Florida Gators: 3-point stance

1. Bob Stoops said Wednesday on the ESPNU College Football Podcast that when Oklahoma beats Texas, he gives his Sooners a couple of hours to enjoy the State Fair of Texas with their families before the buses head back up I-35. Stoops said he doesn’t go near the Midway, but he does find a quiet picnic table to munch on a hot dog. After 15 seasons and 160 victories -- the most by any head coach in Oklahoma history -- Stoops remains unimpressed with himself.

2. When Joker Phillips finished the 2012 season as a lame-duck head coach at Kentucky, he discussed the emotions of leaving players and a school to which he had devoted 10 years of his life. That’s not how Phillips left Florida. He resigned Wednesday for personal reasons at a time when coaches and players are not together. Two years ago, someone asked Phillips about his future. “I'm 50 years old,” Phillips said. “I don't have a lot of time. I like to think I'm a young 50, but this game is going fast for me.” His departure from Gainesville came way too fast.

3. BYU went into independence four years ago with such optimism, and why not? BYU is a religious school with a national following. But college sports has gotten more exclusive, and even Notre Dame, the ultimate independent, cut a football deal with the ACC. Still, Cougar coach Bronco Mendenhall’s public plea to join the Big 12 sounds like the frustrations of a coach. If BYU were serious about giving up on independence, the university wouldn’t use its football coach to make its case.
1. Florida head coach Will Muschamp, assessing his team's offensive woes, said Monday that the first thing he would do is look at himself. And he's exactly right. The problem is that Muschamp is three years late. There's a difference between a) hiring an offensive coordinator and staying out of his way and b) establishing an offensive philosophy, then finding the right coordinator to execute it. Muschamp's offenses have looked like square pegs in round holes under both Charlie Weis (2011) and Brent Pease (2012-13). I don't think Muschamp can turn the offense around in one season, but he can do a better job of figuring out what he wants and get the Gators moving in the right direction.

2. In most seasons, the major awards announce their finalists, yet we know who is going to win. But I think this year there will some real suspense when the awards are handed out on ESPN next month. Take the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award. The finalists announced Monday are: the guy who makes big plays and a few big mistakes (Johnny Manziel); the guy who wins and has done so for three years (AJ McCarron) and the guy who makes big plays and wins yet has a shadow over him (Jameis Winston). How do you handicap that one?

3. I love that Jerry Glanville, at age 72, wants to get back on the sideline. As USA Today reported Monday, Glanville sent an unsolicited application to Eastern Michigan, which has signed a long-term lease on the MAC basement. Glanville would get the school some curiosity pub. Most of the rest of the MAC has skewed toward being the proving ground for up-and-coming assistants (Rod Carey, Matt Campbell) or proven lower-division head coaches (Brian Kelly, Jerry Kill). EMU has to decide what it wants.

3-point stance: Rallying behind Muschamp

November, 14, 2013
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1. Florida fans are taking their frustrations out on head coach Will Muschamp when it’s plain to see that the Gators have suffered as many injuries as any team in recent memory. Athletic director Jeremy Foley and university president Bernie Machen went to bat for Muschamp on Wednesday. Even Steve Spurrier, whose No. 10 South Carolina team plays his alma mater on Saturday, endorsed Muschamp. They stated the obvious, as I am doing here. But the fans haven’t grasped it yet.

2. According to the reporting of Mark Schlabach and David Hale, Tallahassee police waited nine months to send to the state attorney a complaint of sexual assault that involves Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston. The complaint lists the offender as being between 5-foot-9 and 5-11. Winston is 6-4. Skepticism is justified. But here’s why it matters to the No. 2 Seminoles football team. University policy dictates that a student-athlete charged with a felony is suspended. Backup quarterback Jacob Coker isn’t available. He underwent knee surgery this week.

3. One ugly streak will end in the Pac-12 this week when Colorado, which has lost 14 consecutive conference games, welcomes California, which has lost 12 league games in a row. Both teams’ last Pac-12 victory came against Washington State last season. Both teams have first-year head coaches. This season, Cal came within a touchdown of one Pac-12 team (Arizona); every Colorado conference loss has been by at least three touchdowns. I still see a spark in Boulder that injuries have prevented in Berkeley.

3-point stance: Embracing tradition

September, 6, 2013
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1. The more that college football progresses, the more schools that seem to be reaching back into their tradition. Arizona State has put up a portrait of College Football Hall of Famer Pat Tillman at the end of the tunnel the team goes through to the Sun Devil Stadium field. I hope more schools do something like that. It ties the players and the fans to the school’s history. College football, without history and tradition, would be a far duller sport.

2. Good news is that Stanford and San Jose State have christened Saturday’s game the Bill Walsh Legacy Game. Walsh played at and graduated from San Jose State. He started and finished his legendary head coaching career at Stanford. The bad news is that the two schools, only 25 minutes apart, are putting the series on the shelf after playing nearly annually since 1948. The rivalry may not be Notre Dame-Michigan, but this is one more sign that progress leaves casualties in its wake.

3. Florida-Miami is another one that should be played more but won’t be. As Pat Dooley wrote at GatorSports.com, since Florida plays one neutral-site conference game (Georgia) already, the Gators have a greater financial imperative to play home games against the three non-conference opponents that aren’t Florida State. Florida’s last non-conference road game? Miami in 2003, and the Gators lost. The last non-conference road game out of state? Syracuse in 1991, and the Gators lost. No wonder they want to play at home.

3-point stance: Scoreboard watching

September, 5, 2013
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1. You probably knew this already, but inflation has struck the scoreboard. Of the 10 longest scoring streaks in the history of the game, four are current: Michigan, which has scored in 353 consecutive games, is eight short of the record set by BYU (1975-2003). There’s also No. 3 Florida (309 games), No. 9 TCU (255) and No. 10 Air Force (247). The Wolverines were last shut out, 26-0, by Iowa in 1984, one of only two shutouts that Hall of Fame coach Bo Schembechler suffered in 21 seasons in Ann Arbor.

2. Frank Fina, one of the prosecutors in the Jerry Sandusky case, told 60 Minutes Sports that he found no evidence that the late Joe Paterno took part in any effort to conceal Sandusky’s child sexual abuse. “I’m viewing this strictly on the evidence,” Fina said, “not any kind of fealty to anybody. I did not find that evidence.” Fina agreed, using Paterno’s own words, that the coach should have done more. That’s a long way from the Freeh Report. So someone with subpoenas exonerated Paterno. Maybe now NCAA president Mark Emmert will realize that he overreached. Probably not.

3. With the commitment of West Monroe, La., offensive tackle Cameron Robinson to Alabama, the Crimson Tide has 14 players in the 2014 ESPN 300, including 10 in the top 120. However, only two of those prospects are from the state of Alabama. Head coach Nick Saban has commitments from players as far away as California, Oklahoma, and Iowa. That’s a long way from 2008, when Saban found three future first-round draft picks in Alabama alone: Julio Jones, Mark Barron, and Marcell Dareus.


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