A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning: THERE ARE 3,000+ DIVISION I AND D1AA PLAYERS IN THE TRANSFER PORTAL That is according to Sports Illustrated as of last Wednesday. Since there has been no slowdown of players announcing they’re bolting one place and looking for a better place to play, those numbers have probably increased by at least a couple hundred players. We’ll probably see wholesale movement in the portal this week as players will be looking to which coaches get a new gig coming out of the coaches convention in San Antonio.
Two things you need to know. First, this is a buyer’s market and there are far more players in the portal than there are openings since the bulk of the outgoing transfers have already been accounted for and replaced by high school kids who signed back in December. Second, there is talent out there but the schools that are going to benefit most from the portal are the ones who have an entire department devoted to scouting/recruiting transfers.
And now you another reason why Billy Napier announced back on December 5 that he was bringing in an “army” of support staff. The foundation of the Florida program will always be the high school and junior college kids, but anyone who thinks Napier won’t be a regular shopper in the portal has his head buried in the sand. You don’t put the toothpaste back in the tube so the portal is here to stay although we may see some tweaking of the rules in the near future. To deal with the transfers, Napier has an entire department that will be treating this much the way an NFL general manager deals with free agency. If you don’t have a player ready to step in at a certain position, you go find what you need in the portal and you bring him in.
While I expect the Gators will eventually land somewhere between 10-15 transfers I wouldn’t be surprised to see Napier add only 2-3 this week. His first priority will be filling out the coaching staff. He’ll complete the offensive staff with Rob Sale, who it’s already being reported is leaving the New York Giants for Florida where he will be the O-line coach. Karl Scott (Minnesota Vikings) would be a great addition but he could be waiting to see what happens with the Alabama staff (coached for Nick Saban 2018-20). If Scott joins the staff, the Gators will have only one remaining opening (D-line) to fill.
IF YOU THOUGHT AUBURN WAS PHYSICAL, JUST WAIT UNTIL WEDNESDAY As we wonder whatever happened to those tough guy Gators who spent 40 minutes outpushing and outshoving Florida State and Ohio State back in November, we have to prepare for what’s coming to Gainesville Wednesday night. FSU and the Buckeyes were very physical. So was Oklahoma but the Gators were pushed back every time the Sooners pushed them. The last two games against Alabama and Auburn, the Gators have come up short when it comes to matching physicality and now LSU comes to town, probably the most physical team in the SEC.
In their most recent win, LSU brutalized Tennessee center John Fulkerson so badly that in his postgame remarks, Rick Barnes said that Fulkerson “can’t stand there with a team that we’ve talked about all week that’s going to reach, grab and poke at the ball and let the ball get away from his body.” Fulkerson had three points and five rebounds against LSU.
That’s what the Gators can expect Wednesday and unless they’re willing to rediscover their inner tough guy and match LSU push for push and shove for shove, it might a third straight SEC loss. LSU will have seen the tapes of the Alabama and Auburn games so you can bet the Tigers are going to amp up the physicality with the hope of wearing the Gators down. The Gators are going to have to take the approach that when LSU punches, they’ll punch back twice as hard.