12.2.13 by Sam Pouncey

Iron Bowl Recap

Kevin Sumlin Contract Extension

Mike Tomlin & Jason Kidd

Firing of Brent Pease 

Welcome back everybody.  I hope your Thanksgiving was as enjoyable as mine, and your return to work, or school, was almost as enjoyable.

First Down:  Iron Bowl Recap

Not again.

I sat in the same seat, and watched Auburn rip my heart out in the 4th quarter (again) on Saturday.

Enough about my feelings though, let’s look back at the game.

Auburn played extremely well.  They ran the ball effectively, and Nick Marshall looked good throwing the ball.  He missed a few throws down the field, but he made the throws he needed to when they had to be made.

Auburn’s defense played fairly well.  Alabama did put up 28 points, and they moved the ball well at times, but the Tigers defense came up with a few key stops when they needed them.

The special teams plays were where Auburn really tipped the game in their favor though.  They blocked a field goal, limited Christion Jones’ return game, and then made the play to win the game by returning the missed field goal for a touchdown.

Alabama played reasonably well.  The offense put up 495 yards, 277 through the air and 218 rushing.  Where Alabama’s offense was unimpressive, however, was on 3rd down.  They only managed to convert on four 3rd downs in thirteen opportunities. 

The defense looked dominant at certain points, but still allowed 296 yards on the ground.  Auburn’s hurry-up offense gave the Tide troubles.

The real problem the Tide had though was with leaving points on the field.  Four missed field goals and a decision to go for it on 4th and inches, rather than kick a field goal, were an opportunity at 15 points that Alabama missed.

The last thing I want to say about this game is directed at Alabama fans, in particular the radical section.  Cade Foster is not to blame for this loss.  Sure he missed three field goals, but there were 157 other plays, including offensive, defensive, and special teams, for Alabama to make the play they needed to win the game.  There were some coaching mistakes made.  The offense missed some shots to put the ball in the end zone, and the defense failed to stop Auburn when they had a chance to make sure it never came down to a field goal.  Plus, Adam Griffith took the last kick, but it isn’t his fault either.  He was thrust into an unfortunate situation.  No one person is to blame for Alabama losing.  If there is a need to point fingers, which there really shouldn’t be, point it at everyone.

Second Down:  Kevin Sumlin Contract Extension

Kevin Sumlin is staying put.  On Saturday, he agreed, in principle, to a six-year contract extension that ensures that he will be staying in College Station for the next few years.  This ends rumors that he will be leaving for USC or the NFL.

Texas A&M made an excellent decision in locking up their head coach.  Sumlin is 19-6 as the Aggies’ head coach, and the head of one of the most exciting offenses in college football.  Johnny Manziel may be leaving next season, but Sumlin staying should help ease this a little.

Is this a good move for Kevin Sumlin though?

He will certainly be getting a pretty solid pay day, but could he have gotten more from a move to USC or jump to the NFL?  Most people believe that Kevin Sumlin would be a great hire for the NFL.  He was surely going to be one of the most sought after candidates to fix an NFL team’s problems.  He has been successful everywhere he has been.  In six years of being a college head coach, four at Houston and two at Texas A&M, he has only had one losing season (2010 at Houston).  He followed up that season by going 12-1 at Houston, then taking the A&M job. 

Kevin Sumlin should have taken the opportunity to gauge the interest of NFL teams, but if he continues to have success he will get his opportunity at some point.  He is only 49 years old, so he doesn’t have to be in a hurry to get that opportunity.  As it stands, he can continue to roam the sidelines and orchestrate his hurry-up, spread offense, giving SEC defensive coordinators nightmares.

Third Down:  Mike Tomlin & Jason Kidd

This week saw two head coaches engage in some dubious activities in an attempt to help their team win.

On Wednesday night, Jason Kidd intentionally spilled a drink on the floor, thus giving him time to draw up a play at the end of the game when his team was out of timeouts.

The next day, on Thanksgiving night, Mike Tomlin appeared to stand very close to the sideline during a Jacoby Jones punt return, and may have altered his course of return and helped the Steelers to prevent a touchdown on the return.

Jason Kidd has already been fined $50,000 for his actions.  Punishment has yet to be handed down for Tomlin, but the NFL is reportedly considering a six figure fine and potentially taking away a draft pick. 

The big issue here is what can be done to ensure that coaches don’t continue to attempt to help their teams win through shady conduct.  Not to say that Kidd or Tomlin are bad guys, but they are incredibly competitive people, who also stand to lose a fair amount if they should be fired if their respective teams fail to perform.  Fines may not be enough to ensure coaches don’t continue to do this, because $50,000 is frankly a small fraction of what any professional head coach makes in a year. 

The best way to prevent this is by penalizing the team, through the taking away of a win, draft pick, or something else along those lines.  This may be harsh, but it would be the most effective way.

Fourth Down:  Florida Fires Brent Pease

Florida fired offensive coordinator Brent Pease on Sunday, which is not a surprise to anyone who has watched Florida play offense the last two seasons.  One of the most condemning statistics for Pease’s offense is that in his two years as Florida’s offensive coordinator they failed to finish in the top 100 in passing or scoring offense in either season.

Where does Florida go from here?

They need a guy who fits with their scheme.  Some of their troubles have been the drastic shift from Urban Meyer’s spread option offense to the power running and traditional pro-style passing offense that Muschamp would like to employ.  There is a huge difference in the personnel that recruiters will be targeting for two differing systems. 

For this reason, Florida needs to go after a guy who runs a style similar to what they do now, but will do it better, especially from a play-calling standpoint.  They also need someone who can develop quarterbacks.  Since Tim Tebow left Gainesville, underwhelming quarterback play from big name recruits like John Brantley and Jeff Driskel has plagued the Gators.

The first person that Jeremy Foley, Florida’s Athletic Director, ought to call is Andy Ludwig.  Ludwig is currently the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at the University of Wisconsin.  He has coached the Wisconsin offense to the 8th ranked rushing offense in the country at 283.0 yards per game.  They may not have eye-popping passing numbers, but in a similar number of pass attempts they have more yards, yards per attempt, passer rating, and almost twice as many passing touchdowns.  We have also seen recently that SEC teams can generally pluck coaches from the Big 10 if they want to, Bret Bielema to Arkansas is the first example that comes to mind.  Andy Ludwig may be the guy who can turn the Florida offense into what it needs to be for the defensive-minded Will Muschamp to flourish.

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