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  • Korbe Otis is nothing but trouble to Florida softball opponents

    Korbe Otis gestures to the Florida dugout after stealing vs. South Alabama (Photo by Chris Spears) A few thoughts to jump start your Friday morning: There will be a day in the future when Korbe Otis is opening up a chest to operate on someone’s heart or maybe repair the knee of some young woman who also plays softball. The junior from Littleton, Colorado dreams big dreams. For now, however, the dream is to help the Florida Gators (49-12) not only return to the Women’s College World Series but bring home the Gators’ first NCAA championship since they did it back-to-back in 2014-15. Otis, a first team All-SEC outfielder who is a finalist for national player of the year, comes into today’s (12 noon, ESPN2) NCAA Super Regional game with Baylor (34-21) fourth nationally in hitting (.462) and No. 1 in on-base percentage (.592). With a first five in the hitting order of Kendra Falby (.391, 84 hits, 19 SB), Otis, Skylar Wallace (.412, 14 HR, 66 RBI, 35 SB), Jocelyn Erickson (.391, 13 HR, 78 RBI) and Reagan Walsh (.373, 16 HR, 61 RBI), the Gators tend to score runs in bunches. Of the Gators’ 49 wins, 28 have been of the run-rule variety. When it comes to the explosiveness of this offense, Otis says, “Like we’ve said before, it’s not a question of if, it’s when and who’s going to get the big hit. It’s really amazing to play with.” Otis spent her first two years at Louisville before transferring to Florida. In her first year with the Gators she has become one of the nation’s most dangerous hitters with 12 doubles, five triples, eight homers and 52 RBI. She has walked 55 times and has struck out only 14. She came to Florida with the goal of making All-America, getting to the College World Series and winning a national championship with the ultimate goal of “getting the best education I can to set me up for life later on.” Serious stuff, but there is a not so serious side that has endeared Otis to teammates. It is her obsession with Elvis. She offers a glimpse when she steps to the plate. Her walk-up song is “Trouble” by Elvis. That’s a carryover from her time at Louisville. “I feel like if I walked up to the plate with anything else it would seem really weird at this point … now it’s become kind of iconic, I guess,” Otis said Thursday. She has been known to show up in the Florida locker room in an Elvis costume. Before she surprised her teammates, the Elvis costume had to pass muster with Erickson, the SEC Player of the Year and Oklahoma transfer who is her roommate. “When I first saw it I was like, oh, yes, Korbe, like you’re doing this,” Erickson said. “It’s happening.” It isn’t just the Elvis costume that’s happening. It’s Otis. It’s the Gators, winners of their last 11 games and 12 of their last 13. Like the walk-up song, Otis and the Gators are trouble for whoever gets in their way. Todd Golden spoke to the Ocala Tip-Off Club Thursday night (Photo by Chris Spears) UF BASKETBALL: Gators will fill final two roster spots with younger guys Speaking at the Ocala Tip-Off Club Thursday night at the Golden Hills Country Club, Florida coach Todd Golden said the Gators will be adding two younger players rather than two more from the transfer portal in response to a question about the final two open scholarships. Golden said the Gators will be looking to add one perimeter player as well as one more big guy. One or both might be international players. A few other tidbits from the UF coach: Indications are that Walter Clayton Jr. and Will Richard will be announcing they will be returning to UF for their senior seasons next week. Both have gone through the NBA Draft evaluation process and have until Wednesday of next week to declare their intentions. Clayton was Florida’s leading scorer last season, averaging 17.6 per game, while Richard averaged 11.4. Micah Handlogten continues to make good progress in rehabbing his fractured leg. To avoid trying to come back too soon from the horrific compound fracture suffered in the SEC Tournament championship game against Auburn, Handlogten will be taking a redshirt next season. Golden expects Handlogten to strengthen and be a real beast in the paint for the 2025-26 season. Golden said he wants his team to be improved defensively next season. He pointed out that the Gators averaged a school record 86 points per game last season while playing “big and fast” but added that he expects the Gators to be “bigger and faster” in 2024-25. Golden is very high on the three transfers (6-2 Alijah Martin from Florida Atlantic; 7-0 Rueben Chinyelu from Washington State; 6-9 Sam Alexis from Chattanooga) and he really likes incoming freshman Isaiah Brown (6-5, 190) from Orlando Christian Prep. A potential starting lineup for the Gators: 7-0 Chinyelu; 6-11 Alex Condon; 6-2 Martin, 6-2 Clayton and 6-4 Richard. Expected to make a huge jump in both playing time and productivity: Denzel Aberdeen. Golden foresees Aberdeen getting serious minutes at the point while also helping on the wing. Interesting recruiting story: Golden tried to land Chinyelu as a freshman, but the big Nigerian instead signed with Washington State, coached by Kyle Smith, now the Stanford coach, but one of Golden’s mentors. Golden worked for Smith at Columbia and San Francisco. While trying to recruit Chinyelu, who was playing for the NBA Africa Academy, Golden started watching Alex Condon, who would go on to sign with the Gators. Now, both Condon and Chinyelu are Gators and expected to be starters. Another recruiting story: Thomas Haugh, who had an excellent freshman season along with Condon, who is his best friend and roommate now, was being recruited to Richmond by Kevin Hovde, who joined the UF staff when Golden became the head coach two years ago. Golden discovered that Florida was Haugh’s dream school and that his room in his home in Pennsylvania was almost a Gator shrine complete with photos, posters etc. of Tim Tebow. Golden already was involved in serious discussions with four Southeastern Conference schools for their head coach vacancies when UF athletic director Scott Stricklin contacted him. Golden said he immediately told Jonathan Safire, who came with him to Florida and serves as “my GM,” that if Stricklin offered him the job he would take it. Golden said he has believed in Florida’s potential to be an elite national program. He said he first started following the Gators during their back-to-back national championship seasons (2006-07) when he was playing collegiately at Saint Mary’s. UF LACROSSE: Gators face No. 1 Northwestern in NCAA semifinals It has been 12 years since Florida made it to the NCAA semifinals. Today, the Gators (20-2) have a chance to do what no UF team has ever done. With a win over No. 1 Northwestern (17-2) this afternoon (3 p.m., ESPNU), the Gators can advance to the national championship game as only the third unseeded team in tournament history to make the finals. The Gators are the hottest team in the country with 20 consecutive wins during which time they have outscored opponents by an average of 11.5 goals per game. The offense has been exceptional, but what has propelled the Gators to the semifinals has been great defense. Florida is allowing only 8.33 goals per game during the streak while holding opponents to .280 shooting in NCAA Tournament play. Florida is the highest scoring team in the country (17.9 per game) while Northwestern comes in at No. 2. Florida has nine players who have scored 20 or more goals this season led by Maggi Hall (60) and Danielle Pavinelli (54). UF BASEBALL: Gators a No. 3 seed in Tallahassee? In their Thursday field of 64 projections, Baseball America had the Gators (28-27) going to Tallahassee as the No. 3 seed in the regional hosted by Florida State. Southern Miss is No. 3 with Stetson as the No. 4 in this bracketology. Baseball America projects 11 SEC teams will make the tournament field with Tennessee (1), Texas A&M (3), Kentucky (4), Arkansas (5) and Georgia (8) earning top eight seeds with Mississippi State (15) also hosting a regional. The other SEC teams making the field are Alabama (No. 3 Clemson Regional); LSU (No. 3 UC-Santa Barbara Regional); Vanderbilt (No. 2 Indiana State Regional) and South Carolina (No. 2 North Carolina State Regional). SEC Tournament Thursday’s games: No. 2 Kentucky (40-13) 9, No. 5 Arkansas (43-14) 6; No. 1 Tennessee (47-11) 7, No. 4 Texas A&M (44-13) 4; LSU (39-20) 11, South Carolina (35-22) 10; Vanderbilt (38-20) 4, No. 15 Mississippi State (38-20) 3 Friday’s games:  4 p.m. No. 2 Kentucky (40-13) vs. South Carolina (35-22); 7:30 p.m. No. 1 Tennessee (47-11) vs. No. 15 Mississippi State (38-20) MORE ON RASHADA: One prominent attorney’s take on the lawsuit Hal Lewis, a prominent Tallahassee attorney with the firm Fonvielle, Lewis, Messer and McConnaugh, examined the lawsuit against Billy Napier brought on by Jadan Rashada and his lawyer, Rusty Hardin. Here is a tweet posted by Lewis that outwardly questions the legality of the suit against Napier: “REMEMBER: The only WRITTEN agreement that ever existed was between "Jaden Rashada" and "The Gator Collective LLC." Yet, that LLC is NOT being sued? The actual individuals being sued were NOT parties to the agreement. There's the problem for Rashada, since people unaffiliated with a company cannot somehow bind or speak for the company. And once that written agreement was terminated on December 6th, everything became oral. Billy Napier can't make a promise to anyone that verbally binds a non-UF entity (Hugh Hathcock and his company) to fulfill a monetary obligation. That's ludicrous... and any lawyer would have told Rashada so. Which is why the lawsuit has to claim that Napier and Hathcock were "conspiring" to NEVER pay Rashada but only to trick him into signing. Think about how ridiculous this is. Napier would have LOVED for the deal to go through so that he could sign a top ranked QB when he desperately needed one. It makes NO SENSE at all to allege that Napier didn't intend for it to happen. The only WRITTEN agreement that ever existed was between "Jaden Rashada" and "The Gator Collective LLC." Yet, that LLC is NOT being sued? The actual individuals being sued were NOT parties to the agreement. There's the problem for Rashada, since people unaffiliated with a company cannot somehow bind or speak for the company. And once that written agreement was terminated on December 6th, everything became oral. Billy Napier can't make a promise to anyone that verbally binds a non-UF entity (Hugh Hathcock and his company) to fulfill a monetary obligation. That's ludicrous... and any lawyer would have told Rashada so. Which is why the lawsuit has to claim that Napier and Hathcock were "conspiring" to NEVER pay Rashada but only to trick him into signing. Think about how ridiculous this is. Napier would have LOVED for the deal to go through so that he could sign a top ranked QB when he desperately needed one. It makes NO SENSE at all to allege that Napier didn't intend for it to happen.” ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: The five power conferences – or should we say the four and 1/16th (Pac-12 is now the Pac-2) – have signed off on an agreement that opens the door for players to be legally paid and for former players to receive compensation for their efforts when paying players wasn’t legal. It is complicated and while this is thought to be a major step, it’s not the end of the litigation. There are other lawsuits out there and we have no idea what the government will do about Title IX. Essentially this new deal is only scratching the surface of dealing with the issues that will define the future of collegiate athletics. The biggest question of all is how long will the NCAA be able to stay in business? The lawsuits aren’t going to end and the cost of litigation is going to be draining the organization of energy, the ability to effectively govern and of course, the finances. There isn’t a single plan out there capable of addressing all the problems of the NCAA, but tossing the NCAA in favor of a new organization led by business people and not academics would be a pleasant beginning.

  • The effects of the Rashada lawsuit will be felt long into the future

    A few thoughts to jump start your Thursday morning: It was business as usual at the Florida football complex on Wednesday. Other than dealing with the aftermath of freshman defensive tackle Michai Boireau having to post $60,000 bond after spending a couple of days in the Monroe County, Georgia pokey for driving a teensy bit over the speed limit and a few other things, widespread panic was not settling in at The Heav. Boireau will be dealt with by both police and Billy Napier. Among other things, he’s charged with reckless driving, driving on a suspended or revoked license, driving 150 or so miles per hour while trying to elude police who were in hot pursuit and crashing his BMW into another car, which caused a serious injury. There was no widespread panic at The Heav over Boireau or the lawsuit by Jaden Rashada. Boireau will pay a price for having his brain jammed in neutral while driving a car and it’s likely his arrest guarantees a redshirt year in which he will have a chance to trim 30 or 40 pounds of excess from his ample body. If Rashada attorney Rusty Hardin or Georgia coach Kirby Smart, who gave the lawsuit his blessing, expected nuclear winter in Gainesville, they were likely disappointed. The lawsuit was well discussed on Tuesday. It was old news on Wednesday and by the time the weekend arrives, fans will be more engrossed in who’s in and who’s out when the NCAA selection committee chooses the 64 teams that will compete for the national championship and the eight teams that emerge from the softball super regionals to advance to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. If the intention was the publicity equivalent of a nuclear bomb going off in Gainesville, then the Rashada lawsuit failed miserably. It had all the power and effect of a fart in an elevator. It stunk for a few seconds, then the elevator door opened offering immediate relief. This isn’t to say the lawsuit isn’t serious. Up until now, Billy Napier was considered one of the last boy scouts in college football, a straight arrow among straight arrows so a lawsuit that says Billy Napier helped stiff a kid out of life changing money damages a cultivated image. The lawsuit claims Napier promised to make good but never delivered on a hyper-inflated deal negotiated by Hugh Hathcock worth a paltry $13.85 million. We know Hathcock may have negotiated the deal but when it came time to put up his money, his check-writing hand developed a severe case of rigormortis. Minus a contract  with Napier’s signature, a recording of his voice making promises or a witness who can affirm he knew everything, there is no way to prove if Napier was as involved as the lawsuit alleges. That Jaden Rashada was ever promised $13.85 million qualifies for what Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) calls a “special kind of stupid.” Whether Napier was trying to salvage the deal or not, the perception is that he along with Hathcock were the stunt doubles for Lloyd Christmas (Jim Carey) and Harry Dunne (Jeff Daniels) in the movie “Dumb and Dumber.” Napier could be absolved of any involvement in the negotiations, but even if he wasn’t involved there will be lingering questions. That he signed Rashada to a scholarship raises a lot of questions that need to be but won’t ever be answered at least in public. When it comes to speaking out loud about this deal, Napier’s lawyer needs to cover his mouth with Gorilla Tape. On his Late Kick podcast, Josh Pate suggested that the Rashada lawsuit may be the first but it won’t be the last when it comes to jilted recruits going after coaches or boosters who they believe lied to them. Coaches lie to recruits and players every day. More than half the kids who are recruited to a Division I school sign scholarship papers because they believe that this coach will get them NFL ready. I can’t tell you if Billy Napier lied or not to the Rashadas, but if he did lie, he’s not the first coach to ever do it nor will he be the last. There are lessons to be learned from this debacle. First and foremost, there is no such thing as a high school quarterback worth $13.85 million. John Talty of CBS Sports says the market price for a transfer quarterback to a Power Four school is in the $500,000 to $800,000 range. Obviously, quarterbacks who attained a level of stardom somewhere else will command more, but double up the high end and you still come up more than $12 million less than what Rashada was offered. Second, whenever a kid claims he had a huge offer such as the $9.4 million deal allegedly offered Rashada by Miami, call his bluff. Make him show a proof of funds and if he can’t then consider him a liar. Do not get into a bidding war over a kid who has never played a down in the SEC. Third, make sure whoever does your negotiations to pay NIL money (a) actually has the money and (b) is willing to put the money in escrow until a kid is signed. Fourth, Florida made out like a bandit because Graham Mertz had a great year and now the Gators have a proven 2-year starter at UF, five years a starter in college football. Plus, the Gators got DJ Lagway. Had Rashada been a Gator, it’s not a reach to think Lagway would have chosen another school other than UF. UF BASEBALL: Gators are still in the hunt for the field of 64 At the Southeastern Conference Baseball Tournament in Hoover, Alabama, Wednesday, the league’s top four teams took it on the chin. Tennessee, Kentucky, Texas A&M and Arkansas all lost their first game in the tournament. All four will play elimination games today and two of them will depart Hoover with an 0-2 record. All eight teams that played Wednesday, whether winners or losers, will make the NCAA field of 64. The question is how many more SEC teams make the tournament. Georgia, which lost to LSU Tuesday, is a mortal lock. No SEC team with 17 wins in league play has ever been denied since the tournament expanded to 64 teams, so that’s nine SEC teams in. In addition to Georgia, there were three other losers Tuesday. Ole Miss lost, but the Rebels won’t make the tournament because they have a losing record. That leaves Florida (28-27) and Alabama (33-22). Florida has the No. 1 strength of schedule in the country, but the Gators are No. 28 in RPI and 13-18 against Quad 1 opponents. Alabama is the No. 20 RPI with the No. 5 strength of schedule and a 15-20 record against Quad 1 opponents. If the NCAA decides 10 teams from one league are plenty, then the Gators probably won’t make it. For the NCAA to allow 11 teams in, there can’t be many upsets whether that’s in leagues that should get two or more bids, or in the 1-bid leagues. If LSU, Mississippi State or Texas A&M were to make it to the championship game of the SEC Tournament, that could help Florida’s cause since the Gators won the 3-game series with each of those teams. Wednesday’s games: LSU (38-20) 11, No. 2 Kentucky (39-13) 0; South Carolina (35-21) 6, No. 5 Arkansas (43-13) 5; Vanderbilt (37-20) 13, No. 1 Tennessee (46-11) 4; No. 15 Mississippi State (38-19) 5, No. 4 Texas A&M (44-12) 3 Today’s games: 10: 30 a.m. No. 5 Arkansas (43-13) vs. No. 2 Kentucky (39-13), elimination game; 2 p.m. No. 4 Texas A&M (44-12) vs. No. 1 Tennessee (46-11), elimination game; 5:30 p.m. LSU (38-20) vs. South Carolina (35-21); 9 p.m. No. 15 Mississippi State (38-19) vs. Vanderbilt (37-20) ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: The NCAA council has approved a $2.8 billion settlement to halt the anti-trust lawsuit brought on by the United States House of Representatives. The Big 12, Big Ten and Atlantic Coast Conference have already signed off on the deal. The Southeastern Conference and Pac-12 supposedly will sign off today. The NCAA, in its infinite wisdom, has been pushing for this settlement for quite some time. In addition to back pay for athletes who never had a chance to cash in on NIL, the settlement opens the door for revenue sharing and other benefits for the power conference schools. Initial estimates are that revenue sharing will cost 20-22 percent of income for each conference and school. It could go so far as to bankrupt a good many of the Group of Five schools/conferences that won’t be able to afford paying players anything close to 20-22 percent of their revenues. Per Brandon Marcello of CBS Sports, more than half the Group of Five schools have less than $40 million a year in revenue. They operate on a shoestring as it is so how can they afford to pay football players 20-22 percent of their income? The settlement is certain to take away scholarship limits such as the silly 11.7 scholarships allotted for baseball. That will have the Title IX people screaming their lungs out. And, how will the schools justify paying football players and not paying every athlete on scholarship, both male and female? How many non-revenue sports will even survive once this is implemented? There is also the matter of players as employees, which would open the door for unionization and salary caps. Will players ever agree to a salary cap? Will we see a strike that could torpedo a school or an entire conference? All that is on the table. These questions are going to have to be answered and the answers most likely will be found in some court room. Not an ideal situation. There is also the matter of numerous other anti-trust lawsuits against the NCAA, different conferences and schools. How many of these plaintiffs will back down once the House of Representatives suit is settled? If even one or two go forward, it could skewer the entire settlement. Drew Weatherford, the former Florida State quarterback, is working with a hedge fund to help boost college athletic department revenues. It sounds promising, but what happens if the national economy takes a not so good turn? Will these hedge funds continue to bring in the bucks for athletic departments, or will the people who invest in them elect to spend their money on something deemed more practical? The one thing we can know for sure is that college sports as we now know them are about to change forever. There is a very good chance we aren’t going to recognize them in five or ten years. We could be seeing cutbacks in budgets that result in reduced numbers of scholarships. We could be seeing some sports programs curtailed or eliminated altogether. We could see some athletic departments forced to declare bankruptcy. Yes, this does sound doom and gloom, but this is a time when we need practical solutions to lingering problems and we’re seeing money being thrown at the problem without any sustainable answers.

  • You probably believe in Santa Claus if you think Rashada is a victim

    Perhaps we are supposed to feel bad about the plight of Jaden Rashada. He’s a victim. If you don’t believe it then try navigating your way through all that was written Tuesday when Rashada’s lawsuit against Hugh Hathcock, the alleged big money booster; the defunct Gator Collective; and Florida coach Billy Napier. To save those of you who couldn’t make it all the way through the ESPN version or some of the other lengthy essays that were hot topics on the internet Tuesday, here is the Reader’s Digest Condensed version: Jaden Rashada, a high school quarterback from California, was committed to Miami, whose mega booster John Ruiz promised more than $9 million. Then along came Florida, which wanted him, and Hugh Hathcock, who was the point man in negotiating a deal for the Gator Collective. They offered $11 million and bumped it to $13.85 million, which is a serious amount of cash for someone who, at the time, had never thrown a pass in a Southeastern Conference game. Rashada was promised $1 million up front whipout when he signed and a monthly stipend that could feed entire large villages in third world countries for months on end. He signed with Florida, didn’t get his money, and transferred to Arizona State. He played three games at Arizona State, apparently for an NIL deal that was somewhere between zero and a fraction of what he supposedly would be making at Florida. He played three games, broke his thumb, had surgery and transferred. To Georgia. Now Kirby Smart may deny it until the cows come home, but impeccable sources have told me the Rashada lawsuit is with Kirby’s blessing. I suspected Georgia had something to do with it the moment I heard about the lawsuit. A conversation with someone who does indeed know confirmed my suspicions. Kirby is reveling in the possibility top recruits will turn from Florida because of this lawsuit. In the lawsuit, Rashada attorney Rusty Hardin states that his client is “the first scholar-athlete to take a stand against such egregious behavior by adults who should know better” and goes on to say that Rashada wants to “expose the unchecked abuse of power that they so shamelessly wielded.” Scholar-athlete? Oh please. I’ve known some serious scholar-athletes at the University of Florida. Carlos Alvarez was one. So was Brad Culpepper. So was Matt Bonner. So was Trinity Thomas. Jaden Rashada, scholar-athlete? Student-athlete, okay. Scholar? Doubtful. Anyway, back to Rashada and the alleged stand he is taking on behalf of victims everywhere in college sports. In the Orlando Sentinel, Mike Bianchi wrote, “Rashada is suddenly the poor, exploited high school kid who got taken advantage by a multi-millionaire Gator booster and the big, bad SEC football industrial complex … It should be noted that Rashada transferred to three different high schools and has now been tied to four different colleges in less than two years. He originally committed to Miami, signed with the Gators, transferred to Arizona State a few months later after the NIL deal with UF fell through and just recently transferred to Georgia.” Ah yes, Georgia. Do you think for even one second that NIL money wasn’t involved in luring him to Georgia. Now, even Georgia isn’t stupid enough to offer him $13.85 million, but it’s probably a deal worth something close to seven numbers with a couple of commas in between. If we’re going to talk about the egregious behavior by adults as stated by Rusty Hardin, then shouldn’t we include Jaden Rashada and his father in the conversations? His father was the point man in all the negotiations. If $9.5 million was actually on the table at Miami did he not ask for proof of funds? And if $9.5 million was really on the table, which is more than the outrageous amount Tennessee people paid for Nico Iamaleava, considered a far better prospect than Rashada, why did he go looking for more? If $9.5 million is a sure thing and we’re talking about a kid who has never taken a collegiate snap at quarterback, then you are certifiable to walk away from it. That’s egregious behavior by adults. Which brings us to Hugh Hathcock, who allegedly promised to make good on $5.35 million of the $13.85 million including the $1 million up front the moment Rashada signed his letter of intent. People who talk as if they know a whole lot more about this than your basic $100 a year booster, raise a lot of questions about Hathcock. Among them, why didn’t he deliver the $1 million up front? Why didn’t he offer a proof of funds that would have calmed Rashada and pops? Would Rashada have remained a Gator if that had happened? A lot of folks seem to think so. This whole thing is so stinky that quite a few Gator boosters are asking if Hugh Hathcock has actually paid out the entire $12.6 he promised to UF athletics awhile back, which is how his name got on the UF basketball facility. Now that Hathcock is at the center of a lawsuit that is dragging the entire Florida athletic program through the mud and perhaps causing kids who have been promised NIL money to second guess, shouldn’t Scott Stricklin offer assurances that Hathcock isn’t just a fat cat with an alligator-sized mouth and a hummingbird-sized sphincter? The Gator Collective is mentioned. Hathcock had something called the Gator Guard, too, which was supposed to attract elite Gator boosters the way ants are attracted to pimento cheese and fried chicken at picnics. Somehow the Gator Collective and Gator Guard were in on this together through Marcus Castro-Walker, who is no longer with the Florida football program. Eddie Rojas headed the Gator Collective. I’m of the opinion the Gator Collective was headed by a few well-meaning amateurs who were duped by fast talk and promises of delivering a stud quarterback capable of restoring Florida to national glory. Memo to Eddie: Before entering into any deal that involves more than a few hundred dollars, ask for a proof of funds that is not more than 24 hours old. Between Hathcock, Gator Guard and the Gator Collective, Tuesday made the whole world think their brains were shipped off to Pitcairn Island where they have to wait weeks for a re-supply ship to take them back to civilization. We should talk about Billy Napier. He wanted a quarterback with a big arm and Rashada does have a big arm. But, he got Graham Mertz in the transfer portal and I guarantee you for maybe 80-90 percent less than the money Rashada was offered. Graham Mertz came to Florida with more than 30 Division I starts, which showed up last season when he threw for 2,903 yards (8.1 per attempt) and 20 touchdowns, which is slightly more than the 485 yards (5.9 per attempt) and four touchdowns Rashada threw for at Arizona State. Mertz was the better deal and would UF have gotten DJ Lagway if Rashada had stayed a Gator? Would Lagway have signed with the Gators if he didn’t have something positive to prove there is integrity with Napier and UF? The lawsuit says the Gator Collective backed out of the deal a couple of weeks prior to national signing day and that Billy Napier promised UF would “make good” on the original deal. There is nothing in writing to substantiate this claim. Bianchi wrote, “I’m told that Napier actually got wind of this ridiculous NIL deal for Rashada and pulled the plug on it before the Gators did something really, really stupid – like blatantly breaking NCAA rules while giving a high school quarterback an inane contract worth nearly $14 million. It was at Napier’s behest that the Gator Collective finally exercised an option in the contract to terminate the deal before Rashada signed with UF.” I’m no lawyer but a couple of lawyers I know think the best way to deal with this is to offer some go away money to Jaden Rashada. They believe that if this lawsuit ever sees a court room that there will be no winners so the best way is to settle and make sure the non-disclosure agreement is air tight so terms of the agreement never see the light of day. Fighting the suit would cost a lot of money and would keep this stench in the news, which would not be good for Florida recruiting. So, here are suggestions about what should happen with NIL so we can avoid these problems in the future: 1. It is ridiculous to be offering staggering amounts of money to kids who have never played a down of college football. 2. I’m not opposed to kids getting paid, especially football players whose injuries linger long after their playing days end, but maybe the best thing that could happen would be for some high profile kids with big NIL deals to be total busts. If that were to happen often enough, the NIL money might shrink considerably. 3. Find a legal way to make a rule that freshmen get a salary and after their freshman year, they can negotiate NIL deals. 4. Find a way to tie NIL money to performance in the classroom. Any kid who can’t maintain at least a 2.5 GPA and be in good academic standing should not receive NIL money. 5. Change the transfer rules. No kid should be allowed to transfer until he/she has spent a fall and spring on campus. No kid should be allowed to transfer without sitting out a year if he/she has less than a 2.5 GPA. If a kid transfers and is still taking remedial courses, then the kid has to sit a year. 6. No NIL money for any kid taking remedial courses. 7. Schools (or through their representatives) that pay recruits before they’ve stepped on campus (whether high school or portal), are docked THREE scholarships for four years for first time offenders. A second offense within 24 months results in being docked FIVE scholarships for four years. A third offense within a 5-year window would result in TEN scholarships docked for TEN YEARS. 8. Any coach who willfully participates in illegally paying  or promising to pay NIL money to a recruit before the kid steps on campus is fined $1 million. Second offense, suspension for two years. Assistant coaches fined their salary with a two-year suspension for a second offense. 9. Division I college football secedes from the NCAA and forms its own organization with its own rules regarding NIL, transfers, etc., and a commissioner with absolute power to enforce the rules. Once football is on firm footing, then every school that wants to remain Division I must secede all sports from the NCAA. ONE FINAL PITHY THOUGHT: The waiting game begins for the Florida baseball team, which took it on the chin, 6-3, to Vanderbilt in the first round of the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Hoover. The Gators are 28-27 so they are eligible to make the NCAA tournament but things could get dicey if some unknown wins the championship in some of the typical 1-bid leagues. There are a lot of reasons Florida had a poor season. Pitching certainly has plenty to do with it although we saw three pitchers Tuesday that could help UF rebound next year in Pierce Coppola, Jake Clemente and Fisher Jameson. That is, if they choose to stay. Another reason the Gators had a tough year is Kevin O’Sullivan didn’t have good people protecting Jac Caglianone. No leadoff hitter with speed who doesn’t strike out. A hitter behind Cag who doesn’t strike out a lot. Too many strikeouts up and down the lineup other than Caglianone, who rarely whiffs. Worst fielding team that O’Sullivan has had at UF. Left side of the infield didn’t get to a lot of balls. Slow outfield that had three below average arms. Not good defense behind the plate when Tanner Garrison got hurt. Florida baseball will almost certainly rebound from this year with a vengeance next season, but that doesn’t erase the anxiety the Gators will feel the next few days as they sweat out what the NCAA selection committee is thinking.

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