A few thoughts to jump start your Wednesday morning:
MULLEN GETS $1.5 MILLION SALARY BUMP, THREE MORE YEARS So maybe Dan Mullen isn’t in a sink or swim year after all. That’s been the speculation by any number of so-called pundits ever since Florida lost to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl followed by a couple of weeks of Mullen to the NFL rumors that never panned out.
Obviously, Florida athletic director Scott Stricklin must be convinced that Mullen (a) has the Florida program on the rise and (b) plans to remain a college football coach rather than give the No Fun League a shot. Why else would he give Mullen a three-year contract extension and bump his pay to $7.6 million per year? That, by the way, is more than the Aggies pay Jimbo ($7.5 million) and more than the Poodles pay Kirby ($6.8 million). Only Nick Saban ($9.1 million) and Coach O ($8.68 million) make more among SEC coaches. Nationally, the $1.5 million raise ranks Mullen fifth (Dabo is third and Harbaugh fourth) nationally.
Mullen is 29-9 in three seasons at UF, the second best mark in school history for a coach in his first three seasons on the job (Urban Meyer was 31-8 from 2005-07). He’s taken the Gators to three straight New Year’s Eve bowl games and won the SEC East championship last year. That is the best three-year stretch of any UF coach since Meyer departed after the 2010 season.
Comment: The timing of the announcement couldn’t have been more strategic. Tuesday was the first day of on-campus recruiting in 444 days. What better way to show the numerous recruits who made their way to Gainesville that UF is 100 percent behind its head football coach than a significant raise and a contract extension? What better way to stick a sock in the negative recruiters than a powerful financial commitment to go with the ongoing construction of an $85 million palace of a stand-alone football facility?
MORE UF CONTRACT NEWS
Basketball coach Mike White was given a two-year extension that will keep him at Florida through 2027. There was no raise included in the contract which pays $3.083 million next year and $3.208 million afterward. White is 123-73 in six seasons at UF.
Comment: Considering he had four years remaining on his contract, the two-year extension is surprising. White is viewed nationally as a bright young coach, but since a second place SEC finish in 2017 the Gators haven’t finished higher than fourth. Even with a roster improved by the additions of four quality transfers, finishing higher than fourth in the SEC might be difficult since the league should be better from top to bottom.
Womens basketball coach Cam Newbauer, 46-71 in four seasons, has been given a three-year contract extension designed to keep him at Florida through 2024-25. Newbauer makes $500,000 per year.
Comment: LSU just gave Kim Mulkey a 7-year deal worth $22.5 million to deliver NCAA championships. Her record at Baylor speaks for itself. If you want championship-level results, then you need to write championship-level checks. You don’t win championships by going cheap and then giving three-year contract extensions after a fourth straight losing record.
Linebackers coach Christian Robinson was given a $100,000 raise (to $400,000). New safeties coach Wesley McGriff will make $460,000 while quarterbacks coach Garrick McGee will be paid $400,000 and corners coach Jules Montinar will be making $260,000.
Comment: Football is the engine that drives everything in the UF athletic department. The Gators aren’t going to get back to a championship level by paying assistants low-level salaries.
LOOKING AHEAD: LINDY’S RANKS GATORS NO. 12 NATIONALLY
Lindy’s preseason college football magazine hit the newsstands Tuesday without anything monumentally different than the one Athlon unveiled last week. Alabama is No. 1 once again with Clemson No. 2 and Oklahoma No. 3. Both magazines are gushing over Georgia (No. 4 Lindy’s, No. 5 Athlon) and both have Florida ranked just outside the top 10. Athlon projects the Gators 11th nationally while Lindy’s ranks Florida 12th.
The Lindy’s publication once again rates individual players at each position as well as entire position units. Florida doesn’t exactly fare well in either of those categories with only three players rated among the best at their positions nationally and no unit ranked among the top ten. The Gators have only one first team All-SEC preseason pick and four total on the three teams. Alabama has 12 on the three preseason All-SEC teams while LSU has 10, Georgia nine Texas A&M seven, Ole Miss six and Arkansas and South Carolina five each.
Obviously, Lindy’s isn’t all that impressed with Florida’s talent, yet they have the Gators ranked 12th which means they are very capable of supplanting Georgia at the top of the SEC East once again. Go figure.
Preseason All-America: Kaiir Elam, CB (second team).
Preseason All-SEC: Kaiir Elam, CB (first team); Ventrell Miller, LB, and Brenton Cox Jr., LB (second team); Stewart Reese, C (third team).
Lindy’s position ratings: Ventrell Miller, No. 7 ILB; Brenton Cox Jr., No. 4 OLB; Kaiir Elam, No. 3 CB.
Lindy’s preseason SEC East: 1. Georgia; 2. Florida; 3. Missouri; 4. Kentucky; 5. Tennessee; 6. South Carolina; 7. Vanderbilt.
Lindy’s preseason SEC West: 1. Alabama; 2. Texas A&M; 3. LSU; 4. Auburn; 5. Ole Miss; 6. Mississippi State; 7. Arkansas.
Lindy’s preseason top 25: 1. Alabama; 2. Clemson; 3. Oklahoma; 4. Georgia; 5. Ohio State; 6. Texas A&M; 7. Iowa State; 8. Cincinnati; 9. North Carolina; 10. Oregon; 11. Notre Dame; 12. FLORIDA; 13. Wisconsin; 14. Miami; 15. Oklahoma State; 16. LSU; 17. Washington; 18. Iowa; 19. Arizona State; 20. Indiana; 21. Penn State; 22. Southern Cal; 23. Coastal Carolina; 24. Texas; 25. Auburn.
WHY TRASK WILL BE ONE OF THE STEALS OF THE 2021 NFL DRAFT
The dog days of summer have yet to arrive and preseason training camp hasn’t opened for the Tampa Bay Bucs, but if the early reviews of the offseason workouts are any indication of things to come, then Kyle Trask may prove to be one of the steals of the 2021 NFL Draft. Trask isn’t going to take Tom Brady’s job, but he is already showing why HBC Bruce Arians seriously using his first round pick to select the former Florida QB.
When Arians selected Trask in the second round, much to the displeasure of draft gurus like Mel Kiper and Todd McShay, he already knew he wasn’t bringing in a guy with a bazooka-like arm. In the Arians offense, timing and accuracy are far more important than being able to throw a football through a brick wall. It was the gray matter between Trask’s ears that sold Arians then and continues to sell him now.
At Tuesday’s workout, Trask showed off the accuracy by completing 15-18 passes in the 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 drills, but what caught Arians’ attention was how easily his rookie QB processes info and then puts it into action on the field. It reminded Arians of 2012 when Andrew Luck was wowing everyone at the Indianapolis Colts’ camp.
“Mentally-wise, he’s not far behind what Andrew did in the same offense and what Andrew did that [rookie] year is unbelievable,” Arians told the Tampa Bay Times. “I’m not saying he’s Andrew Luck, but mentally he’s still really sharp.”
Quarterbacks who can throw rockets come and go in the NFL. The guys who stick around the longest may not necessarily have the big arm, but they know how to make all the right reads, know where everyone is on the field and get the ball in the right hands at the right time. Trask’s ability to grasp all the mental aspects of the game might make him the perfect successor to Brady, another guy who gets it done as much with his brain as he does with his arm.
OVER, UNDER, AROUND AND THROUGH THE SEC
Alabama: Alabama is the No. 1 team in the nation in both the Athlon and Lindy’s preseason rankings … Running back Keilan Robinson, who ran for 254 yards and two touchdowns as a true freshman in 2020, has entered the NCAA transfer portal … Junior linebacker Jarez Parks is not listed on the Alabama roster but he has yet to place his name in the transfer portal.
Arkansas: In the Athlon preseason rankings the Razorbacks are No. 44 but at Lindy’s they are No. 59.
Auburn: Auburn is preseason ranked No. 25 by Lindy’s; No. 29 by Athlon … O-lineman Prince Micheal Sammons, who played in three games in five years, is transferring out.
Georgia: Former LSU TE Arik Gilbert and former Clemson CB Derion Kendrick are transferring to Georgia … Georgia has a preseason rank of No. 4 with Lindy’s, No. 5 with Athlon.
Kentucky: The Wildcats are projected No. 33 in Athlon’s preseason rankings, No. 47 by Lindy’s.
LSU: The Tigers have a preseason rank of No. 16 with Lindy’s, No. 17 with Athlon.
Mississippi State: Lindy’s gives the Bulldogs a No. 46 preseason ranking while Athlon ranks them No. 49.
Missouri: The Tigers are projected No. 34 in the Athlon preseason rankings, No. 39 by Lindy’s.
Ole Miss: Linebacker Jacquez Jones, who led the Rebels with 75 tackles last season, is transferring out … Lindy’s gives Ole Miss a No. 26 preseason ranking while Athlon projects the Rebels No. 27.
South Carolina: South Carolina is No. 74 in the Athlon preseason rankings; No. 75 in Lindy’s ... Shooting guard Seventh Woods, who started 13 games in 2020-21 after transferring in from North Carolina, has entered the transfer portal.
Tennessee: The Vols are projected No. 56 in the Athlon preseason rankings, No. 58 by Lindy’s … Quarterback Kaidon Salter and linebacker Aaron Willis, who were suspended for the spring, are now back on the UT roster.
Texas A&M: The Aggies are preseason ranked No. 6 by both Lindy’s and Athlon ... Defensive back Derrick Tucker, who opted out in 2020, is transferring to Tennessee State.
Vanderbilt: First year coach Clark Lea has Vanderbilt cracking the top 100 in both the Athlon and Lindy’s preseason rankings. Athlon ranks the Commodores No. 90 while Lindy’s ranks them No. 96.
ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: I can always count on the preseason football magazines for a couple of giggles. I don’t buy them for their predictions necessarily, but they do offer plenty of information about personnel and top 44 depth charts following spring practice, plus it is a chance to see where recruits figure to plug holes in the lineup. My big giggle from Lindy’s was its “Honor Roll” in which Georgia quarterback JT Daniels was deemed coolest in the clutch. Really? He played all of FOUR games last year at Georgia – Mississippi State, South Carolina, Missouri and Cincinnati from the Group of Five … not exactly murderer’s row. In 2018 at Southern Cal, he LOST six of 11 games including four of the last five. Not exactly Mr. Come from Behind. Lindy’s also rates Daniels the No. 3 quarterback in the country, seven spots ahead of Southern Cal’s Kedon Slovis, who is the reason Daniels is at Georgia in the first place. Daniels might prove to be the greatest thing since the ice machine was introduced at stadiums in the south but I haven’t seen enough to merit him being rated one of the ten best quarterbacks in the country, much less ranked third. Lest we forget, Lindy’s had Jamie Newman ranked as its No. 8 QB last year. Just saying.