Mike White scored big on the recruiting trail Tuesday when he landed Conway, Arkansas native Justin Leon, a 6-8, 200-pound combo forward who spent the last two years at Shawnee Community College in Illinois, where he earned junior college All-America honors. At Shawnee, Leon hit 50.4% from the field (30.6% on 3-pointers) while averaging 21.5 points and 10 rebounds per game as a sophomore. As a freshman, Leon averaged 15.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
Leon originally signed to play for White at Louisiana Tech, but asked for a release from the letter of intent when White took the Florida job. Once released, Leon considered scholarship offers from Louisiana Tech, Indiana, Arkansas and Kansas State before signing with the Gators.
The addition of Leon gives the Gators another scorer to pair up with returning senior Dorian Finney-Smith, who led the Gators in 2014-15 with 13.1 points per game while hitting a team-leading 42.6% from the 3-point line. The lefty-shooting Leon is the first junior college transfer signed by the Gators in more than 30 years.
Post (7): Dorian Finney-Smith (6-8, 220, RSR); Alex Murphy (6-8, 225, RSR); * Schuyler Rimmer (6-10, 250, JR); Justin Leon (6-8, 200, JR); John Egbunu (6-11, 270, RSO); Kevarrius Hayes (6-9, 210, FR); Keith Stone (6-7, 230, FR)
* Transfer from Stanford; eligible in December
Florida 18, Georgia Tech 17; October 1, 1960
There was no shortage of story lines for this one. First year Florida coach Ray Graves spent 14 years as the defensive coordinator for Georgia Tech coach Bobby Dodd. Graves played at Tennessee when Dodd was one of (then) Major Bob Neyland’s assistant coaches and it was UT All-American Dodd who blocked the extra point in 1928 that kept the Gators from an unbeaten season. Adding fuel to the fire, Bobby Dodd Jr. split time at quarterback with sophomore Larry Libertore. Tenth-ranked Georgia Tech took a 17-10 lead late in the third quarter on a 5-yard run by Billy Williamson. The Gators saw two drives fizzle out before they got the ball on their own 15 with a little more than five minutes to go. With Dodd Jr. and Libertore alternating at quarterback, UF drove the ball and ate up the clock with the key play a 33-yard Dodd to Don Deal pass. From the Tech 3, Libertore pitched to Lindy Infante on an option and Infante got into the end zone with 32 seconds remaining. Bob Woodruff, the previous Florida coach, would have certainly gone for the tie in this situation, but Graves held up two fingers and the Florida Field crowd of 43,000 went nuts. Tech expected another option play going wide with Infante so when Libertore faked to fullback Jon MacBeth he ran unimpeded into the end zone. Instead of pitching wide to Infante, Libertore shot-putted a pass to MacBeth who made the catch to spring the upset. The Gators went on to finish 8-2 in the regular season, then beat Baylor in the Gator Bowl, a fitting start to what would become the most successful decade in Florida football history at that time.
SEC FOOTBALL RECORDS 1950-69
(1) Ole Miss, 157-46-11; (2) Tennessee 139-63-10; (3) Alabama, 140-64-14; (4) LSU, 131-69-13; (5) Auburn, 128-74-5; (6) FLORIDA 123-73-10; (7) Georgia, 110-87-13; (8) Kentucky, 99-96-10; (9) Mississippi State, 76-108-9; (10) Vanderbilt, 73-114-15
SEC FOOTBALL RECORDS 1970-89
(1) Alabama, 188-49-3; (2) Georgia, 164-65-6; (3) Auburn, 158-69-4; (4) Tennessee, 152-76-8; (5) LSU, 146-79-8; (6) FLORIDA, 134-91-6; (7) Ole Miss, 108-111-4; (8) Kentucky, 96-122-5; (9) Mississippi State, 86-135-2; (10) Vanderbilt, 70-148-4
SEC FOOTBALL RECORDS 1990-2009
(1) FLORIDA, 202-52-1; (2) Tennessee, 182-66-2; (3) Georgia, 170-74-1; (4) Auburn, 160-79-3; (5) LSU, 153-89-1; (6) Alabama, 141-88-0; (7) Ole Miss, 130-106-0); (8) Arkansas, 126-112-2; (9) South Carolina, 110-120-3; (10) Mississippi State, 105-126-2; (11) Kentucky, 94-139-0; (12) Vanderbilt, 68-159-0
SEC FOOTBALL RECORDS 2010-14
(1) Alabama, 58-9; (2) LSU, 52-14; (3) South Carolina, 49-17; (4) Missouri, 46-20; (5) Georgia, 46-21; (6) Auburn, 45-21; (7) Texas A&M, 44-21; (8) Mississippi State, 41-24; (9) Florida, 37-26; (10) Arkansas, 35-28; (11) Ole Miss, 30-33; (12) Vanderbilt, 29-34; (13) Tennessee, 28-34; (14) Kentucky, 20-41
For the most part, professional athletes rank among the most overpaid people on the planet although it’s not exactly their fault. Nobody holds a gun to the heads of owners who pay these guys ridiculous amounts of money so it’s hard to feel sorry for the Philadelphia Phillies who are willing to pay some team $50 million to take Ryan Howard off their hands. He’s got $60 million left on the $125 million contract the Phillies foolishly signed Howard to back in 2012 so any team willing to take him would be on the hook for only $5 million a season the next two years, a relative bargain when you consider there are guys riding the pine who make that much.
When you look at the Phillies’ situation with Howard and some of the other huge contracts baseball owners are trying to unload, you have to wonder what the Washington Nationals are going to do about man-child Bryce Harper, who has a legitimate shot at winning the National League triple crown this year. As baseball approaches the midway point in the season, Harper is currently hitting .345 (third in the NL) and has hit 24 homers (second) and 57 RBI (also second).
In Harper’s favor, he’s only 22 years old (won’t be 23 until mid-October), and is just now figuring out big league pitching. Now he doesn’t have to get a mistake to pound the ball out of the park. He’s driving good pitches deep, hitting for average and has cut way back on the strikeouts.
At his current $2.5 million a year salary, Harper is getting paid a little more than $100,000 per home run, a figure that should decrease exponentially if he stays healthy and keeps laying off knee-high sliders a foot off the plate. He’s property of the Nationals until 2018, at which time he becomes eligible to test the free agent waters and sign a contract that would make the one the Phillies gave to Ryan Howard pale in comparison.
So here’s the dilemma.
Do the Nationals gamble that Harper is going to stay healthy (injuries prevented him from playing more than 118 games in a season in 2013-14) and lock him up with a long term contract – say 10 years, $250-300 million – or do they take a look at the Phillies and try to get a shorter deal? And does Harper bide his time until 2018 when he’s 25 and gamble that he can back up a Brinks truck or does he have his agent begin negotiation now for a long term deal that will keep him in Washington?
Can you imagine what the Yankees, Mets, Red Sox and Dodgers would be willing to pay?
It’s not my imagination. North Carolina just gave Roy Williams a contract extension and there is every good chance the NCAA is going to vacate the national championships he won in 2005 and again in 2009. I’m not buying the theory that Roy didn’t know what was going on with the phony A grades his players were making in that sham African-American Studies curriculum.
San Diego Chargers safety Darrell Stuckey is donating a game check to Not for Sale, an organization dedicated to the fight against human trafficking and slavery. His before tax donation will be $58,823.50. Just think of the good work that could be done if every professional athlete making at least $1 million a year gave one game check to a worthy charity.
The Lake Nona home of Lou Holtz was destroyed by a lightning strike early Sunday morning. Approximately 50 firefighters were dispatched to put out the blaze.
Nearly every mock NBA draft has Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) and Jahlil Okafor (Duke) going 1-2 to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Los Angeles Lakers respectively. Interestingly, numerous scouts say the ceiling for greatness is higher with Latvian 7-footer Kristaps Porzingis. If he’s got a higher ceiling then why is he being projected to go somewhere between the third and seventh pick instead of the first two? Could it have something to do with the fact that most European big guys are enamored with shooting 3-pointers and less concerned with blocking shots and rebounding?
Arron Afflalo will become an unrestricted free agent after turning down an option that would pay him $7.75 million to stay with the Portland Trail Blazers next season. It’s likely that some NBA team will pony up somewhere in the neighborhood of $10-12 million a year for a guy who averaged 10.6 points a game. To paraphrase the late, great Bill Veeck, it isn’t the high price of stardom that is the problem. It’s the high price of mediocrity.
A mistrial has been granted in the dorm-room rape conviction of former Vanderbilt football players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey. The judge ruled that a juror withheld information that he was a rape victim during the jury selection process, preventing Vandenburg and Batey from a fair trial. Nashville prosecutors will request a new trial.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
If you’re the owner of the Washington Nationals, do you (1) sign Bryce Harper to a long term contract now; (2) let him test the free agent waters or (3) trade him before his current deal is up to maximize the return?
MUSIC FOR TODAYThe North Mississippi All-Stars are a Grammy Award winning blues band who have put out 16 albums since 1996. This 3-man band regularly tours with Robert Randolph, John Hiatt, Dave Matthews and Robert Plant. Today’s music is their 2013 release “World Boogie Is Coming.”