Previewing Florida Gators recruiting cook-out and diamond sports

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we talk about the great weekend for the Florida Gators as the softball team captured the SEC tournament title, baseball clinched the SEC and track and field won the SEC.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre break down the softball team as they gained the number two seed in the NCAA tournament and baseball clinched the SEC.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the big recruiting weekend for the Gators as they will host the first cookout event under Dan Mullen on Saturday.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, what a weekend. The trophy case had to be expanded this weekend, my friend.

Nick:                         Yeah. They need to start building these new buildings, just to have places to keep putting trophies.

Andrew:                 The whole everything school, everyone kind of makes fun of Florida about that, but let me just run you through what happened this weekend. First of all, baseball clinches the SEC regular season title. Congrats to Sully and the boys. Softball, not only did they clinch the regular season title and win that, this weekend they won the tournament title, SEC title. Men’s tennis advanced to the Sweet 16, third year in a row for them. Gator lacrosse went to the Elite 8. Men’s and women’s track won the SEC, swept the titles. Lot of trophies coming, and possibility for a lot more trophies. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see track and field win the NCAA Outdoor Championship after winning the NCAA Indoor Championship. Then we all know what softball and baseball are capable of. Maybe lacrosse can get over that hump.

Nick:                         Softball, I know they’ve won the regular season title four years in a row. How many years have they won the tournament as well?

Andrew:                 They’ve won the tournament four years. The last time was 2013. When Florida started off the game against Alabama over the weekend, they were down 2-0 in the game, and a lot of people said, here goes another one of those things where Walton just says screw the tournament. Walton at times has not taken the SEC Tournament seriously. I say seriously, and I don’t mean that. I guess I shouldn’t say serious. He doesn’t overdo his team to win the tournament, just because it really doesn’t mean anything. He does take it seriously. He threw Barnhill in back to back days to get her some work, because she didn’t pitch very much in the games against Missouri over the weekend, after they clinched. Then timely hitting all weekend. Amanda Lorenz had three homeruns. Crazy stats. They played Missouri in Columbia, and then the SEC Tournament was in Columbia. They had 13 homeruns in six games there. It was homerun derby out there.

Nick:                         Those poor girls were out there for like two weeks.

Andrew:                 That’s what they were saying. I guess, let’s start with softball.

Nick:                         Real quick. Softball is a little different than baseball, in terms of pitching, but Kevin O’Sullivan kind of has the same outlook. Where I want to draw the parallel, both of these programs the goal is not to win the SEC Tournament. The SEC Tournament, that’s cool. Florida’s already locked up the 1 Seed for the tournament. They really have bigger fish to fry. They set their goals higher than winning an SEC Tournament.

They won the regular season, both softball and baseball. In two weeks, or next week, when Florida plays in the SEC Tournament, it’s you’re going to set your pitching up. Brady Singer will throw the first game. He’ll throw 70 pitches, 80 pitches. Same with Jackson Kowar. You’re just setting it up so you don’t have Brady and Jackson not throwing for two weeks before you get to a regional. I think both Sully and Tim Walton use that tournament just to get their teams ready for a regional, and both teams will be hosting regionals.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Real quick, a rundown of what we’re going to talk about. We’re going to talk about the softball team. We’re going to talk about baseball, and then we’re also going to preview the big recruiting weekend which Florida’s going to host, their first cookout. I’m going to get into more of this, but I think it’s a good idea. Big visitor’s weekend. We’re going to talk all that.

First things first, Nick, softball, the seeds came out last night, on Sunday night. We’re taping this on Monday. Florida’s the 2-Seed. Heading into the SEC Tournament a lot of people were saying 4-Seed, maybe 3-Seed. Florida gets #2 overall seed at 50-8 on the year. Props to Walton and his girls. Year after year, I think it’s five straight years they’ve been a top five national seed overall. Listen, all 13 SEC teams made the tournament, and 9 of the 13 are national seeds, out of the 16 teams. To go 50-8 and win the SEC in a division that gets all your teams in the NCAA Tournament, that’s saying a lot.

Nick:                         Is that second year in a row or third year in a row?

Andrew:                 Second year in a row.

Nick:                         Second year in a row that all 13 teams, Vanderbilt doesn’t have a softball program. That’s impressive. A lot of people say, I know in baseball, maybe they say it less in softball, because of how good they are, but Florida’s RPI is only good because they’re playing in the SEC, and it’s overrated. It’s not overrated. Look at softball. You get every single team in the league. Baseball last year, half the teams out there in Omaha were from the SEC. There’s a reason. It’s the most competitive league in softball and in baseball.

Andrew:                 I’ll ask you this. I don’t know what’s more impressive. I’ll give you my opinion. To have 9 of the 16 teams be national seeds from the SEC, I think that’s more impressive than all 13 making it.

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 Pretty impressive in my opinion. To look at Florida, again, they’re going to host the regionals. They’ll host the super-regionals, as long as they take care of business. They’re matched with Texas A&M in the super-regionals, if both teams win. In Florida’s regional, they have South Florida, Ohio State, and I believe it’s Bethune-Cookman, all coming to Gainesville. Let me double check on that real quick.

Nick:                         For reference, the NCAA baseball will actually be moving to that softball way that you guys do it, where you seed 1-16. That will be interesting. Everyone always complained, Florida always gets matched up with Florida State or Miami when it comes to super-regionals. They’re going to seed them 1 through however many. We’ll see how that goes. Florida will the #1 seed, no matter what they do this weekend, or even in the SEC Tournament.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Florida will host Bethune-Cookman in Game 1, and then, of course, the winner of that game will face Ohio State and South Florida. South Florida was one of the last four teams in, and Florida absolutely destroyed them in the two matchups this year. Relatively easy regional for Florida, as expected with the 2-Seed, being the #2 seed overall. Then, like I said, they’re matched up with Texas A&M in the super-regionals. Florida took care of business against Texas A&M at home this year. Combined, beat them 23-4 in a three-game sweep. Wasn’t very competitive. At the time, A&M was #8 in the country. Again, I’ll say nothing’s easy, because nothing is easy, but Florida’s chances of getting back to Oklahoma City look pretty good.

Nick:                         Even more impressive when you look at that Texas A&M is a regional host.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. You look at what they did. You got South Carolina, who is a regional host as well, and Florida really took care of business this year against South Carolina as well. Really against every SEC team, with the exception of Georgia. Florida went up to Georgia and lost two out of three. We can say a lot of different things.

Nick:                         Everyone was freaking out then.

Andrew:                 Umpire and crew wasn’t the best in the world there. You even look at a team like South Carolina, #9 in the country. Florida put a three-game sweep on them as well. Outscored them 13-1 throughout the season. Then beat them again in the SEC Championship game. The bats are really coming alive for Walton and his crew. Lorenz is starting to hit the ball really well. Dewitt is starting to hit the ball well. Aleshia Ocasio is hitting better. Had the really good week against South Carolina to win the SEC Tournament game the other day, on Saturday. Things are coming around. As we always say, you want to be peaking when it comes to NCAA Tournament time, and that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Again, I understand the whole not putting everything out there for the SEC Tournament, but I think for this club in general, and every team is different. Nick, baseball has done so well this year. I don’t think winning the SEC Tournament for them is huge, but for this softball team that was going up and down with their offense, I think the way they won the SEC Tournament with really good offense maybe pushes their momentum going into this NCAA Tournament even more, just because of the way they won it.

Nick:                         I think the biggest parallel I can draw is that maybe they switched places, where softball was so dominant last year, and baseball was kind of up and down. Florida didn’t really need, they were always going to host. They didn’t really need to make a run into the Final Four of the SEC Tournament last year, but it certainly helped them from a standpoint of just getting that confidence heading into the NCAA Tournament.

Obviously, I think Florida, when they throw Brady Singer in the first game, I don’t think they’re going to lose. They’re 12-1 when Brady Singer is on the mound this year. I think Florida will make a little run in the SEC Tournament, but they don’t need to. I do agree with you that for a team, and I wouldn’t even say that they struggled, but maybe just up and down, not have the outcomes that they wanted to in every game. Good confidence boost for them.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Again, it’s one of those things where Florida’s offense, and it wasn’t bad. Let me just run down what they did. Against Missouri, they scored four, scored five, and scored seven. It wasn’t bad, and it wasn’t like they had an outburst in the SEC Tournament. They scored five, ten, and three. It was just the key hits with some ladies that were struggling. I think that is what maybe is the difference for me. Again, every team is different.

Last year the SEC Tournament really didn’t mean anything to the ladies. They were playing well throughout the stretch, and they dropped a game and threw Ocasio, or I think they threw Gourley last year. She got beat up a little bit, and they did fine. So, every team is different. I never put too much stock into the tournament, but sometimes it’s not bad to go out and perform well and have confidence going into the NCAA Tournament.

I’m going to throw this back to you with this question, Nick, as we move on to baseball. If you’re Sully this weekend, you’ve clinched the SEC. Do you maybe dial Singer and Jackson back a little bit and maybe let them just throw five innings this weekend? How do you handle it if you were Sully?

Nick:                         It’s hard. A lot of people have been asking me about when do you start getting other players in, when do you start getting Brady McConnell, who’s coming back from injury, when do you start getting him in? I kind of look at it and say, that’s tough, because when it’s going well.

Andrew:                 You don’t want to mess with it.

Nick:                         You don’t want to mess with it. To me, it’s kind of like do I want to only have Brady throw 60, 75 pitches? If he goes through five innings and has given up one hit against a Mississippi State team that has kind of struggled, gives up one hit, am I taking him out just because I want to get some other guys innings? I think you right now already know who your guys are. You’ve got Brady, Jackson.

At the bullpen, obviously Michael Burn. Andrew Baker has had a fantastic season. He’s a player that I thought, watching him last year and only pitching about six innings last year and starting to not get at-bats, I started thinking he might be a kid that transfers. He’s pitched over 20 innings now this year, and he’s got almost 50 strikeouts. He’s having a great season. Then Jordan Butler, another leftie out of the bullpen. You still always have Nick Horvath too. You’ve got three left-handed arms, where really last year Horvath was the only leftie you had to come out of the bullpen. You had to start doing that bring him in and then put him back in the outfield to bring him in again. Now you’ve got three leftie arms.

Really, to me, the biggest thing that you worry about is probably that third starter. Jack Leftwich has already given up seven homeruns this year. I think that’s something to be concerned about. He’s given up, in his last three starts, three three-run homeruns, one three-run homerun in each of his starts. Tyler Dyson has a shoulder impingement. He had a cortisone shot this week, and he’s going to be out 7-10 days. It explains a little it about why Dyson was struggling. If bringing your arm up to its normal slot hurts, you start dipping down, so you can throw without pain. Then when your elbow dips, you start leaving balls up. You leave balls up, and you get hit. I think that’s what was happening to him.

You really need, I guess that’s the one area where you didn’t have any worry about pitching last year, and you start to worry about who’s that third guy, because you’re going to need that third pitcher to get through regionals and to get through super-regionals.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You need three, maybe four, when you get to Omaha. You start to look for that guy. I think probably the good news is there’s definitely the arms. There’s definitely the talent there. It’s just that. I’ll say this. Maybe you give Michael Burn a little bit of time off this weekend. You don’t use him, a guy that’s, I don’t want to say been overtaxed this year, but …

Nick:                         Really overtaxed more last year.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I’m just saying that a guy that is run out there a lot. Let me just say that. Maybe you dial it back a little bit this weekend. I don’t know.

Nick:                         I don’t even know. He really only pitched Sunday and didn’t pitch much. He does lead the team with 26 appearances. He’s got his 12 saves, but he’s only thrown 42 innings this year. He did throw twice last week, threw three innings last weekend. I’d say you probably throw him one time this weekend. If you need him, maybe throw him twice. You just don’t want to go two weeks without Michael Burn throwing.

Andrew:                 You don’t want to give him too much of a layoff, and then when you do need him, he’s rusty and can’t throw a strike. I agree with you. I think you’ll probably see Sully maybe interchange a little bit with some guys in the batting order. You can never a guy …

Nick:                         Too many bats.

Andrew:                 Yeah. That kind of stuff. I think you can see that a little bit. Maybe see Schwarz DH a little bit more this weekend. I think you’ll see Sully fool around with the lineup a little bit more than he would in other games.

Nick:                         Yeah. Keenan Bell has been a guy that he’s really tried to get going. Bell is only hitting .226, which is, of guys that have at least 100 at-bats this season, it’s the lowest and the team. He’s been trying to get Keenan Bell going. You saw he tried him Friday night. Granted, he stuck with him. Keenan Bell really got that ninth inning going. He got the ninth inning going with a hit, but before that he was 0 for 4.

I think it’s interesting when you look at first base specifically, because Brady Smith, the freshman, has been having some great at-bats. He’s a guy that you might have playing third base next year, catching and playing a third, a guy that you’ll probably look as one of the guys that will play in 53 games, or play in all the games last year. Do you get him more at-bats? Do you give up on Keenan Bell? I think you’ll see Keenan Bell get some at-bats.

I think that’s where you’ll see it. Maybe Jordan Butler too. Maybe get him a start at first base and get him some more at-bats. He’s only gotten 12 at-bats this year. Somebody else, like Cal Greenfield, who is a better defensive catcher right now, but only has 22 at-bats. Then Brady McConnell, maybe we see him come back, because he’s been taking BP and been taking infield/outfield as well.

I would say more seeing guys get at-bats. Maybe see a couple of the guys who haven’t thrown too much, maybe like a Nick Long. Hunter McMullen, who has kind of been struggling in his last couple starts. Lasted just six pitches on Sunday. Gave up three earned runs against Mercer his last start before that. A guy that you get a freshman righty that throws 95, you like to be able to lean on him at this time of the season. Maybe try to get him some confidence, either in this last weekend, or in the SEC Tournament.

Andrew:                 That’s a good point. I think if you’re Sully you kind of debate how much this weekend means, and then how much you’re going to push in the SEC Tournament as well, because I think if you lay off this weekend, then next weekend you definitely have to throw in Burn a lot, and you definitely have to make sure Singer goes long, or as long as he can. You’ve got to make sure that you get your normal lineup as well, because taking one guy out of the lineup can screw with the whole lineup. I think, if you’re Sully, you have to weigh. How much do I value this weekend, or how much do I value the SEC Tournament, and kind of go from there.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think the SEC Tournament is not a big value for Kevin O’Sullivan. Not really worried about winning it.

Andrew:                 Yeah, but you know what I’m saying.

Nick:                         With all teams, I remember the last time, it was a couple years ago and Florida and LSU got there, and both of them are pitching whoever is left. Even if you make a push and try to get to the championship, by the time you get to that championship Sunday it’s like, who’s left to pitch? Then it’s Johnny Wholestaff, and guys are only throwing two innings, because you’re going to start a tournament. Florida’s going to start their regional a little bit earlier. They’re going to start it on Thursday this year, because of all the rain and stuff that we get here in Gainesville around this time of the year. I remember last year, the super-regional was just, you obviously had Brady Singer not happy with the rain, but it’s really bad. They’re going to try to get it started a day early. You’re not throwing Brady Singer on Sunday if he’s going to pitch on Thursday.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Exactly. Let’s go on. Let’s start talking here a little bit about the big recruiting weekend.

Nick:                         One final note. One final thing. We’ll end it on this. Senior Day, JJ Schwarz and Nick Horvath. JJ started his 260th game, which is the most of any player in Florida history. He’s played in 260 games, which is the most of any Gator, and all of them were starts. The other note is that Finn O’Sullivan, Kevin O’Sullivan’s five-year-old son, JJ is his favorite player. He follows him like he’s JJ’s shadow. Sully told me on Sunday, he said, “I was trying to explain to Finn what Senior Day was, and he has no idea.” He goes, “I don’t think he understands that JJ is not going to be here next year.” He’s just used to coming to the park, and JJ is there, and he follows him around wherever he goes. He goes, “I don’t think Finn wanted to know, or understood, that JJ is not going to be here next year.”

Andrew:                 JJ’s Major League team may have a new batboy.

Nick:                         Something like that.

Andrew:                 Florida fans may get upset. Sully may have to go on the road and be JJ’s laundry man or something, just so Finn can be his batboy.

Nick:                         They’ll have to work some kind of deal out. Maybe Scott Strickland will bring a AAA team to Gainesville, or a A team to Gainesville.

Andrew:                 There you go. Whichever team JJ is in, gets to play in Gainesville.

Let’s move on. Let’s start talking a little bit about this recruiting event, Nick. Mullen is bringing the cookout to Gainesville this weekend on Saturday. First event, first time for this. Nick, I think you and I might have talked about this last year on a podcast, but we’ll talk about it again. You see these different things. Auburn does their cookout weekend. It’s a lot of different things that they do. It’s a cookout. They play a lot of games throughout the day. They just make it almost like a fun family environment day that they make that weekend. It’s something Florida hasn’t done, and it’s something that I’ve kind of always wondered about. When you have Friday Night Lights and you have all the camps, it’s all football related stuff. You always have a lot of guys on campus. Again, it’s a football deal.

Nick:                         How much do we hear recruits say it was a family environment? When you’re talking about recruiting and what it comes down to when guys are making that final decision on what school, sure, obviously you’re going to take into account X’s and O’s. If I’m a 6’6” quarterback with a rocket arm and molasses on my feet, I’m not going to play for Scott Frost. It just doesn’t make sense. I don’t fit your offense. It comes down to that, but it’s really about the relationships that you’re building with coaches for two and three and four years before you even step on campus. Why not have an event that isn’t football centered?

Andrew:                 Exactly. Like I said, it’s a different thing, and I think it’s a good thing. It’s able to show these guys and the staff in a different way. I personally like it. Again, they’re trying to hold back and make it more of an invite-only thing. Of course, that’s not legal to just do invite-only, so they can’t really do that. They’re trying to make it more of guys they just want on campus. That’s what they’re trying to do.

Again, I like it, because if you’re just having 30 kids on campus, and it’s just a situation where they’re eating, playing cornhole, playing basketball, whatever they’re trying to do, it’s a lot different. They don’t have to worry about making sure everyone is happy or making sure they’re talking about football. The coaches aren’t having to worry about also coaching their position, or whatever it may be.

I personally have been in favor of this. I’ve always wondered why Florida didn’t do something like this, just because it’s an event that, like you said, Nick, everyone talks about family. The family environment, getting to know the coaches. Especially with a new coaching staff, where guys don’t know this staff as well as they knew someone like McElwain, who’d been there three years, or someone who’s been at a school for four or five years.

Nick:                         I’ve talked about it before. I think this staff is in a better position. Obviously, so many guys from Dan Mullen staff at Mississippi State had probably been recruiting some of these guys. Maybe not having the same chance to get them to Starkville that they will now in Gainesville. Obviously, Charlton Warren and Ron English at Tennessee.

Christian Robinson, I had some egg on face. In Miami, I asked Dan Mullen about how they had kind of drawn up the 10 recruiting areas in the state of Florida, because he said they want to recruit every single high school in the state of Florida. I’m like, that’s like 800 schools. How do you do that? That’s like 80 schools per coach. That seems like a lot. I was like, “What about someone like Christian Robinson, who maybe Christian Robinson or Brian Johnson don’t have it?” He goes, “Brian Johnson actually has extensive recruiting history in South Florida.” There was a little egg on my face there.

They’re splitting it up, and these guys are going to hit every single school.

Andrew:                 I said this before. I don’t think that that’s a bad thing, especially with Mullen. I get that all these guys have coached there, but they haven’t walked in with the Gator logo. They haven’t walked in with the Florida State logo or the Miami logo on there. Scott has. When you walk in with an instate logo on you, you instantly get more respect than an out of state school, 90% of the time. There’s a few schools, a few head coaches, that don’t.

Anyway, it’s good. There’s always a small school that might have that one stud in four years or three years, or whatever it may be. I think it was Mullen talking about Chris Jones when Hevesy walked in. Chris Jones was a guy nobody knew about, and he blew up to be a five-star and one of the first round Draft picks. I like that about that. It’s a situation that I think is going to pay off for them. No stone unturned for them.

Mac had that whole motto of recruit daily or die, whatever it may be. That didn’t pan out. That didn’t pan out for his staff. This staff is showing. It’s paying off. Events like Saturday will show the effects of that kind of stuff.

Nick:                         Maybe they’ve got some of McElwain’s barbeque sauce that they can keep around.

Andrew:                 For real. I mean, let me ask you this. Give me your opinion. What do you think about the event?

Nick:                         I love it. It goes back to what I just said. So much of recruiting is building relationships, and why not have, everything in recruiting doesn’t need to be centered around football. A lot of what these guys talk about is what’s going on in school, what’s going on. They’re involved in these people’s home lives and their friends. There’s so much more that goes into recruiting. Even not just recruiting, once they’re on campus too. It’s so much more about their day to day lives and helping 16, 17, 18, 19-year-old kids grow into men. I think it’s a great start. We’ll see how it runs and how it goes. You’ll have, I’m sure, a ton of updates from the kids on their opinions on it and how the event went.

Andrew:                 Exactly. Again, it’ll be interesting to see how it works out with if it’s just guys they invited and that kind of stuff. It’s big, because they’re getting some guys in. Chris Steele, a big DB out of California, is going to come on an unofficial this weekend and visit. He’s going to turn around and in a couple weeks or a month, he hasn’t decided on the official date, is going to come back for an official visit. That’s big. They got a tight end in Jaleel Billingsley out of Chicago coming down on an unofficial visit. Both of those are big.

I think that kind of goes with what we talked about, and it shows that they’re getting out and seeing these kids and the relationships are paying off for this staff as they do that. For a guy like Billingsley, for a guy like Steele, who haven’t been on campus yet, I think an event like this is huge, because it’s a barbecue. They’re going to be sitting around, playing games, that kind of stuff. They’re able to get to know the coaches a little bit more. The families are able to get to know the coaches a little bit more. They’re able to sit down and visit with them more. I think it’s more of a get to know you thing.

Do you want these guys to see practice? Do you want these guys to see a game? Sure. You never don’t want that. Some of these guys that are big-name guys, especially a guy like Chris Steele, can go anywhere in the country. He knows what he’s going to do on a football field. He knows where he’s going to be. You’re going to get that opportunity to show him on TV, show him film, that kind of stuff.

Nick:                         There’s only so much the conversation can be when you get a guy that’s visited a couple of times. When he’s a known commodity on the field, how many times can I say, this is how you’d fit in our defense?

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. Then it’s only so much time you have during game time, during camp time, when you have 50, 65, 100 kids on campus. There’s only so much you can do, so much time.

Again, those two in particular I find are very big. I’m going to run through a couple other names that are coming on campus this weekend. Big offensive lineman out of Tampa, Plant, Will Putnam, big big-name guy coming in. Recent FSU commit, offensive lineman Dontae Lucas is coming in town this weekend. Big defensive tackle out of Georgia, Jaelin Humphries, coming to campus. Big instate guy in Lloyd Summerall, rat pack’s finest, is coming in this weekend. A guy from Mississippi, Nathan Pickering, coming in and visiting.

Then a couple of your guys from STA, St. Thomas. DB Jaden Davis and DB Jordan Battle are coming in town. They’re also going to have Dionte Marks, a commit, for them, and their linebacker commit, Tyron Hopper, is going to be in town.

So far, we’re talking about this on Monday, a good group of guys already visiting. I’m sure by Friday and Saturday we’re going to be looking at more names confirmed and more big names coming into town.

Nick:                         What do you think the chances are that something like this could earn a commitment from somebody?

Andrew:                 Again, I could see it. It wouldn’t surprise me, but, again, I think it’s all about furthering things. A lot of the guys that are visiting this weekend haven’t visited. Maybe once for some of these guys. I think this is about setting it up for another visit. It’s a process.

Again, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a commit, but I also wouldn’t get my hopes up fully that someone does. I’m sure there’s going to be someone saying, if you don’t get a commit it’s not a successful weekend. Again, I can see that, but at the same time getting some of these guys on campus, setting it up for the long haul, is huge.

Nick:                         What do you think the total number will be?

Andrew:                 Of guys on campus?

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 I would say probably 30, 35. Especially if it’s 30 or 35 guys that they just invited, that would be absolutely huge.

Nick:                         Right. Like you said, you can’t have an invite-only. That’s illegal.

Andrew:                 You can make these guys feel like I really don’t want you to visit this weekend. There’s ways they go about this. Friday Night Lights is supposed to be invite-only, and it never ends up happening to that, but usually the guys that are wanted on campus know about it before everybody else. Let me just say it like that. Again, I think it’s a big thing, think it’s a big weekend. I think it’s another huge recruiting moment for Mullen and for his staff. I think that it’s something people are going to look forward to in the future for this event.

Nick:                         We didn’t talk about this, switch topics a little bit. Do you see, it’s a big topic today, that the Supreme Court is now going to allow sports betting?

Andrew:                 Yeah. I see that. It happens, Nick. It happens everywhere.

Nick:                         There’s obviously people who do it offshore. If you want to gamble on sports, there’s a bunch of places you can do it. You can go to Vegas. You can go online and find an offshore place. I think it’s an interesting topic. Our buddy Barrett Sallee brought it up. Is this the gateway to start paying college players? It will be interesting to see. Obviously, the winner here is going to be the United States government, because now they’re going to be able to tax winnings, not just in Vegas. When I talk about people going and betting on offshores sites, none of that money is coming back to the US government. Obviously, the US government is going to win.

If you’re able to figure out a way where the NCAA takes a percentage from all the bets made and college sports and put it into a savings account and maybe spread it out equally to pay athletes. It might not be fair if you’re considering football makes all the money that pays for all the other sports, they should get paid more. You can’t do that because of Title IX. Maybe football players won’t think it’s fair, because they’re not getting their share of the football pie, but everyone is getting a little something. Maybe that’s good for college sports.

Obviously, it’s something that just happened today, so we don’t know. It’s all kind of speculating now. I like it. I think it’s overdue. If someone wants to gamble, they’re going to do it. Might as well make it a good thing for the government. Can’t protect people from themselves. If they want to gamble, they’re going to gamble.

Andrew:                 Did I hear it right, Nick? There’s a state that is going to give some of the percentage to some of their teams?

Nick:                         That would probably be just something proposed right now, because it just happened. It definitely is going to be something that will probably be brought up at SEC Media Days. Something that all of the presidents of all the schools and the commissioners of the conferences are going to have to start seriously talking about and seriously considering, because it’s a thing now. When Florida kicks off on September 1, you will be able to legally bet whatever that ridiculous line is for playing Charleston Southern.

Andrew:                 Right. Exactly. One thing else I wanted to talk about, Nick, and we’ll touch on this briefly real quick. Florida basketball got a new assistant coach on Friday. It was not too long ago we were talking about them filling out their staff, and now they hired Al Pickens from Texas Tech. There’s a lot of different things, and there’s a lot of things we don’t know of what happens with Gates. Some people are saying Mike White and him just didn’t connect like they thought they were going to, and the staff and him didn’t connect like they thought they were going to be. Gates said he thought he wasn’t the right fit. There was a lot of things.

I was talking to our guy Eric Fawcett, our basketball guru, about this. He and I both kind of agree that this might end up working out good for Florida. Pickens is a guy that coaches up the big men really well. Is a good recruiter as well. The knock on White is big men, so maybe this ends up working out better for Florida.

Nick:                         Maybe. Another basketball note, Jalen Hudson keeps drawing rave reviews. Obviously, the way that basketball is set up you can go and go to the Combine. He didn’t get a Combine invite, but you can kind of declare for the draft without an agent, and you still have time to come back. It’s starting to look, by just the word that’s coming back from all his trips, like you might be looking at life without Jalen Hudson next year.

Andrew:                 Right. I think Mike White is prepared for that. Again, whatever happens, it’s going to happen. With Pickens coming, and we ran the article today, on Monday, about it, Kevin Moore, who had Florida and Texas Tech up there, ended up signing with Texas Tech. Forward, guard kind of guy, combo guy. Maybe interested in Florida now that Pickens, the guy he committed to, came to Florida. Maybe that opens up a spot for a guy like Moore to come in.

Nick:                         Then, I didn’t tell you I was going to do this, but there’s a team in the National League that has the best season right now, best record in baseball in the National League. You want to go ahead and brag about your Braves for a second?

Andrew:                 Listen, Nick, it’s a happy time. It’s a happy time in the Spivey household over here. Bravos are doing good. I just got to say this, Nick, and it’s not even about my Bravos. The amount of youth in baseball, everyone talks about baseball is boring, losing its juice, that kind of stuff. I think baseball is getting hot again with the amount of youth coming in. The Braves just played your Marlins, and there’s a lot of guys on the Marlins that are youth guys that are thrilling guys. Guys like Starlin Castro is one of one. Lewis Brinson. There’s a lot of guys. I just think the fun is coming back to baseball again.

Nick:                         You and I have talked about it, and I’ve seen stories written about it. Who is baseball’s star player? You can name somebody, but no matter who you name, there’s an argument against it. You ask that in the NBA, it’s Lebron James. Then you’ve got a bunch of other guys that are exciting, but you’ve got your one guy. Basketball, probably more so than all the other sports, has always been superstar driven.

I agree with you. There’s a big youth movement right now. I think the Braves, you can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think the Braves have the three youngest players in the Major Leagues on their 25-man roster right now. Ozzie Albies just hit a homerun. He’s tied with Bryce Harper, who I would say Bryce Harper is probably your guy. You will disagree, and have disagreed. Probably the face of baseball right now, just considering he’s young. It would probably have been Mike Trout, if Mike Trout wasn’t on the West Coast and not having first pitch at 9:00pm on a Wednesday. I agree with you that baseball is very healthy right now with this youth movement. There’s so many young guys. I forget his name. I’m blanking right now. The Brewers just had a kid strike out 13.

Andrew:                 Freddy Peralta.

Nick:                         Yeah. Peralta in his first start strikes out 13. The youth movement is alive and well in baseball. I think baseball is in a good spot. I just wanted to give you a little chance to beat your chest a little bit about the Braves.

Andrew:                 I want to expand on that a little bit. I think that baseball is a game, and you and I would say are old-school baseball guys, in that we believe there’s unwritten rules, but the one unwritten rule that I think that we don’t talk about, and I like that the youth is doing it, is running out bases. Laying out, laughing, blowing the bubble gum. I can say it, and I’m a big Chipper guy, but Griffey is the same way. How many photos do guys in our age group, and even a little older, have of Griffey blowing the big bubble gum or Chipper blowing the big bubble gum? That kind of stuff is what made baseball what it is, and it’s coming back.

I’ll be honest, I think that the NBA and the NFL could learn a little bit from the youth movement. Especially the NFL, with their new dress code things. It’s kind of shutting down the youth movement and the fun of things. I think that that’s going to hurt things.

Nick:                         We always joked about the NFL, the no fun league.

Andrew:                 Getting worse.

Nick:                         I don’t like how they’re doing it in baseball.

Andrew:                 The no fun league is getting there. Anyway, Nick, anything else before we get out of here? Florida’s going to go to Mississippi State this weekend?

Nick:                         Finish at Mississippi State. Right from Starkville, they’ll go straight to Hoover. I’ll be in Hoover to cover those first couple games, see how far Florida makes it there.

Andrew:                 There you go. I do got to point one note out. Last week I did get to see former Gator Dane Dunning. Threw seven innings of one-run baseball. Pretty cool. He was very high on Coach O’Sullivan and was talking about how Sully is the guy. He said he tells everyone that he speaks to Sully is the reason he’s pitching where he is today. One quick note, fashion note, he’s still wearing those glasses.

Nick:                         Yeah. Still got the specks.

Andrew:                 Still got the specks. Former Gators doing well all over the place. Tell everybody where they can find us, Nick. We’ll get out. We’ll see everyone the first of the week to recap softball, baseball, get ready for you guys in Hoover, and hopefully get ready for softball in the supers.

Nick:                for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can also find the podcast on iTunes. Search @GatorCountry. Hit the subscribe button. Never miss an episode. You can find us on social medial. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instragram. Find me @NickdelaTorreGC, and him @AndrewSpiveyGC on Twitter.

Andrew:                 There you go. Guys, we appreciate it. As my man, Nick, said, go Braves. As always, chomp, chomp. We’ll see you guys next week. Check us out on Gator Country.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

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Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.