Chip Kelly has always marched to the beat of a different drummer. When he suggested that Oregon could ratchet up Mike Belotti’s offense, there were folks who said tinkering with a good thing would be the downfall of the Ducks. We know how that turned out. When he went to the Philadelphia Eagles and proposed going hurry-up, no-huddle for an entire game, his critics once again said it just couldn’t be done in the NFL. He’s 20-12 in two seasons in Philadelphia and that record would probably be a lot better if his quarterback (Nick Foles) hadn’t gone down with a broken collarbone at midseason in 2014.
Figure that the naysayers who have been trying to prove Kelly wrong for so long will have a field day today when he signs Tim Tebow to a contract. The critics will be quick to point out that it has been three seasons since Tebow took a meaningful NFL snap and that when he was playing regularly, too many of his passes were as accurate as one of Saddam Hussein’s Scuds. They will also point out that when he was with the New York Jets, he was considered divisive because of all the media attention.
Kelly already knows all those things and while some may say signing Tebow is just a favor done for good buddy Urban Meyer, consider the fact that two of the quarterbacks on the Eagles roster (Mark Sanchez and Sam Bradford) are among the five quarterbacks with the worst ratings in the NFL during the past five years. The worst? Well, that’s Tebow. But, remember this also: Tebow has never had the chance to function in a hurry-up spread offense in the NFL. That’s what he ran in college and that’s what he’ll run with the Eagles.
The offense Tebow ran at Florida required far more read option than what Kelly will require in the NFL, but the passing game won’t be that much different. Kelly’s offense is still about a downhill running game that makes it difficult for secondaries to double up on receivers. Tebow should see more receivers running free at Philly than he ever saw at Denver or during that time with the Jets.
As for the media attention, Tim has never asked for nor has he demanded it. He’s a team first guy who is all about the winning. If Tebow is on the Eagles roster and they are winning, no one will care about the hype.
Tebow has patiently waited for one last chance and this is it. All things considered, it is the best chance Tebow has had to succeed but it is also the last chance he will ever get in the NFL. He either makes it now or forever will go down as another Heisman winner who was a bust in the pros. And, even if it is true that Kelly is giving Tim a chance as a favor to Urban, Chip Kelly is still in the business of winning football games in the National Football League. If Tim Tebow can’t help him win, he’ll be gone, but if he can perform well enough that it helps the Eagles, there will be a place on the roster.Either way, Tim Tebow is going to have his chance to either succeed or walk away with no regrets.
As remarkable an accomplishment as winning three straight NCAA gymnastics titles is, brace yourself because Florida is going to be a heavy favorite to make it four straight next season. There is no rebuilding in this program that Rhonda Faehn has revamped since she took over in 2003. Florida is in perpetual reload thanks to Faehn’s unparalleled success on the recruiting trail. The way she develops talent and works her gymnasts into the rotation there is always a free flow of talent rising to the top. Although the Gators lose a great senior class headed by NCAA all-around and floor exercise champ Kytra Hunter, Bridget Sloan will return for her senior season. When she’s healthy (missed most of the 2015 season with a high ankle sprain), she’s the best in the country. All-Americans Bridgette Caquatto, Alex McMurtry and Kennedy Baker will return and it’s worth noting that the last three UF recruiting classes have all been ranked #1.
Utah (1982-86) and Georgia (2005-09) hold the record with five consecutive NCAA titles. While winning even one NCAA title requires a lot of good fortune to go with good coaching and good athletes, Rhonda has it going at UF. Three in a row may be just the beginning.
The NBA talk is not going to go away and why should it? Former players rave about how well Billy Donovan communicates and how his offense, given NBA personnel to run it, would be a perfect fit in the league. One of his best buddies is former Butler coach Brad Stevens, who has the Boston Celtics in the playoffs in year two without idea personnel. If Brad Stevens can succeed in the NBA, then Billy Donovan should be an instant hit, and you can bet all that is sacred to you that Billy isn’t going to have to try to turn some lost in the woods franchise into a winner. No, he’ll have his choice of some very, very good jobs and he can all but name his price.
There is already speculation that the Oklahoma City Thunder are ready to not only target Donovan but make him an offer he can’t refuse. Considering he could have had the Cleveland job last year and they were willing to pay $7 million, no one would be surprised if Thunder owner Clayton Bennett is willing to offer anther million or two beyond that for the chance to coach Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook.
If the reported dissatisfaction between the Chicago Bulls and Tom Thibodeau is indeed real, then do you think Joakim Noah will have management’s ear about Billy Donovan? And there is always the Orlando Magic. They just had another season that will earn a high level draft pick. It seems they have always had an open invitation to Billy to come take over, even after he jilted them at the altar once before.
When the NBA calls, Billy will listen just as he always has listened. It’s not disloyal to listen. Listening tells him what he’s worth on the open market and tells him whether it’s time to go or if he should stay at Florida awhile longer.
Listening is what the powers that be should be doing at the University of Florida. I
At the SEC Tournament in Atlanta in 2014, right after the Gators had beaten Kentucky for a third straight time to cap a perfect SEC season and what was then an unprecedented 21-0 regular season/tournament run, former UF president Bernie Machen told me, “Billy Donovan is an absolute treasure to the University of Florida. I hope he’s the coach here for a long, long time.”
Billy Donovan is indeed a treasure to the University of Florida and it is time to treat him like one. When Kentucky anticipated NBA offers coming John Calipari’s way, the old contract was torn up and the new one was for seven years at $7.5 million a year. NBA people will still inquire but Cal has a long-term deal and big bucks to keep him in Lexington.
Basketball will never be as important at the University of Florida as it is at Kentucky, but Donovan should be offered a long-term deal that would make it extremely difficult for him to walk away. He’s not quite 50 years old. Give him something like 10 years and $60 million. That kind of contract will not only show Donovan how much he is appreciated, but it will send a clear message to recruits who hear the NBA talk and wonder if this is the year Billy goes pro.
Give the powers that be who make the decisions for college baseball credit for switching from the elevated seam baseball to the flat seam ball, the one more similar to what is used in the minors and the majors. The high seam ball gave pitchers the help they needed back when bats were made out of aluminum but when the bats were changed to the composite substance now used, the high seams gave pitchers too great an advantage.
If you don’t believe that, then take a look at last year’s College World Series in Omaha where a grand total of three home runs were hit at TD Ameritrade Park. TD Ameritrade is the same dimensions as old Rosenblatt Stadium where the ball left the park too frequently with the aluminum bats. No one wants games that more resemble slow pitch softball like they did with the metal bats, but the people who run the college game also realized that if they didn’t do something to inject more offense the game would lose its popularity.
The flat seam ball still has plenty of movement but not as much as the ball with high seams. That means more balls are squared up better on the bat barrels and they fly farther; not as far as they did when hitters had aluminum weapons in their hands but instead of fly balls dying at the warning track, we’re seeing some of them leave the ball yard. The result is better games that more resemble the game that is played at the professional level.
The Gators have certainly benefitted from the change. Last year the Gators hit a grand total of 26 homers in 63 games en route to a 40-23 record. Taylor Gushue led the team with six homers. The year before, the Gators hit 28. Through 41 games (Florida is 31-10 with a 12-6 SEC record) this year, the Gators have left the yard 44 times. JJ Schwarz has launched 13 while Harrison Bader has sent 11 balls into the seats. This is a Florida team that doesn’t have to bunt to win. The Gators are that right combination of big boppers and small ball. As for pitching, that hasn’t suffered. The Gators had a 3.36 team ERA last year. This year it stands at 3.32.
Given the right offensive scheme, do you think Tim Tebow can succeed in the NFL or do you think his window of opportunity to make it has come and gone?
The closest thing to a musical all-star traveling band in the early 1970s was Delaney and Bonnie and Friends. Headed up by the husband and wife team of Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, their Friends tour included Duane and Gregg Allman, Leon Russell, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Rita Coolidge, Dave Mason and a whose of others. Today’s music is their “D&B Together” album that was originally entitled “Country Life.” I couldn’t decide on one song from that album for today’s music, so instead it’s the entire album.