A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning.
SPRING REVIEW: WIDE RECEIVERS
For the past couple of years we have been led to believe that Florida doesn’t have wideouts who are (a) playmakers and (b) fast enough to stretch defenses. Now the spring game doesn’t count so officially it isn’t confirmation that the Gators actually have people who know what to do with the ball in their hands and can back the corners and safeties off the line of scrimmage, but what we saw in the open practice and the Orange and Blue game are pretty good indicators that Kurt Roper seems to think he has more weapons at his disposal than he had at Duke, which would lead Gator fans to believe maybe the Gators have the personnel to get the job done in the passing game next fall. Two observations about how Roper uses his wide receivers: (1) he’s all about finding mismatches with size and speed and will move his receivers around the field accordingly to produce an advantage; and (2) everybody better be ready to catch the ball on every play because the ball is going to be spread around. There are some reports that trickled out of the Florida football bunker that Roper is almost salivating at the opportunity to turn Andre Debose into a legitimate weapon. Remember this: through the first five games of 2011, Debose was scaring the bejabbers out of defensive backs in the SEC who are now playing for money on Sundays. Demarcus Robinson and Ahmad Fulwood both had exceptional springs as did Quinton Dunbar. Chris Thompson showed he has the speed to get deep. He can be a serious threat if he will keep his focus every play and watch the ball all the way into his hands. In his limited opportunities last year, Valdez Showers showed he can make plays. He had a good spring but can do better in the fall. If the spring taught us anything, it is that Roper has a scheme that will get the receivers open. All they have to do is catch it and make yards after the catch. It sounds simple, but if they do it, the Florida offense is going to be really good. Trending: Up.
GATORS ADVANCE TO NCAA GYMNASTICS SUPER SIX
The quest for a second straight NCAA gymnastics championship began Friday night in Birmingham as the Gators survived an unexpected fall on the beam by Bridget Sloan to score a 197.650 to tie with Alabama for the top score of the day in the semifinals. Florida, Alabama, Okahoma (197.500), Georgia (197.300), LSU (197.100) and Nebraska (197.100) all advanced to Saturday night’s Super Six from which the NCAA champion will be crowned. Although Sloan’s score didn’t count, her usual 9.95 was replaced by a 9.80 which forced the Gators to take a 49.300 on the apparatus. The Gators also scored an unusually low 49.375 on the vault but they countered with a 49.550 on the bars led by a 9.950 by Sloan and 9.025s by MacKenzie Caquatto and Alaina Johnson. Sloan, Kytra Hunter and Claire Boyce all scored 9.90 on the floor as the Gators rallied to tie Alabama for the top spot.
FLORIDA SPORTS ROUNDUP
The 18th-ranked Florida baseball team (24-13, 9-6 SEC) will face Georgia (21-15, 7-7 SEC) in a doubleheader starting at 3 p.m. at McKethan Stadium today after the first game of their weekend series was rained out Friday night … Hannah Rogers (19-6) pitched a 7-hitter and got all the support she needed from Stephanie Toft’s 2-run homer in the first inning as the 5th-ranked Florida softball team (38-8, 9-7 SEC) took a 5-1 win over #21 Texas A&M (28-15, 9-10 SEC) in College Station … Women’s golf is in ninth place, 10 shots off the pace set by Arkansas at the SEC Championships in Birmingham … At the SEC Men’s Tennis Championships in Nashville, 4th-seeded Florida advanced with a 4-0 win over LSU … Florida’s 4th-ranked women’s tennis team (19-5) went down to the last match before falling to 8th-ranked Texas A&M, 4-3, in the SEC Championships in Columbia, Missouri.
THE RULES ARE ABSURD
Earlier this week, Cuonzo Martin resigned his position as head basketball coach at the University of Tennessee to take the job at California. Just yesterday, Frank Haith left Missouri for Tulsa. Neither one will lose a day’s pay and both of them will be coaching next year. Now, if an athlete wants to leave, he’s got to first off get permission from the coaches that he doesn’t want coaching him anymore to sign transfer papers. Said coaches can impose restrictions on the kid that prevent him playing for any number of schools. Without transfer papers, the kid will not only have to sit out a year, but it will be two years before he can go on scholarship someplace else. Even with transfer papers, the kid will have to sit out a year unless the NCAA grants a hardship waiver. Now the NCAA Leadership Council, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that kids who get hardship waivers to transfer will have to sit a year just like any other transfer.
What makes this beyond ridiculous is that scholarships are one-year contracts, renewable each year at the whim and fancy of the head coach. If a coach – let’s say Nick Saban since he’s done this more than once – has a chance to bring in a monster recruiting class and on his roster are a couple of kids aren’t developing at the pace he thought they would when he signed them. What does he do? He doesn’t renew their scholarships so he can sign new kids. The kids whose scholarships weren’t renewed still have to go through the transfer process which means that Saban (or any other coach) can hand the kid a laundry list of schools that he CAN’T transfer to.
There has to be a better way of doing things and the NCAA better come up with a better way soon because it’s going to be spending a lot of time in court over the next few months fighting players who wish to organize unions. If the players are considered employees, then they will have unlimited free agency. They will be able to quit their “job” and go to a job anywhere else. They will need no approval.
That could be chaotic.
So could an NCAA rule that lets kids transfer anytime they wish to any school they wish without having to sit out. Still, is it fair that a coach can leave the kids high and dry for greener pastures and the kids he leaves behind can’t transfer?
I think a better way of doing it would be to give a kid a one-time get out of jail free card. In other words, let a kid transfer once anywhere he chooses without having to sit out, but if he elects to transfer a second time he would have to sit and could not go on scholarship for two years. I think that element of no scholarship for two years would act as a deterrent to kids and make them think long and hard before jumping ship. I am also very much in favor of the graduate rule which allows a kid who has graduated and has a year or more of eligibility remaining to transfer without sitting out.
If the NCAA doesn’t implement some better rules about transfers, cost of living beyong the scholarship, etc., there will be no NCAA in five years. If the NCAA is serious about being around then it needs to start changing these absurd rules and replacing them with a common sense approach.
A COMMISSIONER WHO GETS IT
Adam Silver has only been on the job a little more than two months but he’s already making an impact on the National Basketball Association. Silver’s latest proposal is to push the minimum age to enter the NBA Draft to 20 years from the current 19, which would keep players in college two years. He’s also in favor of expanding and improving the NBA Developmental League to make it a legitimate minor league that can feed the NBA. This is a commissioner who gets it. The pro game has suffered because far too many players are drafted into the league long before they are ready and it shows both off the court where they are too immature to handle their money and lifestyle, and on the court where they have low basketball IQs and a lack of fundamentals. Silver believes if the NBA is to survive and remain healthy, it’s got to make some changes and these ideas are a good start.
David Stern, for too many years, threw his hands up in the air and blamed the Players Association. The NBAPA was indeed part of the problem, but Stern never got the owners fully behind him on this issue, either, and he certainly didn’t work with the NCAA. Silver has done both and with the Players Association about to vote in a more cooperative boss before the 2014-15 season, healthy change could be on the way for the NBA, and, in turn, for college basketball.
QUESTION FOR TODAY
Today’s question is from Aaron Reese, who asks, “I attended the spring game was impressed with the RB talent and depth. My question is where does Matt Jones fit in? I see him as the 2nd maybe even 3rd guy. Obviously depth at RB is a must for success, which we have but is there room for another stallion in the mix?”
You ask a very good question, particularly since Matt Jones is coming back from microfracture surgery. There has been more success with this surgery with football players than with basketball players. Basketball players – as we have seen with Greg Oden and Delvon Roe – tend to lose their ability to elevate, which is far more essential for NBA success than in college football. Some football players come through this surgery better than ever before while others lose their lateral quickness, which is a necessity for playing running back. We’ll have to wait and see until August what happens with Matt. The coaches are optimistic that he will be back strong. If he is back at 100% then he brings things to the table the other backs don’t. He’s nearly 6-3 and weighs in close to 230 pounds. He has the best combination of power, moves and pass catching ability of all the backs and I have always felt his speed is underrated. I’m not so sure that Kurt Roper will have a #1 back. At Duke last year, he used four backs regularly and I think that’s what will happen with the Gators this year.
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MUSIC FOR TODAY
I first started listening to Marvin Gaye in 1964 when he came out with the single “How Sweet It Is (to Be Loved by You).” By the time he came out with “Ain’t That Peculiar” I was totally hooked. His music was emotional and he sang about good times, bad times and even took political stances with songs such as “Mercy, Mercy Me” and “What’s Going On.” He died tragically in 1984, shot to death by his father as he we was seated on the side of his bed of his mother after he intervened between a parental argument. Marvin Gaye was 45. Today’s music is his great hit of 1972, “Let’s Get It On” from the album of the same name. Both the single and the album hit #1 worldwide.