It was a good week for both Will Muschamp and Billy Donovan. They could both benefit from the signing of Jacoby Brissett. And Billy’s team is moving up in the neighborhood.
1. Whether or not he ever becomes a star Gator quarterback, you have to like the chutzpah of newly signed Jacoby Brissett. He even went against his mama’s dreams for her son to become a Miami Hurricane by signing a letter of intent with Florida and faxing it in. Having said that, he might not get much home cooking anymore, but you’ve got to love the way he willingly took on that challenge, as well as making the statement that he wasn’t afraid to compete with the No. 1 ESPN-ranked quarterback Jeff Driskel. After a determined recruiting effort by Charlie Weis, Brissett came aboard, rounding out the 2011 class nicely as the 19th player.
2. That Brissett was recruited so hard may become a bit of a surprise to Driskel, however, because I’ve heard (but can’t prove) that he was promised by the previous regime that he would be the only quarterback signed. Of course Will Muschamp makes those rules now and he’s understandably welcoming Brissett with opening arms, saying: “Jacoby will be a good fit in our program. He is an outstanding quarterback, and we are excited to have him join the Gator family.” It may turn out to be a big day for both Muschamp and Billy Donovan, because the Palm Beach Dwyer athlete has indicated he may be interested in playing basketball as well.
3. OK, Billy Donovan’s Gators are starting to climb back into the national limelight with a No. 17 AP standing after knocking off nationally ranked Vanderbilt and Kentucky — their first back-to-back wins over ranked teams since 2007. Hey, doesn’t that No. 17 put them just outside the Sweet Sixteen? (Just kidding!)
4. I’m sure the Gator coach would just as soon not talk about that this week. We’ll know more after Wednesday night’s game in Columbia against South Carolina and Saturday’s O-Dome engagement with Tennessee. If they win those two, folks have got to start talking about these Gators in a more serious vein as Sweet Sixteen candidates. (Not kidding!)
5. Winning does wonders for the profile of both players and teams, as we saw in the case of Chandler Parsons, who was named SEC Player of the Week after averaging 17.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.5 steals in the two wins last week.
6. Donovan still can’t get over the endurance of Parsons, who played the entire second half against the Wildcats. “He did some things defensively in the game when we were in a bind on some rotations that really provided some great help,” said Donovan. “I was asking him during the first and second half, ‘Do you need to come out,’ but he didn’t say he needed to come out; he said he was fine. I do not know how many times in my career here that I have actually played a person for twenty-straight minutes, because that’s a hard thing to do.”
7. I thought Florida played its best game of the season in the 70-68 victory over Kentucky, even after blowing a 13-point lead. This team is close to working out the kinks and maturing into a potential SEC championship outfit, but it can never seem to get everybody playing their best all at once. The talent and experience are there and you have to like the way Parsons is performing and the bench keeps coming through. There has been improvement in free throw shooting and turnovers and the defense is playing pretty well, but Alex Tyus has got to be more consistent — and so does the whole team.
8. Scottie Wilbekin may be only 17, but he doesn’t wilt in the bright lights as he showed against Kentucky when he came off the bench and scored nine points in the first half, including two three-pointers. “Scottie isn’t afraid to take an open shot,” said Billy Donovan. On a night when Erving Walker’s shooting was off — he scored just nine himself — Wilbekin made up the slack. And as Donovan says, if you put the two of them together, the position produced 18 points.
9. By the way, Donovan currently has the third-most wins by an SEC coach with 349. He is young enough to catch LSU’s Dale Brown (448) someday if he coaches five more years, but not likely to ever reach that 876 of Kentucky’s Adolph Rupp.
10. Swing coaches, head doctors, personal trainers — what the world of sports need is a Cyber Coach trained in the social media of the Internet. What part do these athletes not understand about Tweeting to a friend and, at the same time, announcing to the whole world their innermost thoughts? Thoughts that they can’t take back by saying “I really didn’t mean it because my Twitter malfunctioned.”
(BTW, if anybody didn’t like any of what I wrote above, please forgive me — my Twitter account malfunctioned.)