A few thoughts to jump start your Saturday morning.
WILL THE GRASS BE GREENER?
Florida’s 2012 quarterback depth chart read Jeff Driskel, Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy. Only Driskel remains and he’s coming off a broken leg that finished his 2013 season after two-and-a-half games. Brissett transferred to North Carolina State after the 2012 season and Murphy recently transferred to Boston College after starting five games in Driskel’s place after the injury. It will be interesting to see if the grass is greener for Brissett or Murphy. Had he stayed, Brissett would have taken over for Driskel last season with nine-and-half games to prove himself. Murphy, who missed the final three games with a shoulder injury, graduated in December so he will be able to play without sitting out. In that Driskel has never made it through a complete season without missing time because of injury, Murphy could have earned a starting job in the event that Driskel is not 100% or doesn’t easily grasp the offense of new coordinator Kurt Roper. Will Brissett and Murphy find the grass actually is greener somewhere else? Could it be a similar situation to Georgia where three quarterbacks who all started at the same school find success? Aaron Murray, Zach Mettenberger (LSU) and Nick Marshall (Auburn) all began their careers at Georgia. Murray holds all the passing records. Mettenberger went juco then to LSU where he had an outstanding senior season that will parlay into an NFL shot. Marshall led Auburn to one play from a national championship in 2013.
Thirty minutes before he was to sign his scholarship, Anquan Boldin of Pahokee was on the phone with Steve Spurrier telling him he was going to be a Gator. Thirty minutes later, the press conference was cancelled. Boldin leaked out word that he was with his pastor and they were “praying” about his college decision. About 90 minutes later Boldin emerged and announced that God had told him to sign with Florida State. Later that day, Nick Maddox, who had also told Spurrier that he was going to be a Gator, announced for Florida State. This was the recruiting class of 1999 and Gators everywhere were on suicide watch. FSU got Boldin and Maddox and the Gators came up with a class laughed at by the Seminoles, who gloated that their very small class was superior to Florida’s because it had stolen Boldin and Maddox from the Gators along with Darnell Dockett. It turned out that Maddox wasn’t nearly as quick (hence the nickname Nick the Not So Quick) as he looked on film. He wound up with 1,221 yards in four years at FSU. Boldin had a fine 2002 season for the Seminoles and made second team All-ACC, his highest award in his career. Dockett made All-ACC in 2001 and All-America in 2003. Both Dockett and Boldin have had better pro careers than they had careers at FSU. Maddox was just too slow to make it in the NFL.
RECRUITING FLASHBACK, PART II
Florida’s class, which Gator fans lamented as “terrible” – and that is one of the kinder remarks on National Signing Day – included future All-Americans Rex Grossman, Lito Sheppard, Jabar Gaffney and Keiwan Ratliff. The class also included four future All-SEC performers in Taylor Jacobs, Bam Hardmon, Bobby McCray and Daryl Dixon. Additionally, Tron LaFavor, Mike Nattiel, Clint Mitchell and Ran Carthon all went on to play in the NFL. Grossman, the Heisman runner-up in 2001 (should have won it), basically had to recruit Florida since the Gators never ventured into Indiana. Gaffney was thought to be a legacy scholarship (dad was Derrick Gaffney and uncles Don and Johnny played for UF) and too slow. FSU fans claimed that the only recruit Florida signed that even interested FSU was Lito Sheppard, who, like Gaffney, was a two-time All-American.
REMEMBER FLORIDA IN 2010?
The Gators were coming off a second straight 13-1 season – one that fell short of the expectation of a repeat national title – but they lost Tim Tebow to graduation and Maurkice Pouncey, Joe Haden, Aaron Hernandez, Major Wright and Carlos Dunlap early to the NFL. When practice began in August of 2010, hotshot freshmen Ronald Powell and Dominique Easley skipped a practice because they felt disrespected by some of the seniors on the team. The seniors thought so many of the freshmen came in with a sense of entitlement and expected to step in and start from day one. Florida limped home to an 8-5 season and really hasn’t regained its edge from that downturn in fortune. Fast forward to Alabama, which just finished its season 11-2, falling short of the expectation of a threepeat. Quarterback A.J. McCarron told Saturdays Down South that there was a sense of entitlement on the 2013 Alabama team, which lost McCarron and C.J. Mosely to graduation and several more early to the NFL. Florida lost Urban Meyer after 2010 while Alabama retains Nick Saban, but a sense of entitlement can be a cancer on a team and a football program. Will Saban be able to cut it out before it spreads too far?
There will be a birthday party in Auburn, Alabama today for the grandmother of Rashaan Evans, who turns 80. Evans is a local kid who also happens to be one of the best high school linebackers in the country. He has yet to commit although UCLA, Alabama and Auburn are his final three choices. UCLA did its final in-home visit Thursday night. Saturday, while the party goes on, Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn plans to stop by for the party as does Alabama defensive coordinator Kirby Smart. Evans won’t announce his decision until National Signing Day (Wednesday). Could the winner be the one who has the best manners at grandma’s party?
BIG SPENDING = NFL SUCCESS … SOMETIMES
Apparently Moneyball, the sabermetric approach to winning baseball on the cheap employed by the Oakland Athletics, doesn’t translate to pro football. The two teams that will play in the Super Bowl Sunday are two of the three biggest spenders in the NFL. The biggest spender in 2013 was the Kansas City Chiefs, who went from 2-14 to 11-5 after spending $135.1 million. Seattle and Denver, Sunday’s Super Bowl opponents, finished second and third. Seattle spent $134.2 million while the Broncos spent $133.6 million. Not all the big spenders do well. The Tampa Bay Bucs spent $127.8 million, which didn’t help Greg Schiano, who was dumped as the coach. Jacksonville spent $125.5 million, which is 10th. The Jaguars doubled their win total in 2013. They won two the year before and got four last year.
DON’T TUG ON SUPERMAN’S CAPE
Seattle’s loudmouth corner Richard Sherman says that Peyton Manning throws ducks. Peyton responded that yes he does, but his Denver receivers tend to catch them for touchdowns. Sherman might think he is getting under Peyton’s skin, but my guess is that it will only motivate Peyton to throw for Star Wars numbers against Sherman and Seattle’s vaunted defense. Peyton Manning knows that at his age there are no guarantees of more Super Bowls. He already has that as motivation. Sherman just gave him more with his remarks. I like the Broncos by two touchdowns.
LET’S SEE YOU TOP THIS
Molly Schuyler is a 5-7, 125-pound mother of four. She once ate nine pounds of cottage cheese in 114 seconds and holds the world record for eating a 72-ounce steak in less than three minutes. Friday, Schuyler captured the annual wing bowl by downing 363 wings in 30 minutes to smash the previous record of 337, set in 2012. For her efforts, she took home a first prize of $22,000. To put this in perspective, Jason Kelce, the 300-pound center for the Philadelphia Eagles managed only 65 wings and was eliminated in the first round.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
While driving Friday, I heard one of the whiny songs that Chicago turned out in the 1980s and that made me think about the original band, which went by Chicago Transit Authority. The original band was incredible and their fusion of rock, soul and jazz made for such a unique sound. The first CTA album came out in January of 1969. I was working after school at The Record Bar on University Avenue and we got it on a Tuesday. I heard it once, bought it and probably wore the grooves out in the first month. This is “Beginnings” from the first CTA album. It reached #7 on the charts in 1969 and #1 when it was re-released in 1971. It certainly beats the whiny stuff they were putting out after Terry Kath died.