Thoughts of the Day: October 23, 2019


(1) I keep wondering when the national media is going to acknowledge what a seriously good coaching job Dan Mullen has done this season. The Gators are 7-1, 4-1 in SEC play and ranked seventh nationally and they haven't had a single game at full strength all season. Despite missing key players and dealing with numerous guys going at less than 100%, the Gators have kept on winning and you haven't once heard Dan Mullen say the dreaded words “if only” when describing what's been happening. In Texas there is this old saying “dance with the one what brung you.” There's a really good chance the Gators will be dancing with the healthiest team they've been able to field when they face Georgia a week from Saturday.

(2) Going all the way back to the spring, I thought there was a really good chance Georgia wouldn't live up to the hype. Even when the Poodles were 5-0 I hadn't seen anything to make me think they were the third best team in the country yet there were some national media types who were saying Georgia was going to win the SEC and go into the College Football Playoff as a favorite to win it all. Georgia is 6-1 now with that loss coming to four touchdown underdog South Carolina. The Poodles are looking like maybe the fourth best team in the SEC, not the country. For Georgia to be as good or better than Alabama, it needs a head coach who's got a clue when it comes to making good decisions when a game is tight. Another Texas saying: “All hat, no cattle.” That's Kirby Smart. He has the big reputation based on the fact he can recruit. I've yet to see anything that would make me believe he's one of the 10 best college football coaches in the country. From what I've seen of Kirby, he's Mark Richt, Part Deux.

(3) Florida State fans are all lathered up thinking they're going to Free Willie. I got text messages from friends who couldn't get in school at UF telling me that Willie Taggart was as good as gone and that Urban Meyer was their guy. I texted them back, “I think your mama dropped you on your head too many times when you were an infant.” First and foremost, FSU can't afford the buyout which is $17,708,333 per USA Today. Second, even if they hold enough bake sales and car washes to come up with the buyout money, they don't have enough to hire Urban, who was making in excess of $8 million at Ohio State. At Ohio State, Urban had everything he wanted and if he didn't have it all he had to do was ask and someone would write a check. One of the chief reasons Jimbo is at Texas A&M is that FSU didn't have anyone who could write big checks for things he needed. Not only is Urban not coming to FSU, neither is any other big name coach. My word to FSU folks comes from the title of one of my favorite books by my late friend Lewis Grizzard: “Shoot Low Boys, They're Riding Shetland Ponies.”


(SEC rank/national rank)

1/2 Nick Saban, Alabama $8,857,000; buyout $34,100,000

2/4 Jimbo Fisher, Texas A&M $7,500,000; buyout $60,625,000

3/5 Kirby Smart, Georgia $6,871,600; buyout $24,239,584

4/6 Gus Malzahn, Auburn $6,827,489; buyout $27,050,000

5/10 DAN MULLEN, FLORIDA $6,070,000; buyout $12,000,000

6/19 Mark Stoops, Kentucky $4,763,600; buyout $22,703,125

7/23 Will Muschamp, South Carolina $4,400,000; buyout $19,437,500

8/28 Chad Morris, Arkansas 4,000,000; buyout $10,004,167

9/30 Ed Orgeron, LSU $4,000,000; buyout $7,750,000

10/32 Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee $3,846,000; buyout $9,500,000

11/40 Derek Mason, Vanderbilt $3,368,244

12/45 Matt Luke, Ole Miss $3,100,000

13/47 Barry Odom, Missouri $3,050,000; buyout $1,000,000

14/48 Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State $3,050,000


#1 Alabama (7-0, 3-0 SEC): With Tua Tagovailoa out for at least the Arkansas game with that high ankle sprain, Mac Jones takes over as the starting quarterback. He's 20-32 passing this season for 237 yards and a touchdown. Backup will be Taulia Tagovailoa, a true freshman and Tua's baby brother. Saturday: vs. Arkansas (2-5, 0-3 SEC)

Arkansas (2-5, 0-3 SEC): “We're playing a lot of freshmen and we're second-most in the country behind Alabama,” Arkansas HBC Chad Morris said Tuesday. Of course, there is a real difference between the freshmen Arkansas plays and the ones Alabama plays. There may not be a single freshman on the Arkansas roster who could make the Alabama roster. Saturday: at #1 Alabama (7-0, 3-0 SEC)

#10 Auburn (6-1, 3-1 SEC): One of the priorities for Auburn in its preparation for Saturday's roadie to Baton Rouge is preparing for the crowd noise. Crowd noise at The Swamp when Auburn played Florida factored in the Tigers only loss of the season. Saturday: at #2 LSU (7-0, 3-0 SEC)

#9 Georgia (6-1, 3-1 SEC): Injured wide receiver Lawrence Cager, second on the team with 19 catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns, is listed day-to-day … After 49 games in his Georgia coaching career, HBC Kirby Smart has the identical record Mark Richt had through his first 49 games – 38-11 … It has been 14,174 days since Georgia's las national championship but who's counting? Saturday: Open

Kentucky (3-4, 1-4 SEC): It's entirely possible quarterback Sawyer Smith will return to the lineup Saturday against Missouri. Smith might have been able to go last week against Georgia but HBC Mark Stoops elected to hold him out since the horrendous weather conditions were conducive to Smith getting reinjured. Saturday: vs. Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC)

#2 LSU (7-0, 3-0 SEC): In SEC wins over #7 Florida and Mississippi State, Joe Burrow has completed 46-56 passes for 620 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception … Keeping Burrow's jersey clean against Auburn's fierce front four has to be among the main goals for the Tigers. They've only allowed 12 sacks all season but they gave up three last week to Mississippi State. Saturday: vs. #10 Auburn (6-1, 3-1 SEC)

Mississippi State (3-4, 1-3 SEC): The Bulldogs rank near the bottom of the SEC defensive stats in three key categories – rushing yards allowed (10th), passing yards allowed (11th) and points allowed 12th. Saturday: at Texas A&M

Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC): HBC Barry Odom didn't call out any specific position group when trying to explain away the Tigers' loss to Vanderbilt last weekend. Odom said, “I'm not pointing the finger at one group or one area. We've also come to the short conclusion that we've all got to be better in every way.” Translation: The Tigers stunk and there are really no explanations for it. Saturday: at Kentucky (3-4, 1-4 SEC)

Ole Miss (3-5, 2-3 SEC): First year defensive coordinator Mike MacIntyre has made a difference. Last year the Rebels gave up 483.4 yards per game and ranked #121 out of 130 Division I teams. This year they're giving up 408.6 yards per game and rank #83 nationally. Saturday: Open

South Carolina (3-4, 2-3 SEC): South Carolina negotiated a one-year probation with the NCAA due to a recruiting violation by former defensive line coach Lance Thompson, now the recruiting coordinator and D-line coach at Florida Atlantic ... Wide receiver Bryan Edwards needs five catches Saturday against Tennessee to pass Kenny McKinley for first place on the school's all-time receiving list. Edwards has 203 career catches for 2,733 yards and 20 yards. Saturday: at Tennessee (2-5, 1-3 SEC)

Tennessee (2-5, 1-3 SEC): J.T. Shrout, who has spent most of the season as the third team QB, took the first team snaps at practice Tuesday. Freshman Brian Maurer, who left the Alabama game under concussion protocol, participated in Tuesday's practice. No word on former start/backup Jarrett Guarantano … With five receptions Saturday against South Carolina, wide receiver Jauan Jennings can move into sixth place on Tennessee's all time list. Currently, Jennings has 122 catches for 1,662 yards and 15 touchdowns. Saturday: vs. South Carolina (3-4, 2-3 SEC)

Texas A&M (4-3, 2-2 SEC): The Aggies have opened as 10-point favorites over Mississippi State … One of the big reasons for the inconsistency of the Aggies this season is their inability to hold onto the ball. While they've forced a respectable 16 turnovers, they've handed it back to opponents 15 times (seven lost fumbles, eight interceptions). Saturday: vs. Mississippi State (3-4, 1-3 SEC)

Vanderbilt (2-5, 1-3 SEC): You only have to check the SEC standings and the total offense and defense stats to see why Vandy fans think it seems a lot like old times in Nashville. The Commodores are in a pitched battle with Tennessee and Kentucky for last in the SEC. Their offense ranks #109 nationally while the defense ranks #112, just ahead of FSU. Saturday: Open


Everybody has their own Heisman list. Here is mine. 1. Joe Burrow, QB, LSU: 173-218 passing (79.4%) for 2,484 yards (11.4 per attempt) and 29 touchdown passes (three interceptions); 94 rushing yards, two touchdowns 2. Jalen Hurts, QB, Oklahoma: 114-154 passing (74%) for 2,074 yards (13.5 per attempt), 20 touchdown passes (three interceptions); 84-705 rushing (8.39 per attempt), 10 touchdowns 3. Tua Tagovailoa, QB, Alabama: 145-194 passing (74.7%) for 2,166 yards (11.2 per attempt), 27 touchdown passes (two interceptions); 30 rushing yards, two touchdowns 4. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State: 116-164 passing (70.7%) for 1,492 yards (9.1 per attempt), 22 touchdown passes (one interception); 63-291 rushing (4.62 per attempt), eight touchdowns 5. Jonathan Taylor, RB, Wisconsin: 157-957 rushing (6.1 per attempt), 15 touchdowns; 16-138 receiving (8.63 per catch), four touchdowns

Longshot: Chase Young, DE, Ohio State, who has 9.5 sacks through seven games to go with one pass breakup, two QB hurries, three forced fumbles, a blocked punt and 10.5 tackles for loss.

An Even Longer Shot: Chuba Hubbard, RB, Oklahoma State, 194-1,265 rushing (6.52 per carry), 15 touchdowns in seven games.


From Will Sammon of The Athletic on one of the greatest areas of improvement for Florida football since Dan Mullen became head coach:

“Last year, Florida averaged 7.3 penalties per game, which was an improvement from 2017, when it averaged eight. The Gators have not had a season this decade in which they averaged fewer than 6.5 penalties per game. From 2010-16, Mississippi State under Mullen never averaged more than 5.5 penalties per game in a single season.”

From Wayne McGahee III of, Florida State University athletic director David Coburn on rumors flying that FSU is targeting Urban Meyer to replace embattled football coach Willie Taggart:

"If Coach [Taggart] were hit by a bus tomorrow, we would not target Coach Meyer, period. I say that with all due respect to Coach Meyer, but we would not target Steve Spurrier either.”

Paul Finebaum of The SEC Network on where he sees Georgia at this point of the season:

“I've got to see more from Georgia before I'm lock solid behind them.”

RANDOM THOUGHTS: The NBA season opened Tuesday night. I would have watched but I was engrossed in this seminar on the thousands of uses for the common bolt on PBS … Among the college basketball coaches who are on very thin ice prior to the 2019-20 season are Shaka Smart (Texas), Josh Pastner (Georgia Tech) and Danny Manning (Wake Forest). Of the three, Pastner's seat is the hottest due to NCAA issues. If he doesn't make the NCAA Tournament (highly doubtful) he'll be begging someone for an NBA assistant job in the spring … Former Gator catcher David Ross could be named manager of the Chicago Cubs in the next day or two … The Washington Nationals have taken a 1-0 lead in the World Series with their 5-4 win over the Houston Astros Tuesday night.

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