A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.
KEY WORD: DEVELOPMENT
If there is a word that best describes what Florida is getting with new offensive coordinator Kurt Roper it is development. A look at the Duke stats from 2013 and the recruiting rankings of the skill players is a pretty good indicator of what Roper can do. None of Duke’s productive skill players were top recruits yet they all developed into very good and productive players. Duke ran a two-quarterback system in 2013. Anthony Boone was the #37 quarterback and Brandon Connette was the #61 in 2010. Last season Boone threw for 2,260 yards and 13 touchdowns while running for 214 and five more. Connette passed for 1,212 yards and 13 touchdowns while rushing for 337 and 14 scores. Wide receiver Jamison Crowder was the #65 athlete nationally in 2010. He caught 108 passes for 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns last year while the year before was good for 76 catches, 1,074 yards and eight scores. Brandon Braxton was the #109 wide receiver in 2010. He caught 39 passes for 361 yards and two touchdowns a year after helping out in the secondary at safety. Braxton Deaver was the #161 wide receiver in 2010. He gained 30 pounds to become a tight end where he caught 46 passes for 600 yards and four touchdowns last season. It was running back by committee. Josh Snead (#82 athlete in 2011) ran for 651 yards (496 the year before); Jela Duncan (#39 running back in 2012) ran for 562 (553 the year before); and Juwan Thompson (#65 running back 2010) ran for 348 (352 the year before).
GATORS SELECTED FOR UNIQUE BASKETBALL EVENT
The Gators have been selected by ESPN to participate in a three-city, eight-day event in 2018 with games at Madison Square Garden, the United Center in Chicago and the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Florida will play Texas at one location, Michigan State at a second and North Carolina at the third. The event is the idea of Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis who came up with the idea of a Michigan State-North Carolina game on an aircraft carrier a couple of years ago. This will be a marquee event that should do wonders for Billy Donovan’s recruiting and the national perception of Florida basketball, which takes a bit of a hit because other than Kentucky, the rest of the SEC is viewed as a lightweight conference.
CHANDLER, COREY IN FUN VIDEO
Relativity Sports, whose very long client list includes former Gators Chandler Parsons and Corey Brewer, is constantly doing funky things to promote its clients, particularly those in the NBA. Click on the link to the latest video that features both Chandler and Corey. Relativity got Corey a nice four-year deal with the Minnesota Tiberwolves this year and is in the process of negotiating with Houston, which doesn’t want to lose Chandler. Chandler is making $956,000 this year and can test the free agency waters although Houston would be able to match any offer. It’s expected he’s going to get a contract in the $6-10 million per year range.
STATES WITH THE MOST NFL PLAYERS
MaxPreps went through the rosters of all teams in the NFL and came up with a comprehensive list about which states and which high schools produced the most players last season. The top five states are: (1) California, 235; (2) Texas, 201; (3) Florida, 200; (4) Georgia, 105; (5) Ohio, 93; (6) New Jersey, 66; (7) Louisiana, 64; (8) Pennsylvania, 62; (9, TIE) North Carolina ,55; (9, TIE) Virginia, 55. The top high school for placing players in the NFL is Fort Lauderdale’s St. Thomas Aquinas with eight. Miami Norland and Pahokee are among the schools in a five-way tie for third with five each.
Steve Spurrier got his fill of negative recruiting leading up to signing day. Not one to bite his tongue, Spurrier offered some goodies to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Regarding his age, which was one of the negatives: “Coaches don’t get fired for being older coaches. They get fired for not winning.” Spurrier is 41-11 in his last four years, the greatest run in South Carolina history. Regarding the Big Ten, which he says was largely the source of the negatives: “We don’t run into much of any negative recruiting around here as SEC coaches. We were involved with a player who was being recruited by a Big Ten school. They got negative a little bit with ‘There’s a lot of crime in Columbia, the big city. They don’t graduate their players,’ which was completely untrue. They searched for a little bit of everything but the player came with us anyways.” Classic!
Tommy Tuberville, who has been around the coaching block at Ole Miss, Auburn and Texas Tech prior to taking the Cincinnati job, says that team sports unite people of all backgrounds, ethnicities and social situations. He says he understands fully how Missouri’s team had no problems with Michael Sam when he announced back in August that he is gay. “I think sports has done so much for relationships, men and women, black and white, all the different situations we’re involved in,” Tuberville told CBS Sports. “It’s probably easier to define and overcome in sports than it is in any business because you spend so much time together for a common cause. It’s a great thing.”
Rutgers will pay the American Athletic Conference $11.5 million before it leaves the fledgling league for the greener pastures of the Big Ten. Louisville, which is heading to the Atlantic Coast Conference, has already forked out $11 million for its exit fee. Both figure to more than make up the deficits with the increased revenues from the new leagues. Both Louisville and Rutgers made something in the neighborhood of $2 million this year as part of the AAC’s television deal. Meanwhile, Maryland, which voted against a huge ACC exit fee three years ago when the league seemed on the verge of losing Florida State and Clemson to either the SEC or Big 12 – the measure passed – is up to its ears in legal actions with the ACC. The ACC sued Maryland for a $52 million exit fee in 2012 and Maryland has counter-sued, asking for $157 million in damages while claiming the ACC broke the rules.
JETER RETIRES ON HIS OWN TERMS
There is little doubt that if healthy Derek Jeter could probably play another 3-4 years of Major League Baseball, but he will walk away from the game after the 2014 season. Jeter only played 17 games last year due to the recovering from a broken ankle suffered in the 2012 playoffs and a quadriceps injury. He is expected to play the 2014 season at full strength but whether he has a great year or one that is below his own lofty standards, Jeter has elected to retire after one more year. He should be applauded for making the choice to go while there is still a chance he can go out on top. Too many athletes hang on and hang on, mere shells of their former selves. Jeter should also be applauded for the fact that he never was an embarrassment to himself, the New York Yankees or to baseball. He always said and did the right thing and was always a team first guy. There aren’t many like him anymore.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Good friend and music connoisseur Doug Wedgworth, who knows everyone who has ever spent more than 37 minutes in Palm Beach County, is responsible for today’s music. This is University of Florida graduate Brooke Eden, who was an American Idol Nashville contestant performing the Etta James classic “At Last.” My guess is she’s going to be a big star at some point in the very near future.