I have a dream…

… that one day Georgia will sign a massive lineman with more vowels than consonants in his name who hails from the South Pacific.

Keep choppin’, Kirby.

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20 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Recruiting

Central Florida dreamin’, on such a winter’s day

I’ve been more than amused by all the UCF fluffery we’ve seen since the Knights embarrassed Auburn in the Peach Bowl.  Some of that’s come from folks with an axe to grind against the current CFP format, some of it’s been generated by the school (you folks are adorable) and now here comes Ian Boyd to explore what advanced stats and Peach Bowl film study might say would have happened had UCF been the selection committee’s number four in place of Alabama.

Sure, it’s harmless fun and it’s not as if I’m highly offended by it.  But there are a couple of premises he makes in support that I have to question.

The first is the most obvious:  UCF wasn’t the fourth-best team in the country this year.  Even Boyd notes that Bill Connelly’s S&P+ shows that Central Florida would have lost to both Clemson and Georgia.  Alabama was ranked first.  In that regard, where I do have to give a little credit where credit is due is that UCF doesn’t look totally out of place with the actual playoff field.

Playoff S&P+ profiles

Team S&P+ Rankings
Clemson 45th Off, 1st Def, 52nd S/T
Georgia 14th Off, 11th Def, 3rd S/T
Oklahoma 1st Off, 101st Def, 71st S/T
Alabama 23rd Off, 1st Def, 52nd S/T
UCF 2nd Off, 74th Def, 51st S/T

They look like a slightly poorer version of Oklahoma there, don’t they?

Based on that — and remember that S&P+ is a stat that adjusts for opponents’ quality — I think UCF’s offense would have had some success against Clemson and Georgia, but it’s defense would have had a harder time.  The real issue for Central Florida would have been depth, something S&P+ doesn’t address.  How likely would it have been that the offense would have gone unscathed against two ferocious defenses?  Alabama lost an offensive lineman in the middle of the national title game, plugged a five-star understudy in his place and moved on.  That ain’t happening with UCF.

The other place depth matters is on special teams.  That’s a matchup that would have greatly favored Georgia had the two teams met.

As far as the other premise goes, well…

We don’t have a ton of information to go off here, save for UCF’s performance against a Group of 5 schedule and a victory against Auburn in the Peach Bowl. However, Auburn defeated both of the participants in the title game, and it’s not likely that the Tigers were any more distracted than the Knights, whose coaches were balancing bowl prep with taking over Nebraska. So we can at least learn a few things from the Peach.

… really, it’s pretty weak.  Auburn’s problem in the bowl game wasn’t that its coaches were distracted.  It’s that its players weren’t particularly motivated.  And if you’re going to play the “Auburn defeated both of the participants in the title game” card, don’t you have to acknowledge that both of those wins came in the friendly confines of Jordan Hare Stadium and that when Auburn faced Georgia three weeks later in a neutral site (the same one where the Peach Bowl was played, as a matter of fact), the Tigers lost far more decisively than they did to UCF?

67 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs, Stats Geek!

“From a business standpoint, this is a good decision for them.”

I find this a bit interesting.

The Southeastern Conference had 27 players elect to bypass their remaining eligibility for this year’s draft, with Monday marking the deadline for players to decide. LSU led the league with six early departures, followed by the five from Alabama and four each from Auburn and Florida.

Georgia certainly took a hit with the departure of its senior leadership, and Roquan Smith’s exit will certainly be felt, but I see three teams the Dawgs will face this season that suffered greater losses from junior exits.  We’ll see how well each of those teams manage to restock their respective pantries.

14 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, SEC Football, The NFL Is Your Friend.

The SEC’s most powerful man is…

I’m really enjoying the continuing saga of Hugh Freeze and Alabama.  There are more than a few behind the scenes twists and turns and I can’t wait to see how they sort out.

To start with, it sounds unlikely that Freeze will be named the new offensive coordinator.  Most of the Internet chatter points to a promotion from within the staff for Mike Locksley, who has OC experience and is also an excellent recruiter.

That being said, Freeze isn’t out of the picture.  It’s complicated.  Here’s what TideSports is reporting:

Earlier this week, I reported that former Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze had been in Tuscaloosa and at UA to meet with Saban. Saban respects Freeze’s offensive mind, and given the fact Ole Miss gave Alabama fits during Freeze’s tenure it’s easy to see why. So what would Freeze’s role be if Saban hired him? It’s a great question and one that, as of Tuesday morning, hadn’t been settled upon yet. Saban is really pushing for Freeze to be an on-the-field coach, The Tuscaloosa News has learned. Others in the program don’t want that happening. How much autonomy Saban has in this particular situation is unknown given Freeze’s recent history with the NCAA. Another aspect to this is that should Alabama decided to hire Freeze as an on-the-field coach, it would likely need the blessing of SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey. Sankey isn’t keen on that happening, The Tuscaloosa News has learned.

Sankey denying Freeze?  Perhaps, if you take this info at face value.

The problem I have with the word “blocked” there is that I don’t believe Sankey has the power to make a unilateral call like that.  Nor am I certain it would be legal, even if he did.  Tom Fornelli says much the same thing:

However, sources tell CBS Sports’ Dennis Dodd differently, saying the SEC does not have the ability to stand in the way of Saban hiring Freeze. While an SEC bylaw states a school is supposed to consult commissioner Greg Sankey when it wishes to hire an individual with major NCAA violations, the hiring decision is ultimately made by the school, not the conference.

Freeze was hit with a two-game suspension by the NCAA, but only as a head coach. He could serve as Alabama’s offensive coordinator without missing any time, but he still has that NCAA baggage.

Does anybody really believe that Nick Saban is in the least bit concerned about NCAA baggage?  All that likely means is that Alabama’s AD is caught between the crossfire of Saban’s wishes and Sankey’s preference.

But the story wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the presence of one other influential individual.  Per FootballScoop,

Mike Locksley is expected to take over as offensive coordinator sources tell FootballScoop. Hugh Freeze has now met with Nick Saban. We hear Jimmy Sexton believes this is the right way to get Hugh back into things. Although this is not a done deal, most coaches we speak with believe Hugh will wind up at Alabama in some capacity.  [Emphasis added.]

Nick’s just tryin’ to help a brotha’ out, y’all.  If you’re the ‘Bama AD, do you really want to get on the bad side of Nick and Jimmy?  I bet he’s been reassuring himself over the last day or so that Sankey will get over it.

12 Comments

Filed under Jimmy Sexton is the Nick Saban of agents and is Nick Saban's agent, Nick Saban Rules, SEC Football

Throw momma from the train.

So, this popped up in my Twitter feed today…

That is essentially free agency.  That is also a long way from either the status quo, or even what’s been discussed as a potential change to the status quo.  Yet this is coming from an anonymous NCAA official who sounds confident it’s likely to happen.  What on earth is going on?

Well, it’s the NCAA, so you know the first thing I’m thinking of as motivation.  Evidently Brian Cook had the same flash as I.

The grad transfer rule already sucks out loud for lower-level schools. Creating open season on every all-conference football and basketball player turns the MAC into a collection of JUCOs, essentially. It’s far worse for competitive balance than paying kids would be, because you get to swoop in on anyone you missed and yoink them. You’re also inviting kids to leave whatever degree program they’re in for sports, damaging your hoary claims to academic integrity.

But it would eliminate a set of arguments against amateurism, so full speed ahead. Because keeping the money is all they care about.

I know I’m a cynical guy.  (Brian Cook may be the only college football blogger I can think of who’s even more cynical than I am.)  Yet, somehow, the NCAA consistently manages to surpass the worst I can attribute to it.  That’s some talent.

65 Comments

Filed under The NCAA

In for a penny…

Sure, why not?

If there are a bunch of UCF fans willing to spend on this — they don’t call ’em “vanity plates” for nothing, you know — why shouldn’t the state step up and separate them from their money?  Somebody’s gonna.

21 Comments

Filed under It's Not Easy Being A Mid-Major, Political Wankery

‘This makes a lot of sense.’

Jesus, I don’t know what depresses me the most about this article, that there’s consideration to move Finebaum’s show to Atlanta, that “the city leaders want it”, or that Finebaum would have plenty of other options if things with ESPN don’t work out.

In any event, I think I’m heading towards another just shoot me moment.

26 Comments

Filed under PAWWWLLL!!!