Category Archives: College Football

SEC Football: What Stock Would Your Favorite Program Be?

LSU running back Leonard Fournette
Leonard Fournette via FoxSports.com

If your favorite Southeastern Conference football team was a stock in the market, who would they be? Would they be a savvy tech company, or a stodgy old blue chip? This is a look at which company each SEC most closely resembles.


MSFT_logo_pngFlorida $MSFT Florida was the top program in the country when Urban Meyer was at the helm. Now they are under new leadership and everyone needs to take a wait-and-see approach as to how Jim McElwain works out. They have immediate access to an unlimited amount of talent, and could be the trend-setter in college football with the right man in charge. Like Microsoft, they used to be great.

500px-General_Electric_logo_svgAlabama $GE The Crimson Tide is the biggest, baddest football program in the country. They are a blue chip program that always produces solid results. Alabama has been the definition of consistency under Nick Saban.

Tesla-Motors-symbolTexas A&M $TSLA Like Tesla, the Aggies are led by a brilliant mind in Kevin Sumlin. Although they have had flashes of greatness,  everyone is waiting for the Aggies to explode on the field and measure up to the recruiting hype.

1000px-Goldman_Sachs.svgAuburn $GS The Tigers feature good leadership, good talent, a proven system, and are poised to be strong for years to come. Just like with Goldman Sachs, there are detractors from the outside who question whether Auburn has achieved their success through nefarious means.

ups-logo-vector-01Arkansas $UPS It is tempting to compare the Razorbacks to Walmart for obvious reasons, but the program resembles the people in brown more. Arkansas slowly grinds away and gets the job done. There is nothing exciting about the Arkansas offense, but it wins games, kind of like the way UPS does a solid job day in and day out.

king logoMississippi State $KING King Digital Entertainment produced Candy Crush Saga and was wildly successful. Their failure to produce another game that has approached Candy Crush‘s popularity has caused the stock price to drop 28 percent since their initial public offering. One must wonder whether MSU will see a similar drop-off on the field once quarterback Dak Prescott graduates.

American_Express_aiOle Miss $AXP In the 1980s, the American Express card in your wallet was a status symbol. The people at AMEX still think it is 30 years later. Similarly, Ole Miss fans think that their football program is a traditional power because they experienced success in the 1950s, and the Grove has some cache as a tailgate spot. Rebel fans can look down upon Mississippi State just like AMEX execs can look down upon Discover card holders.

apple-logo-2014-pngGeorgia $APPL Apple is an extremely successful company that produces stylish products. Georgia has been consistently successful on the field, and regularly produces first-round draft picks. Techies will argue that Droid products are more capable than their more aesthetically pleasing counterparts from Apple. Alabama and Auburn fans will point out that they have won more national titles in the last decade than UGA, despite their recent run of elite skill players and NFL talent.

900x900px-LL-0f9e13fa_jim-beam-logoKentucky $BEAM Does this need any explanation? The number-one producer of bourbon in the world happens to be located in Kentucky. Most of the Wildcat fans partake in their homegrown product while counting the days until basketball season begins. The Jim Beam distillery was de-listed after a private company purchased all the shares; some Wildcat fans believe their football team has been de-listed for the past decade.

ford logoMissouri $F Ford was the only American car company that did not require a government bailout. They quietly made a profit while no one was watching. Everyone forgets that the Tigers won the East the year before when making predictions for the next season. Mizzou is not a flashy program, but they have consistently won since joining the conference.

Twitter-Logo-Icon-by-Jon-Bennallick-02Tennessee $TWTR The Volunteers have amazing potential just like Twitter. Both the Vols and Twitter stock have under-performed up to this point, but are poised to break out in a big way. The Vols have a killer app in quarterback Josh Dobbs, while Twitter has Periscope.

McDonald's_2006LSU $MCD Everyone knows that going to McDonald’s too often will likely lead to an early demise. The same can be said for visiting teams who venture into Baton Rouge. McDonald’s has hit a lull as a company. They are no longer everyone’s favorite burger joint, as the Whataburgers and In & Outs of the world have cut into their market share. Yet, McDonald’s still serves billions of people annually. LSU has seen their win totals diminish over the past few years, yet they still produce as much NFL talent as any program in the country.

callaway-logoSouth Carolina $ELY Callaway Golf Company is one of the most successful manufacturers of golf apparel in the world. Gamecock head coach Steve Spurrier was drawn to Columbia because of all the nice golf courses in the area. Spurrier is the Gamecocks program. It is doubtful that Callaway will steal market share from Nike any time soon, just as it is doubtful that South Carolina will win the Eastern division any time soon. Spurrier will continue to play golf and the Gamecocks will be a winning program as long as he is the head coach.

internet america logVanderbilt $GEEK Internet America is a small internet service provider that will never compete with the large telecommunication companies out there. The same can be said for Vanderbilt‘s prospects for consistently competing in the SEC East. There will be outlier-type years like the period under James Franklin, but the ‘Dores cannot be expected to consistently compete for SEC championships.


Michael Taglienti is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeTag98.

Where Have You Gone, Willie Mays?

AP Photo
AP Photo

No doubt, if you are a sports fan, you’ve noticed a couple of things. First, there is a vast disparity between the major sports in terms of color within that sport. Secondly, in some sports, there is virtually no diversity.

According to a report by Henry Johnson of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, for example, there are issues with diversity in basketball. The NBA, WNBA, and NFL are predominantly African-American, while MLB and MLS are predominantly Anglo.

Screen-Shot-2014-07-11-at-5.46.36-PM
Harvard Sports Analysis Collective

 

In a story written by Paul Hagen for MLB.com, fewer African-Americans are playing in Major League Baseball today than two decades ago; the percentage was 8.5 percent on this season’s Opening Day rosters. Some have estimated that number to be around 27% in the 1970s, but exhaustive research by Mark Armour, a member of the Society for American Baseball Research, shows that the actual number never exceeded 19 percent.

So, what is Major League Baseball doing about this? Commissioner Bud Selig announced in April the formation of a task force to tackle the issue of on-field diversity.

“To be fair, the numbers have dropped. I believe the numbers have dropped from 18-19 percent, which is what they were for about two decades. From the 1970s through the ’90s, the numbers were in the high teens. Now they’re half that,” said Armour, who writes software for the Environmental Protection Agency. “What I determined, and I analyzed data from 1947, when Jackie Robinson made his debut up to 1986, is that the number never got to 20 percent. The black-player number, counting all dark-skinned players, was in the high 20s for a period. But not the African-American number. All the press stuff that comes out every April compares the African-American numbers from today with the all-black-players number from the ’70s. And that’s where they make their mistake.”

Even with all his data, Armour can’t fully explain why fewer African-Americans are playing big league baseball beyond the fact that there are so many players of other ethnicities, primarily Latin American and Asian, now in the game.

Let me hazard a guess: MONEY.

First off, where is the allure for baseball? While it may be “America’s Pastime,” the money can be made elsewhere. The NBA has shoe endorsements and multi-million dollar contracts. In my job as an educator, I come in contact with many athletes. 98% tell me that they are going to play basketball in the NBA or play football in the NFL. The NFL has popularity and name recognition. If you play in the NFL, chances are good that you are well known, at least in your region. Same is said for basketball.

The NFL and NBA have a sexiness to them. Major League Baseball has a workman ethic. Not sexy, but more of a grind. While the NFL has a 16-game season, and the NBA has a 82-game season, Major League Baseball has a whopping 162 games. With football being played once a week, it captures more attention. An NBA team may play 2-3 games in a week’s time, but baseball plays almost every day. Perhaps it’s a case of oversaturation?

SLAM Magazine
SLAM Magazine

The NFL is at an all-time high in popularity and the NBA is very visible with stars like LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and James Harden. The NFL has superstars like Cam Newton, Russell Wilson, and Tom Brady, among others.  Major League Baseball has stars like Giancarlo Stanton, Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Adrian Beltre, and others. Notice a trend? The majority of superstar athletes that play in the NBA and NFL are African-American; the majority of superstars in MLB are Anglo or Hispanic.

Why? Again, I go back to the money issue. Who remembers the Peyton Manning commercials where he chants, “Cut that meat!”?

Who remembers the McDonald’s commercial where Larry Bird and Magic Johnson play HORSE for a meal?

Remember that baseball commercial where…uh…where…ah…well…you get my point. Major League Baseball doesn’t have that appeal to fans, although you will always have diehard fans who keep scorebooks at games. When’s the last time you went to a football game and kept a book for penalties called? When’s the last time you saw someone keeping a book at a basketball game?

Check out these numbers provided by the NCAA.

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football_0 mbb_0

In these statistics from the NCAA, you can clearly see that NOT MANY athletes make the cut. Many boys and girls grow up dreaming of playing sports in college and the pro ranks. But of the nearly eight million students currently participating in high school athletics in the United States, only 460,000 of them will compete at NCAA schools. And of that group, only a fraction will realize their goal of becoming a professional athlete.

The sad part is, while some athletes are good enough to play in college, their grades will not get them into college. That frequently forces them go to Junior College where some, if not all, never make it out.

USATSI
USATSI

Baseball is the only sport now that allows players from high school to go straight to the pro’s. Noah Syndergaard, a pitcher from Mansfield Legacy High School in Texas, went from high school to the New York Mets farm club. He is currently on the major league roster.

The NBA has enforced the “one and done” rule, requesting high school basketball prospects to wait at least one year before declaring for the draft. Contrary to popular belief, the NBA does not require athletes to attend one year of college, but they must wait an entire year or be at least 19 years old to declare for the draft.

The NFL will not draft a player from HS. They prefer the player have at least 2 years in college. More underclassmen are declaring for the draft, and more and more are going UNDRAFTED.

Sexy vs. the Grind. Which would you choose?

Which brings me back to my first question: Where have you gone, Willie Mays?


Ronnie Garcia is the Voice of Reason at The Scoop. He is also an avid guitarist, educator, and all around smarmy guy. You can follow him on twitter @TheRonMann.

Alabama Football: Is The Crimson Tide’s Dynasty Over?

Nick Saban has spent the last eight years building the Alabama football program into the most dominant program in the nation. The Crimson Tide‘s time in the sun is now over as spread offenses and simple complacency have signaled the end to Alabama‘s run.

USA Today
USA Today

Saban took over the Alabama program in 2007, and has produced a 91-17 record during his tenure as the head coach in Tuscaloosa. He has averaged over 11 wins per season by transforming the Crimson Tide into a college version of an NFL team.

Alabama wins by shutting the opposition down with an elite defense, and pounding the ball and controlling the clock on offense. Saban‘s coaching philosophy mirrors the philosophy of old NFC East teams where a strong running game and a stout defense equaled victories.

College football has changed during Saban‘s tenure, and he still has not adjusted to the times. Alabama has lost games in January for consecutive seasons for the first time under Saban.


The Spread Dilemma

The majority of college football teams in America are now running the spread offense. This flies in the face of traditionalists like Saban who prefer to line up and physically beat teams. The issue for Saban is that spread teams have historically given his defense fits.

The spread allows offenses to spread defenses out, and minimizes the advantages of opposing teams that have superior talent on the defensive line. This means that smaller programs who lack the recruiting prowess and tradition of Alabama can play with them on the field.

In the past, the team with the most talent and ability on the offensive and defensive lines won the game. The spread allows teams with average talent on the offensive line to score points in bunches against teams with superior defensive talent.

AP
AP

Alabama has lost four games during the past two seasons. All four of those opponents ran spread offenses. In those four losses, the Crimson Tide defense allowed an average of 36 points per game.

In the past two seasons, that Alabama defense has allowed 16.3 points per game. Obviously Saban‘s defenses have issues dealing with spread offenses.


Passers and Pass Rushers

The best way to stop the spread offense is to put consistent pressure on the opposing quarterback. If a defense can disrupt the rhythm of the quarterback, then the spread offense will stall.

This has been an issue for Alabama because they have not had an elite pass-rusher on their defense for years. In 2014, Xzavier Dixon led the Tide in sacks with nine in 14 games. In 2013, A’Shawn Robinson led Alabama with 5.5 sacks in 13 games.

Saban‘s defenses do not excel at putting a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Only twice during his eight years in Tuscaloosa have the Tide produced a defender who averaged more than half a sack per game: Dixon in 2014 who averaged 0.64 sacks per game, and 2011 when Courtney Upshaw averaged 0.73 sacks per game.

USA Today
USA Today

If you cannot consistently put pressure on opposing quarterbacks, you will not be able to consistently beat spread teams. Alabama lost to Ohio State in the 2014 college football playoffs because they could not get pressure on Buckeye quarterback Cardale Jones, and he completed multiple long passes on third downs to extend drives.

If you cannot shut down spread offenses, you need to be able to outscore them to win games. Saban has recruited a number of elite receivers to Alabama, including Julio Jones and Amari Cooper. Unfortunately he has not been able to develop an elite quarterback.

Since Saban arrived in Tuscaloosa, the Crimson Tide have not had a quarterback who averaged 250 yards passing per game. The closest they got was in 2014 when new offensive coordinator Lane Kiffin installed elements of the hurry-up spread offense, and Blake Sims averaged 249.1 yards per game.

The quarterbacks under Saban have always been expected to manage the game rather than be true playmakers. This changed a little bit under Kiffin in 2014, but the Tide enter 2015 with major questions at the position.

Senior Jacob Coker is expected to start at quarterback in 2015. David Cornwell, Blake Barnett and Cooper Bateman are competing with Coker at the position. Coker was expected to beat Sims out in 2014 but was not up to the task.

Alabama has recruited exceptionally well under Saban. According to 247Sports.com, Alabama has signed the best recruiting class in the nation five years in a row. They are accustomed to reloading every offseason, not rebuilding. Alabama‘s roster may be tested by the number of losses on the offensive side of the ball from the 2014 team.

The Tide graduated three members of their offensive line, their starter at running back and all three of their starting wide receivers. Alabama returns two starters on an offense that has not won a bowl game in two years.

They return one starter from a secondary that struggled mightily to get off the field on third down late in the 2014 season. The bottom line for Alabama is that unless Derrick Henry has a huge junior season at running back, the Tide will struggle to remain among the elite teams in college football.

Saban was able to dominate college football early during his tenure in Tuscaloosa by running a superior program to everyone else in the college game. The opposition has caught up to Alabama, and the Tide‘s dynasty is over.


Mike Taglienti is a Contributor at The Scoop. Follow him on Twitter at @MikeTag98.