Relax UT fans: Kiffin said he did nothing wrong

It was was busy weekend with training camp in full swing. So what did we learn?

1. Relax Tennessee fans. Kiffin said he did nothing wrong:  Tennessee athletics director Mike Hamilton acknowledged at the end of last week that the school may receive a letter of inquiry from the NCAA. My experience is when the school says a letter is coming, it’s probably already in the mail. Tennessee has already self-reported six minor recruiting violations by Kiffin and his staff. NCAA investigators looked into actions by the school’s recruiting hostess program when Kiffin was head coach for 14 unforgettable months. Kiffin left for USC last Janaury but he is proving to be the gift that keeps on giving.

We now know that NCAA investigators were on campus last spring talking to Tennessee  coaches who were part of Kiffin’s staff but remained in Knoxville when he bolted for the West Coast.

“I have great confidence in what we did there, that we didn’t do anything wrong,” Kiffin told reporters over the weekend. “Just because they’re looking into something doesn’t mean we did anything wrong.”

Well, if I’m a Tennessee fan I know I feel a lot better.

2.  SEC West,  ACC Coastal the best: I said in a speech last week that the two top divisions in college football this season would be the SEC West and the ACC Coastal. The first USA Today Coaches Poll proves that out. Four teams in the SEC West (No. 1 Alabama, No. 16 LSU, No. 19 Arkansas, and No. 23 Auburn) were ranked as were four teams in the ACC Coastal (No. 7 Virginia Tech, No. 13 Miami, No. 17 Georgia Tech, No. 18 North Carolina). The round robin in those two divisions will be appointment football this season.

For those of you who are keeping score at home (and I know you are) the SEC had six total teams ranked (No. 3 Florida and No. 21 Georgia From the East) while the ACC had five (Florida State of the Atlantic Division was No. 20)

3. Give Nick Saban credit. He’s consistent: When I met with Alabama coach Nick Saban back in the spring, he made the case to me that Alabama probably shouldn’t be considered the nation’s No. 1 team in the preseason. He made a very logical argument based on the number of starters he would have to replace on defense (9) and the fact that his special teams were simply decimated and he would likely have true freshmen at both kicking spots.

When the coaches poll came out Friday Alabama received 55 of 59 first place votes. One of the four coaches who did not vote Alabama at No. 1 was Saban.

Note: I’m putting the finishing touches on my preseason Top 25. We will release it over five days–five teams a day–starting on Monday, Aug. 16. The top five will be released on Friday, August. 20.

4. Is “grayshirting” fair to the kids? Kevin Scarbinsky wrote a thoughtful piece on the practice of  “grayshirting” players. It’s the practice of signing more than the allotted 25 players with the knowledge that it is a numbers game. If you sign 28 (which is the SEC limit) and all 28 qualify academically, three guys are going to get left without a scholarship. Those three have to pay their own way to school in the fall with the promise that a scholarship will await them in January.

Kevin believes that is not fair to the players and their families who sign in good faith. The counter argument is this is just part of doing business at this level of college football.

Seems to me that if the school is transparent and as long as everybody understands the risks involved up front, then the process is acceptable. If the player and his family are genuinely surprised when he doesn’t get a scholarship in August, then there is a problem. Read Kevin’s story and tell me what you think:

 http://www.al.com/sports/index.ssf/2010/08/scarbinsky_late_grayshirts_a_b.html

5.  Be careful with that “we’re a better team” argument: I know what Florida’s Chris Rainey was trying to say when he told Pat Dooley of the Gainesville Sun that the Gators would be better off this season without all those “prima donnas” from 2009.

http://www.gatorsports.com/article/20100805/COLUMNISTS/100809707/1044?Title=Rainey-Gators-better-off-without-prima-donnas-

The point young Mr. Rainey was attempting to make was that this team does not have as many high-profile and NFL ready players as last season’s team, which lost quarterback Tim Tebow and five NFL draft choices from the defense. Because so many “name” players are gone this team has to bond in order to be better than the sum of its parts. I get that.

But also know that this was the argument that Georgia made in 2009 after quarterback Matt Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft, and running back Knowshon Moreno, the No. 12 pick in the draft, were gone.

Bonding and working together are very important in college football. But you can carry that argument to the extreme. There is no substitute for talent. It’s hard to have a good team without good players. It’s REALLY hard to have a great team without great players.

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341 comments Add your comment

Beast from the East

August 9th, 2010
2:59 pm

dawgster,
I agree with you on the talent level. There a lots of great players all around the country. You see that every year during the NFL draft. UGA has certainly had their share and will continue to do so. Should be a much more compelling game this year than it has been the last few.

Jesse James

August 9th, 2010
3:03 pm

Kiffin doesn’t know the difference between what is right and what wrong!

VININGS DAWG

August 9th, 2010
3:04 pm

The problem with Grayshirting is paying for these kids to be inschool in June as some the kids at both Bama and LSU. Who paid that tab? If the schools paid for the tab then these kids, then go to them in August and now say sorry. It is wrong..

gadawgs

August 9th, 2010
3:11 pm

Beast… True & good point, one cannot assume we would have won against OSU but as Mayo said in his post I was extrapolating a little based not only OSU’s bowl record against SEC teams but with the way both teams were playing at the time. In my belief (which is not fact) we would have beaten OSU that year and won the National Championship. Unfortunately, we did not get the chance. Looking forward to this year though. Gonna be fun.

5IML

August 9th, 2010
3:52 pm

The project manager and lead architect for the expansion of Bryant-Denny are both Auburn grads. Auburn can now share in BAMA’s success and stop being so jealous. This is truly a great day!

Ron Mexico

August 9th, 2010
4:19 pm

Tide Rising -

It is exactly as simple as I mentioned with gray-shirting.

Obviously you can’t see into the future and tell with any certainty about attrition.

However, if I recall correctly, teams are able to sign 25 players each year. Scholarship limits are at 85. Some players stick around for just three years, some for 5 (or occasionally, 6). If you can’t keep 80-85 players each year, you have to ask yourself about the kind of players you’re recruiting. It does not make sense to go after 15 kids with questionable test scores the year after you had 10 kids fail to qualify academically.

Certainly, if this were a business, I’d like a full roster. But to play with 83 scholarship players is much better than doing a disservice to a single student-athlete. If these kids want to play at a major school THAT BADLY, be up front with them, tell them they can walk on and have a chance to earn a scholarship their 2nd year once the attrition hits. Don’t tell them the full ride is there, then oh, sorry, you qualified but so did everyone else, so you need to hang at a JUCO this year when you could have been playing at USF, Texas A&M or even Arkansas St.

As you know there are ways around the 25 man rule, having players enroll early to count against the prior year’s class, and other tricks. I would not be opposed to a four year rule allowing a class to go past the 25 man limit once every four years in cases such as Auburn where there was significant attrition. But I can’t stand behind anyone who offers a scholarship they don’t have. It is exactly that plain and simple.

Delbert D.

August 9th, 2010
5:00 pm

I’m just catching up here. To whom it may concern, TampaGator, Tide Rising and I are separate entities. Notice I said, “entities,” not “identities,” as in real people. The three of us have had many encounters in AJC blogland.

- TampaGator, If you like crime novels, Robert Crais is a relative newcomer (23 years of writing), but I’ve read all of his. Follow his own recommendation and start with “LA Requiem.” I’m reading James Ellroy’s “LA Quartet” series (The Black Dahlia, et al,) and Ellroy is a *whole* lot darker.

- Tide Rising, the Lake Burton angle on future moves by Mr. Saban may actually give that sneaky rumor some legs. My uncle lived up there for almost 40 years and he was a big trout fisherman.

Nokia Theatre in Times Square

August 9th, 2010
5:43 pm

————————–
Nesbitt for Heisman
————————–

how2fish

August 9th, 2010
5:55 pm

TampaGator best of luck in retirement..Gator or no you bring the passion a true college fan should without the vitriol so many other do…best of luck to you none for the Gators !

lkjlkj

August 9th, 2010
6:09 pm

I have no problems with ‘grayshirting’ as long as the players can accept multiple scholarships based on the very reasonable premise that they need to cover their bases should an offer be revoked. I suspect the coaches & others who see no problem with the practice would object if we even it out.

zeeeee Nachos aka the "Living Legend"

August 9th, 2010
6:38 pm

What’s all this talk about the almighty Saban?? This is an Atlanta newspaper right?

I SAY IT’S GREAT TO BE A GEORGIA BULLDAWG (in the preseason before they play the games)
7-5 mutts… read it & weep

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
6:50 pm

Grant has some amazing posts. Very insightful as always, clearly the cream of this blog’s crop.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
6:51 pm

Agreed Jiffy, he is obviously a step beyond guys like Tide Rising.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
6:53 pm

If we could just get Grant to post 20 times more than Delbert, we might just have some intelligent things to blog sabout here. I guess that’s imnpossible.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
6:59 pm

Grant’s the first person I’ve seen on the internet to point out that it was John Brantley who was the QB on the field when the timeouts were called against Georgia. Pretty interesting how no one else has noticed that.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
7:02 pm

Guys, Grant also was the only blogger today to hit on how Nick Saban is pretty inconsistent. It’s true, go look at his record. Surprising.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
7:04 pm

Precisely fellows, and imagine someone like Tampa Gator calling Grant, of all people on the blog, a ‘buffoon’? I didn’t get that. I thought Grant had some amazing posts.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
7:09 pm

Why do you think Saban lost 3 games after his big year in LSU? Might be he sort of stacks the deck for a big year every 9 or 10 years, and then pretty much throws the rest of the seasons in the crapper. Saban probably hopes everybody measures him by 2 years, instead of his WHOLE coachign career record. A lot of 6 and 7 win season in there, even a 7 win season in Tuscaloosa.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
7:14 pm

Well, it comes down to your definitation of success, doesn’t it? Saban probably thinks he’s successful because he has 2 good seasons, where a Coach like Coach Richt probably defines success more about consistency and winning.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
7:17 pm

I’ll bet Georgia will remember those timeouts Brantley called in 2008 when they start watching the film from the last couple of Ga/Fla games and it’s going to effect the way the defense plays.

simplythetruth

August 9th, 2010
7:19 pm

Pat Hayden will kick Kiffen’s tail if he gets out of line at USC. Hayden has more class than Kiffen,Carroll, or that idiot former AD. USC is very close to getting the “death penalty” when you think about it. Ogeron and Kiffen alone are fully capable of doing something stupid enough to get the boom lowered. I hope so.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
7:27 pm

Why did Saban lose 3 games at LSU after wiining the Championship? Could be his team got too full of themselves after that year, happens a bunch, very few teams repeat in college football, especilly in the SEC. You start building statues with your own face on em’, and you got a lot of ego involved.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
7:29 pm

I’ve always thought guys who are only good once or twice over a long career, just got a lucky year in there where every break went their way. Saban’s career kind of has that trajectory. He’s not much of a coach, except 2 or 3 seasons over his career.

Roy

August 9th, 2010
7:35 pm

Sounds like the Florida running backs are still a little sore at Tebow for calling his own number on so many option plays last season. it was wierd how many times tebow called his own number, considering Demps rushing average was a lot better thsan Tebow’s. But for Demps to think his team will be better WITHOUT a bunch of primma donnas? He’s got a whole team full of 5 star recruits. Nothing but primma donnas on the Florida team.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
7:39 pm

Keep in mind that Derek Dooley beat Nick Saban, while Dooley was coaching at L. Tech and Saban was in Tuscaloosa, pretty bad for Alabama Crimson Tide to lose to L. Tech. Not much coaching right there, I think that was back in 2007, or 2008, can’t remember.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
7:44 pm

No, I think it was Loisiana Monroe, not Lousisiana Tech that beat Saban’s Tide back in 2007. Saban compared that loss ot Pearl Harbor, such a classy guy.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
7:45 pm

Holy cow, comparing a football game to Pearl Harbor? Tell me your joking? Where do these kind of coaches come from?

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
7:47 pm

Oh that’s nothing by Saban’s standards. He got voted ‘the most hated man in sports’ by Forbes magazine for leaving Miami for Alabama. A lot of people felt Nick S. just straight up lied.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
7:49 pm

Yeah, that’s right, it was L. Monroe, not L. Tech, gave Derek Dooley too much credit. Saban’s back to his insult game–called sports agents ‘pimps’ last week. Real dignified there.

Johnny Rocker

August 9th, 2010
7:51 pm

Anyone who proclaims to be “first” is a fag.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
7:54 pm

I’ll bet you Saban’s career winning percentage will not be on his statue.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
8:10 pm

Oh yeah, I found the video where Saban compared losing to L. Monroe & MSU back to back to Pearl Harbor and 911. That comment was a slap in the face to the coaches that beat him. it was also shocking to the 911 and Pearl Harbor families. Just so tasteless.

Here’s that video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8zQseQkcII&feature=fvw

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
8:37 pm

Here’s Saban’s career:
1) 1990- 9-2
next season 6-5

2) 97- 7-5
next season 6-6

3) 99- 9-2
next season 8-4

4) 01- 10-3
next season 8-5

5) 03- 13-1
next season 9-3

6) 09- 12-1
10- 13-0

5 out of 6 times, he went downhill after a decent year.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
8:40 pm

I think Saban went 12-2 in 08, and then 14-0 in 2009.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
8:43 pm

Saban should start saying ‘how much worse do you want to be than last year?’ That’s more true to his coaching record.

Or maybe ‘just focus on the process of getting worse than the previous year, just always lose more games the next season–focus on the process–of losing more games’

Uncle G

August 9th, 2010
8:45 pm

Guys, give Saban credit, he did get better once in his career, during the 2008-2009 run.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
8:47 pm

I’ve read where some call Saban the most inconsistent coach in college football, now I see why by looking at his record. It’s good one year, worse the next.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
8:50 pm

I look at consecutive top 10 finishes in ’seasons’, not individual ‘games’, when I look for greatness. Anybody can be lucky for a game, like a National Championship, but it’s harder to finish in the top 10 four times in a row like Richt did at Georgia. Something Meyer or Saban, have never been able to do.

Tide Rising

August 9th, 2010
8:52 pm

Ron Mexico,

We’ll just have to respectfully agree to disagree on the grayshirting issue but I think you have one misconception about it. The player or players who redshirt are not sent packing to JUCO for a year. They are only delaying enrollment by 1 semester. Secondly the guys that are told that they may have to take a grayshirt upfront are guys that are project players and would have redshirted anyway and been buried on the depth chart. They wouldn’t have missed any real playing time. Last of course in Bama’s case the couple of players who are told of the possibility of grayshirting are told upfront about this. They know the deal going in and if they don’t like it they don’t have to sign with Bama. They can go to Ark state or elsewhere. No one is forcing them to sign with Bama. As long as you’re upfront with the kid and he understands it and still signs then it is what it is and really shouldn’t be anyone else’s concern. The funny thing is that Mike Shula grayshirted more players every year than Saban yet nobody complained when Shula did it. They only complain that Saban does it. Gee. Can you imagine what the real motivation behind that is?

Tide Rising

August 9th, 2010
8:56 pm

Earl,

That’s a nice stat but Saban was only at LSU for 5 years and when he took over it was a rebuilding year to begin with so not finishing top 10 4 straight years isn’t that unusual. He’s only been at Bama 3 but you can bet that in the next 2 years he will finish top 10 to have that 4 straight top 10 finishes that you seem to think defines a coach. You define a great coach by a good but not great 4 year stretch. I define a coach by sec and national championships of which Saban has 3 conference titles in 8 years and 2 bcs titles while taking over rebuilding jobs at 2 different schools.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
9:04 pm

Saban’s been coaching since 1990, anyone that can name 4 years in a row where he finished in the top 10 final rankings if he’s so good? No? Didn’t think so.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
9:05 pm

If you want to define success as 1 game, versus, 4 seasons, fine. But most people would disagree wiht you.

Tide Rising

August 9th, 2010
9:06 pm

Earl, Jiffy Jeff, Uncle G, and Dale,

You guys sure spend a lot of time talking about how bad Nick Saban sucks. But alas, you are right. The guy sucks as a coach. You must be very happy that we have such a crappy coach. Sucks for us I guess. Terribly inconsistent too while in the sec. Only 3 conference titles and only 2 bcs titles in 8 years of coaching in the sec. Can you imagine coaching 8 years in the sec and only having 3 conference titles and only 2 bcs titles. That’s horrible! Only a 75% winning percentage at LSU and only an 80% winning percentage so far at Bama. I’ll say goodnight now and spend the rest of the evening privately stewing over how bad our coach sucks. Man do I ever hate having such a crappy coach! I hate it!

Earl

August 9th, 2010
9:06 pm

Anyone name 4 seasons in a row where Urban Meyer finished in the top 10 in the final polls if he’s so good?

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
9:08 pm

Saban’s been a great coach, 2x in his career.

Jiffy Jeff

August 9th, 2010
9:09 pm

Oops, meant to say 1x, it was his 2008-2009 consecutive top 10 finishes.

Earl

August 9th, 2010
9:10 pm

Saban’s not a great coach, consistently, coach Richt is.

Tide Rising

August 9th, 2010
9:10 pm

You’re right Earl. Anyone head coaching at Toledo should have at least 4 straight top 10 finishes. You’re absolutely right. Just another reason why Saban sucks. Michigan State? The little brother to Michigan, Ohio State, Penn St., and everyone else in the big 10. Yeah, if you can’t finish with 4 straight top 10s there then you really suck. Every other coach that coached before and after Saban at Mich state wins big 10 and national titles left and right. Yep. Mich state. Its certainly a coaches dream to coach there. Yessirreee.

Dale

August 9th, 2010
9:11 pm

WHy ya’ll dragging me into the mud?

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

August 9th, 2010
9:11 pm

.
Joshua Nesbitt for Heisman
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