A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning.
DID CHOATE DEPART FOR WASHINGTON?
Because any media not named ESPN or CBS is about as welcome as a raging case of herpes when it comes to the football program at the University of Florida, we have no way to officially confirm what is going on with the football coaching staff. Bob Davie, the New Mexico head coach, confirms that his outside linebackers coach and special teams coordinator Coleman Hutzler has been hired by Florida. Of course, we haven’t heard a peep out of Florida and maybe for good reason. Florida already has an outside linebackers coach who doubles as the special teams coordinator. That’s Jeff Choate. He is rumored to be heading to the University of Washington to join the staff of Chris Peterson, his boss a few years back at Boise State. Was Choate forced out? Is he leaving on his own volition? Or, is he staying on at Florida and some other coach is leaving? Right now we can only guess.
DETERIORATING MEDIA RELATIONS WITH FLORIDA FOOTBALL
I am sure that some here will claim that I’m a scorned reporter with an axe to grind against Will Muschamp and Florida football, but the fact is media relations are at an all-time low at a time when the Gators desperately need all the good publicity they can get. The situation has been deteriorating for years. I wrote about it here at Gator Country in 2009 and since then it’s only gotten worse. If you want to know why there is such a statewide disconnect with the Gators – and it shows with the increasing number of empty seats at The Swamp for football games – then you need to look no further than media policies which allow ESPN and CBS practically any interview they want while shutting out the media outlets that are here every single day and don’t just pop in a day before the game.
MORE ABOUT DETERIORATING MEDIA RELATIONS
I am often asked why was it that Bobby Bowden used to get a free pass with the media and the answer is quite simple. Bobby was an absolute master at working the media for his benefit. He cultivated media relations by treating the writers and reporters who covered the Seminoles with a measure of dignity. You could call Rob Wilson, the FSU SID and request an interview and Bobby would call you on the phone and talk. Bobby talked to the media every day after practice, something that the Florida head coach did until 2009, when media policies became more restrictive. Since Muschamp took over, he meets the media on Monday and then does a 10-minute segment that he’s required to do on Wednesday with every other coach in the SEC. Next time the media talks to him is for 10-12 minutes after a game. That’s it. Now, you can say that good media relations aren’t important, but I would bet you large amounts of money that if Florida football were more media friendly you wouldn’t see so many empty seats at the stadium and there wouldn’t be so many longtime Florida fans saying they have no connection with this team or coach anymore. Will Muschamp needs good publicity right now. The bunker mentality of the last three years isn’t helping in the least.
NO CUPCAKE TO START THE 2017 SEASON
Other than bowl games, the last time the Gators played a non-conference football game outside the state of Florida was 1991 when they lost to Syracuse, 38-21, in the third game of the season. In the 22 years since, the Gators are the only team in the SEC that hasn’t left its home state to play an out-of-conference game. That will change in 2017 when Florida opens its season with Michigan in the Cowboys Classic on Labor Day weekend at Jerry’s World in Dallas. This is a big step for the Gators, who have opened the season in Gainesville every year since 1988 against such notables as Montana State, New Mexico State, Charleston Southern and The Citadel.
THE ONE BOWL GAME TO WATCH THIS WEEKEND
Of the half bazillion bowls that are about to inundate us, the one worth watching is the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl because it will give you a chance to see Clay Helton’s Southern Cal offense as well as the best quarterback you’ve probably never heard of. Helton is expected to take over as Florida’s offensive coordinator in the next several days. At Southern Cal, he’s applied new spread principles to Lane Kiffin’s offense and the result was a balanced attack that took the Trojans to a 5-2 mark after Kiffin was fired. The Trojans will probably score early and often against Fresno State, which ranks #81 nationally in scoring defense. The Fresno State offense features quarterback Derek Carr, who threw for 4,866 yards and 48 touchdowns in the regular season. Expect him to light up the USC secondary.
SPURRIER THE AVENGER
Steve Spurrier understands that players want to celebrate big wins with Gatorade baths for the coach. Understanding does not mean that he likes it when he gets doused with a bucket of ice and Gatorade. To give his players an idea of what it’s like, Spurrier has been playing avenger lately, sneaking up behind players when they’re taking a knee at practice and dumping containers of ice down their backs. Spurrier commented, “The players realize it’s not all that fun when you get hit with that thing. Ever been hit with one? It’s not fun, unless you’re expecting it.”
WHERE ARE THEY NOW?
Taurean Green is averaging 13.9 points, 3.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game for Limoges in the French League … Kenny Boynton was traded to Galil Gilboa in the Israeli League. He scored 13 points in his debut … Lee Humphrey is averaging 12.3 points per game while hitting 41% of his 3-point shots for BC Kyiv in the Ukrainian League … Bonell Colas is averaging 18.8 points and 14.1 rebounds per game for Randers in the Danish League … Matt Walsh is averaging 18 points and 6.9 rebounds per game for Granarolo BO in the Italian League … Adrian Moss is averaging 10.4 points and 7.8 rebounds for Bambitious Nara in the Japanese League … Donnell Harvey is averaging 12.4 points and 13.6 rebounds for Shandong in the Chinese league … Anthony Roberson is averaging 16.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.3 assists for Al Jarsh in the Qatar league … Erving Walker is averaging 7.5 points and 4.0 assists for Stelmet ZG in the Polish League … Walter Hodge is averaging 6.3 points and 2.2 assists for Laboral Kutxa in the Spanish League … Brent Wright is averaging 10 points and 3.0 rebounds per game for Oostende in the Belgian League … Justin Hamilton is averaging 5.3 points and 3.1 rebounds for Spirou in the Belgian league … Mike Rosario is averaging 6.9 points for Ponce in the Puerto Rican league.
MY SEMI-SPORTS RELATED RANT
Technically speaking, this isn’t a sports-related rant, but since we can’t have televised sports without commercials, I will take the liberty. There are good commercials – AFLAC and Heinekin come to mind. There are annoying commercials – the Geico Gecko and Progressive’s Flo are so bad that I won’t buy their product. And then there are the commercials for prescription drugs. We hear the spiel about how this miracle drug will change our lives. That’s the good news. Then we get the list of side effects, which sometimes includes strokes, heart attacks, kidney failure and suicidal tendencies. I guess I should be happy that they’re telling me what can happen when I take their drugs, but it really makes the commercials so depressing, particularly in the middle of a ball game that I’m actually enjoying.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
“We Live Here,” one of the better albums by The Pat Metheny Group, won the Grammy Award in 1995 for best contemporary jazz album. At that time, the band included the late Mark Ledford, who played more than 10 instruments and along with David Blamires sang wordless vocals that added so much to the music. This is a long version of the track “To the End of the World” from the “We Live Here” CD.