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How to improve spring practice
Spring practice starts next week, which is great because it’s the return of FOOTBALL. But spring practice can also be pretty dull because it’s pretty much practices no one gets to see capped off by BAD FOOTBALL that doesn’t matter.
Ben Kercheval of CBS also feels this way and wrote a post going over 5 ways colleges can improve the spring practice experience, and I figured I’d give my thoughts on some of them. They are:
- Open at least half of the practices to fans
- Tighten the practice window
- Turn spring games into major scrimmage events
- Treat those games like bowls
- Conduct a quarterback “All-Star Challenge”
First up, open practices. Kirby Smart doesn’t strike me as a guy who wants the public to know much of anything his team is doing, except for on fall Saturdays. He’s already spent time systematically dismantling Georgia’s open record laws on a whim, and immediately cut back on the media availability of players and coaches as soon as he set foot in Athens. So, it would be a major stretch to expect Smart to allow fans to watch many practices, much less half. He’d probably lock up his players and coaches only to bring them out on gameday before he did that.
Second, turn spring practices into scrimmages. Kercheval even uses UGA as an example to explain what he’s thinking. “Michigan traveling to Georgia? You’ll take that, right? (Jim) Harbaugh will; it’s another opportunity to have a presence in SEC country,” he wrote.
In his comments, Kercheval unknowingly stated while this will never happen, Georgia lost a top recruit to Michigan in this last recruiting cycle. Why would any coach invite a recruiter as dogged as Harbaugh to get a foothold on his turf? Maybe a scrimmage against Georgia State, Furman or another small school in the southeast could happen. But there’s no way in hell Smart would let Harbaugh, or any other coach, get free pub in Georgia on the day that’s supposed to be all about the Dawgs.
Next, Kercheval proposes that these scrimmages could take place on neutral sites, but that would sap the little fun there is out of spring games. The reason people like spring games, regardless of the school, is because it gives them a chance to get on campus and do some tailgating in the spring. For Georgia fans, it can be as much about making a trip to Athens, having a nice dinner and hitting the bars as it is about going to watch a football game. Fans want a home, gameday atmosphere for spring games, and neutral sites would ruin that.