In the short run, instead of pondering how it matches up with Richt’s work, perhaps we should be looking at how it’s matching up with Jim McElwain’s.
The NCAA Football Rules Committee meets next week and will discuss possible modifications to the instant replay/targeting rule.
In 2014, the targeting rule was altered to allow the instant-replay official to confirm or overturn a targeting call made by an on-field official. If the replay official found that the targeting penalty should not have been called, the call was overturned, the 15-yard penalty removed and the player allowed to stay in the game.
Committee members plan to talk about whether instant-replay officials should have even more flexibility when it comes to judging whether a targeting foul occurred. Additionally, the committee will consider allowing the instant-replay official to stop the game and enforce a targeting foul that was not detected by the on-field officials.
Sigh. Whatever they come up with this time, I’m sure it’ll wind up biting Georgia in the butt one day.
I mentioned it in the comments today, but it bears repeating in a post. Smart, in yesterday’s presser, made it clear that Georgia’s 2016 recruiting isn’t done. The Dawgs are still in the hunt for Savannah’s Demetris Robertson and also extended an offer this week to an offensive lineman at Rhode Island who will be a graduate transfer in a couple of months. (It’s easy to overlook that, but Jacob Eason hasn’t.)
Just another reason not to flip out about the size of this class – yet, anyway.
One thing I’m a little surprised about from yesterday is that Roquan Smith didn’t turn out to be the trend setter I expected. Not at Georgia, obviously, because this year’s staff isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but I anticipated hearing stories of other highly ranked kids who decided to hedge their bets. I’m a little surprised, to be honest.
UPDATE: Seth Emerson has more on “pulling a Roquan” (nice!).
There may have been some subtle changes to how Georgia did its first signing day under Smart. But the final result – for now, pending one more big target – was about the same as it usually was under Mark Richt.
“Today, for me – for you guys it may be about stars and rankings – to me about it’s about new Bulldogs new members of the family,” Smart said.
For those who do care: Georgia ended the day ranked seventh nationally and fourth in the SEC in the 247Sports Composite, which takes into account the ratings of the four major recruiting outlets. That will change if five-star athlete Demetris Robertson, who remains uncommitted, signs up later.
Either way, there are a couple contexts in which to look at Smart’s first class.
Compared to almost any other first-year coach, it was an unusually strong class. Last year Florida finished 22nd nationally in Jim McElwain’s first year. Nick Saban’s first class at Alabama was 10th.
The caveat: Georgia was already on the way to a strong class when Richt was fired. It was ranked third nationally on the day he was fired. Smart ended up holding on to most of it – 11 of the 20 signees committed under Richt – and on Wednesday he signed defensive back-receiver Mecole Hardman, a five-star who was leaning heavily to Georgia before Richt’s firing.
First of all, he’s right to give Richt some credit there. The old staff did lay the groundwork for much of this class, which isn’t to say that Smart and company didn’t have to do a lot of work to preserve their efforts, and that’s something we should appreciate.
But I was sort of curious about his “the more things change” point, so I decided to take a look at the 247Sports Composite to see where this year’s bunch sits in comparison to where all of Richt’s classes finished. Here’s what I found:
YEAR RANK SIZE AVG.
2016 7 20 91.48
2015 5 30 89.73
2014 8 21 90.97
2013 12 34 88.51
2012 8 19 91.23
2011 6 26 90.03
2010 11 28 83.54
2009 5 21 91.43
2008 7 25 89.84
2007 9 24 87.69
2006 3 26 90.57
2005 6 17 90.64
2004 7 21 88.54
2003 9 24 86.15
2002 9 30 86.48
2001 10 27 74.16
(First thought: sure looks like there’s been some grade inflation over the years, doesn’t it?)
More than superficially, there’s some justification for Seth’s point. But there are a couple of nits to pick with it, too. There’s an interesting correlation between class size and average recruit rankings: Richt’s larger classes tended to have the lowest averages, which would indicate a certain amount of slot filling going on. Sometimes that paid off spectacularly, as it did with his first class, and sometimes, as in 2013, it blew up in his face.
But what I can’t help but notice more than anything here is that in his first shot, with less than two months on the job, Smart’s average ranking betters every one of Richt’s fifteen and his national ranking ties for sixth best out of those sixteen years of classes. I don’t see how you can’t be at least a little impressed by the results there.
Yes, the trick now is following up – keeping them in school, making them SEC-caliber players and finishing the next recruiting cycle even more strongly. But as beginnings go, I’ll take it.
If you think that one big reason the SEC appeared to be down last season is because of the relatively sparse great quarterback play – and when you read something like this…
The conference had a high water mark in 2013 with eight quarterbacks having a season passing efficiency of at least 140, headlined by the likes of Johnny Manziel, Zach Mettenberger, AJ McCarron, Aaron Murray, Nick Marshall, and Connor Shaw. Not included in those eight were Bo Wallace, who’d top the 140 mark in Ole Miss’s breakout 2014 season, and young versions of Brandon Allen and Dak Prescott, who were two of the best signal callers this past year.
In 2015, only five SEC quarterbacks hit 140: Allen, Chad Kelly, Prescott, Jake Coker, and Greyson Lambert. Lambert’s splits show that he only squeaked out a 141.5 because he torched bad teams to make up for mediocre-at-best performances against good teams. Florida’s Will Grier had a shot at beating 140, but then he got busted for PEDs and has since transferred.
… it’s hard to argue against that proposition – then the 2016 recruiting class may help the conference’s perception dramatically in the coming years.
This year, though, the SEC is bringing in one of its best quarterback bunches in recent memory. It should be a cause for excitement. Here are the headlining quarterbacks of the 2016 class. The stars and ratings are from the 247SportsComposite, and “EE” means early enrollee.
Player Team Style EE? Stars Rating Shea Patterson Ole Miss Pro Yes 5 0.9979 Jacob Eason Georgia Pro Yes 5 0.9973 Feleipe Franks Florida Pro Yes 4 0.9721 Jarrett Guarantano Tennessee Dual No 4 0.9612 Brandon McIlwain South Carolina Dual Yes 4 0.9254 Jalen Hurts Alabama Dual Yes 4 0.9231 Woody Barrett Auburn Dual No 4 0.9149
Only seven quarterbacks achieved a rating of at least .9600, and SEC schools have secured at least a firm commitment from four of them. Patterson and Eason are the only 5-star quarterbacks, and they’ve already enrolled.
That is an impressive haul. We’ll see if it pays off.