Monday, January 22, 2007

Ready or Not

If you haven't already, do yourself a service and check out Warren St. John's piece in the New York Times about the Fugees. Not Wyclef and Lauren, but these guys:

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

All over. On to the shoutin', pt. 1.

Alright, so fast-forward to the present, which from a college football perspective, bears all the lush, verdant promise one feels when heading east out of Indio, California: Not yet oblivion, but right on its cusp. Having closed things out with the retina-searing image of a crystal football in gator hands, we now look forward to National Signing Day. After that, well let’s just say it’s a long damn way to Phoenix.

Basically, what the football gods have left us with is the cleanup from a lot of rolled coaches’ heads and, for any D-1 program looking to move Jamie Newberg’s meter on Signing Day, all that blood should have been mopped up well before now.

If you’re still on brain detail, call this guy.

So, in no particular order, here’s the first of several looks at how a few programs relevant to the fortunes of Georgia football got their shit together for Signing Day.

: From a Bulldog perspective, if you looked at the state of Florida as though it were Afghanistan (and I do), the Gators, obviously, are the Taliban, while Miami is whatever warlord is running things in the Northeast. The Hurricanes don’t occupy anything remotely resembling moral high ground, but they are useful. As with Alabama, a healthy Miami helps Georgia; in Da U’s case, it’s because the ‘Canes recruit against the Gators in the Sunshine State’s hottest hotbeads for high school talent, although they don’t play the Gators that often.

Apparently bereft of a better way to fill the Orange Bowl, Miami scheduled FIU in a game that would have been a non-event to anyone outside of Dade County, but which resulted in a massive brawl that cost Lamar “We Ready” Thomas his job and hastened head coach Larry Coker’s exit.

Picking up the pieces is Randy Shannon, previously the ‘Canes defensive coordinator. No qualms from me on that one. Defense was one of the ‘Canes strong suits and keeping Shannon on board communicates some stability to the recruits. By offering Shannon the promotion, cash-strapped Miami likely spared itself a wallet-emptying hire a la Alabama. Plus, he’s black, which, as Orson notes, raises the odds considerably that, in the not too distant future, Miami will be firing a black coach. Kudos to Da U then for being willing to risk that shitstorm.

A more intriguing hire was that of Patrick “Spike it on 3rd Down, Reggie” Nix, previously Georgia Tech’s offensive coordinator. Gator fans may remember Nix’s pass to Frank Sanders in 1994 with 36 seconds to go help Auburn beat Steve Spurrier's then-top ranked Gators. If not, here’s some fresh salt for your wounds, gators. Georgia fans, of course, remember him fondly for this sequence:

There are a lot of ways to look at this hire. Nix has had a lot to do with Tech’s recent surge in recruiting. He was also Reggie Ball’s position coach and architected the following scoring outbursts:

  • 10 points against Utah in 2005
  • 7 points against North Carolina in 2006
  • 6 points against Wake Forrest in 2006

Whether Nix to Miami is addition by subtraction for Tech, whether this is a lateral move for Nix, and whether this is a good hire for Miami are all highly debatable issues. I’m not sure how good of a recruiter you need to be in order to recruit well in Coral Gables. The talent’s right there in your back yard and it’s crawling all over itself to don orange and green. That said, if you’re a high school player in Florida and you haven’t gotten texted by Urban Meyer, you need to pay ya beeper bill, bitch. Nix’s offense will never be confused with the kinds of Ultimate Frisbee/Arena Ball track meets that used to pack the OB’s seats. That said, ‘Canes fans aren’t in much of a position to judge since most of their seats were empty when Georgia Tech beat Miami. Ahem, twice. In succession. Granted, neither of those wins had anything to do with offense, but I’m just throwing that out there. Tech also lit up Auburn twice. Maybe the guy knows something. As for what this means for Nix’s career, I guess he comes out a little ahead. Neither Tech nor Miami have budgets befitting their position in a BCS conference, but let’s just say Miami comes with a few intangibles missing at Tech.

Neither of these places screams “family friendly,” but I know where I’d rather be.

So. On to what’s important: What’s it all mean to Georgia?

Impact on Tech: In light of 2006’s Coastal Division crown and Chan Gailey’s return to the Flats, the Chan Gailey Equilibrium should reassert itself with a vengeance in 2007. That means the Jackets will follow 2006’s nine wins with a five-win campaign in 2007 to balance things at the mandatory 7-win average. Calvin Johnson knew he was powerless to affect that outcome and perhaps Nix did as well, hence both of their departures. I don’t expect too much fall out on the recruiting front this close to signing day, although the Dawgs might be able to make a run at one or two of Tech’s in-state commitments. But I don’t expect there’ll be a spectacular hire to upgrade from Nix’s Xs and Os boobery. This isn’t addition by subtraction, as is the case with Game Ball’s departure, and the CGE will have its way regardless, so the impact on Georgia is somewhere between negligible and slightly positive, depending on what recruiting dividends are paid.

Impact on Florida: Miami does come to Gainesville in 2008. If Charlie Strong isn’t a head coach somewhere else by then (which would be a travesty), this could turn into a ritualized baby seal clubbing. Florida will be staffed entirely by Meyer’s almost exclusively 5-star recruits and, if there really is something to Tim Tebow and the spread offense, God help us all in ’08. However, as I said above, Nix has hurt the Gators before. Out-recruiting Meyer might be a tall order, but if Nix can at least hold serve in South Florida, Meyer might have to slum with a few 4-star recruits. I don’t think Nix in Miami helps Florida, but I don’t think his being there correlates heavily with Bulldog wins in Jacksonville either.

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"Well it’s been rough and rocky travelin’ ..."

To steal one from Steve Earle, our divorce from Austin did not work out. Upon returning, we’ve noticed a few changes, including an alarmingly Atlanta-esque number of cranes downtown. But over the past 18 months, mostly what’s changed is us – we’re married, employed and thoroughly disabused of any romantic notions about the California lifestyle.

Regarding the Golden State, well, what I can I say, given such a short stay? As an impartial observer, I’m amused at how similar the populations of California and Texas are, given their antipathy toward one another. Both are large states with multiple metropolitan areas jammed with SUVs driven by people who share a charitable view towards plastic surgery and $200 blue jeans. Californians sneer at Texans for their conservatism and then give the world Nixon, Reagan, Charlton Heston and Schwarzenegger. If there really were a day without a Mexican, both states would fall flat on their faces economically and likely starve from burrito deprivation.

There are differences as well, but, outside of the politics in Berkeley and Hollywood, it would be myopic to even mention them. Having driven across the country several times, I am profoundly saddened by the sameness of the Assimilated States of America. You have to look hard between the Home Depots, Wal-Marts, Taco Bells and forests of mobile phone towers to catch the faintest glimmer of what everyone from the Native Americans through Jack Kerouac saw. For more on that, please check out Fast Food Nation and your local zoning board.

As you’ve also noticed, what’s also changed is the title and URL of this blog. Given recent traffic counts, I figured I wasn’t risking much by flipping my handle and kicking out the beer cans and pizza boxes. Whether that’ll translate to a higher post count is TBD, but every New Year begins with the highest hopes.

So, dear readers – all one of you – thanks for your continued and utterly undeserved patronage. Happy aught-seven!