Category Archives: SEC Football

Another 2020 stat

Matt Melton breaks down the SEC’s 2020 season by a metric of his creation, first half points differential, which he defines as follows:

It is the number of points by which a team outscores its opponent in the first half of a game. The theory behind using it being that consistently relying on second half comebacks is not a good long term strategy and can potentially help us identify regression candidates. Similarly, teams that rack up solid first half differentials, but ultimately wind up losing more game than we might expect actually have the bones of a solid team and might be a good candidate to bounce back the next season.

Now, with the understanding that 2020 was the mother of all statistical outliers in mind, here’s the SEC’s picture:

My goodness, Alabama.  That’s obscene.  The combined total for the other five teams with positive differentials is +21.9.

Take the numbers as seriously as you choose.  That being said, this seems like a fine epitaph for Jeremy Pruitt’s finale in Knoxville:

… Finally, in a shocking turn of events, Tennessee was actually kind of mediocre in 2020 instead of plain bad. The Vols were winning or tied at the half in six of their ten conference games, but lost half of them (which includes blowing a double digit lead against Arkansas) to finish 3-7.

He’ll be missed.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Whole lot of nothin’

Jere Morehead’s Q&A with Seth Emerson ($$) is a tour de force of deflection.  A sample:

I think people understand that when Texas and Oklahoma come to you it’s too compelling to not discuss. But to people who worry that it’s becoming too big, that college sports are going to super leagues, that you’re losing intimacy and regionality that makes college sports and college football special, do you share any of those concerns?

Well, change is never easy. But these were the same arguments made a decade ago when Texas A&M and Missouri joined the Southeastern Conference, and I think they’ve been very strong and capable members. So I think we have to adapt to a changing landscape, and really just always keep at the forefront that our focus is on our student-athletes, and on what’s best for our young people in the decades ahead.

Yes, this was all about doing it for the kids.  Isn’t it always?

If we’re to believe Morehead, the SEC presidents haven’t discussed conference consolidation, yet it’s “transformative”.  They haven’t discussed scheduling.  Nor have they discussed a particular time frame for when the new schools will actually participate in conference play.  The CFP never came up in discussion.  As a bonus, he has no strong opinion on Georgia’s current conference rivalries.

Honestly, I give Seth some credit here.  I would have given up half way through.  Instead he managed to finish on this high note:

Is there anything else on this that you want to add?

I would just emphasize that (Texas and Oklahoma) are two great institutions, great athletic programs, a lot of tradition, culture and success. And we think they align very well with the current members of the Southeastern Conference.

The whole thing is truly five minutes of my life I’ll never get back.  Thanks, Jere.

12 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Texas is in.

That was fast.

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UPDATE:  The Sooners are on board as well.

The die is cast.

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UPDATE #2:  And it’s Jere Morehead who officially welcomes them to the party.

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Filed under SEC Football, Texas Is Just Better Than You Are.

Whither SEC scheduling?

More money is in sight, so the suits are happy.  For the fans, what’s left is what to do about cleaning up the mess Mike Slive created.

… In the conference’s current format, teams play eight games: six each year from within their own division and two opponents from the opposite division, one on a permanent basis and one rotating—a 6-1-1 model that has long been the target of criticism both in and outside the league.

For many, the permanent, cross-divisional matchup is the real problem. While it preserves long-standing rivalries, it creates imbalance in scheduling and prevents teams from regularly playing their SEC brethren, with as many as seven years between matchups of some teams.

Yeah, that’s been less than optimal.  So, what’s on the table starts with three basic considerations, according to Dellenger.

Pods or divisions?

Two permanent opponents or three?

Eight games or nine?

Of those three, the last is by far the most important.  If the conference elects to stay with an eight-game schedule, it almost has no choice but to change the format for its schools to play.  Maintaining the status quo would mean an even longer period for some schools to go before facing certain teams in the other division.

If that’s the case, his first question is no longer pods or divisions.  It’s pods or nothing.

“Each team has three permanent opponents and six rotational,” suggests one league source.

This division-less 3–6 format would preserve long-standing rivalry games—though not all of them—and would guarantee that every team in the conference would meet one another every other year. While the model is gaining steam within the league, it has its own issues.

The two teams with the best records play in the SEC championship game, but that may lead to messy tie-breakers and too many rematches.

True to both, and besides that, you’re probably looking at a bloody fight as to which teams are assigned as a school’s three permanent opponents.  (One can only imagine what Greg McGarity’s approach would be like.  Shudder.)  It wouldn’t be any easier with an eight-game, 3-5 format.

To me, pods are a little less free flowing than that, but still create similar problems.

Going to a nine-game schedule gives the conference more options in how that’s structured, including maintaining the current divisional arrangement in place.  It also gives ESPN more product, which, given the times, is probably a bigger factor than what the fans want.

I have no idea how this is about to play out, but whatever the conference chooses, it’ll probably be less than optimal.  Some traditions really don’t change.

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Filed under SEC Football

“There’s a level of respect that’s present and will remain going forward.”

Hey, remember my simple question?

Well, Greg Sankey’s having none of that.

SEC commissioner Greg Sankey told ESPN on Thursday that the expected move of Big 12 co-founders Oklahoma and Texas to his league shouldn’t impact the consideration of a 12-team College Football Playoff. Sankey also expects to continue working with Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby on the CFP’s management committee in spite of what has become an obviously fractured relationship.

Bowlsby and Sankey were two of the four members of the CFP subcommittee who spent the past two years working closely together on developing the proposal for a 12-team format, along with Mountain West commissioner Craig Thompson and Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick.

“Let’s look back at history at the ability of people to work together through challenging circumstances,” Sankey said. “In 2010 there was movement, 2011 dating back to movement around the Big East and the ACC. There were moments, but we all have a responsibility. I do think there’s a level of respect that’s present and will remain going forward. There are tough times, but those who have been in leadership positions have always been able to work through those elements of our relationships and our work.”

The rest of the college football world can be summarized for now as “fuck your no hard feelings, Greg.”

One high-ranking official involved in the process told ESPN he expects a “serious mixed range of views” when the 22 commissioners and presidents convene in September.

“It’s probably going to be a slightly tense meeting because of a little bit of a lack of trust,” the source said. “It’s an environment right now where I think it’s fair to say not everybody trusts everybody else because there are a lot of moving parts.”

The problem for them, of course, as Sankey knows damned well, is that there’s so much money with a 12-team playoff.

Sankey continued to reiterate that the SEC wasn’t leading the charge on playoff expansion, and he has said repeatedly he is happy with a four-team field.

“That decision hasn’t changed,” he said. “Twelve was built around a set of principles and realities that I think have been present and will remain present in college football. Others may feel differently, so they have a format in which they can react. That was the charge of the working group. I’ll be curious to hear their feedback.”

Feedback:

“It just feels uneasy relative to the 12 [teams],” Kliavkoff told CBS Sports. “I’m assuming my colleagues, nationally, this is a reason to pause on the 12. We need to pause.”

Yeah.  The question for George is how long.  The Pac-12 may tut tut for a little while, but it needs a 12-team format with a guaranteed slot for a conference champ badly.  And, again, Sankey knows that.

“The Pac-12 doesn’t get in the playoff very often in the current format,” Sankey told CBS Spots. “I think we all felt a responsibility to look at different models to provide access.

“If somebody wants to suggest this was motivated by some self interest, they’re missing a big picture. Why would I support any automatic conference access? Why would I have said pretty openly we shouldn’t leave the West Coast part of the country out of the playoff?”

There will be a playoff fight between the conferences about the CFP.  But it won’t be about the format.  It’s going to be about — what else? — distribution of revenue.

In devastating the Big 12 to the point it has lost 50% to 75% of its value, the SEC enhanced its power, leverage and earning potential to the point some college leaders fear the conference could earn six of the 12 available playoff spots in the proposed expansion.

“With 12 teams, we could just be watching a lot of SEC teams in the 12-team playoff,” a highly-placed Power Five source told CBS Sports.

One Power Five AD added: “Why on God’s green Earth would the Pac-12 and Big Ten hand over these [playoff] rights, which only strengthens the SEC?”

A second Power Five AD agreed: “I don’t care if there are 10 SEC teams in; we just can’t make that a bonanza [every] year for them. You can’t strangle everybody else financially.”

Easier said than done, Bubba.

An easy fix for the CFP would be limiting the number teams from one conference that could enter a 12-team field. The problem? None of the stakeholders want that. As dominant as the SEC could become, other power conferences do not want to give up the possibility of unlimited berths for their leagues.

Sankey’s already showing one of his hole cards.

As proposed, an expanded playoff would include the top six ranked conference champions with no automatic bids. The top four ranked teams would receive first-round byes.

However, Sankey has raised the idea of accepting the 12 best teams, regardless of conference titles.

“Should we just say the 12 best teams?” Sankey proposed. “I’ve been asked that by our own membership.”

They’re just asking, y’all.

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Filed under BCS/Playoffs, SEC Football

14-zip

It’s all over but the shouting.

But there will be plenty of shouting.

At least Bob managed to toss another gratuitous “doin’ it for the kids” nod.

What’s your over/under on when the two schools actually play SEC ball?

20 Comments

Filed under Big 12 Football, SEC Football

Numbers don’t lie.

Remember this scene from Moneyball?

Well, things in this year’s SEC are kind of similar.  Take a look at this graph:

There’s Alabama.  Then there’s Georgia, and maybe TAMU.  Then, Florida and maybe LSU.  Then there’s the rest of the conference.

Bottom line, the SEC shouldn’t be much of an obstacle to Georgia’s regular season.  That’s not a guarantee it won’t be, but it shouldn’t.

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Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, Stats Geek!

Dropping the big one

What cracks me up the most about what’s gone down since word came out about Oklahoma and Texas gutting the Big 12 is how people who know better are trying to present facts of the past week as somehow particularly revelatory about the way college football is run, when, in fact, they’re nothing more than the same old, same old.  I mean, gee, are we supposed to pretend that ESPN’s behind the scenes machinations are a new thing?

It’s not just pundits, either, who are guilty of wearing blinders.

And the messiness that came out of the Bowlsby Bomb neatly summed up the fraught landscape in college athletics. One athletic director summed it up this way Wednesday: “This has created a lot more mistrust, a lot more dissension and a lot more hard feelings. If anything, that to me is why [the expansion to a 12-team playoff] slows down.”

Added another: “Most everyone in college athletics outside the SEC is mad as hell. This is a black mark on the enterprise … federal intervention may be the last resort to save us from ourselves.”

Chimed in another longtime college official: “An industry destined to blow itself up.”

Oh, boo fucking hoo.  You know what the real issue is?  In an industry full of Jed Clampetts, Greg Sankey wound up exercising a little more foresight than his peers.  And they can’t handle the aftermath.

With the SEC preparing to add Texas and Oklahoma, attention shifts to the three options at hand for each of the remaining Power Five conferences:

  • Expand in an attempt to keep pace with the SEC from a competitive and financial perspective, with each move triggering a series of corresponding moves across the entire Football Bowl Subdivision;
  • Stand pat and batten down the hatches in an effort to prevent other conferences from raiding or poaching teams from its current lineup of members;
  • Or, in the case of one league in particular, decide whether to remain a conference altogether.

Myerberg puts his finger on the source of their dilemma, at least in the immediate term.

… the genuine lack of productive expansion targets outside of current members of Power Five conferences and a small handful of teams playing in the Group of Five. Even in that case, options left behind by the Big 12, for example, simply don’t move the needle for the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12.

Every other member of the P5 needs to expand, but where do they go for that?  No other football program out there brings the cachet of a Texas or Oklahoma, at least if no P5 actor wants to go on an outright raid of another conference’s schools.  Sankey, to his credit, shrewdly read the room, took full advantage of it to land his big fish and left everyone else scrambling to escape the wreckage.  (Yes, with a little help from Mickey.)

It’s not any better in the intermediate term, either.

Another is the possibility that the SEC isn’t done yet, and if so whether there is anything another conference can do to hold down the fort should one of its schools be extended an invitation — especially with the SEC on a path to rake in $1.3 billion in revenue during the 2024-25 fiscal year with the addition of the Longhorns and the Sooners.

The answer is no for the ACC and Pac-12 because the money isn’t there.  The Big Ten is probably in a better place in that regard.  There’s no reason to even bring up the Big 12 in the discussion.  That is what Sankey hath wrought.

I’m not saying he’s a genius, but in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king and Greg Sankey has that one eye.

25 Comments

Filed under ESPN Is The Devil, SEC Football

On second thought…

Texas A&M, tower of strength Jello:

The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents surprised college football by recommending president Dr. M. Katherine Banks to support expanding the SEC to include Oklahoma and Texas in Thursday’s conference vote.

However, it was not an unanimous decision. Mike Hernandez III was the sole regent to oppose the motion.

The board admitted in a statement that it had “concerns about the communication process” considering the matter; however, it “received the information it needed to properly consider the long-term ramifications of a possible expansion.”

“The board concluded that this expansion would enhance the long-term value of the SEC to student athletes and all of the institutions they represent — including Texas A&M,” the statement read.

Dolla bill is undefeated, y’all.

Still, it’s kind of impressive that even in a moment of abject submission, they still found it in themselves to claim they’re doing it for the kids.

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Filed under SEC Football

Backfield in motion

I know some of you might question ranking Texas A&M’s running backs as the best group in the conference, but, statistically speaking, they’re a talented bunch.

I didn’t realize Smith was returning to full-time receiving, but I’m not surprised.  He’s damned good.  But, overall, that’s a good point; Fisher is going to lean heavily on that backfield to ease his new quarterback in.  TAMU’s issue will be how an offensive line that lost almost every starter from last season adjusts.

By the way, Georgia’s backfield is looking none too shabby there, either.  That’s a good thing for a returning quarterback to have.

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Filed under SEC Football, Stats Geek!