages (updated since February’s piece on the topic) and the number of players you’ve lost to the transfer portal since the start of last season*. The former points directly at the value of who you’ve got returning, while the latter hints at a program’s overall culture and stability. Teams like Wisconsin (19.2 points), Toledo (19.1) and Miami (18.1) lead the way in this category, while Tennessee (0.7), WKU (1.5) and Notre Dame (1.7) bring up the rear.
  • Performance stability (up to 10 points). This category is a bit blurrier. It asks three general questions:(1) How well have you done recently? We’ll derive this from your five-year average SP+ rating.(2) How consistent have you been? We’ll use the standard deviation of your last five years of SP+ for this.(3) How many games did you play last year? This one is 2021-specific, obviously.

    All three of these questions hint at how reliable your output is and how easy it might be to predict how you’re going to play this year.

Sure, it’s arbitrary (Bill is the first to admit it, too), but it’s kind of fun to see how that shapes up.  Your guess as to where Georgia ranks among the 130 D-1 schools?  (Hint:  not nearly as low as 127th Tennessee.)

1 Comment

Filed under College Football

“We’re just not going to sit still and let somebody… disrupt our business.”

Well now, this is something.

Adding insult to injury, the other conference supposedly is… the AAC.

Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby alleges conference media rights partner ESPN conspired to damage the league by luring Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC as detailed in a cease and desist letter sent to the network on Wednesday. Bowlsby also tells CBS Sports that ESPN has actively engaged the American Athletic Conference (AAC) to pursue “3-5” Big 12 members join the league, suggesting it would be rewarded with “future television proceeds”.

The letter alleges ESPN “has taken certain actions that are intended to not only harm the Big 12 Conference but to result in financial benefits for ESPN.” The network currently shares Big 12 rights with Fox.

Bowlsby told CBS Sports that ESPN’s actions are equal to “tortious interference”.

Ooh, check out the big brain on Bob!  He be mad, peeps.

In response, ESPN yawned.

While Bowlsby was on a roll, he cast a little shade in the direction of his departing members.

… He identified clear enemies in ESPN and the departing schools. Bowlsby only sent that letter with presidential support, which means this will end up bonding the eight schools remaining in the Big 12. And part of that is due to the distrust of Texas and Oklahoma.

“We still don’t have the information we need from them and they’re largely unresponsive,” Bowlsby told Yahoo Sports about OU and Texas. “How many years do they plan to play. When are they planning on transitioning? We can’t get any answers out of them.”

He knows damned well the conference, having already received notice from the two about their departure plans (properly within the bounds of Big 12 rules), isn’t entitled to those answers.  And there’s where we enter the realm of negotiating ploys.  As you might expect, there are wheels within wheels with this.

“I have every expectation that Oklahoma and Texas will do whatever they can to not meet their [contractual] obligations. That’s what they’ve done so far. … One of the ways the two schools and ESPN will seek to absolve themselves of the obligation is to destabilize the league and cause an implosion of the other eight members.

“I am absolutely certain ESPN employees have discussed and provided incentives for at least one conference to raid 3-5 members from the Big 12. In doing so, they are prepared to reward them with future television proceeds. If the conference goes away as an entity, Oklahoma and Texas could be relieved from their exit obligations. Those obligations at this time would include the payment of $70M to $80M — two years full revenue — per school and leaving their media rights with the Big 12.

Is ESPN operating behind the scenes to grease the skids for Oklahoma and Texas?  You’d have to be an idiot to expect otherwise.  Is Mickey doing so in a way to create legal liability for itself?  Well, I’d bet their lawyers are smarter than Bob’s, so whatever they’ve been doing, it’s been carefully crafted.

The money factor cuts both ways here.  Yes, if the conference dissolves, that ends the obligation to pay exit fees.  But Bob’s got a problem, too.

The difference between what the Big 12 is being paid now – more than $35 million in TV – and what it’ll be paid without OU and Texas is an estimated $20 million. Dropping a stinkbomb on the doorstep in Bristol, Connecticut, is a negotiation ploy to assure you will no longer be negotiating. But Bowlsby is too smart to have done this without some type of TV partner fallback.

That strikes me as wishful thinking.  If the broadcast rights drop in value significantly for ESPN, they’re not going to be more valuable for another TV partner.

What is more likely is that Bowlsby is trying to force ESPN to leave the existing contract structure in place after Oklahoma and Texas leave.  If you think about it, there’s probably an exit strategy that saves all sides a little — the schools are allowed a departure earlier than 2025 and ESPN doesn’t penalize the Big 12 when that happens.  It’s not a perfect solution for the conference, but their fate was sealed the moment the schools announced they were hitting the road.  At least it gives Bowlsby time to see what he can salvage before a mid-major conference picks over the bones.

Keep your friends close and your TV partners even closer, in other words.

***************************************************************************

UPDATE:  Drop dead, Bob.

14 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, ESPN Is The Devil

What does “plenty accurate for what Florida needs from him” actually mean?

Here’s a clear-eyed post from David Wunderlich about what Florida needs for Emory Jones to accomplish this season.

The bigger question is the second half of the statement. What UF needs is dependent on what your expectation of the team is. Do you want to see the Gators challenging Alabama in Week 3 and giving Georgia an honest run for its money in the East? That’s a higher bar than getting back to ten total wins after winning in a New Year’s Six bowl.

David notes that most of Mullen’s quarterbacks have improved their completion percentages as they’ve gone along.  It’s not unreasonable to expect that will be the case with Jones.  But herein lies the rub:

Here we’re coming back to the limitations of completion percentage. If Jones is completing 66% of his throws but for 7.1 yards per completion, we’re probably looking at a significant offensive regression. Franks went for 7.6 yards/att in 2018 despite having almost no practical limit to how far he can throw. Trask went over eight per toss in 2019 and was a hair under ten in 2020.

It’s the accuracy on the intermediate and long throws that will count most, since you can’t dink-and-dunk your way past Nick Saban or teams as talented as this year’s Georgia.

And that’s what I anticipate, come this season.  Jones will be an effective runner and his completion percentage will be respectable.  But Florida isn’t going anywhere if there’s significant regression in yards per completion and I’d bet that’s exactly what’s coming with Jones.

14 Comments

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

‘We don’t want Quinn to be a martyr’

Talk about your unforeseen consequences — Texas’ newly minted NIL compensation law expressly prohibits high school athletes from cashing in, so who could have seen this coming?

With his bleach blond mullet and more than 82,000 Instagram followers, quarterback Quinn Ewers is unquestionably the best-known high school football player in the country. He’s the No. 1 overall Rivals.com recruit and is a verbal commitment to play at Ohio State.

Ewers, 18, is heading into his senior season at Southlake Carroll, a public high school in the suburbs of Dallas. He is at a vexing crossroads that could re-define high school football in Texas and elite recruiting.

Ewers has emerged as such a precocious and recognizable star that he has the potential to earn nearly a million dollars in the next year by profiting off his Name Image and Likeness. A local company called Holy Kombucha is among those offering a deal to Ewers, and it includes cash and equity in the company. There are several other offers, including national brands.

While this avenue of making money off NIL has become formally available to college athletes in the past month, it’s not allowed for high school athletes in Texas. The state’s University Interscholastic League informed the Ewers family in an email Monday that any attempt for Ewers to profit off his NIL would be in violation of Texas’ recent legislation regarding Name Image and Likeness.

Ewers and his family are facing an imminent decision of whether to play his senior year without the deals or enroll at Ohio State a year early and cash in on endorsements. Ewers is expected to decide this week.

Gee, whatever will they do?

He gone, and who can blame him?  At least Texas high school football will remain as pure as the driven snow, though.  Think of the offensive linemen at his high school who will be the better for it!

36 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness

Big Game Bob twists the knife again.

Cold, man, cold.

Not that it isn’t true.

11 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

A rosy receiver outlook

You may recall from an earlier post that Phil Steele ranked Georgia’s receiver group (yes, including tight ends, and yes, including Arik Gilbert) twentieth.  Well, feast your eyes on this set of rankings from Pick Six Previews, which has been as accurate as Steele on preseason projections:

If that turns out to be the case, I’m gonna be one very happy Dawg fan.  Although, I suspect, not as happy as JT Daniels would be.

21 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football