The Mark Miller Report: Rambling from Chicago

How about some rambling random musings? I’m sitting in a hotel room in Chicago, the air outside is frigid. I don’t think they even bother to tell you the actual temperature up here at this point, they just give you the wind chill. It is somewhere between “you’ve got to be kidding me” and “holy crap that’s cold!” So I’m biding my time waiting for a pizza to arrive and pondering all things Gator.

Did you know that right now there are a dozen Gators playing on NBA rosters (well not all are playing, Al Horford is out the rest of the season).  I was trying to come up with the names. Nick Calathes, Mike Miller, Corey Brewer, Joakim Noah, Udonis Haslem, David Lee, Chandler Parsons, Matt Bonner, Marreese Speights, Al Horford and Bradley Beal are the ones I can come up with off the top of my head. I heard there were a dozen. Can you come up with the last one without looking it up? It’s not hard to see why Billy Donovan is able to recruit as well as he does.

Speaking of Florida basketball, the Chris Walker saga continues. Hints and innuendoes are starting to pop up that there is more to this case than just the game we have heard he attended. I do not profess to know all the details but I think it is safe to say that some unscrupulous adults have taken advantage of a young man who probably thought he could trust those adults. Perhaps the NCAA is doing a poor job of handling this case but without knowing all of the details, is it really possible for us to say? In any case, it is sad that a young man’s life gets put on hold as a powerful organization does battle with slimy AAU coaches.

New Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper did the obligatory initial press conference and said all of the things the Gator Nation wanted to hear. He talked about scoring points. Now, that might seem an extremely simplistic topic for an offensive coordinator but around these parts it is right up there with splitting the atom. Roper talked about not really caring about yards gained. What most Gator fans wanted to hear was that he didn’t care about time of possession. He did discuss spreading out opponents defenses and getting into space. That would be slightly different than what the offense did in 2013 were it appeared the game plan was to draw as many defenders as possible into the box and then run right at them.

2014’s offensive success, and therefore overall success, may hinge more on the less scrutinized hire to the Florida staff, offensive line coach Mike Summers. Unless there is marked improvement in blocking, there will be no real scoring improvement either. Summers will have some new talent to add to the Gators’ returning linemen as there are already six offensive linemen committed in this year’s signing class. This should provide some much needed depth along the line.

Recruiting overall has been truly impressive under the circumstances. The latest in a line of recruits to flip from previous commitments is defensive tackle Thomas Holley who was previously committed to Penn State. Coaching changes at Penn State opened Holley’s recruitment back up and the Gator staff moved in swiftly. While some of you are pining away about a couple of kids who flipped to another school, you should also note that it goes both ways. At last look, Florida’s class was ranked 7th at both Rivals and ESPN. The class, is of course, ranked lower at Scout but that has been the case ever since Gator Country left that particular organization.

Can I please stop hearing about how brilliant a head coach Bobby Petrino is? He just outbid UGA for the one real weakness on their coaching staff by luring away embattled defensive coordinator Todd Grantham from the doggies. Bumbling Bobby may have well just saved Mark Richt’s job. Somehow, Richt was able to seduce FSU DC Jeremy Pruitt and coax him into bringing his apparently impressive talents to Athens Georgia. Some Gator fans are all flipped out about that. Personally, I see it as a zero sum endeavor. It may have helped one rival but it hurt another one. What can you say?

Oh yeah, I have thought of the twelfth Gator in the NBA. He is one of my favorite Gators too. But, since I started you thinking about it, I will just let you figure it out. And I’ve always heard about Chicago deep dish pizza so I ordered one for my room. I figured I’d eat it over the next three days. The thing felt like it weighed ten pounds and all I could finish was one slice. For those of you who have seen pictures of me, you have to know that is not normally the case.

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Mark Miller
Mark Miller's bravery knows no limits. He's a Gator living deep in the heart of Georgia. Mark's weekly columns appear in the Coosa Valley News in Rome, Georgia, where Gators are few and Bulldogs are many. His updates about football and life among the heathens will appear in Gator Country on a weekly basis.