Subjectivity is the drug.

This is a lovely ode to why the college football playoff should remain capped at a four-team field.  For all its good intent, there is one hugely ironic paragraph in the middle.

… Take Saturday’s edition of The Game. If both teams knew that, win or lose, they were probably getting into the postseason field, would they have tried any less hard? Of course not. But would there have been less energy in the Horseshoe once that game got rolling, less intensity during the overtime period? Of course. Ask any NFL player or coach who has been involved in a late December game with a division title on the line … and two teams with records good enough that one is going to get a wild-card invite anyway. That’s how the conference championship games used to feel, even during the latter half of the BCS era. Perhaps two would matter. This weekend, they will all be in play, just as they have been during the previous two editions of the playoff.

The irony lies in that Michigan sits at number five in this week’s selection committee rankings, on the cusp of getting in to the playoffs in the event something goes south with Clemson and/or Washington.  I guess it’s a good thing that it wasn’t a lock before The Game was played last weekend, but what’s the message being sent if, in the end, two teams from the Big Ten make the postseason without winning their division, let alone the conference?

The message will inevitably be that the postseason wasn’t inclusive enough.  That’s what you get when you allow the selection process to be an opaque, touchy-feely affair. So, while I don’t disagree in the slightest with this sentiment…

This is supposed to be hard, isn’t it? After all, it is the postseason of America’s second-biggest sport. And what makes this sport so unique, what separates it from the NFL, is a level of passion and a degree of difficulty that exist nowhere else.

As such, is expanding the College Football Playoff field, a move that would inarguably pave an easier road to a postseason berth, going to stoke those fires? Not a chance. It would sprinkle water on them.

… I think it doesn’t matter.  As long as there’s more money and as long as there’s sentiment to make the playoffs more inclusive, there will be incentive to grow them.  As for the excitement, Bill Hancock will still be there selling that; it’s just that the focus will shift more and more to what happens in the postseason.  The passion will slide from four vs. five to eight vs. nine to whatever comes.

Subjectivity in selecting a national champion is both college football’s unique blessing and curse.  It’s to the sport’s credit that, at least for now, it does make a real effort to construct a postseason field driven by regular season excellence.  (Not to mention that a significant part of the fun of being a college football fan is arguing about which teams are most deserving.)  The down side is that it leaves itself open to the irresistible urge to fix any problems of random unfairness in a given year by expanding the opportunity to participate.

And when you take that down side and add to it the likelihood of greater financial rewards to the system for creating new product, along with giving coaches new standards for job security, you’re really greasing the skids.  That’s how you get to a 68-team field (almost expanded to 96, remember) for March Madness before you know it.

Needless to say, I don’t see this stopping any time soon, no matter how much energy is felt in the Horseshoe.

35 Comments

Filed under BCS/Playoffs

Parting is such sweet sorrow.

Oregon fired its head coach yesterday.  Given that Mark Helfrich was just two years removed from coaching in a national championship game, the move had a real SEC flavor to it.

But Oregon managed to elevate the situation with some first-class dickishness. Check out what the school sent out yesterday.

Nice.  I’d throw out some “stay classy, Oregon” advice, but that train appears to have already left the station.  If there were any justice, that would chill the bidding for Helfrich’s replacement, but let’s face it — the Ducks can throw enough money around to make anybody swallow their qualms about that.

32 Comments

Filed under It's Just Bidness, Pac-12 Football

A decade of bloviation

I forgot to mention yesterday that the blog turned ten.  As the saying goes, time flies when you’re having a good time.

Anyway, it’s been a blast.  And thanks to everyone who visits, whether you comment or are content to sit back and read.  You’ve all helped grow this place from the tiny drop of water it was at the start to the small pond it is today.  GTP is a great place and I’m proud to be a part of it.

Oh, and thanks again, Reggie Ball.  I couldn’t have done this without you, dog.

45 Comments

Filed under GTP Stuff

Why I hate SEC conference scheduling, in two tweets

Pathetic, Greg Sankey.  Just pathetic.

52 Comments

Filed under SEC Football

Forget the “next Nick Saban” talk.

What Georgia’s looking for now is the next Gene Stallings.

Head coaches whose team’s record worsens in their debuts don’t tend to go on to win titles. In fact, since the SEC expanded in 1992, only twice has the conference title has been won by a coach who went backwards in his first year at that school. And only once in the past 25 years has a national title been won by a coach who slid in his first year.

Georgia went 10-3 last year. Smart has guided Georgia to a 7-5 season, pending the bowl games…

… Gene Stallings, who was an experienced head coach, took over an Alabama team in 1990 that had gone 10-2 the previous year. The Crimson Tide slid to 7-5 in Stallings’ first year, but went on to win the national title two years later.

Alabama went 1-3 in 1996, and then Stallings retired.

What’s that you say about Alabama, 2007?  Um, well…

It’s often pointed out that Nick Saban, with Smart as an assistant coach, went 7-6 in his first year at Alabama in 2007. But Saban also inherited a team that went 6-7 the year before.

Saban also improved things his first year at every previous stop: Toledo went from six wins to nine in Saban’s first year as a head coach, Michigan State went from five wins to six wins in Saban’s first year, and LSU went from two wins before Saban arrived, to eight wins in 2000.

In other words, to get where we want the program to go, Kirby’s gonna have to break a few molds.

76 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football

“Coach Pruitt has simplified a lot of stuff and it allows you to go play fast.”

Here’s an interesting piece on what Georgia’s former defensive coordinator has done as Alabama’s defensive coordinator since replacing Georgia’s current head coach.  Per the Sabanator,

“Well, I think that we’re playing the same system,” Saban said. “I think the one thing that we’ve done is we’ve repped the things that we’re going to play in the games, sort of pared it down a little bit. I think our players are a little bit more confident in what they’re supposed to do, the adjustments they need to make. I think they’ve played well because of that. It’s interesting to hear that the players think that, as well. It’s good to know.”

A little comparing, too:

Since taking over for Kirby Smart this year, Pruitt has created controlled chaos. After all, he hasn’t sacrificed aggressive tactics by condensing the playbook. The Tide is blitzing at a much higher rate than last year. During a three-game stretch earlier this season against Kent State, Kentucky and Arkansas, Alabama sent an extra rusher 49.5 percent of the time.

“Coach Pruitt, he does a great job at simplifying things for us to make sure that when we go out there on Saturday there’s not much confusion on the field and making sure everybody’s on the same page,” linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton said.

Maybe Georgia’s defense could have used some simplifying in the fourth quarter last Saturday.

99 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football, Strategery And Mechanics

The biggest problem with labeling 2017 a throwaway year

Two stats, via Chip Towers:

… Georgia’s last four coaches — dating back to the early 1960s — averaged six wins in their first seasons. Mark Richt, who went 8-4 in 2001, was the best among them. Jim Donnan went 5-6, Ray Goff 6-6 and Vince Dooley 7-3-1.

Extended over the entirety of the previous century, that number falls to an average of 5.5 wins for first-year coaches…

That takes care of 2016.

Georgia’s average wins in Year 2 under its last two head coaches — 11.5.

The Process versus expectations.  That should be a doozy of a battle to track.  As we’ve already seen, the schedule won’t be much of an impediment.  I guess there’s always the talent gap to blame if they can’t handle Vanderbilt and Georgia Tech again.

196 Comments

Filed under Georgia Football