Sprints Didn't Enjoy the Firings of Martinez, Fabris and Jancek Any More than You // 12.03.09

A lot of news in this edition of Sprints leaves us without room to put all the big stories above the jump, so I'll tell you that the post includes news and views from the SEC Championship Game and a response to a defense of Auburn in the Outback Bowl.

GEORGIA DEFENSE FIRINGS

It never is
Mark Richt says it wasn't easy to decide to fire Willie Martinez, Jon Fabris and John Jancek.

I did not take any pleasure in the decision. It was a very difficult thing to do. After painstaking reflection and time to think about the whole situation, I felt like this was the best decision for Georgia now. We spend much more time with each other than we do our families. You watch their children grow up and you bleed with them and you have defeats with them and wonderful victories and celebrations with them, Christmas parties with them, all those things. We've accomplished quite a lot at Georgia over that time frame. It's not been anything easy at all.

Then again, that's why you're paid millions of dollars: To make the tough choices.

It might not have been so hard on the players
You don't really get the impression that guys like Jeff Owens were really heartbroken to hear about the move.

"Bummer," Owens said. ...

Sophomore linebacker Marcus Dowtin, who was heading into the locker room before a weight room workout, said "I don't have no reaction to it. I'm looking forward to the next coach, I guess."

A Georgia sports communications staffer then requested that reporters leave the first floor lobby area.

That's not exactly a stirring defense of the man who used to lead them into competition every week.

Evans: Richt's call
The athletics director says what every Georgia fan probably wants to hear -- Richt did this on his own and will be provided what's needed to get a capable successor.

This is Mark's decision. ... I told Mark to go out and try to find the best coaches possible and that we'll be very competitive and help him out and do what we need to do to attract the top candidates here.

Of course, it was Richt who hired Willie Martinez to begin with.

Tuberville is really a "0," but other than that it's a pretty fine list
MaconDawg lists some of the potential new defensive coordinators in Athens. There are some good names on there, but I still don't understand the notion that there is any chance at all that Tommy Tuberville would come to Auburn. He will have plenty of opportunities to be a head coach again without taking a coordinator job in Athens. There are a few more pipe dreams -- Will Muschamp or Charlle Strong -- but at least they aren't former successful head coaches at FBS schools.

Because some people like to watch defensive linemen standing up
John Thompson could be a candidate for the job. South Carolina fans who experienced the Thompson years in Columbia would gladly contribute to the fund to hire Thompson for the job in Athens.

The human fallout
Westerdawg considers what could be ahead for the fired coaches.

Don't be shocked to see Coach Jancek at Notre Dame working with linebackers next year if Coach Brian Kelly moves up there. ...

Martinez was an exceptional defensive backs coach for much of his time in Athens. The last two years were a complete train wreck, but the first 6 were so strong that he'll get another offer as a position coach very quickly. It wouldn't shock me to see him in Miami or at Michigan State should a position open up. ...

Lastly, Fabris is very well networked from his travels. ... It was his maddening strategic decisions on special teams that were his undoing...not his DE work. He'll land elsewhere and thrive.

One hopes they'll do well. It's a distasteful part of this business to have to watch people's jobs taken away because of football games. (And I say that as someone who's called for a coach or two to be fired before.) So it's good to know that they have other options. Unemployment isn't any more fun for a football coach than it is for anyone else.

SEC CHAMPIONSHIP GAME

Win or bust
Writing at Dr. Saturday's place, Dan Shanoff says that a Tim Tebow without a national championship this year and and SEC title win this Saturday is really no Tim Tebow at all.

As we have been saying since August -- perhaps since he announced his return in January -- anything less than a national title is a failed season. Losing to Alabama would be a double-shot: Not only would that mean no BCS Championship game, but he wouldn't even go out with another coveted SEC championship.

One is tempting to jokingly say "no pressure," but then you remember that nothing any of us write is likely to put more pressure on Tebow than he is putting on himself.

Is McElroy a better passer than Tebow?
Chris Low makes the case that Greg McElroy might be a better quarterback than Tim Tebow when you take out the running ability and the whole "HE'S A WINNER AND THE GREATEST PLAYER IN THE HISTORY OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL EVERER" dimension.

But if you put McElroy's passing numbers up against Tebow's passing numbers this season in SEC games, they're very comparable.

In fact, McElroy's touchdown-to-interception ratio is better, and he also passed for more yards. McElroy threw 11 touchdown passes and just three interceptions against SEC defenses, while passing for 1,484 yards.

Tebow threw just seven touchdown passes this season against SEC defenses and was intercepted four times. He had 1,305 passing yards.

Don't let Gary Danielson hear you talking like that.

Carlos who?
Nick Saban downplays the idea that the Carlos Dunlap suspension will have much to do with Alabama's game plan.

"Certainly, there was attention to where he was and what he was doing and how we were going to block him," Saban said. "But we also have a lot of respect for their other players, and whoever takes his place I'm sure will be doing the same assignments and the same job that he would do."

Unless they also decide to sleep at traffic lights between now and Saturday afternoon.

Dan McCarney, defensive line coach at Florida, also isn't putting too much emphasis on the loss of Dunlap.

"I rotate 10, 11, 12 guys every game,'' McCarney said. "When a guy's out because of injuries or discipline, whatever it is -- it's not like I'm going to throw somebody out there in a championship game that hasn't played and played a lot. All these guys that will play Saturday have played a lot of football.''

Noting to see here, folks. Just move along.

Swamp Things looks at the possible replacements.

Also on the line in the SEC Championship Game: Coaching buzz
Kirby Smart isn't the only defensive coordinator in Saturday's game whose name is being floated as  potential new hire. Charlie Strong could be hired as the head coach at Louisville -- which pretty much means that he will not be hired as the head coach at Louisville.

Two reports have surfaced today naming Florida defensive player Charlie Strong as the leading candidate for the Louisville head coaching job.

Pat Forde of ESPN.com cites multiple sources stating Strong as the top candidate to replace recently-fired Steve Kragthorpe. The Web site FootballCoachScoop.com also reports that Strong is the leading candidate, and that an interview will take place Sunday in Atlanta.

At this point, I'm in the "I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it" camp about any rumor involving Strong. He's been a deserving head coaching candidate for years and still hasn't gotten the jobs for which he's supposedly been considered. Which is fine.

South Carolina needs a coach when, as Bulldog fans assure me, Steve Spurrier steps aside after the 2008 2009 2010 season.

OTHER NEWS

Counterpoint
War Blog Eagle takes a shot at criticisms by yours truly and other bloggers of the Outback Bowl's selection of Auburn for its Jan. 1 game.

First, he seems to draw the conclusion that my remark that "if you're going to ignore late-season losing streaks, why not at least invite a team in South Carolina that defeated its hate rival" as an endorsement of the Gamecocks playing in Tampa this year, which is nonsense. My point was that selecting Carolina would be no more ludicrous than inviting Auburn.

In fact, many of the arguments put forward by Jerry -- who's about as solid and thoughtful a blogger as you'll find, so this is nothing personal -- are built on rebutting criticisms from some corners of the Web by pointing out that those bloggers' teams are no more deserving of the Outback Bowl than Auburn. Which is fine, except that the criticisms from Georgia and South Carolina fans in particular had nothing to do with their teams not getting to Tampa. Their criticisms were prompted because, by going outside of usual practice and merit by selecting Auburn, the Outback Bowl had essentially sent almost the entire SEC East to bowls worse than they deserved for their respective seasons.

But since the question was brought up, let's look at a different and perhaps more equitable way of parsing the 7-5 teams than Jerry does. (My opinion, in part because I'm not someone who puts that much stock in home field advantage.) Let's look at each team's record against the other 7-5 teams if we're trying to determine who's deserving.

Team Record Defeated Defeated By Did Not Play
Tennessee 3-1 Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina Auburn Arkansas
Georgia 3-2 Arkansas, Auburn, South Carolina Kentucky, Tennessee --
Arkansas 2-1 Auburn, South Carolina Georgia Kentucky, Tennessee
Kentucky 2-2 Auburn, Georgia South Carolina, Tennessee Arkansas
Auburn 1-3 Tennessee Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky South Carolina
South Carolina 1-3 Kentucky Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee Auburn

So forgive me if I don't exactly agree with Jerry's contention that "Auburn’s accomplished as much as any of the other 7-5 teams" in part because "Auburn didn’t get to play Vanderbilt." In fact, Auburn had a chance to prove that it was much better than the other 7-5 teams on the schedule. When playing the teams that were arguably its peers in the league, Auburn failed three times as often as it succeeded.

It's also a nifty trick to point out that you outgained Georgia in Auburn's win against the Dawgs while not mentioning that West Virginia outgained Auburn in the Mountaineers' loss.

Jerry also uses the "'twas always thus" argument.

If you want to argue that a different team would sell more tickets or draw bigger buzz and that the Outback is making a financial mistake, fine. If you want to take the SEC to task for not instituting a rule like the Pac-10's where bowls are forbidden to take teams that finished below other available teams in the standings,  be my guest. But getting angry at the Outback Bowl for taking Auburn because Auburn doesn’t "deserve" it is like getting mad at the sun because it ought to rise in the West.

Which is to a certain extent true, except that just accepting something that's unfair because it's always been unfair isn't or at least shouldn't be satisfying. I guess Jerry is agreeing to not argue against the BCS excluding teams with perfect records (has Auburn ever had one of those?), bad officiating or scheduling quirks like not getting to play Vanderbilt, because those things have always existed and always been unfair.

And when Jerry says that other teams could have gotten into the Outback Bowl instead of Auburn by "win[ning] more games than Auburn," he might also note that the same could be applied to Auburn's chances to avoid criticism for the Outback Bowl bid. After all, they had the chance to do so by simply defeating the teams that they are supposedly so much more deserving than.

You don't want Charlie Weis?
And The Valley Shook makes the case that LSU shouldn't necessarily hire an offensive coordinator with a name. Well, I suppose he'd have to have a name of some sort, just not a famous one. This will likely come as little consolation to Gary Crowton, who is currently still very much employed as the offensive coordinator for LSU.

Miranda rights, like other "laws," don't apply to the NCAA
Kentucky pitcher James Paxton is suing the university because it insisted he interview with the NCAA about alleged violations or risk playing time.

In his lawsuit, Paxton said a university official told him in October to meet with an N.C.A.A. investigator, but instructed him not to tell his parents or his lawyers about the interview.

The allegations of being told not to even inform his lawyers is troubling enough, especially since Paxton also says he wasn't told which rules he had allegedly broken. It will be interesting to see how UK handles a pitcher who's suing the school and pitching for the team at the same time.

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