Phil Steele's annual college football encyclopedia is on the news stands. While Sporting News, Athlon and Lindy's do preseason football magazines, Phil Steele dwarfs the competition with real time information about every Division I school that plays football. What other magazine gives two full pages to every Division I school?
Here is where the Gators stack up in Phil Steele's analysis of the best players in the country at each position:
Quarterback: Steele has Jeff Driskel #13 among his top 30 quarterbacks. Marcus Mariota (Oregon) and Jameis Winston (FSU) rank 1-2. Nick Marshall (Auburn) is the highest rated SEC quarterback at #9.
Running Back: No Gators among the top 30. Todd Gurley (Georgia) ranks #1.
Wide Receivers: No Gators among Steele's top 40. Amari Cooper (Alabama) is #1.
Fullbacks: Hunter Joyer ranks #2 in Steele's top five.
Tight Ends: No Gators in the top 20. Nick O'Leary (FSU) gets the #1 ranking. Rory Anderson (South Carolina) is the highest rated tight end in the SEC at #8.
Centers: No Gators among the top 20. Hronis Grasu (Oregon) is #1. Reese Dismukes (Auburn) is the highest rated SEC center at #2.
Guards: No Gators among the top 30. Tre' Jackson (FSU) is #1 and A.J. Cann (South Carolina) is the highest rated SEC guard at #3.
Offensive tackles: D.J. Humphries ranks #7 among the top 30. Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M) is #1.
Defensive tackles: Leon Orr is ranked #16 nationally. Michael Bennett (Ohio State) is #1 and Gabe Wright (Auburn) is best in the SEC at #13.
Outside Linebackers: No Gators ranked in the top 30. Shaq Thompson (Washington) ranks #1 and Jordan Jenkins (Georgia) is #2 and highest rated in the SEC.
Inside Linebackers: Antonio Morrison is #27 in the top 30. Denzel Perryman (Miami) is #1 and Ramik Wilson (Georgia) is #2.
Cornerbacks: Had to be a misprint. Vernon Hargreaves III isn't ranked in the top 30 yet he made first team All-America. Ito IEkpre-Olumu (Oregon) is the #1 in the book.
Strong Safeties: No Gators in the top 15. Jordan Richards (Stanford) is #1 and Ronald Martin (LSU) is #5 and best from the SEC.
Free Safeties: No Gators listed. Landon Collins (Alabama) is ranked #1.
Punters: Kyle Christy is #8 nationally. Drew Kaser (Texas A&M) ranks #1.
Kick Returners: Andre Debose is ranked #10. Ty Montgomery (Stanford) is #1 and Christion Jones (Alabama) is #2.
Punt Returners: No Gators in the top 10. Jamison Crowder (Duke) is #1 and Christion Jones (Alabama) is tops in the SEC at #3.
Placekickers: No Gators ranked in the top 10. Roberto Aguayo (FSU) is #1 nationally while Marshall Morgan (Georgia) is tops in the SEC at #7.
The Big Ten (Plus Four) officially expanded to 14 teams Tuesday when Maryland (formerly of the Atlantic Coast Conference) and Rutgers (American Athletic Conference) joined, part of a moving day that saw 12 schools change conference affiliations. Now Maryland and Rutgers really have very little in common with the rest of the Big Ten (Plus Four), but they were invited to join because the league wanted to add the huge population base of the New York-Washington, DC corridor for the Big Ten Network. Rutgers, more than Maryland, desperately needed to make the move out of the low-revenue AAC to the Big Ten (Plus Four). Maryland was a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference and while it will make more money in the Big Ten (Plus Four) thanks to the new network affiliation, at the heart of its move was to get out from under the thumb of the Big Four – North Carolina, Duke, North Carolina State and Wake Forest – which dominate ACC politics. If Maryland thinks it was little brother in the ACC, just wait till it discovers how Ohio State and Michigan dominate the new league.
Louisville moved from the American Athletic Conference to the ACC Tuesday. This was a good move for Louisville, which desperately wanted to join the Southeastern Conference a couple of years ago only to be blocked by Kentucky. In moving to the ACC, Louisville will be instantly competitive in football (Phil Steele picks the Cardinals third in the Atlantic Division behind FSU and Clemson) and will be a top three team in both men's and women's basketball. Louisville finished 30th in the Learfield Director's Cup standings (only Notre Dame, Virginia, Duke and North Carolina finished higher among ACC schools) so it has a well rounded program that will fit right in with the rest of the ACC and its facilities are second only to those at North Carolina. Even though Louisville won't get a full share of the conference revenues for a couple of years, what it does receive will be substantially more than it was getting from the AAC.
As we brace ourselves for the five power conferences plus Notre Dame to either form their own division with their own set of rules or else break away completely from the NCAA, it figures that we are about to enter an era of relative stability at least when it comes to conference expansion. The only real expansion possibility is in the Big 12, which only has ten teams and doesn't play a conference championship game, and with Notre Dame, which isn't affiliated with any conference and like the Big 12, doesn't have to play a conference championship game. It will only take one year when either a Big 12 team or Notre Dame wins the national championship without having to play the extra game for the other four power conferences to flex some muscle and demand expansion of the Big 12 and for Notre Dame to find a conference. When that happens, UCF, South Florida, Houston and UConn will be the top candidates to hitch a ride with a new league. The school that has truly screwed itself is BYU, which left the Mountain West to become a football independent and a member of the West Coast Conference in all other sports. The Mountain West wasn't exactly a cash cow but it was worth substantially more than BYU will get once the power conferences break away. There will be absolutely no incentive to schedule BYU in football by any power school and the Mountain West schools still aren't happy that BYU bolted in the first place.
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston now has an insurance policy worth $8-10 million according to ESPN and other sports outlets. The NCAA has a catastrophic insurance program where the athlete can purchase insurance through U.S. Bank in Cincinnati based on potential draft status for the next draft period. Winston would have been a top five selection in the last draft and probably won't drop below that for the next draft unless he has an absolutely rotten to the core 2014. While the amount of the policy might seem excessive, the only thing interesting about this purchase is that it was only a couple of weeks ago that Winston's father was broadcasting that his son would be in school through 2016. That probably seemed like something good to say at the moment but there is such a thing as reality and with Jameis, reality is that (a) it's anyone's guess if he can stay out of trouble two years and (b) it's doubtful that staying one more year at FSU would add anything more to his draft potential but his draft possibilities could indeed take a real hit with a bad year.
Tyrone Prothro, the Alabama wide receiver who suffered a career ending multiple fracture of his leg while laying out to try to haul in a touchdown pass in the end zone against Florida in 2005, testified in the Ed O'Bannon vs. The NCAA trial that he had to take out more than $10,000 in student loans to finish his education. An Alabama corporation has begun a fund to raise the money to pay off Prothro's loans and is kickstarting the effort with a $5,000 donation and says it's willing to cover the entire cost of what is owed if that is necessary. This is a fine gesture by One Stop Environment CEO Shannon Riley but it's just one good step when many are needed. Athletes need to be covered for lingering effects of the injuries suffered while playing college sports. For some schools the cost of the insurance would be a drop in the bucket but for others, it might be a hefty expense. This is where the NCAA needs to get involved to find corporate sponsorship for each NCAA sport. For example, no matter how much money Nike spends on advertising and paying schools (and coaches) to wear their gear, it's a drop in the bucket to the income it receives. Why not have a corporation like Nike pay the insurance premiums for football players and find other deep pocket corporations to sponsor the other sports?
Most Gators hate FSU, Georgia and Miami with the white hot heat of a thousand suns. Is there any other team that you absolutely despise other than those three?
The Rolling Stones are touring again. Mick Jagger and Keith Richards only look like they're in their 80s (they're both 71). Hard living will do that for you. They still put on a pretty good show, but it's nothing like the shows they did back in the 70s and 80s. When they played the Lakeland Center in June of 1978 it was an electric show highlighted by Mick strutting to "Miss You," which had been released back in May. The Stones played the Citrus Bowl (it was the Tangerine Bowl back then) on back-to-back dates in the fall of 1981. The Sunday show was absolutely off the charts. If you were fortunate enough to see them live in their heyday, then you remember just how good those concerts were. If you weren't alive back then or never saw the Stones live, here's "Miss You" from some 1978 film footage.