What a busy week in the news! Here are some thoughts on some of the top stories. Enjoy!
Remember When People Said Jeremy Foley Should Be Fired?
It wasn’t long ago, no, it was merely eight months ago when the Gator Country message board was littered with “Fire Foley” and “Foley Must Go” posts from irate fans that think the only sport Florida plays is football.
With the women’s softball team winning the 2014 National Championship, the Gators have now won national championships in 13 different sports, with 11 different sports winning national championships under Athletic Director Jeremy Foley since 1992.
Under Foley, the Gators have won at least one National Championship in the following sports:
• Women’s Track (Indoor)
• Women’s Tennis
• Men’s Golf
• Women’s Soccer
• Men’s Basketball
• Men’s Track and Field (Indoor)
• Men’s Track and Field (Outdoor)
• Women’s Swimming and Diving
I have long maintained (here most recently) that Jeremy Foley is the best Athletic Director in the country and the continued success of nearly every UF program shows that in black and white. Under Foley, fundraising has never been higher, student-athletes grades have never been higher, revenue has never been higher, facility improvements have never come quicker, and Florida has never performed at a higher level, although rap sheets seem to be quite a bit longer (I kid, I kid!).
Side note that I know is coming: I know many of you will blame Jeremy Foley for hiring Will Muschamp, but not only was Muschamp the hottest coordinator name in the country because of his coaching ability, he was also considered the best recruiting coordinator in the country and was wanted by many, many schools. Sure, his time has been rough so far, but he has handled the position better than most could and I truly believe he will be a great hire. Hand Nick Saban a team with a 3rd string quarterback, 2nd string running back, poor tight ends, a decimated offensive line, and only a few playmakers at wide receiver and report back the record.
At the end of the day, Foley has had more success as an Athletic Director than nearly anyone in history.
You may be frustrated with Will Muschamp right now, but remember that Florida is blessed to have the best Athletic Director in the country and those other teams deserve a ton of credit.
Quickest Way to Lose Your Money
Degenerates get your checkbooks ready and let the gambling odds begin because there is no better time to begin gambling than almost four months before the season kicks off.
The offshore sportsbook, “The Greek” was the first sportsbook to come out with their football odds to win each conference and the Gators, surprisingly, are listed as 5/1 to win the SEC. Those odds place the Gators behind Alabama (5/4), LSU and South Carolina (5/2). The Gators, of course, finished 11th in the SEC last season.
Although the Gators will return a healthy QB, have a new offensive coordinator, and, hopefully, will recover from all of their injuries from 2013, those odds seem very bullish to me and I would not “buy”, or even touch with a 10-foot pole.
First, the Gators play the toughest schedule in the SEC next season, playing three of the four teams listed in front of them in odds, as well as, teams 6, 8, and 9. In order to win the SEC, the Gators would need to lose no more than two games in the SEC and I do not see that happening – in fact, I do not think the Gators exit the month of October without at least three losses on the season.
With that said, Florida will be vastly improved. I think Jeff Driskel will have a breakout year, if he can stay healthy, because he is perfect for Kurt Roper’s offense. I think the wide receivers will step-up and the offensive line should be better. However, the Gators have a lot of question marks on the defensive line, at linebacker, at safety, at tight end, quarterback health, wide receiver production, and special teams.
I think the Gators will surprise many this season and will allow Will Muschamp to keep his job going into 2015, but I see their ceiling as 8-4.
Bernie Machen “Off His Rocker”
Last Friday, Bernie Machen said some really nonsensical things about graduate student transfers and directed them at the absolutely wrong person.
At the SEC spring meetings, UF President Bernie Machen said the following humdinger, “ Why didn’t Horford stay at Michigan another year? Because he had a free pass. Go to grad school at Michigan. They have some pretty good grad schools. It’s really just a way for a school to fill a void at the very last minute or a player going to get more playing time without having to sit out.”
Of course, that is the reason why schools look at graduate players and there is not one thing wrong with that at all.
A student-athlete is just that, both a student and an athlete, but a student first. Instead of ripping Jon Horford for graduating from the University of Michigan in four years, perhaps Machen should have praised the brother of former Gator Great Al Horford for putting academics high on his list – and graduating from a school in four years that ranks higher in nearly all academic rankings to Florida. I must have missed the quote from Bernie Machen about the fact that 36% of the students at his institution, most of who aren’t athletes, that do not graduate in four years.
Personally, I remember when I was in high school and had aspirations of heading to law school, I specifically recall Wake Forest University saying that they would not accept students into their Law School that attended undergraduate school there because they needed to see what else was out there – learn and grow from their experiences. I couldn’t agree more. Jon Horford and new Gators tight end Jake McGee will now have undergraduate degrees from very highly respected schools and will be able to obtain an outstanding graduate program, better preparing them for the world – the sole reason for college.
I applaud players like Horford, Jake McGee, Matt Patchan, Ian Silberman, Cody Riggs, and others that put forth the energy to graduate college in four or less years and want to try their luck at a separate school — those players should not be ostracized, but praised.
Mr. Machen, if you don’t like the rule, that’s fine; but do not attack the student-athlete that followed the rules in place. Attack the NCAA who created the rule, attack the Athletic Directors that voted for the rule, attack the coaches who actively recruit graduate student-athletes – but don’t do it at the expense of a student-athlete that did all the right things.
Lane Kiffin May Be Right, But Who Cares?
Lane Kiffin said something the other day that really got people going – no surprise.
A week ago last Thursday, at the DEX Imaging 20th annual L’Arche Football Preview, Kiffin stated, “There probably aren’t three more talented tailbacks in the NFL on a roster than we’re fortunate to be able to work with at Alabama.”
And you know what? He may be right. There is no team in the NFL (sans maybe the San Francisco 49ers) that has three great running backs. The backfield of T.J. Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, and Derrick Henry is talented, very talented. They will likely all play in the NFL and start in the NFL. They deserve praise.
Who cares? The NFL doesn’t use three running backs the same way Alabama does and there would be no point to carry a roster with three premier running backs.
Primarily, the running back position is falling into a secondary role in the offense, with teams averaging nearly 10 more passes per game over rushing. Secondly, teams are not stockpiling their rosters with more than one or two quality running backs. With the significantly better offensive line blocking in the NFL, running backs are not being beat up as much and with opponent quality, they are not running nearly as many yards per game and tiring them out. In 2012, Alabama had 227.5 yards-per-game rushing and 190 yards per game in 2013 – comparatively, only one team in the NFL over the past 10 years has averaged more than 180 yards per game rushing. Over the past three years, the median NFL average for rushing is about 27 rushes per game and 115 yards per game – why on earth would you need three premier running backs that would eat up valuable roster spots and cap space.
So, while that is not what Lane Kiffin meant – he is likely correct, but in the end, who cares?
Maybe that is why he is no longer in the NFL.
GIF of the Week
Former Gators centerfielder (and personal friend) and current New York Mets centerfielder Matt den Dekker was promoted back to the Major Leagues last week and made an unbelievable catch robbing the Philadelphia Phillies power-hitter Ryan Howard of a homerun.
Must Read Articles of the Week
- Scott Carter | Wins and Losses: The Florida-Florida State Rivalry Reviewed
- Hannah Keyser | What French People in 1900 Thought Life Would Be Like in 2000
- Marc Topkin & Andrew Meacham | Rays adviser Don Zimmer, widely seen as a baseball treasure, dies
- Jesse Temple | Million dollars, baby: Cost of Big Ten opponents keeps rising
- Kevin Trahan | Court filing: EA Sports wanted to pay college football players, but couldn’t
- Steve Berkowitz | Nick Saban to make $6.9 million as part of new contract
- AnneClaire Stapleton & Chelsea Carter | Chester Nez, last of original Navajo code talkers of World War II, dies
Song of the Week
Everybody knows sports writers are good for a few things: Hawaiian shirts, complaints about late sporting events, hotel points, and an unabashed love for Bruce Springsteen.
That love was never more evident than a sports radio show from Tuesday that ranked the top-15 Bruce Springsteen songs in honor of the release “Born In The USA” 30 years ago.
“Born In The USA” is obviously a great song because ‘Merica, but no doubt, it isn’t even close to his best song.
This is my favorite.