Category Archives: 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.

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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.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Media Punditry/Foibles

More anti-throwaway narrative

Over at CFN, Pete Fiutak goes all in on Georgia in his early top ten for 2017:

7. Georgia

It’s all about the offensive line. There’s no excuse whatsoever for the offense to be so mediocre with Jacob Eason with a year under his belt, and with Nick Chubb and Sony Michel to hand off to. But that line – it returns just two starters, and it has to be a whole lot better. Meanwhile, the defense isn’t going to skip a beat with just about everyone back to what should be a killer. Dawgs, win the East – you’re this year’s Tennessee.

Um, how did “this year’s Tennessee” work out for last year’s Tennessee?

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

No pressure, Kirby.

Don’t know if it will turn out to be an outlier or a presaging of what’s to come, but, fresh from the Sporting News, here’s a way-too-early top 25 projection for the 2017 season:

10. Georgia  

Here’s the team that will be talked about than anybody else in the offseason. Nick Chubb and Sony Michel stayed in school, and Jacob Eason should make the jump as a sophomore. At least that’s what we’re counting on. Kirby Smart should be excited about Year 2. Bulldogs fans will be.

That’s good for second in the conference, behind only (who else?) Alabama.

That throwaway year narrative may get a little harder to sell.  Just sayin’.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Media Punditry/Foibles

USA Today has Alabama on its mind.

I’ve never been the kind of person who cared about how many angels could dance on the head of a pin, so can somebody explain to me why I should care about this one way or the other, or what I could possibly do for this to matter to me?

Nothing lasts forever, peeps.  Not even the Sabanator.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles, Nick Saban Rules

The latest in fake juice

McCaffrey and Fournette not playing in their teams’ respective bowl games got you down?  No worries, mon, the pundit class is riding to the rescue.

Andy Staples is all oh, hells, yeah! about this.

This is simple and brilliant. In fact, it is so simple and brilliant that it’s difficult to imagine the schools—who traditionally like to create as much red tape as possible—passing an NCAA rule that would allow redshirting players to play in their team’s bowl game without losing a year of eligibility. But it would be excellent.

Imagine Ohio State putting in a package for freshman quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who instead will spend the run-up to the Fiesta Bowl mimicking Clemson’s Deshaun Watson on the scout team. Imagine Alabama beefing up its linebacker depth following the injury to Shaun Dion Hamilton with Ben Davis, who probably would have played this year if not for a preseason ankle injury.

This would be even more helpful to teams farther down the bowl pecking order. Because of the stakes, coaches in the playoff aren’t as likely to toss in redshirting players who have yet to appear in a game. But for coaches outside the playoff, where bowl practice is basically a head start on spring practice, the concept could be a godsend.

Um… Alabama doesn’t have enough of an advantage in the playoffs with the roster Saban’s already got?  He needs more help?

This rule tweak has little downside, and it’s difficult to imagine who would oppose it. Coaches would love it because their rosters are depleted by injury at this point in the season. Fresh bodies would help their teams. Redshirting players would love it because redshirt years can feel like interminable slogs. They’d be more attentive in meetings and at practice down the stretch in October and November if they knew their good habits could result in playing time in late December or early January. Fans would love it because they’d get a sneak peek at the future. Even if their team had a disappointing season and wound up in a lackluster bowl, they’d be much more interested in the bowl game if they thought there was a possibility of seeing a new star rise.

Amazing that in one breath we can complain about some players ditching their teammates after putting in a long season of work together and then in the next get all excited about the possibility of allowing coaches to bench some of those very same players we’re (supposedly) concerned about to give others who haven’t taken a snap in anger all year the opportunity to strut their stuff.  Instant gratification is the flavor of the day.

This is why we don’t deserve nice things any more.

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Filed under Media Punditry/Foibles

You say you want a revolution.

It’s a tweet, and 140-character nuance is hard sometimes, but this isn’t the kind of go-ahead I’d expect to see from Tony Barnhart.

“Boycott for money or practice conditions”?  Citoyens! Aux barricades!!!

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UPDATE:  By the way, even if you don’t approve of their tactics, it appears some compromise is trying to be reached.

Friday morning, Gophers team members met with a lawyer representing the 10 suspended players in downtown Minneapolis, plotting their strategy on how to move forward. Later, sources said the players were planning an evening meeting with some university regents.

Regents Darrin Rosha and Michael Hsu were seen attending the Friday night meeting.

Two sources said Kaler wasn’t invited to Friday night’s meeting but arrived anyway. The Gophers’ senior leadership group of quarterback Mitch Leidner, linebacker Jack Lynn and others helped lead the conversations with Kaler.

According to sources, one of the players’ goals was to have the hearings for the 10 suspended players moved up from January to early next week. But that goal wasn’t reached as of Friday night.

Move up the hearings date?  Dang, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say it sounds like somebody read my post yesterday.

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UPDATE #2:  Our short national nightmare is over.

23 Comments

Filed under Look For The Union Label, Media Punditry/Foibles