As painful as it was to see 25 years of clean living go down the drain Friday, Jeremy Foley should be very proud of what he’s accomplished at the University of Florida. The Gators were charged with a major NCAA violation because of bad judgment by former wide receivers coach Joker Phillips, the first time UF has gotten a major since 1989 and the first ever on Foley’s watch as athletic director. During this 25-year run of doing it the right way, UF was the only athletic program in the Southeastern Conference without an NCAA blemish. That’s something to be proud of.
Some folks might disagree with the way Foley has dealt with facilities or some of the coaches he’s hired and fired throughout the years but no one can debate he’s run a tight ship when it comes to dealing with NCAA compliance. His my way or the highway approach has discouraged those who play loose with the rules from even applying for jobs at UF and it’s forced the coaches on staff to avoid casual application of the rules. Like everyone else with a functioning brain, Foley is well aware that the NCAA compliance rules need to be ditched and a brand new set of rules should be written using common sense and logic as the foundation, but until that happens, you have to live within the nonsensical boundaries of the old rulebook.
Until Joker Phillips went brain dead, the coaching staffs in 21 sports had kept their collective noses clean. Former head football coach Will Muschamp suggested a 1-game suspension for Phillips after the incident happened last August, but Foley said the punishment wasn’t harsh enough and stood his ground. As a result, Phillips resigned. Foley presented the NCAA with self-imposed punishment, which the NCAA accepted but it was still a major violation and a stain on what had been a perfect record.
The NCAA rules are complicated and extremely difficult to interpret, which is why Foley has Jamie McCloskey heading Florida’s compliance office. McCloskey ensures that UF plays within the framework of the rules and he has no equal in all of college athletics. He is the very best there is.
Neither Foley nor McCloskey could have prevented a coach who should have known better from taking the rules into his own hands. That it’s the first time in 25 years something like this has happened tells you what an extraordinary job Foley has done in this capacity.
As corporate images go, it would be hard to find an image as low as the National Football League these days. Even with one of the best Super Bowl games in the history of the league, the NFL still needs a truckload of Lysol to disinfect from the slime left behind by the 2014 season. All the Lysol in the world can’t disinfect the slime Even one of the best Super Bowl games in history can’t Lysol the stink off the 2014 season. Between Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson, Ray
McDonald, Greg Hardy, Josh Gordon, concussions, Deflate-Gate and did Roger Goodell actually tell the truth – just to name a few – there isn’t a sports league in the world in need of an image makeover more than the NFL. And now you throw in the fact that an accused rapist with a history of doing things like shoplifting, public vulgarity and property damage that amounted to thousands of dollars is likely to be the #1 pick in the next NFL Draft.
You would think that with so many negatives that continue to linger that Roger Goodell would hold a pow-wow with all his owners, general managers and coaches and tell them on no uncertain terms to find a place in this league for Tim Tebow.
When two of your five biggest stars – Tom Brady for his potential involvement in Deflate-Gate and Adrian Peterson for physically abusing a child – are viewed negatively and the coach who’s considered as good as there has ever been – Bill Belichick – is being questioned for ethical violations that go beyond Deflate-Gate and has people thinking he’s a serial cheater, you need a Boy Scout. Tim Tebow can’t clean up all the slime in the league all by himself but he can be a sure signal to the public that there is good in the league.
All you have to do is look at what Tim did this weekend. His foundation pulled off a prom for special needs people that had more than 7,000 participants in 44 cities spread among three different countries. Tim even made a personal appearance at two churches and walked participants down a red carpet.
Can you imagine Jameis Winston ever doing something like that?
Some of the NFL brass will claim that Tim just can’t play, but did you see some of the backup quarterbacks in the NFL this year? There are 30 teams in the NFL which means 30 starting quarterbacks, 30 backups and 30 who would qualify as emergency quarterbacks. I seriously doubt there are 50 of those 90 NFL quarterbacks that are better than Tim. I don’t know the exact numbers, but Tim Tebow has more wins as a starting quarterback than probably 75% of the names on that list plus he has started and won NFL playoff games so it isn’t like he’s totally devoid of talent.
Too many teams in the league hide behind that argument that Tim Tebow is too big a distraction to bring into their camps, but given where the league image is right now, those same teams need to embrace the idea that they could (a) give Tim Tebow a second chance and (b) having him on their team might go a long way toward cleaning up their images.
The NCAA made a big deal when it hired West Virginia athletic director Oliver Luck to the #2 spot in the organization behind embattled president Mark Emmert. Luck was supposed to be to the NCAA what Tim Tebow could be to the NFL – an incorrigible Boy Scout. So how is Emmert going to explain that West Virginia just got two years of probation for violations committed from 2010-2013 in 14 of its 18 sports?
All this happened on Oliver Luck’s watch.
So connect a few dots if you will. Luck takes the NCAA job and just two months later West Virginia gets hit with two years probation for violations in 77% of its sports. If you are a logical thinker you might arrive at the conclusion that Luck’s new position with the NCAA might have kept West Virginia from getting into deeper trouble. It only stands to reason that if there is such a casual disregard for the rules in so many sports that probation would last longer than two years, so you do have to wonder if the NCAA gave preferential treatment to West Virginia because Luck was the new #2 on staff.
Given this latest escapade, you have to wonder if the NCAA has indeed outlived its usefulness. Can this organization clean up its act or is it completely doomed to implosion?
The softball team capped off its 5-0 weekend by hammering mercer 20-3 and 10-3 Sunday, an afternoon in which the Gators launched 10 home runs including three by Brianna Little (9 RBI) in game one. Lauren Haeger, who homered in her fourth straight game in the first contest, pitched game two and improved to 8-0 with an 0.34 ERA. She has six homers and 24 RBI so far. In game two, freshman Kayli Kvistad of nearby Lake City hit two homers. On the season, the Gators have already hit 29 home runs and the team ERA is 0.58.
The baseball team clinched its series with Miami Sunday when junior Harrison Bader hit a solo homer in the fourth inning to give UF a 2-1 win. Florida got five innings of no-hit pitching from Dane Dunning and four innings of 3-hit pitching from the bullpen. The Gators came from behind to score a 4-3 win in the bottom of the ninth Friday night when Buddy Reed singled in the winning run.
In addition to softball and baseball, Florida also got on campus wins this weekend from the #4 women’s lacrosse team (17-7 winners over San Diego State) and the #2 women’s tennis team, which scored a 4-3 win over #10 and previously unbeaten Stanford.
There is this concept of Pythagorean wins in college football when you take all the points a team scores and all the points it gives up in a season then uses those numbers to calculate how many games a team should have been expected to win vs. how many it actually won. By this theory, a team that ends up with more wins than the numbers suggest is lucky.
Based on this theory, the luckiest two teams in the SEC last season were Missouri and Vanderbilt. Missouri’s numbers suggest 9.22 wins but the Tigers finished with 11, which ranked them #7 nationally. Vanderbilt’s numbers suggest a 2.07 win season. The Commodores won three so they exceeded expectations and were therefore lucky.
Florida, on the other hand, ranked #12 in the SEC and #112 nationally. Using this theory, the Gators projected to 8.42 wins yet they only managed seven. LSU finished #118 and #13 in the SEC. The Tigers should have won 9.69 games. Arkansas finished dead last. The Hogs should have won 9.99 and only won seven.
Here are the teams of the SEC, where they ranked nationally, how many games they won and how many they should have.
(7) Missouri, won 11, should have won 9.22
(23) Vanderbilt, won 3, should have won 2.07
(49) Alabama, won 12, should have won 11.74
(57) South Carolina, won 7, should have won 7.04
(63) Mississippi State, won 10, should have won 10.13
(67) Texas A&M, won 8, should have won 8.21
(77) Kentucky, won 5, should have won 5.51
(82) Auburn, won 8, should have won 8.61
(93) Tennessee, won 7, should have won 7.84
(96) Georgia, won 10, should have won 10.89
(110) Ole Miss, won 9, should have won 10.33
(112) Florida, won 7, should have won 8.42
(118) LSU, won 8, should have won 9.59
(125) Arkansas, won 7, should have won 9.99
The luckiest team in the nation? That is FSU and not just for 2014, but the luckiest of the past 17 years. The five luckiest teams since 1998: (1) Florida State 2014; (2) Miami (OH) 2010; (3) Wyoming 2009; (4) Auburn 2010; (5) UCLA 2005.
Given the rotten PR year the NFL just endured, should Roger Goodell insist some team in the league give Tim Tebow one more chance to prove that he’s capable of playing quarterback in the league?
Al Kooper left the original Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1968 because he wanted the band to stick to its blues roots rather than delve into jazz-rock. The band re-organized with David Clayton-Thomas taking over lead vocals. Their self-titled album “Blood, Sweat and Tears” was released in December of 1968 and hit #1 on the US and international charts almost immediately, winning the Grammy for Album of the Year and featuring one #1 single and two #2s. The lead track on the album is an old Steve Winwood song called “Smiling Phases.” I found this 2010 version of the song performed on the BST reunion tour that featured on this night, the sensational Cuban trumpeter Arturo Sandoval.