This week in Destin: fun, sun, victory laps and a touch of hypocrisy

Yep, it’s time for the SEC’s spring meetings down on the Gulf.  So, what’s on the menu this time?  A little of this, a little of that…

Staff sizes

It’s a topic that emerged this spring following comments Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby made in April as the chairman of the Football Oversight Committee.

Alcohol sales

For the second straight year, expect the SEC to discuss the possibility of allowing alcohol sales at on-campus sporting events, a practice has taken off elsewhere in recent years.

Transfer rules
Graduate transfers have been a hot topic across college football over the last several years, but after facing some complicated issues in the last year, it appears the SEC is ready to take steps to addressing its own transfer policy.

Anything on that list strike you as something that can be settled in a few days?

Because Malik Zaire is rumored to be ready to become a Florida Gator, expect a lot of effort to be put into changing the current transfer rules, because the status quo is jamming up the Gators.

Another proposed change would revise the penalty from three years to one for schools being restricted from taking a graduate transfer when a previous graduate transfer did not meet a benchmark for showing progress toward a graduate degree.

Under the current rule, Florida would not be able to take Notre Dame quarterback transfer Malik Zaire because Mason Halter and Andrew Harrell failed to meet the league’s academic standards after transferring in for the 2015 season.

“I do think we need to look where we’ve been restrictive in the past because of the absence of national rules and look at reducing some of those restrictions,” Sankey told the Dooley and Collett radio show in Gainesville, according to 247Sports. “I’m one who would position it as interest in freeing things up without just removing every restraint, because I think the restraints have been healthy for us.”

The new rule would eliminate provisions of the graduate student exception that said the athlete must complete at least nine hours of graduate level coursework in their first term to be eligible in the following term. That goes further than the national standard and can mean a loss of APR points. Instead, the SEC would follow current NCAA rules that a graduate student would complete six hours toward their graduate degree program to be eligible.

If the NCAA mountain won’t come to the SEC’s Mohammed, you know what that means is about to happen.  Welcome to Gainesville, kid.

That’s going to be the easy part.  The hard part will be the fight over transfers within the conference.  Somebody is real concerned about that.

Saban isn’t a fan of graduate transfers going from one league school to another being able to play immediately.

“I don’t think we should have free agency in our league,” he said. “The rule that we have that did not allow guys to transfer to other SEC schools I think is a benefit to all schools in the league and it’s the right competitive balance and mix. When you play in the NFL, you can’t just say I’m going to pick up and go play somewhere else. I think that’s a good rule.”

That’s because there’s this thing in the NFL called a contract, Nick.  You’ve probably heard of them.  In fact, you just signed a new one yourself.  Good to see, though, that you’re not trying to run a it’s good for the players, too scam here.  In fact, this sounds kinda cold.

Wide receiver Chris Black also was a graduate transfer who left Alabama and went to Missouri.

“I don’t know how much it benefitted them,” Saban said. “I can’t speak to that.”

Bless your heart.

Meanwhile, Greg Sankey would like to add his measured, principled voice to the discussion.

“This will be the first meaningful conversation that we’ve had since the proliferation of graduate transfers has happened nationally,” Sankey said. “I expect our membership to have a pretty meaningful conversation about the right perspective on graduate transfers entering the SEC from outside and then the topic of inter-conference transfers.”

Sankey believes the SEC can find a way to allow more graduate transfers and barring a team from signing another one for a period of time if a transfer doesn’t complete their academic requirements.

“A football player that enrolls as a graduate student and never goes to class, that’s not healthy,” Sankey said. “We want to tend more toward our Canyon Barrys.”

That would really be meaningful if you weren’t so willing to turn a blind eye towards the likes of Ben Simmons and the occasional one-and-doners who come to the SEC simply to mark time until they can turn pro.  At least those graduate students you pontificate about have a fucking degree to show for it.

Have fun on the beach.

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Filed under SEC Football

“It’s not just about passing yards, either.”

I guess we’re all supposed to get excited about Mike Huguenin’s discovery that SEC quarterbacks amassed some yardage last season.

The SEC leads all Power Five conferences with eight returning quarterbacks who threw for at least 2,000 yards last season.

Except, as Bud Elliott points out, throwing for 2000 yards in a season isn’t exactly a major accomplishment in the spread era.

If take a look at the national rankings for 2016 passer ratings, the excitement cools.   Among quarterbacks who started at least three-quarters of their teams’s games, the SEC’s top performer was Josh Dobbs, the only conference starting quarterback to rank in the top twenty.  (Bentley and Patterson, whom Huguenin also push, clocked in with 139.99 and 121.00 passer ratings.)

That’s not to say this isn’t a talented bunch, or that things aren’t looking up.  It’s just that overall we’re still a ways away from proven.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

You can’t get there from here.

Somehow, I don’t think ignoring the triple option offense as a factor in how to fix Georgia Tech’s abysmal in state recruiting (“… since 2013. Over that time, Tech’s home state has been responsible for 8.5% of all four- and five-star recruits in the entire country. That’s a total of 141 players over a five-year period, more than the bottom 30 states combined. That should be an incredibly exciting statistic for Georgia Tech supporters, but it instead stands as a strong indictment on the recruiting done by head coach Paul Johnson and his staff. Of those 141 blue chip players, Georgia Tech has pulled in exactly one…”) is going to help fix things.

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Filed under Georgia Tech Football, Recruiting

Musical palate cleanser, Good Lord, I feel like I’m dyin’ edition

Well, shit.

Gregg Allman, a founding member of the Allman Brothers Band, the incendiary group that inspired and gave shape to both the Southern rock and jam-band movements, died on Saturday at his home in Savannah, Ga. He was 69.

His publicist, Ken Weinstein, said the cause was complications of liver cancer.

If you were a Southern boy growing up in the sixties and seventies and you didn’t listen to The Allman Brothers Band — a lot — well, buddy, that made you a little different.  Even  a certain US President was known to do that.

Sure, the guitar play between Duane and Dickey was mesmerizing, but for me even more, it was that voice.  From the first moment “yeah, yeah, yeah” came blasting out of my speakers on “Not My Cross To Bear”…

… I was stunned.  How could a white kid sound so emotionally authoritative delivering the blues?

Beginning with a show at Georgia Tech, I saw the band more times than any other during my high school years.  I remember the sadness I felt upon learning of Duane’s passing and the shock of Berry Oakley’s death the next year.  Somehow it came out all right once I felt the comfort in the sound of Greg’s voice on Eat A Peach’s first cut.

I still remember Rolling Stone’s review of Eat A Peach, particularly the send off:

The Allman Brothers are still the best goddamned band in the land, and this record with three sides of “old” and one side of “new” is a simultaneous sorrowed ending and hopeful beginning. I hope the band keeps playing forever — how many groups can you think of who really make you believe they’re playing for the joy of it?

The spirit lived on.  It still does.  Rest easy, indeed.

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‘When I recruited this kid I told his mother that I’d take care of him.’

Man, this is a tough story to read.

A few years earlier, the coach, Don Horton, had learned that he had Parkinson’s disease, but these new, intensifying infirmities were more commonly linked to chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., a degenerative brain disease caused by repeated hits to the head and linked to football and other contact sports.

Was his deteriorating health, Horton wondered, a consequence of his many years as a football lineman? Even worse, he worried, was he responsible for exposing hundreds of players to the kind of head trauma now impairing his life? After all, as a prominent assistant coach at Boston College and North Carolina State for nearly 20 years, he had recruited and encouraged scores of athletes to play major college football.

In the still of night at home, Horton asked himself what he should say if a parent of a former recruit called to say that a son was suffering from C.T.E.-like symptoms.

“And I would tell him that he could say: ‘I know how it feels,’” his wife, Maura Horton, responded. “And Don didn’t necessarily like that answer. But that’s the truth.”

His brain was donated after death for research purposes, because he came to believe it was necessary.

By donating his brain, Horton believed he could aid the science and, ultimately, perhaps help people evaluate whether to play, or continue playing, the game.

“He wanted to make a difference if he could,” said Maura Horton, 47. “Don would never tell someone not to play the game, because he loved football and wouldn’t betray it. But he wanted them to see a full picture to make a full decision.”

She added: “Don said, ‘If they would be more reflective and be more upfront about things that were happening to them, they might get out of the game earlier if they needed to. Kids try to hide so much about what’s really happening.’”

If those running the sport don’t grasp the wisdom of that and adapt accordingly, it’s hard to avoid thinking that one day their control will be taken away in the name of caution.

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Filed under The Body Is A Temple

“No I think it’s just football. That’s what’s driving a lot of these donor events, donor gifts.”

Georgia donors, you pays your money and you makes your choice, sort of:

The UGA athletic board was meeting on Thursday, and the subject at the moment was fundraising. Jon Stinchcomb, the former Georgia and NFL player, spoke up.

“With Magill Society donations, they can earmark what it goes towards? So it can go to soccer, or to golf, or the west end zone?” Stinchcomb asked UGA executive associate AD Matt Borman, who was giving a presentation to the board.

“Yes sir,” Borman answered. “The majority of those donors give it unrestricted. But there’s no question that if they wanted it to go to a certain area, and we have a current project going on, we can accept those requests.”

It’s just that for some of you, unrestricted may not mean what you think it means.

As construction begins on the most expensive facility project in recent UGA athletics history, the school already has millions of fundraised money available to pay for it. But that comes with an asterisk: Many of the donors didn’t know they were giving money for that project.

Back in 2015, when UGA unveiled plans for the indoor facility ($30.2 million), the administration said it would split the cost with donors: Half through fundraising, half out of the school’s own reserve funds.

But fans were so eager for the much-awaited facility that they poured in funds. In fact, when the facility was dedicated this past February, athletics director Greg McGarity announced that a total of 475 people had donated $36 million.

So what happened with the extra $6 million? It was simply applied, at least most of it, to the next project: The Sanford Stadium west end zone project, which carries a $63 million price tag, of which $53 million is expected to come from donations.

And by now the Magill Society — which was set up when fundraising for the indoor facility began — can boast just over $50 million in donations.

So the entire indoor facility has been paid for by donations, rather than just half. And McGarity said this week that “small slices” of the money was also directed to facility improvements for soccer and golf.

McGarity was asked if there was any consideration given to, when they hit $15 million, saying thank you, the administration will foot the rest.

“No, I think the key thing is you want to generate as much you can off new brick and mortar,” McGarity said. “For us to cap it at $15 million and say we’re done, doesn’t allow you the opportunity to grow. I think the passion that people know [they have], and once you add certain projects under the Magill Society, they continue to grow.”

I’m not sure I find anything inherently wrong with that.  If you want to give with strings attached, don’t forget to bring the strings.  On the other hand, knowing that most of our fan base cares little about Georgia athletics outside of football, I wonder how pleased some of those Magill donors would be to find that their contributions were being directed to grow the women’s soccer program.  If you’re one of those folks, cheer up, though:  at least you got those sweet Hartman Fund points.

With that in mind, were I a head coach of one of Georgia’s other athletic programs, I’d sure hope Kirby starts winning big soon.

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Junior’s throwing a party.

And it looks like everyone’s invited.

Florida Atlantic coach Lane Kiffin will host coaches from Tennessee, his former employer, as well as Michigan‘s Jim Harbaugh and others at the school’s camp for high school players next month.

Coaches from five Power 5 programs — Tennessee, Michigan, Arkansas, Illinois and Vanderbilt — will work at Florida Atlantic’s camp June 5 in Boca Raton, Florida. Harbaugh and Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema will be there with their staffs, and other head coaches like Illinois’ Lovie Smith could join…

Several other coaching staffs could join the camp, including Alabama, where Kiffin served as offensive coordinator for the past three seasons before departing before the national championship game in January. Other potential additions include LSU, Georgia, Michigan State and Iowa.

Gettin’ mighty crowded…

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Filed under Don't Mess With Lane Kiffin, Recruiting