SEC spring meetings and Florida Gators diamond sports: Podcast

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we discuss the Florida Gators diamond sports as the baseball team was selected as a national seed on Monday.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre also break down the SEC spring meetings that are taking place in Destin this week and the big topic is the graduation transfer rule. Andrew and Nick discuss that and Malik Zaire possibly choosing Florida if the rule is changed.

Andrew and Nick finish the podcast by talking recruiting and the Gators softball team in the Women’s College World Series starting on Thursday morning.




Andrew::               What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, back with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, we took a little break, but, my oh my, do we have a lot to talk about today, my friend.

Nick:                         Lot going on. SEC spring meetings, the stickball sports are still playing, and it’s about to ‘cruiting camp time.

Andrew:                 Yeah. The diamond sports had great years, and look what they’re doing now. One’s headed to OKC, the other one is #3 overall national seed. Think about that for a second, Nick. Softball is the #1 overall seed. Baseball is the #3 overall seed. Not too bad.

Nick:                         Baseball start 0-3 in the SEC. Then they were 6-6. They were 9-8. I kept telling people, it’s a long season. Kept trying to say, this is a good team. People were saying, Nick, all season long, or throughout the fall, when I’m going to watch them play, going to watch them practice. Telling people, this is a really good team. Sully really likes the freshmen. Seeing good things. I was just getting called a liar. I was getting called a liar again on Saturday, when they lost 16-0 to Arkansas, in a meaningless SEC Tournament, but #3 overall seed. Florida is the only team in the country that has been a national seed in eight of the last nine seasons. So, I mean, that’s all but two years that Sully has been at Florida, Florida’s been a national seed.

Andrew:                 Not too bad. I mean, trust me, I got called the same thing. I was told that I was stupid, because softball lost the opening game of the SEC Tournament, and then when they lose the opening game to Alabama. Tim Walton’s a failure. Don’t know how to do this. Yeah. It was there. What I would like for people to remember is this, when Florida won back to back national championships, they won a grand total of one SEC Tournament game.

Nick:                         I think people take a football attitude towards baseball/softball. Listen, in football, if you go up … So, Florida lost to JU. If Florida were to, football wise, pay for JU to come in and lose to them, yeah, that’s an embarrassment. In softball, and more specifically in baseball, there’s so much parity. There’s so many kids. There’s only 11.7 scholarships. Someone might not be able to afford to go to Florida, and Florida can’t give them enough money, and they end up at JU, or they end up at UNF or FGCU. There’s a lot of good teams, and it’s a long season. One loss to a softball team, one loss to a baseball team, over the course of a 50+ game season is not the same as a football team losing one out of 12, one out of 13.

Andrew:                 Exactly. That’s exactly it. When you think about the parity of, I mean, Coastal Carolina was your baseball national champions last year.

Nick:                         They did not make the tournament.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         39-17-1. I was talking to Ryan Young, who writes at SEC Country. He actually covered Coastal Carolina last year, and he kind of followed them. You know how you get an emotional investment into teams that you cover. He kind of followed them throughout their course this year, and said, they just need to win a couple games. Then, kind of like what happened to Miami, the last week of the season, or these conference tournaments, a bunch of teams that weren’t going to make it end up winning conference championships and making it into the NCAA Tournament.

Andrew:                 My South Alabama Jaguars are dancing. Dancing after winning the Sunbelt.

Nick:                         Going to play LSU.

Andrew:                 Yeah. No.

Nick:                         Hattiesburg.

Andrew:                 They’re in Hattiesburg. They did beat LSU though, earlier in the year. Yeah. It’s an interesting time. Before we move any further, congrats to the tennis team. Women’s tennis team, national championship. Coach Roland and those girls over there, wow. They got a dynasty building.

Nick:                         Isn’t is this year that they had their streak ended?

Andrew:                 Yeah. What was it? Over 100 consecutive matches at home. Incredible to think about that. Yeah. Congrats to them. Nick, I guess we’ll start with softball, since they’re in OKC in the Women’s College World Series. They’re going to take on Texas A&M in Game 1 of the World Series. That will be Thursday at 11 Central, because they’re in Central time. Noon Gainesville time, Eastern time.

Should be an interesting matchup. The two teams didn’t face each other this year, even though they’re both SEC schools. They didn’t face each other, but A&M is a good ball club. Finished second in the SEC. Eliminated Tennessee, kind of crazy. Both Florida and A&M lost the opener of the super regional, and turned around to hit two in a row. They’ll be two of the three SEC schools going to OKC. LSU also eliminated Florida State, and snapped Florida State’s long home winning streak.

The bad thing about it is that they’re on the same side of the bracket. Little SEC bias. They don’t want the SEC to play an all-SEC final. Should be an interesting Women’s College World Series for Florida. I think, as long as Kelly Barnhill’s throwing well.

Nick:                         Yeah. I wanted to ask you about that. Only a sophomore, you really could think that those throwing errors Friday night, obviously the first one led to the second one, and by the time two in a row happened, you might be too far gone at that point. My question to you is, what did you see from her as far as bouncing back in that third game of the super regional? What did you see from her, just as far as a maturity standpoint and kind of moving on from that?

Andrew:                 I think it actually started probably in that game one, Nick, and that is after the four straight sacrifices, she kind of bounced back. I mean, didn’t allow another run the rest of the game, but I think it speaks not only for Kelly, but for the Gator coaching staff, Walton and Jenn Rocha, the pitching coach. That they were able to kind of get her back, get her refocused on the game. Listen, she gave up two earned runs in SEC play. It wasn’t bad. When you look at the game that she lost, she gave up one hit, then allowed an earned run, and had 11Ks in five innings pitched. Out of the 15 batters she faced, she K’d 11 of them.

It wasn’t like she had a bad outing, but I thought what was impressive for me was she was able to bounce back from that, but she took the weight of the team. I mean, pitching seven innings in Game 3 on Saturday, only gave up one run, and struck out 12. It was a senior leader game, and she was able to step up. If she doesn’t win player of the year, Nick, we have problems. That’s about the only way I can tell you. You have problems.

Nick:                         You’re talking about national player of the year.

Andrew:                 Yeah. National player of the year. If she doesn’t win national player of the year, she’s one of the three. 0.36 earned run average on the year. Should not be a question.

Nick:                         Best part about her.

Andrew:                 You got her two more years.

Nick:                         Yeah. Only a sophomore.

Andrew:                 Guaranteed two more years. Guaranteed to have her two more years, and I misspoke. She’s only given up one earned run in SEC play.

Nick:                         Three runs, two unearned.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Correct. Kind of crazy to look at it. Once again, it’s all about timely hitting, and I think that’s the biggest thing that we need to talk about. That is what’s different in softball and baseball from football and basketball is this, and that is in football if you’re below 50% completion rating, or if you’re shooting below 50%, that’s bad. In baseball, if you’re hitting .500, you’re the greatest player of all time. I mean, you’re going to fail one out of three times. Hitting .300 is some of the best of the best. Only Ted Williams could hit .400.

Nick:                         It’s the only game where you fail 70% of the time at your given task, and you’re considered a huge success.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Once again, I think people need to relax. I say this every year, Nick, and I don’t know why I continue to have to say it, because it still goes to the same thing, but that is that people who only watch it in post-season play shouldn’t watch it. Shouldn’t watch it.

Nick:                         Maybe watch it. I was told early on, I was a little problem as a kid. Not a big problem. I was one of those kids, any time a teacher said something I had something funny to say, trying to make the class laugh. I think it was either a professor or my dad told me, it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let them assume you’re an idiot, then to open your mouth and prove them right.

Andrew:                 Exactly.

Nick:                         Florida right now is, what are they? More than 56 games. Almost 60 games into the season. If you watched the last five, if you watched the last 10, you don’t know this team intimately, the way that I do. There are guys that I’ve seen from very first weekend, posting on the message board or commenting on stories. Guys like APGator, guys like my boy Jeff, Gators for Life, that are always there watching. Gator Cop’s always watching. If they get frustrated, I can handle it. It’s someone that just shows up for game 57 and says, oh this team sucks. It’s like, where have you been?

Andrew:                 Same thing with softball. 55-8. Trust Tim Walton. Give us a rundown real quick, Nick. Gators are hosting the Gainesville Regional, and then they’re matched up with the Wake Forest Super Regional. Give us a breakdown real quick.

Nick:                         How about that? How about that nice surprise from the NCAA selection committee?

Andrew:                 They actually had to work this year.

Nick:                         Yeah. Florida State, I think, is matched up with is it Hattiesburg? No, Hattiesburg and LSU are matched up. Florida State’s matched up with Houston.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         Or Florida State’s matched up with somebody, but not Florida. That’s the big thing there. Real quick note, Miami had their streak snapped. They had been to 44 consecutive NCAA tournaments.

Andrew:                 Mark Richt strikes again.

Nick:                         Yes. Miami was an independent team for a while. I think it was in the late ‘70s, ‘80s, and they were independent and got to play 50 home games, so that helps. But still. No matter which way you slice it, going to the NCAA tournament 44 consecutive years is an incredible accomplishment. They don’t make it. They were a victim of some of those teams who wouldn’t have made the tournament winning their conference, getting those automatic bids.

Florida will host a regional, and if they get past the regional, they will host a super regional. They are going to host. The two seed in the bracket is USF. Three seed is Bethune Cookman, and Marist College is the four seed. Florida will play the second game of the regional. USF and Bethune Cookman will play Friday afternoon. Florida and Marist, first pitch will be 7:00, or whenever weather permitting and that game permitting, will play at 7:00 on Friday.

Interesting, Sully kind of set up his pitching rotation in a different way. Last year, first game, we’re throwing Logan Shore. Logan Shore throws on Fridays. He’s been throwing on Fridays for three years. We’re not messing with that. This year, Sully kind of set it up by switching up the rotation for the SEC Tournament. You get Jackson Kowar throwing before Brady Singer. Jackson was able to throw on full seven day’s rest, coming off of his last start. Now it sets up a situation where Jackson Kowar is going to throw your first game against the four seed. You like your chances. He’s your Sunday guy, but not a typical Sunday guy. Took his first loss of the year, when was it?

Andrew:                 Against Mississippi State?

Nick:                         He actually got the win. He was in line for the loss for a while, until Florida came back to beat Auburn in the SEC Tournament. He is 11-0 on the season. You feel good about your chances with Jackson Kowar on the mound against Marist. Then that sets you up. If you win the first game, you have Alex Faedo to go against probably USF, or the winner of USF/Bethune Cookman. That’s your Friday night guy, who’s faced Tanner Hawk, Alex Lange. He’s faced the best of the SEC, who has more teams than anybody else in the NCAA tournament. He’s faced their best every single week. You feel good about your chances there. Then you’ve got Brady Singer, your Saturday guy. If he wins his start, you’re on to the supers.

I think it’s an interesting take, and kind of a different change in philosophy that Sully’s had. I remember Hudson Randall had that regional no-hitter on like 68 pitches. I think that was pitching against, Bethune maybe? I can’t remember

Andrew:                 I believe so.

Nick:                         I can’t remember who it was against, but it was that Friday night. Playing our best pitcher versus four seed. I kind of like it. Some might say it’s a gamble. Dance with the one who brought you. If that’s your Friday night guy, you throw him your first game. I think Florida’s in a rare position where they’ve got a bunch of Friday night guys.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You got to do what you feel comfortable with. I think Sully feels comfortable with any of his three getting that start on Friday.

Nick, before we move on to some football talk, give me a quick thought on this. I guess, USF would probably be the scariest team for Florida in this regional?

Nick:                         Yeah. USF is a good team. They beat Flordia 15-10 back on the 9th of this month. Very good team, a team that Florida’s familiar with though. I think it’s a whole different ballgame …

Andrew:                 When you’re throwing Faedo.

Nick:                         Yeah. Facing a freshman, nothing against him, facing a freshman in Nate Brown on a Tuesday versus facing an Alex Faedo.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Quick note, before we move on to football, just 13 days before, well we’re taping this on Tuesday, and it’s just 13 days until the Major League Baseball draft. Several Gators and Gator signees will be picked up, as usual. Kevin O’Sullivan continues to put guys in the League. Nolan Fontana made his Major League debut as well, this past week, for the Angels.

Nick:                         Leadoff homerun against my Marlins.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly. Thank God, my Braves took care of him on Monday night. We’ll see what happens on Tuesday. Nick, we talk about the diamond sports. Usually that would be the talk of the time right now, as it’s kind of the dead time for football, but not so fast. Destin, Florida is swamped with news this week. Maybe the biggest spring meetings in a long, long time, as the transfer rule is open. Malik Zaire, going to Florida or not going to Florida, basically rests on what happens, what we think, on Thursday, when they have the vote.

You and I have both heard, Nick, that we expect the rule to change. We’ll see. I think it’s stupid if you don’t change the rule, and I don’t just say that because Florida would get Zaire. I say that just because the fact of why put your conference behind other conferences? If Ohio State and Michigan and Florida State, you’re playing Florida State every year, so why be at a disadvantage when you play Florida State? Alabama plays in the playoffs just about every year. Why be at a disadvantage? I just don’t like that. I expect the rule to be changed.

Nick:                         Yeah. Here’s the thing. Is it most convenient for Florida right now?

Andrew:                 Sure.

Nick:                         Absolutely. You get down to a vote, and it’s going to be a vote from the school presidents to change it. That can come Tuesday, Wednesday, more likely to come Thursday. That’s when all the presidents will for sure be in there. Some are there all week. Some are there just for a day. There’s going to come a time where every coach or a coach, a president, a coach talking to his friends, that will say, hey, I know we play Florida next year, and this helps them. Which means, in turn, it doesn’t help us, but that could be us next year.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         We could need an offensive guard. We could need some linebacker depth. We could need a safety. We could need a receiver. We could be in that same position. The other teams we’re playing, that are outside of our conference, they’re not in that position. Why? Why are we doing this to ourselves? I think the SEC tried to make a stand in hopes that other schools in the Power Five, the other four Power Five conferences, would follow along, and it would say something to the NCAA. Hey, this is still, and I’m going to give air quotes, because I think it’s crap, “amateur” athletics. We’re not going to have a free agency like the NFL. If these kids are coming, and they’re not doing their schoolwork, then they’re just coming to play football, and that’s not what we should be standing for.

Andrew:                 Here’s my thing, Nick. Before you go on, this is my thing. Let’s talk Anthony Harrell, Mason Halter for a second, because that’s the two that Florida is facing probation, whatever, for at this time. Mason Halter had failed a class and wasn’t eligible to play in the bowl game for Florida. What leverage does Florida have to say, you have to finish grad school? Just like Anthony Harrell, who never saw playing time, and wasn’t going to go to the League. What leverage does Florida, or any school, have to say, you have to finish grad school?

I’m going to take it a little further on Malik Zaire, and I’m just using this as an example. I’m not making this acclimation or anything else. What happens if Malik Zaire has a solid season for Florida and is drafted into the League? A quarterback that’s young is going to go to every meeting, is going to go to every training camp in the NFL, because that’s what quarterbacks do. What is going to force him to come back to school? I just don’t see where the school has any leverage there, I guess is my way of saying it.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think it would be different in a situation like that, versus a situation where you’re ineligible. Football is interesting in that you play the season during the fall semester, and then before a bowl game you have finals before that, even before your last game at some schools, even before your last game of the season. Then you go into the next one. I think if you had a situation where it was he did everything he needed to do in the semester that he was here, and then decided to leave. Okay, I get that.

Andrew:                 Right.

Nick:                         Whereas you had two guys in Harrell and Halter who didn’t do the things they needed to do in the one semester, and became ineligible in the exact same season.

Andrew:                 Right. What I’m saying is this, and that is that Florida’s not getting put in probation for that. They’re getting put on probation because they didn’t come back and finish grad school in general. There is no leverage for schools to make these kids come back and finish grad school.

Nick:                         That’s true. We can say that Zaire also would be able to apply for a medical redshirt. He had the season in 2015 at Notre Dame where he broke his ankle during the second game. It’s not guaranteed. That’s not cut and dry that he would get it, but it’s an option where he could stay.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Before we move on, we both agree we expect the rule to be changed. Correct?

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Okay. We expect the rule to be changed. I’ve had people say, this is stupid. He was 2-8, whatever, let Franks play. My thing is this. It’s the same conversation we used with Del Rio. It’s the same question we’ll use any other time there is a grad transfer. That is the quarterback position, we’ve all seen, the starting quarterback at Florida, for some reason, shape, or form, does not seem to be able to play the whole season. Okay. If Franks beats Zaire out, congrats. Malik’s a quality backup with senior leadership. Cool. If Zaire beats out Franks, guess what? Franks wasn’t good enough to take Florida where they needed to be. I don’t see the issue people have with getting Zaire.

It’s kind of like this, and I’m use this analogy because of baseball. People always say, why trade for a veteran when you have a young Minor League player? If he’s not ready, don’t let him go fail and get his confidence taken off. Same thing with Franks. If he’s not ready, sit him another year. Let him get in some snaps in the season and get some game time in the 4th quarter of blowout games against UAB this year, or whatever it may be. If he’s not ready, don’t force him to play.

I also will say this, Nick, I know that you don’t agree with me completely here. I don’t think Zaire is as bad as people make him out to be. A lot of people have told me he would have still been the guy at Notre Dame had he not got hurt.

Nick:                         Yeah. That’s quite possible. I just don’t get why everyone is so …

Andrew:                 Against it?

Nick:                         No. I get why you’re against it. I get why some people might be against it, if their thinking is this is a one or two year band-aid. How many of those band-aids do we need? I think you can understand that standpoint. Going into year 3, Jim McElwain needs to start finding and developing a quarterback, and I think people see a grand transfer, whether it’s Zaire or whether it’s Stidham, I think people see that as a hindrance to the players who they see as the future, a hindrance to their progress.

I don’t understand the confidence in Franks from the fanbase. Good, you’re a fan, be confident, but it’s someone you’ve never seen before. To say Franks is better than Trask. To say, I don’t want Zaire, because it’s Franks team, and Franks is the best option. You don’t know that.

Andrew:                 Right. That’s my thing. My thing is this. I think this is the only way to say it, and that is is possible that Franks and Trask aren’t the guys that Mac thought they were? I think so. I was going to use this analogy when you said the band-aid, and that is would you rather be stuck out in the woods bleeding to death, or have a band-aid to stop the bleeding?

Nick:                         Very true.

Andrew:                 My thing with Zaire is this, and this is my only thing that I will say about this, and that is I don’t know if he’s going to be the answer to Florida. I don’t know that. I think you and I would agree that we didn’t think Del Rio would be the superstar for Florida. I think we did agree he would do better than he did. That was not had the turnovers.

Zaire can run a little bit. You seen what Appleby was able to do when he was able to run a little bit. That is is this, and that is Mac’s very confident in very position he has at Florida, outside of the quarterback position. He’s searching for answers. It’s kind of like in baseball, with pitchers. You load up on pitchers, hoping that you find five that can start out your starting rotation. That’s kind of what Mac’s doing here. He’s loading up at the quarterback position, hoping to find one that’s going to be that guy.

I think it’s pretty clear, from being around McElwain, and that is that there’s going to be an open competition when Zaire comes. Zaire’s not getting the reins handed to him. He’s not going to be the guy from day one. He will have to beat out Franks. He will have to beat out Trask. He will have to beat out Del Rio. Jake Allen will be competing. I think we both agree that we think he’ll be redshirting. We also think Tony will probably be a wildcat guy that’s in special packages.

If Franks is the guy, he’ll win the job. I just don’t understand why that’s a notion that is dismissed so much. If he’s the guy, he’ll take the job. Mac’s not blocking him. He’s simply trying to give him insurance, I guess is the best way to say it.

Nick:                         To me, I guess my question that I’ve been trying to come to answer is the pursuit, or the renewed, continued, interest in Zaire, what does that tell you, or does it tell you anything about what the coaches have or perceive that they have? By that, I mean if we had a Deondre Francois, if we had a Lamar Jackson, do I care what Malik Zaire is doing?

Andrew:                 No.

Nick:                         Those guys are different. Those guys are complete difference makers. What does it say about those guys that we’re talking about?

Andrew:                 Here’s the thing too. You got to remember this as well, and that is you look at last year with Francois. You had the senior that was hurt in training camp. I’m drawing a blank, Nick, at Florida State. You know who I’m talking about. The kid that hurt his ankle or knee, something.

Nick:                         You talking about Derwin James?

Andrew:                 No. The quarterback that was ahead of Francois that got hurt.

Nick:                         Sean Maguire.

Andrew:                 Sean Maguire. Sean Maguire was the guy for Florida State heading into training camp. Until he got hurt, and then Francois became the guy. They had insurance there. That is exactly what I think we have to remember, and that’s exactly what you said a minute ago. Franks and Trask have shown you absolutely nothing in the good way or the bad way. As far as game experience goes, I mean, we saw some spring game stuff. We’ve seen some practice, and it’s been okay. We haven’t seen game experience. Can they go out and light up the field on game day? Sure. Can they go out and fail on game day? Sure. It’s an unknown, and I just don’t see the problem with having an insurance policy for the unknown. I just don’t know.

Again, we expect Zaire to pick Florida if it happens. The reports that said he picked Florida are wrong.

Nick:                         That’s premature. Here’s the thing. To me, he’d be at Texas. He’d be at Wisconsin. He would be at one of those other schools if there wasn’t, not even just interest, but strong interest in coming to Florida. If you’re sitting there thinking, I might have best case, two years, probably one year left to play, I need to get into a school. Start building relationships, start learning the playbook, and I need to do that now. You don’t sit around and wait.

Andrew:                 Call a spade a spade. Here it is. If he wasn’t wanting to go to Florida, he would have already picked another school. To say Zaire has picked Florida is wrong. Completely wrong. Go to the horse’s mouth. Ask that person. Don’t use sources. Sources are wrong here.

Nick, outside of the Zaire news, are we expecting anything to come out of SEC meetings besides the usual?

Nick:                         They’re going to talk about the early signing period. That’d be the December period, where guys could sign. Mac said he is all for it.

Andrew:                 That’s passed already, so not much they can do.

Nick:                         Just talking about it and how they’re going to handle it as a conference. Also, they’re going to revisit alcohol sales. Right now you can’t as SEC schools, but I think they’re going to revisit it as another revenue stream. That’s a serious conversation. LSU has really been a big proponent behind that, and kind of the driving force, the loudest voice there.

Andrew:                 You talk about wild.

Nick:                         It’s cool though.

Andrew:                 I’m for it as well.

Nick:                         I was at Florida-Florida State in Jacksonville, the baseball game, and they sell alcohol there. You’re going to have people …


Andrew:                 People are sneaking it in anyway. Let’s just say what it is.

Nick:                         You’re going to have people that are not going to drink responsibly, and are going to act like dumbasses, and you’re going to have people who handle it responsibly. That doesn’t matter where you’re going, whether it’s a college game, a high school game.

Andrew:                 Pro games or whatever.

Nick:                         If you’re talking about, most of the kids in college are underage, and it shouldn’t be available there, well you’re still IDing people, and those underage kids, if they want to drink, they’re in college. They’re going to find a way to drink. It’s not hard to drink underage in college. You’re not helping it or hurting it by having or not having alcohol be available in the stadium.

Andrew:                 Right. They’re sneaking it in. It is what it is. That’s that. That’ll be interesting. You think it passes?

Nick:                         I don’t even know if they’re going to vote on it, or if it’s just we need to start talking about it. I would also need to go ahead and look and see what the NCAA rule is about it.

Andrew:                 Okay.

Nick:                         One other thing that Auburn’s president brought up, and he kind of made some statement to the local media last week about it, is Auburn moving to the SEC East, and switching spots with Missouri.

Andrew:                 Okay. What’s your take on that, before I get into it?

Nick:                         I think Auburn sees how hard the SEC West is, and how easy the SEC East has been, and they’re kind of thinking, let’s get the hell up out of here. I think it might be shortsighted in thinking that, because everything is cyclical. In the ‘90s it was Florida and Tennessee running roughshod through the SEC. Now it’s Alabama. In five years, 10 years, it’ll change again and be somebody else.

Andrew:                 Right. Here’s my thing with it. That is that I’m for it, because of Missouri. Missouri’s just not in the East. Let’s just say what it is. They’re not.

Nick:                         Then here’s the other thing. If you do that …

Andrew:                 Who’s your other division opponent going to be?

Nick:                         That goes back to what Nick Saban says, and he wants to play another conference game, and they’ll also talk about adding another week to the season, which wouldn’t be a game. It would be another bye week. Remember that year, I think it was 2014, where they were still trying to figure out who would be the traditional cross opponents after they added Missouri and A&M, and you had a couple years where there were two bye weeks. I think they’re trying to look at that. They’ll present that as like a player safety issue, to give the guys another week off.

Andrew:                 I don’t like another week off. I don’t like that. It’ll be interesting to see. I think there’s pros and cons to Auburn moving. I know for me, this, and living in Bama, growing up in Bama, Alabama-Tennessee is tradition. The Iron Bowl is going to be played, but Alabama-Tennessee is tradition. That’ll be different if you don’t have that as well. We’ll see. We’ll see how all that is. Again, it runs Tuesday to Friday. Basically, everything’s done Thursday, and we expect that ruling on Thursday for the Malik Zaire thing.

Nick, before we get out of here, let’s talk a little recruiting. Florida is officially done with their spring evaluation period of going on the road, checking out kids. Putting the air flight miles out there. It’s now turned your attention to recruiting camps. The big ones are June 3, June 10. That’s the two Saturdays in a row. The big one, the huge one is June 10. You and I will get into that more next week. That’s the Justin Fields of the world that is expected, not the 10th, but after the 10th, a couple days after the 10th. That the Micah Parsons, the Shaquon Anderson-Butts, Jacob Copeland. You name it, that’s the weekend they’re coming.

A couple of guys are coming in on the 3rd. Again, we’ll start to break that down a little bit more on the site, that kind of stuff, as we get more names coming in, but basically those are your two big recruiting ones. You’ll have camps running those two weeks, just about every day, that kind of stuff. Those are your two big weekends. Again, you’ll have a lot of out of state guys coming in, guys that are coming into camp to earn their offers, especially in the 2019 and the 2020 class.

You also have your kicking camp. I think you and I both agree Florida’s going to probably take a kicker in this class, with Pineiro possibly going to the League. We’re not going to speculate, but that’s the thought. Judd Davis is the “leader” to get the offer, but kicking camp’s always a big thing. You got to go in there. That’s where kickers get their offers.

Again, 3rd and the 10th will be your big recruiting weekends. We’ll be all on top of those. Recruiting is here.

Nick:                         How many in the class right now?

Andrew:                 You got six in the class right now. I would expect that it would be 15 by the end of summer. You do have athlete/safety Amari Burney. He’s going to announce his decision on June 1. Florida-Ohio State is the “co-leaders”. Florida’s in really good shape, been in really good shape. His parents love Florida. Burney loves Florida. He’s an athlete. Probably ends up playing safety, but could play receiver, could play safety, could even be a guy that drops down to play that Jack linebacker a little bit, kind of like Keanu Neal did. There could be pickup #7. Again, we always see it in the summertime. You’re going to add kids as they come on campus, and I would expect 15 in the class post-summer, easily, is what I would say, especially like with Friday Night Lights coming on board and all that stuff.

You got six in 2019 as well, so that’s interesting. You picked up the local kid on Sunday, Trent Whittemore. Mom played at Florida on the volleyball team. Is a local guy. Pretty good film, in my opinion. A lot of people don’t know him. Again, they’re looking at his offers and saying, he only has offers from some small schools. He’s 2019.

Nick:                         Jabari Zuniga only had a couple offers as well.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You know how that is. It’s one of those things where it’s all about the offers, it’s all about the stars. Had he been from South Florida, nobody would have worried about it.

Nick:                         Well, I mean, can you blame them? South Florida breeds athletes.

Andrew:                 They do. Like I said, 2019, even a 2018 kid with that, if you look at his film, you can tell that he’s not a bad football player. It’s like I tell people all the time, with a 2019 kid, if he goes out and has a terrible summer camp, if he has a terrible junior season, guess what? He’s not in your class. He hasn’t signed a letter of intent yet. Let’s not freak out. People freak out when the five star commits, and they say, are we going to keep him? They don’t freak out when the three star and says, are the coaches going to keep him? Goes both ways, fellas. Just relax. Take a chill pill.

Nick:                         That’s good.

Andrew:                 Anything else you want to hit on before we get out of here?

Nick:                         No. I think we’ll come back Thursday, and we’ll try to wait as long as we can Thursday.

Andrew:                 Either Thursday or Friday. If it’s post-Thursday …

Nick:                         I mean, I think we should tape Thursday.

Andrew:                 We’ll see how long, when the vote is.

Nick:                         If not, then we’ll have a preview of the Women’s World Series, the regional, and an in depth preview of the recruiting camp coming this week.

Andrew:                 Yeah. We’ll definitely be back with Zaire news. I know, Nick, you’ve got some stuff, and I can promise that we’ll have some stuff from Zaire’s camp post-vote. We’ll have something. It won’t be fake news. We’ll have something. Nick, I know you’re working on some things. I know you got some quotes from some Notre Dame people as well. You’re even going back and watching some film of the guy. Nick’s going to be on top of that. We’re going to be on top of the rest of it. We’ll definitely be back this week though.

Nick:                         We’ll be back.

Andrew:                 And House of Cards is back on Netflix.

Nick:                         I got to find time to squeeze all that in, while still staying up on my House of Cards.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         Until the next podcast comes, you can follow everything at The podcast is there, in transcript and audio form. Find us on iTunes. Search @GatorCountry in your podcast app. Subscribe. Leave us comments, likes, ratings. All that stuff helps. Share the podcast, and it helps it grow. Do that. Very much appreciated.

Follow us on social media. It is @GatorCountry on Twitter and Facebook, and @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and him @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 Yeah. We’ve kind of been MIA a little bit. There hasn’t been a lot going on here. We try not to bore you guys with bad podcasts. Now that there’s some stuff going on, we’ll be getting that. Nick, you think about it, it’s only a month and two weeks from the time we arrive in Hoover.

Nick:                         Soon.

Andrew:                 Soon. Guys, we appreciate it. As always, guys, chomp, chomp. Go Braves. We’ll see you guys soon.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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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.