A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:
REMEMBER THIS NAME FOR O-LINE COACH
A friend who goes back a few years with a bunch of people who were graduate assistants or assistant coaches under Terry Bowden at Auburn tells me that Texas offensive line coach Stacy Searels will play prominently into Florida’s coach search. Searels played at Auburn under Pat Dye where his O-Line coach was Neil Callaway. He got his masters degree while working as a graduate assistant under Dye and Bowden in 1992-93. Muschamp was a GA at Auburn in 1995-96 when Jimbo Fisher was the quarterbacks coach. The Muschamp-Searels connection is through Fisher. Searels was the O-line coach at Cincinnati where Fisher was the quarterback coach in 1999. Fisher, Muschamp and Searels worked together and picked up national championship rings working for Saban at at LSU and they have been close ever since. When Muschamp went to the NFL with Saban, Fisher and Searels remained at LSU for two years where they worked under Les Miles. When Fisher went to FSU as offensive coordinator in 2007, Searels went to Georgia, where he remained until 2010. Searels has been at Texas since 2011. I’m told that Searels will get right of first refusal on the Florida job.
WHAT KIND OF OFFENSE FOR THE GATORS NEXT YEAR?
There are whispers in the coach search community that Muschamp is going to do something totally radical with the offense and go to a hurry-up attack that tends to lean toward what we see at Oregon and Baylor. On one hand, that doesn’t make sense since it seems to be contrary to everything we’ve seen from Florida’s offense in the last three years. It makes perfect sense, however, if you check the stats for both Oregon and Baylor. Baylor has run 897 plays in 11 games with 534 on the ground (59.4% rushing, 40.6% passing). Oregon has run 905 plays with 526 on the ground (58.1% rushing, 42.9% passing).
WHAT KIND OF OFFENSE FOR THE GATORS NEXT YEAR, PART II?
Going to a hurry-up, spread such as the ones run by Baylor and Oregon also makes sense from this perspective. In the spreads they run, the splits in the line are wider, the offensive linemen aren’t asked to hold their blocks a long time, and the threat of running quarterbacks eliminates much of the pass rush. Next year, the Gators’ top three quarterbacks – Jeff Driskel, Tyler Murphy and incoming freshman phenom Will Grier – are all gifted runners and Muschamp could have a nice stable of runners if Kelvin Taylor, Mack Brown, Matt Jones and Adam Lane can stay healthy. As we saw in the Tim Tebow years, spreading the field while having a strong running threat also helps wide receivers get more one-on-one coverage and gives them the opportunity to take shorter passes and turn them into big gainers. That would work well for Ahmad Fullwood and game-breaking recruit Ermon Lane.
ANOTHER INJURY FOR GATOR HOOPS
Scottie Wilbekin turned his ankle with 3:01 remaining in Florida’s 65-64 loss to UConn Monday night. The Gators are already missing guards Kasey Hill (high ankle sprain) and DeVon Walker (mid-foot sprain) and they played with six scholarship players Monday night. The extent of Wilbekin’s injury won’t be known for at least a day or two but since he walked off the floor on his own power, it would seem that it’s not serious. Getting Wilbekin, Hill and Walker back soon is critical for the Gators, whose next two games are against #7 Kansas (next Tuesday night, O-Dome) and #15 Memphis (December 17, Madison Square Garden). Further help is on the way with 6-10 freshman Chris Walker, who should get his NCAA clearance to play the second semester very soon. If Damontre Harris can sort through his issues and come back to the team, the Gators could be as good as anyone in the country when Donovan has a full bench to work with.
BREAKOUT GAME FOR PATRIC YOUNG?
Patric Young has had many games in the past when he scored 17 points, but against UConn Monday night, he demanded the ball and put it in the hole. When the Gators couldn’t score, Young took the team on his back and carried the Gators, giving them a chance to win the game against UConn while fouling out two 6-10 centers. The way he played against UConn is the way he needs to play every single night. Young is an accomplished defensive player and a skilled passer, but he’s never shown consistent aggressiveness going after the ball when it comes off the rim or demanding it from teammates then taking it to the rack with authority. He showed that side Monday night. If what we saw was the lights finally going on for Patric Young, then not only do the Gators have their answer in the middle the rest of the season but NBA scouts will finally see something other than body by Tarzan, game by Jane.
PAUL BRYANT JR. IS RESPONSIBLE FOR FSU’S RESURGENCE
Back in 2006, Jimbo Fisher was all set to become the head coach at UAB, but a contract which would pay Fisher $600,000 yearly was vetoed by the Board of Trustees, claiming that it was an irresponsible expenditure for a football program that doesn’t make money. The board ignored the fact that all but $100,000 or so of the contract was guaranteed by prominent boosters. Ironically, that same board oversees both Alabama and UAB and the one pushing to reject the contract was Paul Bryant, Jr. Why? Because Bryant wanted Fisher to come to Alabama as Nick Saban’s offensive coordinator. Fisher instead went to Florida State where he became head coach in waiting for Bobby Bowden and the board hand picked former Alabama O-lineman and offensive coordinator Neil Callaway as the UAB head coach. Had Paul Bryant Jr. not gotten his way with the board, you have to wonder what might have happened to Jimbo Fisher. It’s highly doubtful he would be the head coach at FSU today.
SARKISIAN TO SOUTHERN CAL
Just one day after denying he had been interviewed by Pat Haden and one day after Joe Schad of ESPN led a media rampage claiming that Southern Cal was down to Boise State’s Chris Peterson and Vanderbilt’s James Franklin, Washington head coach Steve Sarkisian accepted an offer to become head coach at Southern Cal. Peterson announced earlier in the day Monday that he was not under consideration at Southern Cal and the AD at Vanderbilt claims that no one contacted Franklin. Critics such as Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel think Sark is a very good football coach but he – and several others – openly question if he’s the best that Southern Cal could have gotten.
WHO GETS THE WASHINGTON JOB AND OTHER COACHING NEWS
Since Mack Brown has neither retired or been fired at Texas, the Washington job is suddenly the most high profile job that is open. There is some speculation that this is the job that Boise State’s Peterson would actually like to have. It’s unclear whether Peterson withdrew his name from consideration at Southern Cal because he knew Sarkisian was getting the job or if he just didn’t want to move to Los Angeles. Peterson has a special needs son who has been embraced by the Boise community and Seattle might be a much better fit … Ed Orgeron handed in his resignation at Southern Cal to pursue head coaching opportunities. Coach O was quite unhappy that he was passed over for the USC job when so many former players supported his candidacy … Jim Grobe retired at Wake Forest after 13 years. I’m told he concluded that he’s done as much at Wake Forest as he can do. What he did was incredible considering the high academic standards, smallish student body and alumni base and lack of facilities … Rumors are swirling that Rutgers could fire Kyle Flood either Tuesday or Wednesday. That might be an excellent place for Coach O to land.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
New Radicals were an alternative music band that was together for only two years in the late 1990s. They did one album, which I have never heard, but they did do one song that made it to the top 40 charts in the US and all the way to #1 in Canada. I have no clue about the rest of their music, but “You Get What You Give” is a very good song.