College Football Quick Thoughts – July 9, 2014

Phil Steele Predicts the Future
During a recent appearance on ESPN’s The Herd with Colin Cowherd, college football guru Phil Steele revealed his picks for the inaugural college football playoff in 2015.

Predictably, Steele opted for safe assumptions over shock value.  According to Phil Steele, Alabama, Oklahoma, Florida State and Ohio State are the four teams of destiny in the upcoming season.  The first major college football playoff kicks off on New Year’s Day of 2015.

Dawgs Focused on Special Teams
Throughout the past few seasons, woeful miscues on special teams have come back to bite the Georgia Bulldogs.  Whether it was the blocked punt that changed the complexion of the Vanderbilt game in 2013, or the punt return UGA gave up against South Carolina in 2012, Bulldog Nation has been able to chalk up at least one loss gridiron loss a year to inexcusable errors in the kicking game.

The Dawgs’ continuous woes on special teams have spurred head coach Mark Richt to retool his approach with special teams.  In February, Georgia Dogs reported that coach Richt believes making some changes on his special teams’ staff would provide the unit a much needed shot in the arm.

The article on Georgia Dogs features a brief comment from Richt, “This restructuring I believe will give us the best chance to win from a recruiting and special teams standpoint”.

Discipline Wins Championships
No matter who is doing the coaching, solid special teams play can largely be attributed to discipline.  Players must be ready to execute on every special teams outing.  Failure to do so can make or break an entire season in one play.  Just ask Alabama and Auburn.

Only 51 days remain until Georgia welcomes Clemson on August 30.

Times Announced for Georgia’s Frst Two Games of 2014

Georgia – Clemson: 89 Days Away
The Atlanta-Journal Constitution is reporting Georgia’s home opener against Clemson will kick off at 5:30. The contest will be televised by ESPN.  In addition, the Bulldogs’ annual showdown with South Carolina has been picked up by CBS in week two.

Recalling the Ridiculous Bus Ride
In 2013, ESPN made a big production out of Clemson’s short bus ride from their campus to Death Valley.  The “Worldwide Leader in Sports” showed the entrance in its entirety, from the loading of the buses, to players touching Howard’s Rock and running down “The Hill”, showcasing a display which appealed to absolutely no one other than Tiger faithful.  Admittedly, that statement is full of bitterness toward last year’s result.



It’s Only Teenage Wasteland
In an effort to make this year’s coverage equally home-centric, ESPN should broadcast the entirety of the Baba O’Reily entrance to Sanford Stadium, making sure to keep the commentary team quiet during Glory Glory to Ole’ Georgia as well.

It is far too early to tell what the outcome will be of Georgia’s impending tussle with Clemson.  2014 marks game number 64 between the two schools.  The Dawgs lead the all-time series by a count of 41-18, with four ties.

The Pressure is on Bulldog Nation
Clemson met (and arguably exceeded), expectations last season, capping off an ACC Championship with a victory in the 2014 Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State.  At present, it seems Cole Stoudt will get the nod at quarterback for the Tigers. Conversely, Hutson Mason will end his four-year odyssey of waiting to be the starter on opening weekend.  UGA will be eager to prove their worth as a top ten college football program as Bulldog Nation looks to put more bite behind its bark.

The SEC Network Problem

sec_networkDriving Up The Cost of Cable
The price of cable television is becoming so outrageous that some people are cutting the cable cord.  Were it not for my love of live sports, I probably would have joined the growing crowd.

Exclusive Networks are a Needle in the College Football Haystack
Growing up in Athens, Georgia, has been very conducive to my love of UGA football.  I am fine with missing out on an occasional west coast showdown, as long as I get to see the Dawgs play every down.  The SEC Network launches on August 14, and it is shaping up to be another hoop for college football fans to jump through.

SEC Network – Distribution Fight at the Line of Scrimmage
According to Awful Announcing, the fight for SEC Network distribution rights is getting worseESPN is partnering with the SEC to broadcast this wonderful new network, however, as is the case with most every new network these days, this will not equate to free viewing for consumers.  At present, DISH Network and AT&T U-verse are the only television providers that have a deal in place to air the network.

The SEC Network will Feature Every SEC Football team
CBS Sports reported that every Southeastern Conference team will appear on the SEC Network this fall.  Set to broadcast approximately 45 college football games in its inaugural season, avid watchers of SEC football should be somewhat concerned with how this new network may change their viewing experience.

If cable companies such as Charter, Comcast, and Direct TV cannot agree to the terms necessary to carry the SEC Network, there are going to be a lot of unhappy folks down south in a few short months.

Money Talks: Solving the SEC Network Issues
The posturing between cable providers and the ESPN led SEC Network will be solved when the money is right.  Common sense says this issue will be resolved before a pigskin is ever tossed around, because the demand for SEC football is so high.  Still, with so many viewing options readily available, everyone involved with the shiny new network has an obligation to make it available to the widest possible audience.

2013 – 2014 Bowl Game Thoughts

georgia_nebraska

Photo is from 2013.  Result resembles 2014.

24-19: The Dawgs Choke on an ear of Corn
Since the heart of this blog is Georgia football, I feel obligated to discuss the 2014 Gator Bowl. The Bulldogs turned in a slippery and sloppy performance, losing 24-19 in their season finale.  The Nebraska Cornhuskers deserved to win.  For Bulldog Nation, the Gator Bowl left one more stain on a season which started with so much promise.

Excuses and injuries notwithstanding, the Georgia Bulldogs have a long offseason ahead.  Mark Richt and company must work towards getting better on the field without getting in trouble off of it. On a positive note, The University of Georgia won eight games this season.

The Dawgs remained competitive despite an overwhelming number of injuries and bad breaks.  History may not smile on this particular team the way they had hoped, but the 2013 Bulldogs continued the winning tradition associated with Georgia football.

espn_bowl_week
Too Many Mediocre Bowls

There are too many bowl games.  The 2013 bowl slate featured 35 bowl games.   Despite ESPN’s promotional insistence, Capital One Bowl Week is far from the most wonderful week of the year.  Even die-hard college football fans must have trouble getting excited for the mediocrity that ensues early in bowl season.

Johnny Football is Money
The debate about Johnny Manziel’s off the field conduct may never end.  Still, there is no questioning his will to win. Manziel’s highlight reel performance against Duke resulted in a 52-48 win for Texas A&M in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.  By erasing a 38-17 deficit,  the Aggie comeback capped off an unforgettable two year run for “Johnny Football” at A&M.

The former Heisman Trophy winner will be a top pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.  No matter which team selects him, Manziel is expected to be a franchise quarterback.  Love him or hate him, the legend of Johnny Football continues to grow.

The Bowl Championship Series Goes out With a Bang
With the 2014 BCS National Championship Game in the books, the Bowl Championship Series is no more.  Thanks in part to intriguing match-ups, the BCS went out in style. BCS festivities began with the 100th playing of the Rose Bowl game, which gave college football fans a 28-24 slug fest between Michigan State and Stanford on New Year’s Day.  That same night, the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl culminated in a 52-42 shootout between UCF and Baylor.

The Orange Bowl produced another high scoring battle between Ohio State and Clemson.  Clemson picked up the victory while Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes finished the year with back-to-back losses.

Major college football has needed a playoff for some time.  With that said, certain aspects of the Bowl Championship Series will be missed.  The Rose Bowl will maintain some of its luster as a marquee athletic event, but I hate to think the Tournament of Roses will not be quite the spectacle when it is part of the playoff puzzle.

The Streak Ends
Congratulations to the Florida State Seminoles for winning the 2014 National Championship Game.  My disdain for the Auburn Tigers would not allow me to pull for the SEC’s streak of championships to continue.  As a college football fan, I am pleased the better team won. Luck finally ran out in War Eagle country.

The Dark Side of Fantasy Football

ashamed_fansFantasy Football Turns Athletes Into Playing Cards
According to The New York Times, Fantasy Football dehumanizes the athletes on the field to a certain degree.  Adrian Peterson is a prime example.  His son died in a horrific tragedy.  Yet, some “fantasy owners” were more concerned about whether they would be able to put the star running back in their lineup the following Sunday.

One Professional Athlete’s Perspective
Torrey Smith, a wide receiver for the Baltimore Ravens, has been outspoken about how childish certain Fantasy Football players can be.  With the rise of social media, immature fantasy players can Tweet their players on Twitter.  Even so, those of us who possess a conscience and empathy for our fellow man should not be punished because certain fans are morons.  As noted in the first part of this discussion, the popularity of Fantasy Football continues to rise.

Fantasy Football: An Exercise in Letting Go
In a blog for The New York Times, C.D. Carter authored a fantastic perspective on how consuming Fantasy Football can be.  Carter quotes a licensed psychologist named Kimberly Young as saying “Fantasy Football is an illusion of control, but that’s the driving force”.

The founder of the Center for Internet Addiction, Young states that an addiction to Fantasy Football stems from a person’s need to feel in control.  As someone who has experienced growing pains lately, this really hit home for me.  Fantasy Football is a fantastic exercise in letting go, because it forces one to make decisions which are largely educated guesses.  In addition, participants can do nothing except sit back and watch as their choices play out.

Fantasy Football Makes Money
Yahoo
, ESPN, Fox Sports and Sports Line are some of the major beneficiaries of the Fantasy craze.  All of the aforementioned entities make millions of dollars during football season, notes Ask Men.  The popularity of Fantasy Football is such that ESPN has a Sunday morning television show devoted to it.  I much prefer playing with people I know in a private league simply for the fellowship.   Some degenerate fans take it way too seriously.

This post has made me realize there is truly a downside to my new favorite game.  That being said, I will continue to enjoy playing Fantasy Football.

Mike Bobo Deserves His New Contract With Georgia

mike_bobo

Mike Bobo coordinates one of the most prolific offenses in all of college football.

Mike Bobo has Earned His Pay Increase
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution is reporting that the Georgia Bulldogs have signed offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to a new three year contract. From the moment he was named offensive coordinator by Georgia head coach Mark Richt, Mike Bobo has gone from the frying pan to the fire and back again between the hedges. Make no mistake, the Bulldog alum deserves his extension with pay increase, and Georgia’s offensive numbers in the past few seasons prove it.

The 2012 SEC Championship Game was Huge for Coach Bobo
I have lost count of how many Mike Bobo detractors have said that Georgia’s offensive outburst the past few seasons is due to a favorable schedule. The debacle against South Carolina notwithstanding, Mike Bobo earned his contract extension when his offense stood paw to hoof with the Alabama Crimson Tide. The Bulldogs put up 394 total yards against an Alabama team that gave up just 250 yards per game on average. Current ESPN analyst Jon Gruden has also expressed his support for coach Bobo. Gruden has a Super Bowl ring, in case you are not aware of his credentials.

Mike Bobo’s $240,000 Pay Increase Will Come With Increased Scrutiny
The fact remains that college football is the ultimate what have you done for me lately sport, and the moment that Georgia does not put up big enough numbers to best the competition, Bobo will be blamed again. Such is life in the Southeastern Conference.  Bulldog Nation should consider the possibility that Mike Bobo could one day call himself head coach between the hedges. If his career continues to trend upward, he has a case for being Mark Richt’s successor in Athens. I should try ending blogs with thought provoking statements more often.