A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning.
SPRING REVIEW: CORNERS
You start by figuring one side of the field is already locked down. Vernon Hargreaves III does that for you. He might be as good – or better – than any cornerback in all of college football in 2014. The scary thing is he’s just going to be a sophomore so he’s definitely going to get better. Spring football ended the same way it began, with Hargreaves all set at one corner and the Florida Gators looking for someone to step up and take over on the other side of the field. When the spring ended, true freshmen Jalen Tabor and Duke Dawson were in a dead heat. Both of them are going to see the field and they both might be starters. If Tabor wins the starting corner job, Dawson might very well move over to the nickel where Brian Poole returns for his third season. There isn’t much in the way of depth until the summer when touted freshmen J.C. Jackson and Quincy Wilson arrive. The Gators will be younger at corner than last year, but even though Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson will be playing on Sundays in the fall, the Gators could be better. It also helps that head coach Will Muschamp takes a very hand on approach with his secondary. Figure these guys are going to be very good. Trending: Up.
NOT EXACTLY WHAT THE NCAA NEEDED
On a day when the NCAA found itself with its back to the wall because of the union vote at Northwestern University, there was even worse publicity in Ann Arbor, Michigan where Mitch McGary opted for the NBA Draft rather than face a one-year suspension for testing positive for marijuana at an NCAA Tournament game in March. McGary, who played in only eight games all year because of a back injury, was suited up for the game but did not play. Because it was an NCAA Tournament game, the penalty is a one-year suspension and this is where the NCAA totally dropped the ball. Back on April 15, the NCAA decided a one-year penalty was too severe and decided to reduce the penalty for a first time offender to half a season. The NCAA wouldn’t consider scaling back the McGary penalty even though the rule had changed.
Don’t expect the NCAA to suddenly realize that it is a bloated bureaucracy with so many rules that schools have to hire entire legal staffs to man compliance departments. And, don’t expect the NCAA to suddenly figure out that its inability to show some flexibility and willingness to reform is exactly why 76 Northwestern football players cast their votes about whether or not to join a union yesterday.
I don’t think that a union is the answer for Northwestern but there will be more attempts by players to organize in the future because the NCAA lacks the common sense to figure out that the reason it can’t find solutions is because it is the problem. In August, the five power conferences will be given a certain amount of autonomy to set their own rules while still under the NCAA umbrella but I do not think that’s the answer, either. It’s time to ditch the NCAA and its band of amateurs and bloated bureaucracy completely. Start over from scratch and instead of clueless university presidents who believe that “I’m okay, you’re okay” crap running the organization, hire professionals who actually know how to run a business.
IF THEY WANT TO BE TREATED AS ADULTS, TREAT THEM AS ADULTS
So says Matt Hayes, one of the best football writers on the planet who does his work for Sporting News. Hayes contends that if players are going to be paid stipends, get all these extra benefits such as extended health care and education paid for after eligibility expires, then how will the NCAA enforce the rules? He suggests enforcement should be turned over to professionals who are independent of the NCAA. Hayes says, “If we’re going to call athletes employees (or whatever you want to call them) and expand benefits and increase their ability to market and make money off themselves, the consequences for violating rules must be swift and appropriate.” Appropriate as in take money from boosters and you’re gone – permanently. Eliminate second, third and fourth chances for troubled players (see failed drug tests, arrests, academic issues). In other words, since players want to be treated as adults, then treat them as adults and let them learn to deal with the consequences of their actions.
BACK ON TRACK
After two surprising midweek losses to Jacksonville and FAMU, the 12th-ranked Florida (28-15, 13-6 SEC) baseball team got back on track with a 7-1 win over Missouri (19-22, 6-13) to maintain a two-game lead over South Carolina in the SEC East and take a one-game lead over Alabama in the overall race for the SEC title and #1 seed in the tournament. Logan Shore went 7-1/3 innings for the Gators, allowing only five hits while improving his record to 5-2 while lowering his ERA to 1.76. Kirby Snead, Bobby Poyner and Brett Morales went the final 1-2/3 innings for the Gators, who didn’t allow a single walk the entire game. Peter Alonso provided all the offensive support the Gators needed with three hits and five RBI. Florida can win the series and ensure it will remain in first place in the SEC East with a win Saturday (12 noon, Florida Sports Network/Fox Sports Florida).
SOFTBALL STREAK COMES TO AN END
A solo homer by Stepanie Toft and a two-run homer by Taylore Fuller in the bottom of the seventh inning couldn’t dig the 3rd-ranked Gators (41-9, 11-8 SEC) out of a 5-0 hole Friday night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. In dropping the 5-3 decision to Missouri (37-12, 13-6 SEC), Florida saw its 10-game winning streak come to an end. Missouri’s Tori Finucane gave up only four hits, three of them in the seventh when the Gators tried to rally and tie the game. Hannah Rogers (21-7) took the loss for Florida.
QUESTION FOR TODAY
The question for today comes from Chris Paul, who asks, “The entire situation with our good friends up in Tally just wreaks of cover up. Let’s say investigators do find that Tally PD and FSU were negligent in handling the situation with Mr. Winston improperly, which by every article or report I’ve read seems to be the case and then some. What exactly could happen to the FSU football program or Mr. Winston? Since the criminal case was shelved because Mr. Meggs didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute can the NCAA hop in and slap him with a suspension? Or will FSU just get a slap on the wrist and lose some funding/federal grants? The fact that FSU employees possibly hopped in to cover up a sexual assault should have some sort of hammer from the NCAA.
Unless the two roommates of Jameis Winston go state’s evidence and rat out their buddy, Famous Jameis won’t be prosecuted. There isn’t enough physical evidence to convict per the state attorney’s office. However, Winston isn’t out of the woods because a civil suit could be quite damaging to his pocket book and to his reputation, which could affect where he goes in the NFL Draft, where he’s sure to go after the 2014 season. As far as the NCAA goes, Winston has not violated any rules. There is no NCAA rule that says a player must treat women with dignity and respect. If there is no evidence of a crime, I’m not sure the NCAA could sanction FSU in any way even though there is evidence that coaches and staff were well aware that Winston quite possibly assaulted a woman. The attorney for the alleged victim is one of the best Title IX attorneys in the country so there could be some federal charges against the school for neglect and that would also open the door for civil penalties. The situation is a mess and while everything that investigative reporters have turned up would indicate that Winston might have gotten away with a crime, without irrefutable evidence or witnesses willing to spill their guts, the only thing that Winston has to worry about is getting hammered by a civil suit.
Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSIC FOR TODAY
One of the more interesting new talents to come along recently is the band Lake Street Dive, a hybrid jazz/soul band whose four musicians were all classically trained at Boston’s New England Conservatory of Music. Lead singer Rachael Price has the ability to pour all her emotions into each song. That combination with great lyrics makes this a band worth following in the future. The song today is “Stop Your Crying” from Lake Street Dive’s 2014 “Bad Self Portraits” album. The band takes off on an international tour on May 2 that will feature two appearances in the south in Cary, NC on June 13 and Athens, GA on June 16.