Monday, December 28, 2009

Urban Resigns Then Returns Then Takes Sabbatical

This Urban Meyer situation has become quite confusing and actually pretty shady. If you’ve been eating too much turkey and lost in the Holiday spirit, let me give you a quick rundown…

University of Florida head football coach, Urban Meyer, resigned the day after Christmas, citing “health reasons” as well as “wanting to spend more time with family.” Meyer was admitted to a hospital after the SEC Championship game, suffering from chest pains, but was released with the diagnosis of “dehydration,” which most people thought was fishy. Now, it comes out that Meyer has a faulty heart valve. It’s completely non-life threatening and is more of a scary annoyance than anything else. After some research and talking to a few health professionals, I’m under the assumption that the symptoms are almost exactly the same as anxiety attacks.

In a world surrounded by tabloid, trash media and rumors that spread like wildfire, why has this never come out before? Meyer says he has had this condition for a long time, yet this is the first any of us are hearing of it. Maybe Meyer had a massive panic attack after the SEC Title game and it terrified him. Perhaps he didn’t want the media to know that he suffers from anxiety, so he kindly asks the doctors to say it’s dehydration. I’m not trying to instigate garbage. I’d like to know the honest truth and we’re clearly not receiving that information.

So, Urban resigns after talking it over with his family. This is obviously something that takes weeks to consider and no one wants to come to a resolution without careful thought and peace of mind. There has to be plenty of soul-searching and discussion for Meyer to consider the conclusion he decided on, which, at the time, was to step down as the Florida head coach. What made him change his mind and why was it done so hastily?

Apparently, Meyer had an epiphany when he stepped out onto the practice field Sunday morning and weeks of consideration and chatting with his family, whom he wanted to spend more time with, is now vaporized. Urban has decided he needs a break from the coaching gig because it’s too “stressful” on his life, which furthers my speculation that he suffers from anxiety, but he will eventually return to head coaching duties on a later date. This leads me to my, “Why he changed his mind…again” theory: Recruiting.

This is the time of year where schools are running mad getting their commitments locked up and in order. According to my sources, multiple UF commitments, including the State of Florida’s top athlete, and arguably the top recruit in the nation, Matt Elam, opened their recruitment process back up after hearing the Urban Meyer news. This has to make UF athletic director, Jeremy Foley, unhappy, and I bet a conversation between the two went something like this:

Foley: Urban? Hey, is Jeremy. How’re you feeling?

Meyer: Pretty good. I’m really sorry to have to do this to the university, but I really do need to get my health in order.

Foley: Yeah, about that…it’s not life threatening, correct?

Meyer: Well, no, but…

Foley: See, I hear that some of our solid commitments are looking elsewhere because of this debacle, uh, announcement and we just can’t have top talent looking at rival schools. Understand?

Meyer: Jeremy…

Foley: Call me, “Mr. Foley.”

Meyer: Um, Mr. Foley, I’ve already discussed this with my family and I need time away to get my health in order.

Foley: Yeah, I’m going to need you to come in on Sunday…that’ll be great.

Hopefully some of you get the joke, but it is odd that Meyer seemed pretty content with his decision to resign, but had a quick change of heart, even after one of his daughters was quoted as, “Happy to have her father back.” Has to be pretty tough to turn your back on that. Now that Meyer has announced he’ll be back, the commitments appear to be firm again.

Whatever his situation and condition is, I truly hope it’s resolved and cared for. I wish Urban Meyer and his family the best. He and Pete Carroll are definitely this decade’s best coaches and have put out the most dominating teams, by far. There’s no doubt in my mind that Meyer will return to the game and pick up his Hall of Fame career where it left off, but I hope he does it on his terms and not someone else’s.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Is Mark Stoops The Right Hire?

The Florida State Seminoles had a lot of coaching holes to fill when Mickey Andrews decided to step down from his defensive coordinator duties after 26 seasons in Tallahassee. With Jimbo Fisher taking full reigns of the FSU staff, the future head coach hired former University of Arizona defensive coordinator, Mark Stoops.

Stoops certainly has the experience working with some great defensive minds over his college-coaching career. Stoops coached defensive backs under head coach, Jim Leavitt at South Florida in 1997 and served under Randy Shannon, while Shannon was the defensive coordinator at the University of Miami, from 2001 to 2003. Stoops developed greats such as Antrel Rolle, Mike Rumph, and Ed Reed. He also has the pedigree being the brother of Oklahoma head coach, Bob Stoops, as well as Arizona head coach, Mike Stoops. But is Mark Stoops truly what the Seminoles need to revitalize a lagging defense?

The defensive side of the ball was a Florida State staple for many years. Teams took close notice of FSU’s fast-paced, all out blitz style defensive schemes that rendered opposing quarterbacks paralyzed with fear. Today’s offensive linemen are too athletic and wide receivers are too speedy for this strategy to work anymore. The spread offense, which is designed to confuse defenses and get the ball out as quickly as possible, annihilates this form of old-school “bump and run.” Stoops pilots a “bend don’t break” version of the zone system, similar to what Monte Kiffin runs in Tennessee. This ought to keep opposing offenses from throwing 50 yards down field past the safeties, something FSU defenders did on a weekly basis.

We have to look at Stoops body of work while he was at Arizona the past few seasons. I’ll give him credit that he’s coming from an offensive-minded conference in the Pac-10 and he fared very well, having a top 20 defense the past two seasons, although his scoring defense was ranked 46th in ‘09. How did he do against teams that run the Spread Option? I ask because folks in Tallahassee are tired of losing to the hated Gators and Stoops will be judged almost solely on what he does against the boys from Gainesville. I know it doesn’t sound fair, but FSU’s defense was atrocious last season. They compete in the ACC where they came very close to playing for a conference championship with zero cover. I have no doubt Stoops will make the ‘Noles defense better because it couldn’t get any worse, but against Florida is where he’s going to make his money.

Oregon plays nearly the exact same style of offense the Gators play. In 2009 against Oregon at home, Stoops’ defense allowed 31 points in regulation (Arizona lost in overtime) and 459 total yards of offense. It isn’t any better in ‘08, allowing 508 yards of total offense and 48 points (Oregon scored 55 points, but one of the Ducks’ touchdowns was a pick 6) while in Eugene. This shouldn’t strike FSU fans with confidence and I’m sure Gator fan is smiling knowing that seven in a row is almost a sure thing.

The old adage, “time will tell” fits perfectly in this situation whether Stoops is the right hire or not. Personally, I think he’ll be a guy that’s on Florida States staff for a couple of season then bolts for a head coaching gig and I certainly cannot fault him for it. For the sake of FSU fans, I hope Jimbo knows what he’s doing. He’s already going to be under a very condensed microscope this upcoming season.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Leavitt Cleared

University of South Florida head coach, Jim Leavitt, has been cleared of allegations to choking and striking sophomore walk-on special teams player, Joel Miller. Per the St. Pete Times, Miller said, “I don't think anything should happen to him. Me and Coach Leavitt are fine. People can say different things, but he only grabbed my shoulder pads to motivate me because he's a passionate guy. He never apologized because he had nothing to apologize for.”

Who’s at fault here? A few days ago, the local media was ready to crucify Leavitt and now it comes out that he never assaulted Miller. Something seemed fishy from the get go. How in the world does something like this happen with no credible witnesses?

Miller also said that his interview with, who first broke the story, took his words out of context. Miller told USF investigators that Leavitt only grabbed him. Fanhouse has been involved in bogus stories in the past and I’m not surprised to see the same thing happening here.

Leavitt has said few words regarding the alleged altercation and wants to move on from it. I honestly feel bad for Miller who now has to answer questions about the conflicting stories floating around. I’d like to hear from his teammates. Do they have his back? Is this something they all just want to forget and move on with? What about Miller? Will he stay at USF? Is he being harassed or are people patting him on the back saying, “It’s okay?”

I’m glad the situation has been cleared up some and there are a few loose ends yet to tie, but I imagine those will be straightened within a day or so.

Top 1% Of 1%?

Recruiting season is in full swing and it looks like Florida, Florida State, Miami, and South Florida are all shaping up to once again have excellent classes. Every year there are student-athletes who become ineligible because of grades or other outside influences/circumstances. Will this season be any different?

I’m not sure if this will affect there chances of entering UF, but these pictures of highly touted defensive lineman, Leon Orr and Lynden Trail, have to make college football fans wonder, “What in the world is Urban Meyer doing?”

The Gators have been plagued with arrests since Meyer took over in ’05 and rival fans love to remind the Florida head coach about his, “Top 1% of 1%” comment, which was seriously a stupid, stupid remark. This season has not been without its lack of drama for the Gators with senior linebacker, Brandon Spikes, eye gouging a Georgia running back, as well as junior defensive end, Carlos Dunlap, getting himself suspended for the SEC Championship game for suspicion of DUI.

Before Gator fan jumps on me and says FSU and Miami were recruiting these kids too:

1. I’m impartial and could care less if they did because I’m just throwing out my opinion and…

2. Not according to my sources. Both schools eased up on their recruitment way before these pictures surfaced. I’m pretty sure it had little to do with character issues and more to do with them being pretty firm on UF.

For the sake of these kids, I honestly hope that the pictures are just a joke. I would never wish ill will on any child and I seriously expect nothing, but good things to come for these guys in the future. Still, it has to make you wonder where Meyer’s head is?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Did Leavitt Attack A Player?

I’m sure most of us have heard by now about University of South Florida Head Coach, Jim Leavitt, allegedly accosting one of his players during halftime of the Louisville game a few weeks back. According to sources, Leavitt grabbed and choked sophomore walk-on, Joel Miller, due to a couple of mistakes Miller made on special teams, one of which the sophomore was flagged for. Leavitt then struck the young man twice.

These are serious allegations considering the investigation that took place at Kansas that cost Mark Mangino his head coaching job. Ironically enough, Mangino and Leavitt were both assistants together at Kansas State.

I’m not exactly sure what to believe and I’m certainly not going to pass judgment until all of the facts are present, but there’s definitely a ton of smoke to waft through. Leavitt refuses to comment on the claims and says he’ll only talk about recruiting, not the alleged incident.

Miller proclaims five witnesses and an unnamed source has been interviewed on the situation, but there are still many facets that do not make sense. Like, why did Miller come forward about the incident nearly three weeks later? Miller says it’s because he was afraid that if he approached Leavitt about the episode, Leavitt would bench him, or worse, kick him off of the team. Also, this is a pretty unique circumstance and the story acknowledges that it happened in the locker room at halftime, so why are there only five witnesses and not eighty? This is a major event and you’d think an assistant coach or teammate would’ve tried and pull Leavitt off of Miller if this was true.

It has been documented that Leavitt called Miller into his office after Mangino resigned from Kansas stemming from the live television broadcast of the former Kansas head coach assaulting a player. No one knows what was said, but it’s pretty ironic Leavitt wanted to speak with his player after his old coaching mate was under heavy scrutiny for a similar situation. Problem is, the Mangino hit is a youtube sensation, while Leavitt’s alleged strike happened behind closed doors.

In the court of public opinion, Jim Leavitt is already seen as a “bad guy.” We’ve all seen his tantrum’s on the sidelines. Yelling at his players, grabbing their facemasks, scowling, and making his presence known through intimidation, but we can’t judge him on those exploits alone. There will obviously be an internal investigation and USF better do a perfect job because if the NCAA isn’t happy with South Florida’s findings they’ll inject themselves in the investigation and that is the last thing the University needs, especially now when it’s a crucial time in football recruiting. The school also doesn’t want to screw anything up, potentially costing an innocent man his career as well as even being considered for future jobs.

Stay tuned…

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

ESPN’s OTL Story On FSU A Joke

I’m trying to figure out when the four-letter network sailed away from compelling sports journalism to pit bull-like, shady gossip columns. We’ve seen the recent events with Tiger Woods and it’s become a witch-hunt and a soap opera lovers dream. Rich, handsome sports figure allegedly having an affair with multiple women while his super model wife slaves all day over a hot stove and tends to the children. All we’re missing now is for someone to say to Tiger, “I’m your long lost half-sister” and then a patron from Tiger’s past mysteriously returns to his life with a case of amnesia. It’s totally daytime television and only a person with a marginal IQ gets sucked into the drama.

I’m not here to talk about Woods or his thirty mistresses…allegedly. I’m here to talk about that appalling OTL piece on the state of affairs at Florida State University. What a serious load of garbage that bit of so-called “journalism” was. To say that there isn’t an obvious agenda against the University and it’s employees is laughable.

First off, I’d like to know whom the Mensa member was that actually thought former Florida State wide receiver, Fred Rouse, was a credible source? For those of you who aren’t sure who Rouse is, I’ll give you a quick 411: Fred Rouse was a highly recruited receiver coming out of Tallahassee Lincoln. He signed his letter of intent to play at Florida State and was kicked off the team towards the end of the ’05 season for supposedly failing drug tests as well as the ever so vague, “conduct detrimental to the team.” Maybe a few weeks after his departure from the university, Rouse, and another former teammate, broke into Lorenzo Booker’s apartment and stole multiple items, including electronic equipment. He later transferred to the University of Texas-El Paso where he left the team due to “personal” reasons and now plays at some college no one cares about. This guy? This is OTL’s reliable, credible source? Once again, people with a marginal IQ will buy it while snacking on bonbons.

And to make it even funnier, Rouse attacked former FSU cornerback, Antonio Cromartie, saying, and I paraphrase, He could barely read. According to Pro Football Talk, Cromartie’s agent isn’t too pleased with the segment and how his client is being portrayed and I wouldn’t be too surprised to see a lawsuit filed against the four-letter network. Not like it would matter with their room full of lawyers. Gary Wichard, Cromartie’s agent, says he never commented for the OTL story, but the piece features a negative quote from the longtime agent. The “he said, she said” battle will ensue and this will get ugly.

Their “other” plausible source is a disgruntled ex-employee. What, Paula Jones wasn’t available for comment? She would’ve been just as dependable. When is a disgruntled, former hireling ever going to talk nice about their onetime employer, especially when they leave on bad terms? Brenda Monk and her comments, in my opinion, are off base and personally meant to be malicious with shady facts and a sketchy timeline. Yeah, I do my research. That’s good journalism? Finding someone who loathes their old boss and wants to take pot shots? But it gets better…

The one conducting the story is a University of Florida grad, and before you think that has nothing to do with anything you’re wrong. Throwing haymakers at your school’s rival, especially when they’re seen in a bad light like they are now with the Bowden situation as well as the academic scandal, is what a journalist hopes to one day accomplish. Is there a personal vendetta? No, but you think the reporter is going to turn down an opportunity like that? I don’t fault the guy. He did an excellent job. It was Star worthy and scummy, but brilliant.

To say these things don’t happen at every school is a joke. They do. I personally have friends, while receiving their Master’s Degrees at prominent universities, told me that they gave test answers to the football and basketball players. I have friends that have received test answers from student-athletes that were given the exams prior to finals that their tutors handed them. You can be blind and think up any silly story that comes to mind, but this is a blatant act to kick someone while they’re down.

I’m not one to believe blab.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Does Tim Deserve To Be Criticized?

Tim Tebow has taken much notice over his four-year career at the University of Florida. He was a celebrity even before he stepped on campus. Tim was one of the most sought after high school athletes of all-time and signed his letter of intent with a team that was on the rise. Florida fans were getting tired of the Chris Leak project and most knew that Tebow fit Urban Meyer’s spread offense to the T, making for a much anticipated debut for the then freshman quarterback. Although he wasn’t considered the starter during the ’06 National Championship season, Tim had an integral role that helped the Gators achieve number 1 status.

Tim gives and contributes his time and efforts to the community and is a devout Christian. He goes over seas and participates in missionary work as well as other charitable events. He has been part of multiple academic awards teams for his stellar work in the classroom. He has been extremely successful in the college football world, winning two National Titles and a Heisman trophy. Tim plays the game the right way…full tilt and hard-nosed.

So, why is Tim Tebow hated amongst rivals and even the casual football fan? Two reasons: everyone despises the winner/good guy and the four-letter network built him up as a deity and no one likes the same material rehashed and shoved down their throats. Then why did the “World Wide Leader” take a shot at his sideline show of emotion after the SEC Championship loss?

I’m not here to rip the kid. I honestly believe he is one of the greatest college athletes to play the game and that he’ll go down in history as a top 5 collegiate quarterback. I’m taking the Devil’s Advocate position. Now, ask yourself, are Tim Tebow’s tears genuine? I ask because we have seen him do it on multiple occasions and he does it every time after a loss. Are they for show? Has he bought into his own celebrity and is he trying to exploit himself in this ever organically growing heroic tale? When is it heart felt and bona fide and when is it just being a crybaby?

We’ve seen over the years, and even recently, famous players in all sports cry on national television. Allen Iverson did it in his return to the Philadelphia 76ers. Terrell Owens has done it after a playoff loss, while defending his quarterback. Why were their tears seen as authentic and received little, if any, criticism?

The four-letter network took their shots at Tebow because they’ve now taken he stance of the “hater.” They’re trying to stir up controversy so we all have something to chat about until the bowl season arrives. If Timmy loses to Cincinnati and cries again, they’ll go ahead and have a, “We told you so…we were right” segment and justify their malicious notion. If Tim goes out on a high note, which I expect he will, the pundits will quickly change positions and return to the mythological saga again.

Gator fans should rejoice in this spotlight. At least you’re being talked about. It could be worse. You could be Miami and then no one really cares.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

'Bama Dominates Florida

The Crimson Tide faithful stuck around the Georgia Dome and watched their players celebrate a dominating victory over the then #1 Florida Gators. Chants, mock chomps, and crimson flags flew high as the Tide won 32-13 in front of a packed arena.

No matter how Gator fan wants to spin it, it was a beat down. Urban Meyer was out-coached. Tim Tebow was out-played. And Florida’s legendary defense was out-matched. I keep hearing this obnoxious saying from the UF following, “The better team lost.” I’ve got news for you: the better team never loses.

Let’s start with the offense. I’m not sure what Addazio, Florida’s offensive coordinator, was thinking. Down 26-13 in the second half, Florida completely abandoned the run. That shows me Meyer and company coached scared and felt the need to play the “catch up” game even though they were down by two possessions. UF has three stud running backs, not including Tebow, and they were absolutely underutilized. Even if ‘Bama stops Rainey for a one yard gain on multiple chances, Florida has to continue to try and pound the ball to wear their defense out. The Tide’s D was fresh all game, while the Gator’s looked gassed.

Before the game even started, we all knew ‘Bama was going to try and make Tebow uncomfortable by blitzing him, et cetera, but he was never really pressured. Instead, Alabama’s defense kept him in the pocket and I saw a troubled QB unable to get the ball to the receivers he wanted to. Tim’s a much better quarterback out of the pocket and Saban’s defense was very well-disciplined by keeping Tebow from getting outside.

Florida’s receivers once again did not help Tim at all. I said it from the very 1st game of the season: If the wide outs didn’t correct their dropping problem, it was going to become an epidemic for the rest of the season. We all saw the results.

Now on to Florida’s defense. Ingram tore UF’s defense apart, both rushing and receiving. ‘Bama had the ball for 2/3rd’s of the game. Their offense was going to hold onto the ball, kill clock, and not allow UF’s offense to get on the field to get into any kind of rhythm. Greg McElroy surprised me with his poise and composure. He looked like a man on a mission, carving UF’s stout secondary for 239 passing yards. He doesn’t get those stats without the game’s MVP, Mark Ingram, who rushed for 113 yards and also had 76 receiving. I personally think that seals the Heisman for the kid, but that’s a topic for another day.

Like I said earlier, Florida’s defense looked tired. In the second half, they were uncharacteristically missing tackles and getting blown into the backfield by ‘Bama’s offensive linemen. I watched Tide’s center, Williams Vlachos, own Brandon Spikes on many occasions. Would a Carlos Dunlap have helped in this situation? No. Alabama was never in a spot where they had to throw the ball. The Tide just ran it down the Gator’s throats, and, although Dunlap is a phenomenal player, he isn’t as stout in the run game as he is the passing game. Was it a distraction? Maybe, but Charlie Strong, Florida’s defensive coordinator, needs to make sure his men are focused and prepared to play. They weren’t and we see what happens. I’m not placing the blame on Strong at all, but his second half adjustments were horrible. I think Strong talking to Virginia and Louisville was more of a distraction to UF’s defense than Dunlap was, but I digress…

Be proud, Gator fans. You had an incredible run and you’ll arguably be considered for the “Team of the Decade” award come season’s end. Hold your heads high because your team accomplished something few have. Quit with the baby excuses and get ready for Cincinnati in the Sugar Bowl. Good luck!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Mark May And Lou Holtz Are Morons

The Bobby Bowden situation has escalated exponentially. Everyone has their opinions and in no way will I judge what someone has to say, even if it is the most brainless crap I have ever heard. *coughFSUhaterscough*

I've been listening to sports talk radio, the four letter network, as well as other sports media outlets and the consensus is Florida State dropped the ball big on Bowden. Not so much for him being "forced" out the door, but the way the situation was handled.

I'm still trying to figure out what Jim Smith said that most FSU fans weren't already thinking. He actually had the guts to say it because he loves the university. He's supposed to keep quiet and allow Bowden to destroy the program? Are we, as fans and college football lovers, supposed to wait for the administration to make a move when Bobby goes 2-10, or worse? The situation was handled fine. It's hacks like Mark May and Lou Holtz that can't shut up about it.

On their college pregame show last night, Holtz and May both said that the FSU athletic department treated Bowden horribly and the administration and fans should be disgusted with themselves because without Bobby there would be no Florida State football.

No one is denying that and I know first hand that the majority of Florida State fans are extremely grateful and are saddened by the retirement of their legendary coach, but it was time.

What about Bowden prolonging the retirement and holding a university hostage? That's a noble concept. How exactly is that fair to the administration and fans? Why should a man who built a program be allowed to destroy it? Bowden was given multiple chances and he screwed up by being loyal to those who were contributing to bringing the program down.

Hiring Jeff Bowden, rehiring Amato, allowing Andrews to stay way past his time with an archaic defense, letting good coaches like Kevin Steele walk out the door. This is all under Bobby's watch. He was disloyal and now a couple of desk jockeys want to call out the admin and fans because they refuse to see it from all sides?

When you two nitwits actually get about 90% of your picks correct, I might listen to you. In the meantime, your credibility is shot.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

SEC Championship Game Analysis

Florida's Secondary v Alabama's Wide Receivers

Edge: UF

Florida's secondary struggled once this year and that was against an Arkansas team that thrives on passing the ball. Julio Jones will be blanketed by potential All-American candidate and Jim Thorpe finalist (Nations best defensive back), Joe Haden. Jones hasn't lived up to his freshman campaign, but that may have something to do with 'Bama's QB situation and the offense running the ball like crazy. Look for the Tide's Marquis Maze to see a ton of balls thrown his way.

Florida's Linebackers v Alabama's Running Game

Edge: UA

Teams have stuck 8 and 9 in the box on the Doak Walker finalist and Maxwell finalist (Nation's best running back and all-around player) and Mark Ingram still finds holes to burst through. Florida's linebacking core is arguably the best in the nation, returning all 3 starters from a year ago, including Bednarik finalist (Nation's best defensive player), Brandon Spikes, who is the heart and soul of this UF defense. The one-two combination of Ingram and freshman power-load, Trent Richardson, is a lot to handle, even for the great Florida defense. The Gators have struggled a few times against the power running game this season, especially to Tennessee and Arkansas. Ingram was bottled up against Auburn recently and sustained a minor injury.

Florida's Defensive Line v Alabama's Offensive Line

Edge: Even

I would've given the edge to Florida, but Carlos Dunlop got himself suspended for the title game due to suspicion of drunk driving. Justin Trattou is a load and a very aggressive player, but he has big shoes to fill replacing Dunlop. 'Bama's offensive line isn't the biggest bunch, but they're extremely athletic and do an amazing job working their way to the second level allowing for massive lanes. Their pass protection could be better, but that may be because Alabama quarterback, Greg McElroy, holds on to the ball much longer than he should. Florida's front 4 is very active with their stunts and carry a ton of depth. This match-up will determine who wins or loses this ball game.

Alabama's Secondary v Florida's Receivers

Edge: UA

Other than Aaron Hernandez, Florida's receivers haven't exactly been dependable at times, dropping the ball on multiple occasions. Alabama's secondary, led by corner back, Javier Arenas, is a very aggressive group. Each defensive back covers well and will flat knock a player out. Riley Cooper, the Gator's top pass catcher, will need to play huge if Florida is to succeed. Don't count on the deep ball being effective, so sit Deonte Thompson if he's on your fantasy team. Look for David Nelson to have another big SEC Championship Game day.

Alabama's Linebackers v Florida's Running Backs

Edge: Even

Alabama has some great linebackers on this squad, including Rolando McClain who'll cover, blitz, shadow, and do whatever you ask him to. The Tide's 4 linebackers can all get to the ball carrier and don't miss tackles. With that said, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps make a living on making tacklers miss and, if they do miss, it's touchdown. Tebow's lumped into this group too. His running abilities this season have evolved due to his lack of a pass catcher at wide out. Look for the stretch play to work against an over-aggressive 'Bama 'backer group.

Alabama's Defensive Line v Florida's Offensive Line

Edge: UF

Alabama's front 3 is nasty, led by Bednarik finalist, nose tackle, Terrance Cody. All 3 guys are big space eaters, including their defensive ends, and are extremely disciplined. The problem is Florida's offensive line has seen them before and handled them very well in last years contest. Florida's depth is an issue with a few guys out and a couple of others nicked up. Expect the Pouncey twins to double "Mount" Cody. Watch for Gator left tackle, Marcus Gilbert, to receive help, whether that is a running back or tight end, with whichever defensive player lines up against him. It's basically a, "pick your poison" for the freshman tackle.


Edge: UF

McElroy has struggled getting the ball to his receivers down field this season. He's had time, but his decision-making is too slow. You can see the frustration on Julio Jones' face a few times during the games this year. Tebow is a game-changer and will put a team on his back and will them to victory. We've all heard it a million times, but it's true. Check out both QB's stats. Very comparable.

Special Teams

Edge: UA

Arenas is in the top 10 in both kick returning and punt returning yards. The kid's a touchdown waiting to happen, if teams kick to him. Alabama's Leigh Tiffin is the best kicker in the NCAA. Brandon James isn't the same young man from his freshman and sophomore years. He's still dangerous, but I think teams have got him figured out. Caleb Sturgis has struggled.


Edge: UF

Urban Meyer is money in these big games. He knows how to get his teams well prepared, especially when the odds are against him (even though they're favored by 6). Nick Saban is also a great big-game coach and he'll want redemption for last year.

Final Prediction

Florida: 23, Alabama: 24

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bowden Retires

He graced the sidelines of Doak Campbell Stadium since 1976. The field inside Doak is aptly named after him and well-deserved. He charmed the media with his, "Aw, shucks..." soft, country accent, sharp wit, and kind demeanor. He was a father and grandfather-like figure to thousands of players throughout his coaching career. He developed boys for the rigors of life.

He molded men.

Bobby Bowden built Florida State football from a lowly Independent team that was on the verge of being disbanded to a national power. Early in his career, he made it known that the Seminoles were willing to play anyone at anytime and opponents took full advantage of his credo. As unfair as it was, no one wanted to play a home-and-home series with FSU when they were on the rise. It was, "Come to our house or we don't play." Bowden knew in order to accelerate the development of his athletes and be a key player in recruiting, he had to oblige to the "superior" football powers of the time. Teams regretted their decision as one after another fell to the then unknown 'Noles.

FSU dominated the college football world toward the end of the 1980's and all through the 90's winning 2 National Championships and garnering the title, "Team of the Decade." All-American after All-American, conference title and conference title, the domination was unheard of for that time in college football history. Bowden was either loved or hated, which is typical for a team of that stature, even to today's standard. People love or loathe the winner, but Bobby took it in stride.

I'm not positive who said it and, off of the top of my head I want to say it was Mack Brown while he was the head coach of North Carolina, but the quote has reverberated throughout Seminole Nation's ears. "How do you stop FSU football? Break up that coaching staff." And that's the start of Bobby's downfall.

Multiple coaches went on to make names for themselves elsewhere, including long time offensive coordinator, Mark Richt, who left for Georgia, and Chuck Amato, who, at the time, was an amazing recruiter in the talent-laden south Florida region, left for his Alma Mater at NC State. What resulted was the most controversial hire in Florida State football history.

Bobby Bowden promoted his wide receivers coach and son, Jeff Bowden, as offensive coordinator. A move that many Seminole fans questioned, many media outlets poked fun at, and it's the move that would bring the mighty Seminoles to their knees. There were other highly regarded candidates available, but Bowden ignored his detractors and went with his unproven son. The 'Noles slipped every year under Jeff, hitting the 10 win mark only once, after previously accomplishing the feat 14 years in a row. Jeff Bowden was criticized over and again, but Bobby continued to back his son, stating he would never fire him. Jeff did the deed for Bobby, resigning after a beat down by a mediocre Wake Forest team at home in '06.

Bobby's leadership skills diminished also, always having to rely on one of his other coaches to take up for his slack. Bobby was no longer the Head Coach, but a figurehead roaming the sidelines aimlessly. He gave his assistants "head coaching" titles, such as Associate Head Coach and Executive Head Coach. There should only be one person with the name "head coach" in their title. It's no wonder why these athletes have looked lost. Zero leadership. They have to listen to six head coaches instead of one. How does the saying go? "Too many Chiefs and not enough Indians?" Horrible trope, but it fits perfectly in this situation. These players need a General and Bobby was no longer the coach to look up to.

Earlier this season, Mickey Andrews retired after his defenses were slipping, especially this season. It was the right move on Andrews part. Bobby and Mickey said that they would gracefully bow out together when the time came.

Today, the legendary coach of the Florida State Seminoles, a truly wonderful man and coach, steps down. Time will tell if this is the right move or just another debacle for the Seminoles, but we'll leave that for another day. Today is Bobby's day. He has been laughed at, blamed, condemned, faulted, and bad-mouthed and the man keeps his head high and walks passed it with dignity and class.

There'll be jerks who want to try and throw in a few last words and that's their prerogative because that's just what jerks do (see my Message Board blog), but no one can take away what Bowden has done for Florida State. No one can steal what he earned. No one can limit his influence on the college football world.

Bobby is college football. Bobby is Florida State. Bobby is legend.

Thank you, Coach Bowden.