Updated: Aug 25, 2019
THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, AUGUST 8, 2019 GATORS #10 IN SPORTS ILLUSTRATED PRESEASON Sports Illustrated came out with its preseason rankings earlier in the week with the usual suspects – Alabama, Clemson, Georgia and Oklahoma – occupying the first four spots. SI has the Gators ranked 10thin the preseason and that’s not a bad place to begin.
Of the teams ahead of the Gators, I think Texas (#5), Ohio State (#6) and Oregon (#9) are ranked too high. No matter how hard I try, I can’t envision Texas as a top ten team. I think the Buckeyes are a top ten team, just not the fifth best in the country at least at this early stage. I think Washington is the best team in the Pac-12 so if any team from that league merits top ten status, the Huskies belong and not the Ducks.
(1) Alabama; (2) Clemson; (3) Georgia; (4) Oklahoma; (5) Texas; (6) Ohio State; (7) Notre Dame; (8) LSU; (9) Oregon; (10) FLORIDA; (11) Michigan; (12) Washington; (13) Texas A&M; (14) Utah; (15) UCF; (16) Penn State; (17) Auburn; (18) Iowa; (19) Wisconsin; (20) Mississippi State; (21) Michigan State; (22) Virginia Tech; (23) Iowa State; (24) Nebraska; (25) Stanford
TANNER ROWELL GOES ON SCHOLARSHIP
The Gators got a feel good story on Wednesday when Dan Mullen put offensive lineman Tanner Rowell on scholarship. Rowell is a tough guy, just like his dad, who converted from defense to the O-line during the Steve Spurrier days at UF. Tony brought serious toughness to Florida’s O-line and would be in the face of a teammate who he felt was slacking or just not getting the job done. This is Tanner’s fourth year in the program. He’s the backup center who works his butt off every day in practice. He’s highly deserving of the scholarship.
TEN COLLEGE FOOTBALL PREDICTIONS FOR 2019 1. Willie Taggart will be gainfully employed by FSU in 2020: Unless some booster with more money than brains writes a mega-check to FSU’s financially strapped athletic department, Willie Taggart will still be employed by Florida State University next season no matter what he does this year. No matter how much they’d love to give Taggart the Free Willie treatment, he’ll have a job because they can’t afford to fire him. This story will likely repeat itself next season.
2. Chris Ash (Rutgers) will be the first Power 5 coach fired: Ash really isn’t a bad football coach. He just happens to have one of the worst jobs in all of college football. He’s in the same division with Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State, which means that in a best case scenario, the Scarlet Knights are playing for fifth place in the Big Ten East. There is one winnable game on the Rutgers schedule and that’s the season opener with UMass. If Ash hasn’t been fired by the Liberty game (October 26) he will be fired after because Hugh Freeze will win this game.
3. Miami isn’t that good but will still win nine games: There are really only two losable games on the Miami schedule – Florida and Virginia – but the Himmicanes will find a way to go down for the count a third time, either against Pitt or FSU, both on the road. The defense will be pretty good. The offense will stink and after Tate Martell bombs at QB, they’ll be stuck with N’Kosi Perry, who never met an interception he couldn’t throw. Miami will win nine games and that will look good on paper, but the reality is the Himmicanes would have problems breaking even in either SEC division.
4. Graham Harrell will save Clay Helton’s job:Mason Fine threw for 58 touchdowns and North Texas won 18 games the last two seasons with Harrell calling the plays. If Harrell can do that at a place like North Texas and with a guy like Fine at QB, imagine what he can do with sophomore J.T. Daniels, who can throw to one of the nation’s five best receiving corps. Harrell played for Mike Leach at Texas Tech, but unlike Leach, Harrell incorporates a strong ground game. The Trojans have a tough schedule but they have the athletes and with Harrell transforming the offense, Helton’s job will be safe for at least one more year.
5. Nathan Rourke will have a 3,000/1,000 season at Ohio U:Nathan Rourke is the best quarterback you’ve never heard of. The last two years at Ohio U, he’s thrown for 4,637 yards and 40 touchdowns while rushing for 1,772 yards and 36 TDs. This season he will account for more at least 50 touchdowns rushing and throwing while passing for more than 3,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000.
6. Houston, not UCF, will win the American Athletic Conference title: If McKenzie Milton were healthy and back for his senior season, UCF would be the favorite to make a third straight regular season run of the table in the AAC. Without Milton, the Knights are going to lose one or two games. Houston won’t run the table – the Cougars will be 0-1 after losing to Oklahoma Labor Day weekend – but they will plunder and pillage the AAC competition. With Dana Holgorsen’s offense installed, D’Eriq King will put up Star Wars numbers. For you trivia buffs: D’Eriq King is the QB who kept Kyle Trask on the bench in high school.
7. The most overrated player in the SEC will be … :And the winner is Kelly Bryant, QB, Missouri. The pundits act like this guy will be the second coming of Tim Tebow but he’s not that good. Go back to 2017 when he was the QB at Clemson and surrounded by a lot more talent than he’ll be working with at Mizzou. He averaged a pedestrian 7.0 per pass attempt while throwing for 13 TDs and 3.46 per rush while averaging 3.46. That was with GREAT talent. No wonder Dabo couldn’t wait to turn the offense over to Trevor Lawrence. There is no way Clemson would have won its own division in the ACC much less the national title with KB as the QB.
8. The most overrated player in the nation will be … : And the winner is Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State. I watched him last year at Georgia. I watched him run the Buckeyes’ offense in the spring game. I’m not convinced. Go back to 2018. There were so many opportunities for Kirby Smart to put Fields in games where he could have been a difference maker. Either Kirby didn’t want to hurt Jake Fromm’s feelings or maybe, just maybe, Fields isn’t as good as the hype. I go with the latter.
9. The most overrated team in the SEC will be … :The winner is Texas A&M. The Aggies still have too many holes to fill from the Kevin Sumlin Error (oops … ERA). Jimbo Fisher is the answer at Texas A&M and it’s a matter of when, not if, he delivers the championships they so desperately want in Aggieland. It just won’t be this year. One more recruiting class and he’ll have a team nobody wants to play.
10. The most overrated team in the nation will be … :The winner is Michigan. Poor old Jim Harbaugh. If he wins the Big Ten this year critics will say the only reason he did it was because Urban retired at Ohio State. If he doesn’t win the Big Ten, the critics will say Jungle Jimmy simply isn’t as good a coach as he’s been cracked up to be. No kidding! He’s in a can’t win situation in 2019 with a team that isn’t as good as the one Ohio State and Florida blew out last year. Ohio State or Penn State will win the Big Ten East and the Michigan natives will become very, very restless.
SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR THURSDAY
From Stewart Mandel of The Athletic on Urban Meyer’s image after the document dump of his emails from Ohio State:
“Though not as sinister as originally portrayed by many, Meyer’s handling of the situation was, if nothing else, an exercise in poor leadership, which undermines the larger image he’d cultivated as a highly successful football coach. My sense at this point is that Ohio State fans will always love and defend the guy, but the rest of the public has a lot of ill feelings about him. Possibly the only way that will change in the coming months is if he turns out to be an amazing TV analyst for FOX, which previously served as a launching pad for A-Rod to transform his villainous image.”
From Dana O’Neill of The Athletic on the perceived hot seat for Texas basketball coach Shaka Smart:
“The contract status is big. If Texas wants to part with Smart after this season, it will have to pay him $10 million. That’s not a lot to a school with pockets as deep as Texas has, but it’s not chump change when you also have to open the wallet for a new coach and staff. Remember, too, the Longhorns are moving into a new arena in two years and have always wanted Smart to open it. He’s also a well-respected coach, with high principles and devoid of NCAA scandal, and in this climate, that counts (or at least it should).
But there is no denying the results have not matched what anyone wished for — including Smart. The Longhorns are 71-66 in his tenure, with just two early NCAA Tournament exits to go with that NIT title. Maybe most damning for Smart, Texas Tech played in the national title game this spring and Texas A&M just hired Buzz Williams. Texas does not like to play second fiddle to anyone, particularly its in-state rivals.”
SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF
Tennessee D-lineman Emmit Gooden has torn his ACL and will miss the entire 2019 season. Gooden, who had 33 tackles last year, will get a redshirt and be eligible to return in 2020. Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski is hoping to have an answer for a starting QB within a couple of weeks. Ball State grad transfer and redshirt sophomore Deuce Wallace are currently battling for the starting job.
Freshman running back Trey Sanders has caught the attention of Nick Saban in the first week of training camp. “His work ethic is really good, he’s learning every day … He’s got some ability that I think may be able to contribute to the team.”
Arkansas head coach Chad Morris doesn’t seem to pleased with veteran tight end Cheyenne O’Grady. “Cheyenne O’Grady has to decide if this is what he wants to do,” Morris said. Wide receiver Isaiah Epps has had a screw placed in his foot to repair a fracture. He’s expected to miss six weeks of football.
If defensive end Devontae Davis has to have surgery on his foot he will likely miss the entire season says South Carolina coach Will Muschamp.
Former Mississippi State wide receiver Keith Mixon, who caught 10 passes for 137 yards last year, has transferred to Western Michigan.
Following the dismissal of assistant basketball coach Chuck Person, Auburn self-imposed sanctions on the program including limiting official visits, unofficial visits, contacts, evaluations and phone calls.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Oakland Raiders wide receiver Antonio Brown is dealing with the after effects of frostbite suffered while he was in a cryotherapy machine in France last month. I’m not making this up … Clemson’s football team was cited for eight secondary violations of NCAA rules including the heinous crime of using confetti in a photo shoot during a recruit’s official visit. Sounds like a jailable offense to me … Tiger Woods scaled things back on the final nine holes at the pro-am of the Northern Trust Open Wednesday after complaining of stiffness in his back … Former Gator Pete Alonso is back on a roll following a mini-slump after he won the Home Run Derby prior to the All-Star Game. Alonso has four hits in his last ten at bats with two homers and three RBI. Alonso hit a 2-run homer in the New York Mets’ 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins Wednesday night, his third home run in as many days.