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 (2/22/10)

Let’s hope the most recent five-star defensive tackles Florida has signed take a different path than that of Torrey Davis and now Gary Brown.  Brown was arrested after slapping around two women at a party – one of which he scratched when he smacked her (come on Gary, cut your fingernails) – and has now been dismissed from the Gator football team.  It has been said that Brown has not met expectations since he joined the Gators last year and this was the last straw.  Hopefully his dismissal would have also occurred if this was the first straw.  It’s time to clean up this program.  The number of arrests is staggering and not a good reflection on a school you hear repeatedly referred to as providing a damn good public university education.  Mistakes will be made and not every player can be controlled, but hopefully Brown’s dismissal can act as a message to others going forward.  A player who had a bright future ahead of him (regardless of what people think about the incoming class, Brown had a good chance to play extensively over the next few years) is gone because of a bad decision he made.  You aren’t given multiple chances if you screw up your original ones in the way Brown did.  This should now be set as the standard.
A host of new stars take over the nation’s best conference in 2010.  Sorry USF fans, I’m not talking about the Big East.  Argue all you want about the Big 12 or even the Big Ten – as some seem to do – but the SEC has produced the last four national champions, putting them firmly on top of the heap.  So who will it be this year?  There’s a great chance Alabama and Florida will face off in Atlanta once again, but don’t count out the next set of SEC teams just yet who are ready to take over at the top for the Crimson Tide and Gators.  Auburn is a program on the rise.  You can never write off LSU.  Even South Carolina looks like it could realistically make some noise.  Any way you slice it, the Southeastern Conference will be as competitive as ever and could very easily bring home a fifth consecutive BCS National Championship.
I won’t get into the hatred that spews from the mouths of Gator fans for draft guru Todd McShay, but to say you would think people can’t change…ever.  Tim Tebow the quarterback is broken and can’t be fixed.  At least that’s what McShay and others would lead you to believe.  But Tebow is trying because he’s not going to give up based on what someone who is making a guess at his future has to say (let’s be honest for a moment, hate McShay or not, he’s got a damn cool job that most of us would take in a second).  So he’s working on a couple of specifics in preparation for his pro day.  First of all, Tebow is attempting to keep the ball closer to his shoulder instead of dropping it to his waist.  Hopefully that will reduce some of the release speed issues.  If you remember (and I think I’ve mentioned it on this site before), one of the things that got Rex Grossman drafted so high was the fact that he had such a quick release.  Tebow, does not.  Keeping the ball higher should allow him to get rid of it faster.  Tebow will also be working on his footing.  Up to his pro day – and assumedly beyond it – he’ll be working on three- and five-step drops.  All of this is in hopes that he can actually fix some of the negatives that so many seem to think he can’t.  Here’s to believing he can get better.  Tebow will never be the prototypical passer in terms of what the NFL looks for, but he will improve and should get looks at quarterback at the next level.
Sticking with orange and blue for today’s Long Snapper, former Gator defensive end Carlos Dunlap is doing everything he can to prepare for the NFL Draft.  Dunlap was once considered a lock to go in the first half of the first round in April.  There was even talk of him being a top five pick.  Then came the questions about effort; followed up by his DUI arrest which immediately put a red flag next to his name.  In response, Dunlap is training and training and training.  His goal is to get himself in the best shape possible for the NFL Combine.  On talent alone, Dunlap is one of the best athletes entering the NFL this year and that would warrant a top pick.  If he can silence the critics about the other points, he could make that happen.
My jump into the world of Facebook has been exactly what I expected for the most part.  The Bull Gator fan page has more fans than I thought it ever would and continues to grow, so that’s a plus.  But on the negative side, I check my personal account way more than most should.  I post relatively infrequently, but I still look.  Then again, I expected that from the beginning.  I do, however, stay away from controversy.  I am a fan of exactly two pages – the TBG one and the alumni association of my high school.  No political or religious affiliations for me.  No support of anything the slightest bit off color.  Nothing of the sort.  My posts are even good natured.  Basically I’m saying, I will not be taking the Jamere Holland route anytime soon.  The Oregon wide receiver has been kicked off the Ducks’ football team after a profanity-laced post that appeared on his Facebook page.  Holland had thought linebacker Kristian Kiko Alonso (I need more people named Kiko in my life) had been dismissed from the team and that apparently set off his tirade.  For good measure, Holland even brought race into it.  Oregon head coach Chip Kelly didn’t explicitly state Holland was kicked off for the post, but sure hinted at it: “I won’t get into the specifics, but you’re smart enough to figure it out.”