With all 32 NFL teams represented at Tuesday’s Pro Day in The Swamp, Dante Fowler Jr. was impressive enough that his draft stock shouldn’t dip in the least. Fowler chose not to run the 40 (he was timed at 4.6 at the Indianapolis combine), probably a good thing since scouts considered it a slow field, but he showed the kind of agility and quickness have most draft experts penciling him in for the #3 pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fowler looked the part of a first rounder – a chiseled 265 pounds – and went so far as to say he would “be stunned” if he’s not selected by the Jags.
Four Florida offensive linemen stood out. Tackle D.J. Humphries, who figures to go somewhere mid-to-late first round enhanced his draft stock with a very solid workout. Humphries reportedly spent plenty of time with the Miami Dolphins coaching contingent Monday night. Center/guard Max Garcia turned in an impressive 30 reps on the bench press and got a lot of personal attention from the Pittsburgh Steelers. NFL.com reports that both tackle Chaz Green and guard Trenton Brown were impressive enough that they could hear their names called on the second day.
Running back Matt Jones, who most predict to go in the third or fourth round, ran the 40 in 4.53 seconds. It was reported that he had dinner with Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. Special teams coaches from New England took a long look at Andre Debose, who ran an unofficial but impressive 4.35 in the 40.
Pro day notables: Former South Carolina quarterback Stephen Garcia, who last played in the Arena League, was decked in Gator gear as he threw to receivers during the passing drills ... Leon Orr, booted off the team after the Vanderbilt game, worked out and ran a reported sub-5.0 in the 40, impressive since he weighed in at 323.
Within hours of Mike Kryzyzewski winning his fifth NCAA basketball championship at Duke, the inevitable comparisons to UCLA legend John Wooden began. Wooden won 10 national championships at UCLA including back-to-back in 1964-65 and then seven in a row from 1967-73 before closing out his career with a national championship in his final season as a head coach in 1976. Coach K has won five NCAA titles including back-to-back in 1991-92 and he’s the winningest coach (1,018-310 record) in Division I history.
Ask the players who won those championships at UCLA and they will tell you Wooden is unsurpassed as the greatest coach in the history of the college game. What he did at UCLA will never be repeated. No one is ever going to win seven national championships in a row or 10 in 12 years. The players who have played for Coach K at Duke will tell you the same thing. He has five national championships and is still young and energetic enough to win another two or three before he hangs up his whistle. By the time he’s through, he might have so many wins that no one will ever surpass him.
So who’s better?
They have both shown resilience. It took Coach Wooden 16 years to make his first Final Four and 18 before he got his first national title. Coach K was in his 11th year as a head coach before he got Duke to a Final Four. He had losing records in two of his first three seasons at Duke and it took a determined athletic director named Tom Butters to prevent Coach K from losing his job.
They’ve won in four different decades. Wooden began coaching in the 1940s and spent two years at Indiana State before he turned UCLA into a west coast power from 1949-76. Coach K was the head coach at Army for five years before coming to Duke and restoring the Blue Devils to prominence in the ACC in the 1980s.
They’ve adapted to the times and won with different styles. Coach Wooden won his first two national champs with a relentless full court press that relied on guards Gail Goodrich and Walt Hazzard and didn’t have a starter taller than 6-5. He won five championships with dominant big men Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton and he won three other titles with teams that relied on five players to handle the scoring. Coach K has changed his style to meet his personnel through the years. He won with big guys like Christian Laettner early on, with guard-oriented offenses in 2001 (Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy) and 2010 (Jon Scheyer) and with a freshman dominated lineup Monday night.
Modern day purists say that UCLA had an easier time getting to the national championship game than Duke has had. UCLA never had to play more than four NCAA Tournament games to win the national title. To that I say do you think another weekend of games against a #16 seed or a #8-9 would have been a problem for Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton? The old schoolers think Wooden was so great that he would have been able to recruit at the same level in any era. Perhaps, but do you think for one second he could have lured Alcindor to UCLA in this era without ever having seen him play in person (true story)?
With the parity that exists today and more good coaches than ever before, no one will ever string together seven NCAA titles in a row or win 10 out of 12, but that doesn’t take anything away from what Coach Wooden achieved. He was a man for his time just as Coach K is a man for his time. What Coach K has done is also unprecedented.
So, again, who’s better? Having seen both of them close and personal, I simply put them on the same pedestal.
While we can debate all day about John Wooden and Coach K, there is no debate about the greatest women’s basketball coach of all time. That’s UConn’s Geno Auriemma, who won his 10th NCAA title Tuesday night by knocking off Notre Dame. Geno has won the last three NCAA titles and is 917-134 in his career. Most of his players return next year and he’s bringing in perhaps the best recruiting class he’s had in years, so we could see a fourth straight title.
The big news Tuesday was Chattanooga coach Will Wade taking over at VCU where he served as an assistant for Shaka Smart from 2009-13. Wade was 40-25 in two years as the head coach at Chattanooga.
Others on the move:Cliff Alexander, Kansas: Any chance Kansas had of making the Final Four this past season pretty much ended when Alexander was declared ineligible due to an NCAA investigation into his eligibility because his mother allegedly took out loans against future NBA earnings from a Florida-based company. Alexander was once projected as a lottery pick, but is now thought to be a mid-first round selection. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Arizona: He’s leaving for the NBA with two years of eligibility remaining. He doesn’t have a good enough offensive game to go in the lottery but his defense is so good – he can legitimately guard four positions – that he will go before the 25th pick in the first round. Brandon Ashley, Arizona: If Ashley stayed for his senior year, he would likely have to go the free agent route. By leaving now after his junior year, he probably goes somewhere after the 10th pick in the second round. John Brannen: Brannen played collegiately at Marshall for Billy Donovan. A long-time assistant to Anthony Grant (at VCU and Alabama), Brannen is the new head coach at Northern Kentucky, which plays in the Atlantic Sun Conference with teams like North Florida and Florida Gulf Coast.
For those who think Coach K and Duke always get the benefit of the doubt from the zebras in close games, Monday night’s NCAA championship game between Duke and Wisconsin only added fuel to that raging fire. Conspiracy theorists got their version of the smoking gun Tuesday when NCAA supervisor of officials John Adams dropped a bombshell on Sirius/XM College Sports Nation. Asked about a controversial call by game officials that awarded possession to Duke even though television replay seemed to indicate the ball was last touched by Duke’s Justise Winslow, Adams admitted, “We never saw on our monitor what everybody saw at home if you can believe that.”
Adams said he saw the replay the entire nation saw after the three game officials (Michael Stephens, Joe DeRosa and Pat Driscoll) and standby official Jeff Clark had upheld the call on the floor. Adams said he considered running over and telling the officials to take a look at the replay they hadn’t seen, but decided against it.
"I saw it after they had left the monitor, and actually thought about: Is it in my prerogative to get up, run over the table, buzz the buzzer and tell them to come back and look?" Adams said. "That's how critical I thought the play was, and concluded that this is a job for the guys on the floor and I've never done this before, why would I do it tonight and perhaps change the balance of the game?"
Well, there is that minor little detail called integrity. Considering the controversy and criticism of both officiating crews in Saturday’s semifinal games, if Adams felt his championship game crew got it wrong or needed another look at such an important moment he should have had the courage to intervene. That he didn’t is just another black eye on what can only be called a bad weekend at the office by the zebras.
It should be noted that college football replays are handled by one official in the booth while college basketball allows all four officials (three game and one standby) to voice their opinions. In football, replays seem to take forever just as they do in basketball but can you imagine how much longer the delays would be in football if you allowed the entire officiating crew to get involved in the decisions?
It was reported that the Tampa Bay Bucs spent Tuesday in Eugene, Oregon working out Marcus Mariota. They will work out Jameis Winston today. If you are the Bucs, who would you take with the first choice: Mariota or Winston?
Umphrey’s McGee has been around since 1997 but I only discovered them in the past couple of years. Tuesday was the release date for their latest album (“The London Sessions”), which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The band will be playing four shows in St. Augustine this weekend, two at the Elk’s Lodge (both sold out) and two at the St. Augustine Amphitheater (Friday at 5:45, Saturday at 4:30). Since the band lists The Beatles as one of their musical influences and since the latest album was cut at Abbey Road, it’s only fitting that today’s music is a remake of The Beatles “I Want You (She’s So Heavy).”