An alternate theory of the crime

Jeff Schultz wants you to know that while he finds Mark Richt’s comedy act about Georgia’s quarterback situation amusing, Dawg fan, that doesn’t mean you should.

Richt has been having fun with the daily stonewalling of the media when it comes to Georgia’s quarterback competition and the team’s depth chart. He admits it: “I love it.”

Asked for his thoughts on senior transfer Greyson Lambert, he said, “He’s tall.”

Asked last week for statistics on a scrimmage, he declined, saying, “You don’t all have to get carpal tunnel and all that stuff trying to click all the keys.”

I’m pretty sure the decision to have his head shaved in the summer tripped the funny switch in his cranium.

But there’s something worth noting about this quarterback situation in Athens: Richt isn’t saying what quarterback is clearly No. 1 largely because he doesn’t know.

I get that.  It’s not a crazy theory, either.  But maybe it’s not the right one.

Yes, I’ve got one, too.  But remember as you read the rest of this post that’s all it is.  I don’t know Mark Richt.  I don’t know Brian Schottenheimer.  I don’t have a direct pipeline to any of Georgia’s coaches or players.  I don’t even know the guy who cleans out Butts-Mehre and claims to have heard a late night, heated discussion about the quarterbacks in the bowels of the building.  So take this as nothing more than pure out of my ass speculation, ’cause that’s all it really is.

That being said, I do know a few things.

  1. I know that as last season ended, Brice Ramsey was the clear number two quarterback on Georgia’s roster.  The coaches had even toyed with the idea of inserting him into the Vanderbilt game midseason to shake up the offense, but as things turned out, that possibility seemed to shake up Hutson Mason enough that it wasn’t needed.  And when Mason went down for good in the bowl game, Ramsey came in towards the end of the first half and played the rest of the game.  In 2014, Faton Bauta was a step down the totem pole from Ramsey.
  2. I know that there’s a consistent pattern during Richt’s term to go with the quarterback who’s played in his system the longest.  Greene started ahead of Shockley, Cox played instead of Murray, etc.  Even JTIII got the nod ahead of a clearly more gifted Matt Stafford.  You can disagree with whether it’s always been the wisest course.  You can point out that it’s not the only factor – Stafford did take over the starting spot as a true freshman, after all.  But, still, the pattern is there.  (Remember that Cox got a crack as the starter when Stafford faltered, too.)
  3. I know that this year, Richt took the unprecedented step (for him) of signing a transfer quarterback from another D-1 program with the stated intention of giving him a shot at starting, despite not just having one quarterback on the roster with game experience, but another who had been in the program for several seasons.
  4. And I know that this week Richt said Ramsey’s preparation skills and maturity were lacking, a criticism he hasn’t leveled at another Georgia quarterback in some time, if ever.

So what are we supposed to make of this?  Based on Richt’s track record, Ramsey’s need to lock down the starting position shouldn’t even be a topic today; he should already be the man.  (Even Joe T was that guy, however briefly.)  Bauta shouldn’t be in a position to have a legitimate shot.  Lambert’s lack of time in Georgia’s system should prevent him from being a credible possibility after a mere three weeks of practice.  And yet history isn’t repeating.

What I make of it isn’t that Richt doesn’t know who his quarterback should be.  It’s that Richt hasn’t yet figured out how to turn the switch that makes the light go on – and stay on –  in Ramsey’s head.  But he believes that competition is the best tool he has at his disposal for that purpose.  And if you look at the offseason developments in that context, a lot of things make sense.  Bauta’s place in the competition survived as long as he was the best available option with which to grab Ramsey’s attention.  With Lambert’s recent development (not necessarily to the point that he’s ready to start, but at least to the stage where he could be a legitimate option in the near future), the need for Bauta as a means of pushing Ramsey isn’t nearly as great.  And whatever value there is now in Bauta’s role is less than the value of paring down the reps from three quarterback candidates to two.

The other logical point to this is that Mark Richt isn’t an idiot in general and certainly not when it comes to recognizing and developing quarterback talent.  So, a week before the start of the season, what should we think – that Richt’s helplessly clueless about what to do, or that based on experience, he’s chosen a course best designed to motivate the quarterback he thinks has the best skill set for his offense game ready? (Think again of how Ramsey was apparently used to get Mason’s focus last year.)  It’s either that, or buy into the conspiracy theory that Richt is deliberately withholding reps from the player he knows will start to string along either Ramsey or Bauta so they won’t transfer in a huff upon learning the real story.  Sure.

Besides, if Ramsey doesn’t respond to being pushed in that way, at least Richt still leaves himself with another quarterback being developed who may turn into a practical choice while there’s still time to make the season a success.

Again, I don’t know that any of this is really what’s going on right now.  All I can say is that it feels like it makes sense.  At least more sense than any other explanation I’ve heard to date.  Can you do better?

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Filed under Georgia Football

The 2015 Fabris Pool: come on in, the water’s fine!

I am pleased to announce that Week One picks are up.

We’ve only got 117 folks who have signed up to play so far.  If you’re on the fence or just forgot, it’s not too late to jump in.  The invite link is here.

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“The SEC has that inherent advantage that if Alabama or Auburn is playing the Little Sisters of the Poor, people are still going to watch in huge numbers.”

So you’d pay two or three bucks a month for the SEC Network.  But would you pay $10?

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Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

“We’re not overconfident, I can say that for sure.”

Well, last year disproved the conventional wisdom that when Spurrier’s feeling cocky, it’s a sign that he’s got a good team to back up his attitude.

So what does it say about South Carolina’s chances this season when he plays the “hopefully” card?

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It’s gonna be a long season.

I always hope when I see articles like “Reverse Engineering a Champion”, there will be some really cool insight that leads to an unexpected conclusion.

I really shouldn’t get my hopes up like that.

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Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!

PLEASE DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS EMAIL.

Well, at least now we know what Greg McGarity’s “worst nightmare as an athletic director” is.

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Filed under Georgia Football

“It’s not a fine. It’s not a threat. It’s a tool.”

Okay, it turns out I was wrong about something.  NCAA rules do allow for player fines. (h/t John Infante)

Institutional financial aid based in any degree on athletics ability may be reduced or canceled during the period of the award or reduced or not renewed for the following academic year or years of the student-athlete’s five-year period of eligibility if the recipient:

… (e) Violates a nonathletically related condition outlined in the financial aid agreement or violates a documented institutional rule or policy (e.g., academics policies or standards, athletics department or team rules or policies).

So, it means that Virginia Tech and Cincinnati can pursue a course of fining players, if they so choose.

And if they’re careful to read the fine print there.

In order to avoid legal repercussions, the use of these funds for discipline must be written into the grant-in-aid agreements that are the basis for any athletic scholarship. The option must be a part of the scholarship transaction from the moment the athlete agrees to attend the university.

Unless the possibility of a fine is an express provision, there can be no withholding of such funds regardless of the conduct. Just like expulsion from the school or suspension from the team, the penalties for misconduct must be described in the agreement with specificity. If not, the school that fined a player would be subject to legal actions for breach of an agreement or for money damages as the result of tortious (wrongful) treatment of a player.

In addition, the grant-in-aid agreement must include a procedure for an appeal by the athletes just as it does for other disciplinary actions. The appeal is a bit of due process that is of benefit both to the athlete and to the school.

Munson goes on to note that it seems Cincinnati has indeed crossed all its Ts and dotted all its Is in that regard.  The Hokies, however, I’m gonna guess not so much, based on the athletic director’s comments.

Virginia Tech athletic director Whit Babcock said he “had no idea” that football players were being assessed fines for violations like missing team meetings or being late for meals, and says the practice has been “discontinued” effective immediately.

Images from a television monitor outside the Hokies’ players’ lounge on Wednesday night listed what appeared to be a fine structure and named players who had already been assessed fines.

Now, a couple of things come to mind here.  The first is that while it may be within the NCAA rule structure to do this, following the rule is a lot different from being smart.  I can only imagine the hay waiting to be made on the recruiting trail with this news from, say, an Auburn recruiter chasing some élite prospect from the Virginia Beach area.  Indeed, now Virginia Tech is likely to face the fallout of defending a practice it no longer follows.  Have fun with that, Coach Foster.

But here’s the tough part to understand.  Munson says for the protocol to fine players to comply with NCAA rules to be permissible, it has to be clearly set forth in the financial aid agreement the school has the player sign.  Except the player isn’t allowed to have legal representation at that point.  How something like that might stand up in a court of law, I’m not sure.  And you’d think somebody like Jeffrey Kessler would want to know.

Then again, Kessler might be successful enough waiving pictures of the TV screen from the VT players lounge in support of his clients’ lawsuit that it would be a moot point.

The really funny thing is that coaches like Foster and Tuberville really don’t care if the law sees these kids as student-athletes or players getting paid, i.e., employees.  They just care that they’re allowed to have enough control over them, in whatever form or fashion works.  But I doubt their bosses see that the same way.  Which probably explains why Whit Babcock got his ass in high gear when he got the news.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA