THOUGHTS OF THE DAY, AUGUST 1, 2019
FLORIDA FLASHBACK: PAYBACKS ARE HELL
Urban Meyer was already seething but when he saw the video of Mark Richt’s post game remarks a personal vendetta was born. This was October 27, 2007 in the aftermath of Georgia’s 42-30 win over the Florida Gators. In the first quarter following the Poodles’ first touchdown of the game, the entire Georgia bench emptied and ran on the field. There was plenty of taunting as the Bulldogs celebrated the TD and fortunately the Gators showed some restraint.
Following the game, Richt pled innocent, claiming he didn’t have a clue what his team was doing and that he was completely shocked when they rushed the field. He tried to convince everyone that it was totally spontaneous on the part of his team. Uh-huh.
If you’ve ever seen the replay you’ll notice not one Georgia coach or support staffer even made the slightest effort to stop it and you could see them laughing when the zebras threw their flags. When the players returned to the Georgia sideline, no one was scolded but lots of coaches were seen hugging and high-fiving their players.
Now, the reality is Georgia had a better team than the Gators in 2007. Florida’s defense couldn’t stop the run and Georgia ran for 196 yards that day. Georgia didn’t need to resort to some gimmick to win the game. Rushing the field was all done for show. Richt was feeling the heat for SEC losses to South Carolina and Tennessee and the boosters were grumbling that maybe his sell-by date had expired. Making matters worse was the perception that the Poodles were playing like an uninspired team. That changed they rushed the field. Florida fans were in shock. The Georgia half of the stadium erupted. Georgia went on to finish the season 11-2. While Georgia fans claimed it was all because the team had stormed the field against Florida it had more to do with the fact the remainder of the regular season schedule was quite lame plus the Poodles got to play Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl.
Florida finished 9-4 in a season in which the Gators played plenty of freshmen and sophomores. Once the Florida season ended with a 41-35 loss to Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, Meyer shifted his focus to 2008 and the Georgia game. He made it a point to provide constant reminders of Georgia rushing the field. Until the Gators departed for Jacksonville on the Friday before the Georgia game on November 1, 2008, the TVs in the locker and training rooms rarely went more than five minutes without the loop of the “spontaneous” celebration by the Poodles.
At SEC Media Days in July, the first question Richt was asked was about his team storming the field against Florida. Once again, he feigned his shock. I wrote a piece entitled, “Hey Mark Richt! Your Nose Is Growing.” I was the talk of radio row in Hoovere the next day and when I went on Rachel Baribeau’s radio show in Columbus, Georgia, the phone system almost crashed with Poodle fans calling in to berate me. I just answered them all, “We’ll see.”
Meyer was asked if he was going to retaliate when he took the podium but he wouldn’t tip his hand. In the week leading up to the Georgia game three months later, he faced a continuous barrage of questions about if he was going to retaliate and how. He simply said there would be a response and never tipped his hand.
When the rematch of the century took place on November 1, Georgia fans were almost giddy with excitement, believing Meyer’s unwillingness to outline a response meant they were living rent free in his head. They should have known better, especially when Brandon Spikes planted Knowshon Moreno on the second play of the game. Florida showed up angry and ready to play.
Florida didn’t rush the field after either of their first half touchdowns (14-3 UF lead at the half) nor was there any other attempt to show up the Poodles. That seemed to convince Georgia fans that Meyer would choke in the second half. They were on their feet when Matt Stafford drove the Poodles from their own two to the UF 30 in six plays on Georgia’s first possession of the second half. They were silenced on the seventh play when Joe Haden picked off Stafford and ran it back 88 yards to the Georgia one. It was like all the air had been sucked out of half the stadium.
The Haden pick led to three straight TDs. The Gators got a fourth second half TD when Ahmad Black returned a pick of Stafford back 64 yards to set up a Tebow to Percy Harvin TDP. The lead ballooned to 49-3 on a Johnny Brantley TDP.
There was still no response from Meyer. Georgia fans were already making a beeline to Hahira and points north when Georgia finally scored with 3:09 to go. When Florida got the ball back, the Gators picked up a couple of first downs, the second on a 14-yard run by Emmanuel Moody with 44 seconds left. That’s when Meyer responded. He called the first of his two remaining time outs. Richt looked mournfully at the scoreboard. Moody ran again, this time for 17 yards and another first down. Meyer called time again. There were 30 seconds remaining and again, Richt and his entire staff looked at the scoreboard to see the score – 49-10. Message sent. Message received.
Meyer didn’t say much about the time outs in his post game remarks. The score said plenty but Meyer’s demeanor made it perfectly clear that paybacks are hell.
ONE QUICK COMMENT ABOUT ZACH SMITH
When I read Zach Smith’s comments about Dan Mullen, I was reminded of a quote by Christopher Moore that goes like this: “I’ve seen more intelligence in the crotch lice of harem whores.”
I think that just about says it all.
SOME GOOD QUOTES FOR THURSDAY
From Nicole Auerbach of The Athletic, a plan UNLV implemented last year to get more fans to come to its football games:
“One creative marketing scheme UNLV used last season was an Eat All You Can Plan, which was paired with a multi-game ticket package. Instead of trying to market tickets as discounted, UNLV simply sold full-price tickets with unlimited hot dogs, nachos, popcorn and soda. Fans felt it was a worthwhile value proposition: UNLV sold about 400 three-game packs for football and a similar amount of five-game basketball packs.”
From Seth Davis of The Athletic on the expected NCAA enforcement action against the numerous schools and head coaches mentioned in the college basketball corruption trials:
“The NCAA can only dream of using the investigative techniques like the ones the FBI has, but unlike the government, the NCAA doesn’t have to prove crimes were committed. It only has to show that its rules were violated.
Nor does the NCAA need to prove that a head coach was aware of violations in order to penalize him. The head coach responsibility rule allows the NCAA to sanction a head coach for any violations committed by a member of his staff. It can also penalize schools for using players who were later found to have accepted improper benefits, even if no one at the school was aware of it. (Think Silvio De Sousa at Kansas.) And in case all of that isn’t broad or vague enough, the NCAA can also apply its unspecified failure to monitor standard to mete out penalties.
Most of all, the NCAA, with its recently rejiggered enforcement structure, has a strong incentive to take strong action. The government’s case may not have lived up to all of the initial hype, but it created an optics problem for the NCAA by opening a window into the seedy side of college basketball. It also produced plenty of, shall we say, actionable intelligence. This is going to be a long process, but from everything I’m hearing, the NCAA is determined to leave a mark.”
From Daniel Rappaport of Sports Illustrated on world #1 golfer Brooks Koepka and what he has accomplished this year on the PGA Tour:
“Let’s take a moment to appreciate the season Brooks Koepka has had: Three wins overall; a victory, two runner-ups and a T4 in the majors; $9.5 million already in on-course earnings—more than $2.1 million more than No. 2 on the money list—not including the $2 million he will make for winning the Wyndham Rewards, and whatever money he wins in the three FedEx Cup playoff events, and whatever bonus he gets for his year-end standing; a second consecutive player of the year award, which is just a formality at this point.”
SEC BASKETBALL STUFF
Sports Illustrated has assessed SEC basketball for 2019-20 and it’s all-too-early preseason rankings go like this: (1) Kentucky; (2) FLORIDA; (3) LSU; (4) Auburn; (5) Alabama; (6) Mississippi State; (7) Tennessee; (8) Ole Miss; (9) Georgia; (10) Arkansas; (11) South Carolina; (12) Texas A&M; (13) Missouri; (14) Vanderbilt
I think the early rankings will change very soon because I believe LSU is about to get lit up by the NCAA. When that happens, don’t think for a second athletic director Scott Woodward will stick with Will Wade as his head coach. Wade is caught on an FBI wiretap discussing payments to a player and that’s all the NCAA will need to put LSU in the jailhouse for at least a couple of years.
Auburn is going to get a notice of allegations from the NCAA due to former assistant Chuck Person’s involvement in the corruption schemes. It’s doubtful the NCAA will sanction Bruce Pearl other than to say he needs to do a better job monitoring his assistant coaches. “I expect the worst is behind us,” Pearl said Monday on Jon Rothstein’s podcast.
South Carolina could also face some NCAA punishment as a result of a former assistant who was prominently named in the corruption trials, but there is no evidence that Frank Martin had anything to do with it. There will be punishment but it’s doubtful the hammer will drop.
As for the Gators, here is what Sports Illustrated said about them: “With five-stars Scottie Lewis and Tre Mann coming in and Andrew Nembhard back for a sophomore year, the Gators already looked like they had enough firepower to beat anyone else in the league on a given night. Then they won the Kerry Blackshear Jr. graduate transfer sweepstakes and became a conceivable Final Four contender.”
New Arkansas basketball coach Eric Musselman has added his son to his staff. Michael Musselman will serve as the Razorbacks’ director of recruiting.
SEC FOOTBALL STUFF
Former Alabama tight end Kedrick James has transferred to SMU. James played in 10 games in two years at Alabama but never caught a pass.
Linebacker Jacob Trump and center Jonah Dubinski are taking medical retirements at Missouri. Freshman corner Ish Burdine (shoulder) and wide receiver Khmari Thompson (knee) will miss fall camp due to injuries.
Kentucky quarterback coach Darrin Hinshaw told the Louisville Quarterback Club to expect serious changes in the UK offense this year: “Last year we were more about running the ball. We had a first year quarterback with Terry Wilson and he only threw about 20 times a game. We are going to have to increase that this year to 35 to 40 times a game.”
Senior Josh Growden, who handled all of LSU’s short punts last year, has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal.
Tennessee redshirt freshman defensive lineman Kurott Garland has entered his name in the NCAA transfer portal. Garland played in four games last year.
RANDOM THOUGHTS: Nick Buoniconti, the middle linebacker on the Miami Dolphins’ “No Name” defense of the early 1970s and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Wednesday at the age of 78 after a long battle with dementia … The Houston Astros made the trade of the day in Major League Baseball when they acquired Zach Greinke from the Arizona Diamondbacks. Greinke is 10-4 this season with a 2.87 ERA. Greinke won the Cy Young Award in 2009 when he was with the Kansas City Royals … Florida State assistant Dennis Gates has been hired as the new basketball coach at Cleveland State, replacing Dennis Felton who was recently fired. Eight CSU players including last year’s top five scorers entered their name into the NCAA transfer portal since June 12. Only three players from last season return so Gates has a serious uphill battle on his hands to turn Cleveland State relevant.