Category Archives: SEC Football

It was the best of dynasties. It was the worst of dynasties.

Analyze Alabama’s status after narrowly losing the national title game at your peril.  In the meantime, consider this:

On top of that, there is a huge climb for any SEC team to remotely challenge Bama right now. No team in the conference had less than four losses and no team other than Bama won 10 games. Bama can take a step back and still be two steps ahead of anyone in the conference. They are doing a pretty good impression of Florida State in the 1990s, with the rest of the SEC playing the part of the ACC minnows.

Within the conference, the question isn’t whether Alabama has slid a bit lately.  It’s whether it’s slid less than any other SEC school lately.  For the moment, it’s pretty obvious what the answer to that question is.

54 Comments

Filed under Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

Mean Coaches

Hugh Freeze, topic of conversation:

Many conversations in the hallways and lobbies inside Opryland Hotel centered on Ole Miss. Coaches here anticipate NCAA sanctions for the Rebels in the next two or three months — presuming there is not another round of investigation, which still remains a possibility.

Some coaches and industry sources are of the opinion that the results will wind up costing coach Hugh Freeze his job. One of those sources said he believes Freeze “is on the hot seat as much as any coach in the country.”

Another coach pointed out that skepticism — and maybe jealousy, to some extent — is perhaps causing coaches to wish for doom in Oxford more than it will actually come. But even those close to the program seem to be bracing for NCAA impact.

At their most optimistic, people inside the football building are hopeful that, like the Miami case, the hovering cloud and perpetual fear wind up being worse than the punishment itself.

“With the NCAA, you just never know,” one industry source said. “Impossible to predict.”

Vultures, vultures everywhere.

If coaches are saying this to the media, one can only guess what they’re saying to recruits and their families.  The great thing is that they can play the faux concern card on the recruiting trail and still get plenty of mileage out of the sheer uncertainty surrounding the program right now.  In that light, another round of NCAA investigation putting off Judgment Day a while longer would be a bug, not a feature, for Freeze.

By the way, Ole Miss currently sits next to last in the current 247 SEC team recruiting rankings.

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Filed under Recruiting, SEC Football, The NCAA

Return of the prodigal towel boy

Guess who’s back in the SEC.

Mississippi State is hiring Louisville defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, according to a source. Grantham agreed to a multi-year deal to become the next defensive coordinator in Starkville.

Current Mississippi State defensive coordinator Peter Sirmon will not return to the Bulldogs next season, according to a source.

(Sirmon, by the way, is expected to swap jobs with Grantham at Louisville.  That’s efficient, if nothing else.)

Why is Grantham leaving?  Round up the usual suspects.

In 2016, Grantham earned $1.3 million with the Cardinals, making him the fifth-highest-paid assistant coach in the country according to USA Today‘s salary database. Suffice to say, Grantham will be looking at some kind of bump in pay for leaving for Dan Mullen‘s MSU coaching staff; how significant remains to be seen.

Kind of amazed Mullen is able to round up that kind of jack, but whatevs.

Mississippi State, you may or may not recall, comes calling to Athens in the 2017 season, which means that anyone who’s grown nostalgic for the days when his white towel roamed the sidelines in Sanford Stadium will have a new opportunity to get his or her jollies.

Should be a fun week leading up to the game.

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UPDATE:

Hey, it’s not a lie if you believe it.

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UPDATE #2:  I can see Greg McGarity reading this blog post about the hire and slowly shaking his head.

38 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Then there are those days when I’m glad to be a blogger.

Reportedly, Hugh Freeze is contemplating adding Trooper Taylor to his staff.

Junior running a football program again and Trooper’s towel back in the SEC? My cup runneth over.

11 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Talent will up and out.

I touched on this yesterday, but David Ching nicely fleshes out how the postseason talent drain in the SEC East is shaping up in this post.  Go down his list and it’s apparent that Florida and Tennessee are taking the biggest hits in the division and that Georgia, while not going completely unscathed, comes off looking a lot healthier by comparison.

41 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

They say it’s a defensive conference.

But maybe it’s just that most SEC offenses blew chunks this season.

Only one SEC school – Missouri, which finished rock bottom in the SEC East standings – ranked among the top 20 in the FBS in total offense. The Tigers placed 13th overall with 500.5 yards per game.

Conversely, three teams, including SEC East champion Florida, ranked outside the nation’s top 100 – among the 20 least productive units in the country.

It’s the first time since 2011 that no SEC school has made the top 10 nationally in total offense, and the first time since 2005 that no team currently in the conference has earned a top-10 offensive ranking…

… The Crimson Tide placed a fully-respectable 31st in total offense at 460.9 yards per game…

The rest of the bunch: Texas A&M (24th), Ole Miss (26th), Tennessee (40th), Auburn (43rd), Mississippi State (44th), Arkansas (54th), LSU (59th), Kentucky (61st), Georgia (87th), Vanderbilt (110th), South Carolina (115th) and – bringing up the rear – Florida (116th).

Jeez.

A couple of things there — one, Florida winning nine games with one of the worst offenses in the country seems nearly miraculous, and while Jim McElwain deserves kudos for pulling that off, you have to wonder how long he can manage to keep that kind of balancing act in the air.

Two, as I said in the comments, maybe we should be keeping a quiet eye on Missouri’s chances in 2017.  The Tigers certainly weren’t without their flaws…

The key to Missouri’s statistical success was its passing attack with quarterback Drew Lock, which averaged more than 295 yards per game. But the reasons for Missouri’s lack of real-life success included shaky ball control (28 fumbles in 12 games), special teams miscues (only six made field goals, as well as poor kick coverage) and a woeful defense that gave up points faster than the Tigers could score them. The result: a 4-8 season.

… but there’s something to be said about being one of only two SEC East offenses that finished 2016 in the upper half of the conference standings in total offense, especially when the other, Tennessee, has lost its offensive coordinator and most of its skill position talent.  (Also, notice that the East makes up the entirety of the bottom five in total offense.)

If you want to be cynical, it’s another reason to think Georgia’s chances to win the East next season aren’t awful.  After all, if you can’t make headway against this…

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Pythagoras ain’t played Alabama, PAWWWLLL.

If you’re one of those folks who’ve been consoling themselves with the thought that Georgia was this close to being 10-2 in the just concluded regular season, you’re probably not going to be comforted by this Team Speed Kills post on Pythagorean expectation for the SEC in 2017.

PE, in case you’re wondering, “measures total points scored and points allowed multiplied by the number of games played to get a projected win total (Pythagorean wins)”.  It took the bowl game to accomplish it, but Georgia barely finished in the black in net scoring in 2016, and based on that should have finished just shy of seven wins.

Now, the post’s author goes on to define the spread between Pythagorean and actual wins as “luck”, but I think it’s a little more nuanced than that in some cases.  Good coaches can steal a win here and there; bad coaches can snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory.  (I’ll leave it to you to decide where the credit lies for Georgia +1.3 win spread.)

As 2016 is in the barn, what’s of interest is what PE says for next season.  As you can probably guess, our old friend regression to the mean is in play.

In short, winning more games than your Pythagorean Expectation tends to mean a team will decline the following season, while falling short of expectations tends to mean a team will improve…

… Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Tennessee may all take a step back next season, and it would likely come at the hands of resurging Vandy and Missouri teams.

Yeah, well, let’s slow down and unpack this a bit for a sec.  First, play the caveat.

Pythagorean projection is just one tool for projection. It doesn’t encompasses an unlucky streak of injuries or turnover margin, or account for early departures and new coaching hires, but it’s historically been a more significant way to base future assumptions beyond simple wins and losses.

Urp.  Georgia didn’t suffer an unlikely streak of injuries last season.  The Dawgs finished +8 in turnover margin, tops in the SEC (with one game left for Alabama).   Both of those would feed into an unfavorable regression story for next season.

On the other hand, we know the story about early departures and it’s very favorable.  Georgia has already taken its lumps on the new coaching hires front, and as we saw in this Bill Connelly post, second year coaching time is usually the right time.  So those factors would seem to cut against regression to the mean.

Also working in Georgia’s favor next season is yet another fairly soft schedule.  Maybe things will change — they often do — but from this early vantage point, it doesn’t appear to be loaded with an abundance of ranked opponents.

The wild card, of course, is the relative talent levels of teams in the SEC East.  Georgia, as I’ve already mentioned, has that quartet of returning juniors that’s unmatched by any other team in the division.  Tennessee, in fact, is losing some monster talent early to the NFL draft, and there are other SEC East schools, like Florida and Missouri, also losing contributors.  The other part of this is where the 2017 recruiting class wind up in a month.

Obviously, a lot can happen in a month, but right now…

… the Dawgs are lapping the divisional field.  And, no, even if things held as they project, not every one of those studs would play next season, but you’d have to think Georgia’s odds of finding significant contributors in the next freshman class are better than any other East program’s, simply based on sheer numbers.

Honestly, you can say we’re looking at a half empty/half full glass for 2017, and I get your point.  I still think the two biggest factors for Georgia stepping up are Jacob Eason and Kirby Smart mastering their learning curves and nobody can say for sure how that goes.  But it’s not hard to argue that the program will be facing something of an uphill struggle against regression to the mean; it’ll be up to Smart to come up with enough improvement in other areas to overcome that.

67 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!