Thoughts of the Day: March 19, 2020

TONEY AND GRIMES WERE SMART TO STAY FOR ONE MORE YEAR

Both Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes could have entered the NFL Draft and it’s likely both would have been drafted at some place in the final three rounds. Both elected to stay at Florida for their senior seasons, a move that, in part because of the corona virus outbreak, is likely to turn out to be quite prudent on both their parts.


The NFL scouts all have seen how Toney turned a routine bubble screen into a long touchdown on Florida’s first offensive series against Miami in game one of 2019, so they know what’s possible. There aren’t many highlights after that because he spent most of the season injured, but the potential is there and the NFL knows it. The injury and lack of productivity wouldn’t stop Toney from being drafted but it would prevent him from getting drafted earlier with a much bigger first year contract.


Grimes has shown what he can do, too, but he’s never been the featured receiver. The way the Gators spread the ball around, it’s unlikely he will have off the charts productivity in 2020 but he’s almost certain to catch more than the 33 passes (for 491 yards and three TDs) that he caught last year.


With Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond gone form last year’s receiving corps, both Toney and Hammond will get their chances to shine and if they stay healthy, they’ll serious improve their draft potential and maybe move up to a second or third round selection. Second and third round contracts are worth substantially more than those offered to guys who go in rounds five through seven.


Due to corona virus, pro days have been cancelled nationwide so neither Grimes nor Toney would have had a chance to wow the scouts enough to earn private workouts prior to the draft. The virus will run its course and you can almost count there will be a 2020 season, a combine and pro days next year, just one more reason why Toney and Grimes did the smart thing by coming back for their senior seasons at UF.


KANSAS WINS AP/COACHES NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP

The Associated Press and Coaches polls have voted Kansas #1 in their final polls, so unofficially, the Jayhawks are the national champs. From the NCAA’s perspective, that’s acceptable since there is a really good chance Kansas will get hammered with sanctions in late summer or early fall. Since the AP and Coaches polls aren’t official national championships, the NCAA won’t have to strip the Jayhawks of their title.


The three teams that I feel badly for are Gonzaga, Dayton and San Diego State. The deck is always stacked against the teams from non-power conferences and this is a year in which these three teams all had a very good chance to hoist the big trophy and swing and sway to “One Shining Moment” in Atlanta. The Zags have been knocking on the door for a long time, but Anthony Grant might have had that once in a generation stud in Obi Toppin that could have carried Dayton to the national title. Jim Dutcher at San Diego State had Malachi Flynn, who was easily one of the five best players in the country and one capable of carrying the Aztecs on a deep run.


But, we’ll never know how well they could have done over a mad dash that lasts three weekends. As Billy Donovan once said, it’s not necessarily the best team in the country that wins the national championship, but the one that can go 6-0 over a three-week stretch. I think Kansas was playing the best basketball in the country during the last three weeks of the regular season, but Kansas has been the hottest team in the country more than once and has only one national championship to show since the Danny and the Miracles team of 1988.


Two other teams that I think could have gone a long way and possibly won the national title were Kentucky and Virginia. This was not John Calipari’s most talented team, but it was one of his best defensive teams and one that could have won six in a row. Virginia got hot at the right time and was that one team nobody wanted to play.


The AP Final Top 25 1. Kansas 28-3; 2. Gonzaga 31-2; 3. Dayton 29-2; 4. Florida State 26-5; Baylor 28-4; 6. San Diego State 30-2; 7. Creighton 24-7; 8. Kentucky 25-6; 9. Michigan State 22-9; 10. Villanova 24-7; 11. Duke 25-6; 12. Maryland 24-7; 13. Oregon 24-7; 14. Louisville 24-7; 15. Seton Hall 21-9; 16. Virginia 23-7; 17. Wisconsin 21-10; 18. BYU 24-8; 19. Ohio State 21-10; 20. Auburn 25-6; 21. Illinois 21-10; 22. Houston 23-8; 23. Butler 22-9; 24. West Virginia 21-10; 25. Iowa 20-11.

The Coaches Final Top 25

1. Kansas 28-3; 2. Gonzaga 31-2; 3. Dayton 29-2; 4. Baylor 26.4; 5. Florida State 26-5; 6. San Diego State; 7. Kentucky 25-6; 8. Duke 25-6; 9. (Tie) Creighton 24-7 and Villanova 24-7; 11. Maryland 24-7; 12. Michigan State 22-9; 13. Louisville 24-7; 14. Oregon 24-7; 15. Seton Hall 21-9; 16. BYU 24-8; 17. Virginia 23-7; 18. Ohio State 21-10; 19. Wisconsin 21-10; 20. Auburn 25-6; 21. Butler 22-9; 22. Illinois 21-10; 23. Houston 23-8; 24. West Virginia 21-10; 25. Iowa 20-11.


WHO I WOULD HAVE VOTED ALL-AMERICA

First team: Obi Toppin, Dayton; Malachi Flynn, San Diego State; Udoka Azubuikie, Kansas; Luke Garza, Iowa; Devin Dotson, Kansas

Second team: Filip Petrusev, Gonzaga; Markus Howard, Marquette; Myles Powell, Seton Hall; Immanuel Quickley, Kentucky; Jalen Smith, Maryland


UPCOMING HBO DOCUMENTARY WON’T BE GOOD FOR MILLER OR WADE

On March 31, HBO will air a documentary entitled “The Scheme,” which is about agent/runner Christian Dawkins, who was convicted of bribery in federal court for his role in the college basketball corruption scandal. In the documentary, recordings are played of Dawkins speaking to Arizona coach Sean Miller and LSU coach Will Wade about buying players. These aren’t the federal wiretaps that were used in court, but these recordings leave no doubt that Miller and Wade will be found guilty in the eyes of the NCAA. Both these guys are good basketball coaches and very engaging personalities. They are also cheaters of the highest magnitude. They have been and always will be.


This documentary might only be the tip of the proverbial iceberg when it comes to college basketball. Not only did we have a season without an NCAA Tournament, but the next season might be one played without a number of very high profile coaches.


THE BRADY LEGACY; WHO WANTS JAMEIS?

When he left the San Francisco 49ers for the Kansas City Chiefs, a lot of folks thought Joe Montana was the greatest of all time. Two years later, having not lifted the Chiefs to the Super Bowl, Montana’s legacy was considered tainted. When Brett Favre left the Green Bay Packers for the New York Jets, he held tons of NFL records and was thought to be one of the greatest ever. Three years later – one with the Jets, two with the Minnesota Vikings – and a 26-19 record as a starter, people were forgetting all the things Favre did at Green Bay.


Now after 20 years with the New England Patriots, Tom Brady is going to sign with the Tampa Bay Bucs where he will undoubtedly be an upgrade over the 30-30 man (30 TDPs, 30 INTs in the same season), Jameis Winston. Brady working with Bruce Arians could be a dynamic duo, but what if it doesn’t happen? If the Bucs don’t ascend mightily, will Brady’s legacy be seriously tainted? He won six Super Bowls with Bill Belichick, but now he’s going to have to fly solo and if it doesn’t happen, will the good times in New England be forgotten?


Meanwhile, what about Jameis? There is no room for him in Tampa, not with the big salary that Brady will command, so where does he go from here?


Jameis has always had the arm talent. The scouts were drooling over him when he led FSU to an unbeaten national championship season in 2013. That year he made all the throws and he didn’t make many bad decisions – at least on the field – but since then he’s been backsliding when it comes to bad decisions. So we have to ask if maybe Jameis had a reverse brain fart in 2013 and instead of his instinctive bad decisions he made good ones. Or, maybe that was the one year that Jameis decided to be coachable and what we’ve seen in the subsequent years is the real Jameis Winston brain at work.


Can he be coached out of the bad decisions and bad habits? Maybe it’s all about landing with the right coach. Maybe all Jameis needs is a no-nonsene coach who can get and keep his attention for more than 30 seconds. NFL coaches will look at the big arm and want him, but then they’ll look at the bad decisions and realize that if they sign him he could be a career-wrecker. Whoever signs Winston is going to have to part with something in the neighborhood of $25-30 million against the salary cap and live with the consequences if he proves to be uncoachable.


RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former Gator Dante Fowler Jr. has a three-year, $48 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons where he will re-unite with the coach who recruited him to Florida, Dan Quinn … Former Gator Brian Poole signed a one-year extension worth $5 million to remain with the New York Jets, where he was one of the top slot cover-corners in the NFL last year … The NCAA is trying to figure out whether or not to give this year’s college basketball seniors another season of eligibility since the tournament wasn’t played. What has to be worked out is raising the scholarship cap (currently 13) to accommodate those who would choose to come back and there are some academic issues that would have to be addressed. For example, what about players who have graduated but can’t get into grad school? The NCAA needs to figure out what to do about this very soon … I’ve just started season three of “The Man in the High Castle” on Amazon Prime. Starting at the midway point of season two, this series really began to get interesting. I’m also watching “Boston Legal” once again. Have there ever been two more entertaining TV lawyers than James Spader (Alan Shore) and William Shatner (Denny Crane!)? If you’ve never watched it and want to get hooked immediately, watch season one, episode one when Al Sharpton appears as himself!

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