Reelin’ in the years

Dan Wolken raises the obvious question.

Rest assured, we are still closer to the beginning of this sordid story than the end. Details will come out. People who knew the double life Freeze was leading will come forward.

And suddenly, the question of what Ole Miss officials knew and when did they know it will become central to the narrative of how the school moves forward.

There’s no reason to be coy here: Whispers about Freeze’s personal behavior have followed him since long before he became a college head coach. But at every stop along the way, it was difficult to do much with those rumors because so many people who were around him on coaching staffs and in athletic departments spoke so highly of him. His public embrace of Christianity, and the genuinely good charitable work he did, provided good cover and an easy narrative for all those glowing national newspaper profiles. Those who doubted his genuineness were written off as jealous or agenda-driven.

Even on Monday after the reality settled in, people who knew Freeze at various stops along the way were dumbfounded. Dean Lee, the former Arkansas State athletics director who gave Freeze his first FBS head coaching job, said he did extensive background checks on Freeze and found nothing that would raise a red flag.

“Never a scent of anything that would have been inappropriate,” Lee said. “This is totally out of the blue. I don’t know what to think and what to believe.”

But if you’re Ole Miss — a school that hired him, kept extending his contract, gave him more and more money and threw people under the bus to protect him in a massive NCAA infractions case — how is it possible you knew nothing for five-plus years and then decided to fire him in a matter of a couple days?

I suspect the truth lies somewhere between the news being a shock and a convenient excuse.  One thing seems pretty certain, though.  Wolken’s right that there’s more to come.

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4 Comments

Filed under Freeze!

85 on the button

Seth Emerson counts the heads on scholarship and comes up with this:

Right now the figure I arrive at it is right at 85 … That counts Beal, Wyatt and Crumpton, but not Williams. Any four of these situations could change, but I’m not going to X out Beal and Wyatt out until those situations are over, while my working assumption is Williams will eventually take a medical disqualification. As for Crumpton, it appears things are moving in the direction of him joining the team, but that’s not official, so that’s also an assumption.

That’s good for Kirby Smart.

You’ll not that this list does not include walk-ons who would be candidates to receive a scholarship: K Rodrigo Blankenship, FB Christian Payne, long snapper Trent Frix.

And you’ll note the list also include kicker David Marvin, the graduate transfer who is due to blue-shirt. The understanding here is blue-shirting means he still counts against the 85 scholarship limit, but not this year’s signing class.

That’s tough noogies for Ken Blankenship.

26 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

About the Ole Miss opening

I’m sure you’ve seen at least some of the speculation surrounding who will ultimately be hired to replace Freeze for the long run — my heart is torn between Junior and SOD, if you must know — but there are two contradictory factors in play with regard to the search.

On the plus side, Freeze walks away without a buyout, so the school has a lot of money to throw around.  Ole Miss will likely need every penny of it, too, if they hope to find a quality hire.

There’s a big problem, though.  Last year’s recruiting class imploded and that’s almost certainly going to be the story for the program’s 2018 class.  Add to that the threat of extended sanctions imposed by the NCAA, and you’d think whoever may be coming in is going to want the security of a long-term deal to ride out the storm in the here and now.  Unfortunately,

Four years might get you a retread like Les Miles, who’s in his mid-60s and probably isn’t looking to coach for another decade, but it won’t get you a younger hot shot around whom you could rebuild the program after sanctions are lifted, even if you were willing to toss $5 million a year on the table.  Ole Miss seems to be in a tough spot, although you can see why it doesn’t hurt to let the interim coach take the hit on this year.

33 Comments

Filed under Freeze!

Welcome to the preseason expectations

Brian Fremeau is one of those advanced stat gurus I follow.  His particular metric, FEI, rates teams on the basis of opponent-adjusted drive efficiency.  He generates preseason rankings that are derived from “five-year program ratings, recent recruiting success, and returning offensive and defensive experience”.

All that adds up to the highest preseason projection I’ve seen yet for Georgia’s 2017 season:  seventh.  FEI has the Dawgs most likely to lose no more than two or three games.  That’s not cheaply given, either, as FEI has six of their opponents in the preseason top thirty and ten in the top fifty.

If you look at what Fremeau weights in the preseason, there’s a certain logic to Georgia’s FEI ranking:  lots of returning experience, particularly on defense and in the offensive backfield; highly ranked recruiting classes in Smart’s first two tries; and a respectable, if not spectacular, five-year run for the program.

That, of course, is no guarantee of success for the upcoming season.  The question is whether it’s a window into what Georgia is capable of doing in 2017.  It won’t be too much longer before we start getting answers about that.

30 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Only the NCAA can exploit its student-athletes.

This is a 23-year old article in a law journal (h/t) I hadn’t come across before this weekend, but regardless of which side of the student-athlete compensation debate your sympathies fall, it’s worth your attention, because, without descending into loaded language (like “plantations” or “slavery”), it articulates how schools exploit their student-athletes.

No doubt the article shows its age in certain places, but it’s hard — at least it seems that way to me — to deny the power of some of what is argued there.  If you believe the current amateurism-based model fairly compensates student-athletes, there are several arguments made by the authors (for instance, “Non-athlete students are not placed under the same confining restrictions as their athlete counterparts.”) meriting rebuttals that I’ve rarely, if ever, heard.

If nothing else, I don’t see how preventing these kids from marketing themselves to third parties is justified.  Let me know what you think.

13 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

Remember, this is America.

Anybody can sue anybody over anything.

Take, for example, the overarching theory behind an Ole Miss booster’s suit against the NCAA for defamation:

The Rebel Rags response filed Friday went a step further. In the some 389-page document, Plaintiff Rebel Rags attempts to paint a picture of collusion among the NCAA, members of the Mississippi State athletics department, a national media member and a reporter for an Ole Miss rival fan-site.

“Attempts” is doing a lot of heavy lifting there.  (Let’s take a moment here to acknowledge Ben Garrett, Editor, who doesn’t appear to be a legal expert, but plays one on a recruiting blog.)  That’s why it’s time to go fishing.

… It is seeking to prove, through discovery and depositions, the NCAA, upon the release of the first NOA, did one of two things: It either stopped an ongoing investigation in the middle of the of the process so it could inflict irreparable damage — via leaks, etc. — upon Ole Miss’ 2016 recruiting class outside of the confines of its own rules and bylaws; or the NCAA had, indeed, completed its investigation, but reopened the investigation 10 days later due to MSU, as a source described, “dropping Kobe Jones in their lap.”

In the filing, owner Terry Warren and Rebel Rags are establishing a joinder of defendants via conspiracy to provide false and defamatory statements about plaintiffs previously mentioned — conspiracy being collusion to provide similar statements to the NCAA that were then leaked to Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports.

But where’s the smoking gun?  When in doubt, turn to social media.

Rebel Rags attempts to raise the question of why, if the Rebel Rags claims made by Miller were deemed insufficient originally, the NCAA pursued Jones, pointing to the possibility of collusion, including a Facebook post made by Robertson on the same day. The post was of the Chicago skyline, referencing the NFL Draft to be held in the city that year. Robertson, Rebel Rags claims, was not-so-subtly hinting of a major development set to occur that would be yet another hit to Ole Miss in its investigative dealings with the NCAA.

Aha!

I’m not sure there’s enough poo flung up against the wall to stick here, but you have to admire the approach they’ve taken.

How much fun is the Egg Bowl going to be this year?

2 Comments

Filed under Freeze!, See You In Court

“This is definitely the biggest kid I’ve seen at that age.”

Kiyaunta Goodwin is not like most middle school football players. Goodwin stands 6-foot-6, weighs in at 345 pounds and is just 13 years old.”

I didn’t know there’s such a thing as an Under Armour middle school All-American, but evidently Goodwin is one.  Hell, judging by this picture, he could be the entire middle school All-American list all by himself.

Only reason I bring this up is that, yes, Georgia has offered this kid.

He’s got room to grow, too.

Goodwin said doctors have told him he could grow to as tall at 7-foot-6.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if he passed 7 foot,” Vaughn said. “At that point, we’ll just teach him how to dunk a basketball.”

It sounds like Mark Fox needs to make the next recruiting trip.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting