Face Up Against The Glass

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


It may be called the ‘glass ceiling’ but it is becoming very clear over the last 24 months that women in coaches are pressing their face up against the glass. From the San Antonio Spurs hiring Becky Hammon and then putting here in charge of the summer league team to the Buffalo Bills hiring the Kathryn Smith this week. The cracks are appearing in the glass.

Hammon and Smith may be the most notable names that are out there because they are the first two in professional sports to be actually coaching players. Their roles show that they have the motivational skills, acumen, and specific sports knowledge to help their teams win games. Because let us not forget, sports is about winning. If they aren’t helping the players get better and helping their respective teams win then they will be gone just like their boss.

Hammon and Smith are alone on the sidelines of professional sports but not in the front office. Several women have and do hold key positions in professional sports such as Senior VP of Baseball Operations from MLB Kim Ng and former Oakland Raiders CEO Amy Trask.

Danielle Bartelstein was named Senior Director of Football Operations at Virginia Tech this past fall. She joins new head coach Justin Fuente who was hired to take over for legendary coach Frank Beamer. While this role may not lead to a head coaching or coordinator position it is a vital roll in college football. It is essentially the right arm of the coach off the field.

While it is 2016 and these hirings aren’t even a dent in the grand scheme of things, it does show that people and coaches in particular are coming around. Will there be a female coordinator or head coach in the near future in basketball, football or baseball? Probably not but the near future ain’t what it use to be.

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Changing of the Guard

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard


504. That is the combined wins at the collegiate level between newly retired South Carolina head coach Steve Spurrier and soon to be retired Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. It’s more than wins and losses though, it’s a changing of the guard in college football and one we have seen before.

BeamerSpurrier has been on the sidelines at the collegiate level (off and on) since 1978 while Beamer has been strictly a collegiate coach his entire career which reaches back to 1972. Both have built programs from the ground up multiple times and both have decided to step aside at or around the age of 70. The reasons differ but the fact is that being a head coach has changed a lot in the last 10 years. Think about it, social media wasn’t really a factor in recruiting back in 2005 and now players have been seen tweeting at halftime!

Being a head coach is a middle – aged job. The successful coaches ruling the college football roost today like Ohio State’s Urban Meyer (51) and Alabama’s Nick Saban (64) are well under the 70 year mark and both have adapted to change well. They have embraced new technologies and still have the energy for the late nights and endless recruiting trips.

Dr Tom OsborneWe have seen this passing of the torch before. Maybe not within the same season but we’ve seen it before. Lou Holtz left Notre Dame in 1996 and former Nebraska head coach Tom Osborne stepped down in 1997 (Holtz would later come out of retirement to coach South Carolina for six seasons). Think about the changes that were occurring when they stepped down. The Internet was being born and satellite TV was becoming ubiquitous (NFL Sunday Ticket launched in 1994). Shortly thereafter, they moved on and left the head duties to young, more energetic assistants.

Spurrier and Beamer will be greatly missed by the fans, players, and media but this isn’t the end of college football in Columbia or Blacksburg. As we’ve seen in Columbus or Tuscaloosa, sometimes new blood is just the doctor ordered. As a former coach once said, change is inevitable, growth is optional.

B1G Body Blow

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

It was bad weekend for the Big Ten Conference (B1G). The conference went 8-5 but they lost convincingly in 3 of the biggest games they played and two others came down to the final drive of the game against opponents that should have been beat by a far bigger margin. All in all, things could have go worse for the conference but not by much.

B1G

The 3 high profile games the conference was a part of were Michigan St at Oregon, Michigan at Notre Dame and Virginia Tech at Ohio State. Credit to the conference for scheduling these games in the first place as opposed to the SEC who had 3 teams on their schedule on Saturday from the Southland Conference.

The issue here isn’t that the B1G lost the high profile games but that they ended up losing going away. Michigan State was up on Oregon 27-18 but then Oregon ran off 28 unanswered points. Ohio State was exposed badly by Va Tech and Michigan didn’t score a point against Notre Dame in a 31-0 debacle.

Meanwhile other teams in the B1G like Nebraska and Iowa needed game winning drives with time running out to stay unbeaten. Wisconsin was only up 9-3 at the half against Western Illinois before pulling away in the second half and Purdue was manhandled by Central Michigan.

It hurt the conference because, although it is early, the odds of a B1G team making it to the 4 team playoff at the end of the year now seems highly unlikely. That could hurt recruiting, perception and financial standing in college football.

The B1G has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with the ACC, PAC 12 and SEC. It may start with beating the teams they are suppose to beat like Northern Illinois and Central Michigan. Until they do, they will be on the outside looking in of the college football playoff.

College Football Uniform Revolution

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

It seems that every program in college football is getting a uniform overall. From the originators of the trend, Oregon, to traditional powers like Nebraska. Now it seems like everyone is in on the multiple new uniform game, except for some old southern folks. Why? They might be happier with championships.

STYLE OF THE QUACK ATTACK

When Oregon let Nike begin playing around with their uniform looks people didn’t know what to think. Nike led the way. Over the years Oregon’s uniforms got flashier (with God knows how many combinations) and other schools began to follow suit. From Virginia Tech to SEC power Georgia, it looked like everyone was going jump into the flashy uniform revolution. But a funny thing happened on the way to fashion heaven, people in the South didn’t care for it very much.

On Halloween night of 2009 the University of Tennessee ran through the historic Pride of the Southland Marching band Power T onto the Shield-Watkins Field with black jerseys on. Not flashy neon orange or some matte finish color, just black jerseys. Tennessee had worn the jerseys back in 1921 and new head coach Lane Kiffin was trying to bring a little bit of swagger back to Rocky Top on Halloween.

He failed.

BACK IN BLACK

The base revolted. The old timers were outraged. The ‘how dare you’ lines came flying out of the mouths of a very proud people. Tennessee has yet to go back to the jerseys and Kiffin has moved onto USC.

Meanwhile the rest of college football has embraced the trend from West to East, North and South. Oregon State has redesigned their digs (not as dramatically as their in state rival but a redesign none the less), Virginia Tech now has a helmet that features turkey feet, Georgia Tech’s embraced the honeycomb look, while Indiana went the red, white and stripes route. Baylor, Oklahoma State, North Carolina (complete with great dance moves), Stanford, Boise State, Houston, Missouri and even Texas A&M and Johnny Football got some variety in their unis.

Some notably absent names? Alabama, Auburn, Tennessee, Notre Dame, Texas, Penn State (minus the names on the back of the jerseys) Ohio State, Florida, LSU and USC have all shied away from the trend. Sure they have made some tweaks here and there but nothing wholesale like Oregon.

What’s funny about all this? The teams that haven’t changed uniforms dramatically have won the last 7 National Titles. Can you see Bama in a black jersey and a matte crimson on the helmet? Maybe. It might look cool. But would the Bama base go for it? Nick Saben might have to change his phone number.

However, the first time Georgia broke out the black jerseys in 2007 it was a big deal…and they lost the game to Auburn. When Georgia let Nike break out some odd black & red combination in an early season match up against Boise State a few years ago guess what happened? That’s right, they lost.

Georgia Black

While new, flashy uniforms are a very cool thing to do for the players, recruits, and fans some teams can get carried away. New uniforms don’t win games. Players and coaches do. While having a ‘3rd kit’ that you can break out like they do in soccer might be s fun thing to do from time to time but it’s not really necessary. For comparison sake, when Sporting KC broke out their ‘3rd kit’ against the Portland Timbers earlier this year in Kansas City guess what happened? That’s right, they lost.

Bowl-ed Over: The plethora of bowls and why there should be less of them.

It’s Bowl season in College Football and we do mean season. Between Saturday December 15, 2012 and Monday January 6, 2013 there will be a total of 35 bowl games with a grand total payout of $260,673,125.

That’s right, over $260 million is going to the teams that play in the bowl games and their conferences. The biggest payout is the BCS National Championship game which pays out $18 million to each team and the cheapest is the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl which pays $325,000 to each team. In any event, this is big money.

But should there be so many games? When this kind of money is on the table the response is usually an unequivocal YES! Yet if you remove the dollar amounts think about this; in some cases they are rewarding mediocrity.

12 .500 teams will play in bowl games (2 games will actually feature .500 teams against one another) and 1 sub-.500 team. Georgia Tech will get paid $2,000,000 to play USC in the SUN Bowl on New Years Eve Day. A team with a 6-7 record is getting $2,000,000.

Virginia Tech by all accounts had a down year. They have played in 5 BCS Games (which have multimillion dollar payouts) in the last 10 years. With high preseason expectations they find themselves at 6-6 and heading to the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, Florida. While a 6-6 season is a down year for Va Tech it is an exceptional year for their conference rivals Duke. Duke is going bowling for the 1st time since 1994 (the game was played on January 2, 1995) in which they lost to Wisconsin. So a 6-6 season to Duke is a success.

Even with this perspective is it appropriate to award a post season game and in some cases millions of dollars to a team that didn’t even have a winning record? If the answer is ‘no’ then there should be less bowl games. If the argument is for the current system then please this Bloomberg article from 2010. Just because you go to a bowl game doesn’t guarantee a financial windfall for the teams or the conference. It also doesn’t teach college athletes to strive to be better.

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