Thoughts of the Day: December 23, 2019

A WANDERING MONDAY MIND

(1) The easy thing is to criticize Mike White for Florida’s 65-62 loss to Utah State Saturday, but all the coaching in the world can’t make the ball go in the basket. Say what you will about White’s offense, but the Gators had plenty of open shots and the ball wouldn’t go in the basket. Florida was 4-17 from the three-point line. Hit one more three-ball and the Gators are in overtime. Hit two layups – I lost count how many were missed – and they win. Florida once again played good enough defense to win the game. When you hold an opponent to 65 you should be able to win, but of course, that means shooting better than 32.3% overall and 23.5% from the three-point line. When the Gators are making shots, they can beat anyone in the country. When they’re shooting like they did Saturday, they can also lose to anyone in the country.


(2) I’ve had it with players electing to sit out their bowl game to start preparing for the NFL. What a bunch of hooey. I can understand if a player has had an injury-filled year and he’s still not 100% healed, but to sit out for fear of getting hurt in the bowl game? Give me a break. There is a far greater chance of getting hurt during the 12 games (13 if you make the conference championship game) of the regular season than in the bowl game. If a player is that concerned about getting hurt and diminishing his chances of getting drafted in the first round or two, then he should elect to sit out the entire season, but that would be counter-productive since his draft status would indeed be diminished. So the reason players elect to sit out the bowl game? Here’s my theory: They want the money their agent is throwing out there at them and they’re being pressured by someone to take the money now rather than wait three weeks. So, sorry CJ Henderson. You’re only being selfish. Jon Greenard is playing. He knows fully well the money will still be there on December 31 (Gators play in the Orange Bowl on December 30). A player who sits out the bowl game is letting down teammates that deserve better.


(3) Following the Fighting Clarabelles’ disaster of a performance in the New Mexico Bowl, HBC Jim McElwain said, “We learn from our failures.” Yeah, I guess you could say a 48-11 loss to a team that was averaging 19 points a game is a failure. And you could also say giving up 510 yards to a team that only once gained more than 400 yards in a game is a failure. It will be interesting to see if Old Yeller can consistently win at Central Michigan. I think he’s far better equipped to win at that level than at a Power Five conference school since there is far less media scrutiny about his inability to answer a direct question. It’s also a fact that he hasn’t coached anywhere long enough to determine if he’s got it in him to sustain success whether it’s at the MAC level or anywhere else.


(4) How weird was it watching Washington whomp Boise State Saturday night. On one sideline you have Chris Peterson, the guy who really turned Boise State into a powerhouse, coaching his final game as the HBC at Washington. Over on the Boise State sideline was Bryan Harsin, Peterson’s offensive coordinator for Boise State when the Broncos pulled that stunning Fiesta Bowl upset of Oklahoma in 2006. Peterson is calling it quits for reasons only he knows for sure, but people who know him aren’t the least bit surprised because football has never completely consumed him. Harsin loves Boise. He grew up in the city, played QB for Boise State and all but four of the years he’s been coaching since 2000 have been at Boise State. Perhaps Harsin is a lifer who never intends to leave but we thought that about Peterson, too. Peterson said no to one opportunity after another to leave Boise before he took the Washington job in 2014. I wonder if Harsin is content to spend his career winning the Mountain West or if he’s going to get the itch to expand his horizons.


(5) The more I watch college basketball this season, the more I am convinced there isn’t a single super team out there. Already, five teams (Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, Louisville and Kansas) have been ranked #1 so far this season. Preseason #1 Michigan State is 9-3. Kentucky, which was in everybody’s top four and favored to not only win the SEC but advance to the Final Four, is 8-3. Last year’s national champ, Virginia, lost to South Carolina at home Sunday afternoon and is now 9-2. There are exactly three undefeated teams in all of Division I – Liberty (14-0), San Diego State (12-0) and Auburn (11-0). I will be surprised if there are more than two teams with fewer than five losses when we get to NCAA Selection Sunday.

(6) CBS and the SEC will divorce following the 2023 season. CBS made a bid in the neighborhood of $300 million a year to retain the rights to broadcast SEC football but when the SEC didn’t accept the bid and sign on the dotted line, CBS walked away from the negotiations. Sports Business Journal says the SEC and ESPN/ABC are in serious negotiations to finalize a deal but that Fox Sports will make a presentation and a bid next month. Personally, I’m not thrilled at the idea that ESPN/ABC will get the exclusive to the SEC since it ties the league to one revenue source and will give ESPN/ABC far too much say in scheduling, etc. ESPN already gets plenty of SEC games in the Saturday noon and Saturday evening portals and lest we forget, the SEC Network is nothing more than an extension of ESPN/ABC. It’s probably a longshot at this point, but I do hope that Fox Sports will come in with a blockbuster bid that will blow ESPN/ABC away although I have to wonder how the SEC would maintain that 3:30 p.m. Saturday slot since Fox Sports already has deals going with the Pac-12 and Big Ten.


(7) If Clemson can win a second straight College Football Playoff, the Tigers will enter the 2020 season with a 30-game winning streak and the odds-on favorite to run the table for a third straight year. Besides the usual weaklings in the ACC for 2020, the Tigers’ non-conference schedule is Akron, at Notre Dame, The Citadel and South Carolina. Win all the regular season games and then the ACC Championship Game and Clemson could head into the College Football Playoff with a 43-game winning streak. The all-time collegiate record is Oklahoma’s 47-game streak from 1953-57. Second place is held by Washington, which won 40 in a row from 1908-14. Since the 1980s, the top win streak is held by Miami, 34 straight from 2000-03. And now you know why Bobby Bowden remarked more than once that it’s a whole lot easier to win national championships playing an ACC schedule than having to play in the SEC.


SOME SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF

Alabama: Will there be some bad blood between Nick Saban and former DC, now Georgia HBC Kirby Smart? After speaking to Alabama QB signee Bryce Young’s father, Andrew Bone of Bama Insider reports that Georgia tried to get Young to visit Athens the weekend before Early National Signing Day and urged him to keep it all on the hush-hush.

Auburn: BUCK end Nick Coe is skipping Auburn’s Outback Bowl game with Minnesota to prepare for the NFL. It’s not like Coe will be missed. Coe regressed in nearly every category after a standout 2018, dropping from seven sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss to zero sacks and three tackles for loss in 2019.

Georgia: Now that Georgia’s attempt to snake QB Bryce Young away from Alabama has come to light, I have to wonder how that makes UGa QB signee Carson Beck feel? And, is Georgia’s attempt to woo Beck from the clutches of Nick Saban a clearcut sign that Kirby Smart knows Jake Fromm will declare for the NFL?

Mississippi State: Some former Mississippi State players are calling for Joe Moorhead to raid the Florida staff to bring back Jamar Chaney to coach the linebackers. Chaney, who played linebacker for Dan Mullen at MSU, works at the assistant director of player personnel at Florida.

Tennessee: Lamonte Turner, last year’s SEC Sixth Man of the Year, has been diagnosed with Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, which occurs when blood vessels or nerves between the collarbone and ribs are compressed, causing pain, numbness and weakness. Turner will have season-ending surgery.


ESPN GRADES SEC RECRUITING CLASSES National rank in parenthesis

(2) Alabama: A+; (4) Georgia: A+; (5) LSU: A+; (6) Auburn: A; (7) Texas A&M: A; (8) FLORIDA: A; (16) South Carolina: A-; (18) Tennessee: B+; (23) Kentucky: B; (24) Mississippi State: B+; (41) Ole Miss: C+; (NR) Arkansas: C; (NR) Vanderbilt: C; (NR) Missouri: C


GOOD QUOTES FOR MONDAY From Christian Caple of The Athletic, Chris Peterson on why he decided it was time to retire as the football coach at Washington: “I’m not burnt out. That didn’t even cross my mind. I gave more of my heart and soul to this place this year, with the things that we’ve been through, than I feel like I’ve ever given. So it’s not about that. It’s about living true to who you are and are you enjoying this 24/7/365 job? And if you’re not, it’s crazy to either not change your mindset or change your circumstances. So it was time for me to change.”


From Bill Connelly of ESPN, the sense of urgency for Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh to beat Nick Saban and Alabama in the Citrus Bowl: “To critics, though, he is firmly ensconced in the ‘can’t win the big one’ territory. He’s 0-5 against Ohio State and 2-11 against top-10 teams. His Wolverines have made two New Year’s Six Bowls and gone 0-2. He’s hit a roadblock in his quest to take UM from very good to elite, and it’s too early to know if he’s a Tom Osborne or a John Cooper.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal as a graduate. Costello suffered through an injury-filled 2019, but in 2018 he threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns. Costello is one of 12 Stanford players who have put their names in the transfer portal … Bush Hamdan, who worked for Will Muschamp at Florida’s receivers coach in 2012, was dismissed as the offensive coordinator at Washington on new HBC Jimmy Lake’s first day on the job … Julio Jones became the fastest receiver in NFL history to reach 12,000 yards for his career on Sunday. Jones has 1,200 or more receiving yards for six straight seasons, the second longest streak in NFL history … Willie Taggart has hired former USF head coach Jim Leavitt has his defensive coordinator at Florida Atlantic. Meanwhile, USF’s new head coach Jeff Scott has hired former FAU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer as his DC. Spencer was the interim coach at FAU for the Owls’ 52-28 Boca Raton Bowl win over SMU … Jameis Winston has thrown for a career-high 4,908 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. He has also completed 28 passes to the other team, easily the most in all of the NFL … Since taking over as the starting QB for the Denver Broncos, rookie Drew Lock is 3-1 with 834 passing yards and six touchdown passes. He’s played well enough that the Broncos just might feel the need to shop veteran Joe Flacco in the offseason .. Major League Baseball is discussing the possibility of computer-called balls and strikes in the Florida State League in the 2020 season.

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