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Jacksonville Radio Personality Goes Sleazy, Assassinates The Character Of New UGA D-Coordinator Pruitt

rick ballou

(NOTE: This piece was written on Thursday morning.  It was put on a back burner and left as a draft in the hopes that no major outlets would even pick up the claims made by a Jacksonville radio host regarding defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt’s move from Florida State to Georgia.  Now that The Orlando Sentinel has followed up the story with FSU folks shooting down the slanderous comments, we’re posting it.  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has also picked up the story.)


I don’t know Rick Ballou.  I don’t know his morals.  I don’t know his history.  I don’t know if he gives to charity.  I don’t know if he obeys all traffic signals.  I might have done a phoner on his radio show at one time or another — I know I’ve been on his station — but that hardly gives me any insight into the man’s character or his personal life.  I do know his co-host from radio and he’s always been a very solid guy to me.

But Rick Ballou?  No clue.

What does give me insight into Ballou’s character is the fact that he went on the radio Wednesday and smeared the character of former Florida State and new Georgia defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt.  That tells me that Ballou is — what’s the word I’m looking for? — ah, yes, a jerk.

Yeah, we live in a world where passing out rumors is considered “reporting.”  Even rumors about public figures’ private lives.

Yes, those of us in the media gave away our souls long ago.  Most of us are willing to talk about anything and everything if we think it’ll draw in one more listener or reader.  There are enough bad apples in the media to spoil our whole dang bunch.

And, yes, you the consumer — many of you at least — lap it all up like mama’s gravy.

That doesn’t make Ballou’s statements any less sickening to me.  He claimed that Pruitt is a man “who loves the nightlife,” “who loves the ladies,” and who “made himself available” while in Tallahassee.  The man on-air with Ballou even said, “wow,” twice as Ballou went a helluva lot farther than he ever should have.  We’ll not link to his out-of-bounds claims because…

They’re none of Ballou’s damn business.  

They’re none of our damn business.  

And they’re none of your damn business.

Naturally, this character attack on Pruitt took off like wildfire on Twitter and a number of websites — Florida State-centric sites in particular — have picked it up and chuckled about it.  ”Ha, ha, alleged dirt on someone.  Hooray!”  For that reason, we felt someone should fire a shot back across Ballou’s bow.

Personally, I’d like to hire a PI to trail the radio host and all the other folks yukking it up over this crap to see just how morally upstanding they are.  We’re all human.  I’m guessing Ballou’s flubbed a few things just as I have and just as you have.  Being a sinner myself I tend not to throw stones regarding the alleged moral shortcomings of others.  Quite the opposite, in fact.  I enjoy throwing stones at the stone-throwers.  That’s not very Christian, either, but at least those folks are asking for it.

What Pruitt did or didn’t do is between him and those around him.  Not some radio honk from Jacksonville or some internet hack like myself.  Or some gossip-monger like yourself if you’re into all this trash.

There’s a rumor now being kicked around simply because Ballou broadcast it.  An angry FSU fan — upset that his wubby-dubby D-coordinator split a week after winning a national crown — actually broadcast rumors regarding another man’s personal life.  One week earlier, Ballou would’ve defended FSU’s coordinator had some Gator fans made similar scandalous claims about the man.  Of that you can be sure.  After all, did we hear Ballou share any of these rumors while Ballou was still a Seminole coach?  Of course, not.  Which proves our point.  The guy’s a fan and not an objective member of the media.

Need more proof that Ballou is nothing more than a footy-pajama-wearing Nole backer?  That’s his photo in the Florida State hat at right.  He also posted this third-grade-level tweet when Pruitt’s departure became official.

Now, it’s funny to us that whenever a coach leaves a school, the jilted fans and and some of the media who cover that school always start to whisper that the coach only left because a) he was having an affair, b) he was drinking way too much, or c) both.  If I had a dollar for every stinking time I’ve received an email claiming that “Coach X was sleeping around” I’d be a millionaire.  Always when a guy leaves.  Always from the hometown fanbase.  Always, always, always.  And it’s usually malarkey.

My personal views on this kind of “reporting” haven’t changed much over time.  Go back to Bobby Petrino’s downfall at Arkansas and you’ll find that this site never tsk-tsk’d the man for having an affair.  We focused on the fact that Petrino pushed for the hiring of his mistress which could have gotten the school into legal trouble and — to be honest — could have gotten AD Jeff Long fired for the lack of oversight in his athletic department.

So in our view, the reality of the current situation is this: Georgia just hired a darned good defensive coordinator from national champion Florida State.  That man has an SEC background from his days as both an Alabama player and coach.  According to Pruitt, his reasons for joining Mark Richt’s staff were clear:


“In 2003 I was a high school football coach at Fort Payne (Alabama) High School and I brought some prospects over here to Georgia and I had the opportunity to sit down with Coach Richt.  That was the first time I ever met him, and when I walked out of that room 30 minutes later I was wowed.  My father looked at me and said, ‘That’s what college football is all about.’  I said right then and there if I ever had the opportunity to work for him that I wanted to be a part of his staff.”


That’s good enough for us.

As for Ballou and his blatant jackassery?  He owes Pruitt and his family a very public apology.  The radio host’s Twitter feed states that he’s the “dad of 2 beautiful little girls.”  Makes you wonder.  If his daughters grow up and become public figures, ya think Ballou would want some talking head broadcasting nasty rumors about their personal lives?

Put $20 on “No way!” for me.

Just because we in the media have microphones and keyboards doesn’t mean we know how to use them.  And being in the media sure as hell doesn’t mean we’re good people.

Thanks for making us all look a just little bit sleazier, Rick.

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SEC Recruiting Notebook: Holley Lifts Florida’s Class

sec-recruiting-notebook-gfxFlorida’s 2014 class received some sizable momentum this week.

Defensive tackle Thomas Holley from Lincoln High School in Brooklyn, N.Y., switched his commitment from Penn State to Florida.

Holley, who’s ranked the nation’s No. 3 defensive tackle by Rivals, decided to go with a coaching staff he knew at Florida over a staff he would have to get to know at Penn State.

“I think it was just kind of hard for me to build a relationship with a coaching staff in two weeks, when I had spent 10 months building a relationship with the previous coaching staff,” Holley told ESPN. “It really came down to the why between Penn State and Florida. At Florida, I already had a great relationship with the coaching staff, so it made it an easier decision.”

Holley’s decision to choose Florida adds to an already impressive defensive haul in the 2014 class. Defensive backs Duke Dawson and Jalen Tabor have already enrolled at Florida and defensive end Gerald Willis III has committed.

Willis, who chose Florida over LSU at the Under Armour All-American game in St. Petersburg, Fla., earlier this month, appears solid in his commitment to Florida. His mother, April Justin, told 247Sports that Willis “will not flip at all” from his commitment.

Holley maintains his commitment to Florida is solid as well.

“I’m not trying to be a person that is constantly changing up what they want to do,” he said. “When I make a decision, I want to make sure it’s the right decision, and that’s why I’ve been taking my time with the process.

“Even after the coaching staff change, I took my time, I sat down with my family and weighed out all my options, and that’s what it came down to. This is my last hoorah, as far as schools. I don’t plan on changing up anytime soon. I don’t plan on decommitting from Florida and going somewhere else. This is it for me.”

Florida still has plenty of work to do on the offensive side of the ball. The Gators landed athlete Brandon Powell, who could play running back or wide receiver. But the Gators are still trying to recover from the losses of running back Dalvin Cook, who has enrolled at Florida State, and receiver Ermon Lane, who decommitted last week and appears to be leaning toward the Seminoles.

Florida is pursuing running backs Jeff Jones, who’s committed to Minnesota, and Derrell Scott, who’s also considering South Carolina and Tennessee. Receivers Eric Lauderdale, Isaiah McKenzie and C.J. Worton, a Florida State commit, are strongly considering Florida as well.

Gators coach Will Muschamp is selling playing time to prospects. He said this week every position is “open” following Florida’s 4-8 season.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to walk into a great situation to improve, play in an exciting offense,” Muschamp said. “This is still the University of Florida. We’ll compete and play for championships. That hasn’t changed. Not in one year, that hasn’t.”


Vandy’s class takes huge hit

Vanderbilt’s 2014 class is predictably in big trouble as the Commodores search for a replacement for coach James Franklin.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Auburn’s Malzahn Wins the Bear Bryant Coaching Award

gus-malzahn-aub-helmetGus Malzahn came within seconds of winning the BCS Championship Game.  But his team’s last-minute loss to Florida State hasn’t gotten in the way of him winning multiple Coach of the Year awards.  Already he’d picked up the Home Depot Coach of the Year Award, the Football Writers Association of America’s Eddie Robinson Award, and AP National Coach of the Year honors.  Last night he added to his tally.

In a move sure to make a few Bama fans sick, Malzahn was announced on Wednesday as the winner of last season’s Paul “Bear” Bryant College Coach of the Year Award.

“When you’re growing up, he’s the man,” Malzahn said of the tribute.  ”The fact that I’m from the state of Arkansas and he’s from Fordyce, Arkansas and one of my best friends is coaching high school there makes it even that much more special.”

The first-year Tiger coach admitted that he’s still stinging over his team’s loss to FSU in Pasadena.  ”We’re still hurting over the fact that we were close to winning the national championship and got beat.  But if you can remove yourself from that, it was a lot of fun, our players came a long way, they improved each week and we were 13 seconds away from being the national champion.”

The fact that his team improved each week — and improved from 3-9 under Gene Chizik in 2012 to 12-2 in 2013 — is the reason Malzahn will have a shelf full of trophies to someday look back upon and appreciate.   Coach of the Year honors typically go to guys who  win national championships.  But there’s no denying Malzahn did more heavy-lifting than any other coach in the country in 2013.


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Florida’s Muschamp Says Every Game Is Winnable Next Season

Will Muschamp’s team just suffered the most injury-plagued season in recent SEC history.  His team’s offense was less than stellar for the third straight season.  He’s had to bring in offensive coordinator Kurt Roper to try and install and win with a brand new offensive system.  A number of key players have decided to transfer or head to the NFL early.  Last year’s squad finished 4-8 with seven consecutive losses to close the season.  Those losses included rivalry games with Georgia and Florida State (who just won the national title) and a contest with FCS foe Georgia Southern.

In short, it was the worst season of Florida football since the 1970s.  So how is Will Muschamp approaching what appears to be a must-win season in 2014?


“Every game on our schedule next year is winnable.  That’s not a far stretch at all… We’re not that far off.”


So said the Gator coach to Matt Hayes of  Either he’s danged sure his team really is ready to rebound, he’s an eternal optimist, or he’s been huffing paint.

We can assume that Muschamp knows he’ll be a goner if the Gators don’t win next year anyway, so why worry about setting high expectations?  Still, that’s a mouthful of a statement for a coach who suffered through a 4-8 nightmare.

Here’s how the Florida schedule sets up in 2014:


Home vs Idaho (winnable)

Home vs Eastern Michigan (winnable)

Home vs Kentucky (winnable)

at Alabama (The Tide will be rebuilding in some areas, but come on)

at Tennessee (winnable)

Home vs LSU (The Tigers will have rebuild their offense from almost scratch, so winnable)

Home vs Missouri (we’ve seen ‘em up and we’ve seen ‘em down, so winnable)

in Jacksonville vs Georgia (alway tough, but winnable)

at Vanderbilt (winnable)

Home vs South Carolina (The Gamecocks lose stars on both sides of the ball, so winnable)

Home vs Eastern Kentucky (winnable)

at Florida State (FSU romped the Gators last year, so no)


Technically, every game is winnable before it’s played.  For example, Georgia Southern could have looked at Florida last preseason and said, “winnable.”  But there’s a different between a game being winnable and a game being won.  We don’t think Florida will (or even can) beat Alabama or Florida State on the road next year.  Not with an all-new everything on offense.

We also don’t think think the Gators will win all of those toss-up games (LSU, Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina).

Muschamp has seen how quickly fortunes can change in the SEC.  His team went from 11-2 in 2012 to 4-8 in 2013.  Could his 2014 squad finish the regular season at 9-3 or 10-2?  Sure.  How big a turnaround it will take to save the coach’s job is another question.  Winning over the Florida fanbase is another matter entirely.

Kudos to the head Gator for not showing any fear to his players.  But “every game is winnable?”  Sorry.  Not buying that one.

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That Didn’t Take Long: Georgia To Hire Pruitt As New D-Coordinator

jeremy-pruittThe seat in the Georgia football complex that once belonged to Todd Grantham never got a chance to cool.  According to reports, the Bulldogs have already settled on Florida State’s Jeremy Pruitt to take over as UGA defensive coordinator.

Pruitt served in the same role at FSU where he helped lead the Seminoles to a national title last week.

Based on the word of “multiple sources,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Pruitt has accepted the job.  Consider it a major coup for Mark Richt, himself a former Florida State offensive coordinator.

Todd Grantham resigned as UGA’s D-coordinator on Sunday and joined Bobby Petrino’s new staff at Louisville in the same position.  To replace him in two days with Pruitt will be viewed as a win by Bulldogs fans.

Last season, Pruitt’s Seminoles ranked #1 nationally in scoring defense, #18 in rushing defense, #1 in passing defense, and #3 in total defense.  For comparison, Grantham’s young Georgia D ranked 45th nationally in total defense and 79th in scoring defense.  The Dawgs allowed 29.0 points per game.  The Noles yielded just 12.1.

In addition, Pruitt was named’s “National Recruiter of the Year” in 2012.  For the icing on the cake, he also knows the SEC as a former Alabama player and as Nick Saban’s secondary coach from 2010 through 2012.

Hiring a “name” coordinator from the defending national champs is no guarantee of success.  We’ll still have to wait until fall to see how all of this plays out for the Bulldogs.  What this move does do, however, is guarantee Richt a much more peaceful spring and summer leading up to fall.

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Florida State Snaps SEC Streak, Rallies To Beat Auburn

postgame-links-150x1501Florida State 34 – Auburn 31. Video Highlights

1. Leading at one point 21-3, Auburn can’t withstand furious Florida State rally.  Seminoles score winning touchdown with 13 seconds in a wild fourth-quarter finish.

2. No team had ever lead by 18 points in BCS title game and lost. Kevin Scarbinsky: “They should’ve won the game.”

3. Matt Hayes: “Welcome to the new age of college football: he who has the ball last wins. It’s just that simple.”

4. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis called for interference on game-winning drive, was covering FSU receiver Kelvin Benjamin on game-winning touchdown.

5. “Auburn’s issues down the stretch of the BCS title game extend far beyond one player. ” Don’t forget special teams breakdowns in the second half.

6. FSU freshman Kermit Whitfield: “The fastest team in America was Florida State. The evidence proved it tonight.”

7. Auburn defense held Florida State to 385 yards – FSU came in averaging 529 yards a game.

8. Impressive night for Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall.  ”There’s not anyone else I want playing quarterback for us other than No. 14.”

9. Florida State victory snaps SEC seven-game winning streak in title game.  Commissioner Mike Slive: “ What we have done is unprecedented. And no one will ever equal it.”

10. “It was fitting that the BCS era – and the SEC’s reign – ended in the spiritual home of college football.”

11. Florida State fans chant “We Want Bama.”

12. AJ McCarron mom’s tweet during Jameis Winston postgame interview – “Am I listening to English?” (later deleted)

13. Final coaches poll features seven SEC teams:  Auburn 2, South Carolina 4, Missouri 5, Alabama 8, LSU 14, Texas A&M 18, Vanderbilt 23. Sidenote – three of the top five teams, including Auburn and Missouri, were not ranked at one point.

14, Fina AP poll - same seven teams with two differences; Alabama is 7 and Vanderbilt is 24.

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Florida State 34 – Auburn 31

Video highlights of the Florida State 34-31 victory over Auburn in the BCS National Championship Monday night.

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SEC Headlines 1/6/2014

headlines-monBCS Championship

1. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn stands to make an additional $625,000 in bonus money with a win tonight.

2. Win tonight by Auburn would make the greatest single-year turnaround in NCAA history.

3. Ron Higgins:  ”I was wrong thinking the 48-year-old Malzahn…would have difficulty succeeding at the BCS conference level.”

4. Current Auburn and former Florida State assistant Dameyune Craig on FSU quarterback Jameis Winston:  ”I think Jameis is trying to prove that I made a mistake by coming here.”

5. How Auburn’s 2013 roster was built - where would the Tigers be without their Florida players?

6. Nick Saban on the Auburn attack: ”It’s very difficult the way Auburn plays offense to give them negative plays.” One key – running outside the tackles.

7. Todd Blackledge on Auburn: “I think they present a better offensive line, a more physical offensive line and defensive front than Florida State has seen all season.”

8. Auburn cornerback Chris Davis on facing the Florida State offense: “Our defense sometimes gets overlooked, but we’re ready for the task.”

9. What’s it like at Auburn to get chewed out by a head coach who doesn’t cuss?  ”It’s way worse.”

10. David Climer:  ”Florida State recruits like an SEC team, coaches like an SEC team and plays like an SEC team.”

11. Stewart Mandel: “If Florida State plays the way it has all year, it may do to Auburn what Alabama did to Notre Dame last January.”

12. What do the guys who manage the sports books in Vegas think of this game?  Almost all of them pick Florida State.

13. ESPN’s Mark Schlabach takes the other side - 10 reasons why Auburn will win the game.

14. Some Auburn buildings get spray painted with “FSU”. 

15. Goodbye BCS - here’s how things will work starting next year.

SEC Football

17. Florida welcomes seven early enrollees to campus this week. Are the Gators the most valuable football program in the SEC?

18. Here’s a look at Georgia’s pre-spring defensive depth charts.

19. Steve Spurrier: “I am going to declare South Carolina the national champion of the bowl season.”


20. Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin will be among those providing real-time analysis of the game as  part of ESPN’s “BCS Megacast” tonight.

21. Brent Musberger’s contract with ESPN is up in August.  ESPN loves Nick Saban’s broadcast potential.

22. Challenging the view that attendance issues at games are caused by the comfort of home: “I don’t think the TV vs. live experience disparity is the culprit.”

SEC Basketball

23. The father of Georgia coach Mark Fox passed away over the weekend.


24. LSU wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry expected to make formal announcements today about entering the 2014 NFL draft.

25.Florida defensive lineman/linebacker Ronald Powell announces he’ll enter the draft.

26. As many as 10 Alabama players have explored the possibility of leaving early for the NFL.


27. Pat Forde makes the case why Charlie Strong is not a good fit at Texas. (and here’s an interesting tweet about Texas and Nick Saban)

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SEC Headlines 1/5/2014

headlines-sun-150x150SEC Football

1. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher could have been at UAB had University of Alabama trustees not killed the deal after the 2006 season.

2. Kevin Scarbinsky on Fisher: “If Bobby Bowden and Nick Saban had a child, he’d be a dadgum good football coach. Aight?”

3. Matt Hayes: “The only difference between Saban and Fisher was Fisher’s staccato delivery during Saturday’s BCS Championship Game Media Day.”

4. Dan Wolken:  “In the end, it all comes back to Nick Saban.”

5. Ellis Johnson wound up at Auburn, but after Mark Stoops left for Kentucky, he was one of Fisher’s top targets at Florida State.

6. Is Florida State backup quarterback Jacob Coker considering transferring to Alabama? ”I think it’s just assumptions.”

7. Auburn’s Nick Marshall wanted to play quarterback, not defensive back, when he was at Georgia.  Did not consider playing basketball.

8. Key for Auburn Monday night?  Make “FSU play their first fourth-quarter game this year.”

9. Florida State center Bryan Stork on Auburn’s defense: “This is the best defense we’ve played. Yeah, the stats say they’re very average, but I beg to differ. I’ve seen the film.”

10. Auburn coach Gus Malzahn honored as the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year Saturday night.

11. “Personally, I often choose to watch SEC games over everything else for two reasons: One, Verne Lundquist; two, Nick Saban might lose.”

12. Saban on the 2013 season: “There’s lots of lessons to be learned for every team when you have adversity.”

13. If things had played out differently a few years ago, could Charlie Strong have gone to Georgia?

14. Missouri center Evan Boehm on the 2014 Tigers:  ”I don’t think the University of Missouri is rebuilding. We’re reloading.”

15. Florida State assistant coach Sal Sunseri on his time at Tennessee: “You go into Tennessee and you could see there wasn’t the talent that needed to be there.”

16. What’s the outlook at defensive line for the Vols?

17. Ever think you’d hear this? “I don’t think Florida has the athletes like Duke got.”

18. Steve Spurrier has raised the bar at South Carolina - what are the expectations for 2014?

19. South Carolina running back Mike Davis thought to have high ankle sprain – will have MRI today.

SEC/NFL draft

20. Add Ole Miss receiver Donte Moncrief’s name to the growing list of SEC underclassmen declaring for the NFL draft.

SEC/College Football

21. Jon Solomon: “College football scoring is up 10 percent from 2009 to 2013, the largest increase in a five-year period since 1979-83.”

22. ESPN wants to know if higher scoring produces more viewers.

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SEC Headlines 1/3/2014

headlines-fri-150x150SEC Football

1. Blaming AJ? “This defeat rested squarely on the shoulders of Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron.”

2. “Maybe Nick Saban was so depressed that Leonard Fournette committed to LSU that his funk carried over to his team as well.”

3. If Florida State “can’t stand up to Auburn’s running game, it’s going to be a long, sleepless night Monday.”

4. Does anyone play defense anymore? “The over-under for Monday night’s title game, despite Florida State’s nation-leading 11.1 points-per-game allowed, is 67 1/2.”

5. Auburn center Reese Dismukes: “The Harvey Updykes of the world are going to be rooting for Florida State.”

6. What’s the relationship like between Auburn coach Gus Malzahn and offensive coordinator Rhett Lashlee? “It’s honestly like a married couple fighting sometimes.”

7. From Tee Martin to Jameis Winston – can the BCS era begin and end with winning quarterbacks from Alabama?

8. “Depth, not just in physical ability but coaching, facilities, support and resources, that has allowed the SEC to distance itself from the competition…”

9. David Climer on the rumors surrounding Vanderbilt coach James Franklin: “Wouldn’t you rather have a coach that other programs are interested in than a coach whose phone never rings?”

10. Missouri quarterback James Franklin is a Texas native and will end his college career not far from where he played his high school ball.

11. Mizzou defensive end Michael Sam on Oklahoma State: “We hope they pass all night, to be honest with you.”

12. A postmortem on the Georgia Bulldogs season: “This team, we just had a lot of things go wrong and a lot of things go wrong at the worse time imaginable.” Georgia lost a combined 41 full games from key offensive starters.

13. A prolific 2013 season at LSU: “For the first time in history, LSU had a 3,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher.”

14. Does the “state championship” seem more important now to South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier?

15. With quarterback Dak Prescott returning along what should be a better defense, Mississippi State may surprise some people in 2014.

16. The Ole Miss defense features some intriguing possibilities for 2014.


17. As expected, Texas A&M wide receiver Mike Evans going pro.  Had a school-record 1,369 yards this season.

18. LSU defensive tackle Anthony Johnson says he’s leaving school early for the NFL.

19. Jadeveon Clowney’s new agent says his client wants to be the first overall draft pick. “He and I have talked about it, that he’s going to commit himself to do the work necessary to put him in that position…”

SEC Basketball

20. Mississippi State 77 – Maryland Eastern Shore 63.  21 points and 16 rebounds for Gavin Ware.

21. Jordan Clarkson off to an impressive start at Missouri – averaging 20 points and more than 4 assists per game.

22. Kentucky’s poor free-throw shooting brings back an appreciation of Kyle Macy


23. Have a Gruden!  Texas donor Red McCombs makes his pitch for the next coach of the Longhorns.

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