Category Archives: Kentucky
Divisions in Power 5 conferences are stupid. There, I said it.
At a time where revenues are such that all away games, with few exceptions, call for chartered flights, I don’t buy the monetary concern. When preserving the ‘sanctity’ of a Georgia/Kentucky or Mississippi State/LSU rivalry, I don’t care. And following another season similar to the last few, where:
- The SEC East is a complete dumpster fire, where 5 West teams could have easily won it.
- Clemson and Florida State carry the crown for the ACC and play in the same division.
- Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State (and Michigan State, until 2016) play in the same division because of geography, and THAT’S A BETTER SYSTEM THAN THE ONE THEY HAD IN PLACE!
I’m adapting from a model Bill Connelly posited on SBNation this summer, because its a fascinating thought exercise, and it makes too much sense. In it:
- The Pac-12, with divisions and a 9-game schedule, is fine for now.
- The Big XII, jumbled mess as it is, has a round-robin (and a conference championship game starting next year, because SPORTS).
For the three fourteen-team conferences, division play doesn’t work. Unless you look forward to Georgia’s FIRST trip to conference rival Texas A&M during the end of Trump’s second term. Or your next trip to the Grove in 2029.
I’m not down for that. I’m not down for watching the Missouris and Floridas of the world get PASTED in the SEC Championship. I (Bill C first) want the following: keep an eight-game schedule, with three annual rivals and a rotation through the other 10 teams on a semiannual basis. Meaning, instead of going Mark Richt’s whole tenure before playing an SEC West opponent twice, you play a home-and-home with everyone every four years.
I’ll workshop this for all 42 teams involved below, but an example of what this would look like for Georgia:
Primary rivals: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina
Year 1: Alabama, at Kentucky, Ole Miss, at Missouri, Vanderbilt
Year 2: at Arkansas, LSU, at Mississippi State, Tennessee, at Texas A&M
Done in four-year cycles, one could even adapt years 3 and 4 from the first two to account for random shifts in competitive balance. Perhaps pair off each team for their non-rivals, so Kentucky doesn’t draw Alabama and Auburn, Mizzou doesn’t draw Georgia and Florida, etc.
This is the best I could come up with from a “PRESERVE OUR RIVALRIES!” perspective (and this may match Connelly verbatim, but I’m not checking):
|LSU||Texas A&M||Miss State||Arkansas|
|Mississippi State||Ole Miss||LSU||Auburn|
Some thoughts: South Carolina and Kentucky were SUPER hard to place. Kentucky gets, from a historical perspective, the easiest three games of anyone. Off the top of my head, there are no major rivalries that go unprotected, with the exception of Alabama/LSU (a more recent one, anyway).
The biggest misses? Tennessee/Kentucky, as Kentucky gets screwed out of the one game they get really worked up about. Bama/LSU, obviously.
I’d give myself a 10/10 for this. A&M, Arkansas, Mizzou, and LSU all preserve their regional rivalries. South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida all keep many of theirs. Vanderbilt/Ole Miss in the Khaki Bowl is still an annual event. Bama maintains history with Tennessee and Ole Miss, in addition to (obviously) Auburn.
If you don’t care about the ACC, you can stop reading now. Tried to draw it up there as well, but it is MUCH harder with the four North Carolina schools and the ‘old vs. new’ mentality that persists behind the scenes:
|Clemson||Georgia Tech||N.C. State||BC|
|Duke||North Carolina||Wake Forest||Louisville|
|Florida State||Miami||Wake Forest||N.C. State|
|Miami||Florida St.||Georgia Tech||Syracuse|
|North Carolina||Duke||N.C. State||Virginia|
|N.C. State||North Carolina||Clemson||Florida State|
|Virginia||Virginia Tech||North Carolina||Georgia Tech|
|Virginia Tech||Virginia||Louisville||Wake Forest|
|Wake Forest||Duke||Florida State||Virginia Tech|
This was friggin’ impossible. So many games that don’t make sense, especially for the Florida schools and the Northern schools, who would indubitably want games in the fertile Florida recruiting grounds.
Competitive balance, as it stands now, is a problem. N.C. State gets hosed, while UNC, Virginia Tech, and Pitt get relatively easy runs. I thought I’d be able to place Miami with more than one old Big East rival, but no dice.
For the B1G, I quit because I don’t care. But they need it worse than anyone else.
What do you think? Should we do away with divisions in order to make the conference feel like a conference again? Did I blow it on any rivalries?
Let’s go into a time capsule. The 2018 SEC regular season has just wrapped up, the current cycle of ‘new’ head coaches in the league have either established themselves or failed miserably, and there’ll be one name on the market that exceeds all others: 44-year old FAU head coach Lane Kiffin.
Kiffin, in southern Florida head coaching purgatory, has led the Owls to…something better than their 3-9 records of 2014-16, and has overachieved in recruiting even while going against Butch Davis, Charlie Strong, and Scott Frost for third-tier Florida recruits. Having spent three years in the Nick Saban school for coaches who can’t coach good and want to learn to do other stuff good too, he’s got the stink of failed stints in Oakland, Knoxville, and Los Angeles pretty much worn off, and will be sold to an SEC fanbase with a write-up stating something like the following:
Kiffin, 44, has matured from early failed coaching opportunities, as he rehabilitated his image leading Alabama’s offense to heights unseen under Nick Saban. At FAU, he has gone 15-11 with a Bahamas Bowl victory and an average recruiting class ranking in the 60’s, unheard of for the Owls.
This is a home run hire for (insert SEC team) no doubt, as he is young, experienced, a dynamic recruiter, and an offensive genius. Expect (insert SEC team) to see immediate results in recruiting and become a more compelling team on the field from day 1.
The fun part of this thought exercise? Its feasible that he could end up at literally ANY SEC program. Hires of Will Muschamp (twice), Jim McIlwain, and Kirby Smart are obvious indications that ANY ties to Alabama are worth their weight in Nick Saban-bronze statues to SEC AD’s.
Auburn (4:1): Leading off with the most obnoxious little brother-syndrome fanbase seems an obvious pick, and this timeline works perfectly. Gus Malzahn bought himself another year with a resurgent two months in 2016– but has no quarterbacks in the pipeline, so patience should be running pretty thin by this time next year. A slow start in 2018 and he’s toast.
In Kiffin, Auburn is tangentially, but not directly, tied to Saban after Kiffin’s departure. The hype around his ability to find a QB and playmakers will resonate on the plains, and Prince Lane returns to Alabama to restore the glory of the Auburn Tigers.
Ole Miss (5:1): Hugh Freeze may not survive this offseason, and that’s the only justification I have for putting the odds that low. Shea Patterson is on a three-year plan to leave Oxford (not gonna happen) and Kiffin will be seen as the savior who can right Patterson’s career. And the NCAA mess Freeze will inevitably leave behind.
LSU (8:1): Coach O has a low buyout, no quarterback, and no success as a full-time head coach.
I’d say his leash is about two years.
Kiffin fulfills his destiny, after being rumored to be O’s choice for OC this offseason.
Florida (10:1): Bolstered, no doubt, by his presence in the state, Kiffin will steal one under-the-radar recruit from the Gators and make him his offensive bellcow– putting up 90 catches for 1,400 yards in 2018 while Florida’s offense continues to be among the worst in the country.
Even on the heels of back-to-back SEC East titles, McIlwain has done nothing to show he’s a long-term fit in Gainesville. He was linked to the Oregon job this offseason, and seems savvy enough to pull the “I’m gonna be fired in a year, so let me get a new contract now” move of Houston Nutt and others before him.
McIlwain was an offensive hire, but the Gators have maintained their strong defenses from the Muschamp era…and the offense is still broken.
Kiffin with Florida talent! Unbelievable hire!
Arkansas (13:1): My thought is that, after two years of success at FAU, this won’t be sexy enough for Lane. If he peels back the curtains for a minute though, he’ll see that there is no sexier job in CFB. His two predecessors:
- Bobby Petrino, motorcycle accident with a young staffer. (8/10 sexy rating)
- Bret Bieliema, of “borderline erotic” fame. (8/10 sexy rating)
Bieliema has low-key sucked at Arkansas, overall, and his window to break through is probably the best fit for this timeline.
Alabama (15:1): Someday sooner than we realize, Nick Saban will retire or move on. Why not after his fourth-straight national championship? Steve Sarkisian will still have too many alcohol-related red flags to make the jump. Jeremy Pruitt is too unstable a human.
Why not keep Saban’s coordinators in place and rehire his right-hand man?
Georgia (25:1): (*note: this won’t happen with Greg McGarity at AD, and they likely won’t fire a “Georgia man” after three years, but say Kirby Smart is .500 after three years and Mark Richt has at least one ACC Coastal title*)
Yeah, it doesn’t sound so bad anymore, does it?
Georgia has the pro-style personnel in place to take immediate strides, and Smart’s recruiting will lend itself to an immediate turnaround to eke out another 2-3 wins based on talent and decent coaching alone.
RIP, “Kirby Dumb” memes.
South Carolina (30:1): A retread hire at South Carolina? Surely you jest. Lou Holtz, Steve Spurrier, and Will Muschamp have all found varying degrees of success doing just this, and I’m hedging on Coach Boom riding Jake Bentley and the young Cocks to two excellent seasons before he takes a better job (not gonna happen, but 30:1 seems safe).
Or, Boom flames out, or has a heart attack on the field, or something.
Off the board, but let’s try it:
Tennessee: Please god, yes.
Vanderbilt: For the complete opposite reason of above, please.
Mississippi State: Arkansas’ lack of sexy combined with an even less sexy history and Starkville.
Kentucky/Missouri: probably should’ve attached odds to both, but honestly forgot about these programs. Not a high enough ceiling for Lane, anyway.
Texas A&M: Tom Herman year 1 hysteria forces Kevin Sumlin out after 2017, Kiffin campaigns but does not get it.
Dude Emeritus here, back from the dead to grow some whiskers.
The crew from my day job is doing a contest, and I really don’t want to lose to a bunch of Big 10 and Pac-12 amateurs in my office. So show me some love by donating to the cause (not to me…just to my fundraiser). In exchange, I promise daily updates on my facial hair non-progress.
And as you can tell by this video, I’ve been really working over-time on that beard.
Thanks for your consideration.
And, because Chad is horrible at deadlines, we should mention he is running a similar campaign in via his real estate business.
Essentially, the idea is this: call him with a ready-to-go client referral, and he donates in your name. $100 in the Charlotte, NC area, $25 literally ANYWHERE ELSE IN THE WORLD.
No contests here, but he wants to at least beat the last two years’ combined total of just over $500.
Donate your own money here, or contact Chad at firstname.lastname@example.org to connect him with someone in need of help buying, selling, or investing in property.
His selfie game is not nearly as strong, but his beard game is electric. Watch out for this one, folks.
I don’t need to break down, again, why this is a lost season.
Our young Bulldogs are a trash football team. Andrew and I said it many times on the podcast leading into the team’s rough October, but just remember: Nick Saban’s first Alabama team went 6-6 *whispers “its the process” in a creepy voice*. Enjoy the rebuilding effort, ignore the fact that we didn’t necessarily have to rebuild, and let’s ride on.
With Georgia now sitting at 4-4, however, the question becomes “how bad can it get?” and “does Georgia miss a bowl game?”, unthinkable results even as we had all the warning signs of a lucky football team through September. Let’s take a look at the path to 6-6.
Saturday: at Kentucky
A “mea culpa” from myself and literally every other person who watches college football intently is in order here. We buried Mark Stoops after season-opening losses to Southern Miss and Florida, and they’ve been competent ever sense. They beat South Carolina (which Tennessee didn’t do). They kept the Alabama game within 30 (which Tennessee didn’t do). At 4-2, we’re talking about a Kentucky team that has an outside chance, with some help from Florida’s opponents, of winning the SEC East.*
* – BIG BOLD DISCLAIMER: THE SEC EAST IS ABSOLUTE TRASH, Y’ALL
The change for Kentucky? A more run-heavy approach. After thinking for the first month that they were back in the Hal Mumme era, Eddie Gran reset around ‘backs Ben Snell, Jr. and Boom Williams and has gotten marvelous results. The two split touches almost evenly. Williams is averaging 7.53 yards per carry and Snell is finishing drives with 8 TD’s.
UK is not too efficient in the passing game, and will not wow you on defense (though they will create some havoc plays). Georgia SHOULD be the favorite here, selling out on the run and hopefully finding some success with…anything on offense.
Odds: Georgia 55%. Pick: Georgia, 23-21
So Auburn forgot they were supposed to get Gus Malzahn fired, and are a legitimate top-10 team right now.
Their defense is ferocious, and their offense should be able to spit out rushing yards against Georgia.
Odds: Georgia 7%. Pick Auburn, 44-14.
We learned with Nicholls not to take anything for granted. I hope. With Georgia hopefully at 5 wins, a snoozer to get to bowl eligibility would be great.
LaFayette is great against the run (just over 3 YPC against terrible competition) but can’t run the ball at all. Jacob Eason needs to be on (no guarantee) in this one, because their pass defense is a glaring weakness.
Odds: Georgia 80% (I mean, right?) Pick: Georgia, 38-13
As excited as I am about putting the final nail in Paul Johnson’s coffin, I’m thinking that won’t be the case because Paul Johnson has the best agent on the planet, and his contract is fully guaranteed.
I know nothing about Kirby Smart and Mel Tucker’s experience versus the option, and that scares me a little bit. Conversely, Georgia has seemed to have more success than anyone outside of Clemson shutting down the Bees historically, and I like that to continue.
The Tech defense is rough. They don’t get pressure (happy feet Eason may create it on his own by this point), they don’t make tackles for loss, and they don’t…do much of anything well on that side.
We know this game is always wonky, but talent and pride will hopefully prevail.
Odds: Georgia 68%. Pick: Georgia 27-21
At this point, I’m taking a 2-2 November for extra bowl prep reps and running with it. Somehow, I get the feeling that, despite my picks above, that’s the most likely scenario.
3-1 to get to 7 wins is a depressing reality in Year Zero of the Kirby era, but getting them against this group would show some progress from a team that has regressed since the beginning of the season.
We don’t know if these games will happen, we won’t know when these kick times (or locations) are accurate, and I’m missing them all for a wedding anyway!
This has happened since I pulled up the ole WordPress to post this:
BREAKING: #LSU‘s game against Florida has been canceled, a source tells The Advocate.
It will not be rescheduled. #Gators
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) October 6, 2016
CONFIRMED: Georgia and South Carolina will play at the @GeorgiaDome Saturday. Coverage at 8:30. Kick at 8:41. Ticket email forthcoming.
— UGA Special Teams (@UGASpecialTeams) October 6, 2016
Word to the wise: don’t believe any scheduling tweets til Brett McMurphy or someone posts them, although UGA Special Teams has never let us down before…
What should you be watching for this weekend?
Definitely Watch This
- Texas vs. #20 Oklahoma, noon, FS1: BRING BACK THE GOLDEN HAT! This should be a 55-45 game, so naturally it’ll be a low-scoring and weird affair at the Texas Fairgrounds.
LSU at #18 Florida, noon, ESPN: COACH O……nope.(see above)
- #9 Tennessee at #8 Texas A&M, 3:30, CBS: Step 1: listen to the DudeYouPodcast. Step 2: build up the Tennessee hate. Step 3: GIGEM
- #25 Virginia Tech at #17 UNC, 3:30, ABC/ESPN2: Va Tech is still very sneaky good, UNC has Mitch Trubisky and no defense, and this game will be played in a monsoon (as of now).
- #5 Washington at Oregon, 7:30, FOX: Oregon has won 11 straight in the series, and has a chance to end the Pac-12’s CFP hopes before the weather gets consistently below 80 degrees. And, Washington is good.
- #23 Florida State at #10 Miami, 8, ABC: Big game Mark Richt. We’ll see. This is your appointment watch of the day– either as a self-hating Georgia fan or a curious Georgia fan.
Maybe Keep an Eye On It
- #3 Clemson at Boston College (Friday), 7:30, ESPN: If Deshaun Watson keeps turning it over, this could get…weird?
- Indiana at #2 Ohio State, 3:30, ESPN: Indiana, as #teamchaos, beat Michigan State on a “leaping” penalty last week. They had a reasonable shot at both OSU and Michigan last year. Ohio State hasn’t been challenged. Just sayin’, keep an eye on it.
- #1 Alabama at #16 Arkansas, 7, ESPN: Am I the only one who thinks Arkansas is WAY overrated? Here’s hoping not!
- Georgia at South Carolina, 7:30, SECN: May or may not be played as of the time of this posting, but a monsoon bowl guarantees a 7-2 win on a botched shotgun snap for somebody.
Other things of note
#21 Colorado visits USC in a weird game of “is Colorado legit/is USC shit”–played on the impossible-to-get Pac-12 network.
Purdue and Illinois both lost to Western Michigan (do NOT watch this), and Vanderbilt and Kentucky play the SEC’s version of that exact game at 4 on SECN (do NOT watch this either).
#6 Houston has a tough task at Navy if you get CBSSN.
Your late-night #PACtion special? A good one, as Washington State travels to #15 Stanford in a game of COMPLETELY 180-degree contrasting styles.