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Showing posts with label Urban Meyers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Urban Meyers. Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2009

Media Days '09: Day 2 Highlights

Some video of the non-UGA moments of Media Days Day 2...

Florida coach Urban Meyer talks about defending himself against rumors of his eventual departure for Notre Dame.

Florida QB Tim Tebow discusses his thoughts about the media hype surrounding the lone missing vote from his first-team All-SEC selection.

Ole Miss coach Houston Nutt talks about how his team plans to handle lofty preseason expectations.

Alabama coach Nick Saban discusses the benefit to playing big-time opponents in Atlanta to kick off the 2008 and '09 seasons.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

All's Fair in Football

In Florida, it's Urban Meyer's way or the highway. It's a sentiment Mark Richt understands, but he isn't taking things quite so seriously.

Meyer drew attention for critiquing former players at a recent fan club meeting, saying that if they were loyal to the Gators, they wouldn't publicly criticize anything the team does.

Meyer has the luxury of a national title to quell any potential criticism, but Richt found himself mired in it last season following ugly losses to rivals Alabama, Georgia Tech and Meyer's Gators. But whether it comes from fans or former players, Richt said he takes it all in stride.

"There's calls I made that I don't like," Richt said. "I look back and say, 'I wonder why I did that.' So it's not something I worry about."

Meyer's comments appeared to have been directed at former Florida quarterback Shane Matthews, who criticized the team on a radio show after it lost to Mississippi in September. At a Gator Club meeting, Meyer said any players who spoke out against the program would no longer be welcome in the team's football facilities.

"If you want to be critical of a player on our team or a coach on our team you can buy a ticket for seat 37F, you're not welcome back in the football office," Meyer said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "You're either a Gator or you're not a Gator."

While Richt said he can't recall specific complaints from any former players, although a number of them work in media roles similar to Matthews and are routinely required to offer opinions on the team. Critiques of the team's performance last season, particularly that of defensive coordinator Willie Martinez, were wide ranging, and while Richt was quick to defend his players and coaches, he didn't directly attack his critics.

It comes with the territory as a head coach, Richt said, and while he would certainly prefer any former players come to him with complaints, he has no plans to rule with an iron fist.

"You would rather that your guys not do that," Richt said, "but if they had some kind of issue or something, you'd like them to just come and see me about it."

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's All Part of the Plan

There aren't a ton of media folks here, but everyone who made the trip was interested in talking to one person first and foremost... Lane Kiffin.

Kiffin met with the media for about a half hour (and then some more after that) and had plenty to say about his first few months on the job. Here are some highlights...

On all the transfers...
"It's not an easy time to be a Tennessee football player. We have very high expectations for what you do on the field. Some guys weren't able to hold to those. So some guys we removed ourselves, some guys decided to leave themselves, and we wish them the best of luck."

On why he has been so outspoken/controversial...
"As you look at this job, you have to have a national presence. When you become a head coach, you take a specific plan into each job. This one as I looked at it needed to have a spark immediately as far as national exposure. The way recruiting is now, we've got to be able to have players around the country, talking about kids even in middle school, seeing Tennessee, talking about Tennessee, being familiar with our staff. As you look at the plan over six months, I think it's going extremely well."

On whether he thinks he has done the right thing by being in the spotlight so much...
"Do I love everything I had to do to get us to this point? No. But my job is not to love everything I do. My job is to do the best thing for our university and for our people."

On the reaction from his players to his comments...
"When you do some of the things we've done, it puts it back on our players because they know you've said some things about what you're going to do and what you can accomplish. When you go back from doing that and you're working out with your players and a couple of them come up and say, ‘Hey Coach, we really appreciate that because that makes us want to work that much harder.' It's a motivational tool for our players."

On how his comments affected recruiting...
"I don't think if you took a real conservative approach, I don't think there's any way you would have signed that class or signed the No. 1 player in the country. So in my opinion, there were things that had to be done specifically for this job."

On whether his comments make his team a target...
"If we didn't have this attention drawn to ourselves, would we not coach as hard? I don't think anything changes at all because we're going about it regardless of what's been said or who we're playing or what's in the media."

On what other coaches think of him...
"Each of us have a different job for a different university, a different athletic director and a different team. I wouldn't think there'd be any hard feelings for anybody. I think at the end of the day, everybody understands we all have specific jobs for our university."

Kiffin also said he had no further plans to apologize to Urban Meyer beyond the one he made immediately after signing day. In response to a question of whether he felt like Meyer would expect an apology, he joked that he was still waiting on an apology from Steve Spurrier for jokes Spurrier made at his expense. And best of all, Kiffin said when he was fired by the Raiders, he spent the next few months coming up with a specific game plan for how he would approach potential jobs, including Tennessee and said that the comments he has made this offseason were all part of that plan, months before he was even offered the job.

Of course, blame Kiffin if you must, but at least he's had some fun with it. On the other hand, there's Coach Meyers, who wasn't making any bones about how much he dislikes his compatriots at other programs.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Richt's Refresher Course

There are two types of arguments: Those supported by the facts, and those supported by opinions. The beauty is -- as everything from sports to politics have taught us -- both types can and will be disputed by those with louder opinions.

For just that reason, it is always with great enjoyment that I come upon a topic of conversation that intrigues me over at Senator Blutarsky's Get the Picture blog. While the rest of the sports world revels happily in delusions, the facts still get the weight they deserve at GTP.

So, consider me in a bit of a pickle on the latest fact-based discussion, which came via ESPN's Bruce Feldman, via the Senator. Feldman presents an argument with plenty of factual ammunition. And yet, based mostly on my own opinion, I can't bring myself to believe it.

Here's the basics: Feldman wonders if college football coaches have a shelf life and puts forth the assumption that after about Year 4 or 5, the chances of a coach winning a national title decrease significantly. Recent history gives the theory a healthy dose of evidence.

* 2009 Florida: Urban Meyer's 4th year
* 2008 LSU: Les Miles' 3rd year
* 2007 Florida: Meyer's 2nd year
* 2006 Texas: Mack Brown's 8th year
* 2005 USC: Pete Carroll's 4th year
* 2004 LSU: Nick Saban's 4th year
* 2003 Ohio State: Jim Tressel's 2nd year
* 2002 Miami: Larry Coker's 1st year
* 2001 Oklahoma: Bob Stoops' 2nd year
* 2000 FSU: Bobby Bowden's 24th year
* 1999 Tennessee: Phil Fulmer's 7th year
The lone veteran on the list is Bobby Bowden, with only Phil Fulmer and Mack Brown joining him in winning a title beyond Year 4. As I'm sure Georgia fans are aware, Mark Richt is entering Year 8.

So, does the evidence here indicate that the MNC ship has sailed on CMR? (I still can't decide if I like this blogger lingo.)

According to Feldman, the theory goes a bit like this:
To me that is reflective of a couple of factors: 1.) Coaches who come in bringing a new energy to a program can have huge success; 2.) In many cases they've inherited situations with programs that have the talent base but are eager for a change in direction. (Some players initially will respond better to a hard-line staff. Others to a "players' coach". Either way, the shift can be the key.) 3.) Successful coaching staffs can get stale over time and players/recruits, just like fans, can be swayed by the next new thing around and they want to be part of a fancy turnaround project.

I like it. It starts with a hypothesis, adds evidence and concludes with a viable explanation.

But are we really to believe then that Richt stands less chance of winning a national title now than he did three years ago? Should we assume that, after four more years, the shine will be off Urban Meyer? (NOTE: He'll probably be in South Bend by then anyway.) Should you be concerned that Richt is destined to get the Fulmer treatment in a few years?

Hey, anything's possible, but I have a hard time giving this more than a, "well, that's interesting."

As Feldman points out, there is some rationale to the theory. Yes, complacency can set in for a coach, and that's a bad thing. But there are more factors at work here.

Look at the list again. Of those coaches, three had national-championship-caliber rosters when they first arrived. (Say what you want about the Zooker, but the guy could recruit.) Larry Coker, Meyer and Les Miles all took exceptional talent that was already in place and added the last ingredient to the national-title recipe.

Two other names on the list deserve a good bit of credit, but both helmed sleeping giants. The Texas and USC programs have huge recruiting advantages and by all means never should have slipped to the depths they had reached prior to Pete Carroll and Brown's arrivals.

Moreover, should winning a national championship really be the barometer by which we measure these things? It's one of Richt's favorite cliches, but the national title is really out of a coach's hands. Yes, it should be the ultimate goal each year, but what is the real difference between Georgia's 13-1 season in 2002 and Florida's 13-1 mark a year ago? (Or LSU's 12-2 the year before?)

More than just wins and losses, however, the bigger reason that fewer veteran coaches are taking their teams to national championships these days, may have a lot less to do with motivation of players and a lot more to do with money in the bank.

Over the past 10 years -- the time period Feldman looks at -- the salaries for head coaches have increased dramatically, which leads to two undeniable truths: Coaches (like Nick Saban) are more likely to jump ship for a richer deal, and schools are less likely to keep a high-paid coach in place when he's not winning. From 1993 through 1999, only Lloyd Carr won a national title at a school he had coached at for fewer than six seasons.

In essence, it's the result that proves the question. There is so little tolerance for losing among fan bases, boosters and administration now that most coaches either win a title early or they aren't around anymore by Year 8, 9 or 10.

Of course, all this is taking the long way back to my original point -- my defense is, at heart, my opinion that coaches can stick around for a while and still have a reasonable (or as reasonable as the next guy) shot at winning it all.

But who am I? If you're going to base an argument on opinion, after all, you should at least find someone whose opinion actually carries some weight. So I went straight to the man, himself. And guess what? Mark Richt seems to agree with Feldman.

"You need to revive, you need to always go back to the basics every year," Richt said. "You just can't take anything for granted. Even when you have a staff that understands what we do, how we do it."

As you may have read, Richt's plan for this season is to reinvent his approach by looking back at his early years in Athens. That's a move he wouldn't have made in years past, despite his certainty in its value now.

"There's been years where I've said, 'Men, I know what you're going to do, I know how you're going to do it, I'm not going to have to insult anybody's intelligence to say we're starting from ground zero,'" Richt said. "But this year, I said I don't particularly care if anybody's feelings get hurt. We're going to pretend like we've never done it before, and we're going to make sure we do it the Georgia way. That's the mentality with the staff and with the players and myself."

This, as much as anything else, illustrates the advantage to a veteran coach. They learn from experience.

As much as Richt wants to downplay the failures of last season -- the Dawgs did go 10-3 after all -- there was a lesson learned, and it's essentially the lesson that Feldman's article illustrates. The message does get stale. The landscape changes, and the coaching staff needs to change with it.

I see this in the newspaper business every day. There are hundreds -- thousands -- of good writers and reporters out there who won't make it in today's market. They don't know a blog from a buffalo, and they become out of touch with what it takes to succeed in the current environment.

If last year accomplished nothing else, it served as a reminder to Richt and his staff that no one can rest on their laurels and fresh ideas are invaluable. (Heck, even Richt is on Twitter now!) While Feldman's piece illustrated a trend that is tough to ignore, there's a difference between likelihood and destiny. The way to avoid the likely outcome is to learn from the past, and that's something Richt and his staff seem anxious to do.

"I think the coaches have enjoyed it actually," Richt said. "It started in the bowl practice, and it started with me. I think we've really got a lot of good momentum right now."