Florida Gators Thoughts of the Week(s): May 5 – May 18

Last time we chatted Rhonda Faehn and Billy Donovan had moved on from the Florida Gators and University of Florida and we were in the beginning of our grieving process. Well, not but less than two weeks later, both positions have been filled and the acceptance process has begun – of course, with varying opinions on both hires.

This week, which is really two weeks because life got in the way last week, we will dive into both hires and take a look at the world around us.

Hop on and hold on, it could to be bumpy-ish ride.

White in Numbers

Since it has been over a week since Mike White was introduced as head coach of the Florida Gators, nearly everyone has opined on him as a coach. We know this: he is an up-and-comer that basketball analysts love that is relatively unknown amongst most fans and has never made the NCAA Tournament, but has won three straight conference regular season championships. Does that sound about right?

Since every opinion has already been talked about you and you know I love numbers, let’s take a look at the numbers. (And before a certain person responds in the comments below, I know that statistics are not completely transferable and don’t always mean the whole story – I got it…I heard you all football season.)

Please note, that there is no agenda with these numbers, just pulling select numbers over the last four years.

  • Over the last three seasons, Louisiana Tech has had single digit losses (7, 8, 9). That is the first time they have had three consecutive seasons with single digit losses since 1987 – 1990.
  • In the 2010 – 2011 season (season before White took over), the Bulldogs ranked 281st (out of 336) in scoring offense. During the four years under White, the Bulldogs ranked: 135th, 54th, 12th, and 44th.
  • In the 2010 – 2011 season, the Bulldogs ranked 173rd in scoring defense. In the four seasons under White, they ranked: 234th, 87th, 77th, and 144th.
  • In the 2010 – 2011 season, the Bulldogs ranked 313th in turnover margin. In the four seasons under White, they ranked: 54th, 6th, 6th, and 5th.
  • During the four years under White, the Bulldogs ranked 234th, 277th, 119th, and 98th in field goal percentage.
  • In the 2010 – 2011 season, the Bulldogs ranked 315th in assists per game. Under White, the Bulldogs ranked 156th, 130th, 95th, and 73rd.
  • Under White, the Bulldogs ranked 266th, 170th, 102nd, and 318th in rebound margin.
  • In the four seasons under White, the Bulldogs ranked 292nd, 169th, 239th, and 185th in free throw percentage.
  • Under White, the Bulldogs ranked 159th, 16th, 21st, and 21st in win-loss percentage.
  • Finally, in the four years under White, Louisiana Tech ranked 182nd, 90th, 34th, and 71st (average ranking of 94.25) in the Pomeroy College Basketball Ratings. In the previous ten years, they had an average ranking of 161.10.

Jenny Rowland – Right Size Feet for Big Shoes

Just as Mike White will not have an easy task in following Billy Donovan, Jenny Rowland not only follows a similar legend, but also picks up a team that is the back-to-back-to-back National Champions. Sure, that means you are picking up a team chalk-full (pun intended – LOL) of talent, but also that filling in those shoes is could be very difficult.

Primarily, let’s clear the air here. Nobody knew who was going to fill in for Faehn, just as no one knew Faehn would take over the program in 2003 and guess what? That’s OK. Jenny Rowland is not a household name – no, not to you – but to others in the industry she is a rising star, just like Faehn was.

Rowland, who was a member of the U.S. World Championship team in 1989 (a year after Faehn), she was a college All-American in 1993, and was an assistant coach at two premier gymnastics programs in the NCAA.

Sure, she never won a National Championship, nor as Auburn where she is coming from – but only six schools have ever won since they began collegiate gymnastics in 1982, but again, that’s OK. Faehn had zero National Championships either. But she did help Auburn make it to their first Super Six for the first time in 22 years – a heckuva accomplishment.

Rowland who has learned under Jeff Graba (three time SEC coach of the year) and Steve Nunno (U.S. Women’s Olympic coach in 1992 and 1996; and Oklahoma’s head coach from 2000 – 2006), has learned from some of the best in the business and has experience as an International Judge.

Outside of landing a coach like Jeff Graba or K.J. Kindler, Foley did a darn good job finding Rowland.

Josh Grady Make Sense – Luke Del Rio Doesn’t

The Gators received two transfer quarterbacks this past week – Vanderbilt’s Josh Grady and Oregon State’s Luke Del Rio. While both are not expected to play much next season, they will provide a bit more depth if Will Grier or Treon Harris go down, or if one perhaps, transfers…unless you still think Jacob Guy is the answer.

Grady, a Tampa native, didn’t do much at Vanderbilt – 3/7 for 27 yards passing and seven receptions for 89 yards as a receiver, it is a move that makes sense. Grady who will be there to compete for the quarterback job, he can also play wide receiver should that opportunity not work out. I am not expecting much out of Grady, but that move make sense. Why? His dad, Woodrow Grady, is the head coach of Team Tampa, the top 7-on-7 team in the country and could very likely start connecting more of Tampa’s best athletes to the University of Florida.

Del Rio, on the other hand, doesn’t make much sense to me. Del Rio, who walked on at Alabama and then played at Oregon State where he went 8-for-18 for 141 yards. Why he transferred out of Oregon State is interesting as there was a fresh competition for the starting quarterback role and he was competing against a redshirt freshman and true freshman. It would seem Del Rio would likely have the upperhand.

I know Del Rio’s connection to Florida is through John Garrett, former OSU offensive coordinator and current Quality Assurance coach at Florida, it still doesn’t seem to make much sense. Del Rio is not likely better than Harris or Grier and while he seems to be better than Skyler Mornhinweg, I don’t see him on the field and I see his spot being better filled by someone in the future.

Three Star May Actually Be Good

Isaiah Johnson, a lowly three star wide receiver, had six catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns in 2 ½ quarters during his spring game.

Now based on message boards, Florida should never take a three star, but maybe, just maybe, as well talked about last Thoughts of the Week, maybe we should trust the coaching staff to make evaluations and not a group of overweight “scouts” who stopped playing football when they were required to fit into pads.

Let’s focus instead on coaching evaluation, rather than arbitrary rankings.


Must Read Articles of the Week


Song of the Week

 I am still on my red dirt country fix — don’t worry, Nashville country is coming back next week! This is one of my favorite Texas artists and a great song, albeit a few years old.

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Daniel Thompson
Dan Thompson is a 2010 graduate of the University Florida, graduating with a degree in Economics and a degree in Political Science. During this time at UF, Dan worked three years for the Florida Gator Football team as a recruiting ambassador. Dan dealt daily with prospects, NCAA guidelines, and coaching staff. Dan was also involved in Florida Blue Key, Student Government and Greek Life. Currently, Dan oversees the IT consulting practice of a Tampa-based company. Dan enjoys golfing, country music, bourbon, travel, oysters, and a medium-rare steak. Dan can be found on Twitter at @DK_Thompson.