Projection: No. 1 Ohio State (13-0) vs. No. 4 Florida (11-1)
The word: In our way-too-early projection, we’re picking the Gators as the fourth-seeded Playoff team. It’s a bit hazy, sure, but there is a justifiable path to the Playoff for Dan Mullen in Year 3 at Florida. Let’s say Florida finishes 11-1 during the regular season with its only loss coming to Georgia in Jacksonville — which would include a Top 10 win over LSU in Gainesville. Georgia finishes 11-1 with a loss to Alabama, thus wins the East with the tiebreaker. Then, the Crimson Tide beat the Bulldogs again in Atlanta, ensuring Florida is the SEC’s second-most attractive option for the Playoff committee.
If that came to pass, the best part would be the pundits who would point to Florida’s appearance in the CFP as proof that Dan Mullen is a better coach than Kirby Smart.
Bill Connelly plays the “if” game with the top national programs, as in the number of “ifs” it takes to make each a true title contender. The top three, Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State, are in the two-“if” tier, followed by the three-“if” programs, starting with Georgia (If … Jamie Newman lives up to the PFF hype.; If … one more receiver emerges.; If … the havoc rate continues to climb.)
Here’s Florida’s first “if”:
If … the third-down defense improves (and without Jonathan Greenard). Defensive coordinator Todd Grantham likes to keep the game simple when possible: If it’s third-and-long, he’s bringing pressure. When it works, it works — the Gators were eighth overall in sack rate, first on blitz downs (second-and-super-long, third-and-5 or more). But it didn’t get the defense off the field as well as it should have.
The Gators ranked just 53rd in third-and-long success rate allowed, 54th on third-and-medium. And that was with Greenard racking up 9.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss. Most of the lineup outside of Greenard returns — 12 of 17 players with 250-plus snaps — and while first-round corner CJ Henderson is gone, Marco Wilson is back, and sophomore Kaiir Elam is ready for a star turn. There is no specific weakness that needs addressing; it’s just been a whole-vs.-sum-of-parts issue on third downs, and it has to be rectified.
He didn’t say third-and-Grantham, but that’s okay. We know what he meant.
It’s not just the college athletes in the revenue producing sports that’s a threat, y’all.
College coaches in non-revenue sports are worried about the impact legislation allowing compensation for athletes could have on their programs.
More than a dozen national associations in various sports — hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming and gymnastics, among them — have signed a memo outlining “significant concerns” about effects of allowing athletes to profit for use of their names, images and likenesses (NIL).
The concerns include reduced resources for lower-profile programs, the risk of “crowdfunded recruiting” for boosters to “buy talent” for a competitive advantage, increased influence by agents and whether schools can effectively monitor for compliance.
“Crowdfunded recruiting” for golfers? Hell, schools usually don’t give them whole scholarships, but now we got to worry about out of control golf boosters? Who’s the genius behind this scare?
The memo, prepared by North Carolina athletic director Bubba Cunningham and associate athletics director Paul Pogge…
“It doesn’t take a Rhodes Scholar to say those businesses might be able to make a deal with one of those recognizable faces for a lot less money than they can make a deal with the athletics department,” said Kathy DeBoer, executive director of the American Volleyball Coaches Association that supports the memo.
“The athletics department can say, ‘It gets you the sponsorship of all these sports.’ They’re like, ‘We don’t care, we don’t want all the sports, we just want the recognizable face.’ So does money now go from the athletics department to these student-athletes, and therefore there’s even less resources?”
Can’t have underpaid volleyball coaches now, can we?
These guys aren’t even trying to pretend amateurism is about the academic experience anymore.
“And Georgia fans, don’t be turds. Enjoy this. Soak it up. It’s awesome. If you don’t win this year, it’s still not a failure. It’s a heck of a run. Back-to-back in the Playoff era hasn’t been done. So, to ask for a third I feel like it’s gluttonous. I feel like it’s not OK. But we’ll be in the mix.”-- David Pollack, On3.com, 5/9/23