Just a few short weeks until the start of the college football season and we are in a period of dead news (hopefully) until practice begins in a about two weeks.
Here are some thoughts on the news of the week.
Two Awesome Years with Gator Country
On July 20th, I celebrated my two-year anniversary with Gator Country as a freelance writer. It has been an awesome two years that has availed to me the opportunity to go provide my perspective on sports, the Florida Gators, and life – how cool is that? I have grown as a writer, grown as a person, got to know some great people, and am a part of the greatest Florida Gator community on the internet.
Sure, you may not agree with some of the things I write – I know, I’ve read many of your thoughts – but that’s OK. You come with an open mind, provide your opine, and engage in meaningful conversation and that is all I want.
Thank you to Ray and Bernadette for the opportunity and coaching me; and thank you to Nick and Andrew for being good friends/colleagues allowing me to bounce my thoughts off of them.
Division IV Football?
Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal reported on a mathematical study done by two Ohio State research calling it “a radical realignment plan”. Under the plan, the researchers call for a Division IV football division, which includes the top teams in Division I…err…the FBS. He splits it into four different conferences/divisions/clusters based on “football revenue, winning percentage, computer ranking and attendance between 2003 and 2013”. Florida is, of course, included in the list under “Cluster 1” and would compete against Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma and Texas to win their cluster.
The collection of those teams in a division sounds, well, impossible for any team to consistently place at the top of the division.
Of the 43 teams included in “Division IV”, only Tennessee has had a consistently rough few years, meaning that each and every game would be a tough matchup – kissing the Florida vs. Idaho and Florida vs. Georgia Southern, well let’s not go there, battles adieu and welcoming Florida vs. TCU or Florida vs. Oregon as mainstays.
Sure, it sounds good on paper, but it is not likely reasonable for a few reasons. Primarily, scheduling would be tough, as most schools need about seven home games each year to financially support the program. Under this new division, schools would likely split games home-and-home meaning a maximum of six home games, something most schools could not afford. Secondly, matchups and intensity would be so tough, that we would likely see an increase in injuries among players. Third, you take the true joy out of college football – watching a major underdog upset the favorite ala Appalachian State over Michigan. One of the things that I enjoy the most about college football is that anything can happen on any given Saturday and moving to a “Division IV” would eliminate any chance of that happening. Because even if Tennessee beats Florida State, it just doesn’t sing the same note.
Bovada says Gators get 7.5 Wins. Take the Over.
Bovada, a famous Las Vegas sportsbook, says that the Gators will have 7.5 wins, meaning that Florida is on the cusp of an 8-4 and 7-5 year. Coming off of a 4-8 season, it is easy to have a bleak outlook, but I have the Gators winning at least at eight games. I think they beat: Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Georgia, Vanderbilt and Eastern Kentucky, which South Carolina being a game they could also win – meaning losses to Alabama, LSU and Florida State.
Florida will have a vastly improved offense and, if special teams is able to improve from last year, Florida could be a big surprise. The SEC, of course, is again deep, but the teams that usually chock-full of talent are replacing key pieces including Georgia at quarterback, Missouri at quarterback, while losing their best wide receiver, and Vanderbilt loses a great coach.
Florida was not a 4-8 team last year. They had bad special teams, which you cannot blame the coaching staff for, while playing with a quarterback that should not have played in the SEC, and an offensive line that could not catch any breaks. Blame Brent Pease for not having the team ready offensively, blame the defense in a few games (i.e. Georgia Southern), and pass the blame on Will Muschamp for game planning – but do not believe that there is not the talent on the team to win eight or nine games next season, if they can stay healthy.
Obligatory Attack on the NFL
The National Football League and Commissioner Roger Goodell are again the topic of discussion for their punishment of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice. Rice, who was caught on camera hitting his now wife, knocking her unconscious, and dragging her out of an elevator, will only receive a two, yes only two, game suspension for all of battering a woman.
Now, lets compare a few of the other punishments that have lasted longer than Ray Rice’s public beating: use of marijuana (4 games), failing a second drug test (full season), and receiving free tattoos in college (5 games). In all of these victimless crimes, Goodell felt it necessary to punish players longer than Rice, and that is appalling.
Goodell should be ashamed of himself and should immediately re-consider his punishment. Rice put a woman’s life in danger, and he is only suspended for 1/8 of the season? Give me a break.
Must Read Articles of the Week
Alistair Barr | New Google Project Seeks to Define Healthy Human
Megan Abbott | Our Love Affair With the Mug Shot
Song of the Week
Blackberry Smoke is one of my favorite current country music bands, but they are not heard much on radio.
Here they are covering the classic George Jones and Merle Haggard song, “Yesterday’s Wine”. Jones is one of my favorite artists of all-time, so covering the song means that my expectations are high.
They do an unbelievable job.