A few thoughts to jump start your Monday morning...
CONTROL WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL
Coacheshotseat.com, a website dedicated to the principle that it’s just a matter of time before 75% of all the head coaches in Division I are pink-slipped, says there is no hotter seat in all of college football than the one occupied by Florida’s Will Muschamp. With six weeks to go before the 2014 season kicks off, coacheshotseat.com has a top ten of Muschamp followed by Dana Holgorsen (West Virginia), Charlie Weis (Kansas), Ron Turner (Florida International), Bret Bielema (Arkansas), Mike London (Virginia), Norm Chow (Hawaii), Darrell Hazell (Purdue), Sonny Dykes (California) and Skip Holtz (Louisiana Tech). All ten coaches have one thing in common: they had a losing season last year.
For nine of the ten, a break-even season and perhaps a minor bowl will quell the dissatisfied. Although a minor bowl would represent a major improvement over last season for Muschamp, winning six or seven games wouldn’t come anywhere close to satisfying a Gator Nation that has grown accustomed to winning at a high level ever since 1990. Two of Florida’s three worst seasons since 1990 (7-6 in 2011 and 4-8 in 2013) have come on Muschamp’s watch which doesn’t settle well for fans who have grown accustomed to winning SEC and national championships.
So expectations are high but they always are at Florida. Muschamp cannot do anything about the expectations just as he can’t do anything about the speculation by sites like coachinghotseat.com and sports writers around the country that he has to have X number of wins to survive. The only thing Muschamp can do is control the things he can control. As he said at SEC Media Days in Hoover, Alabama last week – “Control the controllable.”
And what can he control?
Well, he can’t control speculation or perceptions or even expectations. All he can control is the coaching and preparation each week to ensure that every time the Gators run out of the tunnel whether in Gainesville or somewhere else that they they are the best prepared team on the field.
In an interview I got to do with the late, great John Wooden back in 1972, he basically said that coaching in games is overrated, that other than a few decisions here and there, once you get to game time, it’s up to the athletes to execute. Wooden was a firm believer that the real coaching is done in practice. He also believed that while you can only control so much of what goes on in a game that you can control what goes on in practice.
“You win and you lose by what you do in practice and preparation,” Wooden told me.
Muschamp’s demeanor at Media Days seemed to indicate that he is focused and determined to eliminate all the exterior noise and distractions. His job is to control the things he can control and zone out everything else. If he does that, then he’s got the athletes he needs to win.
TWO-YEAR DEAL FOR PATRIC
Now that he has a two-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans, Patric Young
can go about making all the teams that didn’t draft him pay a price. That the Pelicans signed him to a two-year deal tells you the kind of impression Patric made during those summer league games in Orlando and Las Vegas. Two-year deals for undrafted free agents are rare. While terms were not announced, it’s expected that Patric will make something in the neighborhood of $600,000-700,000 per season.
The Pelicans are a good mix of youngsters and veterans and they are a team with a bright future. They took a big step in the right direction in the offseason when they acquired 7-foot center Omer Asik from Houston to with Anthony Davis on the front line. Young gives them a strong low post presence who can play defense and rebound while backing up both players. The Pelicans are guard-heavy with Jrue Holiday, Tyreke Evans, Eric Gordon and newly signed second rounder Russ Smith. It’s expected they will deal Austin Rivers to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future draft pick in order to clear some cap space for perhaps a free agent small forward who could help off the bench.
Expect SEC Player of the Year Scottie Wilbekin to get invited to camp with the Memphis Grizzlies, who want to place him in the NBA Developmental League. It’s going to be a hard choice for Scottie, who can go to Europe and make more money, but won’t get the coaching there nor will he have the chance to be recalled to the big club if there is an injury or another player gets waived. Wilbekin’s shot at the NBA is his toughness on defense and willingness to guard anyone no matter what size. Just as his offensive game had to develop over four years at Florida, it’s going to have to develop again so that he can adjust to the NBA. If he goes to Europe, he can make a good living for a lot of years but won’t have to change his game all that much.
had a 13-point game for the Atlanta Hawks over the weekend in a Las Vegas summer league game, his best so far. He can hang on in the NBADL where he will earn less than $30,000 or he can go to Europe for four or five times that amount of money. This seems like a no-brainer.
A GREAT WEEK FOR KeVaughn Allen
There was a collective gasp when KeVaughn Allen (6-3, 190, North Little Rock, AR) committed to Billy Donovan and the Florida Gators back in May but those same folks who questioned Donovan and his staff then are patting them on the back now. Allen just finished a five-day run at the Nike Peach Jam in which he proved he belongs among the true elite guards in the country, averaging 20.8 points while shooting 53.7% from the field and 47.7% from the 3-point line while helping Memphis-based Team Penny to the championship game of the most prestigious AAU event of the summer. Allen came into the event rated the #92 player in the country by Scout.com, a ranking that he blew to smithereens and back with his strong performance. It would be shocking if he isn’t in the top 40 when players are re-ranked in a month or so.
SIX YEARS SINCE TIGER’S LAST MAJOR VICTORY
It’s hard to decide what is more shocking – that Rory McIroy went 17-under and led bell-to-bell to win the British Open or that Tiger Woods finished 23 shots off the pace after starting 3-under. Blame part of the high score on inactivity. After all, this was Tiger’s first competitive golf since he had back surgery a few months back, so a bit of rust was to be expected. Still, it has been six years since he last won a major and he’s only had two sub-par rounds in his last 24. Also, he hasn’t had an injury-free season in awhile, which doesn’t bode well since he’s not a spring chicken anymore. Add all those things together and it seems more and more likely that Jack Nicklaus’ record of 18 majors seems safer by the moment.
Tiger will be 39 in December, and that’s old at a time when the tour is inundated with young who hit moon shots off the tee and have no reason to fear him, but something Paul Azinger said before the British Open began might be a bigger reason why there might not be another major any time soon for what was once the best golfer on the planet. Azinger used photos to show the difference in Woods’ swing when he first started dominating on the tour and his swing today. Azinger believes that Tiger’s continuous pursuit of the perfect swing has worked against him and might be altering both the way he plays and the results. You never heard of Nicklaus or Trevino or Watson ever tinkering with their swings the way Tiger has over the years in which he has hired and fired numerous swing coaches.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you think Muschamp deserves to be #1 on the coaching hot seat list?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
For the next few weeks, we’ll go with a musical theme for the week. This week will be blue-eyed soul week, starting off with The Righteous Brothers, who had a great run in the 1960s and whose music has stood the test of time. Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield hit it big in 1965 with “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” which made it all the way to #1 on both the US and British charts. This is the song that just won’t die because it’s had at least three revivals in both the US and England in 1969, 1977, 1986 (thanks to the movie “Top Gun”), 1988 and 1990.