At least they spelled his name correctly.
Monthly Archives: May 2022
As expected, one topic has dominated the early proceedings at the SEC Spring Meetings. I think Andy Staples framed it perfectly in this tweet.
This is almost amusing:
You don’t write, you don’t call…
From March 16, 2021’s “How Dan Mullen is closing the recruiting gap between Florida, Georgia”, this hot take hasn’t aged particularly well.
The stage is bigger and the talent pool is deeper at Florida, but Mullen is still overachieving. The question is whether it is a sustainable plan when the SEC East’s recruiting trail is dominated by rival Georgia.
… Perhaps that’s why Florida is one of country’s more successful programs in the transfer portal, where Mullen has managed to land a handful of former 5-star recruits in his first three offseasons with the Gators. Snagging the likes of receivers Trevon Grimes and Justin Shorter, or linebacker Brenton Cox and running back Demarkcus Bowman is much easier after those players mature and realize the real-world rigors of college football during their brief stints at other schools.
Is it possible for Florida overcome Georgia’s National Signing Day victories with a mix of transfers and developing 4-star recruits into 5-star players? In theory, yes, but like Mullen, it’s a bit more unpredictable than simply dominating the recruiting trail like Georgia has done by signing top-5 classes, including the country’s No. 1 hauls in 2018 and 2020.
Georgia has the upper hand on paper, but as we witnessed in 2020, coaching and routine maintenance of the program via the transfer portal can be the difference.
Best laid plans, and all that can be a real beyotch.
There are some pretty breathless takes out there. Here, for example, is Tony Barnhart’s.
I’m not feeling it. NIL? Unless the SEC is planning on issuing its own rules to restrict compensation (legal, but pretty much a shot across the NCAA’s bow), nothing but talk. The transfer portal? I’m sure there will be well-meaning (for coaches, anyway) discussion of fixes, but again, the SEC won’t act alone on it, because it would be suicidal. The SEC hosting its own playoff? Puh-leeze. That’s just Sankey trying to engineer leverage for the next CFP expansion meeting.
Nah, the only thing that will be interesting to watch is how hard people twist themselves in knots trying to avoid talking directly about the Fisher-Saban dustup. At least interesting to Finebaum. Meh.
UPDATE: Okay, I wouldn’t call this “most consequential”, but still…
Is that a case of what Saban wants, Saban gets?
I picked the wrong week to quit worrying about college football, it seems. Richard Johnson sees a crisis.
College football needs an egalitarian championship system if it wants to try and claw back some of its manifest destiny as a nationwide sport. U.S. sports fans demand the finality of one champion, so the sport should use the examples we have to play our way there.
His example isn’t the NFL. It’s European soccer. His salve for college football’s wound — manifest destiny, really? — is to expand the playoffs, but require the qualifiers to win their respective conferences first. I mean, nothing says the finality of one champion like putting the champion of the SEC and the champion of the Sun Belt on equal footing.
He admits Notre Dame poses a big snag. Well, duh. What he doesn’t mention is how a 16-team SEC is going to have a huge problem with this format. Right now, the CFP format involves four wild cards. There’s no way the SEC is going to sign off on an expanded CFP that reduces the number of wild cards. And we know this because Sankey has already signaled his opposition to an eight-team arrangement where the P5 champs are awarded automatic berths in the playoffs.
It’s weird, really. College football is an immensely popular sport that also has a ton of folks, both from the inside and the outside, who are dissatisfied with how it’s structured and are convinced it needs serious tweaking. So much for the whole “if it ain’t broke” school of thought…
That’s the question Pete Fiutak poses in his Kentucky preview. Sure, it’s a little tongue in cheek, but what he’s really getting at is the consistency the program has shown over the past few seasons under Stoops. And that can’t be denied. Last season, the ‘Cats won ten games and finished second in the SEC East.
They did that, despite finishing middle of the pack in the conference in net ypp and dead last in turnover margin. To me, that’s the sign of a coach who knows what he’s doing.
Fiutak projects them to fall back a little this year, to eight wins, based on some of their personnel losses and a tougher schedule. While I can’t deny the latter, I wonder a little about how serious those player losses are, particularly on the o-line, because here’s Bill Connelly’s latest version of returning production:
Somebody’s done some good work in the transfer portal, methinks. Between that and a likely case of regression to the mean on the turnover margin front, is eight wins selling this UK team a little short?
By the way, Stoops did some pretty good work on the recruiting front this year, finishing fifth in the SEC. There are ten four-star recruits in their ’22 class. Fiutak’s “this year’s team might go from good to something fantastic if some of those new guys rock and roll in fall camp” might be worth keeping in mind when Georgia travels to Lexington last in the season.
With postseason expansion on the horizon, college football’s broader focus on player health and safety has zeroed in on the number of plays teams face over the course of a season — also referred to as “exposures,” representing the number of times an individual player could be exposed to potential harm during the regular season and postseason.
Following the handful of safety-related changes to gameplay itself, such as recent modifications to kickoff rules, the FBS may in the very near future attack health and safety concerns at the source: by cutting down on the number of plays per individual game and across an entire season.
Run the clock after first downs. Run the clock after incomplete passes. Those will shorten the game. They will also make comebacks more difficult. But it’s for a good cause, amirite?
Well, when they tell you they’re doing it for the kids…
“The NFL does really well,” Sankey said. “They’re averaging about three hours per game. But that game is played in a different manner. You don’t see the type of creativity. I don’t mean that pejoratively. But in offenses, spread, hurry-ups, like you do in college.”
It’s college football’s Holy Grail: how can they neatly tuck games inside that three-hour window without sacrificing commercial time?
And forget about unforeseen consequences. They know what this would lead to.
“What we decide to do is never going to be 100% popular across the country,” said Stanford coach and rules committee chair David Shaw. “There is a push-pull, typically between offense and defense, between spread and non-spread, between up-tempo and those that are on the defense trying to defend up-tempo. I don’t think that’s going to change. It hasn’t changed for years.”
“What I would encourage is we respect the ability” for different offenses, said Sankey. “We want the creativity. I like the creativity between Mike Leach and Lane Kiffin and Josh Heupel, and the traditional approach that’s part of other offenses. Or the middle ground, the ability to do things differently.”
When it goes south on them, they’ll fall back on the doing it for the kids defense. Never mind that by expanding the postseason, they’ll be sticking the same amount of plays on them (at least the ones in the preseason) again. But at least they’ll get that fucking three-hour window out of it. Mickey will be most pleased.
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve ceased to be amazed by their determination to suck everything unique about college football out of the game.
This past week, Tipico Sportsbook put out its betting lines for a majority of the Week 1 games, and it listed the Ducks as a 17.5-point underdog, giving them plus-550 moneyline odds to win the game. In contrast, Georgia is listed at minus-1,000 to win the game.
Seems a bit high, no? That’s basically saying this game — one between two top-15 teams — is going to be a blowout. Despite the fact Georgia lost a majority of its historic defense from last season and had 15 players get drafted to the NFL this spring, the Bulldogs are projected to wax the Ducks.
Unfair to Oregon, or are Duck fans living outside of reality in believing that they might be able to keep things competitive with Dan Lanning’s former team?
Oregon writer answers his own question.
A lot of that depends on what happens with the quarterback position in Eugene. If Bo Nix wins the starting job, he can bring his SEC experience to the table and likely calm the rest of the youthful team, having been on that stage before.
Bo’s SEC experience resulted in finishing 9th, 9th and 11th in the conference in passer rating. Last season against the Dawgs (at home!), he managed a whopping 5.7 ypa en route to a massive 97.97 passer rating. Sounds pretty calming to me.
The SEC commissioner utters a classic “damn, son, I don’t think I’d have said that” remark.
I’ve no doubt he’s sincere, but why on earth would you publicize it?
David Wunderlich poses the question whether Florida can top its 2021 six regular season-win mark this year. Here’s how he breaks down the schedule comparison:
- Non-conference: drop FAU and Samford, add Utah and Eastern Washington. USF goes from road to home, FSU from home to road.
- SEC rotation: drop home vs. Alabama, add road vs. Texas A&M
- SEC regulars: home vs. Kentucky, Missouri, LSU and South Carolina; road vs. Tennessee and Vandy; switch sidelines in Jacksonville vs. Georgia
It is a tougher slate of games. Replacing FAU with reigning Pac-12 champ Utah takes a game from a sure win to a very real potential loss. A&M won’t be as good a team as Alabama was last year, but some of that is mitigated by a site change from the Swamp to Kyle Field.
Balance that off against how the Gators wound up managing to lose six games last season, though.
- Loss 1: 31-29 to future national title game participant Alabama. No shame there.
- Loss 2: 20-13 at UK, which was a Mullen conservative road play calling special with more than ten offensive line penalties. Plus the Wildcats got touchdown off a blocked field goal return and a short field following a pick.
- Loss 3: 49-42 to LSU in a “Todd Grantham what the **** are you doing?” special. Plus, they still almost came back to tie it late despite losing the turnover battle 4-0.
- Loss 4: 34-7 to Georgia. It was never going to be a win, but it would’ve been closer if not for an epic offensive meltdown before the half.
- Loss 5: 40-17 at South Carolina. The Gators let UGA beat them twice by not showing up the next week.
- Loss 6: 24-23 in overtime at Missouri. One last Mullen conservative road play calling special to send himself off by.
I do like that “The Gators let UGA beat them twice” line, by the way.
By the way, it’s pretty clear that somewhere along the way, Mullen lost the team and that contributed to the six-loss season. I hate to admit it, but talentwise, Florida was a better team than its record showed. The question is how quickly — okay, whether, if you prefer to phrase it that way — Napier can get buy in from his team. (Remember, even Smart needed a season for that.) And he’s got to get that when the schedule toughens up.
I’m not seeing nine wins for now, so the question is whether the Gators can cobble seven or even eight wins together. I have a feeling the answer to that lies in whether the SEC East is improving or if that’s just a mirage.