Thoughts of the Day: February 7, 2020

BREWSTER IS A HOME RUN HIRE FOR DAN MULLEN

On December 31, 2013, Dalvin Cook backed out of his commitment to Will Muschamp and the Florida Gators. It was a stunning blow to the Gators, who started the 2013 season ranked #10 nationally only to crash and burn after a game two loss to Miami. A game later, quarterback Jeff Driskel broke his leg and was lost for the season. Even after the Miami loss, the Gators won their next three and were ranked #20 when the bottom fell out. Rock bottom was a stunning, 28-20, loss to Georgia Southern, then a D1AA team.


Cook’s commitment gave the Gators hope that 2013 was an aberration but when he backed out it left Muschamp without that game-changing running back he so desperately needed to run a ground and pound attack. Cook’s decision almost foretold that Muschamp’s remaining time in Gainesville would be short. On National Signing Day, Cook made the call for Florida State. Had he stuck with Florida, it’s entirely possible that Will Muschamp would still be the UF coach. Muschamp was a tremendous defensive recruiter, but he never landed an electric runner like Cook, who would go on to run for 4,464 yards and 46 touchdowns in three seasons at FSU.


Pointing out what happened with Cook is important since the guy who did the grunt work to flip him was Tim Brewster, then Jimbo Fisher’s tight ends coach and ace recruiter. This is the same Tim Brewster that elected to leave Mack Brown’s North Carolina staff Thursday to join Dan Mullen’s Florida staff where he will coach tight ends and most likely become the Gators’ ace recruiter in South Florida. At Florida, Brewster will be coaching Kyle Pitts, who has to rank as one of the favorites to win the 2020 Mackey Award as the nation's top tight end.


Mullen and Brewer worked together at Mississippi State in 2012 when Brewster coached wide receivers. Brewster left for FSU the next year and spend 2013-18 working with Fisher at FSU and then Texas A&M (2018). Brewster worked for Mack Brown at UNC last year and was instrumental in flipping QB Sam Howell from FSU. Brewster was the lead recruiter at UNC for Seffner Armwood DT Clyde Pinder Jr., who picked the Tar Heels over the Gators. Florida currently has eight 2021 commitments, six of which have a 4-star rating.


This is a home run hire for Mullen, who is already in the process of assembling a powerhouse 2021 recruiting class. In landing Brewster, Mullen gets an elite level recruiter that can help the Gators land such top South Florida talent as safety James Williams (6-5, 215, Opa Locka, FL Western), outside linebacker Terrence Lewis (6-1, 200, Hollywood, FL Chaminade-Madonna) and defensive tackle Leonard Taylor (6-4, 250, Miami, FL Palmetto). In the 247Sports rankings for 2021, the Gators rank fourth nationally and first in the SEC.


BASKETBALL GUT CHECK GAME AT OLE MISS The time for patting each other on the back for that Wednesday night comeback from a 22-point deficit to beat Georgia ended Thursday morning. The Georgia win was one for the ages, but that’s in the past and now the Gators (14-8, 6-3 SEC) have a gut check game at Ole Miss (11-11, 2-7 SEC) Saturday afternoon (2 p.m., ESPN2). The Gators beat Ole Miss earlier in the season 71-57 in Gainesville, but the Rebels were without leading scorer Brein Tyree (18.9 per game), who is coming off a 38-point outburst in their win at South Carolina Tuesday night.


The Gators dealt with a volume scorer Wednesday night when Georgia’s Anthony Edwards went off for 32 points, but Edwards scored only six points (four from the foul line) in the final 16 minutes. Tyree isn’t as big and strong as Edwards, but his game is similar. He’s a tremendous straight-line driver who can go into a shooter’s coma when everything he throws up goes in.


When the Gators beat Ole Miss previously, the Gators played one of their best defensive games of the year, holding the Rebels to just 18.8% shooting from the three-point line while forcing 18 turnovers. The Rebels aren’t a great three-point shooting team but they can go on streaks when it seems they can’t miss. That means the Gators need a defensive replay of the first outing.


This is a gut check game for the Gators since it’s against an SEC bottom feeder and the first game of the second half of the SEC schedule. Win it and the Gators are at the seven-win mark in league play. Figure they will need a minimum of 10 to make the NCAA field.

SEC BASKETBALL Saturday’s games FLORIDA (14-8, 6-3, SEC) AT OLE MISS (11-11, 2-7 SEC), ESPN2 #18 LSU (17-5, 8-1 SEC) AT #11 Auburn (20-2, 7-2 SEC), ESPN #15 Kentucky (17-5, 7-2 SEC) at Tennessee (13-9, 5-4 SEC), CBS Texas A&M (11-10, 5-4 SEC) at South Carolina (13-9, 5-4 SEC), SEC Network Arkansas (16-6, 4-5 SEC) at Missouri (10-12, 2-7 SEC), SEC Network Alabama (12-10, 4-5 SEC) at Georgia (12-10, 2-7 SEC), SEC Network Vanderbilt (9-13, 1-8 SEC) at Mississippi State (14-8, 5-4 SEC), SEC Network


A MIND IS A TERRIBLE THING TO BASTE: FRIDAY EDITION

(1) These are the five best college basketball teams that I’ve seen this season: (1) Baylor; (2) Gonzaga; (3) Dayton; (4) San Diego State; (5) Kansas. Honorable mention: Florida State. The five best players I’ve seen this season: (1) Obi Toppin, Dayton; (2) Anthony Edwards, Georgia; (3) Markus Howard, Marquette; (4) Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga; (5) Devon Dotson, Kansas. Honorable mention: Jared Butler, Baylor. Best defensive team: Baylor. Best offensive team: Gonzaga. Best defensive player shorter than 6-7: Mark Vital, Baylor. Best defensive player taller than 6-7: Udoka Azubuike, Kansas. Best Scorer: Anthony Edwards, Georgia. Best Shooter: Jake Toolson, BYU. Best 3-Point Shooter: Ryan McMahon, Louisville.


(2) It will be interesting to see how Lane Kiffin spins this. Wednesday at a signing ceremony at Northwood High School in Shreveport, Louisiana, wide receiver Detraveon Brown announced he was signing with Ole Miss. There’s only one slight problem. Ole Miss pulled the offer several days prior to signing day.


(3) All of Vanderbilt’s quarterbacks from 2019 either graduated or transferred out. Now they have four signed quarterbacks, the latest of which is former Kentucky backup Danny Clark, who spent 2019 at Copiah-Lincoln Community College in Mississippi. Of course, none of these guys are currently enrolled so it’s anybody’s guess how – or even if – Vandy can hold a spring football game. This does not bode well for HBC Derek Mason, who lost his protector when AD Malcolm Turner resigned earlier in the week.


(4) The Athletic listed the five most disappointing classes as (1) Southern Cal (#55 nationally, #10 Pac-12); (2) Virginia Tech (#71 nationally, #14 ACC); (3) Michigan State (#43 nationally, #10 Big Ten); (4) Illinois (#88 nationally, #14 Big Ten) and (5) UCF (#70 nationally, #4 American Athletic). Consider Clay Helton (USC), Justin Fuente (VaTech) and Lovie Smith (Illinois) on seriously hot seats.


(5) Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com points out that the 2019 College Football Playoff was the first time that all four semifinalists (LSU, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Clemson) placed among the top six teams nationally in scoring. LSU led the country in scoring (48.4 points per game) and total offense (568.4 yards) yet finished 31st in yards allowed (344.2) and 32nd in points allowed (21.9).


(6) Marty Blazer, the Pittsburgh financial adviser who became the government’s star witness in the college basketball corruption trial, was sentenced to a year of probation Thursday for defrauding athlete clients. He has to pay $1.56 million in restitution but avoids jail time. Blazer next becomes the NCAA’s star witness in dropping the hammer on schools that have already received their Notices of Allegations and those awaiting. Blazer also is said to have detailed information on how college football programs paid athletes. At the sentencing hearing Thursday, the NCAA submitted a letter of support for Blazer, detailing how he has cooperated in their investigations. Coaches like Sean Miller (Arizona), Will Wade (LSU) and Bill Self (Kansas) are sitting on tight sphincters about now.


(7) The Jordan Burch saga has come to an end … finally. Burch, who committed but didn’t sign with South Carolina at the Early National Signing Day, didn’t sign his letter of intent Wednesday, either, creating speculation that maybe he was going to jilt the Gamecocks in favor of LSU. Burch submitted his signed LOI Thursday evening. He’s South Carolina’s highest rated recruit since Jadeveon Clowney signed in 2011.


GOOD QUOTES FOR FRIDAY

From Dennis Dodd of CBSSports, former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik on the biggest trend in all of college football: You’re going to get fired in Power 5 football if you don’t have a quarterback.”


From 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh, former Steelers wide receiver and all-around NFL bad guy Antonio Brown issued an apology: “I apologize to those guys for the indiscretions for the unwanted attention that probably caused those guys certain things, the organization, so obviously you want to clear out any baggage or any disrespect, or unintended attention that ws brought on to the organization. These guys gave me an opportunity when I was 21-years old and I’m forever grateful to those guys.”


Tom Verducci of Sports Illustrated on why the Boston Red Sox trade of outfielder Mookie Betts and pitcher David Price to the Los Angeles Dodgers is actually a good economic move: “What the Red Sox are doing in trading Betts to the Dodgers and scotch-taping the three years left on the contract of David Price along with him, makes economic sense. As three-time ‘offenders,’ Boston was looking at a progressive tax rate of 50% tax on the overage, up from 20% in the first phase. The Yankees and Dodgers in recent years have hit the reset tax button themselves, paving the way for the coastal titans to snag the two best players to change teams this winter: Gerit Cole is in New York and Mookie Betts is in Los Angeles.”


RANDOM THOUGHTS: When Duke beat Boston College 63-55 earlier in the week, the two teams combined to miss their first 27 three-pointers. For the game they were a combined 3-33 (1-15 for Duke, 2-18 for BC) … Former Texas Tech quarterback Jett Duffey was denied admission to Central Michigan due to a second Title IX complaint against him while at Texas Tech … Alabama D-line coach Brian Baker left for the NFL, a move that was expected ever since Freddie Roach was poached from the Ole Miss staff a couple of weeks ago … Roach was officially announced as the new D-line coach Thursday … Tom Brady is a free agent. Despite all the predictions that Brady can get a go-zillion dollar contract somewhere else, I doubt seriously he’s going to sign anywhere but with the New England Patriots. Maybe he could make a lot more money somewhere else, but when you have made as much money as Brady has, money probably isn’t the single motivating factor in his decision. I just have to believe that since Brady started his career in New England with Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft he will end his career there.

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