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A few thoughts for Tuesday morning:
1. THE PROOF IS IN THE NUMBERS: If the Gators are to improve from their 7-6 record of 2011, they’re going to have to be much more disciplined than they were in 2011 when they were flagged for 100 penalties and ranked #89 in the NCAA stats. If you want proof of how undisciplined the Gators were, check out these numbers: defensive offside (15); offensive holding (12); delay of game (10); false start (22); and personal foul (15). Think about it for a second -- 74 of 100 penalties were largely due to a lack of discipline. With a stronger measure of on-the-field discipline, the Gators could have won at least two more games.
2. LOOKING BACK AT LAST YEAR’S PENALTIES: One reason the Gators stumbled in the discipline department last year was youth and inexperience. I know that sounds like an excuse, but let’s face it – the Gators were one of the youngest and most inexperienced teams in the entire nation so you have to figure a portion of those discipline penalties were the kind that a veteran team wouldn’t commit. At some point, however, young teams have to grow up and the fact is the Gators didn’t really improve substantially in the discipline department as the season moved along. There were only five false starts, for example, in September when the Gators went 4-0 and 17 in the nine games after that. There were 10 defensive offside penalties from October onward. If discipline penalties continue to be a problem in 2012, the Gators are going to find it tough sledding with an SEC schedule that begins on the road at Kyle Field and Neyland Stadium.
3. WHO HAS THE HOTTEST SEAT AMONG SEC COACHES?: The 2012 season will begin with three SEC coaches fanning the flames on their backsides – Kentucky’s Joker Phillips, Tennessee’s Derek Dooley and John L. Smith, who has a one-year make good contract at Arkansas. Given the foundation that he was handed by Rich Brooks and the backslide of the program in his two years on the job, you have to figure that Phillips will need a break even season to survive. Given the Wildcats’ schedule, it’s not impossible but it is improbable. Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart is less than a year on the job and has no loyalty to Dooley, whose two years on the job in Knoxville have been less than memorable. The Vols play Florida and Georgia in September and they have Alabama and South Carolina on the schedule in October. If Dooley goes 0-4 in those games it will be extremely difficult for him to keep his job. If he breaks even in those four and gets to eight wins, he probably survives. Smith can force the hand of Arkansas AD Jeff Long, who has given him a made for failure contract. If Smith wins nine or ten teams it will be very difficult for Long to can him because that’s about what Bobby Petrino would have won if he hadn’t jammed his brain in neutral.
4. WHO GOES AND WHO SURVIVES?: If I were to place a wager right now, I would say that Phillips wins no more than four games and gets the boot, but let’s get real here. It’s Kentucky. Can they pull a Rich Brooks out of the hat a second time? I doubt it. Phillips might be as good as it gets although UK fans do yearn for a winner. I think Dave Hart is antsy in Knoxville because he knows he has the facilities, the money and the tradition to bring in a home run hire of a coach. Dooley has the offense to go 7-5 or 8-4 but can he do better than that? I would bet against it. As for Smith, I think Jeff Long boxed himself in when he made that hire. John L. is certainly a good enough coach to win nine or ten games this year and maybe even next year, too. That would make it extremely difficult to fire him. Do I think he could sustain it for five years? Nope, but I think Long is in a box and he will have to keep Smith if he gets to nine or ten wins, which is do-able.
5. RIPPLE EFFECT FOR BILLY DONOVAN: It’s no coincidence that Rondae Jefferson (6-7, 210, Chester, PA) has the Gators on his hot list nor should anyone be surprised that suddenly Billy Donovan has Florida’s foot in the door of Julius Randle (6-9, 250, Plano, TX Prestonwood Christian). Jefferson would have been on the USA team that Donovan took to Brazil for the FIBA Americas if not for an injury. Randle and Jarnell Stokes were head and shoulders the best bigs in the tournament in Brazil and both of them thrived playing under Donovan. There’s nothing the Gators can do about Stokes, who will be a sophomore at Tennessee, but from the accounts of people who know him well, this is more than a flirtation between Randle and Donovan. The timing couldn’t have been better for Donovan to coach the USA team to a gold medal. The Gators were already looking good on the recruiting trail for the likes of Jefferson, Chris Walker and other top 50 talents for 2013, but the way Donovan got the USA team to play so unselfishly and win all their games by blowout fashion is having a ripple effect for Florida basketball recruiting.
6. SEVEN SEC TEAMS TO MAKE THE NCAA TOURNAMENT IN 2013?: That’s what Kentucky coach John Calipari said on the Southeastern Conference Basketball Coaches Teleconference Monday morning. Whether you like Calipari or not, you can’t deny that he has been an outspoken advocate for SEC basketball since taking over at Kentucky three years ago. And, given his success the last three years, you would think that some of the folks who make the decisions about who gets in and who stays home at selection time would be wise to listen. Billy Donovan has been saying for years that the league is truly underappreciated. Maybe some folks will take notice Thursday night when the #1 pick and two of the next three selections are all from the SEC. Jeff Goodman of CBS has eight SEC players going in the first round and another five in the second. Goodman has 10 from the Big 12 going in the first two rounds, eight each from the ACCC and Big 12, five from the Big Ten and three from the Pac-12.
7. THE DUMP ON CHURCH STREET ABOUT TO GET AN OVERHAUL: That dump at the end of Church Street that is better known as the Citrus Bowl will allegedly get a $175 million facelift starting in 2014. It’s about time. I say allegedly because there is a year and a half before the renovation is scheduled to begin and given that it’s Orlando, whose politicians redefine wacky, you shouldn’t count on anything until it actually happens. They’ve been promising to make the stadium into a first class venue for 20 years now but it seems that every time they get ready to get going, something happens and the Citrus Bowl gets put on the back burner. Orlando has a marvelous basketball venue in the Amway Center. It’s about time it had a decent place for college or pro football games.
8. WOULD THIS GUY JUST CRAWL UNDER A ROCK AND STAY THERE FOREVER?: A lawyer for Jerry Sandusky says that the convicted sex offender “wants people to know he’s not guilty.” Really now? So, that jury that had to endure all that testimony got it wrong? And those kids who tearfully recalled how Sandusky degraded and raped them were all part of a conspiracy or something? As disgusting and slimy as Jerry Sandusky is, he only sinks lower than the whale droppings on the bottom of the ocean every time he opens his mouth. If he had a shred of decency and manhood, he would have confessed his crimes rather than put those kids whose lives he forever altered through another week of hell. The word that comes to mind when I think of Jerry Sandusky is subhuman.
PARTING SHOT: At some point South Carolina’s marvelous run in the NCAA Tournament was going to come to an end so hats off to Arizona for ending the Gamecocks reign at the top of the college baseball world. But, give plenty of credit to Ray Tanner for getting the Gamecocks to the championship round for a third straight year. This was a shell of the team the Gamecocks put on the field the last two years and to get to the championship round with four freshmen in the starting lineup and too many kids in the pitching rotation is a credit to a terrific coach who has built a powerhouse program.
This post has been edited 2 times, most recently by Franz Beard 22 months ago
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Prisons are full of guys who say they are innocent. The guy's going to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement because he would get killed real quick if he were around other inmates who all hate child molesters as much as anybody.
Their saying the Cavs want to trade up to the number two pick to make sure they land Beal. Doug Gottlieb raved about Beal this morning.. Good for him. He's just touching the surface of what he's going to be. Right around the SEC tourny we really started seeing what he's all about. Shame we couldn't keep him another year, but his time at UF and in the NBA should help us with recruits, now, and in the future. I'll be rooting hard for Brad.
Never quite got this idea that Rich brooks built some sort of "foundation" at Kentucky. Yes the Wildcats went to four straight bowl games, but please, that's an 'accomplishment" in the most minimal idea of the word (three Music City Bowls and a Liberty Bowl). In seven years in Lexington, the Wildcats were either fifth or sixth in the SEC East five times, finishing fourth once and third once, meaning they snuck into the top half of the division once, and never had a winning record in the league. He stumbled on to a really solid SEC quarterback in Woodson which is how he managed to win eight games twice. But Kentucky was 5-11 in the SEC his last two seasons. That's not a "foundation" to me, that's the definition of Kentucky football forever. He was able to get to bowl games because of weaker-than-weak non-league schedules that required the Wildcats to win two SEC games to qualify for a bowl. I saw a marginal upgrade at best in Lexington while brooks was there.
And in terms of the Citrus Bowl renovation that should have occurred two decades ago, the question begs: why? Besides the two bowl games held there, and one is lower tier and the other just got smacked down with the new SEC-Big 12 bowl game, who else is going to play there? Not UCF. What's the purpose? To lure the upcoming national championship game in college football? Not likely to happen when there are legit stadiums in cities with money, power and history all going after the game. Same with Jacksonville. It's the politically right move to throw you're hat in the ring, and the local folks will be appeased that an attempt was made, but there's no way on earth the college football title game comes anywhere near Jacksonville.
A. At Kentucky four straight bowls is indeed a foundation. They weren't going to and never will challenge for SEC titles but winning more than you lose is an accomplishment at a school so heavily invested in basketball. If Joker could get them 6-7 wins consistently they would be happy as clams.
B. The Citrus Bowl renovation will keep the place from falling apart and will probably get Orlando the Pro Bowl. The NFL wants it there instead of Hawaii.
All it proved is that Kentucky was able to qualify for a bowl because there were too many. Going 2-6 in the league and making it to a bowl proves nothing.
Never said it did prove anything except that it's about as good as you can expect for Kentucky and they would be happy to maintain that level.
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