The NCAA calls a time out.

Father Emmert knows what’s best for you, kids.

Only the five wealthiest conferences could debate what a day off means for their employees … er, “amateur” athletes. Before the Power Five passed some sensible rules Friday to loosen up athletes’ time a little bit, some amendments were proposed by the adults.

USA Today reported one amendment, which overwhelmingly failed, would have allowed athletes to host a recruit on their day off provided they gave prior consent. Another amendment, which closely passed, allows life-skill activities to be held on athletes’ off days. Some player representatives at the NCAA Convention weren’t buying the amendments, recognizing how the system was trying to control days off for unpaid players who are supposedly students first.

The integrity of the day off?  Son, wait ’til you get married and are presented with your first Saturday honey-do list.  But I digress.

The NCAA actually posted this quote from a student-athlete on its web site announcing the votes, which tells you the degree of disconnect that still exists.  Control, baby!

“It’s about owning your time. Coaches need to understand that student-athletes aren’t on call at all times,” Darlington said. “This is about changing the perception of coaches: Our time is our time.”

Good luck with that.  Because… well, you know the because.

What remains untouched: The number of games and when/where they are played. If NCAA members really want to make athletes closer to traditional students, play fewer 9 p.m. games on a Tuesday night a couple hours away from your campus. But that won’t happen because this is pro sports masked as amateur.

“We all know games are the elephant in the room, especially basketball,” said one Power Five athletic director, who asked to remain anonymous.

“I agree it’s an issue,” Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said. “I think that’s a more complex, sport-by-sport set of discussions we may have in the future. I think in this first round of time demands legislation we’re focusing around the practice schedules.”

“You mean we should be the adults in the room and play fewer games?” quipped another anonymous Power Five AD. “We can try to make amends where we can that helps. But the travel for all the games really is what changes their lives. The games seem to be sacred among the athletes.”

Hey, as long as you’ve got a sense of humor about it, it’s all good, amirite?

And on a similar note, Eleven Warriors argues that if the NCAA is all about student-athlete welfare when it comes to extending the season with a second bye week, giving those young bodies more time to heal during all those weeks of play, why not go further and return to an eleven-game schedule?

As I said, as long as you’ve got a sense of humor about it, it’s all good.

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Filed under Look For The Union Label, The NCAA

Georgia ain’t played ‘Bama, PAWWWLLL.

Let’s face it — Ian Boyd asks the question we’re going to have to grapple with at some point.

The question may be obvious, but Boyd breaks the answer into two parts, the right way and the wrong way to beat the Tide.

Here’s what he says you need to do it wrongly:

Urban Meyer perfected the “wrong way” to beat Alabama, Gus Malzahn utilized it as well, this path is basically to beat them at their own game. The Alabama strategy for winning is to be superior in the trenches on both sides of the ball, play elite defense, and run the air out of the football.

The downside of this strategy is that it requires turning the OL and DL into revolving doors of 300+ pound athletes, the most scarce resource in the game, but Alabama’s recruiting machine has regularly pulled it off. The upside of their approach is that if you are consistently great in the trenches then you aren’t dependent on particular skill players.

Alabama nearly just won a title with a true freshman QB at the helm who’s far from a master of their passing attack. When he’s better in that regard, they’ll of course be even more dangerous on offense, but they don’t need great QB play for their formula of elite D and crushing run game to put them in title contention.

That sounds like Kirby Smart’s current blueprint, if we’re honest, and, indeed, Boyd agrees with that:  “We can probably expect Saban’s pupil Kirby Smart to at least initially fall into the trap of trying to out-Saban Alabama.”  And therein lies the rub.  Is it reasonable to expect the pupil to surpass the master, especially when the master is notorious for not resting on his laurels?

The right way, as you can probably guess, was blazed by Clemson, and that is to combine a good defense with a dynamic passing game.

Other than 2013 Auburn, who had a first round LT, All-American FB, and phenomenal runners at QB and RB, or 2015 Ohio State who opened up their run game with a few vertical passes, not even these teams could run the ball particularly well on Bama. The Tide are going to stop the run and look to out-rush you if it kills them. You need to make sure that it does kill them, via the passing game.

No matter how many future NFL DBs or pass-rushers they stockpile in Tuscaloosa, the perfect pass can still beat them and it’s now evident that such a passing attack can be built at the collegiate level.

The hangups with this strategy is that waiting until your QB and passing game are in tip-top shape makes it harder to be in annual contention then the run game+defense strategy which is much more “plug and play.” However, the ceiling is also higher, particularly since it allows you a lane to the title that isn’t already occupied by Alabama.

Note that Boyd doesn’t say a word there about having a quarterback who’s also a running threat.  It’s all about having a passing game that can carry the offense, since it’s a given that a Saban defense will shut down the run.  (By the way, can we all agree that it was fairly impressive for Todd Gurley to rush for 122 yards in the 2012 SECCG?)

With a Jacob Eason still learning the offense and a receiving corps in the midst of a rebuild, it’s hard to see Georgia having that kind of aerial attack this season.  The question, then, is what Georgia will field in that regard come 2018.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

“… then when it comes time to consider early signing, I’ll be very clear in our conference’s position.”

Greg Sankey opposes the December early signing period apparently because he believes that the enormous support staffs that are a staple these days of SEC football programs can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.

“College football programs wouldn’t want the NFL draft November 15,” Sankey said. “They just wouldn’t. It would be a huge distraction. So now we’re about to put a signing date in the middle of December when in some states high school football playoffs are taking place. That’s not providing the right level of attention to high school football programs, which provide a basis for college football. We’ve talked about colleges’ needs, but not about the impact on high school football, and I think that has to be a part of the early signing consideration.

“Also, if we sign the third Wednesday in November, there will be 20 FBS conference teams involved in conference championship games. They can’t recruit in the first week of the contact period because of those games. So the 20 achieving programs are removed from really recruiting that week. In addition, we’ve got a set of bowl games that happen in early and mid-December. So now that we’ve placed a group of programs that have to decide ‘Do I recruit,’ or ‘Do I prepare for bowl practices?’ That doesn’t seem wise.”

Yeah, that’s tough.  I’d hate to be in the position of the head coach who has to balance a fourteenth practice for an early December bowl game with that in house visit to a top in state recruit.  You only visit Shreveport once, you know.

And the sudden concern for high school football programs — you know, the folks who watch their kids get screwed over by college coaches on a regular basis when they don’t manage their commitments correctly — is touching.

Know who’s not mentioned there?  Of course you do.

“It’s very good for student-athletes and their families,” Bowlsby said. “On balance, it’s an overall package that appropriately advances recruiting in the footprint of college football.”

When Bob Bowlsby manages to sound more thoughtful than you do on a subject, perhaps it’s time to hone your message.  Assuming the coaches will let you, that is.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football

You can take the Auburn football out of Bobby Lowder, but you can’t take the Bobby Lowder out of Auburn football.

Just when you think Gawd doesn’t give a rat’s ass about college football, you get this as a confirmation otherwise:

Auburn’s offensive coordinator search, nearing the end of its ninth day, is hinging on a high stakes showdown over power and control between coach Gus Malzahn and those with influence over the program, a source told AL.com.

Malzahn, who enters a pivotal fifth season leading the program, had a short list of candidates to succeed Rhett Lashlee, who left for the same position at UConn on Jan. 11.

That short list included former Baylor offensive coordinator Kendal Briles and Arizona State offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey and North Carolina State offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz, both of who have worked under Malzahn. AuburnSports.com also reported Lindsey and Drinkwitz were among Malzahn’s preferred candidates.

A source indicated those candidates did not receive a favorable reaction from people with influence over the program, who felt Briles, now at Florida Atlantic, lacks experience and Lindsey and Drinkwitz, while familiar with Malzahn’s offense were also too close to him.

A list of preferred candidates was provided to Malzahn by athletic director Jay Jacobs, the source said, which was composed of comparatively more experienced coaches, including the Texas A&M’s Noel Mazzone, who reportedly went from the possible lead candidate to staying in College Station in a matter of hours on Thursday.

Freakin’ awesome.  The only thing missing from that story is somebody insisting Gus hire Art Briles, but who knows?  There’s still time.

Though with Auburn experiencing offensive struggles in 2015 and a 1-3 finish to 2016, the program’s powerbrokers wanting the new hire to offer a different perspective is not irrational either.

With less than 12 days to national signing day, the critical hire could come down to a test of wills.

They want their offensive genius to hire a coordinator with a different perspective.  Please proceed, power brokers.  The last time a head coach at Auburn did that, he wound up with Tony Franklin.  That ended well.

Now where the hell did I put that bag of popcorn?

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Filed under Auburn's Cast of Thousands

Busy day at the NCAA

All kinds of business being passed…

Hope you enjoyed it, Harbaugh.

What are these kids supposed to do now at five in the morning?  Sleep?

Coaches are gonna hate that one  Wonder if Saban’s already dreaming up a work around.

Ditto.  Find it interesting this proposal passed by the same margin as the first one I mentioned.

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Filed under The NCAA

“At the University of Florida, you should be able to get anybody you want, or pretty close to that.”

Florida high school coaches don’t seem particularly impressed by Jim McElwain’s efforts on the recruiting trail.

“From what I can see, they have to do a better job of identifying the younger studs and kind of lovin’ on those guys really early the way the other big dogs do like Florida State, Alabama, Ohio State,” Ross said. “They identify those young kids pretty early on and do a good job making sure that ‘hey man, we love you, we want you to come here.’ From my experience and how [Florida has] been around us, they tend to wait until that kid has those big-time, Power 5 offers and then they try to sneak in.

Um… that kind of sounds a little familiar.

“Florida will always be a big name, but they just aren’t that premier team yet like some of those other schools right now,” Ross said. “I think once they have a great season, it will kind of snowball with recruiting, but until then, they have to do a better job of jumping on the younger kids and showing them love.”

Once they have a great season?  The Gators have won the SEC East two straight years.  The message is getting muddied.  As a Georgia fan, that’s okay by me.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Recruiting

Mike Leach ain’t got time for that coachspeak.

Say what you will about Leach, he’s good for quote material.

Leach coaches in the Pac-12 now but coached in the Big 12 and SEC previously. He said he faced the most skepticism when he coached in the Southeast.

“First, it becomes it won’t work,” Leach said. “Second, they basically say, ‘oh it’s a system,’ suggesting that people who don’t do it that way — who just run it up the middle, stick all your asses together so one hand grenade can kill everybody  — that’s the right way to do it. Since they do it the right way, they’re OK with the fact they lost.

“This is a great time to be in the SEC; everybody’s got the same offense: run right, run left, play action. And they tease themselves and say we threw it four more times a game this year than we did last year.”

“… who just run it up the middle, stick all your asses together so one hand grenade can kill everybody” — hey, when did he have the time to watch tape on Georgia’s offenses the last two seasons?

In defense of the SEC, I would suggest that any conference would perform better offensively, regardless of scheme, if it deployed better quarterbacks than what we saw last season.  Let’s not forget we’re not that far removed from two teams with their asses stuck together finishing in the top five in yards per play.

Even so, before you dismiss Leach as a blowhard when it comes to belittling SEC offenses, remember that he had a big hand in this:

Just to give you an idea of what Mumme pulled off with his newfangled attack, compare Kentucky’s offensive stats from 1996, Bill Curry’s last season there, with the 1999 stats.  Notice a bit of an improvement there?  Kentucky’s 1999 yards per game average would have ranked the Wildcats fourth in last season’s SEC (and is about 115 ypg more than last year’s UK team averaged).

One more thing about that ’99 team of Mumme’s.  The quarterback that season was the immortal Dusty Bonner, who succeeded some guy named Tim Couch.  Couch, in his last season at UK, threw for 4,611 yards in 12 games.  That total would have led the SEC last season by more than 700 yards (and Arkansas played one more game).  That 1998 Kentucky team wound up playing in the Outback Bowl and Couch was a Heisman finalist.  How many other seasons can UK claim like that?  Maybe I’m missing something, but that strikes me as a pretty good indication that a pass-based spread attack could function just fine in the SEC.

I see no reason lightning can’t strike again.  (Hell, for that matter, look at what Missouri did last season.)

The problem, of course, is that you can’t play Air Raid on defense, and that was Kentucky’s Achilles heel when Leach coached there.  Will this year’s Ole Miss prove to be different?  Hard to say, but don’t forget that Freeze has changed his coordinator on that side of the ball, too.  In any event, Ole Miss ought to be entertaining to watch this season, if nothing else.

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Filed under Mike Leach. Yar!, Strategery And Mechanics