A WEEK BEFORE WE KNOW IF CHANGES WERE MADE
Florida coach Will Muschamp vowed that changes would be made, particularly to the offense of his struggling Gators, who go into next Saturday’s game with Georgia in Jacksonville teetering on the verge of collapse. During his only meeting with the media this week, Muschamp stood behind offensive coordinator Brent Pease and Tim Davis, an understandable move since it is a sign of sheer desperation to fire assistant coaches this late in a season. We’ve seen big changes made in offensive philosophy after bye weeks in the past (see Rex Grossman knock off the Poodles with a barrage of two-inch passes in 2002), but will we see one this time around? Any move to a more wide open style of attack would come as a big surprise. Wide open and Muschamp’s football philosophy don’t seem to mesh, but we’ve been surprised before. Now would be a good time for a shocker.
WHAT DONOVAN HOPES TO ACHIEVE AGAINST GEORGIA TECH
Billy Donovan takes the Florida basketball team up to Valdosta for a closed doors scrimmage with Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon. Tech is a tall, deep team that recently got a boost when former Tennessee point guard Trae Golden was granted immediate eligibility by the NCAA. Golden will be a fine test for UF freshman point guard Kasey Hill and Tech’s front line that measures 7-0, 6-9 and 6-9 could force Donovan to go with a front line of 6-9 Patric Young, 6-10 Damontre Harris and 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith. Donovan will also see just how far along Rutgers transfer Eli Carter is in his comeback from a broken leg and how Finney-Smith can handle the point. With Dillon Graham out with an ankle sprain and Scottie Wilbekin suspended (except for practice) until December, Finney-Smith is the only other option at the point.
WINNING BIG A NECESSITY
For Oregon and Ohio State, the formula to get to the BCS national championship game isn’t exactly rocket science. As the only unbeaten teams in their respective leagues, the only thing they can do to affect the computers that will do most of the deciding in the BCS standings is to go unbeaten and win impressively. The Ducks and Buckeyes rank third and fourth in the first BCS standings behind #1 Alabama and #2 Florida State. If Alabama wins the rest of its games, the Crimson Tide will fill one of the national championship game berths so that means the best Oregon and Ohio State can do is dislodge FSU in the #2 slot. Oregon has games with three ranked teams so give them the advantage, but neither the Ducks nor the Buckeyes should feel any pangs of mercy in any game if they are way ahead. The computers supposedly don’t take margin of victory into account, but history tells us they do. It’s not enough to win. You better win big or there is no chance to make the national championship game.
AVOIDING THE UPSET
Florida State plays host to North Carolina State, a game that on paper should rank right up there with Baylor-Kansas as the blowout of the week. North Carolina State has won two of the last three against the Seminoles, but both wins were in Raleigh. This game is in Tallahassee, so FSU should win handily, but the Seminoles need to remember what happened last week in the SEC when the lower or unranked teams won five of six games. Two other games to watch closely are Wake Forest Gump at #7 and unbeaten Miami and #6 Stanford at #25 Oregon State. This is one of those years that Jim Grobe puts together that defy all the odds at Wake Forest Gump. The Deacs should be horrible but they are likely going bowling. Oregon State has a prolific passing game behind quarterback Sean Manion who has 29 touchdown passes in seven games to lead the nation. The game is in Corvallis so this is a potential upset.
DIAL-A-SCORE GAME OF THE WEEK
That would be unbeaten Baylor and its point-a-minute (64.7 a game through the first half of the season) offense against the Fighting Cheeseburgers of Kansas in Lawrence. Baylor averages 9.03 yards per play and has scored 47 offensive touchdowns, 29 on the ground and 18 in the air. That’s in spite of the fact that the first team offense has only played beyond the first series of the third quarter once all year. You don’t hear the name Bryce Petty mentioned in the Heisman race, but probably you should. He’s 102-144 passing for 2,023 yards with 15 touchdowns and only one interception plus he has run for five more scores. If Baylor hits the 70-point mark for the fifth time this year, Kansas might bite the bullet and pay the buyout money to jettison Charlie Weis.
ANOTHER HIT FOR THE NCAA
As if it needed to take another hit this week, the NCAA’s motion to dismiss Ed O’Bannon’s antitrust lawsuit was dismissed by a federal judge. The gist of the O’Bannon suit is that the NCAA continues to use images, video, etc., of current and former athletes to promote events and make money even after the athletes have graduated, therefore the athletes must be paid. This is a lawsuit that isn’t going away. The NCAA is the last plaintiff standing as EA Sports and Collegiate Licensing have already settled. NCAA president Mark Emmert should have had the common sense to settle and make this go away long ago, but he’s ordered his lawyers to continue the fight, which is going to go down as just another dumb decision by the man who is likely to be the end of the NCAA as we now know it.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: TAMPA BAY BUCS
The bags are out in Tampa, which is to say the fans have given up on the winless Bucs and well they should. They have a coach who is in way over his head when it comes to football matters and on a different planet altogether when it comes to human decency. The Bucs have done winless before and they’re nearly halfway toward becoming the only franchise in NFL history with not one, but two oh-fers. It’s time for the Bucs to fire Greg Schiano, or at least let him know that he collects nine more paychecks before he is out there seeing if there is a college president who is impressed with his 68-67 record at Rutgers. This guy is a banana slug who has no business coaching at any level.
THE FEARLESS FORECAST
All good things must come to an end as last week proved with a dismal 1-5 as Florida, LSU, Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina did their versions of the Fosbury Flop only to hit the bar on their way to the landing pit. This week is time for a rebound. I give myself a mulligan for Mississippi State over Kentucky. It’s Kentucky. I would have picked Mississippi State if the game had been played at 4 a.m. on the moon. As or the other games, I like Texas A&M over Gloria Vanderbilt, Aubrin over Florida Atlantic, Ole Miss over Idaho Potatoes, LSU over Furman Bisher, Alabama over Dollywood USA and in an upset, South Carolina over Misery.
Last Week: 1-5
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Like most who were growing up in Gainesville during the 1960s, we felt a connection to The Buffalo Springfield because of Stephen Stills. The Beach Boys were the headline act at that 1968 spring concert at Florida Field that also featured The Strawberry Alarm Clock and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap, but Stills and Buffalo Springfield didn’t disappoint. “For What It’s Worth” and “Bluebird” still get plenty of play on 60s stations but my favorite song was always “Rock and Roll Woman,” which was sort of a precursor for the music of Crosby, Stills and Nash, which made its debut one year later.