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Ohio State’s Meyer Sidesteps Discipline (Again) And BCS Voters Should Take Note

gfx - honest opinionI don’t dislike Urban Meyer as a person.  I don’t know Urban Meyer.  He may be the best family man in America.  He might be a super-duper fellow when it comes to charity, as well.  In fact, I don’t doubt that he is.  He’s probably a good neighbor, too.

I don’t dislike Urban Meyer because he won at Florida.  I don’t dislike Urban Meyer because he left Florida.  I have no dog in such SEC fights.

What I do dislike about Urban Meyer is his split personality.  On one hand, he speaks of discipline, of recruiting good young men to represent his school, of holding players to high standards in order to grow them as young men.

On the other hand, he’d drive the getaway car for some of his thugs, punks and miscreants if it meant keeping them eligible.

He’s the exact opposite of everything he says he claims he stands for.

SEC fans know what kind of a program Meyer ran at Florida.  It was highly successful for a very brief period — the Tim Tebow period — and then it crashed down upon itself.  Meyer quit, then didn’t quit, then quit again to be with his family, then caught the first plane to Columbus when Ohio State’s last coach brought that program down on his head.  Irony: OSU has hired a guy who lets his kids get away with murder — just kidding, Aaron Hernandez was only questioned in a Gainesville shooting — to replace a guy who lost his job and landed the Ohio State on probation for letting his players do anything they liked.

 

George Bush's "Fool Me Once" Gaffe

 

What he said.

Depending on whose count you believe, 30+ Florida players were arrested during Meyer’s six-year arc at Florida.  The New York Times reported that 41 of the 121 players on UF’s 2008 BCS championship squad were arrested at Florida, after leaving Florida, or both.  That’s quite a collection of well-disciplined young men.

There have arrests at Ohio State, too.  Yeah, I know, who didn’t see that one coming?  After all, Hernandez stuck on the Gator squad despite getting into a bar fight at 17 and then being drawn into a shooting investigation.

Chris Rainey was arrested for texting his girlfriend, “It’s Time to Die, Bitch.”  Did Meyer, the father of two girls, dismiss him from the team?  Of course not.  Rainey later went to the NFL where he was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers after a domestic violence arrest.

Janoris Jenkins was dismissed from Florida’s team when Will Muschamp took over.  A pair of arrests actually had consequences under UF’s current coach.  Jenkins — in a very damning remark — made it clear that such accountability wasn’t part of Meyer’s program (despite all of the coach’s talk).  “No doubt, if Coach Meyer were still coaching, I’d still be playing for the Gators,” Jenkins said.  “Coach Meyer knows what it takes to win.”

Indeed he does.  And he’s displaying that knowledge once again this week.

Meyer has decided not to suspend — surprise, surprise — two starters who were pitched from last weekend’s win over Michigan for fighting.  One of them left the field by throwing double birds at Wolverine fans.  Beats throwing punches, I guess.

Ladies and gentlemen, your 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes:

 

Michigan Ohio State fight results in three ejections

 

Hope you stuck around until the end of that clip.  Apparently that kind of behavior is what “Law & Order” Meyer views as the proper way to carry one’s self while on scholarship as a representative of THE Ohio State University.  His decision not to dole out suspensions to Marcus Hall and Dontre Wilson couldn’t have anything to do with the Buckeyes playing Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game with a BCS title shot on the line could it?

Now, because Meyer did a year at ESPN, many in the media look the other way when it comes to the stone cold, undeniable fact that the wins on his resume are matched only by the number of arrests, ejections, and suspensions that have occurred at his programs.

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Florida’s Muschamp: “I’m Fine. I’m A Football Coach.”

gfx - they said itWill Muschamp is no Mike Gundy.  “I’m fine.  I’m a football coach,” won’t play on a constant media loop for days to come as Gundy’s “I’m a man!  I’m 40,” declaration once did.  Still, it’s the first time since a loss to Vanderbilt that Florida’s coach has talked about the pressure he’s now under:

 

“I’m fine.  I’m a football coach.  I go to work every day trying to find ways to get this football team better and get them in improve on how we play.  That’s part of our job whether you’re 9-1 or you’re where we are (4-5).

It’s frustrating.  It’s very frustrating, but you work and people are dependent on you to do a good job.  Do a good job for the players and do a good job for the university — that’s my job.”

 

Muschamp may claim to be A-OK but many a Gator fan would tell you today that the third-year man is not doing a good job for his players or for the University of Florida.  And AD Jeremy Foley hasn’t said much publicly about his coach since stating that he was “not going anywhere” after UF’s loss at Missouri in October.  Since then the Gators have lost to Georgia for the third straight year and to Vanderbilt at home for the first time since 1945.

“I’m fine.  I’m a football coach.”  Yes, but some wonder if Muschamp will still be Florida’s football coach if he finishes 5-7.  (We believe he should be, but we’re not writing checks to the Florida’s athletic department.)

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How Much Rope Will Muschamp Be Given At Florida?

will-muschamp-staringHe took over for one of the most highly-regarded coaches in college football.  He had to please a fanbase that’s used to winning SEC and national championships.

End the end, Ron Zook couldn’t get the job done in Gainesville.

What?  Did you think we were describing Will Muschamp’s situation?

Of course, we were.  Zook and Muschamp both faced the same challenges.  Both were also longtime assistant coaches with no track record as a top dog.  Florida AD Jeremy Foley took a risk in hiring both me.  He was quick to jettison Zook.  How much rope he gives to Muschamp is now a fair question in the Sunshine State.

From 2002 to 2004, Zook was given just three years to try and mimic Steve Spurrier’s successes.  Before coaching his first game, a website called FireRonZook.com was up and running on the internet (which was a really cheap shot by a nitwit, if you ask me).  Many Gator fans didn’t want Zook in the first place and Foley was quick to correct his mistake.

Zook’s achievements at UF:  8-5, 8-5 and 7-4.  He was 23-14 overall and 16-8 in the SEC never reaching Atlanta (though he did tie for the East Division title in 2003).

Muschamp’s situation is similar, but not an exact copy.  He is in his third season as Gator coach.  His records to date: 7-6, 11-2, 4-3.  Last year’s 11-win campaign — though it didn’t excite UF fans enough to travel to the Sugar Bowl — stands out as a reason for hope.  Unlike Zook, he does have one year of big wins under his belt.  But his overall record is 22-11 which is in the ballpark with Zook’s (a 66.6% winning clip for Muschamp compared to Zook’s 62.1%).  He’s also never reached Atlanta (tying for the East title last season) and it doesn’t appear he’ll do so this year either, barring massive surprises.

So what does Florida’s AD have to say about Muschamp’s reign?  “He’s not going anywhere, and I’m not going anywhere.”

Fair enough.  For now.

But a team that has been decimated by injuries continues to regress.  The Gator offense and defense were kicked around by a very good Missouri team on Saturday.  Gator fans aren’t used to seeing their team get blasted by anyone, much less an SEC newcomer that many Southerners continue to underestimate.

As of now, there’s no reason to believe that Florida will turn itself around down the stretch.  A beat-up team will face Georgia in its next game (another squad reeling due to injuries), then Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida State, now the #2 team in the BCS standings.  There’s a lay-up game with Georgia Southern before the FSU contest.

Let’s say Muschamp goes 3-2 down the stretch.  That’s a 7-5 record.  Very Zook-like.

Oh, and keep in mind that Muschamp now makes just under $3 million per season.

Foley says his coach is standing on terra firma.  He should be.  Last year’s 11-win season and this year’s injuries should buy him another year.  But fans are seldom patient.  Many no longer head to the Swamp on fall Saturdays.  If more fans begin to steer clear of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, it could force Foley’s hand.  And if that happens, Foley — believed by many to be a top-five AD nationally — will have swung and missed on two of his last three Gator football hires.

At Florida, nothing is more important than football.  Which means both Muschamp and Foley had better be hoping for a miraculous turnaround.  Anybody know someone who can heal the injured?

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Mizzou’s Mauk Ready To Fill Franklin’s Void At QB Vs Florida?

maty-mauk-missouri-mugOn Saturday, just as Missouri was on the cusp of its biggest SEC win ever, starting quarterback James Franklin went down with a shoulder injury (and is out for three to five weeks).  In came backup Maty Mauk to nurse a two-point, fourth-quarter Tiger lead at Georgia.

The redshirt freshman’s performance wasn’t the stuff of Lou Gehrig or Tom Brady legend, but the backup did run the offense successfully enough to secure a 41-26 road win that kept Missouri among the nation’s unbeaten.  His final stat line: 3-for-3 for 23 yards, no TDs or INTs with 12 rushing yards on three carries tossed in for good measure.

According to starting center Evan Boehm, Mauk gained confidence quickly.  “Maty is a natural leader,” Boehm said.  “At first he was a little soft at the line giving us the call.  At a place like Georgia, when it’s so loud, you can’t do that.  We told him, ‘Hey, man.  Take control.  It’s your team now.  It’s your offense.”

Saturday, Mauk will be directing the Tiger offense against a Florida defense that has made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks.  Tops in the SEC in pass defense (allowing just 152 yards per game), here’s how opposing teams have fared when passing against the Gators:

 

  School   Result   Comp/Att   Comp %   Yds   Yds/Att   TD   INT   QB Rtg
  Toledo   24-6 UF   17-of-38   44.7   155   4.1   0   1   73.74
  Miami   21-16 UM   12-of-25   48.0   162   6.5   2   1   120.83
  Tennessee   31-17  UF   14-of-34   41.2   154   4.5   1   4   65.40
  Kentucky   24-7  UF   17-of-26   65.4   125   4.8   0   1   98.09
  Arkansas   30-10  UF   17-of-43   39.5   164   3.8   0   1   66.93
  LSU   17-6 LSU   9-of-17   52.9   152   8.9   0   0   128.04

 

As you can see, only two teams completed more than 50% of their passes against Florida’s secondary.  Only team had a yards-per-attempt average above 6.5.

Mauk gets the advantage of making his first college start at home in Columbia.  But the defense he’s facing likely won’t make for a very pretty debut.  But don’t tell that to the confident QB.

“We’ve got one of the best offenses, so we’re going to come right at them,” he said of Saturday’s game with Florida.

We shall see.

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Florida DT Easley Done With ACL Injury?

mrsec-breaking-newsIt was reported this morning that Florida defensive tackle Dominique Easley has suffered a torn ACL which would, in effect, end the senior’s UF playing career.  While Will Muschamp has said that Easley “tweaked” his knee during practice yesterday, he would not confirm reports of an ACL tear.  “We will see how it goes,” the coach said.

But a tweet from Easley suggests that he did indeed suffer a serious injury:

 

“Gatornation thank you for all 4 yrs of sticking with me but god has something else planned and have no worries.”

 

The Gators lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken leg during Saturday’s win over Tennessee.  To then also lose their brightest defensive star just four days later would be particularly cruel twist of fate.

Stay tuned.

Update: Florida confirms Easley is out for the season - tore the anterior cruciate ligament and medial meniscus in his right knee.

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With Tennessee On Deck, Injured Florida QB Driskel “A Lot Better”

jeff-driskelFlorida quarterback Jeff Driskel sprained his left knee against Miami on September 7th.  After an open date this past weekend, the Gator signal-caller says he’ll be ready come Saturday when Tennessee visits in the SEC opener for both schools.

According to Driskel, his knee is “feeling a lot better” after the time off.

The Gator offense sputtered against Toledo in the Gators opener.  The next week, Brent Pease’s group rolled up 400+ yards on Miami, only to turn the ball over five times in an ugly, sloppy loss.  Now Driskel and company will need to dust off the cobwebs from an open date and fix some of their early-season mistakes:

 

“Just getting back to the basics.  That’s what you do during the bye week.  For me, cleaning up the reads, taking what’s there and not trying to force anything.  That’s what I’m going to have to do, and I really took that to hear.  Just get back to the basics, take what’s there and move on to the next play…

When we eliminate turnovers our offense has been doing really well this year.  Like we’ve said all along, when we handle us we’ll be find.  That’s what we’re going to try and do.”

 

While the Gators have been trying to handle themselves — sorry, couldn’t resist — they’ve also had time to eyeball Tennessee’s 59-14 loss to Oregon over the weekend.  Driskel’s take: “I think we have the players where we can hit some big plays.  We just have to make them when they’re there.  Oregon really took advantage of the looks when they were there and you can put up some big points when you take advantage of your opportunities.”

Driskel did just that last year in Knoxville.  He threw for 219 yards (his second best effort as a starter) and rushed for another 81 as UF notched its eighth win in a row over the Vols, 37-20.  This season, Driskel has run the ball 17 times for 38 yards, but coming off a knee injury, it will be interesting to see just how much running the Gator QB does on Saturday.

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UF O-Coordinator Pease Wants Wins, Not A “Guru Card”

LOVE GURUFlorida football fans yawned through another victory this past weekend.  It was the Gators’ 12 victory in 14 outings with Brent Pease calling the offensive plays.  That’s a pretty record, dontcha think?

Well, some in the Sunshine State who’d grown used to Steve Spurrier’s Fun N’ Gun and Urban Meyer’s Tim Tebow-led attack are finding Pease’s offense rather humdrum.  That’s because it is:

 

*  Florida ranked 10th in the 14-team SEC in scoring last season.

*  The Gators also ranked 10th in total offense in 2012.

*  Florida was also 10th in yards-per-play averaging just 5.93 yards per snap.  (Some of that can be credited to clock-eating runs late in games.)

*  Here’s a shock — UF also ranked 10th last season in the number of long plays from scrimmage.  The Gators managed just 162 plays of 10+ yards, ahead of only Missouri, LSU, Kentucky and Auburn.

*  Against Toledo in their season-opener last week, Florida’s offense didn’t have a single offensive play of 30 or more yards.

 

While those numbers suggest the Florida defense has had more to do with UF’s dozen most-recent victories than the offense, Pease doesn’t care.  The 48-year-old coordinator isn’t interested in your fancy, schmancy statistics and whatnot:

 

“That’s called, ‘You’re trying to get your guru card.’  Maybe when I was 30-years-old, but I’m not 30-years-old anymore.  I got out of that (stage) where I worried about getting a guru card.  So, there are other people that still try to get guru cards.  I’m out of that stage in my life…

Compared to what we did last year, we controlled the ball for 40 minutes (against Toledo), finished the game with 6:38 on the clock, we rushed for 262 (yards), we passed for 77%, we had one turnover we need to improve on, we had nine explosive (plays).  We were six-of-12 on third downs, which last year at this same thing we were asking each other about, ‘Hey, what do we have to do on third down?’  We were three for three on third-and-ones.”

 

All true.  And all good.  Against Toledo.  This week comes a road game to Miami.  Soon after the SEC slate will begin.  If the Gators want to match last year’s success they’ll likely need their offense to carry a bigger part of the load.  Florida will always be a defense-first kind of team with former D-coordinator Will Muschamp employed as head coach.  And the UF defense will likely be pretty darn good, too.  But when push comes to shove in SEC play, the Gators will need to be able to do some pushing and shoving of their own on both sides of the line of scrimmage.

Whether that requires a guru card or just some better skill position players remains to be seen.

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Coming Off An 11-Win Season, Florida’s Swamp Still Hasn’t Sold Out

gfx - they said itIf you want a perfect example of how the American sports fan has changed his habits, look no further than the University of Florida.  The Gators were 11-2 last year.  They played in a BCS bowl.  They have a third-year coach who’s considered to be one of the nation’s fast-risers.  And they play in what for 20 years has been one of the most difficult gameday environments for opponents.

And with a month to go until football season, UF is still trying to sell out The Swamp.

Here’s what Florida associate AD Mike Hill had to say about the Gators’ last-minute sales push:

 

“We have a lot that is in the pipeline right now to try to make a final push before the first game on August 31st.  We feel great about the position that we’re in right now based on the numbers, but we still have more room to sell…

We’re hovering right around that 50, 51 (thousand) mark now so we’re closing in on that same number from a year ago, which is great.  We’re really please with that, but, that said, the job isn’t complete.”

 

You already know the reasons for declining ticket sales across the country:

 

*  The economy isn’t as strong as it once was.

*  Every game is now on television.

*  Those televised games are almost exclusively broadcast in high definition.

*  Ticket prices — as well as the cost of parking and concessions — have continued to rise.

 

Here’s another that impacts the SEC: stadium size.  The league has eight venues that can top the 80,000 mark in attendance.  They are buildings from a bygone age.  To sell out football games in massive stadiums today, a program had better be in the running for a national title.

Unfortunately, not even an 11-win campaign is enough to guarantee sell-outs in this era.

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Muschamp On “Propaganda” Surrounding SEC Hype

FLORIDA MEDIA DAYSWill Muschamp was asked about Bob Stoops’ offseason comment that the SEC benefits from hype and “propaganda.”  His response?  “If I were in the Big XII I’d say the same thing.”

Muschamp said that in the SEC — even with more programs going up-tempo — you still have to prepare to face physical, two-back offenses (suggesting that you don’t see much of that in the Big XII).  UF’s coach said that type of grind-you-down style helped his own squad last year.

This won’t be the last time an SEC coach is asked this week to compare his league to another.  Just wait’ll Bret Bielema steps to the mic.

Watch video of Muschamp being interviewed at SEC Media Days here.

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Muschamp Not Giving Reporters A Chance To Ask A Question

FLORIDA MEDIA DAYSSome coaches walk to the podium, say a little, then take questions.  Some just take questions.

Florida’s Will Muschamp walked to the lectern today and has talked and talked and talked and talked.  A million-miles-per-hour, Muschamp has seemingly mentioned every single player on the Gators roster so far.

No questions from the media yet.  It appears to be Muschamp’s talkative version of Dean Smith’s old four-corners offense.

“We’ll probably play more six DBs this year it’s Jeff Driskel’s team now we’ve got to get better passing the football I told Jeff if he were my son I’d tell him to sign that baseball contract we’ve got to be strong up the middle it’s impressive that the NFL is coming to us to hire their coordinators…”

Read that all as fast as possible and you’ll get an idea of the rapid-fire delivery of UF’s third-year football coach.

Take a breath, man.

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