Florida is 22-16 in the three years that Will Muschamp has been the head football coach. In those 16 losses, the Gators have lost the turnover battle 14 times. In the 22 wins, the Gators have won the turnover battle 17 times, come up even twice and lost the battle three times. While winning the turnover battle is important for any football team, it was particularly important the last three seasons because Muschamp tried to win games with defense while employing an ultra conservative offensive plan.
Muschamp will insist on winning the turnover battle this season, but the new offensive scheme brought in by coordinator Kurt Roper certainly takes more risks. In the past two seasons at Duke, the Blue Devils turned the ball over a combined 46 times. Although they did win the overall turnover margin by +3 for those two years, that's still a lot more turnovers than Muschamp is accustomed to so it will be interesting to see how comfortable he is on the sidelines with a higher risk offense.
In 2011, the Gators went 7-6. Of the seven wins, four were in games the Gators came out on top in turnovers. In all six losses, the Gators lost the turnover battle. In 2012, the Gators won the turnover battle in all 11 wins and lost the only two games in which they turned it over more than they produced turnovers. Last season, the Gators were +5 in the four games they won, but there were two games when the turnovers were even. The Gators lost six of the eight games in which they lost the turnover battle.
You could call Quinton Dunbar Mr. March because every spring he gets rave reviews from the Florida coaching staff. In the fall, he's been good but hasn't yet lived up to anything close to the hype. In his three seasons on the field, Dunbar has caught 90 passes for 1,147 yards (12.7 per catch) and six touchdowns. Those are very pedestrian numbers. The guess here is that Dunbar is going to bust loose in 2014. He is similar in size, speed and skills to Conner Vernon, who Roper turned into a record-breaker at Duke (283 career catches; 3,749 yards; 21 touchdowns). Vernon was never a great deep threat but was good at finding open space in an offense that relied on its quarterbacks getting rid of the ball in a hurry.
If there is any chance at all the NCAA emerges from Ed O'Bannon vs. The NCAA relatively unscathed, it will be only because so few of the 350-plus members of Division I actually turn a profit. For football playing schools at the highest level, football provides all or the bulk of the funding for as many as 30 other sports. If football were allowed to stand on its own, nearly every school that plays the sport would have a profitable program. Some, like the University of Florida, would be swimming in cash if football kept all its own revenue, but that would be the death of all the other sports. If the courts come down hard on the NCAA and essentially force the organization to pay its athletes after this trial is over, then we're likely to see most of the NCAA-member schools will either drop some sports or convert them to a non-scholarship model such as the one in Division III. When this trial is finally over, we will probably come to the singular conclusion that nobody really won anything. If O'Bannon wins and schools are required to pay athletes, some schools will survive and others will start dropping sports or scholarships. If the NCAA wins and isn't forced to reform, then the athletes will continue to be exploited. Why the NCAA didn't have the good common sense to sit down with athletes long ago and negotiate a reform package that would take better care of the people who make the sports possible is beyond me.
Team USA dusted Canada, 113-79, Tuesday night in Colorado Springs to take the gold medal in the FIBA Americans 18-and-Under Championships. Team USA hit the 100-point mark for the fourth time in the five games of the tournament. Canada was the first team to score more than 64 points. In the five games, Team USA outscored opponents 577-303 in the tournament, averaging 115.2 points per game while giving up 60.6. Team USA's average margin of victory per game was 54.8 points. Opponents averaged 60.6 per game and shot 31.6%, only 237% from the 3-point line. Donovan is unbeaten as an international coach and has brought home gold medals in all three seasons he has taken on a head coaching job with Team USA.
A couple of things happened when Vanderbilt beat Virginia to win the NCAA baseball championship Wednesday night in Omaha: (1) the SEC earned its seventh national championship and (2) the ACC's futility streak was extended to 30 years since Wake Forest brought home a baseball championship for the league. It was the second national championship in any sport for Vanderbilt in school history. Vandy also claimed the 2007 NCAA women's bowling championship. Mississippi State is the only SEC school that has never won a national championship in any sport. For the SEC, it was the seventh national championship for the 2013-14 school year: baseball, women's gymnastics (Florida), women's swimming (Georgia), softball (Florida), men's golf (Alabama), women's track and field (Texas A&M) and equestrian (Georgia).
According to ESPN, LeBron James' list of potential destinations are (in order) Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets. The Heat can offer him the most salary money and Cleveland is close to home (he grew up in Akron), but the Knicks and Nets offer the chance for endorsement deals that he will never see in Miami or Cleveland. For Miami to keep LeBron, Pat Riley is going to have to re-tool the roster, something the Knicks have already begun doing. Wednesday night, the Knicks unloaded Tyson Chandler (scheduled to make $14.6 million next year) and Raymond Felton (scheduled for $4 million) to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for four players and two draft picks. Two of the players – Samuel Dalembert and Wayne Ellington – will likely be dumped to create more cap room. The Heat are expected to draft UConn star Shabazz Napier tonight, a move that is thought to have LeBron's blessings. Although they aren't currently on the list released by ESPN, watch for the Los Angeles Clippers to get into the picture after July 8. That's the date that Donald Sterling pockets $2 billion for a team he paid $12.5 million for back in the 1980s. The Clippers would offer LeBron the LA lifestyle and endorsements, plus allow him to play with good buddy Chris Paul and Blake Griffin as well as play for Doc Rivers, a coach he truly admires.
The Houston Rockets are finalizing a deal that will send backup center Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans for a future #1 draft pick. Asik was scheduled to make $14.8 million next season so sending him to New Orleans allows the Rockets to clear some cap space necessary to make a run at free agent Carmelo Anthony or to match any offer made to Chandler Parsons, who is a restricted free agent. Parsons is expected to command a four-year contract in the $40 million range. Sources close to Anthony say Chicago, Houston and Dallas are the three teams he's most interested in. If the Rockets land Anthony, then they will let Parsons sign elsewhere, but if Anthony goes to either Dallas or Chicago, they will have the bucks they need to lock up Chandler for the next four years. Either way, CP is going to have a very nice and well-deserved payday.
Who is your breakout player for the Gators in 2014?
For one who grew up in the 1960s marveling at the great music that was being produced, the worst day was when we were told Cream was disbanding in November of 1968. They only did four albums, and three of the four are classics that established Eric Clapton as one of the greatest guitar players of all time. Today's selection is "Badge," which is my favorite song – and what I think is the only really good song – off Cream's "Good-Bye" album.