Thursday, June 30, 2011

Overcoming Perceptions of Georgia Tech Among Top Recruits

Jordan Jenkins is one of the consensus top prospects in the state of Georgia with offers from Georgia, Alabama, and Auburn in addition to Georgia Tech.

Jenkins has visited many of the top schools in the SEC and has predictably come away impressed. 

Paul Johnson convinced the Harris County product to make the short trek up to Atlanta a few weeks ago to see what the school and football program was all about.

“I spent a lot of time with the coaches, checking out the campus, and meeting other Georgia Tech people,” he said. “It was nothing how I thought it would be. I was very impressed. It is making me rethink some things” Jenkins told the AJC's Michael Carvell.

I take particular interest in the second part of that quote - "It was nothing how I thought it would be."

I wonder where Jenkins developed his image of what Georgia Tech would be like?

At Harris County High School, I would bet the majority of the graduates attending Tech are spending more time in AP Math and Physics classes than on the varsity athletic fields. Jenkins perception of Tech was probably a place where people who loved math went; not a place where a top football player can compete for BCS bowls and a chance at the NFL while getting a degree from a top 10 public university.

Jenkins has also undoubtedly been talking to coaches from various schools and the discussion of where he is considering almost certainly comes up.  Could it be that Jenkins heard negative things about Tech through these channels?  No coach in college football will admit to condoning negative recruiting but, like in political campaigns, it is used and it works.

Jordan Jenkins will likely not decide on his college choice until Signing Day or close to it.  Signs point to Auburn having the lead right now. 

Whether or not he chooses Georgia Tech at least he saw the school and football program first hand and did not rely on a blind perception. 

You can check out this article and others by me at ChuckOliver.net


Monday, June 27, 2011

Top Georgia Recruit Eliminates Childhood Favorite

Jordan Watkins, one of the top players in the state of Georgia, eliminated Georgia Tech from consideration this week. Watkins grew up a Tech fan and has been on the campus numerous times. Many Tech fans thought Watkins was a near lock to be a Yellow Jacket.

But as the talented Woodward Academy defensive lineman began discussing what is important in college selection his preferred major kept coming up high on the list. A prospect with double digit offers, Watkins had to eliminate his favorite school because they didn't have his major.

Is this a reason to go add a specific major just for Jordan Watkins? No, but it does speak to a larger problem that Tech's competition uses its lack of curriculum against them when talking to recruits. I think the lack of curriculum shrinks Tech's recruiting pool more than high admission standards; and Tech can add majors without lowering its standards like other top public schools such as Michigan, North Carolina, and Virginia have.

If Tech wants to get back to competing for ACC titles on a more consistent basis it would be a lot easier to do when you can appeal to larger base of players with high academics like Jordan Watkins.

You can see this article and others by me at ChuckOliver.net

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Georgia Tech Recruiting Podcast

Coaches By The Numbers and Ingram Smith of Chuck Oliver.net have a robust discussion of Georgia Tech recruiting comparing the Yellow Jackets classes under Chan Gailey and Paul Johnson.

(The most interesting part of the discussion centers on Smith's theory that recruiting websites rank kids differently depending on who is recruiting them and where they sign.)

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Paul Johnson Taps Georgia Southern Connection For Latest Georgia Tech Committ

Georgia Tech received their seventh commit of the 2012 class in Wide Receiver Michael Summers. The Statesboro, Georgia native cited his families' relationship with head coach Paul Johnson as a big reason why he wants to attend Tech according to the AJC's Michael Carvell.

Summers' dad was recruited by the then Georgia Southern assistant back in 1984 and although the elder Summers attended South Carolina State he maintained a relationship with Johnson. The Tech head coach has known the younger Summers since he was a baby.

The Georgia Southern football program takes a back seat to no one in Division I-AA (now FCS) history. Johnson was apart of four of the six national titles won by the Eagles, two as a coordinator and two as the head coach. His winning percentage in Statesboro was .861, higher than Erk Russell's and highest in school history.  The Eagles were so successful in large part due to players from Georgia.

When Johnson arrived in Georgia Tech many thought his success at Georgia Southern would help him in recruiting the state again. While the last two classes have been heavy with in state players, not many have cited Johnson or his time at Southern as a big reason why they chose the Yellow Jackets. Maybe that is beginning to turn around with Summers' commitment.

In addition to his father's relationship with Johnson, the elder Summers is also close friends with Tracy Ham who is arguably Georgia Southern's best player ever. Ham, a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, was a QB for Johnson's offense in the 80s and talked up his former coach to Summers' family.

Michael Summers, Jr recently received an offer from the Florida Gators but turned down the offer from the two time BCS Champions and decided to go with the guy who helped turn his home town school into an elite program of their own.

Check out this article and others by me at ChuckOliver.net

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Who Could Georgia Tech Play in a 2013 Chick Fil A Kickoff Game?

Gary Stokan of the Atlanta Sports Council created some buzz around the Georgia Tech fan base this week saying he was targeting the Yellow Jackets for a 2013 kickoff game in the Georgia Dome.

So just who could Tech play?

The options seem limitless considering the national recognition the game has garnered in three seasons, but for the game to work I think you have to narrow the focus to a small group of teams that would generate great local and substantial national interest as well as a team that would create a good matchup for Tech's program.

In order to garner a sell out it is very likely a prominent SEC team or a "national" team would be involved as Georgia Tech's fan base simply isn't strong enough right now to bring 75k fans on their own like UGA will this upcoming season.

3 Most Likely SEC Candidates:
Auburn
The Tigers seem like the most likely matchup for Tech because of the program's history with one another. Auburn is Georgia Tech's second most played rivalry continuing their series even after Tech left the SEC. The Tigers also have a large fan base in Atlanta and the Alabama base is a short drive away. Gene Chizik has continued the trend of recruiting the state of Georgia and Atlanta area very hard and this game would only help that exposure.

Plus, Auburn fans desperately want to exact revenge on Tech for wins in 2003 and 2005 under Chan Gailey and Reggie Ball.

Tennessee
Like Auburn, Tennessee is an old rivalry game from Tech's SEC days. The Yellow Jackets most famous coach, Bobby Dodd, was an All-American for the Volunteers before taking an assistant job at Tech. Also like Auburn, UT has a size able fan base in the metro Atlanta area able to make the short trek to the Dome. The Vols are probably even more interested than Auburn in gaining recruiting exposure in the Atlanta area.

With a small in state talent base, Tennessee's fortunes over the years have been shaped by how well they recruit the state of Georgia. And despite a losing record in year one, Derek Dooley generated enough excitement with his close losses that Vols fans are looking towards the future with hope.

South Carolina
Once Tech became an Independent these two schools made a habit of playing each other in the 70s and 80s, but have not matched up since 1991. Things are looking up in Columbia with an SEC East title last season and likely to be the media and coaches favorite this season as well. South Carolina's campus is just a four hour drive away with large portion of their fan base being even closer.

And despite the flap in oversigning Atlanta prospect Lorenzo Mauldin, Spurrier wants to get more in the Atlanta recruiting scene. The one hindrance to the Gamecocks is they already have four non-conference games scheduled in 2013, but as shown for this year's game schedules can be moved around.
Alabama seems like an intriguing option after the two schools pushed back a scheduled home and home, but the Tide are already appearing in a kick off game in Atlanta that season and Stokan said the they would be in a separate, undetermined matchup.

National Opponents
When I think of national opponents interested in the game, two things immediately come into mind:

1. Large, traveling fan base
2. Desire to get into Atlanta recruiting base

When those two items are considered the search narrows to teams like Notre Dame, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State

The one that, by far, makes the most sense to me is Notre Dame.

The Irish and Yellow Jackets have a history stretching back to the 1950s when they were dominant programs. ND would also like to exact revenge for suffering their worst home opener loss ever to Tech back in 2007.

Most importantly, Head Coach Brian Kelly is making a big recruiting push into the South and especially the state of Georgia where he snatched away Stephon Tuitt from Tech this year.

The one caveat is that Notre Dame already has five road games scheduled in 2013 with a sixth at a neutral site. But this is not something that couldn't be worked out. UGA, with the help of ESPN, had to move around their 2011 schedule to get into this year's game.

Above all, the matchup will have to be intriguing enough for Georgia Tech to give up one of its home games in 2013. I think one of these four - Auburn, Tennessee, South Carolina, or Notre Dame could make it happen.

This article and others by me are also available at Chuck Oliver.net

Monday, June 20, 2011

Did A Top Georgia Prospect Inadvertently Reveal Who His Favorite Is?

Jordan Jenkins, projected to be a top five (and maybe the top rated) recruit in the state of Georgia, did an interview with the AJC's Michael Carvell talking about a recent visit to Georgia Tech's campus.

Jenkins had some good things to say about Tech, including how the visit changed his perception of the school.

A closer look at this image shows who Jenkins may be favoring in his recruitment (you have to look deep...like one of those mall kiosk trick images)
Photo Credit: AJC/Michael Carvell

Saturday, June 18, 2011

New Georgia Tech Head Coach Brian Gregory Wastes No Time In Recruiting

This past Wednesday was the first day college basketball coaches could call rising juniors.

Brian Gregory has been on the job at Georgia Tech just over two months trying to rebuild a Yellow Jacket program that has fallen near the bottom of the ACC three of the last four seasons.

The best way to rebuild a program is through recruiting and the state of Georgia looks loaded for the next two years.

While 2012 recruiting is in full swing, Gregory wasted no time getting started on 2013 recruits calling top prospect Brannen Greene at 12:01 AM Wednesday morning.

Was Greene and his family upset at the late calls and texts?

For Greene's parents, the exhilaration of seeing so many high-profile programs show interest in their son easily outweighed the nuisance of having their phones ringing after midnight. Jeffrey Greene described the night as "humbling and exciting," adding that all the calls and scholarship offers provided validation that his son's dedication on the court and in the classroom hadn't been for nothing.

The first call from Gregory also meant alot to the 2013 prospect from Forsyth, Ga.

It's far too early in Brannen's recruitment for him to even have a list of favorite schools, but the 6-foot-7 Forsyth, Ga., resident admits it was meaningful that Gregory fulfilled a previous promise to be the first coach to call at 12:01 a.m.

"He was like, 'I was just showing you in 2013, you're who we want.'" Greene said. "It's a big thing. I really appreciate it." 

Within the first 24 hours, Greene also received calls from FSU, Xavier, Wake Forest, Duke, Kansas, and Louisville.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Derek Dooley Talks About Recruiting With Potential NCAA Violations Hanging Over The Tennessee Program

Dooley also talks about the challenges taking over a program with two head coaches in the previous two seasons.

Additionally, the Volunteer head coach was asked about returning QB Tyler Bray and the challenges he faces heading into his Sophomore season and his thoughts on playing in the Chick Fil A kickoff game.

Audio (right click to download)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Phil Steele Talks Georgia, Georgia Tech Prospects for 2011

As his magazine hits the news stands, one of the preeminent college football prognosticators, is making his rounds on the radio circuit.

Last week, Steele was on Atlanta radio station 790 The Zone discussing why he thinks Alabama will win the BCS title, if Georgia Tech will be improved this season, and how UGA's schedule makes them the favorite in the SEC East.

790 Audio (right click to download)

Steele was also on 680 The Fan in Atlanta two days later talking about Ohio State's prospects and how he accounted for their troubles in his magazine as well how UGA's recruiting class will give the program a boost and how Georgia Tech's Paul Johnson usually does better than Steele predicts.

680 Audio (right click to download)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Who Has Dominated the ACC Since Expansion? Virginia? Yes, Virginia

From Old Virginia tabulated up the conference championships won by each school since expansion and the Cavaliers are running away with titles - 37 in total. (Link to their post)

The baseball win gives UVA five ACC champeenships for the year, which ties us with Maryland for the season's most with five. Our five: men's tennis, rowing, baseball, and men's and women's swimming and diving. This is as good a time as any to brag about Virginia's ACC dominance. In the years since ACC expansion (so, starting with the 2004-2005 season), here's the rundown of schools and their ACC championships:
  1. Virginia - 37
  2. FSU - 26
  3. Duke - 25
  4. UNC - 21
  5. Maryland - 16
  6. Ga. Tech - 14
  7. Va. Tech - 11
  8. Clemson - 8
  9. NC State - 6
  10. Miami - 5
  11. Wake Forest - 5
  12. Boston College - 1
UVA's 37 championships (in 7 years) break down like so:

  • 6 each: Men's swimming & diving; men's tennis; rowing
  • 4: Women's swimming & diving
  • 3 each: Men's cross country; women's lacrosse
  • 2 each: Baseball; men's lacrosse; men's soccer
  • 1 each: Men's outdoor track & field; women's soccer; wrestling

Rival fans of Virginia Tech will be quick to point out that none of these titles are in "sports that matter" like football or basketball. Still the Wahoos dominance of swimming, tennis, and excellent performance on the baseball diamond deserve some recognition.

(h/t to BC Interruption)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

How The Preseason Magazines View the ACC

FSU and Virginia Tech are consensus favorites in the Atlantic and Coastal Divisions with the magazines released thus far as they are with bettors.

Atlantic Division
After the Seminoles, the Atlantic is very bunched from spots 2-5. Some disagreement exists as to where Clemson will finish as two magazines have them 2nd and two others 4th.  Athlon clearly thinks Mike Glennon will have no drop off from Russell Wilson picking NC State 2nd.  Wake is a consensus 6th right now and their overall standing will likely not change.

Coastal Division
Over in the Coastal, more separation exists with Miami being a fairly clear second choice behind VT followed by North Carolina.  It gets a little more interesting in the 4th spot where Georgia Tech is picked except by The Sporting News which has the Jackets finishing 5th behind UVA.  Like Wake, Duke brings up the rear by consensus. 

Rank Team Total
Points
TSN Lindy Athlon Phil
Steele
Atlantic
1Florida State4 1111
2Clemson12 4242
3Maryland13 2335
4N.C. State15 5523
5Boston College16 3454
6Wake Forest24 6666
Coastal
1Virginia Tech4 1111
2Miami-Florida 222
3North Carolina11½ 333
4Georgia Tech17 5444
5Virginia19 4555
6Duke24 6666

Go check out Team Speed Kills for a writeup on the SEC preseason magazine predictions.

If you want to see how the mags are predicting the other conferences as well as historical picks, check out Stassen.com

Monday, June 13, 2011

If Georgia Tech Starts Out Recruiting The UGA, FSU, and Alabama's of the World...I am Worried

On his daily "College Football Today" segment Wednesday, Chuck Oliver commented on how Georgia Tech fans should be worried about the offers their commits have (and who is not offering them).

I hope not to get the fan base even further down by saying the following: Georgia Tech is never going to win the month of February as the NCAA eligibility rules currently stand.

If the Yellow Jackets start signing numerous, highly ranked recruiting classes, an NCAA investigation cannot be far behind. Too many negatives exist for Tech in the recruiting world to make it feasible to recruit at a high level and be clean.

Sure, Tech has gotten a few highly rated players here and there but for the most part the Yellow Jackets have largely lost the recruiting battles over the years to other schools. A reminder that Calvin Johnson was only a 4 star recruit according to Rivals.

The reasons Tech does not fare well against other schools when gaining the pledge of top recruits are numerous.

A small fan base, entrance requirements, lack of majors to choose from, the lack of easy majors to choose from, the lack of "talent" on campus, etc.

This may be a news flash to some but the vast majority of high level BCS recruits have no desire to study something that will require much more effort than what they did in high school. Where Tech would have an advantage over BCS bowl contenders is if an elite prospect wanted to major in Engineering, but those kids aren't exactly plentiful.

If the Jackets did start consistently hauling in highly sought after recruits wanted by the big boys it would definitely raise an eye in Athens, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, and Clemson for sure.

That same question was being asked in Texas how a school like Oregon could come in and steal recruits, especially at the last minute, away from the big boys. Under Chip Kelly the Ducks have raised their average recruiting ranking from around 29 to 16.

Sure enough, Oregon has admitted to paying $25,000 to a recruiting service in Texas, an amount much higher than other schools pay for similar services. The matter is currently being investigated by the NCAA and since the Ducks have yet to produce the actual film they bought it doesn't look good.

Another non-traditional football program that saw a sudden improvement in recruiting hauls was North Carolina. Think it is simply a coincidence the Tar Heels have received a letter of inquiry from the NCAA about potential violations in the football program?

Oregon and UNC's improvement in recruiting are anomalies. Rankings rarely differ much from one coach to another within a program indicating certain schools simply sell themselves. Comparing Les Miles rankings to Nick Saban's at LSU show the Tigers were top 10 nearly every year under both. Same with Florida under Urban Meyer and Ron Zook and South Carolina under Steve Spurrier and Lou Holtz.

If you look at Chan Gailey's recruiting class from 2002-2008 on Scout.com they ranked 51st, 34th, 35th, 48th, 49th, 15th, and 37th. An average of 38.4.

Compare that to the signing classes of Paul Johnson from 2009-2011 and you have 32nd, 41st, and 42nd. An average of 38.3.

Hardly any difference.

Yet when you compare Gailey's winning percentage and accomplishments to Johnson there is a difference.

History shows Tech is not going to get the elite players. Yet, they have been able to consistently beat teams who do (Clemson, North Carolina, Auburn) and have had more than expected success against teams like Miami and FSU over the last decade.

The Yellow Jackets have done it with coaching and player development. George O'Leary had to build the program into a winner from guys Georgia didn't want. He took those players to three straight wins over the Bulldogs and even with that success he still was not beating out UGA for many recruits. That lack of talent was evident when O'Leary left and a lesser coach took over.

Likewise, Johnson took Gailey's players and turned them from a seven win team to an ACC Championship. Now that many of those player have left, it is up to Johnson to coach and develop those players back into a winning team.

Nobody had heard of Gary Guyton in the Summer of 2003 except for Georgia Tech. Guyton is now starting for the New England Patriots. We just don't know how these kids will pan out when they sign on the dotted line and much less three months before their senior season in high school.

Johnson has shown he can win with someone Gailey's recruits. The next two seasons will be the ultimate determination of whether or not his coaching and player development are good enough to win at this level.

Check out this article and more of my work at Chuck Oliver.net

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Is Nick Saban Worth 50% More Than Les Miles Or 2 Times Mark Richt?

With Gene Chizik's new raise, the Auburn coach moves up the ladder in terms of pay amongst his conference brethren. But most every coach still pales in comparison to Alabama's Nick Saban.

Below is the annual total salary for SEC coaches with the difference between them and Saban.

Coach School Salary % Difference
Nick Saban Alabama $6 million -
Les Miles LSU $4 million -50%
Bobby Petrino Arkansas $3.56 million -68%
Gene Chizik Auburn $3.5 million -71%
Mark Richt Georgia $2.8 million -114%
Steve Spurrier So. Carolina $2.8 million -114%
Dan Mullen Mississippi State $2.65 million -126%
Houston Nutt Ole Miss $2.5 million -140%
Derek Dooley Tennessee $2.1 million -186%
Will Muschamp Florida $2 million -200%
Joker Phillips Kentucky $1.7 million -253%
James Franklin Vanderbilt $1.3 million -361%

In four seasons at Alabama, Saban has brought an SEC Title, a BCS Title, and the Crimson Tide will be highly ranked again to start the season. However, Les Miles has also done all of these things and Saban is only 2-2 against LSU.

Compared to the rest of the coaches, Saban's salary seems high but if he wins the BCS again this year it is worth it.

But what if the Tide fail to win the SEC or even the West this year?

From strictly a business perspective do you think Alabama has over paid for Saban or has he deserved it based on where he has taken the program and where it appears to be headed?

h/t to Arkansas Sports 360 for the salary data)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

ACC Football Odds: Some Thoughts on Favorite FSU, Potential Value Picks

SBR Forum has posted odds for each ACC team winning their division and the conference championship.

SCHOOL
ACC ODDS
COASTAL
ATLANTIC
Boston College
+2000

+800
Clemson
+1500

+500
Duke
+15000
+5000

Florida State
+150

-300
Georgia Tech
+2500
+1200

Maryland
+1200

+350
Miami
+350
+150

North Carolina
+500
+200

North Carolina State
+3000

+1000
Virginia
+3000
+1200

Virginia Tech
+250
+100

Wake Forest
+10000

+5000

Atlantic Division
FSU as the Atlantic Division favorite should be no surprise, but their odds in comparison to their rest of their competition are a little eye opening.

A little bit of a surprise to me is Maryland coming in ahead of Clemson for second, but more so the gap between the Seminoles (-300) and Maryland which is 3.5 to 1 underdog and Clemson as a 5 to 1 underdog.  Florida State does get Randy Edsall's team at home, but has to travel to Tiger Town this season.

While FSU should definitely be the favorite it is hard to see much value with those odds relative to their competition in the Atlantic. 

As a side note, I wonder what NC State's odds would be if Russell Wilson was returning?  Probably better than +1000.  Tom O'Brien may be regretting that decision come September.

Coastal Division
Virginia Tech at the top of the Coastal at +100 is not a surprise.  Miami at +150 is a bit of surprise since Al Golden is in his first year and will be having to replace some key players gone to the NFL and does not have a proven commodity at QB.  Also, the Hurricanes have never won the division. 

The biggest surprise to me is close UNC at +200 is to VT and Miami with the rest of the Coastal much further behind.  Yes, the Tar Heels got some valuable playing time to backups last year with all the suspensions, but they will also have a new QB and Butch Davis has yet to meet pre season expectations thus far in Chapel Hill

Georgia Tech at +1200 gives you six times the odds of North Carolina and host the Tar Heels this season as well as Virginia Tech, Maryland, and Clemson.  

The favorites are correct, but given these odds I would go with Virginia Tech (+250) over FSU (+150) right now for the ACC Champion.

For value picks on each side, I like Clemson in the Atlantic and Georgia Tech in the Coastal. 

SBR Forum Thoughts

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Notre Dame All Star WR Michael Floyd Must Be Changing His Life

After being held out of Spring practice after his third alcohol related arrest, Floyd is now allowed to participate in "voluntary" workouts the players are currently conducting on their own.

However, the school stressed he has not been reinstated to the team.

This should not come as a surprise as a few weeks ago Head Coach Brian Kelly said Floyd would be allowed to play every game in the fall if met conditions set by the coaching staff, including "changing his life".

At that time, Kelly said he was "very optimistic" on Floyd's return based on the progress he had seen.

With Floyd, I think the Irish are a serious BCS Bowl contender. Without him, they may only improve marginally over last season.

(h/t to Dennis Dodd)

Dabo Swinney Hopes New OC Chad Morris Will Fix Clemson's Biggest Problem on Offense

The Clemson Tigers head coach was on Atlanta Radio Station 680 The Fan talking about the status of his program heading into his third full season as head coach.

Much of the discussion centered on how new OC Chad Morris will help Clemson score more points, an area Swinney feels has been holding the team back.

Swinney also talked about the importance of running the ball well, the talents of new QB Tahj Boyd, the improved receiver corps, and who is going to step up on defense.

Audio (Right-click to download)

Sports Illustrated's Andy Staples Provides Context As To Why UGA Is A Better Job Than Alabama

Last week, Staples published a list of the top 20 jobs in college football.

Surprising to some was Georgia coming in at #5 ahead of Alabama (#7).

Staples went on Atlanta Radio Station 790 The Zone to explain why he thinks the gig in Athens would be more sought after than the one in Tuscaloosa if it came open.

Audio (Right Click to Download)

Friday, June 3, 2011

UGA Head Coach Mark Richt Talks To Reporters Before The SEC Meetings (Video)

Richt discusses player evaluations after Spring Practice and if integrity on the SEC recruiting trail has declined recently as former Florida coach Urban Meyer has suggested.



From the Knoxville News Sentinel

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

How Many of You Who Went to a Big Time Athletics College Wondered This Same Thing?

"I'm driving a 2000 Isuzu Rodeo," laughed [Ohio State] senior Jeff Whaley. "And I work. You see the nice watch, nice earrings. You see the cars and wonder."

The mood in Columbus from ESPN's Adam Rittenberg