A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning:
MCSHAY HAS ROBERSON, EASLEY GOING FIRST ROUND
We’re still waiting for Marcus Roberson to make up his mind whether he’s coming back for his senior season at Florida or declaring for the National Football League, but if ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay’s mock draft is indicative of what Roberson is hearing from NFL scouts, then it seems highly unlikely that he will be returning. McShay has Roberson going with the 29th pick in the first round to the New Orleans Saints. McShay also has Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley going to Chicago with the 21st pick in the first round. McShay believes if Easley gets past the physical examinations with a thumbs up that teams will overlook the two ACL tears he suffered at Florida.
HOW IMPORTANT WAS THE WIN OVER MEMPHIS?
By knocking off Memphis Tuesday night, the Florida Gators not only proved they could win close games on the road (two losses to Wisconsin and UConn were on the road and by a combined seven points), but showed they won’t wilt when adversity strikes. We saw that in the final 17 seconds when after missing a free throw that could have put the game away, the Gators had the presence to play great defense and play smart basketball. Had Dorian Finney-Smith tried to grab that final rebound he would have been fouled immediately and the game would have been extended. Instead, he punched the ball out to midcourt and eliminated any chance Memphis had of sending the game into overtime. Additionally, the Gators saw their RPI rise 13 spots overnight from #31 to #18. Once the non-conference portion of the schedule ends, it’s very difficult to gain any ground on the all-important RPI that factors into March NCAA seeding.
MURPHY WILL BE A VALUABLE ADDITION THIS YEAR
As a transfer Alex Murphy won’t be able to play a single minute for the Gators this year, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be a tremendous addition to Billy Donovan’s talented team that has a very real chance to make it to the Final Four once March Madness begins. Murphy said Wednesday that he’s ready to bang away and go hard in practice, anything to help the Gators get better. That’s important because Donovan is one of the best in the business at preparing a team to play. Now that Chris Walker is enrolled and Murphy will be joining the team (when the semester starts in January), Donovan has big guys with skill who can simulate the other team in practice and provide the kind of practice opposition that can help guys like Patric Young get better every day.
ANDERSON TO ARKY STATE (MAYBE); NORVELL GETS A HUGE RAISE
Football Scoop is reporting that North Carolina offensive coordinator Blake Anderson will be named the new head coach at Arkansas State. Anderson was thought to be the leader for the Florida offensive coordinator job when he was asked to interview at Arkansas State. Coachingsearch.com, however, says Clemson offensive coordinator Chad Morris might take the job with Anderson the #2 choice. Meanwhile, Arizona State offensive coordinator Mike Norvell, with whom there was mutual interest with the Gators, is staying put, accepting a $200,000 a year raise and the new title of “deputy” head coach. A week ago those two were #1 and #1A on the Florida offensive coordinator search list. Additionally, UCLA offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone was given a substantial raise to remain at UCLA. Ten days ago Mazzone was one of the hot names we were hearing for Florida.
IT’S LOOKING MORE LIKE CLAY HELTON WILL BE THE NEW OC
There are more and more rumblings that Southern Cal interim head coach Clay Helton is going to be Florida’s next offensive coordinator. Footballrumormill.com, which has a history of being very accurate, says this about the Florida search: “Sources indicate former USC offensive coordinator Clay Helton has emerged as a very strong candidate to replace the fired Brent Pease at Florida. We’re told head coach Will Muschamp is getting a lot of ‘not interested’ as he calls around.” The owner of that site served on staffs with Muschamp in years past.
CHUCKY INTERESTED IN TEXAS
Orangebloods.com, which had the Mack Brown story right from day one, is now reporting that Jon Gruden is open to hearing from Texas. Southern Cal athletic director Pat Haden tried to lure Gruden to Los Angeles but was turned down, leading Haden to say that “Chucky” will stay at ESPN until the right NFL job comes along. Texas might be the kind of job that could lure Gruden into college coaching. It has the fan base, the facilities, traditions and best of all, more money than it has the brains to use. Would Gruden’s availability trump Jimbo Fisher, who remains the flavor of the day in Austin?
CHANDLER SCORES BIG WITH A NEW SHOE CONTRACT
Chandler Parsons, the NBA’s most underpaid star ($926,000), apparently cleaned up when he recently signed his new shoe contract. Nike offered a substantial increase to try to keep Chandler on its payroll and Adidas came through with a substantial offer to steal him away. The winner? Chinese shoe brand Anta, which, like Under Armour is fast becoming a sporting goods brand to be reckoned with, offered what Chandler’s agent will only say is substantially more money than either Nike or Adidas. If you’ve never heard of Anta, that’s the company that bought out the Italian brand Fila. Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo wear Anta basketball shoes in the NBA. There are rumblings that the Houston Rockets are about to rework a deal for Chandler that will be worth in the neighborhood of $60 million.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL’S BEST COLOR ANALYST
It’s not Dickie V and it certainly isn’t Clark Kellogg of CBS. If you want to hear an analyst who really does tell you what’s going on, listen to Doris Burke of ESPN. Doris was the point guard for the Providence women’s team when this Billy Donovan somebody was making All-American for the men’s team. Unlike some analysts who churn out volumes of useless, senseless information because they enjoy hearing the sound of their own voice, Burke offers precise analysis and doesn’t waste her words. She’s so good that she’s one of the top analysts on ESPN NBA broadcasts, but where she does her best work is college basketball. If I want to know what’s really going on in a game, I want to hear Doris Burke or Bob Knight.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Paul Kantner still tours with a band called Jefferson Starship, but he’s the last member of Jefferson Airplane still performing. Jefferson Airplane existed from 1965-73, founded by Marty Balin and Kantner. In 1966 the band added Grace Slick and that’s when their music took off. The 1967 album “Surrealistic Pillow” was their best and the best song was “Somebody to Love” which was Grace Slick’s best vocal work and the unofficial theme song of the “summer of love” in San Francisco. I missed the original “summer of love” although I did have my very naïve and white Anglo-Saxon protestant mind completely blown three summers later on my first trip to San Franciso where I got to hear Jefferson Airplane live.