Tony Barnhart warns the Gator Nation that the fun is just getting started.
… fair or not, and many in the Gator Nation will say it’s not fair, life is about to get even more complicated for you.
Why? Because from this point forward there will be only one story written about football at the University of Florida: What is Urban Meyer is doing or not doing and when will he return or not return?
What about recruiting? Is he involved or not? How much is he involved? Are opposing schools hammering Florida because of the uncertainty? (Yes). Will Lane Kiffin bring it up when he’s in somebody’s living room? (A most certain yes.)
Looks like he’s on to something.
The big recruiting news today was longtime Florida commitment and five-star safety Matt Elam switching on the Gators to pick Florida State. The way I found out was I overheard Port St. Lucie, Fla., linebacker Jeff Luc, an FSU commitment, excitedly telling his teammates the news after the press luncheon. I asked Luc to be sure I heard him right. “Yep,” he said, then he showed me the text message on his phone he’d just received from Elam. It said, “yeah, I committed today.” The Seminoles are in the midst of an awesome roll. . .
The next month and a half is going to be most interesting.
I thought I’d do a list of the best Georgia wins I’ve attended in the Aughts. Some were close, some were blowouts, but for a variety of reasons, they’re the ones I have the warmest memories of. None of them are Donnan-coached games, though. The only one that came close – the victory over Tennessee to end the losing streak – wasn’t particularly memorable besides the result and the over the top fan reaction.
So, in chronological order, my happiest moments:
- Auburn, 2002. Greene to Johnson is, of course, one of the signature plays in the history of the program. But the two things that stick out the most besides that were Sean Jones’ heroics in the first half and the weather, which was cold and colder until the go-ahead score, after which none of us Georgia fans either cared or noticed.
- Clemson, 2003. I’m still of the opinion that the 2003 season was Mark Richt’s best coaching job and this game is a perfect example of why. Eight players on suspension, two defensive starters out with injuries, Ring-gate, you name it – all of that and they still went out and cleaned the Tigers’ clock from the opening series on. (By the way, logistically speaking, that was one of the worst games I’ve ever attended: one road in to the stadium, choked for hours; the most bizarre path to the opponent’s nosebleed seats constructed by man; and a place that ran out of ice after the first quarter on a day where the temperatures easily exceeded 90 degrees. Overall, idiots with a lake.)
- LSU, 2004. God, this was so satisfying. Nick Saban channelled his inner Kevin Ramsey, with similarly disastrous results.
- Georgia Tech, 2004. Ah, the glory that was Reggie Ball and Patrick Nix – the engineering school representatives who couldn’t count to four. And I’ll always remember David Greene coming off the bench to calm the waters by directing a final scoring drive with a fractured thumb.
- SECCG, 2005. DJ’s finest hour and the last time we didn’t have questions about a Martinez-coached defense.
- Georgia Tech, 2006. “C’mon dog, it’s a game,” Ball said. “Georgia is Georgia. They’re a good football team, but they ain’t no speed bump or anything like that. It’s just a game.” Sigh. They just don’t make quarterbacks like that anymore.
- Florida, 2007. Of course, we all know it wouldn’t have been nearly as memorable if the GPOOE™’s shoulder had been 100%.
- Auburn, 2007. The greatest Sanford Stadium crowd atmosphere of the decade.
- Georgia Tech, 2009. Gosh, and I thought Paul Johnson was a genius and all. And there’s still nothing like the home fans outside of BDS after a bitter loss.
Anyway, there’s my list of what turns out to be nine games over nine years. What’s on yours?
Given the allegations, the parties involved and the manner in which things played out over the last 48 hours, it’s no surprise that the Mike Leach firing is the topic du jour in the college sports world. After surfing the web, I have a few thoughts.
- Mike Leach is something of a media darling, so you have to give the James family credit for using the same media to get their side of the story out. (It helps to have a famous dad employed by ESPN.) And, hey, Leach is out of a job, so it worked. I suspect Adam James’ next head coach is going to tread very lightly in his direction.
- Speaking of Adam, this makes me wonder where a football player carries his cell phone at practice.
- Dennis Dodd makes an entirely appropriate point about common human decency. I’d probably accept it at face value, too, if the school hadn’t rushed to fire Leach the day before he stood to earn an $800 thousand bonus.
- Leach’s public statement contains this impressive set of facts: “When I arrived at Texas Tech, the football program was on NCAA probation and the graduation rate was far below the national average. However, in the past 10 years, Tech has been to 10 straight bowl games, has the third best record in the Big 12 Conference, and has the highest graduation rate for football players of any public institution in the country.” Do the powers-that-be at Texas Tech really believe the next coaching hire will do as well? If not, how do you let things get so far off track?
- On the other hand, a Texas attorney asks an equally good question of Leach: “Just how does someone as successful and intelligent as Leach lose one of the 20 or so highest-paying jobs in big-time college football?”
Lots of pig-headed stupidity to go around on this one, it seems like. And contrary to Gregg Doyel’s take-it-from-an-asshole,-they’re-all-assholes-in-this piece, there is a big loser in this mess: the Texas Tech fan base. They’re in some real pain.
All good things must come to an end, so dig in.
- Joe Kines falls on his sword for Mike Sherman and announces his retirement.
- John Chavis will answer all of your questions about his future employment once his agent gets things wrapped up. If it’s a lucrative extension of his current contract, it’ll be all about the support and loyalty he’s felt all along in Baton Rouge. If it’s a new job, it’ll be all about the challenge.
- The Mike Leach-Texas Tech squabble has nothing on the Lingerie League.
- Rupert Murdoch is a greedy swine, so no surprise to find him leading the way at ending free TV as we know it.
- For the 147 people who watched it last night, the Humanitarian Bowl had a thrilling end to it.
- Matt Hinton says the Holiday Bowl results will make Nebraska next year’s preseason version of this year’s Ole Miss squad.
- Corch Meyers is telling recruits that “indefinite” means “until August”.
How does the same school that hired Bobby Knight after he was caught choking one of his players (and subsequently lying about it) suddenly find religion over Mike Leach?
It comes via ESPN’s Chris Low, who notes
… the Bulldogs can make one claim that nobody else in the country can: They’ve won at least eight games in each of their past 13 seasons. No other FBS team can match that streak over that same span.
A shout out today goes to David Hale, who made me laugh out loud with this one:
Special Teams MVP: Drew Butler. This is easily the toughest choice on the board as there’s a good case to be made for four candidates: Butler, the All-American punter who kept Georgia’s offense afloat early by swinging field position; Blair Walsh, who gets my vote as the best kicker in the country; Brandon Boykin, who returned three kickoffs for TDs; Mark Richt, for ensuring Jon Fabris won’t be coaching the kickoff team next year… [Emphasis added.]
He’ll be there all week, folks.