No hard feelings, Mark Richt edition

Isn’t Greg McGarity a people?  Where’s the love, Mark?




Filed under Georgia Football

With this bunch, nothing is ever easy.

Stewart Mandel describes a current proposal to allow football players to participate in up to four games in a season without giving up the opportunity to redshirt as “seems like a no-brainer”.

Not so fast, my friend.

“Apparently, there is a group out there that has been resistant,” the American Football Coaches Association’s executive director told The Athletic this week. “It’s powerful enough where some of the administrators have concerns whether it’s going to pass or whether we should even propose it. You can’t bring it up again for another two years.”

It’s not the football coaches, who are in favor of it.  They don’t have a vote, anyway.  It’s not the Football Oversight Committee, either.  Nor does it appear to be any of the P5 conferences, as it’s an ACC proposal being shepherded by Bob Bowlsby of the Big XII. Obviously, it’s good for the players.  So, where, then?

Though Berry could not specify where the pockets of resistance are coming from, it’s safe to assume they’re likely coming from the academic side. The NCAA Board of Directors — which must give the final stamp of approval — consists almost entirely of university presidents.

“It’s more about misunderstanding than anything else, and feeling like there would be some abuse to this and gamesmanship by the coaches, but this would not be easy to game,” he said. “Are there some side benefits where a player might mature over the course of the season to the point where they become viable? Yes. But some of the intent of this is that you don’t have enough viable players by the end of the season due to injury.”

This is what comes of letting school without football programs have a direct say about football-specific proposals.  Way to go there, fellas.


UPDATE:  John Infante points out a problem.

The mid-year stuff is something Mandel pointed to as a matter that needs clarification.

And it’s hard to argue with this.

Now that would be player-friendly.


UPDATE #2:  And here’s the topper.

There’s that whole “unrealistic reality world” thing cropping up again.


Filed under The NCAA

Talking the talk after walking the walk

So, how well do you think this translates on the recruiting trail?

“Man, coach Pittman, I love him not only for me but for the university and the offensive line,” Isaiah Wynn said of Pittman. “Just the whole team in general. He did a lot of just being able to come and work with the guys that he had. He did a fantastic job. I think the whole team bought in to his teaching. Everybody trusted him in the offensive line room. He kind of made us become closer as an offensive line unit so I really believe that’s why this season we had such a great season, because he brought that mentality of us being all brothers in that room and we have to play for each other.”

Wynn flourished under Pittman’s tutelage. As a senior he was named a second-team All-American and a first-team All-SEC performer and is now considered as a late-first, early-second round prospect for the 2018 NFL Draft. He started 15 games at one of the toughest positions in football and shut down some extremely talented edge rushers.

Pretty well, I’d say.


Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

Patronizing Nick Saban is the worst Nick Saban.

Those damned kids, wanting some semblance of control over their lives.  Don’t they understand that Coach always knows best?

Or, as Saban delivered in his 427-word monologue, it’s just part of college football’s “unrealistic reality world.”

“It’s an unrealistic reality world that we live in with a lot of young players, and I feel badly for them because what I’d like for them to do is focus on what they need to do to be good players,” Saban said. “And not worry about trying to meet all the expectations and standards that people have created for them.”

I gotta admit “unrealistic reality world” is a nice turn of phrase.  How long did it take for him to come up with it?

“I think that, the thing that I try to get guys to do, is not have an unrealistic reality about their circumstance and their career as a football player — what they want to try to accomplish as a student in developing a career off the field, and what kind of person they want to be,” Saban said. “And I think with all the information out there sometimes, that’s a little bit easy to get a little unrealistic about because, basically, every athlete, every guy, when you’re a senior in high school, you have goals and aspirations, and things that you want to accomplish, but when it comes to developing your career, you’re rolling the dice with how that works out, all right.

“How you’re able to compete, how you’re able to sustain, what kind of player you’re going to be, and it makes it even more difficult because all the people out there who are so-called experts on, and all the people who give them five stars, they create an expectation with these guys that’s unrealistic.”

Yes, it’s everyone’s fault except for the coaches who run around begging these star athletes to come play for them.

I wonder how Saban explains to his soon-to-be former players how the “unrealistic reality world” fits in with medical scholarships.  Churlish, I know.


Filed under Nick Saban Rules

An early look at strength of schedule

Phil Steele checks in with a ranking of the 130 FBS teams based on the NCAA’s approach, which is to combine opponents’ records from the previous season.  By that measure, Georgia ranks a solid middle of the pack 63rd, hardly the stuff of Finebaumian indignation.  (‘Bama is nine slots higher, Paul.)

Of course, as Steele notes, the way the NCAA measures strength of schedule is not without its flaws.  Playing a 10-2 powerhouse 1-AA team that’s fattened up its record against opponents from that level is likely not the same as playing an 8-4 program in a P5 conference, but the NCAA treats them as so for purposes of this metric.

Steele looks at other factors:

There are other ways to measure schedule strength. Who played the most teams with a winning record last year? Well that way came up with two teams. #1 on this list Florida St and #76 Rice both play 10 teams with winning records. For Florida St all 10 of their teams went on to play in a bowl game. On the opposite end New Mexico St will only face 4 opponents with a winning record.

How about who faces the most teams who made the postseason in 2017? For purposes of this article, we’ll count the 78 FBS bowl participants, the 24 FCS playoff teams, and Grambling St and North Carolina A&T, who played in the Celebration Bowl. Here, Florida St, Utah, NC State, Kansas, Iowa St and Oklahoma are facing 10 teams off a post season appearance last year. New Mexico St is the only team that will face less than three bowl teams in 2018 (2).

Opponents who finished last year in the Top 25? Michigan was on top with six teams that were ranked at the end of the season last year. Florida St, Auburn, Texas A&M, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, LSU and Rutgers follow with five teams.

The Dawgs face two teams that were ranked last season, seven teams with winning 2017 records and six schools that played in bowl games.  That’s not Florida State, but it’s not any worse that Ohio State, either, and I don’t hear a whole lot of moaning from the national media about Corch’s team in that regard.


Filed under Georgia Football, Phil Steele Makes My Eyes Water, Stats Geek!

Crime may not pay, but amateurism does.

This piece, on what I see more and more as the utter absurdity of the FBI attempting to criminalize the NCAA rule book, is so damned good.  Here’s the lengthy prelude:

Last September, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that federal charges had been brought against major figures in college basketball. A group of 10 assistant coaches, agents and sneaker executives were indicted with conspiracy to commit bribery, solicitation of bribes, mail fraud and wire fraud. The defendants are accused of paying—“bribing”—some of the nation’s most heralded high school basketball players, along with their families.

The purported bribes had a simple objective: persuade star recruits to attend a particular college and embrace the sneaker company sponsoring that college. A year or two later, those players would turn professional and pursue the National Basketball Association (NBA). At that time, the players would hire agents who had previously partaken in the conspiracy to bribe them. Through those agents, the players would sign multi-million dollar contracts with NBA teams and also lucrative endorsement deals with their alma mater’s sneaker company.

It was a multi-year, multi-step transaction in which everyone seemingly gained: the player and his family, who might be economically disadvantaged, received five or six-figure payments; the college matriculated a star player who would help the basketball program win games and, in turn, generate broadcasting, merchandise and ticket revenue; the agent earned valuable commissions as well as professional recognition; and the shoe company secured the endorsement of a young and marketable phenom who would help the company sell products.

NCAA Amateurism Rules as the Foundation for Criminal Charges

There’s a reason why many regard this sequence of mutually beneficial events as unseemly or even criminal. It’s the same reason why the sinister-sounding “bribe,” rather than the evenhanded “trade” or “exchange,” is the noun most typically used to describe payments to high school recruits. That reason: the National Collegiate Athletic Association, a.k.a. the NCAA.

The NCAA is a voluntary organization that features nearly 1,300 members, most of whom are colleges and college athletic conferences. Founded in the early 20th century to make college sports safer, the NCAA now claims to aid college athletes in balancing their “academic, social and athletics” experiences. To that end, the NCAA has promulgated numerous rules that fall under the umbrella of “amateurism.”

In its broadest conception, amateurism refers to the principle that college athletes ought to be clearly distinguished from professional athletes. College athletes are, after all, students, whose studies presumably take priority over sports. If sports agents and financial temptations distract students, they might lose their academic focus. They might also become less connected to their classmates and squander the traditional college experience.

There’s the romance and the foundation for the romance.  Now comes the economic consequence.

With building frustration over the inability of star college athletes to fully reap the value of their labor and identity, it is not surprising that a “black market” for paying recruits has materialized. But in reality, such payments are hardly a revelation—they have, much to the NCAA’s dismay, been taking place for decades. The NCAA simply has limited resources to police interactions with recruits.

Human nature, for the win.  The heart wants what the heart wants, and as long as there are sources of money and kids with valuable services to acquire, there’s only so much the NCAA can do about it.

Enter the FBI.  Enter the absurdity.

The government’s theory of crime stresses the harm caused when colleges enroll bribed athletes on scholarships. The government claims a stake in this harm given that it funds colleges through grants, loans, financial aid guarantees and other instruments. Colleges that enroll ineligible scholarship athletes could have used those same scholarships to recruit eligible athletes. Those colleges also become at risk of serious NCAA penalties. In that sense, the government is something of a partner to colleges in ensuring that college athletes play by the rules. Further, when bribes take place across state lines and use the Postal Service and wires, fraud charges are possible.

Attorneys for the indicted defendants dismiss this theory as implausible and disingenuous. First, they stress the absence of supporting case law—when has it ever been a crime to offer financial incentives to a high school student to attend a college? They also contend the Justice Department is attempting to criminalize NCAA amateurism rules. Further, the alleged victims—the colleges—may actually benefit: a star recruit joins a school and helps that school win games and generate assorted kinds of institutional value, be it revenue, increased student applications, enhanced alumni relations and greater alumni giving. To that end, as my late and esteemed colleague Cheryl Hanna once wrote in the Harvard Law Review, “the purpose of criminal law is to serve the greater public good.” A sensible read of the situation suggests that the Justice Department has its work cut out.

The supposed “wrongness” of payments to recruits should also be questioned. As acknowledged above, amateurism may provide a good deal for many college students. But for the superstars who generate considerable revenue and who attend college mainly to hone their athletic skills, the deal doesn’t appear so good. This is particularly apparent when viewed in conjunction with eligibility requirements for the NBA and the National Football League (NFL). The NBA and NFL require that players wait one and three years, respectively, after high school before they are eligible. While young basketball stars can bypass college to sign contracts in other (albeit inferior) professional leagues, football players are essentially stuck. There is no substitute for Division I college football for college-age players.

If these athletes’ special talent were instead in music or acting, there would be no “age restriction” to turning pro. If they excelled at different sports, like hockey, golf, tennis, or baseball, they could turn pro right out of high school, if not sooner. The reality is they thrived in the two sports where the college game is a de facto minor league for the pro leagues.

The only reason this is a problem is because the schools, through their voluntary association known to us as the NCAA, have created the structure that has allowed it to fester.  The FBI’s presence doesn’t change that.

So, yes, that’s absurd, but you know what may be even more absurd?  Expecting the same actors to reform the structure in a way that doesn’t benefit them.  You want an example?  Okay, I’ve got one for you.

The Big East knows it doesn’t have the leverage to force the NBA to do something straight-up about its one-and-done rule, so it’s come up with a suggestion for a power play over the group with whom it does have leverage.

The Big East’s plan calls for the elimination of the NBA’s one-and-done rule, which prohibits its teams from drafting players until they are at least 19 or a year removed from high school.

Two-or-none would be an NCAA policy requiring basketball players who decide to go to college to commit for at least two seasons. Meanwhile, high school players who declare for the NBA draft would forfeit future college eligibility.

Tough luck, then, if you’re a high-schooler who submits his name to the NBA and doesn’t get drafted.  There’s no logic to that, other than to force kids who, remember, can’t consult with advisers and retain college eligibility, to stay in school for two years.

Also, keep in mind there’s no legal way the schools can enforce such an arrangement on their own.  A player leaves after his first year of school for the NBA and what’s the school gonna do about that?  In other words, the only way this proposal works is for the NBA to agree to abide by it as well.  Thus, the Big East’s reform amounts to nothing more than an agreement between the schools and the NBA to collude actively to prevent student-athletes from being paid for their skills for a longer period than is already the case now.  If you can explain to me how that benefits the student-athlete or how it curtails the black market the schools have created, I’d love to hear it.

Oh, and don’t miss that the Big East also thinks it would be a swell idea for the NCAA to regulate agents.  Oy.  It’s hard to tell whether these people are bigger idiots or assholes.  One thing’s for sure — they’ll never miss an opportunity to look out for themselves.  Remember that, FBI.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, It's Just Bidness, The NCAA

At the click of a button…

Well, here’s something new.

Bulldogs Aim For Smiling Faces At Foley Field<

Georgia Sports Communications/For Immediate Release March 21, 2018

ATHENS—–Fans at Foley Field will be able to provide instant feedback to the University of Georgia Athletic Association through the innovative HappyOrNot ™ terminals now in place at the stadium.

Starting with the Georgia-South Carolina series on Friday, March 23, fans will be able to communicate their level of satisfaction with restrooms and concessions at Foley Field with the push of a button. HappyOrNot terminals, which feature feedback smileys, have been installed. The Bulldogs have plans to add these terminals to additional venues for the upcoming season.

“This is the first step at analyzing and improving our customer experience at our athletic venues,” said Josh Brooks, Georgia’s Executive Associate Athletic Director. “We are able to get instant feedback from multiple locations throughout the stadium. We want our fans to have a positive experience when they come out to support the Bulldogs. One of our goals for Georgia Athletics is to have the best customer service in all of sports. In order to get there, we must analyze everything we do.”

Georgia is the first NCAA school to implement this system at an athletic facility. HappyOrNot was founded by Heikki Väänäen and Ville Levaniemi, and the company has more than 4,000 clients in 117 countries. Its clients include Microsoft, McDonald’s, London’s Heathrow Airport, LinkedIn, the British National Health Service (NHS), IKEA and Levi’s Stadium, the home of the San Francisco 49ers. HappyOrNot is considered the global leader in instant customer and employee satisfaction reporting. Companies are able to improve their customer experience, relationships and fan engagement using the data collected from the terminals.

Brooks added that the terminals offer a quick and easy way for fans to provide feedback without having to take time to send an email or complete a long survey. Also, Georgia will have the ability to pinpoint responses to specific locations as well as compare reviews of restrooms and concessions throughout a venue.

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Christopher Lakos
UGA Sports Communications

They’re trying to care; I’ll give ’em credit for at least that much.  But this is a long way from an actual fix.  Sure, they’ll have more data and perhaps it will be specific enough to identify certain real problems.  The issue then becomes, so what?  Where does Butts-Mehre go from there if it’s sincere about aspiring to provide the best customer service in all of sports?

Look, if you’re not going to take the flood the place with trained personnel to improve service approach that marks successful venues like Disney or The Masters (hey, I’m not the one who brought up the best customer service in all of sports thing), then using automation to make your customer service more efficient makes some sense.  Of course, the devil’s in the details.  Receiving an alert from a fancy machine is one thing and fixing the problem is entirely another.  Sending a couple more untrained high school kids and/or their parents in to fix a concessions bottleneck that’s the result of the same kind of folks being overwhelmed by the crowd sounds more like slapping a band-aid on a boo-boo than an actual solution.

They’ve got a long road ahead of them, in other words.  This is just step one.

(h/t Marc Weiszer)


Filed under Georgia Football