A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning.
SPRING REVIEW: TIGHT ENDS/FULLBACKS
Midway through spring practice, Clay Burton ran a nice route in the seam that beat the coverage and turned what was a less than spectacular throw into a spectacular catch which had fans alternating between that “where the hell was he last year?” look and “I didn’t know he could do that.” Either Burton and Tevin Westbrook discovered that it’s legal to catch the football between December and March or else Kurt Roper made it abundantly clear to them that they better catch the ball because the tight end is definitely going to see the football in this offense. So is fresman DeAndre Goolsby, who consistently showed that he can (a) catch the ball and (b) knows what to do with it after the catch. The same is true for what we used to call fullbacks. They are B backs now and Hunter Joyer and Gideon Ajagbe will get to do something more than serve as a battering ram to help a tailback through a hole in the fall. All these guys will block – they have to in this offense – but all of them have to catch the ball as well. It’s all part of a scheme that spreads the football around to exploit every inch of the field. None of these guys may catch the ball enough next year to be a star but they will catch it enough to be a consistent threat and that will only help the offense exploit whatever weaknesses there are in opposing defenses. Trending: Up.
Louisville just got a 5-year, $40 million contract to stay with adidas, a huge coup for the brand since Notre Dame left for a 10-year, $90 million deal with Under Armour and Tennessee bolted for Nike for eight years and $35 million with performance bonuses that could seriously increase the payout. In the SEC, Florida is signed with Nike through 2017 in a deal that will pay $2.085 million in apparel and $1.835 million in cash per year. LSU extended its deal with Nike until 2022 for $3.1 million a year in apparel and $1 million in cash. Kentucky gets $1.6 million in apparel and $1.8 million in cash while Alabama gets $2.69 million in apparel and $780,000 in cash. South Carolina’s deal with Under Armour runs out in 2016. It pays $1.9 million in apparel and $1.05 million in cash. Auburn gets $3.1 million from Under Armour. Georgia’s Nike deal is surprisingly small — $1.77 million in apparel and $600,000 in cash. Florida State gets $1.5 million in cash and $3 million in apparel from Nike.
FALLOUT FROM THE JAMEIS WINSTON STORY
There may not be enough wins in a football season to repair the damage done to the public image of Florida State University by the New York Times story about the botched rape investigation against Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston. The findings in this story won’t put Winston in jail although you might come to the conclusion that it’s where he probably belongs and it might not result in the alleged victim getting any sense of justice. But, the stench of the Winston investigation isn’t going to go away any time soon. When you have a police department perhaps deliberately blowing an investigation to protect a football star and a university that refuses to take action even when it knew back in February of 2013 that Winston had most likely assaulted one of its co-eds, it creates the illusion that football will always be more important than protecting students from harm. There is something seriously wrong with that. Today a friend of mine asked me to take a moment, close my eyes and contemplate what he had to say – Imagine you are a parent who has a daughter attending FSU. Are you going to sleep well tonight knowing that she’s on a campus and in a city where football players can get away with sexually assaulting women without fear of prosecution? I shuddered at the thought.
IF THERE IS SOMETHING GOOD TO BE GAINED FROM THIS STORY
Perhaps this is the eternal optimist in me that is speaking, but something good can come out of this story if not only Florida State but every campus across the country re-evaluates how it handles sexual assault cases and if every athletic department starts dealing with players who bring harm to women in swift, harsh terms. Now, I do believe in innocent until proven guilty, but schools can no longer tolerate athletes getting away with crimes against women and too many turn a blind eye. The NCAA could do better, also. It needs to put a rule in place that states if any athlete assaults a woman and is dismissed from his team that he can’t transfer to another school and be on scholarship.
FRANK HAITH TO TULSA ALMOST A DONE DEAL
Slimy Frank Haith, the basketball coach at Missouri, to become the next head coach at Tulsa, which moves from Conference USA to the American Athletic Conference in the fall. While that may seem dumb to go from making more than $2 million ($1.7 guaranteed; reportedly $500,000 or more in outside income) in the SEC to a little more than a million at Tulsa, this is Haith staying one step ahead of the jailer or getting fired, whichever comes first. The only reason Haith didn’t get show cause from the NCAA for his days at Miami was the NCAA was too inept to run an investigation properly. At Missouri he has been a declining investment since taking over a ready made team that won 30 games three years ago. Although he’s turned down a lot of jobs the last three years, Missouri is a job that probably will get the attention of Wichita State’s Gregg Marshall. Dayton’s Archie Miller is also expected to be a candidate to replace Haith.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL COMINGS AND GOINGS
James Young of Kentucky made it official Thursday that he’s off to the NBA. Decisions are expected shortly from Julius Randle (99% certain to go) and Aaron and Andrew Harrison (likely to go although some seem to think they will stay) … Jordan Adams of UCLA will stay another year while teammates Kyle Anderson and Zach LaVine are going. Anderson will probably go in the picks shortly afte the lottery while LaVine probably goes late first round after a freshman season in which he averaged 6 points and 3 rebounds a game … Arizona State point guard Jahii Carson will skip to the NBA with two years of eligibility remaining … Kansas State gave Bruce Weber a raise and a one-year extension to 2019 on his contract … Byron Wesley, who averaged 17.8 points per game for Southern Cal, plans to graduate and transfer this summer. There will be no shortage of suitors but watch Wesley go east with Louisville a strong possibility for a landing place.
MOVING ON UP/MOVING ON DOWN
While consensus is that UCF’s Blake Bortles and Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel will go in the first five or six picks when the NFL drafts in three weeks, a couple other quarterbacks are heading in opposite directions. Maybe the quarterback making the biggest move is Fresno State’s Derek Carr, whose workouts have been so pristine that some have him moving from early second/late first to the middle picks in the first round. Heading in the wrong direction is Louisville’s Teddy Bridgewater, whose workouts have been so uninspiring that Mel Kiper has him falling completely out of the first round. Although he’s always been projected as a top ten pick, Clemson wide receiver Sammy Watkins might end up being the #2 overall pick. There are reports that the Tampa Bay Bucs and trying to engineer a trade for the #2 pick which they would use to draft Watkins. Florida State’s Kelvin Benjamin projects in the first round but his stock seems to be dropping following a report by Gil Brandt that he blew off a scheduled workout with an NFL head coach because he was tired. FSU’s James Wilder’s stock is also dropping after another arrest on top of a disappointing 4.83 40 time at the NFL Combine. No one should be surprised if former Gator Jaylen Watkins (Sammy’s older half brother) is drafted ahead of both Marcus Roberson and Loucheiz Purifoy. Watkins could go as high as mid-second but is likely to go early third round. Roberson is likely to go third round whereas Purifoy could end up being a fourth or fifth round pick.
QUESTION FOR TODAY
Today’s question comes from Gregory Smith: The debate between “sunshine pumpers” and “negators” rages on in all of the forums regarding Muschamp’s tenure. Winning is said to “solve all things” but going undefeated next year and/or winning the national title doesn’t seem realistic. What does this team have to do next year to win the hearts of Gator fans and give Muschamp another year or more?
I don’t think a national championship and going unbeaten are realistic expectations but when the season starts, that will indeed be the goal of the Gators and if it isn’t then Will Muschamp is the wrong coach at the wrong time and in the wrong place. I don’t know if there is a set number of wins that Muschamp has to get to if he is to remain on the job at least another year, but I know the Gators have to show significant improvement and another losing season will not be tolerated. If you look at the schedule, which is brutal, the Gators could be the most improved team in the SEC and still lose five or six games. I think a realistic goal is 8-4, an optimist goal is 9-3 and a stars and planets align year is anything with 10 or more wins. If the offense can put points on the board and play an exciting brand of football, I think fans will be far more generous with their love and support of Muschamp than they have been in the past. I don’t think they will tolerate 8-4 or 7-5 if this is another offensively challenged team.
Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to: email@example.com
MUSIC FOR TODAY
What Booker T and the MGs were to southern soul music (house band for Stax Records and the recording studios at Muscle Shoals) The Funk Brothers were to Motown. Nearly everything that had the Motown label had The Funk Brothers as the backup band until the record company moved to Los Angeles in 1972. Some of The Funk Brothers followed the company out to LA but most of them stayed in Detroit. The Funk Brothers reunited in 2006 and toured for the next five years. If you’ve never seen the documentary “Standing in the Shadows of Motown” then I highly recommend it. It’s a marvelous story about the music that came out of Detroit in those days and it features some very cool stuff by the Funk Brothers including this classic of the late Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” with the great Chaka Khan on the vocals.