Monday, November 28, 2011

More Evidence Of The Batson Problem

by blue_62

To me, seeing less talented teams get more out of their players is the best evidence that Joey Batson is possibly the biggest albatross around Clemson's player development efforts. If someone asked you to name some teams that have been Clemson's achilles' heels in the ACC, who would you name? Larry Williams has done just that, as a matter of fact.

Georgia Tech is numero uno, no doubt. Boston College and one other team are fighting for second place. That team? The Maryland Terrapins, of course. Remember the ole "if you punch them in the mouth, they will quit" game? The fact Clemson, as a rule, gets tripped up by Maryland in much the same fashion as against Georgia Tech and Boston College prompted me to look a little closer.

In addition to the other inexplicable losses over the years to Duke and Wake, I have long believed our buddy Joey Batson deserves much blame for GT, BC, and Maryland more often than not physically overwhelming the more talented Tigers. From the James Davis-headlining class in 2005 up to the class in 2008, Clemson's recruiting ranking averaged 15th. Maryland during that time averaged around 40th. Without a doubt, I wanted to look closer to find why they were getting better development among their players. What I found is troubling, and surprisingly related to what happened a few nights ago in Columbia.

Doing a little research, I found this gem of an article I have linked at the bottom of this post. I highly encourage folks to read it. The "put the weight back on the right way" and the "designed to peak in November" quotes particularly caught my eye. You see, the guy who was at Maryland during the period they often upset us was hired away from the Turtles last year and is now at Vanderbilt. Take a glance and see what he is doing there. Just as interesting is finding out who he replaced.

Vanderbilt is basically an SEC conference version of the ACC's Wake Forest. In 2008, Wake Forest whipped them 23-10. They played again in 2010, and a 3-10 Wake team stomped them 34-13. Analyzing the recruiting of both schools during this period, one will see the talent brought in is rated about as close as you can get. The first two games saw Grobe's team whip the Commodores. But suddenly, a decent Wake team who defeated Florida State and outplayed Clemson in Death Valley is destroyed 41-7. What happened? Read on.

Looking at the history of the Vanderbilt Strength and Conditioning department reveals much about the necessity of an outstanding coach and his role in player development. For the Clemson faithful, most relevant is the fact that looking into Vandy's situation is another look at Joey Batson's legacy. Follow along as we analyze that legacy.

Almost a year ago, I made a post showing how another Batson protege', Ruben Mendoza, had a track record at Ole Miss and Notre Dame that was basically a mirror image of the on-field problems at Clemson. Losing in the fourth quarter, losing close games, late season collapses, poor functional strength, and NFL teams noting poor development are some of the parallels.

How does the Vanderbilt situation relate to Mendoza? Well, lo and behold, the guy who was at Vanderbilt when Wake was blowing them up was none other than John Sisk, ANOTHER Batson man who coached under him at Clemson. Followng the Batson template to a T, it seems the Mr. Sisk coached teams at Vanderbilt were getting whipped by the equally talented bunch at Wake. I cannot say I am in the least surprised.

Back in the early days of Bowden's tenure, the section of the program that featured the Strength and Conditioning department showcased pictures of Batson and his two top assistants. Sisk and Mendoza were those two men. Neither of those men are now coaching in the top division of college football.

Gayle Hatch has a legacy of developing great strength coaches. Moffitt at LSU, Cochran at Alabama. Carlisle at Southern Cal. And on it goes. Dwight Galt, the guy that helped Maryland and Vanderbilt punch Clemson and Wake respectively in the mouth has a decent legacy himself.

Not only did Galt max out the potential of studs like Vernon Davis for the Terps(would have been nice to see the same with, say, Daquan Bowers at Clemson), he has had quite a few understudies go on to coach in the NFL. Even more interesting is his impact in college.

Craig Fitzgerald, the strength coach South Carolina hired in January, 2009, both played and worked under Galt. Seems like ole Galt's legacy of turning the tides like that of the Vandy-Wake battle goes much wider.....his understudy has helped turn the tide in the Clemson-SC battle. To add insult to injury, BOTH his sons are working under Fitzgerald at South Carolina. The score: Fitzgerald-3, Batson-O. ZERO.

John Sisk currently finds himself now at FURMAN. Vanderbilt's new coach, unlike Tommy Bowden and Dabo Swinney at Clemson, knew the importance of establishing great player development via a great strength coach. So long SEC, hello Furman. FURMAN. Surely one trained by the great Mr. Bench press should at least get a lateral move!!

How about Mendoza? After an SEC stint at Ole Miss, he moved on to head the program at Notre Dame. After the Irish basically were the Midwestern, Catholic version of Clemson on the gridiron, Mendoza is no longer in South Bend. Like Vanderbilt's new guy, Brian Kelly(again, unlike Swinney and Bowden), realized he needed to change up things in the all so important realm of player development.

Where is Mendoza now? Well, he finds himself heading up the department at his alma mater, WAYNE STATE. So long, SEC. Goodbye South Bend. Hello WAYNE STATE. Another lateral move, huh? Boy, those Batson guys define upward mobility, don't they?

Anyone still unconvinced? If so, there is no help. This post may come across as harsh. Well, Clemson needs a LOTTA harshness. Mr. Mendoza and Mr. Sisk are probably great guys. Unfortunately, they didn't learn from a Moffitt, a Hatch, or even a Galt. They learned from Joey Batson. Nice guys all, perhaps.

But Clemson doesn't need nice guys. There are too many there already. Clemson needs a nasty sense of urgency. Don't worry about Batson. Charleston Southern or Newberry will scoop him up. Chad Morris said it well: the cream rises to the top. Clemson needs to identify the cream and hire him as a strength coach. We don't need anymore skim milk

1 comment:

  1. where's the link to the article you referenced?