The State of College Football with ESPN's David Pollack
For what seems like the first time in forever, Georgia Bulldog players have been on the field for actual practice. The new, SEC-only schedule is out and now we have some hope there can actually be a football season this fall, albeit with only three of the Power Five conferences actually participating.
Thus, we thought it was a good time to check in with former Bulldog, newly elected College Football Hall of Famer and ESPN analyst David Pollack. Here are his thoughts on the decision of the Big Ten and Pac-12, possible spring football, recruiting and Georgia’s team.
Q: What were your initial thoughts on the Big Ten and Pac-12’s decision to cancel football this fall and examine a spring season?
Pollack: “Absolutely shocked. Especially at that time and especially the Big Ten. It felt very premature. I was not as shocked the Pac-12 followed suit. But the Big Ten, with their resources and the efforts they’ve already put in from a safety perspective, was definitely shocking.”
Q: What about playing two seasons in the same calendar year? Will the players from the Big Ten and Pac-12 be able to do it? Or are the concerns overblown?
Pollack: "I don't see a spring season happening and don't think it is something you ask of the kids. In order to play football, you have to practice and prepare a certain way physically. I just can't see asking kids to grind for three to four months in the spring and then turn around and do it again in the fall. Not to mention all of the eligibility and scholarship numbers issue that would be unbelievably complex."
Q: Given the ‘every conference for themselves’ feel, should college football have a Czar/singular leader?
Pollack: “Yes, 100 percent. It’s a horrible look right now and college football will likely never be the same. Given their history, though, it wouldn’t be a single person overseeing everything, it would probably be a council or committee made up from the Power Five conferences. I could also see a players association in some form soon as well.”
Q: If there was a single person placed in charge in a ‘commissioner’ type role, who could you see that being?
Pollack: “That’s a great question. Jim Delany (former Big Ten commissioner) is a name that comes to mind. He would be a great candidate.”
Q: Recently on College Football Live, you suggested the FCS season be in the spring on a permanent basis, how’s the response been to that and do you think it could come to fruition?
Pollack: “I do think it’s a definite possibility. The television money would be there in some form. I know I would watch. In terms of the response, I’ve actually heard from numerous FCS coaches supporting my thoughts. They feel it would be a great way to showcase their teams, players and schools.”
Q: From a recruiting perspective, with no visits and possible eligibility/numbers issues and spring football, what would your message be to 2021 recruits on how to handle this strange time?
Pollack: “It’s just crazy right now. I’ve long thought your college choice should be as much about the fit for you personally and independent of the coaches because they come and go so frequently. Now, though, being able to determine that fit is going to be much more difficult. The relationships developed matter even more. As recruit, especially one being courted by all the top programs, you must be very smart and focused with your interactions and the relationships, however they may occur.”
Q: Lastly, let’s assume the three conferences hold the rope and we have a football season, what are you most intrigued to see from the Bulldogs this fall?
Pollack: “I know what I’m getting from the defense. It would be great to see someone step up as a double-digit sack guy who constantly pressures the quarterback, but, overall, I know what I’m getting. For me, it’s all about the quarterback. The team has been a quarterback away from taking that final leap. Look at who’s been winning the national championship – teams with elite, high first-round quarterbacks. I’m very excited to see what Jamie Newman can do because of his first-round physical traits and the threat he also brings as a runner. The ability for the quarterback to be a threat as a runner does so much for an offense and makes it difficult for the defense to be consistently right. I want to see the offense use that and continually put pressure on the defense, both on the ground and through the air.”
Q: Thus, what are you expecting from a Todd Monken-coached offense and how will the lack of a spring period impact it come fall?
Pollack: "I think you'll see a little bit of everything and an offense eventually looking more like those you see winning national championships. More RPOs, quarterback run game and, in general, more attacking all areas of the field both horizontally and vertically to put the defense in conflict. The key being eventually because I do think the lack of spring ball will have an impact. Offense is rhythm and timing as much as anything and it's just hard to simulate that without live action and then the learning that comes from those reps."
Q: What do you think Kirby Smart learned from the way Georgia lost to LSU in the SEC Championship?
Pollack: "That's an interesting question because while there are things teams can learn from what LSU did a season ago, they'll quickly find out what a unique combination of quarterback, skill players and coaching the Tigers had. For Kirby specifically, I think it reinforced what he's learned since becoming a head coach - that eventually you have to be able to outscore a team, and especially the best ones. It's just too difficult to slow down the combination of elite QB play, skill players and coaching in today's college football at the highest level."
Q: Lastly, are you ready for some actual football?
Pollack: “One thousand percent, so ready. Let’s go.”