1. PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE ON THE OFFENSIVE SIDE OF THE BALL
The five turnovers that cost the Gators a very winnable game against Miami have distracted from the obvious – Florida is a vastly improved offensive football team this year than it was last year. If the problems with the tackles can be improved – I’m not sure they can be completely resolved – and the Gators can hold onto the ball, they’re going to turn into a really good offensive team as this year progresses. Last year this was a team that Mike Gillislee took on his back and carried an entire season. Gillislee is gone, but the Gators have enough weapons that one player won’t have to determine their offensive success. Brent Pease might have to tweak some things to compensate for a lack of quickness at tackle, but if he can find a way to get the ball out of Jeff Driskel’s hands quicker, the Gators have the capability of scoring a lot of points – if they just won’t give it away.
2. THE GATORS ARE STILL 0-0 IN SEC PLAY
While nobody likes the idea of losing to an in-state rival, particularly one whose fans are as obnoxious as Miami’s, all of Florida’s objectives are still in play for this season. The Gators are 0-0 in the SEC and still quite capable of running the table in conference play to make it to the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. For all practical purposes that’s a play-in game for the national championship game. If the Gators run the SEC table and beat Florida State, then that loss to Miami will be a distant blur in the rear view. That’s a big if, but stranger things have happened.
3. LET THE NICK SABAN RUMORS BEGIN
Prior to his Alabama gig, the longest Saban had ever stayed on a job is five years (Michigan State twice, once from 1983-87 as an assistant and the second from 1995-99 as the head coach). Because he’s had this tendency to pick up stakes in the past, it’s only a matter of time before the rumors start flying hot and heavy that he’s going to depart Alabama for either Texas or Southern Cal, presuming, of course that either or both of them come open. Considering money is not an object for either of those two schools, there is nothing that Saban could demand that could scare them away. If there is one thing that might intrigue Saban it would be the chance to do all his recruiting in his own back yard. More people live within 20 miles of the USC campus than live in the entire state of Alabama. More people live within a four-hour radius of Austin than live in the entire state of Alabama. Oh, and they play pretty darn good football in those areas, too.
4. WHY HE WON’T GO
Now, I am not one to read Nick Saban’s mind and just as sure as I write this, he will prove me wrong and jump ship from Tuscaloosa, but really, why go anywhere? Saban has won three of the last four national championships and he’s got a legitimate shot at making it four of the last five. Nobody has ever done that. The greatest coach who ever lived was Bear Bryant. If Saban hangs around Tuscaloosa another five years, he might eclipse the six national titles the Bear won. My guess is the temptation to equal or surpass Bear Bryant will trump the temptation to crank up the football machine at either Texas or Southern Cal.
5. AND LET THE JON GRUDEN RUMORS BEGIN AS WELL
Gruden could have been the head coach at either Tennessee or Arkansas last year and I don’t doubt for a second that he could land just about any job that he really pushed for. Why? He’s got the personality. He’s got the football brain. He’s got the still all too hot wife. And, he would be a VERY popular choice because he is terrific with the media. Gruden would be an ideal fit at either Texas or Southern Cal but why give up his Monday Night Football gig? He signed a 5-year contract extension with ABC/ESPN last year and he’s paid something in the neighborhood of $3-4 million. He doesn’t have to recruit. He doesn’t have to explain to the media why his star wide receiver held up a filling station. He doesn’t have to worry about soothing the ego of his star quarterback’s parents when he goes out and recruits another hotshot quarterback. As much as Chucky might want to coach, there are just too many good reasons for him to stay right where he is.
6. LET’S ASSUME THAT CHRIS PETERSON WILL NOT BE TEMPTED TO LEAVE BOISE
He’s already said no to the likes of Auburn, Stanford, Arkansas, Ole Miss, Southern Cal (he was their choice before Lane Kiffin) and UCLA (their choice before Jim Mora). He’s locked into the Boise community, which gives him plenty of love, support and privacy for his family. He’s got a special needs son and any of you who have ever dealt with that know how important continuity is. They pay him $1.7 million and you can probably double that in terms of buying power when compared to a place like Los Angeles or Austin. Considering he’s 85-9 at Boise, it would take a major scandal for him to be fired. Unless that itch to see what he can do somewhere else needs to be scratched, figure he’s going nowhere.
7. IF I’M TEXAS, I GO AFTER …
My first choice would be Dabo Swinney at Clemson. He’s young (43), is a lights out recruiter (he’s the chief reason Alabama was in it to the end for Tim Tebow way back when) and if a school like Texas doesn’t get him, he will likely be the guy who succeeds Nick Saban at Alabama since he’s one of their own. Swinney makes $2,100,000 so Texas could double his salary easily. Here is one good reason why he would be a good choice: If he can recruit lights out at Clemson, imagine what he could do with the entire state of Texas as his neighborhood. My other choice would be Larry Fedora of North Carolina, especially if he would bring best buddy Joe Wickline from Oklahoma State as his O-line coach. Fedora grew up in Texas, went to Austin College and has a proven track record for producing high powered offenses.
8. IF I’M SOUTHERN CAL, I GO AFTER
My first choice would be Al Golden at Miami, especially if the NCAA elects to drop the hammer on the Hurricanes. Al has turned down some big time jobs to stay at Miami, but if Southern Cal were to offer, I doubt he would say no. Why? Because this would be a lot like Miami in that all the players you need to be successful are within a 100 mile radius of the school. My second choice would be Tim DeRuyter at Fresno State. He’s an Air Force grad with impeccable character who runs a very exciting offense at Fresno. The only questions about him are his ability to recruit on this level, but the man sure can coach.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
While catching up on some old episodes of the “Live from Daryl’s House” TV show on You Tube, I came across this very cool song called “Nothing but a Miracle” by Daryl Hall (of Hall and Oates) and Diane Birch.