A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning:
SIX OFFENSIVE PLAYERS TRANSFER OUT
Thursday it was announced that six players will be transferring from the University of Florida: backup quarterback Staver, tight end Kent Taylor, fullback Rhaheim Ledbetter and offensive linemen Quinteze Williams, Trevon Young and Ian Silberman. A certain amount of attrition is always expected but when there is a mass exodus and all of the players are from one side of the ball, it does raise an eyebrow, particularly since the Gators are searching for a new offensive coordinator and offensive line coach. Silberman will graduate Saturday and can play immediately wherever he goes, but the other five will have to sit a year if they go to a Division I school. Were these guys so buried on the depth chart that they didn’t have a chance to see any action next season? Were they in such a hurry to leave that they couldn’t wait to see what changes with the new coaches?
NEWS ABOUT CHRIS WALKER EXPECTED SOON
Chris Walker has done all the necessary work to get eligible to play basketball at Florida. The only thing preventing him from joining the team Saturday after final exams are officially over at UF is confirmation from the NCAA Clearinghouse and from UF admissions. Although Billy Donovan has only commented that the Walker situation is out of his hands, there is reason to believe that Walker will indeed be able to join the Gators and that confirmation will arrive shortly, if it hasn’t already. Walker is a 6-10, 220-pounder post player with freakish athletic ability. With Damontre Harris apparently gone for good, the Gators lack that defender who can genuinely protect the rim. Walker will give the Gators a shot blocker and a dazzling finisher at the rim. Add him to the Florida roster and the Gators are as good if not better than any team in the SEC, including that one up north that signed a bazillion McDonald’s All-Americans last year.
IT’S FRIDAY AND MACK BROWN IS STILL THE COACH AT TEXAS
It must also be noted that Bill Powers is still the president of the University of Texas. A 5-4 vote of the Texas Board of Regents saved his job Thursday, but would Powers survive another vote if he were to continue to back Mack Brown? This situation might have gotten too complicated and too messy. If Powers elects to stay on the job in Austin, he might have to be the bearer of bad news and tell an old friend that there is nothing more he can do to help him. Or, perhaps Powers and Brown will elect to ride off into the sunset together. Whatever their decision, they will be the ones who smell like a rose when all is said and done. It certainly won’t be the University of Texas and its boosters.
FINEBAUM SAYS NICK’S NOT GOING ANYWHERE
On his Thursday show, Paul Finebaum asked why would Nick Saban give up a job (Alabama) where he is the most powerful man in an entire state for a job (Texas) where the politics are brutal and the fan base is fickle? At Alabama, Finebaum noted, Saban doesn’t have anyone looking over his shoulder, but if he were to go to Texas there would be enormous pressure to produce Alabama-type results in a very short period of time. Finebaum’s conclusion: Saban will sign a contract for more than $7.5 million – it could go as high as $10 million a year – and stay at Alabama.
POISED FOR A SECOND RATE HIRE?
Texas does have more money than any athletic department in the country. It’s one of the best public universities in the country, can match facilities with anyone and within a 250-mile radius of the campus is some of the best high school football talent on the planet. There are few places on the planet as cool as Austin and you would be hard pressed to find a campus with more shapely adorables strolling around. With all these advantages then why is it that Texas seems on the verge of landing a second rate hire if and when Mack Brown gets axed? Saban’s not going anywhere and Jimbo Fisher isn’t about to take the Texas job when he’s got FSU playing in the national championship game and 36 of his top 44 players returning next year including Famous Jameis Winston, who will win the Heisman Trophy. Jim Harbaugh, who is also listed as prominent on the Texas wish list, responded to a reporter asking if he’s interested with “are you trying to be funny?” Texas wants the best but it might find it extremely difficult to land someone of the caliber it thinks it deserves because of the way it’s handled things so far. This is starting to feel like Tennessee all over again. Tennessee demanded change and look what it’s gotten since firing Phil Fulmer.
MAXWELL AWARD GOES TO A.J. MCCARRON
Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron was announced as the winner of the Maxwell Award as the nation’s most outstanding college football player Thursday night at Lake Buena Vista. Barring a monumental upset, McCarron won’t win the Heisman Trophy in New York Saturday night but it’s not unusual for the Maxwell and Heisman voters to disagree. Since 2005, the only time the Maxwell and Heisman voters agreed was 2007 when Tim Tebow won both awards (Tebow also won the Maxwell in 2008) and in 2010 when Cam Newton of Auburn hogged all the significant trophies. There are some who say that McCarron’s success (38-3 as a starter) is only because he’s surrounded by outstanding talent. If that’s the case, then shouldn’t the same thing be said about Florida State’s Jameis Winston? Some NFL scouts say that the other 10 starters on the FSU offense will all play in the NFL.
THE NEXT CRADLE OF COACHES
For good reason, Miami of Ohio is known as “The Cradle of Coaches,” having produced the likes of Col. Red Blaik, Sid Gillman, Woody Hayes, Bo Schembechler, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank and a host of others. Miami has fallen on hard times recently and the talent pool seems to be drying up. Not so for Arkansas State, whose last three coaches lasted one year before landing a major gig. Hugh Freeze went 10-2 as the head coach in 2011, parlaying that success into the head job at Ole Miss. He was succeeded by Gus Malzahn, who went 9-3 and that took him to Auburn, where he has the Tigers playing for the national championship in his first year on the job. Bryan Harsin went 7-5 in 2013, which was good enough for him to get the Boise State job. There is a lot of speculation that the next one-year wonder in Jonesboro will be either Auburn offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee, who was Malzahn’s offensive coordinator at Arkansas State in 2012, or Eddie Gran, the Cincinnati offensive coordinator who was runner-up to Harsin last year for the ASU job.
IT’S THE REDSKINS, WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?
The Washington Redskins already have the worst owner in all of the NFL in Dan Snyder, who is so bad that he almost makes Jerry Jones seem competent. Now they have the most dysfunctional team in the league as well. Coach Mike Shanahan announced that he’s going to bench quarterback Robert Griffin III the rest of the season to preserve his health for future years – he’s been sacked 24 times in the last five games and has never looked like he’s fully recovered from last year’s knee injury. Thursday, Shanahan was blasted for making the move by his own offensive coordinator. The coordinator’s name? Kyle Shanahan. Mike is his dad.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
During the 1980s, I thought Talking Heads was as creative and entertaining band as there was on the music scene. I loved their high energy music and quirky lyrics, plus their concerts were three hours of pure fun. All their music was original, written by the genius David Byrne, who also doubled as their lead singer. This is “Life During Wartime” from Talking Heads’ “Stop Making Sense” CD.