THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, MAY 21, 2019
THE LIST FOR TUESDAY
Who’s got the best college football program in the country? Here is my top 20 list.
1. Alabama: Bama has it all – the best coach, incredible facilities, five championships since 2008 and tons of money to spend. Best of all for Bama fans, Nick Saban isn’t planning to retire anytime soon.
2. Clemson: Clemson might overtake Alabama one of these days but for now the Tigers find themselves in second place, largely because they’re winning and they have great facilities. Lots of programs make more money but Clemson gets the most bang for the buck. They’re paying Dabo $9.3 million nowadays. Nice work if you can get it.
3. Ohio State: Money isn’t an object at Ohio State. AD Gene Smith only has to go to his speed dial to get whatever he wants for the program. Facilities were seriously upgraded when Urban Meyer became the coach and now that he’s departed, the Buckeyes probably won’t miss a beat.
4. Oklahoma: When Bobby Stoops retired, Oklahoma didn’t miss a beat. The program has plenty of money, outstanding facilities and loads of tradition, all of which is necessary to get good football players to come to Oklahoma. Have you ever been there?
5. Texas A&M: Texas takes in more money but the Aggies actually make more and they’ve spent it on a world class athletic plant and by hiring Jimbo Fisher to a 10-year, $75 million deal. Imagine this: When they did a gut job and rebuild on Kyle Field, they paid cash, all $480 million of it.
6. Texas: There is a saying in Texas that only God has more money than the Longhorns. They’re doing their best to get the football program back in good shape after a few years of mediocrity. If money can buy happiness, they’ll spend it in Austin.
7. LSU: They love their football in Baton Rouge and they don’t mind spending money to upgrade the LSU football program. Facilities are first rate and there isn’t a more intimidating place to play a football game at night than Tiger Stadium.
8. Georgia: The last two years have everyone thinking Georgia is a top five program, but that’s just not the case. Facilities are lower third in the SEC. The only reason Georgia ranks ahead of Florida is because they’ve done more winning since 2010.
9. Notre Dame: Because Notre Dame is a private school, it doesn’t have to post how much it pays coaches, how much money is spent on football, etc. Let’s just say that Notre Dame has whatever it takes to get whatever it wants. Right now it has a coach who is winning again and that makes the faithful happy.
10. Michigan: Jim Harbaugh took his football team to South Africa this spring. Last year it was to Rome to meet the Pope. Now if he could just get the Wolverines to win a Big Ten championship. They have money and facilities, but no national title in more than 20 years.
11. Florida: When you consider all the money the UF program brings in (more than $150 million), you have to wonder how come the facilities are borderline crummy. UF has the right coach now and an AD that knows how to get the facilities on par with the rest of the top programs.
12. Auburn: When Auburn needs a big check it can always count on a bunch of alumni billionaires like Apple CEO Tim Cook to write one. Money isn’t the problem. The problem is sharing the same state with Nick Saban.
13. Wisconsin: Athletic director Barry Alvarez has the program on very sound footing. The Badgers win football games and the boosters write big checks. They are fortunate to play in the opposite division from Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Michigan State. About the only thing they don’t have is decent weather.
14. Washington: Chris Petersen has the Huskies winning again and the boosters are writing big checks. Until Southern Cal starts winning again, UDub is the Pac-12’s best bet to make the College Football Playoff.
15. Oregon: The facilities are outrageously good and there has been success but it’s the Pac-12, which plays the worst football of the Power 5 conferences.
16. South Carolina: The Gamecocks have an AD who gets it when it comes to facilities. Check out their new standalone football facility if you don’t believe it. They may never win the SEC but they’re positioned to do well.
17. Tennessee: The Vols have money and facilities. They also have serious instability in the football program. The current coach (Jeremy Pruitt) is the fourth since 2009 and like the three who preceded him, he was maybe the fourth or fifth choice. That is chaotic.
18. Stanford: Academics make recruiting difficult but the Cardinal still win and do well in the Pac-12. They may never compete at the same level as Alabama, Clemson and the like, but the folks on The Farm are quite content. Money is never an object.
19. Southern California: There is no excuse for Southern Cal to be this low, but they’ve made one bad hire after another since Pete Carroll bolted for the NFL. Because they’re a private school, they don’t have to release the finances. Let’s just say whatever the football program wants, there is plenty.
20. Florida State: Attendance is way down and so are booster contributions. They need upgraded facilities in the worst way but lack the cash or the vision from the athletic department to go get it. If they don’t get back to winning in a big way this program is going to go into a freefall.
Wednesday: The 10 best quarterbacks in the country for 2019.
A WIN IN HOOVER TODAY MAY WRAP UP AN NCAA BID
After a weekend when the Gators (33-23, 13-17 SEC) all but rose from the dead when it comes to NCAA Tournament possibilities, they might be able to seal up an at-large bid when they face Texas A&M (36-19, 16-13 SEC) in the first game of the day at the SEC Tournament in Hoover, Alabama. It’s a 10:30 a.m. start, which could work well for the Gators since the air will be heavier and it’s already a tough park to hit the ball out of. Florida starter Tommy Mace (8-4, 5.18 ERA) has thrown seven home run balls this season but he’s coming off a win over Missouri in which he induced the Tigers to ground out 13 times.
What’s important for the Gators is to get at least one more win. The sweep over Missouri lowered their RPI from 33 nationally down to 25. The Aggies have the #14 RPI so a win today could only help Florida’s cause. In Florida’s favor is the fact the Gators have been to Omaha the last four years and in the NCAA Tournament the last 11. The selection committee has shown a willingness to give perpetually good programs the benefit of the doubt in an off year.
SIERRA BROOKS TAKES SECOND IN NCAA WOMEN’S GOLF
Florida junior Sierra Brooks finished with a 4-under, 215 for the three days of the NCAA Women’s Golf Championships, good for second place on the individual leaderboard, just four shots behind Maria Fassi of Arkansas, who shot a final round 68 to win the medalist honors by four strokes.
SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR A TUESDAY
On ESPN’s First Take, Magic Johnson discussed his abrupt departure from the Los Angeles Lakers:
“The straw that broke the camel’s back was I wanted to fire Luke Walton. I showed [Jeanie Buss, Lakers owner] the things he did well and the things he didn’t do well. I said listen, we got to get a better coach. First day, well let’s think about it. Second day, OK you can fire him. Then the next day, no, we should try to work it out … So we went back and forth like that, and then she brought [Lakers COO] Tim Harris into the meeting, some of the guys, and Tim wanted to keep him because he was friends with him. I said, when I looked up, I only really answer to Jeanie Buss. Now I got Tim involved. It’s time for me to go. I got things happening that were being said behind my back. I don’t have the power I thought I had to make decisions. And I told them, when it is not fun for me, when I think I don’t have the decision-making power I thought I had, I got to step aside.”
From Mark Schlabach of ESPN on if there is cause for concern that Tiger Woods didn’t make the cut for the PGA:
“I’m not sure if we could have expected much more after he failed to play competitively after winning the Masters. Not even Tiger can do that at age 43. He didn’t even play a full practice round and came down with an illness before the first round at Bethpage. I think he’ll have to play at the Memorial in preparation for the U.S. Open, and he’s going to have to work his way in shape physically and mentally like he did before Augusta.”
CBSSports.com golf writer Kyle Porter on how PGA Brooks Koepka keeps himself motivated, particularly at a major:
“It seems almost uncomfortable for him to run from out in front where he’s being slapped on the back and kissed on the ass. He wants to be the one who’s written off. He wants to be the one who’s considered inadequate, the one who’s chastised for not being tough. It is part of his DNA as a golfer, and it’s one of the handful of answers to why he has twice as many major wins as regular PGA Tour victories.”
Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated on why Florida State’s athletic director is David Coburn:
“The job was open for eight months. A national search was conducted. In the end, Florida State president John Thrasher pulled the interim tag off interim AD David Coburn, who had previously served as Thrasher’s chief of staff. Coburn spent decades working behind the scenes in state politics, so he’s suited for the job. But he also understands that one of the main reasons he was hired is one of the main reasons established ADs wanted no part of a job that, to the untrained eye, seems as if it would be one of the best in the nation.”
SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL STUFF
Wide receiver Kolbi Fuqua, who entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal, will not be returning to Auburn. His name has been officially removed from the Auburn roster.
Texas A&M redshirt freshman quarterback Jagger LaRoe is transferring to Ohio State where he will be immediately eligible since he was a walk-on last year at A&M.
LSU defensive back Kelvin Joseph Jr., who entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal, will be back at LSU per his father. “He’s staying,” Kelvin Joseph Sr. said. “He’s not going anywhere.”
Running back Zamir White, who had to redshirt as a freshman after tearing his ACL, should be cleared in time to participate in fall drills in August per Georgia coach Kirby Smart.
South Carolina redshirt freshman defensive back Jonathan Gipson has placed his name in the NCAA transfer portal.
Trendon Watford (6-9, 230, Mountain Brook, AL), a 5-star power forward, chose LSU over Alabama on Monday despite LSU’s pending difficulties with the NCAA.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Former FSU starting quarterback Deondre Francois will walk on at Lane Kiffin’s Home for Troubled Football Players, also known as Florida Atlantic. Francois was dismissed at FSU after he allegedly made threats to his girlfriend that was caught on video and posted on Instagram. This happened after he was cleared of an alleged battery of his pregnant girlfriend although no charges were ever filed. Last year’s starting QB at the LKHTFP is Chris Robison, who missed spring practice while he was being investigated for sexual battery. No charges were filed … Just when you thought June Jones was committed to spending the rest of his life as a beach bum in Hawaii, he resurfaces. He will be the head coach and GM of the Houston franchise in the new XFL. Games will be played at TDECU, the University of Houston’s stadium … Former Gator Pete Alonso hit his 15thhomer (416 feet) of the season Monday as the New York Mets took a 5-3 win over the Washington Nationals. Alonso leads the Mets in both homers and RBI (35).