A NO NONSENSE WIN IS NEEDED
The oddsmakers in Las Vegas make 9th-ranked Florida (4-0, 2-0 SEC) a 28-1/2 point favorite against D1AA Towson (3-1) Saturday (4 p.m., SEC Network) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Dan Mullen's not the least bit interested in the point spread, but he definitely needs the Gators to win this one by four or more touchdowns.
A show of force Saturday probably isn't necessary from the standpoint of winning the game. Florida has way too much talent and as long as the Gators play with a reasonable amount of effort, they should win. But the Gators need more than reasonable effort. They need a game in which they flex their muscles and dominate on both sides of the ball. With 7th-ranked Auburn due in Gainesville a week from Saturday, Mullen needs his team to send a clear message that he's got a team capable of focusing in on the task at hand, no matter the caliber of the opponent.
Through four games, the Gators have shown what they're capable of in spurts but they have yet to play anything close to a complete game. With six straight SEC opponents on the schedule after Saturday's game, the time is now to start playing with maximum effort on every play and in every phase of the game. A no nonsense win will send out the right kind of message to the rest of the SEC.
The Sayer Says Sooth: The Tigers are averaging 40 points per game, but it's one thing to light up North Carolina Central, another thing altogether to move the football and score on a defense that is tied for the Division I lead in sacks (20) and second in interceptions (7). If your defense can't stop Villanova's offense (52 points, 574 yards including 295 on the ground, how do you expect to stop Florida's gifted wide receivers. Figure Kyle Trask will throw for 300 yards and four touchdowns and turn it over to Emory Jones, who we'll see taking shots downfield with his arm. I like it something like FLORIDA 52, Towson 13.
DONTAY BASSETT CHAIR OF SEC MEN'S BASKETBALL LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
At a recent meeting of the SEC Basketball Leadership Council in Birmingham, Florida forward Dontay Bassett was chosen chairman by his peers. This is Bassett's first year on the Leadership Council, replacing Kevarrius Hayes, who graduated.
The leadership council is made up of one male and one female player from each of the Southeastern Conference's 14 schools. Kristina Moore is Florida's female representative.
THE SEC SOOTHSAYER
#2 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) 54, Ole Miss (2-2, 0-1 SEC) 10: The big question is can Tua throw for five touchdown passes for a third consecutive game?
#7 Auburn (4-0, 1-0 SEC) 23, Mississippi State (3-1, 1-0 SEC) 21: Mississippi State is good enough to scare the bejabbers out of Auburn. Are the Bulldogs good enough to upset Auburn the week before the Tigers have to travel to Gainesville?
#23 Texas A&M (2-2, 0-1 SEC) 45, Arkansas (2-2, 0-1 SEC) 17: The Aggies need to win this one by at least three touchdowns to calm the boosters, who are stressed out over the losses to Clemson and Auburn.
South Carolina (1-3, 0-2 SEC) 24, Kentucky (2-2, 0-2 SEC) 20: Ryan Hilinski is healthy. Sawyer Smith is not. South Carolina will get this win because they have a healthy quarterback who has actually played. If Smith can't go, Kentucky will be down to a guy who was the fourth stringer when spring football ended back in April.
Vanderbilt (0-3, 0-2 SEC) 35, Northern Illinois (1-2) 21: Finally, a game that Vandy is capable of winning and they should unless the Commodores are still in shell shock after the way Joe Burrow passed them silly last week.
COUNTDOWN TO FIRING DAY: EDITION FIVE
ON LIFE SUPPORT
Phil Montgomery, Tulsa: He's 2-2 with an open date this week but that's followed up with consecutive games against (at) SMU, Navy, (at) Cincinnati, Memphis, (at) Tulane and UCF. If, as expected, he's 2-8 after that stretch, he might as well turn in a forwarding address so they can mail him his severance checks.
Lovie Smith, Illinois: Lovie said his defense was making progress after the loss to Nebraska last week. Okay, you give up 42 points and you're making progress?
Chris Ash, Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights are 1-2. There are two winnable games remaining on the schedule – Liberty and Illinois. Ash needs to be calling old buddies to see who may need a defensive coordinator next year.
Jeremy Pruitt, Tennessee: Folks are saying if Pruitt is fired it will set the program back five years. Some other folks are saying if Pruitt is still the coach next year the program will be set back five years. Tennessee can't afford to fire him but when has something like fiscal responsibility ever stood in the way of an irrational decision that can be made in Knoxville?
Bob Davie, New Mexico: The Bob Davie Farewell Tour begins Saturday when the Lobos travel to Liberty. New Mexico might win this game, but it won't help Davie's long term prospects. He's expected to “retire” for health reasons and take an administrative job in the athletic department.
ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST
Brent Brennan, San Jose State: He was On Life Support last week but then he did the unthinkable and beat an SEC team on the road. Okay, it was Arkansas so it wasn't like it was a real SEC team, but it still bought some time.
Clay Helton, Southern Cal: Will the folks who make the decisions take into account that the Trojans are 3-1 with guys who were the third and fourth string quarterbacks just a month ago and the guy who led the win over Utah had thrown all of 19 passes in the four previous years?
Randy Edsall, UConn: A bad coach with an even worse team, so UCF at the Bounce House on the Saturday following the first regular season loss in three years is not conducive to convincing people that it's only a matter of time before good things happen.
Tony Sanchez, UNLV: The only win so far is over a bad D1AA team. Barring a miracle of changing the water into wine proportions, he's a goner.
Matt Luke, Ole Miss: Saturday won't be pretty. The Rebels are playing Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Figure Bama will have the spread covered (38-1/2 points) by halftime, which is not going to help long term perceptions about Matt Luke.
Mike Bobo, Colorado State: The Rams are giving up 40.3 points per game and things aren't going to get easier. Bobo is a very nice guy who's had a bad run of buzzard's luck keeping players healthy but he'll be gone, maybe before November.
Justin Fuente, Virginia Tech: Folks up in the Old Dominion State are looking at Fuente adding former Northern Illinois/Minnesota HBC to his staff as a special assistant is a sign that desperation isn't far away.
BEADS OF SWEAT FORMING
Charlie Strong, South Florida: If the Bulls can win at home Saturday against unbeaten SMU – a game that is actually winnable – it will ease the pressure for at least a couple of weeks.
Kilani Sitaki, BYU: The euphoria of the Southern Cal win was replaced by the frustration of a blowout loss to Washington. Anything less than 7-8 wins and he'll be sweating profusely.
Steve Addazio, Boston College: Fortunately, he bounced back from that shocking loss to Kansas with a win over Rutgers, otherwise he would already be gone. Addazio has to wonder how much longer they'll be happy with 7-win seasons.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: He will go to the Endangered Species List if he loses to Northern Illinois this week.
SAVED BY THE BUYOUT
Willie Taggart, Florida State: The ACC is so bad that Taggart might actually get the Seminoles to a bowl game. That doesn't mean he's actually a good football coach, however. Since there aren't enough bake sales in the world to raise the buyout money they'll need for their Free Willie campaign, they're stuck with him awhile.
Chad Morris, Arkansas: He lost to San Jose State. At home. One of the multi-gozillionaire boosters might just write a check for $12.5 million.
Chip Kelly, UCLA: How did Washington State throw for nine touchdown passes and still lose to UCLA? Was that a sign that the Chipster finally has figured out offense and the Bruins will win again? They better hope so. They can't afford the $9 million buyout.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina: He got the dreaded vote of confidence from the athletic director this week. Ray Tanner does like Will and he also doesn't have $18.5 million, which he would need if he didn't like him.
NCAA HAMMERS GEORGIA TECH BASKETBALL
The NCAA dropped the hammer on Georgia Tech basketball Thursday, announcing that it has banned the Yellow Jackets from the 2019-20 post season. Additionally, the program was put on four years probation, lost one scholarship for each year of the four years, was forced to vacate wins, had recruiting restrictions placed on the coaching staff and was fined a yet to be revealed amount of money.
One of the violations involved a former Georgia Tech assistant, who arranged for recruit Wendell Carter (he ended up going to Duke) to go to a booster's home (reportedly former Tech star and NBA player Jarrett Jack) and then on to a strip cub owned by a local NBA player. Carter and his host (Georgia Tech player) were each given $300 to spend at the strip club.
The NCAA came down hard on Tech coach Josh Pastner's friend Ron Bell, who was ruled to be a booster. Bell was found to have provided players and a potential transfer with $2,424 of shoes, clothing, meals, transportation and lodging.
Georgia Tech athletic director Todd Stansbury says the school will appeal the sanctions and plans to stand by Pastner.
GOOD QUOTES FOR A FRIDAY
From Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com on how the NCAA sanctions against Georgia Tech basketball might spell doomsday for Kansas:
“This development also isn't good for Kansas, which was charged by the NCAA with more serious violations than Georgia Tech earlier this week. If the NCAA shows any kind of consistency, it's reasonable to assume KU will get at least what Georgia Tech just got -- and probably more -- unless it can successfully argue that Adidas consultant T.J. Gassnola was not a Kansas booster. Good luck, as they say, with that.”
From Scott Dotcherman and Max Olson of The Athletic, Nebraska has added a “Life Skills Kitchen” where players can cook their own food if they want:
“The Huskers converted an office space next to the training table into a small prep kitchen, complete with butcher block and fridge. Now athletes can venture away from the buffet line and cook their own damn eggs for breakfast, rice or noodle stir fry bowls at lunch and pasta bowls at dinner. Dietetic student works who run the station offer them answers and advice. When parents see this on recruiting visit tours, [Dave] Ellis (Director of Sports Nutrition)said, they tend to ask with amazement:'You’re gonna teach my kid how to cook?'”
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Kedon Slovis remains in concussion protocol so Matt Fink will get the start for Southern Cal against #17 Washington Saturday. Fink came off the bench last week to complete 21-30 passes for 351 yards and three touchdowns in the Trojans' upset of Utah last week … Archie Manning says Peyton will return to the NFL soon, either in ownership or another front office position … Just because the New England Patriots released Antonio Brown doesn't mean they aren't obligated to pay him the $9 million signing bonus.