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Mark Richt Had the Only Good Take on NIL, and Other Stuff I’m Thinking About to Take My Mind Off Tomorrow

You just can’t keep Richt from joy.

NCAA Football: Pinstripe Bowl-Wisconsin vs Miami Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Shorter Smith: n., a column in which Jason does not write 5,000 words on philosophy and the existential despair of being a Georgia fan but instead writes 7,000 on a whole bunch of stuff in no particular order.

On Florida

I know it’s early but I have already given up.

I hear Larry in my head saying “we aint big enough, we just, we aint big enough.”

I guess now the trouble is not that we ain’t big enough, it’s that we aren’t smart enough.

Coley will come out against Florida and see a loaded box to stop DeAndre Swift and press coverage on the outside. Florida’s secondary will dare Jake Fromm to beat them and Coley will, thinking six moves ahead in the ten-dimensional Chess only he is playing, accede to precisely this dare.

We will see, I fear, a gameplan near-identical to the Notre Dame game.

We know how they’re gonna line up against us, one might say. We know what the defense is going to give us. We will react to that and use our strengths to try and dictate the pace of the game.

Never mind that you cannot dictate the nature of the game if you have already surrendered one major component of your offense just because the defense might line up heavy.

They will though, knowing that Georgia’s receivers are no real threat down the field. So we will dink and dunk for maybe a first down or two before succumbing to, at worst, an interception and, at best, a Blankenship field goal (pray he makes it).

We will be boring as all hell and act like it is an accomplishment. Like there is honor is throwing six slants and calling two inside-reads before throwing an interception on Florida’s 30-yard line.

The only thing keeping this from happening is Todd Grantham, and that very well may be our saving grace.

Florida on the other hand, at least I suspect, will not give a good god damn how Georgia’s defense lines up. They’re going to spread the field and have Trask throw to as many people as possible. Again, I imagine our defensive gameplan will be pretty similar to the Notre Dame game. Yeah, you’re worried that Florida has a bit more explosiveness than Notre Dame. But you also aren’t that worried about what they can do offensively. This isn’t Oklahoma.

So Kirby will have them ready to bend but not break. It is just as likely as not that two things happen: 1.) we give up a big play early, ala South Carolina, and things come dangerously close to coming apart or 2.) we find ourselves in an old-fashioned kicking duel that will nearly kill us all.

Either way, the game, like most Cocktail Party’s prior to Kirby’s arrival, will be pull-your-hair-out-and-staple-your-tongue levels of frustrating. Have a stress ball ready.

Mark Richt Had the Only Good Take On Names, Images, and Likenesses

The NCAA Board of Governors announced that they would be pursuing some sort of policy that would allow players to get compensated for their NIL (name, image, likeness), but they also said that they’d be look for a policy that does not produce a “competitive imbalance” (whatever that means) and that will be in keeping with “the collegiate model” (whatever that means).

The NCAA’s refusal to embrace NIL for its athletes is surely one of the dumbest stratagem’s in the NCAA’s history—and trust me, that is a long, long list.

The thing that was maddening to me about their resistance is that embracing pay-for-NIL actually STRENGTHENS rather than weakens the perceived legitimacy of the amateur model.

If they let athlete’s get compensated for NIL then in the future when more radical folks like me claim that amateurism is utterly exploitative, they can just say, “look we’re letting the athletes get compensated, just like the Olympians. They get endorsement deals, royalties from NCAA video games, pay to host camps, pay for speaking gigs, AND a great education. What else do you want from us?”

That could actually be a pretty compelling argument.

I worry, however, that the NCAA will continue to be the boomers-yelling-at-clouds on this issue and try and legislate something that is not really NIL, but they try to call it NIL anyway. Like maybe they try to put it all in a blind trust for the whole core of athletes at one particular university. Maybe they set an utterly draconian cap on how much an athlete can actually make from NIL payments. Maybe they refuse to negotiate with any sort of players union, players rep, or other third party (hear: agents) so that they and only they get to set the terms for what athletes can and cannot get paid for NIL. This would basically ensure all athletes will get paid rock bottom for any NIL use anywhere, and that is probably what the NCAA ultimately wants.

If they do this, and piss off the right people, expect Congress to come back to the NIL issue and try to do something at the federal level. Rep. Mark Walker is itching for a fight on precisely this issue.

What flummoxes me here is that the NCAA can stop being the ornery grandpa, griping about how terrible the “kids” are these days, and instead become the rank group of capitalists we always thought they were.

The money is there for the taking if they’d just stop being so belligerently obtuse.

Within all this swirl of negativity, the only happy thought came from, who else, but Mark Richt.

Here’s his take:

Where I see potential for even deeper and more sinister exploitation of college athletes, Mark Richt sees the potential for a kind of college utopia, a transfer of the best talent back from the NFL, now that they can make much the same generation-changing wealth in college, where they are more marketable anyway.

And he may have a point. If you went full NIL and, say, Trevor Lawrence could already be making the kind of endorsement money that CoCo Gauff is making, why would Lawrence leave college? There is no longer a risk that injury will take away that sort of money when the money is already there. Or maybe the thought of winning the national championship actually can come to take precedence over going to make your money when “making your money” can just as easily mean staying in Clemson as it would moving to D.C. to go play for Greg Schiano and finish next to last in the league.

Instead of having an awful rule that keeps athletes chained to their amateur status for three long years, always looking over their shoulders for the injury that is coming to kill their chance at millions of dollars (pour one out for Marcus Lattimore), you instead have college kids buying their mama’s Burnt Orange Bentley’s or homes in Oconee County right now.

I have a whole lot of doubt that this future is ever coming, but leave it to Mark Richt to imagine the only holy outcome of a godawful mess.

On Who Should Get Into the Playoff

Next week, Bama plays LSU in the biggest game of the season.

One writer noted that all Bama really has to do is lose a close game to LSU, without Tua, and beat Auburn at Jordan-Hare to secure their playoff spot. They’ve done this before as we all know—although I seem to recall one particular pundit lambasting the idea that any team that didn’t win their division be allowed to compete for the national title but I can’t for the life of me remember who it was....

Anyway, I think the argument pretty much makes sense. If the Tide lose a squeaker to LSU every one will hem and haw about how magnificent these two teams are and not drop the Tide any lower than #4. The Tide will then play out their schedule, beat Auburn, and rest up on Championship Saturday while Georgia or Florida gets run over by LSU.

But this isn’t fair.

At least, it doesn’t feel like it to me.

So I think we should have a stipulation in the playoff rules that runs as follows: “You may, indeed, get into the playoff without winning your division. But you may do so if, and ONLY if, the following things subsequently occur: 1.) you don’t lose another game, 2.) the team that beat you doesn’t lose another game, and, finally, 3.) the team that beat you wins the conference championship game by a greater margin than the margin of victory in your prior game.”

Basically, sure you can let Bama in, but this is what has to happen first: LSU can’t lose again, Bama can’t lose again, and LSU has to beat Georgia or Florida or whoever by more points than LSU beat Bama. If all of that happens then the Tide are eligible for selection. If not, them’s the breaks. Win your damn games.

What’s that you say? Could this work for other conferences? Why I’m glad you asked!

Let’s say you’re really into Ohio State this season. Why not? They seem like the best team in the country, what with Pat Mahomes, Jr. aka Justin Fields playing QB for them. Man, how dumb would you have to be to let a kid like that just transfer out of your program? But I digress.

Imagine that on the 23rd of November Ohio State loses to Penn State by ten points in a damn blizzard. Hell, throw in some freaking thunder snow that delayed the game by an hour. Suffice it to say, weird game. You don’t want to punish the Bucks but also think non-division champs shouldn’t get in.

Well, here’s your out! In order to be eligibile for the playoff Ohio State would then need to beat Michigan the following Saturday, have Penn State beat Rutgers the following week (looking good there), and then beat whoever they play in the B1G Championship game (Minnesota again? Wisconsin? IOWA?) by more than ten points.

This works for everyone conference but the Big 12 because the Big 12 is really stupid and is only designed to get Oklahoma in the playoff every year.

For everyone else though we accomplish several fun things all at once: insufferable fan bases have to root for their rivals and games that would otherwise be kinda meaningless beyond the outcome now have a new intensity—what if Penn State has the chance to score late but settles for a field-goal, keeping the margin of victory below ten points??? What if LSU goes down to Georgia in Atlanta thereby ruining both their and Bama’s season ALL AT ONCE???

The drama! The narrative!

On How to Schedule

This might be the first year that a major player in the P5 world is at risk due to their downright awful schedule.

Clemson has absolutely zero margin for error this season and deservedly so, since they made a schedule that has no one of any substance on it.

Most of the college football world is turning now to scheduling big matchups early in the season, hoping that one early loss will be forgiven based on eye-catching performances later in the season.

The problem, so severe as to make Florida’s AD head to Twitter to beg others programs to schedule the Gators, is that schedules are pretty damn near set for the next century it seems. Teams are taking to scheduling big games decades in advance.

How might we fix this?

A cool idea I’ve heard bandied about on ESPNU Radio on SiriusXM (can’t remember who floated it so forgive me for not citing!) is to do something like the World Cup draw.

If you’re not familiar with the World Cup (wtf dude watch the World Cup), basically you take the best soccer teams in the world and throw them all into a few different pots based on their rankings and then draw names out of said pots. This random draw places teams into groups and they, then, play a round-robin to determine who advances to the single elimination playoff.

I don’t want anything that complicated.

Here’s what we should do though:

You know that Week 3 cupcake week where every game is garbage? Cancel those games for next season. Forget about the payment to the G5 or FCS school for a second and just assume we can cancel next year’s cupcakes.

All teams receiving votes in the AP Top 25 go into the pot. That’s right, this will reward the G5 too! This way the AP Poll actually matters for at least one thing to some schools during the season.

Some people still inexplicably argue about this poll and I truly do not understand why. It is literally meaningless in the playoff era.

Anyway, If you have a P5 opponent scheduled for Cupcake Week, both you and your opponent are taken out of the pot.

Everyone else is drawn from the pot at random. If the pot number is uneven we supplement with the next highest ranked team on down.

Let’s use next year as an example. Assume that the Top 25, as of this week, is how it finishes.

In 2020, UGA plays (gulp) at Bama in Week 3. So UGA and Bama are out of the pot. Other than that, I don’t believe there is a matchup between two current top 25 teams in Week 3 of next year. If I’m missing one, who cares?

So we put all the teams into the pot, and on national television we draw the names, slowly, one-by-one. And here is the schedule:

Navy at Boise State

Iowa State at Utah

BYU at San Diego State

Iowa at SMU

*Ok State at Penn State*

Pitt at App State

UCF at Oregon

Indiana at Clemson

Virginia at Minnesota

Kansas St at Wake

*Baylor at LSU*

*USC at Auburn*

Cincinnati at Michigan

*Washington at Ohio State*

Memphis at Notre Dame

**Wisconsin at Florida**

**UGA at Bama**


*******TEXAS AT TEXAS A&M**********

Yes, that’s right, with this system on the first draw we got Texas and A&M back together again.

There are obviously ways you could tweak this. My main tweak was to separate them by conference so that you don’t get conference games that will mess up the remainder of the schedule.

You could always do something like: put the Top 15 into a pot together and then put everyone else in a different pot. Draw one from each pot the first time (i.e., a Top 15 v. a lower 20 team), but then draw two from the Top 15 pot. The point being, while you are watching you’re desperate to have your team’s name drawn against one of the lower 20.

I drew a few more times, this time including UGA and Bama, and got the following notable matchups: Ohio State at Bama, Texas at SMU, App State at Michigan, Notre Dame at Penn State, Florida at Oklahoma.

This would be a lot of fun is what I’m saying.

On Who Should Get Paid

There is a weird argument I’ve heard against NIL that doesn’t say “well this is just too complicated!” but says something more like “Look I'm in favor of this if it let’s people like Gurley or A.J. Green make some money but I’m not sure I’m cool with it if it means that EVERYONE get’s paid.”

I think the instinct behind this is that such a state of affairs would be tantamount to “pay-for-play.” If everyone is getting paid, you might as well just give everyone a salary instead of calling it NIL payments.

I think this argument is bad and I am entirely in favor of letting everyone get paid. Especially in the big money sports and especially through one particular avenue—the NCAA video games.

Yes, we are all rightly and selfishly excited that NCAA Football 21’ might be coming to our consoles in the near future. But we have an even better reason to be excited. If NIL can be negotiated properly and somewhat fairly, those video games should be the avenue where every single player who ever suits up for your favorite college football or basketball team (note: on the basketball side a good chance we can also get payments to women’s teams) to get a check for their name, image, and likeness.

The athletes should form some kind of organization and negotiate a flat-rate that goes to every player whose NIL is used in the game.

So if you’re worried that Tua having an endorsement deal or DeAndre Swift shooting a Nike AD will lead to an imbalance of pay and, thereby, an imbalance of love in the locker room, then NIL is actually a great way to combat that.

With NIL and the NCAA video game series everyone theoretically should get paid.

Now the guys have something to celebrate together.

Oh hey look at that, I found a positive.

Gonna be a great weekend.


Oh crap.