A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.
ATHLON RATES UF AS #2 COACHING JOB IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Athlon Sports has rated all of the Division I college football coaching jobs from 1-128. Not surprisingly, Texas ranks #1, but what might surprise you is that Athlon considers Florida the #2 job. Here are the top ten: (1) Texas; (2) Florida; (3) Alabama; (4) Southern Cal; (5) Ohio State; (6) Oklahoma; (7) Notre Dame; (8) Georgia; (9) LSU; and (10) Michigan. The other SEC teams were rated: (13) Texas A&M; (15) Auburn; (16) Tennessee; (19) South Carolina; (25) Arkansas; (30) Ole Miss; (31) Missouri; (47) Kentucky; (48) Mississippi State; and (49) Vanderbilt. Florida State (11), Clemson (20) and Miami (21) were the three highest rated ACC schools. Also from Florida were UCF (66); South Florida (67); Florida Atlantic (101) and Florida International (123).
WHAT ATHLON SAYS ABOUT THE FLORIDA JOB
Pros: Location. Location. Location. Florida is a public university in a state that produces a tremendous amount of top-flight talent. Ben Hill Griffin Stadium offers one of the best atmospheres in college football, and the fan base is as rabid as there is in the nation.
Cons: Expectations are sky-high at a school that won two national championships in three seasons from 2006-08. If you don’t win — and win big — things can turn ugly very quickly. Just ask Ron Zook or even Will Muschamp after 2013.
Final Verdict: Florida presents one of the elite coaching opportunities in college football. You have everything at your disposal to compete for national championships on an annual basis. There is no excuse not to be good at Florida.
DEBOSE WILL GET A SIXTH YEAR
This is one time the NCAA got something right. Andre Debose has been given a waiver that will allow him a sixth year to finish up his college football eligibility. He missed all of his freshman year with a groin muscle that was torn badly and required surgery and he missed all of last season with a non-contact ACL tear. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the best kickoff returners in the country with four touchdown returns in his career. He showed that he could be an effective deep threat in 2011 when he caught four touchdown passes. If Debose can play injury free and he hasn’t been slowed by the previous injuries, he gives the Gators a home run threat capable of scoring from any place on the field. Best of all, if he still has the ability to run by people, the safeties will have to stop crowding the box to stop the run. Muschamp said that Debose is cleared for non-contact practice beginning March 28.
SPORTING NEWS PICKS 10 GREATEST GATORS
Matt Hayes of Sporting News is going through the nation’s elite football programs and selecting the 10 greatest players ever. Here is his list of greatest Gators: (1) Danny Wuerffel; (2) Tim Tebow; (3) Steve Spurrier; (4) Wilber Marshall; (5) Percy Harvin; (6) Rex Grossman; (7) Jack Youngblood; (8) Emmitt Smith; (9) Carlos Alvarez; and (10) Fred Taylor. Picking Florida’s 10 best is not an easy thing to do, but I would have had Shane Matthews in the top ten along with Wes Chandler. Rex Grossman and Fred Taylor wouldn’t have been in my top 10 but definitely in my top 25.
FLORIDA SPORTS ON WEDNESDAY
Florida’s #1-ranked softball team (26-1) swept a doubleheader from Mercer, taking the first game, 8-0, behind a 2-hitter by Hannah Rogers and winning the second game, 1-0, when Kristi Merritt drew a bases loaded walk in the bottom of the seventh. In game one, Rogers struck out five while raising her record to 10-1 this season, 107-24 for her UF career. In game two, Gourley improved to 10-0 this season with her 5-hit, 9-strikeout performance. Lauren Haeger saw her hitting streak end at 12 games. She singled in game one but was held hitless in the second game. … Florida’s #4-ranked women’s lacrosse (21-5) team smacked Winthrop, 21-5. It was the eighth straight win for the Gators, who got five goals from Shannon Gilroy and three from Devon Schneider … Florida’s baseball team won its fifth straight game, scoring seven eighth inning runs to take a 13-5 decision over Illinois State behind four RBI from second baseman Casey Turgeon … Florida’s #1-ranked men’s swimming team has qualified 14 swimmers for the NCAA championships, which take place March 20-22 in Minneapolis. Florida’s eighth-ranked women, qualified 12 swimmers.
SEC SPRING FOOTBALL UPDATES
Patton Robinette is the starter at quarterback for Vanderbilt, but he’s being pressed by freshman Johnny McCrary … There is plenty of attention being paid to the right guard position at LSU where Evan Washington and Fehoko Fanaika are waging a pitched battle for the first team job … Also at LSU there was a fight between Lewis Neal and Josh Boutte the first day of full contact practice … Alabama held the first of two pro days Wednesday. The second will be held on April 8 … Tight end Sean Culkin, corner Ernest Payton and nose tackle Ricky Hatley were among three injured players who didn’t practice Tuesday at Missouri.
MORE NFL COMINGS AND GOINGS
The Tampa Bay Bucs released corner Darrelle Revis, who promptly signed a 1-year deal to play for the New England Patriots … DeMarcus Ware didn’t even spend one day unemployed. The Denver Broncos signed him to a $30 million deal with $20 million up front. He will help that pass rush tremendously … Corner Aqib Talib got a $57 million dollar deal to leave the Patriots for the Broncos, $26 million guaranteed and safety T.J. Ward left the Browns to join the Broncos for $23 million, $14 million guaranteed … Wide receiver Golden Tate bolted the Seattle Seahawks for a 5-year deal with the Detroit Lions that had more than $13 million guaranteed. He caught 64 passes for the Seahawks last year … All-purpose back Dexter McCluster bolted the Kansas City Chiefs for the Tennessee Titans … Bears backup quarterback Josh McCown left the Bears to join former boss Lovie Smith in Tampa.
SOUTH CAROLINA, MISSISSIPPI STATE ADVANCE IN SEC TOURNAMENT
Maybe the chewing out he got from Frank Martin aroused the inner Bob Cousy in Duane Notice. Martin was suspended for the final regular season game for an angry tirade in which he verbally berated Notice, a freshman guard from Canada. Against Auburn Wednesday night in the first round of the SEC Tournament, Martin’s first game back from the suspension, Notice went off for a career-high 23 points to go with eight rebounds, three assists and a steal to lead South Carolina past the Tigers, 74-56. South Carolina (13-19) faces #5 seed Arkansas (21-10) at 3:25 today … Mississippi State (14-18) finished last in the SEC in the regular season, but the Bulldogs advanced Wednesday night, knocking off Vanderbilt (15-16) to break a 13-game losing streak. Mississippi State will face Ole Miss (18-13) Thursday at 9:30 p.m.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I was living in Mississippi in the summer of 1967 when Jefferson Airplane released the album “Surrealistic Pillow.” This was the album that introduced us to Grace Slick, whose vocal and song writing talents blended perfectly with those of Marty Balin and Paul Kantner. The best song on the album was “Somebody to Love” but the song that had me and all the other naïve souls in McComb talking was “White Rabbit,” which we assumed (correctly) was about LSD. In those days, drugs weren’t part of our culture, at least in our corner of Mississippi. Our big deal was paying some wino a buck so he could buy two bottles of Pagan Pink Ripple for himself and a six-pack of Jax or Dixie beer which we would sell for $6 to some seniors down at the White House Drive-In, a nifty $5 profit. That paid for gas for the weekend.