“I still have confidence in our athletic program.”

Ladies and gentlemen, the man at the top of the Georgia Way food chain:

These have not been heady days for Georgia athletics, and two days ago athletics director Greg McGarity fired one of his key coaching hires. So with that as a backdrop, and with McGarity watching, UGA president Jere Morehead was asked a two-pronged question on Wednesday:

What does he say to the many fans who are concerned about the state of the athletics program? And what is his confidence in McGarity?

Morehead began by listing the accomplishments of several Georgia teams, mainly in spring sports, and also expressed confidence in the future for Bulldog football, men’s and women’s basketball. While he did not directly address the question about McGarity, the president stated his confidence in the direction of the overall program.

“I still have confidence in our athletic program,” Morehead said. I think our prospects for the future are bright and I don’t have any reason to think that we’ve got any systemic problems that have to be addressed at this point.”

Not as long as the money’s rolling in, anyway.  Besides, how can you not have complete confidence in a man who bills himself as Mr. Accountability?

McGarity, meeting with two reporters afterwards, pointed out that baseball was the only spring sport that’s not nationally ranked right now.

He also addressed the track record of his coaching decisions.

Whether it’s pro sports or college sports, sometimes things just don’t work out. So it’s not a perfect science,” McGarity said. “I accept full responsibilities for every hire, whether it be regardless of what the person’s rank or title is. So I understand and it’s no fun when things don’t work out. But that’s part of the business.

“And I think if you look at any conference school, or any institution, there are going to be times when things just don’t work out. Then it reaches a point where you just move on and try to make sure the next hire is successful. But I’m sure in the history of our sports program and others it’s an inexact science, to where it’s very difficult, for reasons that you just can’t predict.”

Lather, rinse, repeat makes for, if not a dynamic management philosophy, at least one that with which everyone at Butts-Mehre is familiar, like a warm, fuzzy blanket.  Plus, he can sell the excitement of better times ahead with the latest, newest, bestest-evah head coach to the boosters and fan base.  We never seem to tire of that.  Wallets, ho!

Are you inspired yet?

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“Laremy knows exactly who was behind this. We all do.”

Holmes: “To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” Gregory: “The dog did nothing in the night-time.” Holmes: “That was the curious incident.”

— Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”

In the case of Laremy Tunsil, what’s curious isn’t that the dog has done nothing.  It’s that nobody wants the dog to make a sound.

 

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Today, in Baylor’s gonna Baylor

This is sad.

I tend to believe that the NCAA death penalty is a bit of an overreach the vast majority of the time, but I could be persuaded it’s appropriate in Baylor’s case.

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“Man, did he turn it on when he had to!”

Here’s a nice Bill Connelly write up of the 1980 Georgia-South Carolina game.

I’m still amazed every time I watch that Herschel Walker long touchdown run that drove Larry Munson to new heights of ecstasy… but not as amazed as that last Gamecock defender (who knew he had the angle) was watching Walker fly by him.

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Name that caption, #NewProfilePic time

Does Davin Bellamy have something in his eye, or is he just glad to see us?

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At ESPN, cord-cutting leads to another sort of cutting.

It looks like we may be saying bye-bye to some familiar faces.

As more Americans cut the cable cord, ESPN has seen its subscriber numbers drop steadily, forcing Disney to demand cost-cutting from the “worldwide leader in sports.” It’s been widely reported since March that the next big round of ESPN layoffs will hit on-air talent, but now we know more on the timing: the cuts will begin on May 1, sources at ESPN tell Yahoo Finance.

ESPN will part ways with more than 40 people, all of them “talent,” a label that ESPN applies to radio hosts and writers (almost all of whom regularly do video or audio), not just traditional TV personalities. ESPN says it has 1,000 people in the category. Still, you can expect most of the people cut to be faces you’ve seen on TV. In some cases, ESPN may buy people out of existing long-term contracts—as Sports Illustrated points out, that is unusual.

The cuts will mostly be done by May 9, when Disney announces its quarterly earnings, but could extend until May 16, when ESPN presents its annual Upfronts in Manhattan.

As is typical, the spin for this isn’t that Mickey needs to save a few bucks.

In a statement, an ESPN spokesperson said the approaching cuts are about innovating to suit the needs of consumers: “Today’s fans consume content in many different ways and we are in a continuous process of adapting to change and improving what we do. Inevitably that has consequences for how we utilize our talent. We are confident that ESPN will continue to have a roster of talent that is unequaled in sports.”

If you’re trying to be innovative, WWL, you know what’s really innovative?  Silence.  Cost-effective, too.

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UPDATE:  More like 100 are being let go.

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The Missouri Way?

Here’s an interesting tale from Mizzou.  Apparently, head coach Barry Odom wants to flip the field, so to speak, because he sees a coaching advantage in that.

Missouri football coach Barry Odom wants to switch the team sidelines on Faurot Field, a move that would require some seating changes and has at least one student organization unhappy about the proposal.

Odom and members of Mizzou athletics department met with student leaders from nine different campus organizations last Thursday to discuss Odom’s proposed changes, MU athletics spokesman Nick Joos said. Odom wants the Tigers’ bench to be moved from the east sideline to the west sideline at Memorial Stadium and the visiting team moved to the east sideline.

Odom believes there are competitive advantages to having his team on the west side, Joos said. For one, during game days, the team on the west side is in the shade and not staring into the sun on the hotter side of the field. Also, Odom believes the opposing coaches in the west-side press box have a clearer view of coaches’ signals and personnel moves that come from the east sideline.

“There’s an opportunity from a signal standpoint and formation standpoint and even and players entering and exiting the game that it gives you a better (chance to) disguise, for the lack of a better word, when you’re on the press box side as opposed to being more open on the east side,” Joos said.

There are two obstacles, though.  The first — you can file this one under “Things I Did Not Know” — is a conference rule.

There’s a Southeastern Conference rule that states home student sections are prohibited between the 30-yard lines and up through 25 rows behind the visiting team’s bench. In the stadium’s current seating design, student seating takes up the sections directly behind the east team sideline. Under the proposal, those seats behind the visitor’s bench would be filled by fans from the visiting team.

“By SEC rule you have to give the visiting team 1,000 seats in the lower bowl,” Joos said. “They would fill in 1,000 of those (seats). Then we’d start a young alumni and recent grad ticket program for inexpensive season tickets over there (behind the visiting fans.) Player guests seating would be over there, too.”

The first obstacle leads to the second one.

That arrangement would displace some student sections to the outer margins of the front sections along the east side, outside the 30-yard lines.

Only one student group, Tiger’s Lair, was resistant to the proposal, Joos said. The Tiger’s Lair is the school’s “official student cheering section for the Missouri Tigers,” according to the organization’s web site. “The Tiger’s Lair promotes school spirit and excitement at all home football games through the performance of organized card stunts and cheers, and by providing a great environment for costumes and spirited signs,” the site states. “Members of the section are recognized as the wildest, most dedicated, and most enthusiastic at Mizzou football games.”

In a statement sent to the Post-Dispatch, the student organization declined comment, saying only, “Tiger’s Lair is examining the situation and refraining from comments at this time until we gather more information on this matter.”

The Tiger’s Lair later released a statement, saying the proposal will result in “a dramatic disinterest in Mizzou Football” and cited the section’s challenges related to lower enrollment numbers and “a reduced desire for season tickets from current students due to the performance of the team.”

Here’s the statement:

If that’s accurate, the change would move the student section from its current position near the action to the end zone.  If so, then, yeah, I can see how that would be a downer.

So what we have here, it appears, is a conflict between the kids who go to the school and want to support the team, the head coach who’s paid to win football games and an obscure SEC rule that exists to make sure good seats go to the paying public.  Sounds like college football, circa 2017, in a nutshell, doesn’t it?

When the people running college sports wake up in twenty or so years wondering where the paying customers went, this will just be chalked up as another minor moment of cluelessness.  Too late by then, of course.

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UPDATE:  Bill Connelly assumes this storm will blow over “if Mizzou puts a good product on the field again”.  Gee, that’s a familiar sounding tune.

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