A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.
SPRING REVIEW: RUNNING BACKS
During the hey day of the wishbone offense at Oklahoma, Barry Switzer remarked more than once that you can never have enough talented running backs. Florida isn’t going to run the wishbone this year, but the Gators certainly have as much talent and depth at the position as they have had since the first national championship season of 1996 when Steve Spurrier had the three-headed monster of Fred Taylor, Terry Jackson and Eli Williams. The Gators finished the spring with three talented backs in Kelvin Taylor (son of Fred), Mack Brown and Adam Lane and they’ll go into fall practice in August with two more in Matt Jones, returning from knee surgery, and freshman Brandon Powell, who sat out the spring with an injury. What makes this situation so interesting is that all five backs bring something different to the table. Taylor is a combination of power and make you miss moves. Brown won’t wow you with his speed, but he grinds out tough yards and has good hands coming out of the backfield. Lane is a 5-7, 222-pound bowling ball who is tough to knock off his feet. Jones is the best combination of speed, moves and pass catching ability while Powell brings breakaway speed and elusiveness. The tough part is going to be figuring out how to divvy up the carries but that’s the kind of problem Kurt Roper is happy to have. Better to figure out how to keep five backs happy than go into a game without a quality back to carry the ball. Trending: Up.
STORM BREWING IN TALLAHASSEE
The words of Assistant State Attorney Georgia Cappleman are as chilling as they are damning. “I believe that Mr. Winston cannot be convicted. I don’t necessarily believe he is innocent.” That quote is from a New York Times story entitled “A Star Player Accused, and a Flawed Rape Investigation” by investigative reporter Walt Bogdanich. This is the story of last year’s rape accusations against Florida State University’s Heisman Trophy quarterback Jameis Winston and the picture it paints leaves anyone but the Garnet and Gold Kool-Aid drinkers to believe that (a) Winston is a serial sexual predator; (b) the Tallahassee Police Department totally botched the investigation into allegations of rape by Winston – perhaps deliberately to help Winston win the Heisman and keep FSU’s national championship hopes intact; and (c) Florida State University had very little interest in getting to the bottom of what happened, not only in this but other sexual assault cases on its campus. If the story is true in its entirety – Florida State University issued statements of denial but Bogdanich’s evidence seems to trump them – the Florida State coaches and administration were all too aware of what was happening long before the 2013 season in which the Seminoles ran the table and won the national championship with Winston winning the Heisman by a landslide. One can only conclude that if the TPD had handled this case properly, Winston would have never seen the field in 2013. But, because evidence was mishandled and the TPD did what it could to sweep the case under the rug, a rape conviction against Winston was prevented, a star was born and a national championship was won. But what price glory? FSU apparently thinks that the shattered lives of at least two women who claim Winston assaulted them are small change compared to the big bucks raked in from winning big on the football field. And this is not the first time rape allegations have been swept under the rug. Ten years earlier Bobby Bowden tried to convince a prosecutor that a crime had not taken place. When the case went to court, a jury acquitted the player. Apparently, football success in Tallahassee is like Novocain in that it numbs people who should know better from the painful truth that something desperately is wrong.
ANOTHER DISTURBING FACT
The New York Times story revealed that Seminole Boosters pay more than ¼ of the salary of Florida State’s president, which would seem to be a huge conflict of interest since Seminole Boosters is a private, not-for-profit corporation that provides most of the funding for the FSU athletic department. How can the president keep a watchful eye on boosters capable of putting the athletic department in the NCAA jailhouse if they break the rules if he’s on the take for more than $150,000 a year?
Butch Jones is the football coach. He is the fourth coach of the Vols since 2008 – well, fifth if you include Jim Chaney, who coached the last game of 20012 after Derek Dooley was fired. Now that Cuonzo Martin has bolted to California, the Vols will be looking to hire their sixth coach since 1997. To put it in perspective, this will be the sixth Tennessee basketball coach since Billy Donovan became the basketball coach at Florida. Dave “Spanky” Hart is the athletic director. He is the second AD at Tennessee in three years. The situation in Knoxville is dysfunctional to say the least. Writes Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports, “There is something in the water, or the soil – or, most likely, the people – at the University of Tennessee that has turned the athletic department into a transient, turmoil-ridden place.”
QUESTION FOR TODAY
The question for today comes from Ryan Bell: On the matter of compensating student-athletes, is a full scholarship and opportunity for a free college education not sufficient compensation? Most student non-athletes cannot even get into UF yet with superior athletic ability you can get around the academic admission requirements. Most student non-athletes have to pay for their own room, board, tuition, books and travel and are left with a mountain of debt when they graduate. Many kids and their parents would kill for the opportunity these poor student-athletes are afforded. As a parent I’m not sure whether I’d prefer my child to have a 4.4 40 and 1,400 yards or a 4.4 GPA and a 1,400 SAT. That’s an excellent question, Ryan. At a school like Florida, it’s rare that you find a football or basketball player who could actually get into school without an athletic scholarship. Most athletes – and not just the football and basketball players although they are the most visible – couldn’t hope to study at Florida without a sliding scale that goes downward, yet football, basketball and the other sports do have their place on the campus. Would 90,000 people gather to watch a couple of sociology professors debate nature or nurture or a physics professor explain why according to quantum mechanics, information concerning a physical state can never be destroyed even though it might become inaccessible in practice? The answer is no. At the same time, that brilliant physics student at a school like the University of North Carolina who gets a lump sum check at the beginning of each semester that far exceeds tuition, room and board and books from his Morehead Scholarship, doesn’t get freight trained by a freak of nature like Jadeveon Clowney, who runs a sub-4.6 40 and carries 275 pounds. But, that physics student can go out and get wasted every Thursday and Friday night with his buddies, smoke dope without getting tested and probably won’t tear an ACL unless its falling down a stairwell after too many Kamikazes. If the physics student lets a recruiter from General Dynamics buy him dinner there is no violation of rules that can cost his department probation. An athlete who takes a free burger from a downtown restaurant has committed a major crime according to the NCAA that could put the entire athletic program on probation. So, while I think the scholarship is worth plenty to the student-athlete, I also think the student-athlete deserves some spending money to go along with the scholarship.
QUESTION OF THE DAY, PART II
Yesterday, Kenny Bowman asked a two part question and I failed to answer the part about Will Grier and whether I expect him to get meaningful snaps in the fall, so here goes: I think the coaches have a dilemma on their hands. Grier obviously is a talented kid who is a true dual threat. He was better than I thought he would be in the spring, but so was Skyler Mornhinweg and I’m told that I will be blown away by how talented Treon Harris is. I think the plan will be to go in the season with three quarterbacks with one of the freshmen redshirting. Here is the problem: which one? Then there is this problem. As much as he improved I don’t think Skyler Mornhinweg is ever going to be anything more than a backup so do you slide the freshman who doesn’t redshirt past Mornhinweg? Each day one question will be chosen as Question for Today. Submit your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I did a lot of concerts in the 1970s, much to the chagrin of my grandmother, who was convinced that if I kept listening to loud music and hanging around all these long hairs that I would turn into a hippie. Somehow I managed to survive. Because I went to so many concerts and got to know a lot of musicians, I have a soft spot in my heart for “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh and “The Cover of Rolling Stone” by Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show. While watching Palladia TV I saw an old broadcast of Joe Walsh guesting on “Live from Daryl’s House” where they played “Life’s Been Good.” It definitely brought back a flood of memories.