A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning.
With their 26-point win over South Carolina, the #1-ranked Gators won their 22nd straight game Tuesday night and improved to 17-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Only Kentucky (1970, 1986) and LSU (1985) ever won 17 games in a single SEC season. No SEC team has ever run the table in an 18-game season but the Gators will have their chance to pull it off Saturday when Kentucky comes to town for Senior Day. Florida’s senior class of Scottie Wilbekin, Patric Young, Casey Prather and Will Yeguete are 112-29 in their four years at UF, three away from the record 115 wins registered by the one-man senior class of Walter Hodge (2006-09) who was 115-34 in his career. With 28 wins this year’s team already holds the school record for wins during the regular season. Billy Donovan is now 443-168 at Florida (478-188 overall), which puts him five wins away from tying LSU’s Dale Brown (448-301) for the second most wins in SEC history. Donovan is 31-11 in his career in NCAA Tournament play which makes him the winningest coach in SEC history in that category (Rupp was 30-18).
A FEW ROPER-ISMS
In their Sports Illustrated blog on college football, writers Thayer Evans and Pete Thamel had a chance to sit down with Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper. Here are three gems from Roper as the Gators gear up for spring practice:
About offensive philosophy: We want to use the width and length of the field. We call that space. We want to try to put defensive players in space and try to create as many one-on-one tackle situations for our guys as we possibly can. We do want to play with some tempo. We do want to play fast, but we don’t want to play to a tempo where it compromises execution … Our run game is going to be a spread offense run game, but we’re going to be a pro-style pass game.
About Jeff Driskel: Just in my limited knowledge of Jeff, he’s a big, strong, really good athlete who looks like he has command of the football. We have to decide where he’s best and go from there in how to really install the offense where his experience can still be used … At the end of the day, we’re going to need to use his feet. I think he’s an athlete who can do that.
What he learned from David Cutcliffe: Making practice like a game is the most important thing you can do. Really what that translates into is you’ve got to make everybody play at the speed at the game. You can’t let them cruise along in practice and then all of the sudden the speed of the game shocks them.
USER FRIENDLY SPRING PRACTICE
Counting the spring game, fans will have a chance to get a glimpse of the Gators nine times this spring. That’s good news for the fans and a step in the right direction for Will Muschamp. For the past several years, there has been a growing disconnect between Florida football and the fan base. Opening spring practice is a nice gesture that will help bring the fans back and let them feel that this is their team once again. Even though it’s likely fans will see mostly repetitive drills and not much in the way of contact or installing the new offensive scheme, opening up practice will help heal the rift.
GOOD NEWS FOR THE SEC
The best conference commissioner in all of college sports will be back for at least one more year. Mike Slive told AL.com that he’s “got too much going on” to step down so he will be back at least through the 2014-15 academic year. Slive has been the SEC commissioner since 2002. Slive’s greatest contribution was the first major media contract with ESPN that expanded the league’s revenue base by billions of dollars. In August, the SEC will launch its own network which will further expand the revenue base for each team, making the SEC the richest conference in the country. As long as Mike Slive is the commissioner of the SEC, the bottom line will be very good for each team in the league.
TOYING WITH THE EXTRA POINT
There is that old southern saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Obviously the NFL has never heard of that because in its infinite wisdom the league is thinking to make the extra point more difficult by moving it back. Currently, the ball is snapped at the three and kicked at the 10. The new rule would see the ball snapped at the 26 and kicked at the 33, making it a 43-yard attempt. The reason? Because kickers are just too darn accurate these days. While the extra point has become almost automatic, I’m not sure it’s worth making a 43-yard kick worth only one point while a 25-yard field goal at the end of a game is worth three.
TO PARAPHRASE HAMLET …
“The coach doth protest too much, methinks” … I’m sure if William Shakespeare were around these days and times he would have made a dandy sports writer. And, I’m sure if he heard Nick Saban’s latest that’s what he would have said. Nick just won’t let go on the “Saban Rule.” While clinging to the notion that player safety is the only thing he is concerned about, Saban told Chris Low of ESPN, “The fastball guys (up-tempo coaches) say there’s no data out there, and I guess you have to use some logic. What’s the logic? If you smoke one cigarette, do you have the same chances of getting cancer if you smoke 20? I guess there’s no study that specifically says that. But logically, we would say, ‘Yeah, there probably is.'” Only 25 of the 128 Division I coaches agree with Saban.
22 IN A ROW FOR FLORIDA SOFTBALL
Florida’s #1-ranked softball team heads into the SEC portion of its schedule 22-0 after a 7-3 win over Boston College last night at Katie Seashole Pressly Stadium. Hannah Rogers got the win, improving to 9-0 this season and 106-23 in her Florida career. Ole Miss comes to town Friday to start SEC play … ELSEWHERE IN FLORIDA SPORTS: Florida’s #5 lacrosse team got a goal from Nora Barry with 37 seconds left as the Gators knocked off #13 Loyola (MD), 14-13. The Gators will play host to Michigan Saturday … Florida’s baseball team knocked off Southern Miss, 4-2, Tuesday night in Pensacola, getting 3-2/3 innings of spotless relief from sophomore Aaron Rhodes, who got the win … J.D. Tomlinson shot a third-round 64 as the Gators finished ninth (out of 17 teams) at the USF Invitational.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Carole King is one of the most gifted song writers of our time. She spent the first 10-11 years of her musical career writing songs for everyone else such as “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” for the Shirelles, “Up on the Roof” for The Drifters, “Pleasant Valley Sunday” for the Monkees and “A Natural Woman” for Arethan Franklin. She moved from New York to California in the late 1960s and that’s when her own singing career took off. Her second album, “Tapestry,” which was released in 1971, is one of the top selling albums of all time. At the 1972 Grammy Awards, King came away with album of the year, record of the year, song of the year and best pop vocal performance, female. This is “It’s Too Late” from “Tapestry.”
Great to see the records falling as the Gator Basketball team continues to lay waste to other teams in the SEC. I remember watching the Gators play mighty Kentucky in Alligator Alley. Even as raucous and defening the noise was in that old gym… very rarely would Florida come out with a win over the Cats.
Ah… Carole King…. great Saturday afternoon listening music by the pool over in Cin City (French Quarter Apts).