Sunday, July 13, 2008

UGA and Attrition

I'll be posting a bit more on this topic, but in the meantime, I wanted to link a couple of articles.

1. Overall Scholarship Numbers

I recently read an article about UGA's depth chart in football. They were 4-deep in most positions on the field. Man, I was psyched. Then I read some postings about UGA's basketball team and the transfer of Jeremy Jacob, and the excitement quickly died down.

I want both teams to succeed. And I think both teams will. However, the 4-deep depth chart in football raised an issue. The NCAA allocates a disproportionate number of scholarships for football, compared to basketball. Football has 22 players on the field, offense and defense. They are allotted 85 scholarships, or a roughly 4 to 1 ratio of scholarships to players in competition.

On the other hand, Basketball gets 13 scholarships for its 5 players on the court, or a ratio of roughly 2.5 to 1. With Title IX around, I doubt that there will be any move to raise the scholarship allotment for basketball.

However, the point should not be lost. There is a disparity between the numbers of scholarships alloted in the different sports, and the practical result is that whenever a basketball player transfers or leaves the program, it creates a huge public relations and scholarship management issue.

On the football side of the equation, attrition also happens. Guys voluntarily leave, or they do not do well in school, or they mess up in their off-the-field conduct. We as fans hear about it, but the loss of a football player or two doesn't cause us as much concern, because there is normally someone talented waiting to step into their shoes.

Kids are kids. There will be more arrests next summer, folks. But if a basketball player leaves and the coach scrambles to make adjustments, while the football coach seemingly deals with his turnover with ease, give the basketball coach some slack. It's not that the football coach is a great recruiter and the basketball coach is not. It's not that the football coach can control his kids and the basketball coach cannot. It is that the NCAA's scholarship limitations give the basketball coach almost no margin for error.

2. New Coaches and Cultural Change

When a new coach comes in, some guys will leave. It's only natural. And if the new coach arrives with an emphasis on academic effort and achievement, the number of players leaving will be even higher than normal.

I agree with Coach Bzdelik. As he states in the above article, attrition is not desired, but if it occurs because of high expectations and because guys are held accountable, then turnover among players can be seen as a positive. If Coach Bzdelik sticks to his guns and refuses to compromise, both the players and the program will benefit.

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