Category Archives: Gators, Gators…

His work here is done. For now.

Like a boss.

Grantham was the highest-paid assistant in Gators football history at $1.5 million per season. After a down year for Florida’s defense in 2017, he elevated it 49 spots (from 69th to 20th) nationally in scoring defense. As such, coach Dan Mullen and athletic director Scott Stricklin awarded him with a $300,000 raise and one-year contract extension, which were announced Thursday. Based on 2018 salaries, that would make Grantham at $1.8 million one of the five highest-paid assistants in college football.  [Emphasis added.]

When you know the play and they know you know the play and they still let you run the play… well, that’s when you know you’ve really got game.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., It's Just Bidness

Our temporary, yet repeated, national nightmare is over.

Whoomp!! There it is.

Grantham’s agent can go back into hibernation for a little while now.  I guess we’ll find out soon enough how much it cost this time for Todd not to be interested in going to the NFL.

Grantham gets paid and we still get third-and-Grantham.  Talk about your win-win…

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UPDATE:  This is how you do it.

“Not this year.”  Always be leveraging.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., It's Just Bidness

The continuing adventures of Todd Grantham’s agent

The man is working it, baby.

Only Florida’s AD knows if Todd really wants it.

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UPDATE:

Evidently Stricklin isn’t feeling it yet.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., It's Just Bidness

Grantham’s progress

It looks like Todd Grantham is still waiting for that offer he can’t refuse.

If he takes it, no doubt the defensive players who just signed with/committed to Florida will appreciate David Shaw’s point that “The hopscotch approach to college really hinders their ability to have success in life.”  And if he doesn’t, well, there’s always a next time.  Life lessons, for the win!

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Transfers Are For Coaches.

Ball’s in your court, Gators.

Based on the man’s track record, it depends on when he gets that sweet contract extension.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., It's Just Bidness

Gap is the new cannon shot.

I can’t help but take one last trip to that SDS piece on how Florida “closed the gap” on Georgia with its ninth-ranked 2019 recruiting class.  Here’s the author’s rationale for the language:

Screenshot_2019-02-08 How Florida closed the gap on Georgia and Alabama with a strong Signing Day finish

It’s stuff like this that gives statistical analysis a bad rep.  An 80 percent blue chip rate is almost impossible to improve upon, certainly so year after year.  So, yeah, if you’re looking up from 41 to 58 percent, the horizon looks closer.  By that same reasoning, a ranking gap framed on one end by number one Alabama will shrink when Florida improves because you can’t go any higher than first.  Context matters, in other words.

Skip the math for a sec, though.  The bigger fallacy is pretending that recruiting gaps are things that can be dramatically overcome in a year.  There are two reasons for that.  First, it’s only one year.  At any given time, rosters are built on four/five years of recruiting.  In the SEC East, this is the country where Florida has to gain ground.

Georgia’s five-star lead over the rest of the East is 15-4 since Smart has gotten it rolling. This type of recruiting dominance is slightly different from Alabama when you compare the Tide to the SEC West. Alabama never lapped its division this way. Bama’s best three-year stretch since Texas A&M joined the league was from 2013-2015 when they signed 18 five stars. The rest of the West signed 24. That obviously includes teams like LSU and Auburn.

Alabama has dominated the West on the field even though the West has at least kept within range as far as recruiting goes with those strong recruiters. But what do you think the Dawgs are gonna do with their advantage?

Georgia’s just vacuuming up Dudes year after year compared to its division and we’ve thrown in a couple direct rivals (Georgia Tech and Auburn) just to show that.

Blue-chip counts of Georgia vs. rivals (SEC East and otherwise)

School Three-year blue-chip count 2017 2018 2019
Alabama 64 24 15 25
Georgia 62 20 22 20
Florida 41 11 13 17
Auburn 40 11 15 14
Tennessee 24 5 8 11
South Carolina 21 6 9 6
Kentucky 11 5 3 3
Georgia Tech 4 1 2 1
Missouri 4 1 0 3
Vanderbilt 3 0 3 0

And if you’re wondering, here were Georgia’s tallies for the four years before Smart had his first non-transitional recruiting class.

2016: 14
2015: 14
2014: 13
2013: 15

Smart’s added an entire extra class’ worth of blue-chips over the course of the last three years to what was already strong recruiting. That’s a whole extra group of top athletes who won’t be playing for teams trying to beat Georgia.

The last two paragraphs are stunning.  The numbers show Mark Richt was a good recruiter by SEC East standards.  It’s just that Kirby has taken Georgia’s recruiting to an entirely different level from every other program in the division.  But I digress.

That is an enormous talent differential between Florida and Georgia.  In terms of raw numbers of blue chips, instead of Blackmon’s program percentage levels, you can see that with this last signing class, Smart actually increased the spread against Mullen.  That isn’t how you close a gap.  Especially one that was already +18 from the previous two classes.

There’s another significant factor that the SDS analysis glosses over.  Here’s something that Jake Rowe noted about Georgia’s 2019 class:

It was extremely important that the Bulldogs sign a full crop of talented players and that they get guys to fill specific needs. It did exactly what it had to do. [Emphasis added.]

As I noted yesterday, the most impressive thing about yesterday’s results were that Smart neatly pivoted after the early signing date to make sure he filled a hole on the roster at receiver that resulted from the departures of key players.  When you’ve built your roster over three or four years and stacked the talent as Smart has done, it’s easier to maneuver like that.

Compare that with what David Wunderlich says about Florida in a piece that’s complimentary about Mullen’s 2019 class.

So while Mullen is getting the program back up where it needs to be while focusing on the details, the next step is to end up with a balanced roster. I don’t just mean in numbers at each position but also age-wise from freshmen to seniors..

The goal is to get to a place of consistency in numbers across classes: one quarterback per year, one running back, two or three receivers, three to five offensive linemen, etc.

That’s never going to be possible indefinitely because of unplanned attrition, but even acknowledging that reality, you don’t want to be in a place where you’re having to go heavy on multiple positions a year like offensive line and linebacker in 2019 and wide receiver, defensive tackle, and maybe safety in 2020. Being forced to take a lot at one place in one year will at best set a roster time bomb for four years in the future at at worst will have a program load up on ineffective players.

David notes roster time bombs at several positions:  receiver, defensive tackle and safety.  Even if you know what you’re doing — and you can count me in the camp who believes Mullen does — that you’re having to scramble to fill holes at offensive line and linebacker even at the risk of creating future imbalances at other positions is a sign that you have a roster that doesn’t match up with Georgia’s.

None of this is to say that Mullen won’t succeed eventually in reaching a stable point with a talented roster.  But that’s not 2019.

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Filed under Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football, Recruiting

What “closing the gap” in the SEC East really means

I expect some pushback on this post, but here goes nothing.

Let’s start by reposting this:

Titles are reserved for programs that sign more blue-chip recruits than non-, and only 13 teams in the whole country met that threshold in 2018, including all four Playoff teams.

The SEC has seven teams above that cut right now for 2019, including three — A&M, Florida, and Tennessee — whose 2018 rosters left them just below the Blue-Chip Ratio line. The Vols got there by signing a five-star tackle, Darnell Wright, and four-star linebacker, Henry To’oto’o, in the last hour or so of the February NSD.

Both the Gators and the Vols are trying to emerge from irrelevance.  Tennessee has a tougher row to hoe in that regard, both because it’s fallen farther and also because it’s a tougher place from which to recruit.  That being said, the surest way to dig yourself out of an irrelevant hole is to sign better talent.  Both programs appear to have done that with their 2019 classes.

Sure, being relevant and being elite are two different things.  2019’s done nothing to put either UF or UT on the same level, talentwise, as Georgia.  But relevant programs can certainly win divisional and conference titles and make the national title postseason on occasion.  It may take somewhat freakish opportunities — key injuries to opponents, injury luck for itself, a generational type player who elevates the program, turnover margin magic, etc. — but there are occasions when a puncher’s chance has been sufficient, if a program is sufficiently prepared to take advantage.

That’s exactly where I think Florida and Tennessee are now.  The gap isn’t closing, but the chance to break through on occasion may be rising for the two.  I think that’s particularly true for Florida.  As I’ve mentioned, Tennessee is hampered by having a tougher time recruiting.  It’s also got to deal with the reality of having Alabama on its schedule every season, a burden neither Georgia nor Florida have.

The other reason I think the trend favors the Gators is that I think they’re better built to deal with it.  Pruitt’s record as a head coach is obviously too short to draw any real conclusions about his program management philosophy, but I don’t think Phil Fulmer is expecting anything less than a return to the glory days of the nineties, even though today’s SEC is a tougher place for the Vols to build sustained success.

Mullen, though, runs a program — at least from what we’ve seen from his days at Mississippi State and even a little from last season at Florida — in a way that’s conducive to success in accepting relevancy as a launch point.  Along those lines, I had an interesting exchange with David Wunderlich on Twitter about that.

That’s where I see Florida.  And I think Mullen is a good enough coach to make something like that work now and then.  Mississippi State waxed and waned when he was there; it’s not hard to see Florida doing the same, except at a higher level on both ends because he’ll be working from a much better base of talent.

No, it won’t be a return to the Spurrier or Meyer eras.  But I can certainly see a year here and a season there of frustration for Georgia fans.  Hope I’m wrong, of course, but I bet I’m not.

As for Tennessee, ask me in another year or two.

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Filed under Because Nothing Sucks Like A Big Orange, Gators, Gators..., Georgia Football