Thoughts of the Day: January 11, 2021

Updated: Jan 14

A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning:

THE MULLEN WATCH: WEEK TWO Let’s start with that report that came out of an ESPN NFL insider over the weekend claiming “sources” that say Florida head coach Dan Mullen will be interviewing with the New York Jets this week. Could it happen? Sure. The Red Sea could part any moment now and somewhere in Israel up around Galilee there are 5,000 waiting on lunch with only five barley loaves and two fishes available to feed them.

So, sure, it could happen but unless you see donkeys flying across the horizon, don’t count on it actually happening. The Jets, it seems, have actually interviewed Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and this week they’re interviewing wunderkind Joe Brady, the former LSU passing coordinator who spent 2020 calling the plays for the NFL Carolina Panthers. The Jets are not interviewing Iowa State head coach Matt Campbell. The alleged interest in Campbell, who says he’s not going anywhere and has no interest in the No Fun League, comes another inside who also cites “sources.”

Now, there is also a report out there – another “insider” from the same network that said Mullen was going to interview with the Jets – claiming Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson’s job might be in jeopardy. Just a few days ago, the Eagles were saying Pederson would be back for the 2021 season. This also comes from “sources.”

Figure before another 24 hours pass and (a) because Pederson and Eagles owner Jeff Lurie are meeting in the state of Florida, someone with “inside sources” will (b) claim that Dan Mullen will find it convenient to interview with Lurie and (c) is likely to become the new head coach because he (d) played tight end collegiately at Usinis College which is (e) 35 miles from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia where the Eagles play. How’s that for logic?

Here are a few things we do know Dan Mullen is doing this week, none of which involve interviewing for an NFL job. At least yet. Don’t forget the flying donkeys. (1) He’s dealing with at least a dozen early enrollee freshmen, who start school today. (2) He’s welcoming former 5-star running back and Clemson transfer Demarkcus Bowman on campus.

(3) He’s getting Penn State grad transfer nose tackle Antonio Coleman situated and will be talking with a few others in the transfer portal who believe the grass might be greener in Florida than their former place of eligibility. Although Mullen would love to have all his transfers in place by the end of the week, a couple may have to wait until May to enroll. (4) He’s already hired former Auburn secondary coach Wesley McGriff to coach the corners and now has to make some decisions about filling at least one more position on his staff. Emphasis on at least one more position because there is a possibility some staff shuffling is taking place. When Jason Higdon says “don’t assume anything” about what Mullen will do next, then understand anything is possible this week so buckle up.

Without any insider “sources” to provide information you are dying to hear you’ll just have to wait for that next juicy rumor. Until then, however, you can know Dan Mullen is going about his job as the head coach at the University of Florida.

That is all.

TRE MANN AND SCOTTIE LEWIS: WHEREFORE ART THOU? In the last two games, losses to Alabama and Kentucky by a combined 33 points, Tre Mann and Scottie Lewis have scored 22 points between them. That’s 18 for Mann, four for Lewis. Prior to the Alabama game (15-point loss) they were averaging 29.2 points between them. I’m not a math major, but that’s a differential of 18 points per game (58.2 points minus 22 equals 36, divide by two).

Mann is not a natural point guard and in the last two games that has been exposed. He’s not quick as point guards go, doesn’t have natural instincts as a penetrator and when ultra-quick guards frustrate him his shot goes in the tank. The Gators can’t afford for Mann to have off nights scoring the basketball. In the last two games, Mann is 6-20 from the field, 4-9 from the 3-point line, 12 rebounds, nine assists, one blocked shot and four steals. He needs to spend most of his time on the wing where he can be a serious scorer and Tyree Appleby needs to play the point although with far fewer turnovers.

As for Lewis, who knows what’s going on with him? He got two quick fouls against Alabama and never was the same in the second half. The Gators needed a big bounce back game from him against Kentucky, but his 32 minutes produced only two points, three rebounds, no assists, two blocked shots and a steal. His last two game totals 2-10 from the field, 0-1 on 3-pointers, four rebounds, zero assists, four blocked shots and two steals.

Mann and Lewis aren’t the only problems for Mike White, but with Keyontae Johnson sidelined probably for the remainder of the season, he can’t afford his leading scorers to have off nights, particularly against good teams. The last two games have provided a blueprint for the next 14 games against SEC opponents. Concentrate on taking Mann and Lewis out of the game and the Gators are likely to go belly up.

The Gators are 5-3 overall and 2-2 in the SEC with Ole Miss (6-4, 1-2 SEC) coming to town Tuesday night followed by a roadie to Starkville to face surprisingly strong Mississippi State (8-4, 3-1 SEC). It might seem too early to call this a turning point of the season, but even if the Gators win both games it’s going to be dicey the rest of the way. Lose the next two and UF could be in for a very long season.

SEC BASKETBALL SCHEDULE Tuesday night Ole Miss (6-4, 1-2 SEC) at FLORIDA (5-3, 2-2 SEC) #9 Tennessee (9-1, 3-1 SEC) at Vanderbilt (4-5, 0-3 SEC) Alabama (9-3, 4-0 SEC) at Kentucky (4-6, 3-0 SEC) Wednesday night Auburn (6-6, 0-4 SEC) at Georgia (7-3, 0-3 SEC) Arkansas (10-2, 2-2 SEC) at LSU (8-2, 3-1 SEC) Texas A&M (6-4, 1-3 SEC) at Mississippi State (8-4, 3-1 SEC)

WILL NICK SABAN SET THE RECORD FOR NATIONAL TITLES TONIGHT? Since going 7-6 in his first year as Alabama’s head coach, Nick Saban is 162-17, the greatest run any coach has had since the leather helmet era. If you add his years as the head coach at Toledo, Michigan State and LSU with Alabama, Saban is 260-65-1 with six national titles. If Alabama beats Ohio State tonight in the national championship game, Saban will tie Bear Bryant for the most national championships at Alabama (six) and set the modern record for most national championships by any head coach.

In Alabama-speak, forget that one at LSU. The only national titles they care about in Tuscaloosa are the ones that were won at the University of Alabama. Coaches with national titles at Alabama are Wallace Wade (3), Frank Thomas (2), Bear Bryant (6), Gene Stallings (1) and Saban (5). The championships by Wade were in the pre-Associated Press poll. There are also four unofficial national titles – 1945, 1966, 1975 and 1977 – the last three belonging to Bryant.

Following their wins in the College Football Playoff semifinals back on January 1, Alabama was installed as a 7.5-point favorite. Ten days later, Alabama is established as an 8.5-point favorite with an over/under of 75.5 points. The OddsShark computer predicts an Alabama win, 53.1-36.1 (don’t know how you score 1/10thof a point, but I just report it).

Having watched every game both Alabama and Ohio State have played this year, I’ll go with an Alabama win. I think Ohio State is quite capable of winning this game and if the Buckeyes pulled it off, I wouldn’t be shocked, but my reason to pick Alabama is based on the fact Bama’s offense rivals that of LSU in 2019 as the best I’ve ever seen. The consistency is there as is the week-to-week improvement. Is there another team in the country that could have lost a player of Jaylen Waddle’s talent without missing a beat? Alabama did and what’s amazing is Waddle might be playing tonight. How are you going to double up on Devonta Smith if Waddle is on the other side of the field?

Ohio State’s win over Clemson was eye-opening, but I haven’t seen the consistency with the Buckeyes plus I take into account that Clemson played without its best defensive player (ejected targeting) for nearly three full quarters and without its second best player (targeting in the ACC Championship Game) until the second half. In wins over Indiana and Northwestern, the only ranked teams the Buckeyes played other than Clemson, Justin Fields threw just two touchdowns and five interceptions in the wins over Indiana and Northwestern. That is more interceptions in two games than Alabama’s Mac Jones threw in 12. Fields is a great talent, but to beat Alabama he can’t turn it over and will have to play at least as well as he did against Clemson.

I think the team that combines for five punts and turnovers will lose this game. I think that team will be Ohio State. Alabama has way too many weapons and its defense has played well against better teams than the Buckeyes beat. THE SAYER SAYS SOOTH: Move over Bear. Nick gets number seven. Alabama 41, Ohio State 28

SOME FOOTBALL STUFF BOTH COLLEGE AND PRO Arkansas offensive line coach Brad Davis, who spent the 2017 season at Florida working for Chief Yellow Teeth, now of the Mount Pleasant, Michigan band of Chippewas, has been offered the job as Clay Helton’s O-line coach at Southern Cal.

Former Tennessee QB Jarrett Guarantano is transferring to Washington State where he will have a legitimate shot to be the starting QB next year.

LSU, which whiffed on hiring Cincinnati’s Marcus Freeman (he’s headed to Notre Dame), is still without a defensive coordinator. While Coach O ponders his next move, former DC Bo Pelini will have to squeeze by on a $4 million buyout settlement.

NBC’s Dan Patrick says he’s hearing that Georgia “got sloppy in recruiting” and and may have the NCAA taking a long hard look into the way Kirby Smart runs his program. Georgia, of course, is doing a very fine impersonation of Sargent Schultz.

Coleman Hutzler, who spent three years working for Will Muschamp at Florida, could be the new special teams coordinator at Ole Miss. Hutzler was the co-defensive coordinator at Texas last year.

Next week’s Tampa Bay at New Orleans NFC divisional playoff game will be must see with future Hall of Famers Tom Brady going head-to-head with Drew Brees. Brady (42) has thrown 581 career touchdown passes while Brees (41) has thrown 571. The Saints hold the edge in former Gators with three – Alex Anzalone, Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and Janoris Jenkins.

Markaviest Bryant, aka Big Kat, is planning to play somewhere other than Auburn next year. Bryant has 10 sacks in his collegiate career.

ONE LAST PITHY THOUGHT ON A MONDAY: Amid all these reports that Tennessee is deepest and darkest with the NCAA over recruiting violations, the school has hired attorney Mike Glazier $500 an hour and Kyle Skillman at $375 per to investigate on behalf of the school. If you’re prone to wager on such things, bet the farm Glazier and Skillman find wrongful doing on the part of head football coach Jeremy Pruitt. To fire Pruitt without cause will cost UT $12.8 million, with cause absolutely nothing which makes Glazier and Pruitt a bargain even if they both invoice for 300 billable hours.

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