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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From the Mailbag: Problems With Refs, Coaches, Polls and Predictions

Addressing a few reader comments…

From Gregg in Albany: There has been some confusion on whether the refs in ASU game were a SEC or PAC 10 crew. I am fairly certain they were an SEC crew. Agree? Regardless, it is amazing to me that the SEC, which has the BEST players, most attendance, unbelievable fan passion, and the MOST money, has the WORST officials in college football!!!!!!!!!!!! Simply amazing.

DH: Yup, I looked it up (which I probably would have been wise to do earlier) and the refs were from the SEC, led by Matt Austin and highlighted by umpire Wilbur Hackett. You'll remember Mr. Hackett from this play…

From Anonymous: I also think we are shortchanging the extent of the challenge we had with these 4 teams, each of which basically prepped for us solely all winter/spring and summer and then tuned up with cupcakes (NC State TEN days prior excepting).

Add 3 GREAT college coaches (and Gundy not too shabbby offensively) and that was a meatgrinder opening month.

LSU will be the first game where they haven't prepped for us exclusively. (Imagine, even in Game 4 the opponent had 2 scrimmages and a bye week with a 2 time National Championship winning calibre coach prepping to play us!)

Hunker down even 2 of the next 3 more times and this may get interesting!

DH: This was in addition to my minor defense of the coaching staff in the wake of a particularly negative comment about them, which insinuated Richt & Co. were the worst unit in the SEC so far this season.

I'm not saying Richt, Mike Bobo and Willie Martinez have been perfect this season. They haven't, and they certainly have not always put their players in the best situations for success, but they have faced a particularly tough test, too.

In addition to what Anon writes -- which really cannot be overstated -- Georgia also has used at least a dozen players in significant roles on offense or defense this season who had zero or one career start prior to the Oklahoma State game.

I'm not saying the coaching staff deserves an 'A' for their efforts this year, but they're nowhere near an 'F.'

From Preston Jones' Indifference: Question--can you elaborate more when you say that you don't necessarily agree with some of the choices the staff makes from Sunday to Friday?

DH: Sure, but first off, let me say that we see remarkably little of practice and I'm far from qualified to be a football coach, so my criticisms are really not worth much, and mostly based on speculation derived from the game day results.

What I was referring to with that rather broad comment, however, were the little things that continue to crop up at key moments in close games that essentially have to be based on coaching decisions made long before the game begins. Examples: The focus on penalties during the week, the philosophy to employ directional kicking rather than kicking deep, the desire to limit the number of top players working on special teams, the continued reliance on some struggling veterans rather than giving youngsters a chance, the handling of conditioning, which was supposedly tough but didn't exactly show up during the Okie State game.

There are other examples, but those come to mind quickly. But the upside is that several of them -- such as giving playing time to Marcus Dowtin and Baccari Rambo and giving Blair Walsh a few more chances to kick deep -- seem to be changing.

Again, I'm not saying I'm right on any of these comments. It's just my opinion mixed with my observations. But given the fact that the coaches do seem to be making some adjustments that lean closer to my take on the aspects I've noted, I think there's probably more I'm right about than not.

From Todd: I enjoy reading your blog. I'm a UGA alum who lives in Colorado. I'd like to see some comments about the polls this year. The inconsistency of the voters just begs for a play off in my opinion. Three examples...

1) How is Penn State ranked ahead of Iowa after Iowa crushed them in their own stadium at night?
2) How is USC back in the top ten after Washington loses to Stanford?
3) Ole Miss loses to South Carolina (which isn't a top 25 team now?) and drops to #21. USC loses to a Washington team that was winless last year and only drops to #12?

The polls are becoming laughable. And this is how we want to pick the BCS?

DH: You might also ask how LSU is ranked fourth in the country despite the fact that its fans want Les Miles canned for doing such a terrible job coaching.

The polls are a joke right now, and the worst part is that the ridiculous aspects of this week's rankings will have a carry-over effect the rest of the way. There's no way LSU is where it is now if people weren't just voting based on where the Tigers were in the preseason.

Of course, all this leads me up to a reminder that I'll be a contributing writer on the new Mumme Poll blog. Senator Blutarsky from Get the Picture and the fine folks at 3rd Saturday in Blogtober have set up the Web site, and anyone interested in participating can register and help us find a better way of creating a college football poll.

The first vote will take place after Week 6, and I should have lots more info to share with you in the next few days. So stay tuned...

From Anonymous: First I'd like to say, as a Maconite, that I thoroughly enjoy reading both your Telegraph write ups and your blog. Always highly informative. So thank you for that. Secondly, I'd like to call you out on your Marlon Brown prediction last week saying you "guaranteed" MB's first catch of the year against ASU. What were you basing that on? I am dying to see this kid in action! Thanks again.

DH: Ah, I'm glad someone called me on this. I did guarantee Marlon's first catch during my chat session last week, and sadly, he didn't come through.

My thought process was this: We saw more of Rantavious Wooten against Arkansas, so how far behind could Brown be? Then I figured Georgia should the win over Arizona State wrapped up by the fourth quarter, giving guys like Brown a chance to finally get some playing time. Given that the Georgia coaches have to be as curious to see him in action as many of us are, they would undoubtedly find a way to get him a catch during garbage time.

Well, to say the least, I was wrong.

Joe Cox and Mike Bobo have both given Brown their endorsements, so I'm certain we'll see more of him at some point this season, but at this rate, we may be waiting until Tennessee Tech.

In the meantime, what's a fair punishment for me for not coming through on my guarantee?


jferg said...

Heard a rumbling that Marlon Brown was considering a tranfer. I immediately assumed is was just rumor but can you validate for me?

David Hale said...

I find that very hard to believe, but I'll be talking with Marlon this evening and will get you a better answer.

Kevin said...

A playoff is not the answer because of the polls. Well thought out voting is what we need.

Would you want a playoff of the top 8(16/whatever) teams when they aren't' even the right teams... as you've pointed out?

Just say no to playoffs.

rbubp said...

Regarding the polls...

Why does everyone pretend that a program's recent history is not factored in the rankings? And what is wrong with that it is???

It's an inexact science, we know. So you're a pollster. USC and Ole Miss don't play each other; they have the same record, both play in tough conferences, and both lost a road game. (For the sake of argument, let's pretend that Ole Miss had a signature win as good as USC's road win over Ohio State).

Can you honestly with a straight face tell me definitively that you think Ole Miss is better or even as good as USC? What would you be basing that on--Ole Miss's huge numbers advantage in NFL prospects? Ole Miss's advantage in seasoned coaches who have recently won national championships? Ole Miss's advantage in convincing victories in recent seasons against bowl opponents? No, no, and no? Ok, here's one: You rank Ole Miss ahead because they have a recent QB who won a Super Bowl, right?

Ok, that settles that.

Why can we not admit that some programs rule at the top in part because they have shown that they belong there in recent years, through coaching, continuity, recruiting, and results on the field, and that no one will write off USC or Ohio State or LSU until they lose several games in one season--and even then because they were good two or three years ago they may be right there the following year? Why isn't 3-1 Notre Dame in this same conversation? Oh yeah...they have not beaten a good team, or even come close to one!, in about five years.

Using your head means that sometimes, when faced with radically non-comparative evidence, you use evidence from past seasons. And it's usually right, people! That's why no one was that surprised when Va Tech beat the crap out of Miami, and no one in their right mind believes that Ole Miss deserves to be ranked the same as USC, even if USC had not beaten Ohio State on the road.