Category Archives: South Carolina Gamecocks
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?
My mother complained that her generation may not know what crunk factor is. Mom, it was a made-up term to describe the likelihood one of these otherwise-boring games goes haywire.
Also, drawing these up for 20 games at a time seemed unwieldy and irrelevant. Writing about the Idaho Potato Bowl 11 days before it took place was the wake-up call there.
What’s happening in bowl action today, December 29th? Three moderately compelling games!
Birmingham Bowl, South Florida vs. South Carolina, 2pm: A month ago, this game was SO much more fun. Willie Taggart had USF playing well and running the #1 offense in the country…but he bolted for Oregon. Quinton Flowers is still a joy to watch, and hopefully we don’t get the dreaded ‘coach left letdown.’
South Carolina inexplicably made a bowl with a coach who once failed to do that at FLORIDA. I’m kinda cheering for a Cocks win so they can be crushed under the darkhorse SEC East contender expectations that will surely follow from winning a meaningless bowl game in Birmingham.
CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 5/10… I’m feeling generous this morning, and its SEC vs. fun AAC. I can dig it.
Belk Bowl, #22 Virginia Tech vs. Arkansas, 5:30: First things first: its the bowl game named after a regional department store. Second, I was making customary Christmas exchanges in one of the Charlotte-area Belks yesterday, and ran into some Virginia Tech players on their bowl gift ‘shopping spree’. That bowl gift ranked in the mid-30’s on most lists, because it was the whole bowl gift.
Anyway, this game has weird fun written all over it. Rawleigh Williams (did not know it was RAWleigh until checking his stats) had an insane November for Arkansas. Jerod Evans is the ACC’s 5th-best QB, and that makes him the nation’s 10th-best QB. Bret Bieliema is a delight, and Justin Fuente exceeded expectations in year 1.
This game means nothing, as all do, but is worth excessive hype for the ACC Coastal if Virginia Tech piggybacks Miami’s impressive win. CRUNK FACTOR/Watchability Index: 6.5/10, something goofy will happen. Guaranteed.
Alamo Bowl: #12 Oklahoma State vs. #10 Colorado, 9: FINALLY our first ranked matchup of bowl season, after 26 other games will likely have finished. And who isn’t a sucker for Big XII exes grudge-matching each other? Texas A&M/K-State was fun.
Colorado, dubbed by many ‘America’s team’, is suffering the fate of blowing expectations out of the water. They lost all-world DC Jim Leavitt to Oregon, QB Sefo Liufau is hobbled and may not play. On the other hand, this team lost three games: at Michigan, USC, Washington. Most teams are going 0-3 in those, and most aren’t winning the other 10.
Oklahoma State has Mason Rudolph (good), Mike Gundy’s mullet (exceptional), and announced the return of Rudolph and leading wideout James Washington for 2017.
CRUNK/Watchability: 8.5/10. Evenly-matched, latenight, and high quality. We’ll drink every time someone mentions their loss to Central Michigan not being a loss, and we’ll enjoy this one.
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 email@example.com 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.
Sunday college football should be a thing.
First off, major MAJOR props to the South Carolina Governor in helping facilitate this game by taking a hard line on state support for the crowd in Columbia. By stating that there would be no emergency personnel available, she immediately took Saturday off the table, and allowed Greg McGarity and Ray Tanner to quickly narrow their options. The other game of note moved to a time not yet known? Another post for later today.
Anyway, the fallout was positive for yours truly. I got to watch this game in wedding recovery mode, after a painful four-hour drive from Atlanta. Playstation Vue, which I needed due to a lackadasical TV plan that does not include the SEC Network, worked like a charm for you hesitant cord-cutters out there.
Okay, two grafs in and nothing about the football game. Let’s go.
South Carolina is a TRASH football team. This was a game that I was nervous about due to all the outside circumstances, but between the sidelines was a game Georgia was supposed to win. The defense was extremely opportunistic, as they knew the Cocks weren’t going to push the ball down the field much. When you don’t have to account for a vertical passing attack, you can play a little more instinctively, and the Georgia defense played downhill for the entire time the game was really in doubt.
In the first quarter, Georgia held South Carolina to an 11% success rate (where a successful play is one which keeps an offense ahead of the chains) while Georgia was at a whopping 63%, thanks to Nick Chubb’s reminder that he’s awesome. The game was basically a Will Muschamp battle of attrition from there, with teams exchanging body blows and punts (it warrants mentioning: Georgia was good on Special Teams on Sunday!)
There’s no sugarcoating how bad Jacob Eason was in this one. He had two overthrows back-to-back on the second possession, missed an open Jayson Stanley touchdown in the second, and sailed a few more guys in the second half. If Georgia had lost, we could talk about Greyson Lambert coming back to salvage something from this season…butttttttt… THE GROUND GAME WAS SPECTACULAR!
- Chubb 21/133, 6.33
- Michel 16/121, 7.56
- Herrien 9/82, 9.11
You’re not going to lose many games when you damn near have THREE 1oo-yard backs. All three rushed for at least 5 yards on over half of their runs, so a BIG hats off is due to the offensive line. They manhandled South Carolina’s defense, which is not a huge accomplishment, but is no less notable.
Lorenzo Carter is showing signs of life. He had a drive-killing sack in the second quarter, and was in the backfield throughout the day. He overran some plays, as an athletic freak is wont to do, but to see him constantly appearing and forcing plays out of their design is a welcome sign. One that will likely see him get paid this offseason, unfortunately, but one that bodes well for the Dawgs going forward.
The season comes down to Georgia winning some games where something isn’t working– Eason is awful, the running game steps up in this case. Against Vanderbilt, the run D may show some signs of weakness, but the ‘Dores won’t be able to pass. Hopefully that is the case for Florida, too.
Taking an early lead and holding an opponent at arm’s length is a new development for Georgia, and in their most ‘complete’ game of the season, they did exactly that.