The Long Snapper (6/2/10)

Slightly retooled (because what fun would anything around here be if I didn’t constantly change things for no apparent reason) to college football only for your reading pleasure.
We can no longer call it the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, but we may be able to call it the Jim Beam Florida/Georgia Battle.  As part of the contract being worked out with the city of Jacksonville, the schools would be given control of all marketing and merchandising.  If they wish, that could include corporate sponsorship; although it’s highly unlikely it would ever come to that.  Under the new contract, the game will remaining in Jacksonville annually through 2016 and the city will have the first opportunity to negotiate with the schools for future games.  The Bulldogs will also reap a few benefits from having to travel farther than the Gators.  Georgia will be reimbursed by the city for their flight costs.  Apparently that’s Jacksonville’s attempt the level the playing field despite the Gator-heavy location.
Jim Leavitt and attorneys are fighting to…uh…well…get about every last cent they can from USF. Actually this time it’s to make the records of USF’s investigation into the former head coach public.  A hearing will occur on June 9 that will hopefully clear up the deal with the records.  Leavitt and team hope that by revealing the accounts of the entire investigation, their side of the truth will come to light.  Whatever that truth may be.  A number of USF officials have been subpoenaed to appear at the hearing.  Yet another hearing – this time regarding Leavitt’s lawsuit – will occur toward the end of July.  Consider this the firing that never ended.  We should take bets now to predict if we’ll still be talking about this into the 2010 season.  Or better yet, that the issue still won’t be settled.
Go ahead and give the SEC Newcomer of the Year Award to Auburn quarterback Cameron Newton.  Could a player have a better situation set up for him in 2010?  It’s highly unlikely.  Newton was one of the top high school quarterbacks in the nation when he signed with Florida, but his Gator career ended before he ever got a chance to fight for a starting job (you all remember what happened, no need to reiterate it here).  After tearing up the junior college ranks, Newton decided Auburn was the best fit for his huge frame and rocket arm.  He digested Gus Malzahn’s offense in the spring, was named the Tigers’ starting quarterback and the rest will, soon enough, be history.  A team on the rise and a passer (who can run) with all the talents to succeed.  If Auburn makes strides forward in 2010, Newton will be a big reason.  Literally.  Welcome the Tigers back to the top half of the SEC.
Two Big Ten giants and a national hero are among those that make up the latest class to be elected to the College Football Hall of Fame.  Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard was a star at Michigan before bouncing around the NFL.  Barry Alvarez is the face of the Wisconsin football program.  And Arizona State’s Pat Tillman, well, there’s nothing to really add to what’s been said about him over the years.  The three, along with 11 others – including former Alabama head coach Gene Stallings) – will be inducted into the Hall in December.

The Long Snapper (5/5/10)

Jim Leavitt will always be tied to the USF program, but unfortunately it might be for all the wrong reasons.  We’re getting to a point where enough is enough.  USF has issued a response to Leavitt’s lawsuit against the school basically saying much of what he brings up is irrelevant.  Apparently, Leavitt (read: Leavitt’s lawyers) believe he’s entitled to at least one-twelfth of his remaining contract.  USF believes his contract very clearly states he is only entitled to one-twelfth of one season’s pay.  The difference is over $300,000 so let’s assume Leavitt fights this until the very end.  Regardless of which side you choose to be on in this matter, the black eye seems to be on Leavitt’s face, not USF’s.  The school fired a man who they believe had crossed the line (they may have been looking to head in a different direction sometime in the near future anyway).  By continuing to fight it, Leavitt seems desperate while his attention should be focused on finding another job.  I understand Leavitt possibly wanting to stand up for what he believes in, but in the end, he’s coming out as the bad guy.  He should consider himself lucky he is even getting one month’s pay.  Most of us are in positions where we could be let go at any moment without a dime.  But a coach gets fired and it’s “you didn’t work out and we’re heading in a new direction, but here’s a check to ease your fall.”
Matt Grothe may be heading north to play after all.  After working out with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during their rookie minicamp, Grothe was not offered a free-agent contract.  Other former Bulls Ben Busbee and Aaron Harris weren’t either.  Although Grothe has the heart to play the game, he lacks the size and unfortunately the decision making to be a successful NFL quarterback.  While there have been smaller quarterbacks in the league over the years, not playing most of his senior year hurt Grothe.  He was always labeled as a great athlete who was erratic at times.  Unfortunately, he didn’t get a final season to improve upon bad throws and bad decisions.  He was a great player and left USF as probably the most popular in the school’s short history, but decision making was something that was always brought up when discussing his future in the sport.  Hopefully Grothe can catch on in the Canadian Football League and if he can, you never know what could happen.  For now, he’ll get shots playing somewhere.
After FSU head man Jimbo Fisher stated it might be a good idea to move the Seminoles annual matchup with Florida to the beginning of the season, the Gators issued a response.  Through spokesman Steve McClain, Florida feels a move is not a good idea.  Fisher states with conference championship games, you don’t want to be playing your biggest rival the week before another solid matchup.  The Gators have been doing exactly that for years and seem perfectly fine with continuing to do so.  Although the rivalry would be big any time of year, there’s something special about closing out the regular season by taking on the Seminoles.  Yes, the Gators may have a matchup with Alabama or LSU right around the corner, but in college football every week is important regardless of who your opponent is.  Count my vote for keeping the game right where it is.
We now know what former Georgia quarterback Zach Mettenberger did to get himself kicked off the team.  He partook in a game a grab-ass.  Mettenberger plead guilty to two counts of sexual battery after getting too hands-on with a woman at a bar back in March.  Part of his punishment includes being banned from the city of Valdosta.  You know you’ve taken trouble to a new level when you are banished from an entire city.  Congratulations Zach!  If the SBE of the Week still existed (and I’m thinking because of you, it might be making a comeback), you would be taking home the honor.
The List: Questions I pondered while watching the Montreal Canadiens drop game three to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night:
1. How come I never noticed Sidney Crosby was that much of a whiner?
2. Is Marc-Andre Fleury really that good?
3. Has P.K. Subban officially become my favorite hockey player?
4. When does football start?
5. No seriously, when does football start?
The Sixth Man: There’s still a chance star guard Dominique Jones could return to USF.  Jones has a workout with a NBA team on Friday, but that’s the first he’s had so far.  His father has stated that while most of the reviews his son has received have been positive, there have been mixed feelings.  Jones could go somewhere late in the first round of the upcoming draft, but could also fall into the second.  Going in the second round doesn’t mean you’ll necessarily end up on a roster.  Due to that, Jones is considering returning.  At the moment, he could go either way, but the door for him in a Bulls’ uniform next season is open.  Jones’ return would be a huge boost for a team on the rise.  You always welcome your star player back.  Keep your fingers crossed USF fans.

The Bull Gator (3/19/10)

A few years ago, you would have found Florida at the very top of these rankings.  In a 366-day span, the mighty Gators won three national championships in the two major sports.  Since then, the football team maintained its success.  After a 9-4 season in 2007, Florida rebounded with back-to-back 13-1 seasons and added another national title in 2008.  The basketball team however is a different story.  Back-to-back NIT appearances are the real reason the Gators slipped to seventh.  Even if those NIT seasons had been replaced by first-round NCAA Tournament losses, Florida would’ve probably been substantially higher.  But this year, the Gators made it back to the Big Dance and with that, cemented their status as one of the top 10 schools in the nation with football and basketball success.  With Urban Meyer continuing to lead the football squad and the basketball team looking like they are on the rise, the future is bright.  Seventh is probably as far as the Gators will dip for quite some time.
Michigan is breaking tradition in 2011 and will play under the lights at the Big House for the first time ever.  And the opponent is a familiar one: Notre Dame.  The Wolverines and Fighting Irish have played each other at night three previous times, but all of those games were at Notre Dame.  Michigan may look forward to the change in venue for the fourth nighttime matchup.  The Wolverines lost the previous three by an average of only four points.  With both programs struggling in recent years, this may not be the marquee matchup it used to be, but it’s still one that has college football diehards excited.  If money were no option, this would definitely be on the road trip list.  Of course the plan at the moment is to head to Notre Dame that season for the USF game.  I definitely hope that trip becomes a reality.
The pirate expects to be back in coaching sooner rather than later, but is definitely enjoy his time off.  After being fired by Texas Tech, Mike Leach moved his family to Key West, FL and is living the relaxing life.  Must be nice.  But he also knows that isn’t permanent and expects to find a program in the near future.  I think you have to believe the same of all of the three coaches fired under similar circumstances: Leach, Jim Leavitt, and Mark Mangino.  They were all successful coaches at one point and while their methods may not be desirable (and downright despicable to some), they will be able to convince some program to sign them on.  And any of them could definitely return to a BCS conference school as a head coach.  Think about those programs that have has some very off years as of late.  Washington State for instance comes to mind.  One of those programs that isn’t necessarily a championship contender, but needs a boost and could use a guy with fire to prove himself successful again.  Expect all three to be back in head coaching spots sooner than you may initially have thought.  They won’t be gone from the sport for long.
On the other side of the coaching spectrum, Ohio State has given the sweater vest an extension.  The extension gives Jim Tressel two additional years to coach the Buckeyes, having him signed through 2014.  There is also an interesting twist to the deal that says if Tressel steps down under good terms, he will be given an associate athletic director spot within the athletic department paying him $150,000 a year.  At the moment, Tressel makes somewhere in the ballpark of $3.5 million, so it’s a little bit of a pay cut, but keeps an extremely successful coach in touch with the program.  Something Ohio State would definitely want when he does eventually step down.  There is no valid reason for Tressel to leave the Buckeyes unless it’s to retire one day.  Odds are he sees the end of this contract and beyond.
The List: Today’s list isn’t meant to be a public-service announcement even if it seems that way.  Today marks the two-year anniversary of The Bull Gator.  I started this site on March 19, 2008 and am proud to have seen it grow into what it is today.  Last year, this date took on a very different meaning.  Someone very close to me began a battle with leukemia on that day.  A battle, sadly, they wouldn’t win.  That person was more than an inspiration to me and one of the greatest, most loving people I will ever know.  Over the last year, I have learned a great deal about leukemia and cancer in general and am happy to contribute to the fight against all cancer-related illnesses.  Here are just a few of the places you can visit to learn more and find out how you too can help.
The Sixth Man: Florida’s season is done and it finished in quite an exciting way.  The Gators took BYU to double overtime, before they could no longer hang on.  A first-round loss is never acceptable, but it’s much better than the alternative Florida fans are all too familiar with: the NIT.  If anything, the Gators can learn from this season and look forward to next year.  The one thing that probably needs to be addressed first and foremost has to be turnovers.  The Gators turned the ball over 21 times to the Cougars 12.  Leading the way was point guard Erving Walker who had 7 turnovers himself.  If Walker and company can hold on to the ball, this could be a Sweet 16 team next season.  The talent is there – as evidenced by Kenny Boynton’s second half – it just needs to all come together.  By making the tourney, Florida took a big step forward.  Now improve in a few areas and this will be a much better team.

The Bull Gator (3/16/10)

USF has received its first verbal commitment of the 2011 recruiting cycle.  Punta Gorda Charlotte wide receiver Alex Mut is the first member of that class to become a Bull.  The 6’2”, 185-pound pass catcher hauled in 58 receptions for 1,014 yards and 14 touchdowns as a high school junior and will look to improve upon those numbers as a senior.  Mut has always wanted to go to USF and chose the Bulls over Duke and Rutgers.  He hopes to be able to contribute immediately on the field and may get that chance with the wide receiver depth chart expected to be wide open in 2011.  Getting Mut may have slightly opened the door for USF when it comes to his teammate, running back Mike Bellamy, but with offers from some of the larger programs in the nation, Bellamy is ultimately expected to go elsewhere.
Jim Leavitt has decided to sue USF after all, citing that his firing wasn’t legal and the investigation conducted was obviously biased.  His lawyer had the following to say: “The USF report is a rambling collection of hearsay/double hearsay statements and non-contextual quotes that, in essence, is a subjective, picked-over, blatantly biased summary by USF.”  Well, okay then.  So basically, they believe Leavitt was unjustly fired.  The former head coach still denies anything ever happened and due to that believes he is owed a large part of his remaining salary.  I have to wonder how we ever got to this point with coaches.  Having to have reason to let someone go.  Is because he no longer fits the ideals the university is looking for a good enough reason?  Multi-million dollar buyouts.  If you don’t win consistently, why should you receive money to be fired?  Some of the standards are put in place to protect the coaches and some are put in place to protect the schools.  I get that much.  What I don’t get is how we have gotten to a point where it is so difficult for either to move on if they feel the fit isn’t right anymore.  Leavitt will fight this until the end – or at least until the point the school offers him what he, and his lawyers, deem a worthy settlement amount – and it will happen again.  An incident will occur and a school won’t be able to fire their coach as easily.  Or a coach won’t provide a winning program, but will be given millions to be shown the door.
It’s hard to believe that 2010 will mark Robert Marve’s fourth season in college.  That’s right.  Marve was part of the recruiting class that included soon-to-be NFL Draft pick Jimmy Clausen and new Florida starting quarterback John Brantley.  Look at the top of the Rivals100 from that year and you’ll find five of the first six names will be playing on Sundays this fall.  Marve on the other hand will be starting over at Purdue.  After announcing he could no longer play for Randy Shannon at Miami, Marve opened up his options and eventually decided on the Boilermakers.  He’ll be competing for the starting quarterback job this fall.  For now, it looks like Marve may have landed on his feet, but it’s still a story to follow.  Marve had his troubles at Miami and was far from a model citizen.  Miami blocked him from transferring to a number of schools even though it was initially said he wanted to come closer to his Tampa home to be with his father who was sick.  In case you aren’t too good with geography, Purdue is quite a ways away from Tampa.  But Marve has settled in and seems to be doing well.  How he does on the field is a different story altogether.
Sometimes being dominant in one sport isn’t enough.  Sometimes you must be dominant in multiple sports to prove your rule over all others.  Jeff Demps is among those chosen few.  Not only is he faster than most in pads, he’s faster than most without them as well.  There’s a good possibility we’ll be watching him in the Summer Olympics in the future, but for now we can settle for Demps the National Champion.  Demps set a school record in the 60-meter dash and then won the final to lead the Gators to their first indoor National Championship.  Demps was named an All-American in the process.  Cheers to the entire men’s team and the women’s team (who finished fourth) as well.  (H/T: One Eyed Willy)
Today’s list is easy. My final four in order of finish.  I would give my standard bracket warning, but you already know it by heart.  So right or wrong, here are my final four.  Realistically three and four could be tied, but consider it my push for a third-place game.  And that’s right, there is no Kentucky.  Take what you will out of that.  It could’ve been spite.  It could be the fact that I’m not sure I see them winning six in a row to take the title.
1. Kansas
2. Duke
3. Syracuse
4. West Virginia
The Sixth Man: With this site taken the turn toward college football, the March Madness Challenge has suffered.  This year, and most likely for future years, I’ll have a group on ESPN.com’s Tournament Challenge you can join.  There is no prize other than bragging rights or pride.  I’ve never been one for pride.  But bragging rights…that’s a different story.  So saddle up and join the fun.  It’s easy.  Head over to the group page or find it yourself (the group name is The Bull Gator, as if you couldn’t have guessed that).  Once there enter in the password – thebullgator – and fill out your bracket.  Play to win, play for fun, or just play.  It doesn’t really matter, but become immortalized in the annals of this site.  It’s your chance to take down the two-time winner, One Eyed Willy, and shut him up forever.  (Please note: there’s no guarantee you’ll shut him up forever, or even a few minutes for that matter.)

The Long Snapper (3/9/10)

Starting the week off right with another Marvin Kloss story.  Quick recap for those of you that didn’t read my many mentions of the kid or never cared in the first place.  According to some kicking school you’ve never heard of, Kloss was one of the best kicker prospects in the nation.  According to the big-budget recruiting sites, Kloss didn’t exist.  He was offered a scholarship from USF, but turned it down for a chance to go to Florida.  After realizing there was a good chance he wouldn’t qualify, he decided to return to the green and gold and attempt to walk on.  So why am I mentioning him yet again?  Because Kloss was recently arrested on charges of grand theft.  The story is one of those “good job idiot, way to think about your future” ones we all love so much.  Kloss and a high school teammate are accused of stealing over $8,000 worth of items from a home during a party.  A party thrown by not the owner of the house, but by someone who was watching the house while the owner was out of town.  Think Kloss still has preferred walk on status at USF?  I’m going to go with “probably not.”  Skip Holtz has already shown what he tolerates and doesn’t.  If Kloss ever wears a Bulls’ uniform, I’d be very surprised.  But let’s at least hope he doesn’t something to warrant another Long Snapper inclusion in the near future.
Joel Miller has decided not to go forth with a lawsuit against former USF coach Jim Leavitt.  He said everything you would hope someone would say but never does.  That he doesn’t want to make any money off of the incident despite what people think.  Miller felt he had to tell the truth, but claims he didn’t do so to make money and therefore won’t sue his former head coach.  An honorable move I guess, but I’m more excited about the fact that this is just one more step to us not having to hear anymore about what did or didn’t happen in the locker room that day.  More could happen, but for most USF fans, the door is closed.  Leavitt is gone and isn’t coming back, ever.  Everyone seems to have embraced Holtz and can’t wait for his first game on the sidelines.  Think of this as just another hiccup in the ongoing story of Bulls’ football.  A year or two from now, we’ll barely be talking about it.
Matt Patchan is balls.  Anyone that has a story that starts with “so this is how I got shot” earns mention as being tougher than I am in even my best dreams.  Added to his steel is the versatility that makes Patchan desirable at whatever position he comes back at.  From defensive line as a freshman, to offensive line briefly as a sophomore, to the mention of maybe tight end (I’ll believe it when I see it) in 2010.  Right now, Patchan is doing his best to come back from a nasty ACL that cost him a real chance to earn a starting spot along the offensive line during the 2009 season.  He’ll be extremely limited during spring practices, but watch out for him come fall.  He sweats more talent than you’ll have in a lifetime and will star as whatever position he ends up at.
Joe Paterno now has his own award.  Or to be exact, he has an award named in his honor.  The winningest coach in Division 1-A/FBS history will have his name on an award given out by the Maxwell Club.  The Maxwell Club also gives out the, you guessed it, Maxwell Award.  The award givers haven’t decided exactly what the criteria for the Paterno is just yet, but it’ll be something along the lines of the affect a coach has on his team and community.  Basically exactly what embodies the man himself.  I’m still waiting for the Ron Zook Memorial Trophy, but apparently Zook is still alive and well and actually coaching football.
I’m not sure how I feel about the advancement of 3D over the last year or so when it comes to movies.  Some of the ones I’ve seen have looked great, but I have to be honest, in the end, I just end up with a headache.  Due to that, I’m not as excited about true 3D technology coming to our homes and, more importantly, sports in the not-so-distant future.  I love HD.  Who doesn’t?  I don’t feel the same way about 3D.  I’m probably in the minority with that sentiment, but oh well.  Despite the technology offered, I have to wonder if it will really catch on.  Will people really enjoy it as much as everyone seems to think?  Maybe they will, maybe they won’t.  Regardless, I’m reminded of some of the more recent technological failures.
1. Blu-ray won the war and I’m glad I didn’t end up buying this.
2. Sales, no.  Failure, yes.
3. Sony has a lot of hits.  They also have some misses.
4. I actually really enjoyed my Sega Saturn.
The Sixth Man: NCAA Tournament bid or not, USF just finished what has to be considered a great regular season.  At least by Bulls’ standards.  If you had asked me before the season who would’ve had a higher conference win percentage, the football team or the basketball team, I never in a million years would’ve guessed it the way it ended up.  Now USF heads to the Big East Tournament as the nine-seed.  As the highest seed in the first round, the Bulls will face the conference’s last place team in DePaul.  It’ll be the second time in eight days the two teams have squared off.  USF won the previous matchup 63-59.  Get by DePaul and the Bulls will face another team they beat the last time they faced them in Georgetown.  Look at it that way and it seems like the Big Dance is a real possibility.  USF needs some help, but two wins in the tournament of a conference that has five ranked teams at the moment (two of which the Bulls beat during the regular season) and they could get in.  It’s not out of the question.

The Long Snapper (2/23/10)

The Jim Leavitt saga is not going to end.  At least not anytime soon.  Leavitt wants his good name restored money and his attorneys are stopping at nothing to get it.  Attorneys for both sides met this weekend but have not come to a resolution.  USF’s stance is that it fired Leavitt with cause and therefore owes him just one month’s pay.  His attorneys say it was without cause due to their belief the investigation into the incident which occurred with player Joel Miller was conducted unfairly.  They are seeking he be paid a figure closer to the 75% of his full contract value as stipulated by said contract if he were dismissed without cause.  The two figures are vastly different – roughly $67,000 compared to $7.5 million.  Obviously a difference Leavitt wants to fight for.  Whether the investigation was conducted fairly or not, I have to think the fight is casting a larger black eye on Leavitt than on USF.  There are those that may still believe he was dismissed unjustly and those that believe he built the program and although should have been let go should be given his due, but the majority seems to have moved on to Skip Holtz and now regards Leavitt as yesterday’s news.  The possibility of a settlement seems to increase weekly and is probably how all of this will end up.  At this point, it may be in the best interest of both parties to come to an agreement and just move on.  Nothing good can come out of an ongoing fight.
Skip Holtz has finalized his coaching staff at USF with the hiring of new offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler.  The coaching staff breaks down with four coaches coming over from Holtz’s last stomping ground, ECU, and four being retained from the previous Bulls’ staff.  Five if you count Carl Franks who will not be a coach per say, but will be given an administrative role to remain with the program.  With the 2010 recruiting class signed and the coaching staff now in place, Holtz and crew move on to preparing for the upcoming season.  With talent returning at several key offensive positions, USF will be expected to again compete in the Big East.  A conference title is probably out of the question in Holtz’s first year, but don’t be surprised if the Bulls pull off a signature win here or there.  While USF never experienced the highest level of Big East success, a new coach isn’t in place because the last one failed.  It’s not a rebuilding situation, but more of a tweaking.  USF was a consistent bowl team who will now be expected to take the next step under Holtz.  He has many of the tools necessary to succeed in place and will look to build the others.  The biggest of course will be playing hard through an entire season.  You can bet on the second half collapses of the past to be something the new staff keys on and looks to eliminate.
Bad economy be damned, people will still spend $9,000 on eyeglasses if they please.  At least that’s what two Penn State alums are willing to give up in order to own the famous glasses of legendary head coach Joe Paterno.  Paterno recently had surgery to improve his vision and no longer needs the glasses that defined part of his historic look.  He’ll still need spectacles to read, but probably won’t be seen in anything similar to what he wore for years.  So his old ones immediately became a desired piece of sports memorabilia.  Very desirable at that.  I’m not sure how much I’d pay for a Steve Spurrier visor or an Urban Meyer windbreaker.  I guess if I had the money at my disposal and it was going to a good enough cause, it would be something to consider, but I’d imagine my limit would be far below $9,000.  Of course, having Joe Paterno’s glasses on a shelf is definitely a conversation starter.  Let’s just hope there are no drunken Halloween parties in the purchaser’s future.  That’s an expensive accessory to lose or break during an alcohol-induced haze.
The subject of Oregon receiver Jamere Holland’s Facebook tirade – Duck’s linebacker Kristian Kiko Alonso – has been suspended for the entirety of the 2010 season.  Not quite the dismissal Holland believed had occurred, but a fairly large punishment nonetheless.  In response to being arrested for DUI, Alonso will remain part of the Oregon program in some capacity, but will not play during the upcoming season.  I’d imagine Holland would still be with the team too if he hadn’t prematurely jumped to conclusions concerning Alonso’s fate.  The Ducks continue to take hits in the player conduct department.  I’m not about to start throwing stones, but it can’t be a fun time to be an Oregon fan.  That said, for every fan that cringes when an arrest is announced, there is a fan who could care less what happens off the field.
After putting a record 48.8 million people in seats for games during the 2008 season, college football attendance numbers dipped slightly in 2009 to 48.3 million.  Not a very significant decrease, but a decrease all the same.  You can link it to the economy all you want and you’d probably be right for the most part, but I have to think it could also have something to do with increased options for viewing games.  I enjoy going to games from time to time, but also enjoy having friends over to watch multiple games just as much.  There is little that can match the feeling of being in a stadium for a big game (I was at both the 1997 Florida/FSU game and the 2006 Florida/South Carolina game), but I’m also not someone who goes to every home game.  Maybe it’s that I enjoy the sport as a whole.  There’s no way I’d miss catching a Gator or Bull game, but at the same time, I don’t want to miss other big matchups either.  On a big weekend, I’d be just as comfortable with three televisions running the entire day with all the great games going.

The Long Snapper (2/16/10)

Yesterday was President’s Day, so I salute the presidents of our favorite schools if for no other reason than to avoid discussing the real politics of the world.  To Bernie Machen, you are thanked for whatever role you played in bringing Urban Meyer to Gainesville.  I assume your relationship with Meyer while you were both at Utah had something to do with the head coach coming to Florida.  And even if it didn’t have as much to do as the large contract and stature of the program, we still celebrate your work.  In the small sect of the collegiate world I discuss on this site it goes 1) athletics, 2) academics, and Bernie, you’ve succeeded in making #1 very pleasing to cheer for in recent year.  Sorry to those of you that have the order of those priorities reversed, but consider this site a fantasy land where sports rule and all else is null and void.  To Judy Genshaft, we stand behind you in support of your decision to fire the only head coach the USF football program has known and proudly applaud Fresh Mark.  Firing Jim Leavitt may have been easy considering the circumstances, but regardless, the program needed a shot of life and that may have been exactly what it got.  You are both worth our adulation on President’s Day even if the holiday isn’t really meant for your type of presidential work.
National Championships ease the pain, but Machen can’t be pleased with the arrest record the Gators have piled up over recent years.  And neither am I or any fan for that matter.  It’s becoming less and less easy to make a snide remark about Miami of the 80s or FSU of the 90s.  The arrests just keep piling up for Florida.  Add another to the list.  Redshirt freshman defensive tackle Gary Brown reportedly smacked one woman and scratched another at a party and was subsequently arrested (Brown’s mug shot definitely goes into the hall of fame).  Both of the women are okay, but that doesn’t change the fact that you DO NOT HIT WOMEN!  It’s just one of those rules.  Don’t run with scissors.  Don’t eat yellow snow.  Don’t hurt puppies.  Don’t hit women.  If there was an order, you could probably just switch what I just listed around.  Not hitting women definitely warrants consideration for #1.  It’s an easy enough rule for most of us to remember, but not all of us apparently.  Brown has been suspended by interim head coach Steve Addazio and it remains to be seen if he’ll be welcomed back to the program with open arms.  Meyer has been known to give players multiple chances in certain situations, but Brown hardly lived up to his potential in his first year.  Redshirts are common, but Brown’s was mostly due to a lack of effort.  There have been others that had that similar problem as well.  They tend to finish their careers elsewhere.  That’s more than enough black eyes on the program thank you very much.
A couple of weeks ago I told you about kicker Marvin KlossThe #1 rated kicking prospect in the nation according to the Kornblue Kicking School, Kloss was close to choosing USF as his destination.  Again, I warn about getting too excited.  Not to take away from the talent Kloss may possess, but he doesn’t even register in either the Rivals.com or Scout.com databases.  After all of that, Kloss won’t become a Bull despite being offered a scholarship if he’ll grayshirt.  He has decided to walk on at Florida and hopes to earn a chance to compete for the kicking job in the fall.  I’m sure Caleb Sturgis will have something to say about that.  Kloss doesn’t lack confidence, which is good, but I’m still weary of his ability.  No, stars don’t always matter when it comes to recruiting rankings, but when you don’t even appear in a search, there has to be some question.
Damn you Molly Jones!  DAMN YOU!  You are a sly she-devil and there is no excuse for your ways.  What the hell am I talking about?!?  A Miami alum, Jones tricked our beloved superstar Tim Tebow.  Tricksy she is.  Jones asked Tebow to take a picture with her and just before the snap, she threw up the U.  Tebow was of course nice about the whole thing and probably even had a little laugh about it.  Part of me commends Jones for having the fortitude to pull off something I only dream of doing when I am four or five sheets to the wind.  The other part of me wants to show here where she can shove that U.  Either way, I definitely applaud Tebow for not going all Gary Brown on her and instead just brushing it off.
There is something to the majesty of the one-year contract extension which is effective many, many years in the future.  It’s an interesting animal in which we tend to question why.  A thank you from the school for your hard work and success, but a reward that’s not realized until much later.  Nebraska’s Bo Pelini is the latest to receive the one-year extension many coaches never see (he gets a bump in base pay to go along with it).  His contract now keeps him as the Cornhuskers’ head coach into 2015.  Nebraska has shown some promise and could be a program on the rise so keeping Pelini around is probably a good idea, but in today’s coaching world it’s hard to say with any certainty if he’ll still be in Lincoln.  But alas it still important (read: doesn’t really mean a whole lot) for the school to pledge its support by offering up that extra year.  And as a bonus, Pelini gets $500,000 if he’s still the head coach on January 15, 2015.  Of course if he’s still around then, one can assume he’s done a pretty good job and restructured his contract at least once anyway.

The Long Snapper (1/27/10)

In the news which isn’t really news by any means department, former USF head coach and locker room enforcement supervisor Jim Leavitt has said he will coach again.  You mean he’s not going to call it a career after being ousted by the program he helped create after he attacked one of his players?  It was pretty (and painfully) obvious Leavitt would resurface eventually.  Whether it be this season or next, Leavitt will be back among the coaching ranks.  There were rumors he would end up with Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, but now Leavitt may have his sights set on the NFL.  Good luck getting into the face of a millionaire athlete at the professional level Jim.  Let us know how that goes.
The shining star in USF’s recruiting class – Manatee’s (Bradenton, FL) Brion Carnes – could be looking at all of his options as signing day approaches.  Throughout his recruitment, Carnes has reconfirmed his commitment to the Bulls several times, but now it’s crunch time and he may be uncertain.  A certain former Manatee star that played college football at Nebraska and made a quite name for himself has some pull with Carnes.  That player also just happens to be Carnes’ cousin.  When you think about what Tommie Frazier did with the Cornhuskers and now that program wants you, well, at the very least you listen.  Carnes will take his final visit to Western Kentucky and lists the Hilltoppers as one of his final favorites, but you have to think it will come to Nebraska or USF in the end.
The Tim Tebow Senior Bowl parade continues as the quarterback met with a number of teams while battling a case of strep throat or not strep throat depending on who you want to believe.  One of the more intriguing meetings came when Tebow sat down with former Notre Dame head coach and current Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Charlie Weis.  Talk about a place where I’d like to be a fly on the wall.  Would love to hear Tebow’s thoughts of Weis and vice versa.  Good to see Weis back where he belongs.  As an assistant.
One week from today is National Signing Day.  Hopefully that means everyone will be inked up to their school of choice and we won’t get the Terrelle Pryors and Bryce Browns of the world that extend the process out further.  Signing Day is a diehard’s Christmas.  For the most part, schools have locked up the bulk of their recruiting classes, but there are always some surprises.  Last year, Florida pulled in Josh Evans and Jelani Jenkins on Signing Day.  In 2008, it was T.J. Lawrence and David Young.  With commitments coming earlier and earlier every year, it’s not the marquee day it once was, but it still holds its own.
A look at recruiting and the effects of the process on Todd Chandler.  Chandler – a defensive tackle from Miami Northwestern – dreamed of playing for Miami and went as far as committing to the Hurricanes while he was a junior in high school.  As the process went on, the positive feelings from Miami went away.  Chandler decided USF would be a better fit until Leavitt was shown the door.  Now, with a week left, Chandler is open to where he ends up.  A familiar friend – Charlie Strong – could have positioned Louisville at the top of his list though.  Just another reminder that this is really all a business.

As the Coaching World Turns, Pete Carroll Leaves USC for the NFL

Fans of this site tend to be fans of two specific teams.  Two teams who have had their share of coaching drama in only the last two weeks.  We saw Urban Meyer resign, Urban Meyer take a leave of absence, and Urban Meyer put his leave of absence on hold.  We saw Jim Leavitt come under fire, and then get fired.  Florida and USF fans are no strangers to head coaching issues.  Add that to all of the assistant coach movement going on and you could find yourself with a serious headache just trying to keep up.  Expand your view out to the rest of the college world and two other high profile coaches are out of jobs as well – Mike Leach and Mark Mangino.  And now the big news (as if the Meyer saga wasn’t big enough).
Few programs have had the success USC has over the past decade.  Pete Carroll made the Trojans relevant again and kept them a power year after year.  Along with his staff, he was able to pull basically any recruit he wanted into the school.  There were National Championship and Heisman Trophies along the way.  Carroll almost single handedly made those of us in the East become more aware of the West  As the wins kept coming, so did the talk of the NFL.  Would Carroll ever leave to take another shot of the pros?
Well, now he has.  Carroll leaves USC for the Seattle Seahawks.  As a college football fan, the decision is an interesting one.  The NFL can offer more money – rumor has it Carroll will get $7 million per year – but it also brings more scrutiny and less of a chance to turn a team around.  Carroll had it made at USC.  The Trojans were one of those programs every recruit had on the radar.  They had star power.  They won, and won a lot.  97 times in Carroll’s nine years.  Investigations aside, USC performed on the field.
But athletes and those involved in athletics are confident (read: cocky) by nature.  At 58 years old, it may have been time for Carroll to see what he can do in the NFL again.  He was far from being an awful professional head coach during his first two stints.  Carroll has a 33-31 career NFL record with two playoff appearances in four seasons.  Definitely something to build on.  He also can take comfort in knowing that if things don’t work out, he can basically pick his next collegiate destination.  If the Seahawks don’t improve, athletic directors throughout the nation will take notice and be ready if Carroll were to return to the college game.
Where USF goes next is anyone’s guess.  But where USC goes may be easier to predict.  The leader to get the job at the moment appears to be Oregon State’s Mike Riley.  Riley has done an admirable job with the Beavers since his arrival.  He’s kept them competitive and he knows the Pac-10.  But there’s the question of the NCAA and the Trojans.  Could this be a program facing serious probation over the next few years?  Would Riley want to deal with that?  Would anyone?  The answer in the end is probably yes.  After all, it’s USC.
 

The College Football Season Comes to an End, Mourn It

This is a bad day for college football fans.  We don’t know what to do with ourselves.  There are other sports still in season, but they don’t compare.  I read somewhere that it’s 41 days until pitchers and catchers report to camp.  I nearly threw up.  I tried baseball last summer.  Can’t do it.  College football is the penultimate.  The pinnacle.  And it’s done.  Luckily for us who can’t get enough recruiting is in full force, then there’s spring practice, then before we know it, fall practice and games.
The season brought us – as Florida fans – the end of the Tim Tebow era (and, yes ladies, the end of the Riley Cooper era as well).  Some of the greatest Gators to ever play their respective positions will never again suit up for the orange and blue.  Tebow.  Brandon SpikesAaron HernandezJoe Haden.  More could come with several of the juniors still deciding.  They will all be missed for their individual and team accomplishments.  They were the leaders of back-to-back 13-1 seasons and part of the most prolific run in team history.  2009 brought the Urban Meyer resignation.  Quickly followed by the Urban Meyer leave of absence.  Despite yells of mediocrity from most fans, 13-1 is good.  Exceptionally good.  Good enough for a #3 ranking.
USF, on the other hand, had a forgettable season similar to those of the past few years.  The season wasn’t a bad one, but after a hot start, the end result shouldn’t be praised.  Initially, the year would be defined by a win over FSU in Tallahassee, but all that is now forgotten with the news of Jim Leavitt’s firing.  And not because he was fired due to expectations not being met, but because he was dismissed over a moment in which he apparently lost his mind.  The Bulls now head toward the 2010 season unsure of who will lead them.  B.J. Daniels will be back.  So will Mike Ford.  But from a coaching standpoint, it’s anyone’s guess.
So what do you do know?  Do you immerse yourself in the NFL playoffs?  Sure, that’s a possibility.  Super Bowl odds are out, so make your picks accordingly.  Do you get involved in the world of college basketball?  You could, but until March you may not be able to get too excited.  You want college football and it’ll be back soon enough.  Next season will be here quicker than you think.  At least it better because I, for one, am eager to see how the John Brantley era takes shape.  Until then, USF will find a new coach.  Pete Carroll could move on.  And recruiting…ah, recruiting…will take the forefront.