Category Archives: Media Punditry/Foibles

The difference between apathy and antipathy is more than three letters.

Jeff Schultz sees Mark Fox and tries to get inside the head of Greg McGarity.

It didn’t matter that Richt won the regular season’s final four games. Most stopped paying attention before November — the fans who buy tickets, the boosters who write checks, the athletic director who had grown weary of failed expectations. As good a coach and wonderful a person as Richt was, he had lost too many of the games that mattered most, failed to take advantage of a weak SEC East Division and failed to win the conference championship for the 10th consecutive season after winning two titles in his first five.

So he was gone.

It’s worth bringing up this topic now because some have wondered why Mark Fox, the school’s basketball coach, is not gone.

I don’t know that it’s the majority of Georgia’s fan base. Infernos on social media, message boards and sports talk radio don’t qualify as a scientific sampling. But the question of why Richt was fired and why Fox is staying is a worthy one.

I hoped to get some insight on this subject from athletic director Greg McGarity. He was the man who chose to affirm Fox’s return a week ago in strange way: With a line thrown into a statement that had been put out ostensibly to smother a report that Georgia was doing due diligence on potential replacements. But McGarity, whose relationship with the media has grown prickly over the past year, continued to deny comment on the subject late this week, even after the Dogs’ season officially ended with a first-round NIT loss to Belmont.

Needless to say, when speculation’s all you’ve got, you ain’t got much.

Besides, it’s a mischaracterization to describe the attitude about Richt in the last part of the 2015 as one of folks tuning out.  People were pissed, especially after watching the debacle of the Florida game plan.

Butts-Mehre thrives on the fan base not paying attention to sports other than football, because that leaves McGarity in the position of raking in the most bucks with the least amount of accountability.  Fox keeps his job; Richt lost his.  C’est la vie.  The situation might be reversed if Georgia were Louisville or North Carolina.  But it’s not and that’s why it really doesn’t matter to McGarity if Fox stays or goes.

It’s a helluva way to run a railroad, but you can’t say it isn’t a profitable one.  All McGarity cares about is that if the football program doesn’t rise above the level that Richt set, he can’t be blamed for the lack of progress.  All the rest, Mr. Schultz, is merely commentary.

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56 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“They’re clearly the favorite in the SEC East, PAWWWLLL.”

This is why they pay Seth Emerson the big bucks.  (Or at least more than Jeff Dantzler takes in.)

Seriously, I think we’re pretty much at the point where it’s become an established narrative.  Seth mentions that Kirby will no doubt try to downplay it, but it will be interesting to watch how he handles rising expectations with the team.

64 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s gonna conventional wisdom.

From stating the obvious as if it’s profound wisdom (“Now let me say this again because some people will miss this: If the charges are proven true, Ole Miss deserves the punishment it gets.”) to lauding Mike Slive’s leadership to chastising those in glass houses, Tony Barnhart’s reaction to the Ole Miss mess is exactly what you’d expect, right down to the punctuation marks.

36 Comments

Filed under Freeze!, Media Punditry/Foibles

Well, now.

I guess you can add one more name to the list of national media not buying into another throwaway year for Georgia football.

USA Today’s Dan Wolken is ready to write off Kirby Smart if the Bulldogs don’t win the SEC East in 2017.

“If Kirby Smart doesn’t win the East next year, he’s a clown,” Wolken said on “Dukes and Bell” on SportsRadio 92.9 The Game in Atlanta on Thursday. “I’m sorry. Point blank. They are so far above the rest of that division in terms of talent right now with the players that they’ve got coming back.

“Give me a break. The expectation for Georgia next year should be winning the East, point blank—period. If they don’t get that done, then I have to seriously question whether Kirby can coach.”

Wolken gives Georgia a pass for the 2016 season, considering it was lacking depth at key positions, but he still believes Smart already has recruited well enough to beat their opposition in the division.

“We’re talking about winning a terrible division where we’ve got teams like Vandy, Missouri. South Carolina is definitely improving, but they’re not ready for prime time,” Wolken said. “Tennessee’s a joke, Florida’s not very good right now. Look at the teams they’re competing against.

“They have no excuse not to win this division next year when you’ve got Nick Chubb coming back, you’ve got Sony Michel. Jacob Eason has got to take a step forward. You’ve got guys defensively; I think they’re pretty loaded on that side of the ball. I’m sorry, they are so much more talented than the rest of that division right now. I don’t want to hear it — I don’t want to hear any excuses.”

Jeff Dantzler strenuously objects, but what about you?  Outside of a replay of the 2013 injury plague, are there reasonable excuses for Georgia not to finish the drill as the divisional favorite this season?

87 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

Throwing away the throwaway year narrative

Judging from these pieces in SI.com and CBSSports.com, I don’t think the national media is jumping on board the Jeff Dantzler train.  If that kind of thinking gets picked up by the talking heads at ESPN this summer and fall, that’s gonna make for some tough sledding trying to defend another subpar season without at least a divisional title.

By the way, for those of you who want to argue that Job One for this staff is something other than cobbling together a functional, competent offensive line, there’s this analytic bit to ponder:

… Georgia’s offensive line (it ranked 101st and 113th, respectively, in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Line Yards and Power Success Rate statistics in 2016)…

Pretty, that’s not.  Time for Mr. Pittman to work his magic.

19 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

“The point is that recruiting, when done well, is more art than science.”

Mr. Conventional Wisdom’s post on recruiting is every bit the gem you’d expect it to be.

Pay no attention to those number one recruiting classes Nick Saban racks up year after year.  He’s an artist.

6 Comments

Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Recruiting

If it ain’t broke… ah, hell, tinker with it anyway.

Stewart Mandel traveled to Tampa, Florida, spoke with various CFB movers and shakers and proclaims the eight-team playoff currently has less life in it than Charlie Weis’ career prospects.

During my stay in Tampa, I spoke with numerous commissioners, ADs, coaches, players, bowl executives, TV executives and other industry officials. The consensus vibe was that of overwhelming satisfaction with the system they created four-and-a-half years ago. In nearly every key area it has met or exceeded their expectations.

Not coincidentally, I sense zero appetite across the sport for an eight-team playoff. Before the CFP started, I predicted the system would expand halfway through ESPN’s 12-year contract. I was wrong. There’s even less support for the idea now than there was then.

Now I could start to lay into this by noting the folly that a large part of his conclusion is drawn from Bill Hancock’s confidence in the current arrangement, but I’ll take a pass on the low hanging fruit to focus on another point Mandel makes.

For one thing, power brokers on both the playoff and TV side are pleased with the positive effect they’ve seen on the regular season. The BCS first helped turn the traditionally regionalized sport into a more national model; the CFP has only enhanced that.

In particular, the intense focus on the four-team race once the committee starts producing its weekly rankings in early November has raised the stakes for games that previously might have flown under the radar.  [Emphasis added.]

So the shift to a more national model is seen as an enhancement.  And the selection committee’s weekly rankings being flogged relentlessly has raised the profile of certain games.  Before writing that, I wonder if Mandel thought about this year’s Iron Bowl, which was reduced to an irrelevancy in the eyes of many —  prompted in large part by ESPN’s narrative — after Auburn’s loss to Georgia meant the Tigers had zero chance of attaining the national semi-finals.  I guess we’re gonna have to disagree on that whole enhancement thing.

The rest of his piece is a mish-mash of contradictory signs of marketing acceptance and money-making (which is all that really matters, when you get down to it).  This, in particular, is truly depressing:

Finally, give the folks in charge credit for achieving one particular vision. When I first interviewed College Football Playoff COO Michael Kelly in 2014 for my book about the playoff, he spoke of turning the sport’s new national championship game (the first to be played outside of the traditional bowl system) as “a hybrid” of the Final Four and Super Bowl.

This year’s game in Tampa felt like exactly that. Unlike initial sites Arlington, Texas and Glendale, Arizona — where events were spread out across large metroplexes — fans, media and industry folks all seemed to congregate in downtown. Media Day was at Amalie Arena, a fan fest at the adjacent convention center, concerts (with acts like Usher and Flo Rida) at a nearby park. Many of us stayed at hotels within walking distance of everything but Raymond James Stadium itself.

Expect a similar setup next year in Atlanta.

Mind you, the staggering costs involved did not exactly make the game accessible to the common fan. Even the lowest-priced tickets on sites like StubHub were approaching $2,000 by kickoff.

Yes, credit is certainly due.  Pricing out the common fan from the biggest game of the season is exactly what the sport was missing to make it truly special.

At least it’s more convenient for the media now.  That’s gotta count for something in Montana.

41 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles