A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning:
CAN’T AFFORD MORE TRANSFERS
Rumors continue that there will be more players transferring out of the Florida football program in the next couple of days. Florida has already lost six transfers, all of them on the offensive side of the ball. Three of them – Ian Silberman, Quinteze Williams and Trevon Young – are offensive linemen which means the Gators have only nine on scholarship at present. That number seems a bit shakier when you consider that Chaz Green missed the entire 2013 season and both D.J. Humphries and Tyler Moore suffered season-ending injuries. Even with a couple of early entrees, it is quite possible that there will not be enough healthy linemen to have a two-deep O-line in the spring.
CONGRATULATIONS TO MIKE PETERSON
Fourteen years since he last suited up for the Gators, Mike Peterson will walk across the stage at the O-Dome today to receive his University of Florida diploma. It’s a great moment for Peterson, not only because he can say that he finished what he started so long ago, but he now has his ticket punched so he can pursue a coaching career. It’s not easy going back to school after a long absence on campus, but it’s always worth the effort. I know a good number of former college athletes who wish they could go back to school but can’t afford it financially because they have family and other obligations. If the NCAA is really an organization about education and truly for student-athletes, then it needs to figure out a way for athletes to continue in school until they get their degrees.
A FAREWELL TOUR YEAR FOR MACK?
Recruiting guru Bobby Burton, who has extraordinarily close ties to the Texas football program, tweeted Friday night that Mack Brown will not lose his job this weekend, ending a week of speculation about when the firing would be announced and who would replace Brown as the football coach in Austin. Although no one in Austin will ever admit it, keeping Brown for at least one more year was actually the only move that made sense. By letting this situation get out of hand, Texas painted itself into a public relations disaster of a corner and there were only two ways out: (1) give Mack a farewell tour year or (2) hire Nick Saban. When Saban wasn’t available, Texas cut its losses and gave Mack another year.
THERE WAS NO PLAN IN PLACE TO REPLACE MACK
Saban was at the top of the Texas wish list to replace Brown, but you shouldn’t read anything into that. Saban is at the top of every wish list. He was Pat Haden’s first choice at Southern Cal, but Haden had the good sense to keep his search under wraps until the season was over. When Saban wasn’t available at Southern Cal, Haden moved on quietly so there was no bad publicity. Texas had Saban at the top of its wish list but had no plan in place to lure him. The Texas people were so arrogant they thought all they had to do was say Texas and hold a blank check in front of Saban. When that didn’t work, there was no plan B to fall back on, just a wish list that included two coaches who have no intentions of going anywhere – Jimbo Fisher and Jim Harbaugh.
A YEAR TO MAKE A DECISION
Texas was heading for Tennessee-like humiliation before the decision was made to keep Brown around for another year. As we’ve seen in the last two coaching searches at Tennessee – the first for Derek Dooley and the second for Butch Jones – you better know in advance who’s amenable to your hiring overtures before you start conducting interviews. At best, Tennessee got its fourth choice each time. By giving Brown one more year, Texas has a chance to do its research and due diligence so it can put together a short list of coaches it knows will say yes if the job is offered. This is a formula for success that you have to hope Jeremy Foley is also following at Florida. While backing Will Muschamp to the hilt, Foley has to have a plan in place to hire a new coach should Muschamp produce another unacceptable record in 2014 so that if and when the day comes to make a change he already knows who’s available and has the funds in place to make the hire.
TO TEXAS, WITH LOVE, FROM NICK
What did all this Nick Saban to Texas talk accomplish? Well, it got Saban a brand new long term deal that will keep him in Tuscaloosa for years to come. Saban was making approximately $5.62 million on the old contract. The new one will start somewhere around $7.5 million and escalate from there. For this hefty raise and the ongoing raises that will keep Saban the highest paid coach in the country for the next six or seven years, the credit goes to agent Jimmy Sexton. It was Sexton who leaked last January’s inquiry by a Texas regent into Saban’s availability, which fueled two full months of rumors that Nick had wanderlust once again. The reality is that Nick never intended to leave Alabama and that Sexton manipulated the media into doing his dirty work. He got Nick the hefty raise without ever having to sit down and demand more money.
THE RIPPLE EFFECT
By signing Saban to a contract extension with a hefty raise, Alabama has created a ripple effect that will be felt throughout college sports. Schools that want to hang onto their coaches are going to have to pay more money and offer longer contracts for fear that someone else will offer up a Saban-like deal. Hiring new coaches will also get more expensive because how can you ask your coach to win like Nick Saban if all you can offer is a four-year contract worth $12 million? You can also bet that the agents for Mike Kryzyzewski, John Calipari, Bill Self, Tom Izzo and Billy Donovan are also licking their chops. They have all won national championships and have their teams in the hunt for a national title every year. They will have to get their slice of the pie, also.
AT WHAT POINT DO WE REACH SATURATION?
The Saban contract is going to kick off an era of inflation in college sports with the long-term effect of taking the game further out of the hands of the common fan. We already see that in professional sports where families find it difficult to afford a night at the ball park. It’s already happening in college sports where high coaches salaries only contribute to higher ticket prices and higher booster fees for the right to buy season tickets. At what point do the fans revolt in their own subtle way and refuse to be bludgeoned by higher prices? There is a saturation point and it’s not a question of if we’ll get there, just a matter of when. And, when we reach that point, the fans will stay away in droves.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Tower of Power has been around since 1968. Most people associate the band with its dynamic horn section, which is why it has toured The Grateful Dead, Santana, Rolling Stones, Elton John, Starship, Huey Lewis and the News, Lyle Lovett, Poison and John Lee Hooker among others. I’ve heard them backing up some of the best musical acts, but I’ve also heard the on their own. Their 1972 album “Bump City” produced their best single, “You’re Still a Young Man.” The band continues to tour and has gone through more than 60 musicians, among them saxophonists Richard Eliot and Euge Groove and guitarist Bruce Conte.