Category Archives: College Football

College football has the runs.

Good Jon Solomon piece on how college football is trending on offense so far this season here.  A few highlights:

  • FBS teams are averaging 186.6 rushing yards per game, up from 182.5 through four weeks in 2014. Yards per carry are at 4.67 in 2015, up from 4.59 last season at this time.

  • Passing yards per game have declined three straight years since a record 238.3 yards in 2012. FBS teams have thrown for 239.3 yards per game in the first month of 2015, down from 243.4 in the first four weeks of 2014. However, passing yards per attempt are up 2 percent this season to 7.51.

  • Yards per play — arguably the most pivotal offensive statistic — are up 2 percent to 5.93 compared to the opening month of 2014.

  • Scoring in FBS through the first month is up 1 percent to 31.8 points per game… The SEC was the highest-scoring conference in the opening month of 2014 (39.5 points). But perhaps due to so many teams starting new quarterbacks, the SEC ranks fourth through the first month of 2015 at 32.6 points.

On that last point, Georgia may be bucking a trend.  Through the first four games of 2014, the Dawgs averaged 45.25 ppg.  This year, there’s an ever so slight increase in that average to 45.5.

But the overall story there is one of more scoring, more offensive efficiency and less throwing to do so.  I wonder how much of that can be chalked up to personnel and how much to deliberate strategy.


Filed under College Football, Stats Geek!, Strategery And Mechanics

Applying a business model to the gridiron

At some point, everyone is going to wake up to the reality that college sports is big business, which is starting to bring a whole new meaning to college prep.

IMG is at the forefront. It is trying to enhance its academy brand with football, perhaps the most visible sport. And it is applying a business model to the gridiron that has long been profitable for tennis and has expanded to golf, soccer, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and track and field. The academy has nearly 1,000 students from more than 80 countries enrolled in prekindergarten through 12th grade and postgraduation. About half the students are international.

The school, 45 miles south of Tampa, recruits football players from around the country, offering high-performance training, college preparatory courses, coaches with N.F.L. playing experience, facilities that resemble a small college more than a high school, and a chance to play a national schedule and on national television on ESPN against some of the country’s highest-rated teams.

Though IMG Academy has fielded a varsity football team for only three seasons and, as an independent school, is ineligible to play for a Florida state championship, it is stocked with six of the nation’s top 100 senior recruits. The roster has players from 21 states and six countries. This month, IMG flew to Texas for a game. On Saturday, it will travel to New Jersey to face another power, Bergen Catholic High School.

The full cost of tuition and boarding for a year of football at IMG Academy is $70,800, although need-based financial assistance is available. School officials would not provide specific figures, but they said that payments by families could range from tens of thousands of dollars to a competition fee (between $3,750 and $4,500) to nothing.

Team helmets are adorned not with a lion or a tiger but with IMG’s corporate logo.

Nice.  So is this.

IMG officials are upfront about their profit motive. And they have been backed financially by powerful state lawmakers who justify the assistance by citing the academy’s economic impact to the region in training more than 12,000 athletes yearly from the youth level to the pros and in hosting numerous amateur and professional sports competitions.

Although it is private, IMG Academy has received more than $7 million from the Florida state budget over the past two years, according to news accounts. An additional $2 million was pledged by lawmakers in June but was then vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott.

Ain’t amateurism grand?


Filed under College Football, It's Just Bidness

Enjoy it while it lasts.

Over at Georgia Sports Blog, Tyler looks at the mess the NFL is grappling with over Deflategate and wonders if there’s a lesson to be learned by college football.

He starts by noting that there’s a structural difference between the two that benefits the people in charge of college football.

The biggest thing protecting college athletics, particularly the cash cow that is college football, is the autonomy of the conferences. Will that become the reason the NCAA, with their ongoing publicity and discipline investigation failures, ceases to exists?

If you don’t think it’ll happen because of the money involved, remember, the NFL is the most profitable sports league in the world.

Eh, maybe.  True, the colleges don’t speak with one voice on every issue, as does the NFL, but let’s not take that too far.  The NCAA is an organization made up of schools and, as we’ve seen over the past few years, it has become increasingly sensitive to the wishes of its P5 membership, wishes that are mainly driven by – you guessed it – the almighty dollar.

It’s also reasonable to expect that college football would speak more with one voice if it possessed a key attribute the NFL enjoys, an antitrust exemption.  But that’s a story for another day.

Where I do think Tyler’s on to something is with his second point.

As Will Leitch put it: “People love football. But they hate the NFL.” I don’t buy that all people hate the NFL, but there is a substantial minority of football fans that are starting to treat pro football they way they treated MLB after the strike in 1994. They just stop caring.

That’s me, brother.  I was a huge baseball fan back in the day – season tickets, annual trips to Spring Training, trips to games in other cities, Rotisserie Baseball play – but I flipped a switch the day the news came out that the World Series was cancelled.  (I’m probably the only person in Atlanta who didn’t watch the ’95 World Series.)  And I’ve never looked back since.

Shutting down your premier event over a money squabble is a dramatic and effective way of proving to your fans that you really don’t give a shit about them.  And from my selfish standpoint, it was a message that I could no longer trust the owners (and the players, honestly) with my passion as a fan.  Once you cross that barrier, it’s hard to care again.  And I never have, even though I still appreciate the game of baseball from a historical perspective.

All of which gets me around to pondering the subject of what college football’s existential crisis might look like.  I know some of you see full-blown player compensation as being the trigger for that event, but it’s a little more complicated than that for me.  And that’s mainly because college football has made incremental changes to its nature for years now.  I’ve watched the shameless race over conference expansion/realignment and the expansion of conferences into the broadcast business and the havoc that’s wrecked on scheduling and traditional rivalries.  I’ve seen the way the people running the conferences are fumbling the issue of trying to balance the need to attract television audiences while keeping asses in the seats.  None of that individually is as bad as cancelling a season, but absorbed as a whole, it’s certainly enough to take a toll on my support.

Add to that the combination of arrogance and stupidity that marks both the NCAA and its member schools in allowing certain issues to fester in the courts instead of dealing with them in a proactive manner and you’ve got the perfect storm.  All of which is my way of saying that while I don’t know exactly what will be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back, I have no doubt that there’s one coming.  There’s simply too much derp, greed and money to expect otherwise.


Filed under College Football


ESPN has discovered the wide, wide world of sports gambling and the people running college football ain’t too happy about it.

“I don’t think those are things that ought to be a part of the presentation of college football, but maybe that’s the environment in which we find ourselves,” said Big 12 Conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby, adding that he was “quite sure that all of (the Big 12’s presidents and athletic directors) feel as I do that it’s inappropriate.”

So what are they gonna do about it?

About what you’d expect.

Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne, while noting his athletic department’s sponsorship deals with local casinos (which do not have sports books), said he’s concerned.

“Anytime there’s anything to do with sports gambling and college sports, understandably that will be something I would hope at some point will be discussed,” Byrne said.

Now there’s a guy who’s going to bring to real gravitas to the conversation.

“There is an existing concern about the inexorable march toward gambling being more and more central to sport,” Sankey told USA TODAY Sports. “It has clearly gotten more momentum based on messaging out of the NBA last year. We have to be mindful of the realities of the culture developing around us.”

Translation:  at some point in time, it’s gonna become a source of revenue the SEC can’t ignore.  And it’ll likely come from something like this:

Though it appears on the surface to be unrelated, several athletic directors connected the apparent new emphasis on sports betting with ESPN’s business relationships with companies like DraftKings and FanDuel, daily online fantasy sports businesses that promise cash prizes to winners. Last spring, according to multiple reports, ESPN’s parent company, Walt Disney Co., agreed to invest $250 million in DraftKings, but then backed out, apparently because of concerns that the enterprise too closely resembled gambling. Although the deal never came to fruition, DraftKings is spending several hundred million dollars in advertising over the next two years with ESPN, according to Sports Business Journal.

Although the bulk of the fantasy sports business — traditional or the daily version — has been centered on professional sports, college football is a growing portion of the business. The idea that fantasy sports would use college players’ names and performances to determine winners and payouts concerns athletic directors. Among other reasons, they’re concerned college athletes might be enticed to play the daily games — perhaps choosing themselves.

“We’ve been wrestling with all the issues around DraftKings and FanDuel,” Bowlsby said, “which I don’t think anybody can suggest isn’t gambling.”

But that’s exactly what ESPN and businesses like DraftKings and FanDuel suggest. Bowlsby noted that the Big 12’s TV contracts prohibit advertisements for gambling, other than for state-authorized lotteries, “but our television partners assert that it (fantasy sports games) isn’t gambling.”

After they cut that first check to your conference, you will too, Bob.  Bet on it.


Filed under College Football, ESPN Is The Devil, It's Just Bidness

Wednesday morning buffet

Rise and shine, campers.


Filed under College Football, Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!, The Body Is A Temple

Thursday morning buffet

Indulge yourselves.

  • As the Auburn-Louisville game in Atlanta approaches, prepare to hear more of this.
  • Regrets, Gene Chizik has a few.
  • Mark Schlabach predicts this is Steve Spurrier’s last season.
  • Delusional optimism, And The Valley Shook style.
  • Kids, these days.
  • Spurrier, on Finebaum“Every now and then when I listen in to your show, I know the SEC fans are a little upset at Ohio State’s schedule and rightfully so to tell you the truth.” 
  • We’ve known Bobby Petrino’s an ambitious dick.  We just didn’t know how far back that went. “He opted to join the Tigers without informing his boss, Tom Coughlin, who was alerted of his offensive coordinator’s departure through an Auburn news release.”  And so, a legend was born.
  • Les Miles overdosed on coffee this week?  Sure, I can see that.


Filed under Big Ten Football, College Football, Gene Chizik Is The Chiznit, Georgia Football, SEC Football, The Body Is A Temple, The Evil Genius, Wit And Wisdom From The Hat

Oh, it’s on now.

D-1 football kicks off tonight at 6 PM, with North and South Carolina meeting, so it’s time to dust off one of my favorite clips to celebrate the start of another season.

As I said when I posted it last year, “A Brit who knows next to nothing about the sport, two programs I don’t care about and I still love that clip.”

If you’re not smiling at least a little right now, I don’t know what to tell you.


Filed under College Football