A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning.
KING OF THE FLIPPERS
Is Will Muschamp the king of the flippers? In the past week we’ve seen Florida’s head coach flip cornerback Jalen Tabor from Arizona, running back Brandon Powell from Miami and defensive lineman Thomas Holley from Penn State. Last year, Muschamp flipped linebackers Matt Rolin and Alex Anzalone. Gator Country recruiting analyst Andrew Spivey reported that offers have gone out to FSU commitments Treon Harris (Miami Booker T Washington quarterback) and C.J. Worton (Homestead South Dade wide receiver) and Deiondre Porter (Tampa Jefferson quarterback). LSU commitment Davon Godchaux (Plaquemine, LA defensive lineman) will take a Florida visit and US Army All-American Jamil Kamara (Virginia Beach, VA wide receiver), a Virginia commitment, is thinking seriously to visit UF.
DO RECRUITS COMMIT TO A SCHOOL OR TO A COACH?
Former Vanderbilt head coach James Franklin has no problems asking the kids he recruiting to Vandy to come join him at Penn State. He says that recruits commit to play for a certain coach, not for a certain school. If that is fact, then why is it a problem for most schools to release a kid from his letter of intent if a coach leaves a program? We see this happen far too often. There is a simple solution. Give every kid one free transfer without restrictions before, during or after his freshman season. After that, if he wants to transfer, then he has to sit out a year. Of course, that would make sense, which means it would be unacceptable to the NCAA.
THE NCAA CONVENTION BEGINS
The NCAA as we know it is about to change and probably this week at the convention in San Diego. The five power conferences – SEC, ACC, Big 10, Big 12 and Pac-12 plus Notre Dame – are going to make a power play for the autonomy to make their own rules. Hopefully, they’ll come up with rule books that weigh less than 25 pounds. The 65 power schools no longer wish to be dictated by a vote of the other 285 members of Division I. In one respect, I do agree because it really isn’t fair that a non-football school with very little in the way of booster support such as North Florida has a vote that affects the football matters at a place like Florida. Still, I have to wonder who will provide the checks and balances for the big schools? I’m hoping the big schools are smart enough to bring in a commissioner with broad based powers to police them and keep them on a straight and narrow path. We need reform in college athletics. We don’t need to turn sports into the equivalent of a wild west shooting gallery where the guy with the biggest and fastest gun always wins.
WILL PRUITT DEPARTURE HURT FSU RECRUITING?
It will be interesting to see if the sudden and unexpected departure of defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt to Georgia hurts Florida State’s recruiting. The Seminoles have been riding an eight-day of recruiting success following their national championship win over Auburn and this is the first speed bump. Linebacker commit Jacob Pugh of Tallahassee Godby told the Orlando Sentinel that Pruitt’s departure has him considering other options beside FSU. Defensive end Lorenzo Carter, who Pruitt convinced to visit Tallahassee on January 24, will visit Georgia and Pruitt on January 31. It would seem that Georgia will be in the driver’s seat there. Pruitt’s departure could also seal cornerback Marlon Humphrey to Alabama.
HOUSECLEANING AT GEORGIA
Since last Friday in Athens, secondary coach Scott Lakatos has resigned for personal reasons; defensive coordinator Todd Grantham has departed for Louisville; Pruitt has been hired as the new defensive coordinator; inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti has departed for the Washington Redskins and defensive line coach Chris Wilson has taken a job on the Southern Cal staff. Nobody will come right out and say it but this is a housecleaning at Georgia. I’m not buying any explanations that this was all a chain reaction to the spontaneous departure of Grantham. I think Mark Richt took a look at his defensive staff and realized that he was never going to win a national championship with these guys so he made a conscious decision to start over with a blank canvas.
Even though it’s way too early in the season to be thinking about March Madness, I still read all the bracket predictions every week. Sports Illustrated’s Michael Beller has the Gators as a #2 seed in the Midwest behind #1 seed Wisconsin. In his bracket the Gators would face North Carolina Central in the first round and the winner of UCLA and Harvard in the second. Jerry Palm of CBS has Florida a #3 in the West facing Mercer in the first round and playing the winner of Pitt and Louisville in the second. Joe Lunardi of ESPN (not updated since January 9) has Florida a #3 in the Midwest facing Boston U in the first round with the winner of Memphis and George Washington in the second. My hope is that the Gators will be either a #2 or #3 in the South region where they can play the first two rounds in Orlando and if they win, advance to the regional in Memphis.
A MESSY DIVORCE IN THE ACC
Perhaps there is no fury like a scorned woman, although Maryland vs. the Atlantic Coast Conference (or vice versa) might come in a close second. When Maryland bolted for the Big Ten, the ACC filed suit for a $52 million exit fee for leaving the conference. Now, Maryland has countered with a $157 million suit in North Carolina courts against the ACC, claiming massive damages against the university and the state. The massive exit fee was cooked up by ACC commissioner John Swofford and signed off on by all ACC members – including Maryland – three years ago when there was fear that the SEC was going to expand to 16 teams and raid the ACC for Clemson and Florida State. Maryland claims it is excessive and violates the original ACC charter. It’s going to be messy but don’t expect this one to see the light of day in trial. Both sides will settle and point fingers at each other. It reminds me of the old joke about a divorce in Arkansas – someone is going to lose a trailer and nobody is going to be happy.
I am all for the use of instant replay to get calls right but Kentucky’s overtime loss to Arkansas took it to an extreme. In addition to calling 60 personal fouls that resulted in 81 free throws, the crew of Ron Groover, James Breeding and Roger Ayers went to the replay numerous times and took forever to make a decision. The replayed the Julius Randle elbow to the face of Alandis Harris. How they missed that the first go round is beyond me. I don’t think it was intentional but it still should have merited a whistle. No whistle on the elbow, no decision on the replay. I tend to agree with so many commentators who have stated this might have been the worst officiated game of the year.
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Having almost worn out the “Sounds of Silence” album (they were in vinyl in those days so it wasn’t really hard to do), I couldn’t wait for Simon and Garfunkel to release “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme,” which came out in October. Simon and Garfunkel did such great harmony and their lyrics always seemed to touch a nerve somewhere and remind us of things. When I sit back and ponder my formative years in the 1960s, I am amazed at the amount of great music that came out of that era that people still remember and sing along with today, nearly 50 years later. My favorite cut off of “Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme” was “Homeward Bound.” I still sing along whenever I hear it.