A few thoughts to jump start your Tuesday morning...
THE BEST TEAM EVER?
says it was the 2008 Florida
Gators. Speaking at the Sound Mind Sound Body Camp in Detroit, Sunday, Meyer said, "I've been a part of a couple great teams. I think the best team to ever play the game in '08 (at Florida)."
There are folks who will argue for 1995 Nebraska and 2001 Miami, but that 2008 Florida team was loaded both on the coaching staff and the roster so it's not unreasonable to put that 2008 Florida team in that elite category. It was a superstar coaching staff that included Meyer (two national championships at Florida, 128-25 career record) and four future head coaches – Charlie Strong
(Louisville 2010-13; Texas); Dan Mullen (Mississippi State), Steve Addazio
(Temple 2011-12; Boston College) and Dan McCarney
The roster included 13 players who either made All-America in 2008 or at some point in the future: Tim Tebow (quarterback; Heisman Trophy 2007; 3-time first team All-America); Percy Harvin
(running back/receiver); Aaron Hernandez (tight end; Mackey Award 2009); Brandon James
(kick returner); Maurkice Pouncey
(center; Rimington Award 2009); Mike Pouncey
(offensive guard); Brandon Spikes (linebacker; 2-time first team All-America); Joe Haden
(cornerback); Ahmad Black
(safety); Chas Henry
(punter, Ray Guy Award 2010); Caleb Sturgis
(placekicker; 2012); and Cameron Newton (2010 Heisman Trophy winner at Auburn).
On the roster were 35 players who played at least one year in the NFL: the 13 All-Americans and Riley Cooper
(wide receiver); Torrey Davis (defensive tackle); Jermaine Cunningham
(defensive end); Jeff Demps
(running back); Carlos Dunlap
(defensive end); Marcus Gilbert
(offensive tackle); Frankie Hammond
Jr. (wide receiver); Will Hill
(safety); Jaye Howard
(defensive tackle); Maurice Hurt
(offensive guard); Janoris Jenkins
(cornerback); Carl Johnson
(offensive guard); Lerentee McCray
(linebacker); Kestahn Moore
(running back); Louis Murphy (wide receiver); David Nelson
(wide receiver); Chris Rainey (running back); Deonte Thopson (wide receiver); Justin Trattou
(defensive end); Phil Trautwein (offensive tackle); Jason Watkins
(offensive tackle); and Major Wright (safety).
The Gators scored 611 points and gave up 181 in a season in which they beat six ranked teams (#12 LSU; #8 Georgia; #24 South Carolina; #23 Florida State; #1 Alabama and #1 Oklahoma). The Gators ran for 42 touchdowns and threw for 33, sacked the quarterback 33 times and picked off 26 passes.
GUT CHECK TIME FOR THE Miami Heat
The San Antonio Spurs won the NBA title for the fifth time in team history by wasting the Miami Heat in five games. The Spurs have the best front office in the league headed by former Gator assistant R.C. Buford, the best head coach in the league in Greg Popovich, and three stars in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli who were willing to take less money so the organization could sign the league's best and deepest roster. Duncan, Parker and Ginobli played for a combined $33.8 million, which is nice work if you can get it, but not as much as they could have earned on the free agent market. They took less money because they embody what the Spurs are all about – winning.
To Miami's credit, the Heat made it to the finals for the fourth straight year and it took a great San Antonio team to prevent them from making it three NBA titles in a row. But, while you don't have to worry about San Antonio's future – the Spurs are built to last and will make whatever adjustments are necessary – Miami's future is cloudy at best. LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh played for a combined $56 million this year, nearly $20 million more than San Antonio's marquee players, and they all have the option to go somewhere else next year. You can argue that James is underpaid no matter how much he makes, but the same argument can't be made for Bosh and Wade. Shane Battier is retiring and Ray Allen is expected to call it quits. Chris Anderson will use his free agent option. James Jones isn't worth re-signing, nor is Rashard Lewis
or Michael Beasley. Udonis Haslem is under contract through next year, but he's long in the tooth by NBA standards and a role player now, although he is a serious leader in the locker room.
Miami team president Pat Riley and owner Mickey Arison were willing to spend freely for 2014 – the Heat paid more than $20 million in NBA luxury taxes to put together a roster for a chance at a three-peat – but they have hard choices to make moving forward and any choices they make begin and end with LeBron James. If the Heat can convince LeBron to stay in Miami, which will mean a new contract for astronomical numbers, they will have the hook to lure the kind of talent they will need to restructure the team for another championship run.
But can they convince him to stay? He is the best player on the planet and every team in the league will be willing to pay him whatever he wants. If he stays the Heat will be just fine. If he goes, it might not be ground zero in Miami but it will be whatever is next.
WASTELAND FOR INTELLIGENT THINKING
As if you needed more convincing that this organization is a total bureaucratic nightmare and a wasteland for intelligent thinking, consider this: Several University of Hawaii scholarship athletes are attending summer school, but a clerical snafu delayed their funds for nine full days, causing them to sleep in locker rooms, etc., since they couldn't get into their dorms. Hawaii athletic director Ben Jay told the Associated Press that he would have gladly bought food and helped out his athletes but was hamstrung by NCAA rules which prohibit him from buying groceries, taking them out for meals or providing lodging. "You could be looking at a potential NCAA violation by doing that," Jay said.
Whose fault was it that there was a screw-up? It wasn't the athletes, yet they are the ones who are inconvenienced. Common sense would say take care of the athletes and send a detailed report to the NCAA, which, in its determination to care for the athletes who make the organization possible, would rubber stamp it OK.
That's what an intelligent organization would do. The NCAA is headed up by college and university presidents, people who are associated with intelligence but when it comes to collegiate athletics it seems that intelligent thoughts die a slow death in solitary confinement in their collective brains. I've never understood why an organization that is devoted to athletics wouldn't put the athletic directors in charge.
AN IDEA THAT COULD WORK
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney says the NCAA Enforcement Division is overmatched. No one with a functioning brain will argue there. Delaney's idea to bring justice to college sports is to outsource enforcement. Hire pros who have no ties to colleges and no agenda. Using the NCAA's botched investigation into the Miami football and basketball programs as the perfect example, it's hard to argue with Delaney's logic. Don't expect the NCAA to be thrilled if the five power conferences elect to go in this direction, but let's get real here – what choice does the NCAA really have? Personally, I like the idea.
RIP MR. CONTACT
Among his 225 hits in the 2012 and 2013 Major League Baseball seasons, Adam Dunn of the Chicago White Sox launched 75 home runs. He also struck out 411 times in 1,064 at bats, or 38.6% of the time. Now in his 14th season in the big leagues, Dunn has hit 451 homers but he's struck out 2,295 times, which puts him within striking distance of Reggie Jackson, whose 2,597 strikeouts were stretched over 21 seasons. Now compare that to the late Tony Gwynn, who lost his battle with cancer Monday. Gwynn struck out only 434 times in his entire career. His worst season for striking out was 1988 when he whiffed 40 times. He was a career .338 hitter with 3,141 hits in 20 seasons, all of which were spent toiling for the San Diego Padres, who weren't exactly built for winning. It's mind boggling to think what might have happened if Gwynn had (a) played for a good team most of his years and (b) had good hitters protecting him in the lineup. Besides the fact that he was one of the greatest contact hitters in Major League Baseball history – certainly the greatest to come along since Joe DiMaggio (never struck out more than 39 times) – he also was a Gold Glove outfielder who never complained, played with a smile on his face and never made excuses. What a concept.
You don't have to be a soccer fan to get excited about the first 40 seconds of the USA-Ghana match in the World Cup or the gut check goal to win after Ghana had tied the match at 1-1 ... Former Florida wide receiver Marqui Hawkins has transferred to UAB ... There was a time when Jake Heaps was the nation's most sought after quarterback prospect. He had a great freshman year (2,316 yards and 15 touchdowns), then had a bad sophomore year, after which he transferred to Kansas to play for Charlie Weis. That lasted one year. He completed 49% of his passes. He has transferred to Miami, is eligible to play immediately, and will probably be the starting quarterback next season for the Hurricanes ... Former Georgia safety Tray Matthews, dismissed from the team earlier in the month, will transfer to Auburn ... Florida State might not get its trip to the White House for the obligatory photo op with the president because of scheduling issues.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Pete Rose still hopes baseball will lift the lifetime ban that will allow him to be in the Hall of Fame. Even though Rose was guilty, do you think he's been punished enough or do you think he should stay banned for life?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Maybe the best band carrying on the true traditions of Southern Rock and Roll is Gov't Mule, fronted by Warren Haynes, who still plays with The Allman Brothers when he's not performing solo with the Warren Haynes Band. One of my favorite Gov't Mule albums is "The Deep End, Volume 1" which includes a very cool rendition of "Down and Out in New York City," a song made popular in the 1970s by James Brown for the soundtrack of the film "Black Caesar." This is "Banks of the Deep End" from that 2001 album.