Category Archives: SEC Football

Hard times in the SEC

Word must have made it out to Montana that the Southeastern Conference ain’t all it’s cracked up to be lately, ’cause Stewart Mandel is on the mother.

I’ve got to say a couple of the reasons he cites, like a new crop of head coaches he labels “overmatched”, come off as a bit leaky.

More recently, the SEC since 2015 has lost four head coaches — South Carolina’s Steve Spurrier, Georgia’s Richt, Missouri’s Gary Pinkel and LSU’s Miles — who had all at been at their schools for more than a decade.

Admittedly none of them went out on top, and perhaps that’s part of the problem. “LSU held on to Les Miles way too long. He was a dinosaur,” said Sallee. “Spurrier was living off Jadeveon Clowney and Marcus Lattimore at the end.”

Your point being what, exactly?

The intriguing argument Mandel makes is that Nick Saban has managed to pull off the neat trick that Bear Bryant used to accomplish in the days of 100-man rosters — sign your kids and also the kids the other schools would’ve signed.

Kiffin can recite old recruiting rankings. He knows that his 2010 USC class and his buddy Steve Sarkisian’s 2015 class both finished No. 1 — and that every other year between and after, Saban claimed the top spot.

“It’s just complete domination in recruiting — no one has ever worked harder at it,” Kiffin said of his former boss. “Defensive players, they all want to go to Alabama. Even if you have to wait a year or two to play, you know you’re going to go out and have a chance to play in the NFL.”

He cites the example of 2017 defensive end Jarez Parks, a consensus Top 100 recruit nationally who opted to sign with Alabama despite the fact he’ll have to grayshirt for a semester. Guys like that used to be suiting up for the other teams.

“We’d go to play last year, and we knew that no matter what, when we walked onto that field, our roster was more talented than every team we played,” said Kiffin. “If you accumulate all of the (best recruits), now you’re not playing against them.”

That might explain Alabama’s dominance, but it hardly explains why the rest of the conference may have taken a slide against the rest of college football.  As Mandel himself notes, it’s not as if SEC recruiting has collapsed of late.

The SEC has hardly surrendered its longstanding recruiting dominance. From 2009-12, SEC schools signed 16 Top 10 classes. From 2013-16 that number rose to 22.

If Saban robbed the SEC, then the SEC robbed somebody else.  So much for that narrative.

Wade through the noise, and you get to the one reason that makes some sense.  It’s the quarterbacks, stupid.

In 2013, the SEC enjoyed a modern high point at the quarterback position. Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, LSU’s Zach Mettenberger, Alabama’s AJ McCarron, South Carolina’s Connor Shaw and Georgia’s Aaron Murray all finished among the top 12 nationally in pass efficiency. Manziel won a Heisman. McCarron was a finalist.

Three years later, Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs was the conference’s highest-ranked passer … at No. 20. Only two others, Ole Miss’ Chad Kelly and Arkansas’ Austin Allen, finished in the top 30 last season.

“Last year was a lot of QB ineffectiveness, injuries and inexperience,” said Sallee.

Gosh, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

SEC quarterback play in 2016 blew chunks, to put it mildly.  Mandel kind of glosses past it, but lost in that passage is that Jalen Hurts, despite all the advantages that come with playing for Alabama — including being coached by Lane Kiffin — finished a middling 44th in passer rating.  I don’t mean that as a knock; shoot, Hurts was a true freshman playing in the SEC.  But it’s clear that the conference had a ton of talent and experience at the position just a few seasons ago that it lacked in 2016 (nor did it help that Kelly ran into injury problems).  File that under shit happens and watch to see if the next round of new blood at the position manages a better showing in the next couple of seasons.



Filed under SEC Football

Today, in whatever happened to?

Former Georgia linebacker coach returns to the SEC (h/t):

Former Vanderbilt linebackers coach Warren Belin has been hired in his old position, debuting at spring practice Monday.

Belin was the Commodores’ linebacker coach from 2002-09 under head coach Bobby Johnson. He will serve as the new outside linebackers coach under current head coach Derek Mason…

I thought he was a good position coach in Athens, but where I really thought he shined was with his special teams work.  Too bad Smart didn’t grab him as an analyst last season.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football

Today, in great moments of non-mention list entitled “SEC football’s notable NCAA cases over the years” contains nary a mention of Georgia.


Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, The NCAA

The SEC’s rising tide hit Alabama and Auburn with FOIA requests to show us the money.  You won’t be surprised to learn 2016 was a berry, berry good year.

Here’s Auburn’s story, year over year:

Auburn Athletic Finances

Year Total Revenue Total Expenses Surplus/Deficit
2016 $140,070,593 $124,864,399 $15,206,194
2015 $124,657,247 $115,498,047 $9,159,200

A $16 million increase in revenue and a $6 million bump in profit is none too shabby.

Alabama did just fine, as well.

According to documents filed with the NCAA, the school’s profit increased 13.1 percent in 2016 to $18.7 million.

…To compare to Alabama’s $18.7 million total profit, Auburn’s athletics department reported a $15.2 million surplus. Auburn’s $140 million revenue was a school record, as was Alabama’s $164 million in income.

Georgia, as you no doubt know, isn’t in any hurry to respond to open records requests, so we’ll be waiting a while to hear what a great job Greg McGarity’s done in that regard.  But if you’re of a mind to triangulate, you can find Georgia’s 2015 numbers here:  $116,151,279 in total revenue and $19,591,972 in “surplus” (nice euphemism there).  If things are fairly analogous — and you’d think they would be — Butts-Mehre is positively rolling in dough.


Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness, SEC Football

Ole Miss follow up, part four

Shit, meet fan.

If the Committee agrees with the case against Ole Miss, a two-year bowl ban is a real possibility. The Rebels self-imposed a one-year ban on Wednesday, but the difference of a season is massive; a two-year ban would allow for current scholarship players to transfer without penalty.

Ole Miss would then have to survive being eaten alive by defections in addition to any potential scholarship restrictions the COI hands out.

Rival schools are not wasting time. When contacted by SB Nation Wednesday evening, coaches on two different SEC staffs confirmed their schools will evaluate the Rebels’ roster for potential talent, in case a two-year ban allowed transfers to play immediately.

Hoo, boy.  This is why you beef up support staffs, boys.


Filed under Freeze!, SEC Football

SEC officiating — NEW! IMPROVED!

Steve Shaw takes a victory lap.

The SEC improved officiating accuracy by nearly 8 percent in 2016 thanks to having more eyes on the replays, SEC officiating coordinator Steve Shaw told CBS Sports.

Eight per cent!  That’s awesome.  And just how did Shaw come up with the math for that?

Last season was the first in which the NCAA let conferences use people other than the stadium replay official to assist on reviews. The SEC had three replay officials at a command center in Birmingham, Alabama, to help the stadium replay official for all reviews. Shaw said he determined that collaboration helped 18 of the 226 reviews produce a correct outcome. The SEC declined to specify Shaw’s methodology for how he evaluated that a correct outcome was due to collaboration.

Greg Sankey could tell you, but then he’d have to kill you.

Mockery aside, if collaboration is really that great from an accuracy standpoint, shouldn’t somebody be insisting on a nationwide application?  I mean, who could be against getting more calls correct?

The Pac-12 experimented with a command center in 2016 to monitor replays only for Oregon and California conference games. No decision has been made yet on whether the Pac-12 will use collaborative replay full-time in 2017, league officiating coordinator David Coleman said.

“It was a good experience for us,” Coleman said. “It gave us an opportunity to advise and consult and make sure our replay staff in those two locations was considering everything they needed to get a call right. We see the possibility of it growing in the future. Obviously, there are costs involved. That has to be considered.”

Yeah, we all know that times are tight in P5 conferences.

There are other reasons why centralizing reviews makes sense:  consistency and a reduction in bias, as the Big Ten’s officiating coordinator explains.

But Carollo expressed concerns that command centers located in conference offices create conflicts of interest.

“I don’t like the structure of a collaborative center down the hallway from the commissioner because the conference may have something to gain if a certain team wins or loses – money-wise, playoff-wise, bowl-wise,” Carollo said. “Of course the conference wants certain teams to win. Conferences don’t make calls, but there is some pressure. That’s why we separate our officials away from the conference office. I want neutrality. That’s what the coaches want.”

“Of course the conference wants certain teams to win.”?  I bet that gets a memo from Jim Delany.  Carollo may be the most honest person in college football.  A somewhat low bar, I know.  But he’s right, and the best way to remove that pressure is to take reviewing out of the hands of conference officials entirely.  It would also save money.  Man, you’d think that’s about as win-win as things get for CFB.


Filed under College Football, SEC Football

Today, in WTF

I mean, damn, just damn.

Nothing like planning ahead, I always say.


Filed under Crime and Punishment, SEC Football