Sometimes the facts hit you like a ton of bricks. Take the case of our football friends 145 miles to the west, for example.
In the last two drafts, the Seminoles have sent 18 players on to the NFL. When the NFL drafts in May, experts believe another 11 Seminoles will hear their names called. If that happens, FSU will break the record (28) held jointly by Miami (2002-04) and Southern Cal (2008-10) for most players drafted over a three-year period.
What FSU is doing speaks volumes about the talent gap that now separates the Seminoles from Florida and Miami. The 18 Seminoles taken in the last two years represents the entire total of Gators drafted since 2011. During that same period (2011-14) Miami had 19 players drafted.
It is even more staggering when you consider that FSU sent another 11 players to the NFL in 2011-12. If the prognostications for this draft prove correct and 11 Seminoles are drafted, it will mean FSU 40 players have been drafted since 2011.
Is it any surprise that since 2010, FSU is 58-11 while Florida is 37-26 and Miami is 35-27?
Of course, Florida is on its third football coach since 2010 while Miami is on its second and there is every good chance the current coach won’t be around for the 2016 season. Jimbo Fisher has been FSU’s football coach since 2010 and while stability at the top probably has a lot to do with the way the Seminoles are dominating the state, it must be noted that Fisher replaced seven of his nine assistant coaches before the 2013 season and he went 14-0, winning the national championship.
To his credit, Fisher has a system in place that lures the talent to Tallahassee much the way that John Calipari gets it done with Kentucky basketball. Cal’s lure is come play for Kentucky and you’ll get drafted in the NBA. Jimbo can honestly tell a recruit if anyone can get you ready for the NFL, we can at FSU. Calipari doesn’t get near enough credit for turning freshmen into viable NBA first rounders nor does Fisher get enough credit for developing players at FSU and getting them NFL-ready.
The numbers don’t lie, whether you’re talking about winning on the field or sending players to the pros. When Florida was winning from 2005-09, Urban Meyer brought in great recruiting classes and sent plenty of players to the NFL. There is no excuse for Miami lacking talent. There is enough talent within a 90-minute drive of the Coral Gables campus to stock a roster with national championship-caliber talent. It’s been done five times before.
But until Florida and Miami start recruiting and developing players as well as Jimbo Fisher does at FSU, the Seminoles are going to rule the state. Jimbo has it going at FSU and it’s up to Florida and Miami to either catch up or fall farther behind.
Anthony Grant is home again, back with the Florida basketball program that he left after the 2006 NCAA championship to become the head coach at Virginia Commonwealth. After a run of success at VCU (76-25 in three seasons), he went to Alabama where he didn’t win enough and was recently dismissed even though he went 117-85 and posted five winning seasons out of six as head coach. At Florida he replaces Matt McCall, who was a student manager, graduate assistant and director of basketball operations at UF during the time Grant was an assistant for Billy Donovan. McCall was named the new head coach at Chattanooga on Sunday and Grant was brought back to Gainesville on Monday.
The addition of Grant to the staff should have an immediate impact in South Florida. A former standout player and assistant coach at Miami High and head coach at Miami Central, Grant used those ties to the area to bring Brent Wright, Udonis Haslem and Major Parker to Florida. If he is able to rekindle those relationships it could help the Gators in their recruitment of three standouts on Fort Lauderdale based Team Breakdown – Dewan Huell (6-10, 215, Miami Norland), Juwan Durham (6-10, 210, Tampa Prep) and Eric Hester (6-4, 180, Oldsmar Christian).
Alabama: All five scholarship quarterbacks have played well enough when given the opportunity that Nick Saban says the position is still wide open going into Saturday’s A-Day game. Jacob Coker, last year’s backup, has played well according to Saban but not well enough to distance himself from David Cornwell, Alec Morris, Cooper Bateman and Blake Barnett. “We’re giving five quarterbacks a chance to play and no one has stood out to where you’d say, ‘That’s the guy,”’ Saban said after Saturday’s scrimmage.
Arkansas: Quarterback Brandon Allen was the star of Saturday’s scrimmage, hitting 17-23 passing for 229 yards and two touchdowns … It wasn’t all offense Saturday. Deatrich Wise had four sacks for 27 yards in losses while Armon Watts and Karl Roesler each got to the quarterback three times.
Auburn: Auburn’s offense got the ball in the end zone five times during Saturday’s scrimmage with Jovon Robinson, Roc Thomas and Peyton Barber each scoring one on the ground. Robinson, Thomas and Barber are in a heated battle for the number one running back position … At least five players were held out of the scrimmage including defensive starters Jonathan Jones and Justin Garrett.
Georgia: Last year’s backup quarterback Brice Ramsey was given every chance to win the starting job but he’s neck and neck with Faton Bauta after the spring game and redshirt freshman X has made enough of an impression that he will still be in the mix when the Bulldogs open fall camp ... No matter who plays quarterback, there will be questions at wide receiver where only Malcolm Mitchell distinguished himself during the spring.
Kentucky: Injuries have plagued Kentucky throughout the spring, particularly at wide receiver. Missing all or most of the practices have been last year’s leading receiver Ryan Timmons (shoulder), Dorian Baker (knee), Alexander Montgomery (knee) and walk-on Charles Waker (shoulder). When the Wildcats scrimmaged Saturday the only healthy running backs were Stanley Williams and walk-on Will Mahone ... Quarterback Patrick Towles had what was called an error-free scrimmage in his battle for the #1 job with Drew Barker.
LSU: Although the final decision about who starts at quarterback will be made by head coach Les Miles, it hasn’t stopped Hall of Fame quarterback Terry Bradshaw from weighing in on the battle between incumbent Anthony Jennings and sophomore Brandon Harris, who started one game last season. At a Louisiana Football Legends event in Bossier City, Bradshaw told Harris, “You need to be starting there.”
Mississippi State: The defense came up with 14 tackles for loss, seven sacks and two forced fumbles when the Bulldogs scrimmaged Saturday … In the battle to replace tailback Josh Robinson, who left early for the NFL, Dontavian Lee ran 15 times for 90 yards and a couple of touchdowns … Dak Prescott was 22-33 passing for 229 yards and a touchdown and he ran for another score.
Missouri: Shane Ray and Markus Golden may have gone on to the NFL but Missouri’s defense still has that dominant look about it. In Saturday’s scrimmage in which the defense held the offense out of the end zone, linebackers Kentrell Brothers, Clarence Green and Michael Scherer combined for 15 tackles including three for loss even though they played limited snaps.
Ole Miss: Chad Kelly emerged as the starting quarterback but dual threat Devante Kincade showed enough running ability that it’s expected coach Hugh Freeze will design a special package for him in the fall … Although the Rebels lost All-Americans Senquez Golson and Cody Prewitt, Freeze thinks his secondary will be just as good. Trae Elston was moved from corner to Prewitt’s safety spot while C.J. Hampton has taken over for Elston. Tee Shepard, Tony Bridges and Kendarius Webster will take their battle for the other corner into the fall. Nickel Tony Conner is expected to have an All-SEC season.
South Carolina: Jon Hoke’s task during South Carolina’s spring drills was to generate some pressure on the quarterback after a season in which the Gamecocks managed only 14 sacks. Juco transfer Marquavius Lewis and Darius Lewis showed they have the quickness to beat tackles off the edge … The defense will also be bolstered by safety Isaiah Johnson, eligible immediately after transferring in from Kansas where he was Big 12 Newcomer of the Year in 2013.
Tennessee: The Vols are hoping for a thunder and lightning approach to the running game in the fall with 6-3, 235-pound Jalen Hurd and 5-11, 195-pound Alvin Kamara. Hurd, a punishing runner between the tackles, started nine games and ran for 899 yards as a true freshman. Kamara, recruited out of Hutchinson Community College, has gamebreaking speed on the outside. He ran for 1,499 yards and 21 touchdowns last year against juco competition.
Texas A&M: The Aggies finished spring practice without sophomore wide receiver Speedy Noil. Head coach Kevin Sumlin told reporters that Noil “has some things to complete” before he can rejoin the team … The Aggies expect to be vastly improved in the fall with new coordinator John Chavis’ attacking defensive scheme which replaces the read and react format used by former coordinator Mark Snyder. “I think it [Chavis’ scheme] plays to the strength of our guys,” Sumlin said. “I know the defensive ends are real happy. They are cutting it loose.”
Nothing much has changed with Lawrence Phillips in 20 years. You remember Phillips. He beat up his girlfriend in Lincoln, Nebraska and then dragged her by her hair down a stairwell. For that Dr. Tom Osborne only suspended him six games. He started Phillips in the 1995 Fiesta Bowl against the Gators and Phillips ran for 165 yards and two touchdowns, plus caught a 14-yard pass for another one.
The arrest at Nebraska made news nationally and through the subsequent years people have asked if indeed it was Phillips’ first brush with the law. They wonder because bad behavior and disrespect for coaches and teammates got Phillips kicked out of the NFL, CFL and Arena League. When he had no place to play ball anymore, he turned violent. In 2005 he was sent to prison for 10 years for driving a car into three teenagers and while serving that sentence he was sentenced for 25 more years for two assaults on another girlfriend prior to the 2005 arrest.
A couple of years ago, John Henderson of the Denver Post wrote, “Osborne claimed kicking Phillips from the structure of the football program would do him more harm than good. I said putting him behind bars would do him more good than harm? What did the coddling do for Phillips’ well being?”
Even behind bars, Phillips is a slug of a human. During the past weekend, Phillips’ cellmate at Kern Valley State Prison was found dead. Phillips is suspected of murder.
How many recruiting classes do you think it will it take for Florida to catch up with FSU in terms of talent?
The original Fleetwood Mac featured the incredible blues guitar of Peter Green, who was so good he inspired even B.B. King. Rolling Stone Magazine rated him #38 on its all-time list of guitarists. Green left the band in the early 1970s when he was diagnosed with schizophrenia that was bad enough that he was treated with electroshock therapy. He did re-emerge in the 1980s and continues to play limited dates. Today’s music is “Albatross” from the 1969 album “English Rose” that also features the original “Black Magic Woman” which Green wrote.