Help is on the way for Florida’s beleaguered offensive line. The new kid on the block is Mason Halter, a 6-8, 300-pound tackle who was a Division IAA All-American last year at Fordham. Although he hasn’t played against Division I competition, he has experience, something that is sorely lacking with Florida’s O-line, whose only player with actual starting experience is senior Trip Thurman, who has played in 28 games and started 10, all of them last year. Halter, who has graduated Fordham and has one year of eligibility remaining, will join Thurman as the only upperclassmen on an O-line that will have 14 on scholarship in the fall.
Halter had signed scholarship papers to attend Old Dominion, but when the Gators offered he reneged on that agreement.
“I think the coaches at ODU were a little upset and I don’t blame them,” Halter told the Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk. “I signed an agreement and went back on my word a bit but this was a great opportunity. I could not turn it down.”
It wouldn’t be a surprise if Jim McElwain takes advantage of the graduate transfer rule and adds one or two more offensive linemen with starting experience at either a smaller D1 school or from the D1AA ranks.
The Southeastern Conference tried to take the high road when James Franklin of Penn State held a satellite camp in the heart of SEC territory last year. When Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer announced they’ll do the same thing this summer, SEC coaches cried foul and asked that the conference lead the way to banning this practice at the NCAA summer meetings. If you’re a gambler, put your money on the NCAA laughing off the NCAA request.
Rather than gripe, the SEC needs to go ahead and pass an emergency measure that would allow its coaches to hold satellite camps in the heart of Big Ten country. Let’s see how the Big Ten coaches and hierarchy reacts when Nick Saban, Gus Malzahn and all the other SEC coaches descend on the Big Ten. Can you imagine what might happen if the SEC got creative and scheduled a week in which all 14 SEC schools held a camp in Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin? If that were to happen, no one would cry foul louder or longer than Big Ten commish Jim Delaney.
The first three rounds of the 2015 Major League Baseball Draft are a testament to Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan’s eye for talent. Six players off his roster that heads to Omaha for the College World Series have been selected in the first three rounds while four signees from his recruiting class also heard their names called. With rounds 11-40 set to go today, lefthanded pitchers Bobby Poyner and Aaron Rhodes should get drafted from the Florida roster and most of the recruiting class will hear their names called.
From the Florida roster:
First round: Richie Martin, SS, Oakland A’s
Third round: Harrison Bader, OF, St. Louis Cardinals
Sixth round: Eric Hanhold, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers
Eighth round: Danny Young, LHP, Toronto Blue Jays
Ninth round: Taylor Lewis, RHP, Atlanta Braves
Tenth round: Josh Tobias, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies
First round: Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
First round: Jake Woodford, RHP, St. Louis Cardinals
Second round: Brady Singer, RHP, Torondo Blue Jays
Fifth round: Thomas Szapucki, LHP, New York Mets
Just as the Southeastern Conference dominated the softback brackets for the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City, the baseball brackets at the College World Series in Omaha will have that same familiar feel. Five SEC softball teams made it to Oklahoma City where the Florida Gators won their second straight NCAA title. In Omaha, Florida, LSU, Vanderbilt and Arkansas compose half the field and the way they’re playing, it seems likely that one of the four will emerge as the fifth SEC team to claim the national championship in the last seven years.
If you’re looking for the team most likely to succeed, then look no further than the Gators whose postseason resume includes wins over LSU, Vanderbilt and Arkansas at the SEC Tournament and two out of three in the regular season versus Saturday opponent Miami.
While there will be plenty of talk about shortstops Dansby Swanson (Vanderbilt) and Alex Bregman (LSU) who went 1-2 in the first round of the Major League Baseball Draft Monday night, no player comes to Omaha on a hotter streak than Florida catcher/DH J.J. Schwarz, whose 22-39 tear since the SEC Tournament includes four homers and 17 RBI. Schwarz has 17 homers and 71 RBI for the season. He goes to Omaha just one home run behind Arkansas center fielder Andrew Benintendi, the national leader with 19.
Mississippi State will be giving a cost of attendance stipend of more than $5,100 to its athletes, one of the highest in all of Division I but there will be a catch. To receive their money, athletes will be required to take financial education classes in a program designed by money guru Dave Ramsey. Mississippi State AD Scott Stricklin understands how few athletes have a clue about dealing with money and he wants all his scholarship athletes trained to make informed, responsible choices with their money.
When you add Pell Grant money to cost of attendance, a good many athletes nationwide are going to think they have won the lottery so the potential is there for kids who have little in the way of understanding and background when it comes to money to get into some serious trouble. What Mississippi State is doing should be a blueprint for similar programs at every Division I school. This is a well thought out idea that truly puts the welfare of the athletes at the forefront.
The war of words is just starting to heat up between Antonio Cromartie of the New York Jets and Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. Last week Cromartie fired the first shot, saying there are at least three or four corners in the NFL better than Sherman including two on the New York Jets – Darrel Reveis and himself. It took a few days, but Sherman took the bait, telling ESPN on Tuesday that the only reason Cromartie made last year’s Pro Bowl was because the Seahawks were playing in the Super Bowl.
“That was unfortunate,” Sherman told ESPN. “You would think after me helping him get a Pro Bowl bid … We went to the Super Bowl and he wouldn’t have made it to the Pro Bowl otherwise. And now he’s talking bad.”
Cromartie will respond. And Sherman will respond as well. Count on it. Neither one of these guys has a lip that can stay zipped.
While praising Mississippi State athletic director Scott Stricklin and Ole Miss AD Russ Bjork, ESPN.com’s Travis Haney for the jobs they have done in turning their athletic programs into showpieces, Haney said:
“Just remind yourself that their coaches, Dan Mullen and Hugh Freeze, now make more than $4 million a year and each works in a new or updated facility that is more advanced than the University of Florida’s.”
There was a time when no one would have dared to make such a statement.
Joe Montana just shakes his head at the media and NFL hierarchy for their outrage over Tom Brady and Deflate-Gate. Montana wonders what’s the big deal? Talking to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Montana admitted that the San Francisco 49ers sprayed silicone on their jerseys until they got caught and were forced by the NFL to abandon the practice.
Montana said, "Once you get caught, you get caught. Period. It doesn't take anything away from Tom's game. But how long has he been doing it? I don't know. It is one of those things that is a rule, right? It might be a dumb rule, but it doesn't matter. He didn't deflate them himself, but you can pick up the ball and can tell if it is underinflated, overinflated or what you like. Everybody is afraid to say it, but if the guy did it, so what. Just pay up and move on. It's no big deal."
Should the SEC fight fire with fire by allowing its coaches to hold satellite camps in the heart of Big Ten territory?
Until they hit the charts in 1970 with “Lola” I never thought The Kinks were fully appreciated. “Lola” was a song that stretched the norms of the day talking about this person “who walked like a woman and talked like a man.” That was pretty controversial stuff for the 1970s even with the free sex movement that started in California. Today’s music is some of the top tracks from the Kinks from their best years from 1964-71.