A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning.
A FLORIDA KIND OF DAY WITH SEC HOOPS AWARDS
For once, the SEC got it fairly close to 100% right. Scottie Wilbekin was announced as the coaches choice for SEC Player of the Year and made first team All-SEC plus first team All-Defensive; Patric Young was announced as SEC Defensive Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year for the third straight year plus was named second team All-SEC and first team All-Defensive; Casey Prather made first team All-SEC; Dorian Finney-Smith was selected SEC Sixth Man of the Year and Billy Donovan was selected SEC Coach of the Year for the third time. It’s hard to imagine that with all the success the Florida program has had that Wilbekin is only the second SEC Player of the Year. Chandler Parsons was the first back in 2011. Al Horford never made it. Joakim Noah never made it. Mike Miller never made it. Nor did Matt Bonner. That Donovan has been SEC Coach of the Year only three times is a travesty. Donovan didn’t win SEC Coach of the Year in either 2006 or 2007. All he did was win back-to-back national titles. Back in 2007, the coaches gave Defensive Player of the Year to Steven Hill of Arkansas. Corey Brewer, who was co-Defensive Player of the Year in 2006, was even better in 2007. Young should have made first team this year but otherwise the coaches did a good job of getting the awards right.
NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS IN LIFE, PATRIC WILL BE FINE
There is no need to fret about Patric Young once he leaves the University of Florida. Whether he finds a place in the NBA or decides to play professional basketball elsewhere, he’s well equipped to handle whatever comes his way. Some people sour on life’s lemons. Some people make lemonade. Patric will probably own a chain of lemonade stands. Billy Donovan says that Patric has been the consummate student-athlete because he’s used the University of Florida and the athletic experience to maximize his life and potential. When he spoke to the media Tuesday, Patric put it all in perspective: “I think I just really strive to maximize my opportunity of being here, being the best I can be at everything I do. Of course, coming here, I didn’t always see that way. That’s something I’ve grown into, matured, just trying to impact people, being a personable person, striving to be the best I can be on the court, off the court, trying to experience life because basketball is not everything. I see Rashad Mendenhall, he’s seen that, that’s why he retired early from football because he sees there’s so much more to life than football, you’ve just gotta experience it because life is so short.”
NEW LOOK OFFENSIVE LINE
At his pre-spring practice press conference Will Muschamp unveiled what will be the first team offensive line when the Gators hold the first practice a week from Wednesday:
CENTER: Max Garcia; LEFT GUARD: Trip Thurman; RIGHT GUARD: Tyler Moore; LEFT TACKLE: D.J. Humphries; RIGHT TACKLE: Chaz Green
On paper, this seems like a very solid unit. The only real question might be Garcia, who has not played the position. Garcia started at guard last season and moved to tackle when injuries depleted the team. He performed adequately, but it’s obvious that he’s better in the middle of the line than on the outside. This is Trip Thurman’s chance to excel. People tend to forget he was very highly regarded coming out of high school. This is his fourth year, about the time most linemen grow up. Tyler Moore played tackle last year but is definitely better suited for guard. If D.J. Humphries and Chaz Green stay healthy, the Gators should be fairly solid.
SEC SPRING FOOTBALL PRACTICE UPDATES
Vanderbilt opened spring practice. Frist order of the day is install a 3-4 defense … Early enrollee freshman Speedy Noil is already showing that he can be a difference-maker at wide receiver at Texas A&M … Former FSU assistant head coach Kevin Steele is coaching the linebackers at Alabama while defensive coordinator Kirby Smart will take over the secondary duty … Tight end Mitch Loewen will miss spring practice at Arkansas with an ACL … LSU had its first day of full contact … Missouri began spring drills Tuesday. Maty Mauk will be the starter at quarterback but the Tigers have to find a replacement for tailback Henry Josey.
BASEBALL SPRING TRAINING
There was a time when I couldn’t wait for spring training to arrive in Florida. I used to make it a point to go to Lakeland to see the Tigers, to Winter Haven to see the Red Sox, to Vero Beach to see the Dodgers, Fort Lauderdale to see the Yankees and Tampa to see the Reds. The Tigers are the only team still in the same place. I used to love going to Joker Marchant Stadium in Lakeland where a ticket would cost $7 and you could get a great hot dog and a Coke for $5. Nowadays, teams pull up stakes in one town to move to whichever city offers a new stadium. It just doesn’t seem right that the Dodgers are not at Dodgertown anymore or that the Red Sox aren’t in Winter Haven. Prices have gone through the roof. The cheap seats right field at George Steinbrenner Field in Tampa are $44. A hot dog and a Coke set me back $12 the last time I went there. I’m just not willing to shell out that kind of money for tickets and food to a game that doesn’t count.
SIR CHARLES ON ONE-AND-DONE
With talk starting to heat up that new NBA commissioner Adam Silver is going to do whatever he can to put an end to one-and-done in favor of a rule that would make draft eligibility 20 years and a minimum of two years removed from high school, Charles Barkley weighed in. At a press conference where CBS and Turner announced their broadcast plans for the NCAA Tournament, Sir Charles told Sports Illustrated’s Richard Dietsch, “I think you should have to play in college for two years. “You’ll get a lot better in two years than you will playing 30 games. Clearly, the NBA sucks right now. The NBA is the worst it’s ever been. I feel bad for the fans because they are not getting a quality product. All the players are making a lot of money but these fans are not getting quality basketball.”
NFL COMINGS AND GOINGS
The Miami Dolphins traded Jonathan Martin to the San Francisco 49ers for an undisclosed draft pick … The 49ers also picked up quarterback Blaine Gabbert from the Jacksonville Jaguars for a sixth round draft pick. Gabbert was the #10 pick in the 2011 draft. This is probably the ultimate sign that the Jags are going to take a quarterback in the first round. Hello Teddy Bridgewater … Julius Peppers was cut by the Chicago Bears. He has 118.5 sacks in his career. Someone will sign him but not for the $13.9 million he made last year or for the $18.183 million he was supposed to make in 2014 … The Dallas Cowboys released DeMarcus Ware, who has 117 career sacks, for cap room. He was set to count $16.003 million against the cap this year … Jairus Byrd got $54 million spread over six years to sign with the New Orleans Saints … Former Gator Bubba Caldwell was rewarded with a two-year contract with the Denver Broncos.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I’ve become a big fan of the Robert Cray Band, particularly when he’s backed up by The Memphis Horns. Cray is soon coming out with his first album in two years, entitled “In My Soul.” This song is “Consequences” from his 1990 album “Midnight Stroll.”