Today, in Always. Be. Closing.

Georgia has a new defensive lineman.

He’s a graduate transfer from Notre Dame (yes, he played against Georgia) who turned in a decent 2017 season.  He should help address depth concerns on Georgia’s defensive line this season.

Now it’s roster management time for Kirby.

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UPDATE:  If you’re wondering about quality…

That should work.

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Today, in doing it for the kids

I wasn’t expecting a second dedicated post on the topic of the Rice commission’s report, but this is such a galactically stupid threat, I can’t help but share.

Freshman ineligibility?  Seriously?  Exactly who is that supposed to benefit?  Oh, right.  It’s just a misguided attempt on the NCAA’s part to create leverage with the NBA.  Tough shit for the players, though.

These people really don’t deserve to run college sports.

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The Process abides.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember the last time a Georgia offensive lineman who started a game one season elected to transfer the following spring.

Depth and Pittman, baby.  Best of luck to Pat Allen, too.

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The SEC and the first-year effect

One thing I factor into my projections when I compose my SEC preseason prediction post in August is staff turnover.  The odds are, at least in my judgment, that new head coaches and coordinators are going to have their teams progressing through a learning curve that at best will have a steep arc en route to a high plateau and at worst will never really climb at all.  By and large, though, you have to figure that somewhat rocky times are ahead in the short run as systems have to be learned and players have to buy into the changes.

This all passed through my head reading this AP piece about the five (!) new head coaches in the conference.  Moreover, some of these programs, like Arkansas and Florida, are making dramatic changes in coaching philosophies from the prior staffs.  Add to that coordinator changes at Alabama, LSU, Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt (apologies if I’ve left somebody out) and you’ve got a lot of uncertainty being introduced into the system.

No doubt some programs will handle these changeovers better than others — don’t cry for me, Tuscaloosa — but you have to figure some won’t fare so well.  Is SOD, who’s never been an offensive coordinator before, going to transition Missouri’s offense successfully?  Is Will Muschamp really prepared to live with the consequences of a hurry-up offense run by another rookie coordinator?  Does Orgeron have a clue what he wants offensively?  Does Chad Morris have the personnel left over from Bert’s regime to run his kind of offense?  How about Dan Mullen?

If you had to bet on programs to succeed sooner than later with their new coaches, which would you pick?

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Can’t win ’em all.

One of the faithful narratives of a certain segment of the Georgia fan base eager to see Mark Richt shown the exit door was that the man’s ability to recognize talent was overrated — this was, after all, a coach who pursued Cam Newton as a tight end, we were told repeatedly.  Obviously, judgment like that was prima facie evidence that Richt was unqualified to run a football program.

Nah, you need someone whose eye for talent is unimpeachable.  You know, somebody like Jeremy Pruitt, who could be counted on to identify the perfect future for a recruit.  Like Lamar Jackson, for example.

Jackson has said that as a recruit he heard from at least one SEC football program recruiting him to play safety, though he hadn’t played safety in high school.

“Georgia said they wanted me at safety,” Jackson said in a 2016 interview prior to his Heisman Trophy-winning season. “They were out of the equation right after they said that. …

“I think it was the defensive coordinator. He called me and was like, ‘I like your speed. I think you’d be a great fit at safety.’ I was like, ‘Coach, I play quarterback.’ He was like, ‘Well, here’s the offensive coordinator.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I’m not going there.'”

This would have been former coach Mark Richt’s staff at UGA, and the defensive coordinator – assuming that was the coach who called Jackson – would have likely been Jeremy Pruitt, who went on to become the head coach at Tennessee.

The point here isn’t to knock Pruitt’s judgment.  After all, he was far from alone in recognizing Jackson’s ability to play the quarterback position in college.  Nor is it to immunize Richt against all criticism.  But, man, was that “Cam as a tight end” meme dumb.

(h/t)

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“I feel like I know what a practice is supposed to look like.”

No worries, Jeremy.

Phillip Fulmer’s coaching career spanned nearly four decades. His time as an athletic director has been a little more than four months.

But, as Fulmer settles into his role as Tennessee’s athletic director after signing a four-year deal last week, the hall of fame coach believes his experience as a coach makes him uniquely equipped to handle his new duties.

“I’ve been there,” Fulmer said. “I’ve done a lot of things … I know what that’s supposed to look like. I lined the field at Wichita State, I painted the weight room, you work yourself up.”

Fulmer pointed to longtime friend and peer Barry Alvarez on how he can approach being the athletic director. Alvarez was, for a time, the Wisconsin athletic director and head football coach.

What a coincidence.

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Transparency is a helluva drug.

If you are of a mind that the proposed reforms of college basketball set to be released today by the Rice commission are going to amount to anything substantive, either you’re Mark Emmert…

“I expect the proposals will be strong,” NCAA president Mark Emmert told The Associated Press. “They’ll certainly break with the status quo. That’s their charge and their mission. That’s what we need.

“I think it’s going to be a very good day for college sports,” he said.

… or sadly deluded.

Swofford, for one, said he’d prefer to end the one-and-done model of top NBA prospects arriving in college for one-year pit stops before turning professional, though that would also take agreement from the NBA. Swofford prefers a model similar to baseball by allowing high schoolers to go straight to the pros but require players who enter college to spend two years there.

He’d also like to see the NBA-run G League become a stronger developmental option for athletes who don’t want to come to college…

Hoping for another agency to step up and take pressure off your business model isn’t reform.  It’s crossing your fingers.

Here’s the rest of the list of possibilities.

Changing summer basketball. The summer circuit is a money-soaked mishmash of leagues, with the three major ones run by the three apparel companies that sponsor virtually all top basketball programs (Adidas, Nike and Under Armour). Adidas’s sponsorship of such teams enabled it to pay players’ families without raising suspicion, according to prosecutors, and it is not uncommon for companies to pay families in ways that do not even violate N.C.A.A. rules.

The commission could recommend that the N.C.A.A. establish a centralized alternative. And if the N.C.A.A., say, barred college coaches from attending shoe-company events — which are the primary way coaches scout talent — those might lose their luster quickly.

Liberalizing agent rules. Currently, college basketball players cannot consult with agents. The commission could envision relationships with agents where money does not immediately change hands and agents could serve as business advisers to help a player decide whether to enter the N.B.A. draft.

Shining light on apparel deals. Rick Pitino, the Hall of Fame coach who was ousted at Louisville one day after the charges were revealed, received 98 percent of the cash Adidas gave the athletic department under its own deal. Arrangements in which coaches receive parts of their multimillion-dollar salaries from outside sources are often opaque, particularly when private institutions are involved.

Transparency might disincentivize arrangements in which it may not be financially clear whom coaches even work for.

Rethinking enforcement. This might be too inside-baseball even if you have read this far, but the present model, in which schools are obliged to discover and self-report N.C.A.A. rules violations, has failed, according to Emmert and many others.

The last is merely doubling down on what hasn’t worked.  That one sounds right up the NCAA’s alley.

As for “shining light on apparel deals”, yeah, right.

Just two years ago, the NCAA quietly discarded rules that identified how much money flowed directly to college coaches from outside sources such as shoe companies.

At the same time, Nike, Adidas and Under Armour began sinking unprecedented sums into college sports, inking deals with universities in excess of $100 million, including one for $280 million. Generous slices of those sponsorships ultimately go to top football and basketball coaches as indirect payments.

Yet more money has not meant more transparency for the National Collegiate Athletic Association. Examining the financial role of apparel companies is largely an exercise in futility.

To get answers, The Oregonian/OregonLive reviewed hundreds of pages of coaching contracts, apparel agreements and records detailing outside income for basketball coaches in two of the nation’s most prominent athletic conferences, the Big 12 and Pac-12.

Shoe contract money is divvied up in ways almost impossible to calculate, records show. Some coaches are paid directly by shoe companies. Others receive pass-through dollars that are obscured through athletic department budgets and ambiguous contracts. Because there is no real regulation, the universities and apparel companies are allowed to structure contracts any way they want – with the majority of basketball coaches’ annual earnings labeled as something other than base salary, The Oregonian/OregonLive found.

The newsroom also uncovered the obscure maneuvering that has allowed universities to disclose even less about the income paid to coaches by outside parties. A change pushed by the University of Texas and the Big 12 was sold on the premise that such earnings would still be revealed under institutional policies. In practice, that’s not happening.

What’s more, the effort to eliminate annual reporting was intentional, made in part to “minimize” the amount of information subject to public disclosure, according to documents obtained through an open records request. As a result, the newsroom found, less is known today about coaches’ outside income than at any point in the past 30 years.

I’m sure the coaches will be all on board the transparency train.  Just ask ’em; they’ll tell you… whether they want to or not.

Whatever list of recommendations is presented Wednesday morning by the NCAA’s Commission on College Basketball to improve the game can be expected to be met with a chorus of commendation by the nation’s Division I basketball coaches.

Because that was the recommended course of action by the gentlemen in charge of the National Association of Basketball coaches in a letter circulated by e-mail Tuesday afternoon to member coaches, a copy of which was obtained by Sporting News.

Under the heading “A Message to NCAA Men’s Basketball Coaches,” the document signed by NABC executive director Jim Haney and deputy director Reggie Minton declares, “In short, it is imperative that the Commission’s recommendations be met with unequivocal support from each of us.”

This is presented although there have been few, if any, leaks regarding what proposals the commission, chaired by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, will offer and though it is acknowledged in the letter, “There may be recommendations that each of us likes and there may be others that are met with some concern.”

As long as nobody’s missing any meals, it’s all good.

If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, where does the road paved with insincere bullshit take you?

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UPDATE:  Report is out and it’s almost exactly as predicted.  Can’t wait to see how the NCAA grapples with agents and the AAU.  Both seem like popcorn-passing challenges.  The only sensible bone I can see that was thrown was letting basketball players be allowed to enter the draft at any time, while still maintaining college eligibility.  They should adopt that and extend it football while they’re at it.

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