I’ll be off Saturday, so let’s take an early dip into the Junkyard Mail, starting with a letter dealing with Thursday’s finalizing of Mark Richt’s new contract. …
George Wilson writes: Bill, I’m happy that they FINALLY got Mark Richt’s new contract finalized, but what’s up with getting rid of the previous $2 million buyout if Richt decides to leave? I don’t really understand what Greg McGarity’s thinking is on that one. Why make it easier for another school to come along and poach your coach?
I think it’s just an acknowledgment by Greg McGarity that buyout clauses don’t really prevent a school from losing a coach and sometimes they just wind up making the parting even more unpleasant. If a coach of Mark Richt’s stature and tenure wants to leave, he’s usually not hurting for money and the other school frequently pays much of the buyout anyway. Has any coach ever changed his mind about leaving because of a buyout clause? They’re not really needed. As The Athens Banner-Herald noted, Nick Saban doesn’t have a buyout in his contract with Alabama. Plus, let’s face it, Richt has made it clear he has no desire to go anywhere else and his extended family are all now living in Athens. And there’s also the other side of the coin: Under the new contract, not only does Richt not have a buyout, but UGA owes him less money if they fire him (which, let’s be honest, is more likely to happen than Richt up and leaving on his own). The amount Richt would be owed if he was fired was reduced from $2.4 million per year to $800,000 per year for the three new years on the contract. Along those lines, I thought the most interesting aspect of Thursday’s proceedings was UGA President Michael Adams’ comment on why they went ahead and extended McGarity’s contract after only two years. “I just felt like it was important for the benefit of the athletic association and the university that we get him locked in at a time that was slightly longer than the head football coach. That would well position the university for any changes that might take place in the future,” Adams said. Sounds like that’s some maneuvering just in case Richt returns to the hot seat a couple of years down the road.
Rodney Brown writes: Hi Bill, thanks for the great Blawg. I hear the rumors about Derrick Henry possibly switching to Alabama and I keep wondering why that is. As quoted from Lisa Horne on Scout.com in her “Running Grades” report, she states, “Alabama: The defending BCS champions have lost Trent Richardson to the NFL but head coach Nick Saban stocked the cupboards with talent. Eddie Lacy, Dee Hart and T.J. Yeldon (early enrollee) should keep the Tide rolling. Hart returns after a knee injury and if everyone is healthy, why not red-shirt Yeldon? That we’re talking about red-shirting Yeldon is all you need to know about the backfield situation at Alabama — it’s loaded.” With this being said, why would a talent like Henry even consider going to a school with a deeper backfield than Georgia’s and see that as a good thing? We all discovered in the SEC Championship that with enough backs you can wear down even one of the top defenses in the country. Wouldn’t his playing opportunities be better here, with our stable of backs, than with Alabama?
Why might Derrick Henry consider going to Alabama, even with their loaded backfield? The same reason so many other players want to go to Alabama, probably: two national championships in the past three years. But you make a good point and hopefully someone will point out to Henry just how deep Bama is in running backs already. Of course, if Henry does choose to flip his commitment from UGA to the Tide, there’s always the possibility that it might prompt another running back recruit to opt for the Dawgs. Or even for one of Alabama’s commitments to flip to Georgia. We’ll probably find out soon since Henry is visiting Bama this weekend. His most recent comment on the subject, though, was: “I am still committed to Georgia, but I am looking around.”
Hal Welch writes: Bill, Not to belabor the scheduling question more than it already has been. But aren’t the two real permanent rivalries we wanted to protect Bama vs Tennessee and UGA vs AU? OK, now stay with me here, that’s two teams from the east and two from the west. Now, we added two teams correct? Both of which are from West of the Mississippi right? OK, so we move Bama and Auburn into the east, put the freshmen into the west and rock on no? Permanent games survive, intra-divisional games can be done with as we wish and all’s well with the world. Or was that too easy? What am I missing here?
And along the same lines Scott Barman writes: Bill, Hello from your nation’s capital, a place where “compromise” is treated like a four-lettered word. While the SEC might be political in its own right, I am sure that the presidents and coaches would be open to a compromise. Considering that the SEC did not want to expand beyond the eight game football schedule, wouldn’t a better compromise be realignment of the divisions to move the rivalries together and move to a 6-2 format? Think about how good it would be for the SEC to have Georgia, Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Tennessee, South Carolina, and Vanderbilt in one division. Not only would it preserve the rivalries but imagine how the networks would be falling all over themselves to broadcast SEC games. It would take the SEC from the premier conference to the elite conference. What do you think?
I think maybe you guys are trying to insure that LSU wins the SEC West every year! While there’s a certain logic to the notion of moving Alabama and Auburn into the East, I think a realignment like that is a lot more drastic action than is needed. Simply adding a ninth conference game to the schedule would allow everyone to stay in place, ensure the continuation of the permanent rivalries, and have teams playing cross-division opponents more frequently. Plus it would upgrade the offerings the conference has for TV. I believe that’s much more likely to happen a year or two down the road, mostly at the behest of the conference’s TV partners.
Jim Parry writes: It would be a joke to not have top 4 ranked teams in new playoff format. Regardless of being a conference champion or not. If the powers that be rule favoritism of a conference champ over a more worthy team and turn it into a geography tournament, then they should make sure no more than one team from each conference can play in the Final Four in basketball. Where was the outrage when 3 Big (L)east teams played in it years ago? There was none, nor would it have been warranted. There should be no complaints about having top 4 teams in any final four of any sport.
I agree, of course, that the playoff should be the overall four top-ranked teams, not the four top-ranked conference champions. And you’re right that no one has objected when a conference has had more than one Final Four entry in basketball. But in college football right now there’s a surprising amount of anti-SEC feeling, and not just from the Big 10. I engaged in a Facebook discussion recently with some folks from the Pacific Northwest and the gist of their comments was that SEC teams pad their records by only playing eight conference games and filling out the schedule with cupcakes. They’ve got a valid point, though I still can’t believe anyone would rather have a playoff that might feature, say, the No. 1, No. 4, No. 7 and No. 11 teams just because they’re conference champions than one that would include the top four teams. But we shouldn’t underestimate the determination of the rest of the country to end the SEC’s run of national titles.
We’ll get to more letters next week. In the meantime, if you have something you want to discuss concerning UGA athletics or a question for the Junkyard Blawg, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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— Bill King, Junkyard Blawg