A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:
DANNY WUERFFEL: CHARACTER COUNTS
Danny Wuerffel has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, the ninth Gator (six players, three coaches) to gain admission to one of the most exclusive clubs in all of college sports. There has never been a question of if Wuerffel would make it – you win the Heisman Trophy and do the things he did, you are a mortal lock – but simply a matter of when. When you take everything into account, both what he did on the field and off, Danny is the blueprint of what we wish every Gator would be. On the field he helped lead the Gators to four SEC championships and the 1996 national championship, proving along the way that greatness doesn’t begin with the letter I. Wuerffel was one of college football’s greatest players ever, but he will always be a far better person than he ever was a player.
DANNY WUERFFEL: CHARACTER COUNTS, PART II
My first encounter with Danny Wuerffel was at The Swamp in 1991. Fort Walton Beach had just destroyed highly favored St. Thomas Aquinas to win the Class 5A state championship behind a dominating performance by Wuerffel, who sliced up STA with his arm and with his feet running Jimmy Ray Stephens’ version of Tom Perrin’s Flying T offense (you know it as the Georgia Southern offense). Outside the Fort Walton Beach locker, Jimmy Ray was hugging everybody in sight but when he saw me he held me by my shoulders and said, “You aren’t going to believe what just happened in our locker room. Everybody is celebrating and then Danny stands up and sings ‘Amazing Grace.’ It’s the most incredible moment in sports I’ve ever experienced.” Little did I know that day that Danny Wuerffel would continue to amaze me, not only as a football player but as a role model for aspiring athletes and every day people alike.
STRIKE NOEL MAZZONE OFF THE LIST
Florida’s list of candidates to replace Brent Pease has apparently shrunk by one. It is being reported that Noel Mazzone apparently has decided that he will stay at UCLA where he will get a third year to work with quarterback Todd Hundley, who could very well find himself seated on the Heisman podium next year. It also turns out that Mazzone was a finalist for the UConn head coaching job that went to Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco. With Mazzone’s name crossed off, the general consensus is that Florida’s coordinator list is headed up by Mike Norvell (Arizona State), Blake Anderson (North Carolina) and Tim Beck (Nebraska).
ADVANTAGE: BLAKE ANDERSON
One reason Blake Anderson might have the advantage in the offensive coordinator search is because wherever he goes, he brings offensive line coach Chris Kapilovic with him. Kapilovic’s offensive line gave up only 11 sacks in 2012 and lost players to the NFL. That number increased to 21 in 2012 but that might have something to do with the fact that the three departed players – Jonathan Cooper, Brennan Williams and Travis Bond – were replaced by a true freshman and a redshirt freshman. Their development might have something to do with the fact the Tar Heels averaged a healthy 208 yards and 5.37 per carry per game in the second half of the season after struggling mightily in the first half. Carolina averaged 432.4 yards per game this season, 485.6 in 2012 when they averaged 6.49 yards per play, 7.9 per pass attempt and 5.09 per rush. Anderson and Kapilovic both make $250,000 per year. Former UF offensive coordinator Brent Pease was paid $599,000 while former O-line coach Tim Davis was paid $310,000.
Redshirt freshman fullback Rhaheim Ledbetter, who begain his University of Florida career as a safety, and freshman offensive lineman Trevon Young announced Wednesday that they will be transferring. Don’t be surprised if at least three or four others also decide that it’s in their best interests to find a new place to play college football. Attrition is an ugly part of the game that coaches really don’t enjoy talking about but it’s part of the game. They can have 85 players on scholarship but typically they work with a core group of 50-60 players who have to be ready to play. That leaves 25 who are either taking a redshirt, injured or buried deeply on the depth chart, which means a number of kids each year are going to self-evaluate and make a decision that maybe it’s time to go. As long as it’s not wholesale departures, then don’t read anything into it other than the fact that it’s part of a numbers game that every coach in America has to play.
ANOTHER DAY AND MACK BROWN IS STILL ON THE JOB
It’s Thursday and Mack Brown is still the football coach at the University of Texas, but he might not be the Longhorn in the biggest trouble. That could be school president Bill Powers who has an ongoing feud with Governor Rick Perry. Powers is meeting with the Board of Regents Thursday and four of them are publicly opposed. If there is a fifth vote, then Powers is a goner and in all probability, so is Brown. As long as Powers is on the job, there is a good chance that Brown will get one final season. Brown’s attorney said the Texas administration is “leaving the decision to him (Brown) and when the time comes, and when he thinks it’s best for the university.” Meanwhile there are rumors that a deal is being worked out that would pay Brown more than $8 million in severance with $1.3 million per year until 2020 to serve in an administrative capacity at the University of Texas. Meanwhile, Brown will be attending the Alamo Bowl press conference today.
There is consensus that the first call goes to Nick Saban and there are rumors circulating that Saban is contemplating the move to Texas. There are also reports that the Texas wish list after Saban is Jim Harbaugh (San Francisco 49ers) and Jimbo Fisher (Florida State). The Dallas Morning News says the wish list has Saban at the top with Urban Meyer (Ohio State) as the #2 choice followed by Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers); John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens); and Jim Harbaugh (49ers). The Dallas paper has Fisher on the A list and has Clemson coach Dabo Swinney on the B list. Another list circulated Wednesday night that had only one name on it: Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy. There are folks who say that’s a name that has plenty of appeal to the boosters and the regents and that a deal could be done instantly.
Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel is the prognosticator of the year for selecting Florida State as his biggest surprise team and Florida as his biggest bust team in his preseason predictions … Instead of hiring Dirk Koetter as its head coach Boise State went with Bryan Harsin, the Arkansas State head coach who was the BSU offensive coordinator prior to Brent Pease … Brent Pease is said to have opportunities to go to either Washington under former boss Chris Petersen or back to Boise to work with Harsin, who is a good friend … The SEC coaches handed out their superlatives. Shockingly, no Gator was selected for offensive player of the year or winner of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy … Auburn running back Tre Mason is the SEC Offensive Player of the Year. He is from Lake Worth. He chose Auburn over West Virginia and Ole Miss. Neither Florida, Florida State nor Miami offered.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
One of the things I always appreciated about Huey Lewis and the News is they never strayed from their bar band days when they used to play everybody else’s music. They did an album in the 1990s called “Four Chords and Several Years Ago” that featured a lot of the rhythm and blues and doo-wop music of the 1960s. “Little Bitty Pretty One” was originally done by Bobby Day but Frankie Avalon, The Jackson Five and The Doobie Brothers all did a version. My favorite remake was the one by Huey Lewis.