THOUGHTS OF THE DAY: FEBRUARY 26, 2019
I HAVE QUESTIONS; DO YOU HAVE ANSWERS?
(1) When Jim McElwain got the boot by athletic director Scott Stricklin, I thought Dan Mullen would be a fine fit as Florida’s next football coach but I didn’t think Stricklin would go after him. I thought since Stricklin came to UF from Mississippi State that he would feel an obligation to go after another coach. As it turned out, Stricklin did pursue Chip Kelly but when that deal fell through (there indeed was an agreement but Kelly and his agent backed out), he immediately turned to Mullen and Mullen said yes. I think Stricklin got the right guy and I wish he had gone after Mullen in the first place.
My questions for you: Was Mullen your first choice? Did you think he was a good choice when he was hired? Are you pleasantly surprised at what he’s accomplished in such a short time?
(2) While on the treadmill at the YMCA Sunday, I got into a conversation with a friend who wanted to discuss Kyler Murray choosing football over baseball. He believes Murray made the right choice and should have chosen football over baseball. I am intrigued by the speed and skills that Murray has on the football field, but I wonder if he can absorb the beating he will take in the NFL. Personally, I would have chosen baseball where (a) his size won’t be an issue and (b) the chance of a career-ending injury is far less.
My questions for you: If you were in Kyler Murray’s shoes which sport would you choose? If you choose football, why do you think he succeeds? Why would you choose baseball?
(3) On an ESPN broadcast last week, Dick Vitale discussed who he would have on a Mount Rushmore for college basketball coaches. For some reason that made me think about a Mount Rushmore for SEC football, one for players and one for coaches. On my Mount Rushmore for SEC players I would have Herschel Walker, Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow and Derrick Thomas. On my Mount Rushmore for coaches, I would have Bear Bryant, Steve Spurrier, Bob Neyland and Nick Saban.
My questions for you: Who would you have on your SEC players Mount Rushmore? Who would you have on your coaches Mount Rushmore?
(4) I am quite often asked to name the best college basketball players I’ve ever seen whether in person or on television and also the best college basketball teams I’ve ever seen on TV or in person. So after a lot of thought, here are my ten best players: (1) Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor, UCLA; (2) Pete Maravich, LSU; (3) David Thompson, North Carolina State; (4) Bill Walton, UCLA; (5) Phil Ford, North Carolina; (6) Christian Laettner, Duke; (7) Waymon Tisdale, Oklahoma; (8) Bobby Jones, North Carolina; (9) Len Bias, Maryland; (10) Sidney Wicks, UCLA. My ten best teams: (1) UCLA, 1968; (2) Indiana, 1976; (3) UCLA, 1972; (4) Kentucky, 1996; (5) North Carolina State, 1974; (6) North Carolina, 1982; (7) UCLA, 1969; (8) Duke, 1992; (9) Florida, 2007; (10) Villanova, 2016.
My questions for you: Who are the ten best college basketball players you have either seen in person or on TV? Who are the ten best college basketball teams you have either seen in person or on TV?
(5) The SEC has always set the standard when it comes to expansion, first to 12 teams in 1992 (added Arkansas and South Carolina) and then to 14 in 2012 (added Missouri and Texas A&M). Although I’m not in favor of further expansion to 16 teams, I think it’s inevitable and when it happens it will spark a wave of expansion – and contraction – of conferences throughout Division I. From my perspective, there are only two expansion possibilities that would make any sense for the SEC: raid the ACC for Clemson and Florida State or raid the Big 12 for Texas and Oklahoma. If and when the SEC expands to 16, I think the Big Ten will do whatever it takes to make Notre Dame its 16th member. I also believe that when the next wave of expansion takes place, both South Florida and UCF will be invited to join one of the power conferences.
My questions for you: If and when the SEC expands by two teams, who would you like to see join the conference? Can you foresee Notre Dame feeling the pinch and electing to join a conference? Do you think South Florid and UCF will ever be invited to join one of the power conferences?
(6) In three more weeks, the NCAA will select 68 teams that will get to march to the madness. Another 32 teams will be selected to play in the NIT. Some of the teams playing in the NCAA probably won’t deserve to be there and some of the teams playing in the NIT will probably deserve to be in the NCAA. Every year in the days following Selection Sunday we hear a lot of moaning and groaning about teams that got screwed by the selection process. That always prompts calls to expand the NCAA Tournament by another eight or ten teams. I have a better solution. Eliminate the NIT and expand the NCAA Tournament to 128 teams. That would simply make the path to the national championship seven games instead of the current six so it wouldn’t be an unnecessary burden on the athletes and it would allow more teams from the smaller conferences to make the tournament field. Who knows, maybe it would produce the ultimate Cinderella someday.
My questions for you: Should the NCAA expand and if so by how many teams? Does the NIT serve a purpose or would it be better for the NCAA to eliminate the tournament and add those teams to the NCAA Tournament?
(7) My Florida Gator addiction began on a September afternoon in 1960 at Florida Field, capacity 42,000 (it’s changed a bit since then, hasn’t it?) for Florida-Georgia Tech. I went to the game with my grandfather and my dad. I’d never been to a college football game and I certainly had never been part of a crowd that large so I was wide eyed and struggling to contain my excitement from the moment we walked into the stadium. I remember the man sitting in front of us offering some of his bourbon when my dad and grandfather bought Cokes. They politely declined although they were a bit irritated. That might have something to do with the fact that both my dad and grandfather went to their graves without ever tasting anything alcoholic. I can’t recall all the details of the game, only that the Gators were trailing, 17-10, in the fourth quarter when they put together the game-winning drive. The Gators scored on an option play when Larry Libertore pitched to Lindy Infante for the touchdown. I remember someone shouting, “Look at Coach Graves!” We looked and he held up two fingers. My dad and grandfather explained the Gators were going for the two-point conversion and the win instead of kicking the extra point to tie the game. Georgia Tech expected option on the two-point conversion so when Larry Libertore pulled the ball out of the belly of fullback Jon MacBeth, everybody expected Libertore to slide down the line and pitch. Instead, Libertore took a step back and shot putted the ball into the end zone to MacBeth who made the catch to give the Gators an 18-17 win. The crowd roared and I’d never heard anything so loud in all my life. People danced and hugged. I was hooked. No team has ever mattered since that day except the Florida Gators.
My question for you: What is the moment when you knew in your heart of hearts that you were a Gator for life?
BARNHILL SEC PITCHER OF THE WEEK
Florida’s Kelly Barnhill (9-0, 0.59 ERA) was selected SEC Pitcher of the Week after going 3-0 at the Bubly Invitational last weekend. Barnhill pitched 15-2/3 scoreless innings with 22 strikeouts as the Gators improved to 18-0 on the season. Florida travels to Fullerton, California on Wednesday to face UCLA.
CALILAO SEC CO-FRESHMAN OF THE WEEK
First baseman Kendrick Calilao, who went 7-12 against Miami with 2 doubles, a triple, a home run and 6 RBI, was selected SEC Co-Freshman of the Week.
The Gators (5-3), who fell two spots in the D1Baseball.com rankings to #7, travel to Jacksonville tonight then return home Wednesday to face UCF.
The Gators dropped from #4 to #9 in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll and down from #6 to #13 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll.
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
LSU coach Will Wade has been subpoenaed to testify at the college basketball corruption trial in New York in April. Also subpoenaed was Arizona coach Sean Miller. Wade and Miller will have to explain their relationship with Christian Dawkins, who faces federal bribery charges. There is a wiretap that has a recording of a conversation with Wade and Dawkins discussing 7-0 center Balsa Koprivica of Montverde Academy. Koprivica eventually signed with Florida State.
Tennessee fans are burning up social media with a photo of basketball referee Anthony Jordan posing with an LSU T-shirt. A statement released by the Southeastern Conference stated the photo was taken five years ago when Jordan found the shirt while traveling through Spain. In Saturday’s 82-80 win by LSU over Tennessee, LSU shot 31 free throws to Tennessee’s 16. ESPN’s Seth Greenberg broke down the foul calls in the game and stated that Jordan called more fouls on Tennessee than the other two officials combined.
Kentucky remained at #4 in both the Associated Press and Coaches polls while Tennessee dropped two spots to #7 in both polls. LSU remained at #13 in the AP and improved one spot to #14 in the Coaches.
Tuesday’s SEC games
Alabama (16-11, 7-7 SEC) at South Carolina (14-13, 9-5 SEC)
Missouri (12-14, 3-11 SEC) at Mississippi State (20-7, 8-6 SEC)
Arkansas (14-13, 5-8 SEC) at #4 Kentucky (23-4, 12-2 SEC)
Texas A&M (12-14, 5-9 SEC) at #13 LSU (22-5, 12-2 SEC)
Wednesday’s SEC games
FLORIDA (16-11, 8-6 SEC) at Vanderbilt (9-18, 0-14 SEC)
#7 Tennessee (24-3, 12-2 SEC) at Ole Miss (19-8, 9-5 SEC)
Auburn (18-9, 7-7 SEC) at Georgia (10-17, 1-13 SEC)
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
Arkansas could be in trouble at running back. Rakeem Boyd, who led the Razorbacks in rushing with 734 yards in 2018, will not be practicing this spring although HBC Chad Morris gave no reason. Morris confirmed that running back T.J. Hammonds is no longer with the team … A groin injury will limit what Alabama running back Josh Richardson is able to do at the NFL Combine this weekend … Kentucky offensive coordinator Eddie Gran signed a three-year extension that will pay him $875,000 in 2019 and raise him $25,000 each of the next two seasons. Recruiting coordinator/tight ends coach Vince Marrow got a $150,000 raise to $600,000. Wide receivers coach Michael Smith got a $50,000 raise to $450,000.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Gonzaga moved to #1 in both the AP and Coaches polls with Virginia #2, Duke #3 and Kentucky #4 … The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s office issued a statement that claims New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter the morning of the AFC Championship Game and was videotaped receiving oral and manual sex. Kraft attended the Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs game in Kansas City later in the day … The Raiders are close to finalizing a contract that will allow them to play at the Oakland Coliseum in 2019. The Raiders are due to play their first season in Las Vegas in 2020 … Former Gator Peter Alonso hit a 2-run homer in the New York Mets first spring training game. He’s the favorite to win the job as the starting first baseman.