A few thoughts to jumpstart your Tuesday morning:
IS THERE A BLACK CLOUD HANGING OVER UF THIS YEAR?
After what Will Muschamp and the Florida football team have gone through, you would think the Gators have exhausted their quota for injuries this year, but take a look at what Billy Donovan is going through with the basketball team. Monday night the Gators lost freshman point guard Kasey Hill for up to a month with a high ankle sprain. Donovan has already been dealing with slow recoveries from surgery, bone spurs in the hips that will force Dillon Graham to take a medical redshirt, hamstring and groin pulls, sickness and suspensions. Amanda Butler and her Florida women’s basketball team lost 6-4 center Viktoria Dimaite to an ACL tear before the season began. These coaches have to be wondering what else can happen?
WILBEKIN SHOULD BE BACK SOON
Although Donovan ruled out suspended point guard Scottie Wilbekin returning Thursday night when the Gators play Middle Tennessee at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center, don’t expect the suspension to last much longer. If the exhibition game counts – and it should – then Wilbekin has already missed five games so the Middle Tennessee game should be the last of his suspension if my calculations are right. That would mean he’s back for next Monday’s game with Jacksonville and would be ready to go against Florida State on the 29th.
REMEMBER HORFORD’S HIGH ANKLE SPRAIN?
Donovan says that Hill could be out for a full month, which is precisely what he said in December of 2006 when Al Horford went down with a high ankle sprain in Florida’s win over Providence. Horford was gone for two weeks, missing the Florida A&M and Stetson games, before making a surprising comeback against third-ranked Ohio State, just one day after Donovan had said there was no way Horford would be playing. Cleared to play after showing off his mobility at the shoot around in the morning before the game, Horford finished with 11 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots while sparking a 33-9 run that turned the game into a blowout, 86-60, win. Just a little more than three months later, Horford scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds against the Buckeyes in the NCAA championship game in Atlanta.
IMPRESSIVE STAT OF THE WEEK
The combination of NCAA sanctions and injuries have decimated Southern Cal to the point that Ed Orgeron has fewer than 55 scholarship players available. The injuries have hit part, particularly on defense, but the Trojans are making do with what they have. In its 20-17 win over Stanford, Saturday, Southern Cal played only 13 players on defense and one of the two subs played only one snap. Now that’s impressive.
COACH O IS A COMMODITY NOW
Although Southern Cal’s players are lobbying hard for Coach O to become the permanent replacement for Lane Kiffin, he is a long shot. Southern Cal athletic director Pat Haden is expected to go with a high profile, big name to fill the vacancy, but don’t feel badly for Coach O. He is now a hot commodity whose name is showing up on a lot of coach search lists. Considering he had never been a head coach or coordinator when he took the Ole Miss job, athletic directors are looking at that three-year stretch as Coach O’s baptism by fire and the six-game results at Southern Cal the real indicator of his coaching ability.
THE IMMACULATE DEFLECTION
First there was “The Immaculate Reception,” the touchdown pass from Terry Bradshaw to Franco Harris in 1972 which enabled the Pittsburgh Steelers to beat the Oakland Raiders, 13-7, to advance to the AFC championship game. The fourth and 10 pass was intended for Frenchy Fuqua, who was hit as the ball arrived by Harris scooped it up before it hit the ground and ran it to the end zone to complete a 60-yard touchdown that won the game with 30 seconds to go. The Birmingham News ran a poll to nickname the Nick Marshall to Ricardo Louis 73-yard touchdown pass that enabled Auburn to beat Georgia, 43-38, and came up with “The Immaculate Deflection.” That is classic!
HEALTHY PATCHAN HAVING AN ALL-ACC SEASON
We’re finally seeing what Matt Patchan can do when he’s healthy, just that it isn’t at the University of Florida. Armed with his UF degree and a sixth year of elibility from the NCAA, Patchan transferred to Boston College where he’s in grad school and playing for Steve Addazio, the coach who recruited him to Florida back in 2008. At UF, it was one injury or illness after another for Patchan, but he’s stayed healthy all season and his play at left tackle for the bowl-eligible Eagles (6-4) has been outstanding. Patchan, the ACC’s lineman of the week, is considered a big reason that Andre Williams has gained 1,810 yards and has two games to get the necessary 190 yards to become the 15th player in college football history to gain 2,000 yards in a single season. Patchan reportedly has given up only two sacks all season.
YES, URBAN, THE SYSTEM IS FLAWED
Urban Meyer called the BCS system “flawed” at his Monday press conference in Columbus, saying the system did the best it could without a playoff. He was calling it flawed back in 2006 when he had to lobby hard to get the Florida Gators into the BCS national championship game where they put a hosing on Ohio State. Meyer is the coach at Ohio State now and the way it stands, the unbeaten Buckeyes will get left out of the BCS championship game even if they win their final two regular season games then beat Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. It’s hard to imagine a system that would deny a team on a two-year unbeaten streak a chance to play for the title, but imagine what Baylor will think if it, too, runs the table. We will have a four-team playoff next year, but imagine the controversy if we wind up with five or six one-loss teams. A four-team playoff is certainly better than the system we have now, but I’ll be happy when the college presidents decide to expand to eight or possibly 16 teams.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The “Super Session” album was sort of a perfect storm for blues in 1968. It happened at a time when Al Kooper was leaving Blood, Sweat and Tears, Stephen Stills was leaving Buffalo Springfield and Mike Bloomfield was leaving The Paul Butterfield Blues Band. This is an album with incredible guitar work and marvelous vocals from Kooper as it incorporates songs written by Bob Dylan, Curtis Mayfield and Willie Cobbs with original material. Today’s song is “Stop,” a very cool instrumental from side one of the album that was co-written by Kooper and Bloomfield.