December 21st Florida Gators football podcast edition

Gator Country brings you a new podcast as we discuss the latest on the Florida Gators football coaching search to replace Geoff Collins.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre debate what should happen with linebackers coach Randy Shannon and how Jim McElwain should use the open coaching spot.

Andrew and Nick also discuss the latest in recruiting for Florida, plus talk about players deciding to skip the bowl games.


Andrew:What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, going one this week with the holidays, and then we’ll be able to pop back on and go three next week. We’ll try to make this one a good one, since it’s the only one of the week.
Nick:Yeah. Less than a week till Christmas, and it’s probably like our last week of being able to be low key before bowl practices start. I’ll be in Tampa. You’ll be in Orlando for the Under Armour game, some prospects to watch there, and then you’ll be joining me in Tampa. I’ve kind of enjoyed being able to relax a little bit, and it’s all coming to an end soon.
Andrew:Yeah. It’s going to be a busy couple weeks, and as soon as that ends we get to cover some coaching changes, or at least one coaching change with the replacement of Geoff Collins, and then the 13th you get recruits on campus. It all starts the push to Signing Day in February.
Nick:Yeah. You don’t have to say anything here, but I keep getting asked about it, whether it’s on our message board or it’s on Twitter, everything that I’ve been told, Tim Skipper is not going to the defensive side of the ball. I don’t know, when people tweet at me, like people who say they have inside information tell me this. Okay, we’ll I don’t know who is telling you that, but everything I’ve heard is that Tim Skipper is not moving to the defensive side of the ball. People are trying to fit Mike Locksley, who’s an offensive coach, into Florida’s coaching staff.
Florida’s going to look for a good recruiter, and, in my opinion, you already have your DC on campus. I think Randy Shannon should be your defensive coordinator. If you want to bring in somebody as a co-defensive coordinator, but I think Randy Shannon, in my opinion, should get the job as far as like what Geoff Collins had, where he’s the defensive coordinator, and he’s calling plays. So I think you’re looking at trying to find somebody that can either coach linebackers, and have Torrian Gray coach the entire secondary, or find a guy that can coach safeties, which is what Geoff Collins was doing.
Andrew:It’s tough for me to say you want to get a linebacker coach. It’s a situation where…
Nick:When you got Randy Shannon on staff you don’t really need a linebacker coach, and it’s like I said, Geoff Collins coached safeties, so, yes, he’s defensive coordinator, but when they switched off into position groups Geoff Collins was with Marcell Harris and Marcus Maye. He was with those guys.
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, you can say—
Nick:Is it almost a waste to grab a guy and say, “You’re going to be the linebacker’s coach, and Shannon’s just going to be defensive coordinator?”
Andrew:Yeah, because it’s a thing where, I mean, you can say what you want about Randy Shannon. Does he recruit guys that he likes to develop? Yes. I mean, when you look at guys like Reese, and more so Kylan Johnson and Vosean Joseph, if you would have told me a year ago Vosean Joseph was going to be contributing this year I’d have probably laughed at you. You could say he might have made one of the top three biggest plays of the year for Florida in that LSU game.
Nick:Knocking Etling out of bounds. Yeah.
Andrew:Yeah. Of course, the stop on 3rd and goal and 4th and goal were probably your two biggest, but you could argue that’s the third biggest right there. To see Kylan move down from safety to linebacker, and not only play, but play well.
Nick:Play at a high level, yeah.
Andrew:Then to see Jeremiah Moon playing a little bit before he got hurt. You just can’t say enough about it. I think it’s a waste to do that, to get a linebacker coach. Like you said with Skipper, everyone wants him to go, or I don’t want to say wants him, everyone says he goes to linebacker, because that’s the easy way to get an offensive coach on staff, because he’s a defensive minded coach. I’ll say this. Is he against going to linebacker coach? I don’t think so, but it’s a situation where it has to be the right move for him to go to linebacker coach, and can you, in my opinion, if that happens, you have to give him some other title to go along with it.
I don’t know, I don’t think you give him co-DC or anything like that, but in order to tell a position coach to move sides of the ball, to switch on staff, it has to be either a pay raise or a bump in title. It has to be something. The rumors are out there that Fresno State offered him the DC job, and he turned it down. I’m pretty sure those reports are accurate in that, so he is okay with going to be a DC somewhere. I just think it’s not so cut and dried like some of these other sites are saying about him moving to linebacker. I think if he does you’ve got to give him some other title to go along with it. Is it associate head coach? What is it? What’s the line he gets?
Nick:I just don’t see it, and I agree with you. Why have a line, so you’re going to leave Shannon coaching the secondary? It doesn’t seem, you have to think more into just reading a story, or having a friend say to you, “Skipper’s going here. Locksley’s coming to coach running backs.” Okay, what’s Randy Shannon doing?
Andrew:Right. Exactly.
Nick:The defensive coordinator coaches a position. So, why are you going to have Skipper, who’s coached linebackers before, but didn’t play the position, when you have a guy like Randy Shannon? The work you’ve seen, like you mentioned with Kylan Johnson, he learned how to play linebacker from Randy Shannon. He never played linebacker before. He was a safety, came to Florida as a safety. Randy Shannon’s taught him that position, and you see what he’s been able to do with just one year, really redshirting, and then one year, and he was hurt while redshirting too.
So, it’s not even that he had a chance to play every single day in practice. You’re looking at a guy that has had one year playing a brand new position at a speed that he’s not used to, because the SEC, I know they play some good high school ball in Texas, but it’s nothing like what he’s seeing when you’ve got guys like Leonard Fournett, Nick Chubb, and Dalvin Cook running at you. That’s a completely different story.
Nick:So, to me, what are you doing? You need an extra recruiter, but you’re wasting a coach. So you want to have like a Ron Zook situation where you get a ton of good players on campus, and you’re recruiting the hell out of Florida and out of everyone, but you’ve got coaches in the wrong spots that aren’t developing talent.
Andrew:Right. Here’s the thing. Do I think having Torrian Gray coach both, safeties and corners, is okay? Yeah. I do. There’s a lot of coaches, now at Bama Nick Saban coaches safeties. You have to remember that as well. Mac’s an offensive guy, so he’s going to be on the offensive side of the ball. That’s why you usually have one less offensive coach, because your head coach is there, but that’s not how it is. I guess, I don’t know the answer to the question. The Mike Locksley thing does have a lot of buzz around it, and I can say, and, Nick, I think you can say the same thing, that there is some mutual interest there in the thing, and you have to know that Locksley has something lined up if he didn’t jump on the FAU job.
dI would say that there’s something brewing there, whether it’s exactly to Florida or not is, I don’t know, but here’s my thing. I don’t think that you’re only going to be looking for one coach when you head into the later part of December, January. I think after the bowl game you’re not looking. We don’t like to comment on that. You can read between the lines, so maybe Locksley fits in there somewhere. Then, like I say, maybe they give Skipper an associate head coaching job, and they move him to the defensive side of the ball, and he does something like coach outside linebackers. Again, I think that’s a little bit of a waste, but some way, shape, or form they have to update the recruiting staff with this coaches.
Nick:Yeah. McElwain mentioned that on Monday, saying they recognize that they need to, that there needs to be, and I’m not, I’m never going to speculate on coach. Someone asked me yesterday, “What about the special teams? What about Skipper coaching special teams and tight ends?” I said, “Well, that position’s full, so I’m not going to talk about a position that’s full.” McElwain said that there are needs, recruiting needs, that they need to meet with the coaching staff, and he said it while answering a question about Shannon. He’s not talking about Randy Shannon. It’ll be interesting to me to see what plays out January 3rd, the week after January 3rd, and to me once pieces fall, and the picture becomes clearer, that’s when you and I can start talking about what we’re hearing, what we’re going to be able to envision this coaching staff look like moving forward.
Andrew:Right. I think that’s the, that’s the big thing. I think it’s, to get through this bowl game, and I’ve had several people tell me that Mac’s focused on winning this bowl game, and he is. He’s focused on winning this bowl game, more so than anything, honestly. He just is focused on that. Mac has met with several people as far as facility goes. He even mentioned, I think it was before, not it was the day of the bowl game that they announced where he said something along the lines of, “Strickland’s working with us to get more off the field guys to come up,” and that’s something he’s done. He’s, while doing the bowl prep he’s also doing small things around it.
I do know this. There is support from administration and boosters now to do things that two months ago probably wasn’t in motion to go. I think the facility upgrades are being fast forwarded a little bit. I think a lot of things happened after losing to Florida State and the SEC Championship game. I even had someone tell me that a booster said after the SEC Championship game, “We’ve got to stop this shit, and it lies on our back.” Agree or disagree, Nick? It does kind of go on their back a little bit.
Nick:Yeah. It does. Listen, big shiny buildings cost money. Clemson’s putting in…
Andrew:A bowling alley.
Nick:A slide, a bowling alley. That stuff isn’t free. It’s not like in South Carolina they don’t pay for new construction, and at Florida you pay for it. That’s not the case. Things cost money, and there has to be some, Florida’s never really been doing, Jeremy Foley told us when we were talking about the new construction going in for football, and then the renovations to softball and baseball that they’re going to actually have to do, for the first time, some small raising. So like, if you want to send in $100, sure, and they’ve never really done that before. They’ve looked for big donors. You want to put your name on this building? We’re going to need a seven figure check.
Nick:We’re going to need a big six figure check to put your name on that building. So, even before Jeremy Foley left, they were kind of opening different avenues that they hadn’t explored yet. I think when you look at what other people are doing, it’s just keeping up with the Joneses. You asked me last week when I saw the new O Dome renovations, “What does it look like?” I said, “It looks like a Florida building. It’s very nice. It’s clean. Looks great. There’s nothing extravagant about it.” I don’t know if Florida’s going to do anything extravagant, but when you look at what other teams have, and what other teams are doing, you can’t stand to wait, and I love baseball, but you can’t wait and say, “Well, we want to start all three of these projects at the same time.” Listen, football’s going to get more money than baseball and softball are.
Nick:Baseball and softball aren’t going to cost as much, but if you get the money to be able to start football, start it. I love Kevin O’Sullivan, love the baseball team, love the softball team. They do need, and we’ve talked about that. I’ve been harsh about baseball and their facilities, but football’s the breadwinner, and you got to take care of football.
Andrew:Yeah. I think that’s the biggest thing you’ve got to remember is that it can’t, to get to $100 million is going to take a little bit of time, but it’s a thing where you can’t continue to, if you tell a booster, “Okay, when we get $50 million we’re going to do football,” they’re going to be a little bit more, you know. I don’t know. They’re going to be a little bit more eager to do it, and it’s a thing where, and I’ve heard this from several people, and that is, “We’re tired of giving money and it not going to where it needs to go.” Where it’s needing to go is to the football department. I don’t, there’s a fine line here. The university gives money, or the athletic association gives money to the university every year, but as one booster said to me, “Why are we giving money to the university when we’re not meeting our own needs?”
Andrew:I don’t know what the answer to that is.
Nick:You can’t ask a booster to cut a check. You have to show them something, whether it’s, this is going to go to where you intended it to go. Look, we need this to become a more competitive product, that’s what you want to see. If Florida was winning games, or if Florida was, had looked better on the field maybe there’s hope, but kind of the way you ended last season, coupled with the way you’re now ending this season, it’s just tough to go and ask for big sums of money when the feeling, we’ve talked about it before, the cloud over the program, or the feeling is this downtrodden, or people are just down on the team. It’s hard to go ask people for money when they don’t feel good about the investment.
Andrew:Yeah. That’s a good point. It’s a thing of if you go and say, “We need $5 million to put into this, and it’s going to go here,” they’re a lot more willing to do that than if they don’t know where it’s going, and they’re not seeing it. Not to be onto Foley, and not to beat a horse that’s gone, but the money hasn’t been there. That’s what people say even about the new academic center, and they say, “Well, it was good, but why not invest a little bit more and make it great?” It’s gonna, in five years it being outdated. That’s a thing that I think is pretty much there. It’s kind of like the indoor. They were going to start out and build it cheap, until Mac came in and said, “No, we’re not going to do it if we’re not going to do it right.” It was done right.
I think that’s where things are going, and all of this is just a little bit of the problem going on with football. There’s a lot of things that go in that make it a big problem. We talk about recruiting struggling. There’s a lot of things. Mac touched on some of the coaches. The facilities are bad. We talked about this on Gator Country the other day about former players coming back. There’s a bunch of small things that are equaling up to one big problem, and they show their face when you’re down, and they’re showing their face right now, because you’re down.
Nick:We talk about it a lot. Winning fixes a lot, right?
Andrew:Winning fixes, and winning hides a lot.
Nick:It does. It does.
Andrew:Here’s the thing. If Alabama starts to lose, guess what? There’s going to be a lot of things show up that aren’t going to be, that are going to show their ugly face. It just it is. It’s the nature of the business everywhere you go, no matter where you go. You look at Urban, I mean, when he was winning nobody thought there was a problem at Florida. He starts losing, and guess what? That big problem shows up.
Nick:Yeah, once you started, you start losing some games, and all of a sudden there’s a story about Percy Harvin choking a coach. You start losing, and stuff starts leaking out. When you’re winning, everything’s ironclad. Nothing leaks out. So, we’ve kind of just like spread out talking about a bunch. I think Randy Shannon, we’ll get back. Let’s tie this up into a little bow. I think Randy Shannon deserves the defensive coordinator job, and kind of the same title that Geoff Collins had, where he’s allowed to call the plays, and it’s kind of his defense. Randy Shannon was co-defensive coordinator, but that was just a title.
Andrew:Right. Here’s the thing, and I wanted to say this as well. Before I say this, Nick, I want to state this at first. Geoff Collins is one of the most down to earth, respected people. Him and his family are great people. Now, to spill over my vote of confidence for Randy Shannon, Collins didn’t take opinions from others very well. That’s something you and I have both heard. Now, listen, I mean, it was Geoff Collins’ defense. He was the defensive coordinator. Randy Shannon got that title so he could leave Arkansas without a buyout. That’s the real reason that he was co-DC.
Now we’re going to get to see more of Randy Shannon’s defense, of what Randy Shannon wants to put his stamp on there. Is it more blitzing? Is it more man? People hated Collins with his zone. Well, that was Collins. We’re going to see with Randy. Now, do I think it’s a big change? No, but every coordinator has a different philosophy of different things. On 3rd down it may be bring an extra guy, and Collins was more about sitting in the zone, or vice versa. There’s a lot of things that go into it.
I’m with you. I think Randy should get the DC job to keep some continuity on staff, and then I think you go and hire a really good recruiter, either to coach safeties, outside linebackers maybe, if you move Skip to outside linebackers, whatever it may be. You find a good recruiter. Then see what happens in January, but no matter what you need to find a good recruiter and a good coach moving forward, with all replacements going forward. To expand on the problem of recruiting, there is some dead weight. That has to be fixed. Collins was one of them.
Nick:I was in the gym on Tuesday, and a friend of mine, he’s from Gainesville, grew up in the town, went to Florida, is in graduate school at Florida, and he looks at me, and he’s like, “Hey, is Jim McElwain going to lose his job?” I was like, “No. No, man.” I don’t think there’s a chance of him losing his job next year. You’ve got to give a coach time to do their thing, and it’s like we said with recruiting. In regards to recruiting, they’ve been playing behind the eight ball for two years. Next year will be the first year that they’re not playing behind. So, to me, if you have a bad year on the field, and another bad year recruiting, then it’s time to start asking questions, because you’ve had your chance now. When you first got in you had a month for that first recruiting class.
Nick:Now you’re trying to match two and three year relationships with guys that you’ve been talking to for seven months, eight months, one year, in your second recruiting class, and even this recruiting class you’ve known these guys for a year and a half, maybe, and Nick Saban’s been calling them since they were in eighth grade.
Andrew:Let me stop you there for a second, and it’s weird we’re about to do this, but I’m about to give the counter argument to that, and you make great points.
Nick:What? I’m the positive one.
Andrew:You’re the positive one here. You make great points there. Great points, and I’m not arguing with those points. Those points are huge, but I will say—
Nick:I always make great points. This is nothing new. You don’t need to keep pointing it out. Most points that I make are fantastic.
Andrew:Some points. It’s the holidays, so I won’t hurt you too bad, call you out, but what I want to say is this, and that is that there is dead weight. There is people on staff right now that are not pulling their weight. That is playing a large part into that. Now, like you said, they’re trying to catch up. When you catch up, you’ve got to be really good recruiters. There are a handful that are, and a handful that aren’t. Like I said, Collins was a great coach, an awful recruiter, an awful recruiter. Okay. You’ve got to get better than what Collins was there. That’s where it is in a lot of positions, and it has to improve.
We talk about Summers. We talk about Nord. They have to improve at recruiting there, have to. You look at Skipper, good recruiter. You look at Rumph, really good recruiter. Struggled with D tackles, but still good recruiter. Torrian Gray I think is a good recruiter, but he is swimming in the SEC, and that’s nothing new. You got to give him a little bit of time to pick it up, but like you said, you’re still playing catch up. There just is some holes that have to be fixed, and I think Mac noticed that and is noticing that. I know he’s told people he notices that, and they have to improve, and I think he understands that.
Nick:Yeah. I mean, it’s just, not even known a kid for three years, so he’s going to come. He knows 20 coaches for three years. So, yes, I do agree with that.
Andrew:Right. I mean, and here’s the thing. I hate to say this, because I feel like I’m just calling or picking on the person, but Tre McKitty, the reports are the he says he wanted to come to Florida, but didn’t want to play for Nord. You can’t have that happen. You just can’t have that happen.
Nick:It’s going to happen. A player might not click with a position coach. It’s going to happen. It can’t become a trend. You know what I’m saying? Recruiting is so much about building relationships. If a coach and a kid don’t click, okay, that’s fine, but there’s some kids that you have to click with, and you’ve got to figure out what it is that you guys have in common, what it is that you can build that relationship off of. You can’t agree, listen, maybe it will be a trend, but you can agree that it’s going to happen eventually. Florida wanted, who was the tight end a while back that politely told you that he had no interest in Florida?
Andrew:Isaac Nauta.
Nick:Isaac Nauta. It’s going to happen. Someone’s going to come along that Florida really wants, that fans really want, that the position coach really wants, and he’ll just tell them a polite, or maybe impolite, thanks, but no thanks; not interested.
Nick:That’s going to happen.
Andrew:I mean, it would be like…
Nick:This is the thing that I think people get lost in, and I think not just Florida fans, but for all those idiots that tweet at recruits when they don’t pick their school. Not everyone grows up a fan of the school that you like. Not everyone loves the school that you love so dearly the same way that you do. So when a kid decides not to come, it might not be because the coach was a bad recruiter. It might be because he didn’t grow up a Florida fan. He didn’t grow up a Florida State fan, a Georgia fan, and he doesn’t feel the same thing. He doesn’t remember getting drunk before football games and how much fun you had in Gainesville. He didn’t go through that.
Andrew:Right. Some kids look at it as a business decision. It’s kind of like Alex Leatherwood, and I say this all the time. I say, “It’s a business decision for him,” and it is a business decision for him. He doesn’t have family. His dad works three jobs. He doesn’t have a mom involved, and he’s a kid that wants to get to the League. Alright. In large part, Florida gives him playing time to get on the field from day one. Does that mean that he’s going to get better coaching at Florida than Alabama? That’s a decision he has to decide.
It becomes a thing, and, Nick, I say this. I used to say this all the time, and I still kind of think this. If you grew up a fan of someone you’re going to give them the benefit of the doubt, but at the same day it doesn’t exactly mean that you’re going to go there. It’s weird to say, but it just there’s a lot of things that go into things, but like you said, there is going to be some guys that you just don’t click with. It just is becoming more of a thing where they’re not clicking. There’s a lot of, not miscommunications, lack of communications during the season with these.
Nick:And that can’t happen inside the coaching staff. They have to be able to work as a collective unit when it comes to recruiting.
Andrew:That’s what I was going to say as well. Drew Hughes, his recruiting staff, they can do everything in the world recruiting for these guys, but if the assistant coaches aren’t doing it, it doesn’t work. You have to have a relationship with your position coach. They can love Hughes to death. They can love Kevin Barbay, all the recruiting staff members, to death, but at the end of the day if they don’t have a relationship with their assistant coaches, 99% of the kids aren’t going to attend that school. It is what it is. There is no way, shape, or form around it. It just is what it is.
Nick:Listen, you can love the head coach. You can love the coordinator. When it comes down to it, the person you’re going to spend the most time with, outside of players, is the strength and condition coach, and he’s not recruiting, and then your position coach. So you have to have a relationship. That’s where, we talked about it before, and we both agreed, I think, that it was too much for a position coach to go ahead and recruit nationally. You’ve got to have guys that have areas, and that’s when the communication part comes in, but you have to have a relationship with your position coach. A guy can love Coach Mac and hate Randy Shannon, and he’s a linebacker. Sorry, Coach, I don’t want to play for Randy Shannon, and that’s just an example.
Andrew:You can get away with it more if they love the head coach, but don’t exactly care for the position coach. I mean, let’s turn it around to business. I mean, would you go somewhere if you liked your assistant, but hated your boss? Probably not. I mean, you just wouldn’t. I mean, it would be, it’s a thing where you have to do that. I’m not saying there’s any bad guys at Florida. I wouldn’t say a bad thing about any of those people there. Assistant wise they’re all great people, and there is nothing anyone can say about them that is bad, but nice guys don’t always finish first.
Nick:That’s true.
Andrew:Let’s go on to this bowl game. Got the bowl game coming up. Little bit of surprising news, Alex Anzalone going through a little bit of skeleton drills, stuff like that. You and I kind of speculated that that was possible. Still 50/50 whether he plays in the bowl game or not. I personally think he probably does. That’s just the way he is. I think it’s a little bit of, if you’re coming back to school, don’t play. If you’re not.
Nick:That’s what I wanted to hit on.
Andrew:Yeah. If you going to the League, maybe you want that one more game film. So I don’t know if that’s Alex’s mindset. I’m not speculating that at all, because you and I have heard different things on where he’s leaning, but I just wonder if that’s going into his mindset.
Nick:That’s really what I wanted to touch on. In my opinion, if you’re leaving, with the injury history you’ve had, not specifically with a broken arm. Listen, he’s a young guy. The younger you are, the easier and the faster and the better your bone break is going to heal. The injury stuff with his shoulder, that’s not that cut and dried. So, to me, is, “Okay. I can come back. I’m planning on leaving. What are you coming back for?” What are you going to do? I understand Dante Fowler moved up maybe seven spots. He was probably going to be a top ten pick no matter what, so maybe you move up a little, but what are you really doing?
To me, if Alex Anzalone is practicing and wants to come back and play, that means, to me at least, that he would be leaning towards coming back. If he had said, “I’m healthy, but, Coach, this is the way I’m leaning, and I don’t want to risk getting injured again, and then that forcing my decision, not having a decision.” Like Antonio Morrison, him tearing his ACL in the Birmingham Bowl made his decision to stay or to leave for him. It took it out of his hands. To me, Alex Anzalone getting back in practice and potentially playing in the bowl game says that he’s coming back.
Andrew:See, I think we’re different. We’re differing opinions here a little bit, because I think it’s the opposite. I think if he was wanting to go pro then he would want one more game film. Again, you and I are speculating.
Nick:Yeah. To me, it’s risk/reward. What is Alex Anzalone going to show against an Iowa team that doesn’t pass the ball very well, has a bunch of runners? What is he going to show that he hasn’t shown yet?
Andrew:Yeah. I mean, people ask me that all the time. They’re like, “What do you believe as far as why would he come back?” I’m like, “Well, he comes back to prove he can stay healthy.”
Nick:Stay healthy, show some better pass coverage stuff. To me, those are things why you would come back.
Nick:Also, the linebackers now, you look at a guy like Shaq Thompson out of Washington, who’s kind of like a hybrid. He played a little bit for Carolina on Monday with Luke Kuechly out, but that’s the kind of, Alex Anzalone, love him, great player, he’s not Luke Kuechly. Luke Kuechly is a special player. That’s a middle linebacker. Alex Anzalone is a middle linebacker. It’s kind of like what I said with Antonio Morrison. If you can’t cover, what are you doing? People are looking at guys like Keanu Neal, bigger safeties. Someone like Keanu Neal, someone like a Shaq Thompson, those guys that can play safety, and now we need to go to nickel. We’ll slide you down from safety, and you can play that extra man in case they run.
Andrew:Now, listen, Anzalone can cover. He can cover.
Nick:By his own admission, he’s not great in coverage, and, I mean, the next level…
Andrew:He’s a lot better than Morrison.
Nick:Without a doubt. No, no, yeah. Wasn’t trying to lump him into that category.
Andrew:I’m out of shape, and I could at least know what to do if Florida’s covering a receiver or tight end, and I’m not so sure that Mr. Morrison does. Yeah. I mean, so that’s kind of what I was, where I was getting at. We’ll see what happens there.
Del Rio, who knows? Del Rio, in my opinion, doesn’t play in the game. The only thing that maybe Del Rio does is if he is able to play is if something, Lord forbid, happened to Appleby you wouldn’t have to burn a redshirt in the game. So, yeah. We’ll see there. As far as the rest of the injuries, Mac says most of that will be determined when they get to Tampa on the 27th after the holidays.
I know, Nick, you wanted to touch on something, and it was something that is coming about, and kind of starting to become a little bit of the norm. Christian McCaffrey, Leonard Fournette, and then Baylor’s running back on Wednesday, or Tuesday, all decided they’re no longer going to play in the bowl game, so they can get ready for the NFL Combine. I think there is an argument to be made for both sides. I know you’re going to take the argument for the reason it’s okay to go, not to play in the bowl game and get ready for the draft. I agree with you.
I’m going to give you the argument as to why I think they should play. You’re playing with your team. It’s a team game, right? These are supposedly your brothers. All these guys are your brothers. In my opinion, sitting out the game kind of gives a selfish poise about yourself. Now, again, you’re about to make a lot of money, so I understand it, but I think there’s an argument to be made for to play the game, to play for the university that you signed for with your teammates in the game. It’s an exhibition game, so I get it. I just don’t want it to start seeing a norm, but at the same time, if you’re going to go out there and hurt your teammates by playing in the game and not playing hard, then undoubtedly sit out the game.
Nick:That’s the thing. So, if you’re not in it, that’s when you get hurt. When you’re doubting yourself, your decision, when you’re not 100% invested, that’s when you get hurt on the football field.
Nick:You’re a step slower. You’re thinking. You’re cautious. Maybe you’re timid. That’s when you get hurt. All of these guys are running backs too. Leonard Fournette, we’re down in Louisiana, and I’m looking around, and there’s 4,000 Leonard Fournettes. There’s 4,000 #7 jerseys walking around before the game. I’m looking around like, huh. I get that Tyler Matthew was there, and maybe some of those people have had a #7 jersey for a while. How much money did Tyler Matthew and Leonard Fournette make from those jersey sales? How much is Leonard Fournette making from the bowl payout that the Citrus Bowl is going to give to LSU? Nothing.
Leonard Fournette has given LSU, he played hurt a bunch this year. Leonard Fournette has given LSU three years of himself, of himself, and you can say, “Oh, he’s getting a free education.” These guys aren’t, it takes an exceptional case for a guy to say, if Leonard Fournette wanted to be an engineer, “Sorry, son, those classes don’t match up with our practice and lifting schedule. You need to figure something else out.”
Nick:This is Florida’s go to one here is, faith, family, community services. What are you doing with that when you graduate?
Nick:These guys are being pushed into, or having limits on that education. People are saying, “I wish I didn’t have to pay these student loans. This guy doesn’t have student loans. He should be grateful.” You got to pick your major. You were allowed to work a side job if you wanted to, to make extra money. These are things these guys can’t do. They are working full time jobs. They’re not being gifted an education. They’ve earned the right to go to school on scholarship through what they did up until the point where they got the scholarship and got onto campus, and then they earn it every day when they’re on campus through working out, going to class, being students. To me, Leonard Fournette doesn’t owe LSU, doesn’t owe Coach Orgeron, doesn’t owe a single LSU fan, certainly doesn’t owe Joe Alleva, a damn thing. He has a daughter. He had a daughter in high school. That’s who he owes. He tweeted that out today.
Christian McCaffrey doesn’t, I don’t think he has a daughter or family to do that. He carried the ball almost 400 times the last two years. He played hurt all season long, and then the biggest thing to me is when you ask their teammates. The argument is, they’re leaving their teammates. Their teammates support them.
Andrew:Like I said, that is my argument for that, but at the same time it’s like I said, there’s an argument to be made on both sides, in my opinion. Does Fournette owe anyone anything? No. But those are your teammates you went to war with for 36, 39 games through your career, you look over to that guy beside you, you’re almost quitting on that guy. Like I said, I understand it for selfish reasons, and it’s selfish reason that are understood, and I’m all for it, but how do you look at your teammate and say, “I’m done. I’m done. Go win the bowl game without me. I’m done.” That’s my argument for that.
My counter argument for that is look at the game last season in the Buffalo Wild Wings game. I know Coach Mac won’t come out and say guys quit, but in my and your opinion, Nick, I think we can both agree there was guys that quit in the game.
Nick:Making business decisions.
Andrew:Right. So you shouldn’t play in the game then. If you’re going to hurt your teammate, then don’t play. If you’re going to be a Dante Fowler that goes out and balls out in the game, go play. If you’re going to be guys that really help their stock, go do it. As Coach Mac said, “It’s a personal decision.” It’s an opportunity. There’s not many bowl games on at a time. Scouts are looking at those bowl games a lot. You’re going up against the best of the best. It’s an opportunity. It’s a fine opportunity.
I understand what you’re saying, and that is if you go out and you half ass it, you’re going to get hurt. So you have to make that decision. I think it’s a fine line of what it is. I think it’s a different situation even for Fournette period. Fournette had an injury he was dealing with anyway. So it’s a little bit different even for Fournette.
Nick:That was the whole thing about Fournette wasn’t going to play in the LSU game until that whole shoving match happens. He gets pissed off and says, “I want to play.”
Andrew:I still don’t know if I believe that fully.
Nick:I think it might believe it, because I think if I’m Leonard Fournette, and I’m a little bit injured, I’m thinking about it, and it’s like I said, you’re thinking about it you’re slower, more likely to get reinjured. Coach, I’m not going to play until I’m 100%. Okay, that’s fine. I did it sophomore year. Maybe did it freshman year, but listen, no Division I football player is playing strictly for the love of the game. All of these guys have dreams and aspirations of being a professional football player. You have a chance. Leonard Fournette was not ever, when I met Leonard Fournette in person when he, before his senior year in high school at the Opening, he was never going to play his senior year of college.
Nick:Whoever signed him, whether it be LSU, Florida, Alabama, they knew that. We have a three year rental right now in Leonard Fournette.
Nick:After three years he’s gone. He’s leaving one meaningless bowl game early.
Andrew:Yeah. Like I said, there’s arguments to be made on both sides in the thing. It’s kind of like what I was saying the other day when someone asked me if it’s a coaching thing as to why these guys aren’t prepared to play in the bowl game. You can’t say it’s a coaching thing, because it is a meaningless game, for the most part. I don’t have this record in front of me with Nick Saban, but in games that aren’t for the championship or the playoffs Nick Saban’s team doesn’t do well. Look, they got blown out by a bad Oklahoma team a couple years ago. They got beat by Colorado down in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport. I was there in person watching the game. It’s hard to get up for an exhibition game, so I understand these guys not going. I’m not making an argument for or against it. I see both sides of the story. If I’m a coach, I want my guys playing. If I’m a parent, I don’t want my guys playing.
Nick:Yeah, if I’m a coach, of course, because the coaches use the players to get bigger and better jobs.
Andrew:Yeah, but, I mean, you can make the argument too that like, let’s say, I’m just thinking of guys that were able to boost themselves way up by having good years. I mean, Marcus Maye for instance. Marcus Maye boosted himself up in the draft with a good year this year. Coming out of high school is he a top two round pick possibly? No.
Nick:Everyone thought he was going to be, and all of a sudden three years later you’re wondering what the hell happened to that Marcus Maye guy who was great? Then, his last two years really showed out.
Andrew:Right. That’s what I’m saying. I mean, you can’t just say they use them for that. I mean, there’s a lot of things that go on. It’s a 50/50 balance. We can go on into the paying players, that kind of stuff. We all think there should be something done. That’s a different story for a different day. Nick, we’re running out of time. Is there anything else you wanted to hit on before we get out of here?
Nick:We’ll break down the matchup between Iowa and Florida. I’ve got some stuff. I’ve been doing research this week.
Andrew:You got five minutes. You can rattle off.
Nick:No. We’ll do that, we’ll podcast, we’re going to do three next week. So we’ll do that Monday, and then I’ll be getting up to the Outback Bowl the 27th. So we’ll have another one go up that day. I just think, listen, for people that are mad about a player skipping out on a bowl game, Tulsa beat Central Michigan 55-10 in a bowl game that only exists because ESPN thinks you’re going to watch it, and they can make ad money off of it. That’s why the Miami Beach Bowl, in beautiful Marlins Park, exists.
Andrew:With about 500 people there.
Nick:Yeah. That’s being generous. Bowl games are made to make the television stations, whether it’s a network or a cable company like ESPN, bowl games make them money. Is it a nice trip for players? Yeah.
Andrew:Schools lose money.
Nick:Leonard Fournette made two bowl trips. Doesn’t want to make a third.
Nick:Same thing with Christian McCaffrey. Made two bowl trips, doesn’t want to make a third. It’s a nice trip for guys. Won’t say that it isn’t. This whole system is designed to make TV and colleges and coaches money. If you don’t want to be a part of that, and you’ve already exhausted your three years, do you. I’m not in your shoes. I’m not from your socioeconomic background. Maybe I am. I mean, Christian McCaffrey I think grew up nice, but at the end of the day you who’s tweeting at these kids, you’re not the one that woke up at 5:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning, 4:00 in the morning, to go run, to go get up that hill. You’re not the one that knows the relationship he has with his players, with his friends, with his brothers in the locker room. You don’t have any leg to stand on in saying, “You’re being selfish.”
Nick:That’s a decision that each individual has to make for themselves, with their families, and if they have to be selfish, then they tell their teammates, “I have to make a selfish decision for me.” Those guys in the locker room probably would do the same thing if they were in those shoes.
Andrew:Yup. I agree.
Nick:I wasn’t coming at you. I just got a ton of flack yesterday.
Andrew:No. I think there’s an argument for both sides. I do. I’ll stand by that. I think I can make an argument for both sides of the table, and it be right. It’s a player by player situation, and I think it’s one of those things, like I said, you have to, if you’re not able to, if you’re not going to go out and give it your all, then you need to sit home. I do believe that wholeheartedly for that, but, as you said, we’ll both be, I’ll be in Orlando on the 26th, and be there for check-in on the 27th, about nine or 10 guys with Florida interests. One commit, several targets coming in. If you didn’t get a chance on Tuesday to check it out, posted a breakdown of all the visits for January. In my opinion, good stuff. I may be a little biased, but check it out. Nick, I think that’s all. I think I speak for both of us when I say, we wish everybody a happy holiday, and look forward to another great year.
Nick:Yeah. I’m going to try some Facebook Live stuff, so check out Gator Country on Facebook. It’s just @GatorCountry. Also on Twitter, @GatorCountry. Find the podcast on iTunes, search @GatorCountry. If you’re not on iTunes, you’re an Android user, hopefully you don’t have a Samsung Galaxy Note 7. Don’t get on a plane with that. You can find it on the website at Transcript and audio is there. Find me and Andrew, @NickdelaTorreGC and @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter.
Andrew:Those are must follows next week.
Nick:I’d say so.
Andrew:We’ll see. I might Facebook Live a little bit of practice or something. We’ll see. Then Nick and I will join up together on the 31st and have a little fun in Tampa and get ready for the bowl game. Then the wild, wild west that comes after the bowl game should be fun.
Nick:I’m going to get you out to Top Golf.
Andrew:You don’t even have to get me out to Top Golf. I’m more than happy to get out to Top Golf. So, if you have any recommendations, I’m sure Nick will always take your food for Tampa. As always, guys, we appreciate it. Chomp, chomp, and go Braves.
Nick:You stay classy, Gator Country.
Coaching Changes TalkPage 14
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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.