Daily Archives: May 2, 2022

Today, in charts and graphs

Seth Emerson’s State of the Program piece about Georgia ($$) is a validation for acknowledging that, while the challenges may be different with a natty under their belt, this program finds itself in a very solid place right now.  And if you have to ask why, maybe you don’t follow Georgia football as closely as you think you do.

It’s the recruiting, stupid.

With that in mind, it’s hard to be overly bothered about all the production we just watched trot off to play on Sundays, although, to be honest, when you look at this, there’s still plenty enough coming back.

The cupboard isn’t really bare and it’s being generously restocked.

Finally, one fun stat:  “Georgia passed the ball 407 times last season, 102 more than it did in the same number of games in 2017.”  I don’t know if that means Kirby finally learned to trust Bennett more than he did Fromm, or if he trusted Monken more than Chaney.  (Actually, I probably do.)

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting, Stats Geek!

Wrong, or different?

Stewart Mandel ($$) wrote a good piece about you know what and in so doing, asks this:

Does all this NIL/pay-for-play stuff make us uncomfortable because it’s actually immoral and wrong? Or because we’ve spent our whole lives listening to NCAA types tell us it’s wrong?

If you believe it’s the former, then on to the next question.

… It’s one thing for an athlete to get paid to endorse a company on social media. No harm there. It’s another to use NIL as a façade to straight-up buy football and basketball recruits.

I’m still not entirely comfortable with it, but I also can’t say with a straight face that it’s “wrong.” Not in the same sport where a coach like Michigan State’s Mel Tucker can get a $95 million contract on the mere possibility he might jump elsewhere, or Brian Kelly can leave for LSU before his season is over because he’s not getting what he wants at Notre Dame.

They are the beneficiaries of a free market in which multiple schools are bidding for the same talent. How do we justify allowing that for the coaches but not the athletes?

Personally speaking, that’s a tough sale at this point.  As Mandel goes on, “We’ve long since normalized boosters lighting money on fire when it comes to hiring and firing coaches, but we’re horrified that they may now be doing the same with players.”  I’m pretty sure we’ll wind up normalizing that in a few years, which is one of the reasons I thought the schools entrenched themselves fighting O’Bannon and everything that followed.  Once you’ve normalized player compensation from third parties, it’s not exactly a huge leap in the public’s eye to normalizing schools paying players directly.

If you are still convinced it’s wrong, I’m not saying you’re wrong, but I am saying that I don’t grasp your logic.  If it’s purely an emotional reaction, again, that’s your business, but at this point the courts have made it pretty clear emotions don’t trump antitrust law.

So here’s my question:  given the state of things now, where do you want to see things go to save the sport we all care about?

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Filed under It's Just Bidness

“Justyn is in a position to make this decision for himself.”

If you think back to last season’s opener, one thing we Dawg fans were reminded of as the game approached was Justyn Ross’ return for Clemson.  He had been one of the best receivers in college football before he lost a season due to a serious spinal injury.  I don’t know about you, but at the time I didn’t realize just how serious his condition was.

What makes his evaluation even more difficult? Ross is attempting to become the first known player to make the NFL with a congenital fusion in his spine.

“Justyn has a condition that is very rare, and to my knowledge, there is no precedent of another high-level American football player with this condition playing football,” said Dr. David Okonkwo, who performed the surgery on Ross that allowed him to return to play. “So we were paving new road as we went through the process.”

FROM THE BEGINNING, there was one glimmer of hope that Ross clung to: the potential for surgery to relieve the pressure on his spine, which would give him a chance to play again. But even then, there would be no guarantees.

Shortly after the diagnosis, the coronavirus pandemic shut down campus and Ross went back home to Alabama. He continued to work out, telling himself the doctors would realize they made a mistake, that he was fine, that he did not need surgery. The hit he took that started all this was nothing compared to harder hits in his career, and nothing had ever happened to him.

Reality said something different. Over the next several weeks, multiple neurosurgeons told Ross they would not clear him to play football, saying the risks including paralysis or even death. Despite that, Ross pressed forward trying to save his career.

Ross’ condition, Klippel-Feil syndrome, isn’t curable.  He and his family became convinced that it was treatable, though.

“Dr. Okonkwo is very confident in what he says, he’s very knowledgeable about his work, so he made us feel comfortable when we met him,” Franklin said. “He never made me feel like he had any doubt in what he could do. So that’s where we got the confidence that OK, we can go ahead and do this.”

Ross had the surgery in June 2020. Okonkwo removed a disc that was pushing backward to free up space for the spinal cord, leaving behind a graft and plate to hold everything together.

“The procedure itself is a very common procedure, but this procedure for this specific reason is very rare,” Okonkwo said. “It is virtually unique to have done this surgery in someone with Klippel-Feil syndrome, who happens to be one of the most talented football players in the United States of America.

It’s that “who happens to be” part where it starts feeling a little creepy.  And speaking of creepy,

Swinney and chief of football administration Woody McCorvey flew to Pittsburgh to be with Ross and his mother, then spoke with Okonkwo afterward.

“I asked him, ‘How did the surgery go?'” Swinney said. “I said, ‘Did you go 9-3 or 6-6? He said, ‘I went 15-0.’ And I said, ‘Well, I like that answer.'”

But Okonkwo also cautioned Swinney, telling him even if Ross did everything right, there was still a chance he wouldn’t be able to play.

Well, Ross did play last season for Clemson, finishing with team highs in catches (46) and receiving yards (514).  All that led him to being projected as a mid-round pick in the NFL draft.  As it turned out, not only was Ross not drafted, he also hasn’t been offered a free agent contract by any team.  Which leads to the uneasy conclusion that NFL teams are more concerned about his health than Clemson or Ross are.

Look, I’m not saying there are any bad people here.  A pro football career was Justyn Ross’ ticket to supporting himself and his family after school and Dabo Swinney is being paid big bucks to win games, something a contributing Ross would help achieve.  It’s clear that plenty of due diligence was done before allowing Ross to play and, in the end, it was his call to make.  Or was it?  The NFL is more of a business than is Clemson, or at least that’s what we’re supposed to think, and it’s a little sad to consider that Clemson was willing to go where 32 other teams don’t appear to be.

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UPDATE:  Weirdly enough, this makes me feel slightly better.

I hope everyone involved knows what they’re doing.

22 Comments

Filed under Clemson: Auburn With A Lake, The Body Is A Temple, The NFL Is Your Friend.

“I’m not going to point a finger in one direction when I’ve been part of it.”

If you’re in need of a morning chuckle, you could do a lot worse than this Nicole Auerbach piece ($$) about how — and I shit you not about the phrasing — Mark Emmert “lost the locker room”.  I mean, here’s a real howler:

… That person noted that he used to be a good public speaker but even he seemed less confident in what he was saying in recent months. All he’s really done is use his pulpit to plead for Congress to swoop in and save the day by setting national standards with federal name, image and likeness (NIL) legislation.

It’s not like his constituents gave him any decent material to work with.  Denial, on the other hand… well, there’s been loads of that.

“Maybe we should have been more proactive a while ago,” AAC commissioner Mike Aresco said. “It’s a law of unintended consequences.”

Actually, I’d say the consequences turned out to be entirely intended.

The conclusion’s pretty damned funny, too.

The next NCAA president will have to face them more head-on than Emmert did. He or she can’t just be a lightning rod for public criticism or a talking head at a hearing on Capitol Hill. The future of the collegiate sports enterprise hangs in the balance.

The next NCAA president will only be different from Emmert in that regard if those who hire the next NCAA president want that.  What are the odds, eh?

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Filed under The NCAA

“You know the risk when you have divisions.”

Oh, look, the conference that managed to screw up a round robin schedule to determine a champion is back at it again.

As the Big 12 was considering a temporary split into divisions for football, sources tell CBS Sports an NCAA proposal to relax conference championship game rules has complicated matters. That proposal that would no longer require FBS conferences to have divisions in order to hold league title games, effectively giving such conferences better access the College Football Playoff by allowing them to match their two best teams.

A special Big 12 subcommittee formed to determine how to best incorporate up to 14 teams in conference realignment from 2023-24 had been expected to finalize league composition and schedules this week. However, the Big 12 is awaiting resolution on a proposal from the NCAA Football Oversight Committee that would allow all leagues to play without divisions but still hold conference championship games without a waiver from the association.

That would give conferences an opportunity to match their two best (usually highest-ranked) teams in league title games.

Fourteen teams obviously can’t play a round robin schedule, so what’s left is to make sure a conference championship game does the best job of delivering a team to the CFP.  After all, what else are conferences good for these days?  Or the NCAA, for that matter…

However, given the fluidity of the NCAA at the moment, commissioner Bob Bowlsby questioned whether the association should be involved at all.

“I’m not sure why the NCAA has to be involved in that anyway,” Bowlsby said. “The conferences can capably decide how they want to conduct their competition.”

Bob, you probably don’t need me to tell you this, but in your case, “capably” is doing a shit ton of heavy lifting there.

7 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football

“Even Saban, PAWWWLLL…”

The meme is complete.

Last week, during ESPN’s “First Take,” Stephen A. Smith told Saban he respected Smart and Georgia, but he picked the Tide to win the title. He said it was “a shame” Alabama wasn’t 100 percent. He asked the Alabama coach what did he walk away feeling most about the game.

“When we got down to the end (of the season), you always want to have guys at the skill positions on offense that the other people have trouble guarding,” Saban said during his appearance. “You always want two corners that can guard their guys.

“Well, unfortunately, for us at the end of the season, we lost both corners (Josh Jobe and Jalyn Armour-Davis), lost our two best receivers (John Metchie and Jameson Williams) and that changed the game for us. I think it changed the national championship game, too.

“Georgia had a great team, had a great defensive team. Kirby does a great job there. We had success against them in the SEC Championship Game, but we didn’t really have the same team and it changed the dynamic of the game tremendously.”

Nobody does injuries like Alabama.  Those four will be legends.  Just like Auburn’s 2004 season, nothing is more powerful than “what if”.

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Filed under Alabama