It may not have been a great year for Georgia athletics…

… but the reserve fund continues to kick ass.

The Georgia Athletic Association has entered into a 10-year, $152.5 million multimedia and marketing rights deal with IMG College and JMI Sports.

A copy of the contract was obtained by Onlineathens.com on Monday through an open records request. It was agreed to on Dec. 8 and extends a previous deal set to expire on June 30 until 2027. A memorandum of understanding was first agreed to last May.

The deal pays Georgia a guarantee of at least $12.8 million for 2017-18 with increases each year through 2026-27 when the school is to make at least $15.7 million. That annual royalty amounts for 2017-18 includes $11 million for multimedia rights, $1.4 million for new media and $400,000 for seatback rights.

Georgia’s previous multimedia rights deal with IMG was worth $92.8 million over eight years.

The new deal is worth nearly $15.3 million per year, up from $11.6 million in the previous contract. That includes a $10 million royalty payment in the new contract.

Open records request for the win!  There are days when I bet McGarity wakes up and says to himself, “ninety days isn’t nearly long enough”.

Now, fans, don’t take this as a message that your contributions aren’t appreciated, or that it’s okay to slack off.  Georgia’s commitment to having the best athletic department reserve fund in the country is as strong as ever.  For that, it takes a village, you know.

 

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Filed under Georgia Football, It's Just Bidness

Inside the minds of recruits?

So, it turns out there’s this thing out there that purports to help a school analyze which recruits it’s pursuing are likely to sign and which are likely to spurn.

The company founded by the four Northwestern undergraduates, called Zcruit, essentially borrows that same mentality, one of putting numbers behind what have long been gut-based decisions, and applies it to the recruiting landscape.

Think of this way: Every program in the Football Bowl Subdivision is chasing after the same pool of recruits; most programs recruit the same region as countless others; some programs offer hundreds of recruits to sign just 25 future student-athletes.

Boiled down, Zcruit’s goal is to assist a program’s efforts by streamlining the process — by taking all the streams of data at their disposal and creating a formula for recruiting success, in the same way a university’s admissions office attempts to pinpoint the best and most likely fits for the student body at large.

Three baseline factors are taken into account. The first is demographic information: background information, such as where a recruit is from. The second is a prospect’s interactions with the school, such as how many visits he has made on campus, whether he attended any camps or when the scholarship offer was tendered.

The third is the prospect’s interactions with other schools. Is he showing any interest? When was he offered by another school, when did he visit, how many times did he visit? In the end, the data compiled by Zcruit creates a threshold, for lack of a better word, between whether a program should recruit a player — if the data suggests he’s gettable — or whether it should move on to another prospect.

Zcruit claims a pretty good success rate, too.

Zcruit worked alongside Bowers and the coaching staff during this current recruiting cycle, helping the Wildcats identify and evaluate a number of recruits at positions of need. With one week until national signing day, the algorithms created by Zcruit have predicated which recruits would not sign with Northwestern with 94% accuracy; the same algorithms predicted which recruits would sign with the Wildcats with 80% accuracy.

Man, a program that could have predicted what my teenage daughters wouldn’t do over 90% of the time sure would have come in handy back then.  Just sayin’.

More power to you, guys.

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Filed under Recruiting, Science Marches Onward

Is Jim McElwain writing checks with his mouth that his team can’t cash?

Nice bravado, sir.

… during halftime of UF’s basketball game on Saturday against Vanderbilt. That’s when McElwain was trying to fire up the crowd and perhaps get the attention of many marquee football recruits who were attending the game.

When McElwain and some of his current UF football players were introduced at halftime, McElwain — with microphone in hand — ran out to center court and whipped the O’Dome into a frenzy.

“I’ll tell you something, what an awesome arena and a great crowd,” McElwain said. “It’s because of the energy every day that we were able to go undefeated in the Swamp, we were able to go to Atlanta back to back years. … And because of you guys, when we get back to Atlanta next season, we’re going to kick the door down!”

Only problem with that, Jim?  Florida has played Alabama.  It hasn’t worked out too well for you either time.

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Filed under Gators, Gators...

The Big Chaney

Say what you want about the tenets of Georgia’s 2016 offensive strategy, dude, but when it comes to third-down conversion rates, at least it’s an ethos.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

Fun times with advanced stats

The bad news is that Georgia finished the 2016 season ranked 68th in Bill Connelly’s S&P+ rankings.

The good news is that you can make an argument that Georgia over-performed its S&P+ ranking of 68th.

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Filed under Georgia Football, Stats Geek!

And, from the continuing saga of raised expectations for 2017…

Ron Higgins, of the New Orleans Times -Picayune, doesn’t seem to be buying into the continuation of a rebuilding phase for Georgia football.  From his early 2017 SEC rankings comes this:

2. Georgia

2016 record: 8-5 (beat TCU 31-23 in AutoZone Liberty Bowl), 4-4 tied for second in SEC East

Starters returning: 20 (7 offense, 11 defense, 2 special teams)

Outlook: The good news for second-year coach Kirby Smart is his team’s growing pains acclimating to a new staff and system are over. Even better news is that senior-to-be running backs Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, a duo that combined for 1,970 yards and 12 TDs last season, both decided not to declare for the NFL Draft. They’ll be paired again with rising sophomore quarterback Jacob Eason, who started 12 of 13 games last year, alternating moments of beyond his years brilliance and first-year blunders. Then, combine a defense that returns every starter with an incoming recruiting class that figures to be in the nation’s top 5, and Georgia should climb to the top of the East Division.

Schedule: Game 2 for Georgia at Notre Dame on Sept. 9 is a good early season gauge. Georgia’s toughest league games are all away at Tennessee, vs. Florida in Jacksonville and at Auburn.

Yes, that would be number two, with a bullet.  The only quibble I have with his outlook is the first sentence, which I’m not sure I would credit with being a given.

By the way, the only other conference team that returns as many starters as the Dawgs do is Kentucky.  On paper, this is a team that should contend.  Of course, Georgia fans know well how much that paper is worth sometimes.

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Filed under Georgia Football

The inevitable 2016 postmortem post

Confession time:  my Georgia football viewing habits have changed over the past two seasons.

Oh, it’s not that I stopped going to games or watching the live broadcasts.  Didn’t miss a one.  I’ve even resorted to the radio on that rare occasion when I had no other option.

But I used to indulge in recording everything and going back to watch it all again in the offseason.  Then, in the aftermath of the 2015 season, about a month after the bowl game, I realized I had no interest in reliving any part of that dull grind. Out went it all.

2016?  Well, after the Nicholls game, I stopped recording every game.  It didn’t seem worth the effort.  As for those few that were archived, I didn’t even wait for the bowl game to delete them from my DVR.  His-to-ree.

In the end, it wasn’t so much that last season in its totality was good or bad — certainly it contained moments of both — as it was uninvolving.  (Shades of 2015.)  Even in earlier seasons when Georgia couldn’t get out of its own way to win a division title, there were special times worth savoring again, like Clemson 2014, or the 2013 South Carolina, LSU and Tennessee games.  What’s the 2016 analogue to those?  Maybe North Carolina, but that was more about Chubb’s triumphant return than anything else.  Auburn?  It was great being there, but in the aftermath, how excited could I get about a game that didn’t feature a single offensive touchdown?

2016 was the year in which the lows were a lot lower than the highs were high.  In fact, it’s hard to think of another season where the lows were this bad, both from a quality and quantity standpoint.

I think, though, that the best way to reflect upon this past season is to see it (I hope) as the culmination of a trend that’s played out over three seasons.  As Bill Connelly noted in the wake of Richt’s firing,

After a miserable October, his team rallied. The Dawgs didn’t finish playing top-10-caliber ball, but they won four in a row. That means they’re a bowl win away from a fourth 10-win season in five years (and a 10th in 14). In an obvious down year. Most programs would pay millions for this type of disappointment.

After falling out of the F/+ top 40, the Bulldogs are back up to 34th. Yes, that’s a bad performance for a program with Georgia’s potential, even one that loses its offensive coordinator and starting quarterback in the offseason and one of the best players in the country (Nick Chubb) to injury midway.

But this poor performances comes on the heels of four consecutive F/+ top-15 finishes (13th in 2011, seventh in 2012, 14th in 2013, fourth in 2014).

5. Here are the other programs that pulled that off in that same span: Alabama.

Georgia’s 2016 F/+ finish?  59th.  So things haven’t been heading in the right direction for a while now.  It’s easy to lay some of that at the feet of Richt’s failings in roster management and just because it’s easy doesn’t mean that isn’t a fair cop.  But I think there’s another place at which to point the finger in explanation.

See if you can spot another trend.

  • 2014:  Grantham is replaced by Pruitt.
  • 2015:  Bobo is replaced by Schottenheimer.
  • 2016:  Richt is replaced by Smart, who replaces both coordinators.

For a program that boasted a rare degree of coaching stability for several years, those are a lot of major disruptions in a short period.  Most of the players who suited up for Georgia this past season were playing for their second coordinator in three seasons.  Throw in a steady stream of position coach changes and whatever the hell they did on special teams and that’s a recipe for confusion.  It’s harder to play inspired football when you’re not always sure of what you’re doing.

Assuming no staff changes are coming, this next season will be the first year since 2013 where everyone returns on the same page.  I think it’s reasonable to assume that’s a good thing.  Add to that other factors I’ve touched on before, like a rising talent base that should end any talent gap with its East rivals Georgia had suffered from last year and a less than stout schedule, and it’s not unfair to expect Georgia’s advanced stats to reverse that pattern of decline.

That’s all stuff for another day and post, though.  In the meantime, let’s sift through some things that went right, some that didn’t and some that went way off the tracks to crash spectacularly.

THE GOOD

  • On offense, the development of three true freshman, Eason, Nauta and Ridley, along with Nick Chubb’s return (Chubb finished seventh in rushing in the conference) were all heartening developments.  Sony Michel was Sony Michel.  Isaiah McKenzie turned into a legitimate offensive threat.
  • On defense, the development of the young d-line talent was the best news of all.  Right behind that was the emergence of Roquan Smith at ILB.  Maurice Smith transferred in from Alabama and was a major contributor at the Star position.  Deandre Baker looks like a keeper at corner.
  • Special teams?  Two words:  Rodrigo Blankenship.
  • Turnover margin was +8 for the season.

THE BAD

  • The offensive line has to lead this list.  It struggled all season.
  • A close second was red zone defense.
  • Punting was another subpar area of need.
  • Allowing Tennessee’s Hail Mary to succeed.
  • Ditto the Georgia Tech comeback.

THE UGLY

  • The failed attempt to plug the round peg of Georgia’s offensive philosophy into the square hole that was Georgia’s personnel.
  • Special teams coverage and return games were beyond awful.  Wasting a talent like McKenzie’s bordered on criminally negligent.
  • Clock management was exactly what you’d expect from a first year head coach who took hands on to the max.
  • The Nicholls and Ole Miss games.

Contrary to what some of you think, I’m optimistic about Georgia’s chances in 2017.  I’ve mentioned a few reasons to thing things are on the upswing, but the single thing that impressed me the most in 2016 was the decision by the four rising seniors to stay Dawgs.  It’s not just the shot of experience and talent that gives the team next season; it’s the vote of confidence those players have in their head coach.  That gives me some hope that, at a minimum, we won’t go through points as low as some we suffered through in ’16.

Buuuut… as a final thought, though, if anything cautions me about jumping too far off the cliff with my enthusiasm, it’s that perhaps the most disappointing thing about the 2016 regular season is that Georgia did not steadily improve over its course.  Instead, the year was a series of fits and spurts… and, as the Georgia Tech game demonstrated, more fits.  Is that evidence of growing pains, or a coaching staff that never really settled in?  My heart says the former, but my head says the jury is still out.  Right now, all we can do is hope for better times soon.  That’s what you do after throwaway years.

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Filed under Georgia Football