It’s that time of year.

The last home game of any season is a bittersweet affair, and this year seems particularly so.  I’m packing for my last Athens tailgate of 2017, with the knowledge that I won’t be doing so again for a few months.

That’s a little sad, true, but it almost feels trivial in comparison to what the seniors must be feeling this morning, knowing that in a few hours they’ll be setting foot on the Sanford Stadium field for the last time in their careers.  As I posted earlier, this bunch has been through a lot and given a lot to get to where they are today.  For that, they are to be commended and celebrated.

And there’s still plenty left to play for to be celebrated, as no doubt both we and the players have been reminded of all week.  To tweak a cliche, today is the first day of the rest of the 2017 season.  Win out the next three games — admittedly a tall order — and everything any college football team hopes for as it works out in the August heat is still there.

For that to happen, though, starting today, heads and hearts have to be clear and focused, all the way down from the head coach to the lowliest walk-on.  If these guys are still suffering from a hangover from the Auburn game, it’s hard to see how they’ll meet that ultimate goal, not to mention avoid being embarrassed in the SECCG.

Sure, there are plenty of on the field matchups and stats that may prove relevant.  Benny Snell is having a fine season for Kentucky and clearly has to be an area of concern for the defense.  You can also worry about the ‘Cats trying to challenge Georgia’s secondary and whether Georgia’s offensive line has the gas in the tank to reset today and control the line of scrimmage as no doubt UK follows the same script most of Georgia’s opponents have this season in loading the box to stop Chubb and Michel.

Stats and strategy are fine to consider.  You can watch tape and look at numbers to get a feel for what each team brings to the table.  What you can’t measure or evaluate in advance is whether a team is ready to play.  That’s Kirby’s big test today.  If Georgia shows up with the same mindset that’s led it to nine wins, the Dawgs will roll.  If not… well, I’d rather not think about that right now.

For what it’s worth, I believe their heads will be on straight today, if for no other reason than because of the seniors.  They certainly deserve it.  GATA, boys.

Consider this your invite to post game day comments.  Hopefully, there will be a lot more sweet than bitter.

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Filed under Georgia Football

Fromm’s passing chart

I know we’ve all caught the home/away splits on Jake’s passing stats, but how about this chart?

Wow. I don’t know if that’s on Fromm or Chaney, but somebody’s got some tendencies that need to be broken.

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

UPDATE:

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Old times there were not forgotten.

Not that anyone in the SEC negatively recruits or anything, but if I were chasing a prospect who was interested in Ole Miss, I’d damned sure put this in front of momma.  Just sayin’.

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Filed under Political Wankery, SEC Football

Uncharted territory

Here’s a stat that nicely summarizes the season to date:

In Georgia’s first nine games, the Bulldogs only trailed for a combined 33:18 minutes. In the game against Auburn, they trailed the last 42:03.

It’s logical to assume a goodly chunk of that first number comes from the Notre Dame game, but remember that Georgia’s largest deficit in that game was six points.  That number was surpassed last week before the end of the second quarter and the gap never shrunk.

It was a kind of adversity the team simply hadn’t faced this season and it reacted poorly.  Hopefully, some lessons have been learned from the experience.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

“It hasn’t all been great this year, though.”

If you’re looking for a nice summary of the Kentucky team we’ll be seeing at Sanford Stadium tomorrow, this Q&A with the publisher of CATS Illustrated isn’t a bad place to start.  This, in particular, about the defense is worth a look:

“They had one of the top run defenses in the country through the first half of the season but that seemed like fool’s gold because of the competition. When Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Ole Miss needed to run the ball against Kentucky, they were able to. The pass defense was supposed to be a strength this year, but not until Saturday did the secondary really put together a strong performance. The personnel is better top to bottom than it usually is at Kentucky and that’s a credit to Stoops’ recruiting. Kentucky is strong on the edge and at linebacker. Junior safety/nickel Mike Edwards is one of the league’s top defensive backs. Kentucky has struggled to pressure the quarterback in recent years but they’re up to 27 sacks on the season because they’ve had 15 the last three games. It needs more work on the defensive line and up the middle. The defensive line rarely pressures the quarterback.”

Sounds like chicken soup for Jake Fromm’s and the Bulldog offense’s soul.  And this — “On the flip side, while Kentucky is good on the edges defensively, they are weaker up the middle. Georgia should be able to exploit that.” — sounds like an invitation to Mr. Chubb.  We’ll see if they’re ready to take advantage.

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Senior Day thoughts

For once, I don’t think the word “special” is being oversold:

“This is a special group, and I think it’s a special group because they have really good leadership,” second-year Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart said. “They have an opportunity to win their 38th game, which could rank them right in the top 10 senior classes to ever play here. The big thing for me is that everybody else on the team acknowledges that it’s their last home game and that you prepare and play as if it was yours.

“I know what that last home game in Sanford Stadium means. It’s the one you remember the most. These guys have meant a lot to this program, meant a lot to me personally, meant a lot to the staff, and they’ve meant a lot to this university. I think we all owe it to them, as a fan base and as a coaching staff and as a team, to make sure that we give them our best effort.”

This year’s group has a unique resume:  the transition from Richt to Smart, a shot at three ten-win seasons despite that transition, Georgia’s first trip to the SECCG in five seasons and the Dawgs’ first serious opportunity to score an appearance in the College Football Playoff.

Right now, though, I suspect they’ll be remembered most for this:

Smart went 8-5 in his debut season a year ago, but the foundation for a big 2017 occurred last December, when Chubb, Michel, Bellamy and Carter announced their plans to return rather than declare for the NFL draft.

“Those four guys showed their commitment, and I think that really set the tone for the rest of the team,” Blazevich said. “They chose to invest another year in this, and when they came back it made it even easier to follow them, because you knew they were all in. That really caught on with the team…

It’s too early to talk about legacies, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all in a few years to point back to that decision as the moment leading to the program taking off and re-establishing itself as a conference power.  Senior Days are always worthy of our support, but this one may be a little more special because of those four.

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I am shocked, shocked to learn that there is spending going on in here.

To sum up the current state of affairs at the University of Arkansas:

  • Jeff Long has been fired.  The school owes him a buyout of $4.8 million.
  • Bert is not long for this world there, either.  I’ve seen various numbers tossed out for his buyout, ranging from $6+ million to (gulp) $15 million.
  • Bruce Feldman, who’s tapped into this kind of stuff, now reports that “Big-money boosters at Arkansas and members of the university’s board of trustees have been pushing for the Razorbacks to go after Auburn coach Gus Malzahn to be their next head coach.”  Aside from the salary they’d have to pay Gus to get him to jump, there’s also the little matter of his buyout, something in the neighborhood of a mere $7 million.

That’s a shitload of bucks to lay out for a program that’s still in the same division as Alabama.  And yet nobody is batting an eye.  Cost of doing bidness in the SEC, y’all.

So I have to chuckle a little when I see “how did we get here, anyway?” articles like this one.

How did we get to this point? It boils down to some combination of revenue going through the roof especially from television rights, powerful agents wielding tremendous leverage and university leaders giving in to increasingly one-sided contracts amid growing desperation to find a winner.

Notice anything missing there?  Oh yeah, that whole cheap labor thing.  There’s all that extra money out there as a by-product and it ain’t gonna spend itself.  The result is inevitable when you consider the basic ingredients:  stupid and desperate athletic departments with more money than sense waiting to be fleeced by agents who know how to play on that stupidity and desperation like a finely tuned instrument.  Which they do, again and again.

There’s so much money coming in with no place to go that it essentially becomes a cushion against irrational management.  Arkansas can afford to behave senselessly, so who really cares?

Welp, maybe Congress does.  The tax bill just passed by the House does away with the deduction associated with charitable contributions for tickets.  Honestly, it’s hard to argue with this kind of reasoning:

Going after the season-ticket donation deduction doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Many in political circles believed the deduction was unfair because the donation included the rights to get season tickets, which is something of significant value.

“I don’t believe the deduction was ever intended to apply to donations related to season tickets,” the bill’s author, Representative Kevin Brady (R-Texas), told ESPN.

Brady said that the majority of season-ticket holders in college athletics don’t have to pay for the rights to their seats; they just pay the cost of the ticket. Since deductions technically cost the taxpayer at large, Brady reasons that the average fan is actually disadvantaged by the deduction at the hands of the wealthy, who deduct the price of their large donation for the right to sit in the best seats.

That, of course, won’t stop the schools.

“While we certainly do not know the exact repercussions, we expect that it would have a damaging effect,” said Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne. “The philanthropic support of donors is instrumental, and although the amount of contributions from institution to institution varies, it is of equal importance across the board when you look at financial structures. Very few college athletics programs actually make a profit. Take that funding away, and it will be difficult to operate without making dramatic changes.”

The effect on not being able to deduct the donation might be more severe with the higher donations. NC State, for example, asks for a $25,000-per-seat donation for the best center-court seats for its basketball games for life. However, it comes with the promise of an additional donation of $7,200 per year, and that doesn’t even include the season tickets.

Duke’s White says that losing season-ticket donations could immediately affect scholarships in Olympic sports.

“We have over 500 student-athletes at Duke in 24 Olympic sports,” said White, who is a member of the United States Olympic Committee board of directors. “This would significantly compromise the opportunities for young people in those sports across the entire student athletics system.”

Or, for that matter, handing out obscene buyouts in contracts.  Cry me a river, Mr. White.

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Filed under It's Just Bidness