Daily Archives: September 17, 2021

All in

The walls, they keep tumbling.

LSU athletics and Caesars Sportsbook on Friday announced a multi-year partnership, creating the first deal between a Southeastern Conference school and a sports betting company.

… Caesars Sportsbook will receive naming rights for the new Caesars Sportsbook Skyline Club at Tiger Stadium, signage throughout Tiger Stadium beginning on Saturday for LSU’s game against Central Michigan, plus additional signage at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center, Alex Box Stadium and on the LSU Sports Mobile App.

“LSU has always taken pride in providing fans with unique, innovative, and world-class experiences, and our new partnership with Caesars Entertainment will do just that,” said LSU athletic director Scott Woodward in a written statement. “We share a clear vision of how athletics and entertainment can come together to enhance the fan experience and we are excited to join with Caesars to make that vision a reality.”

I will give Woodward credit for not invoking the kids there.  But there’s only so far he could go, I guess.

The announcement says the deal focuses on “unique alumni and fan engagement opportunities while expanding responsible sports gaming and education.”

Yes, because the first thing you think of when you hear the phrase “responsible sports gaming” is education.  Way to go, LSU.

30 Comments

Filed under Bet On It, SEC Football

Robert M. Gates, the NCAA’s Solomon

This seems a mite… ambitious.

After the Supreme Court’s decision on June 21, Gates became insistent that the association could not stick with its usual strategies. The result was his committee, which some conference leaders have predicted will deliver narrowly drawn changes this winter, then possibly confront larger issues later.

The panel has spent weeks gathering feedback from various parts of college sports, and Gates has been somewhat cryptic about a blueprint for redesign.

In the interview, he raised concerns about how the N.C.A.A. enforces its rules, a process that often consumes years. He also signaled that he wanted policies to address certain types of scandals that went unpunished by the N.C.A.A., including one at Baylor involving sexual assault and another concerning academic fraud at North Carolina.

Those, though, might be the easy fixes.

Er, “the easy fixes”?  Gosh, then, what’s the hard shit?

Divisions II and III, which draw less money and attention than Division I, appear broadly satisfied with the current system, Gates said, and determined to preserve their shares of N.C.A.A. revenues.

Of course they are, bless their hearts.

Meanwhile, at the big boy level…

Beyond a nimbler N.C.A.A., Gates said he saw “a need for change in structure,” including potentially more divisions.

“Let’s just suppose — and now I’m getting into a hypothetical, which I almost certainly should not — but let’s suppose you give each of the divisions the autonomy and authority to structure itself as it sees fit,” he said. “That’s how you might end up with more than three.”

He hoped that such an approach, in which “Division I has more freedom to reorganize itself,” might calm the wealthiest conferences.

Money and power.  Sounds easy enough.  How quick you need it?

Gates’s 28-member committee is expected to make its recommendations by mid-November, and the full association could vote on them in January.

Two months to come up with a proposal to overhaul one of the most resistant to change organizations in existence, followed by a vote two months after that to adopt it?  I’ll have what he’s having, thanks.

11 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

Tastes like chicken: a few thoughts on the S. Carolina game

Damn, that never gets old.

On paper, the ‘Cocks are off to a respectable 2-0 start:  middle of the conference pack in net ypp; ditto for scoring; first in defensive third-down conversions.

But then you realize that was compiled against the likes of Eastern Illinois and East Carolina — literally, directional schools, for the win.  It should come as no surprise, then, that Sagarin ranks South Carolina’s strength of schedule at an anemic 196.  (The only conference team with a weaker slate is Auburn.)

So what’s Georgia looking at with this season’s version of the team that handed it its last home conference loss?  Well, the freshest thing you can point to is that it struggled in its win against East Carolina, needing a field goal with time expiring to put the game away.  And by struggled, I mean here’s the way the series in the second half went for both teams:  punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, touchdown, field goal, field goal, punt, field goal.  Still, it does show a certain amount of resiliency to come back from a 14-point deficit on the road.

According to 247Sports, there’s a pretty significant talent gap between Georgia (1001.75 aggregate; 93.5 average) and South Carolina (748.26 aggregate; 87.14 average).  (Before you ask, there was a significant gap in 2019, though not as large.)

So how does that shake out in practical terms?  Well, here’s Jake Rowe’s take on two matchups:

Georgia’s front seven against South Carolina’s offensive line and run game: The Bulldog front seven is off to an excellent start in 2021. It’s a huge reason why the Bulldogs have given up an average of 177 yards in its first two contests. The Bulldogs have tallied 14 tackles for loss in two games while South Carolina’s offensive line has given up 13. The Gamecocks are still trying to get things figured out up front and the glaring stat from their 20-17 win over East Carolina last week is the run game’s average of just 2.81 yards per carry.

Dawgs247’s Take: This is a battle that Georgia should win and win decisively, but the Bulldogs aren’t coming off their best showing. They didn’t tackle well against UAB last week and the Blazers were able to open up a few holes. South Carolina can stay in this one if it can get the run game going and it has the running backs to make that happen. It’s going to be tough sledding against this UGA front, though. That’ll definitely be the case if Devonte Wyatt, who sat out last week due to undisclosed, non-injury-related reasons. If Georgia is as successful as ECU, the Gamecocks will have a really tough time keeping pace.

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Georgia’s quarterback vs. South Carolina’s defensive backs: We don’t know who’ll start for Georgia at quarterback. It’s going to be JT Daniels or Stetson Bennett IV and we lean toward the latter right now. Bennett had a huge game last week and Todd Monken had a tremendous plan going into it. It almost certainly won’t be that easy against the Gamecocks. Meanwhile, South Carolina’s secondary has a pair of interceptions in its first two games and it has done a great job of helping the defense get off the field on third down. Whoever plays quarterback for Georgia is going to have to stop that trend and keep the chains moving.

Dawgs247’s Take: It’s not a reach to suggest that the Bulldogs won’t be able to lean so heavily on the big play this week. South Carolina will likely do a better job of keeping the receivers in front and making UGA earn it. The Gamecocks are big and physical in the secondary and the Bulldog behind center will have to make good decisions and take care of the football. South Carolina got an upset win the last time it was in Athens due in large part to turnovers. Whether it’s Bennett or Daniels pulling the trigger, they’ll have to play with patience.

The latter of those two leads to my big question:  how does SC choose to defend?  Do the ‘Cocks take the Mississippi State path and sell out to stop the run while taking their chances with Georgia’s deep passing game, or do they follow Clemson’s strategy?  No, they’re not Clemson, but the strength of SC’s defense is their line, as Seth Emerson notes ($$).

South Carolina poses an interesting test, because its defensive line may be its strength: Former five-stars Jordan Burch and Zacch Pickens are back there, and the Gamecocks limited their first two opponents to a combined 2.37 yards per rush.

Playing soft in the secondary seems like the wiser course of action to me, as it may limit Georgia’s explosive plays and force the Dawgs to get more out of their running game than they’ve shown in the first two games.

Barring turnover diarrhea, though, it’s hard to see how much strategy will matter, given the sizeable talent gap between the two.  One thing I’ll be curious to see is whether Luke Doty, who’s recovering from an injury, gets any playing time this week, or whether they let Zeb Noland, who is pretty much a statue at quarterback, take the heat from Georgia’s defensive front seven.

And your thoughts?

64 Comments

Filed under 'Cock Envy, Georgia Football

“Didn’t they say that last year?”

I really don’t get it.  What is Dan Mullen’s secret to the national press largely giving him a pass?

They did, and the Gators beat the Bulldogs 44-28 and won the East. If a late onside kick ricocheted differently, Florida may have upset Alabama and won the SEC. That team last season was loaded. It had a Heisman Trophy finalist quarterback, Kyle Trask, and the highest drafted tight end in NFL history, Kyle Pitts, who was selected fourth overall by the Atlanta Falcons. Kadarius Toney, a human joystick at receiver, was taken 16 picks later by the New York Giants.

The season should have been viewed as an all-around success — a key step forward in Mullen’s rebuilding efforts. Four years after returning to Gainesville, he had led the program to within shouting distance of the College Football Playoff and had broken a drought of offensive skill players selected in the first round of the draft that dated back to Tim Tebow in 2010.

The “but” that follows isn’t how Florida still managed to lose four games last season with a loaded roster.  It’s about Mullen showing his ass, which may reflect his personality, but has little to do with his ability as a coach.  Maybe it’s all about projection, though.

“I continue to believe that his best coaching days are ahead of him,” Stricklin told the Sentinel.

A big reason for that is Mullen’s work at quarterback. Back in August, Mullen expressed overwhelming confidence in Emory Jones, who waited three years behind Franks and Trask to finally become the starter. Mullen went so far as to say he saw some of Lamar Jackson in Jones’ ability as a runner, invoking the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner and 2019 NFL MVP.

But through two games, while Jones has run the ball well, he has been consistently inconsistent as a passer. Against Florida Atlantic and South Florida, his passing numbers were nearly identical: Each game he had a 63% completion rate, fewer than 200 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.

Yeah, that’ll get it done.

One thing they can’t take away from ol’ Dan:  “But Mullen won big, leading State to its first-ever No. 1 ranking in 2014.”  Well, technically speaking, I guess they can.  MSU was No. 1 for exactly one week and wrapped up that season losing to Paul Johnson in a bowl game.

Maybe it’s the feels.

McGee, a former head coach himself, wishes people could see how the team responds to Mullen — how when it comes time to run extra laps after practice because someone missed a class, Mullen is right there running with them.

“That’s why players are like, ‘We have his back all the way,'” McGee says.

Like I said, I just don’t get it.

38 Comments

Filed under Gators, Gators...

Better than we think?

A couple of stat charts for your perusal:

While I haven’t been thrilled with the push the o-line has gotten in the run game so far, the good news is that they haven’t leaked very much.  Georgia has only allowed one sack in its first two games and six tackles for loss.  Both rank top ten nationally; after playing a very good defensive front in Clemson’s, that’s an impressive showing.

Now, can somebody tell me what’s up with Alabama’s o-line?

13 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“Keeping things fresh while respecting traditions is what’s on my mind.”

The header quote comes from Greg Sankey, who’s talking about conference scheduling.  Yeah, he’s full of shit, but also yeah, Mike Slive screwed the pooch when he was forced to use conference expansion as a means of getting out of a bad TV deal he negotiated.

That being said, this soul searching about how to arrange for cross-division teams to see each other more frequently than they do now has a certain “everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it” flavor to it.

The most likely outcome for the 16-team SEC is to move from an eight-game league season to a nine-game league season, although that’s far from being set.

… The SEC’s specific 16-team alignment is still ambiguous. But there will be a guiding force in those conversations.

“How do you move [teams] through on a more frequent basis?” Sankey said. “That’s the work to be done. I want to use a principle and think through what options are generated from that principle. What options allow us to do that? I’m not walking away from some of those great events. Those create who we are. We’ll have to see how those play forward.”

Sounds like a plan.

The real tell here is that even as Sankey tries to put on a show of concern, there’s no sense that there’s a scheduling crisis now, even though there’s a 12-year home-and-home cycle for certain cross-division games.  And why should there be?  ESPN’s paying and the fans are paying.  Whatever Sankey grudgingly comes up with, it’ll be only enough to maximize Mickey’s financial commitment to whatever the new, improved version of the conference can generate.

That’s the tradition Sankey respects the most.

20 Comments

Filed under SEC Football