Wednesday, the oversight committee for men’s basketball recommended that the full NCAA membership take up a proposal that will allow players who declare for the NBA Draft to reverse course and return to school up to 10 days before the draft. Under the proposal, a player can declare for the draft, go to the pre-draft combine and do individual workouts to determine if he’s wise to go pro or return for another year of seasoning in the college system. As long as the athlete doesn’t hire an agent he would be allowed to return to school.
For once, there is a rule in place that works to the benefit of the athlete by allowing them to test the waters and get legitimate evaluation of their skills before making a life-altering decision. It’s a good enough rule that new Southeastern Conference commissioner Greg Sankey believes it’s about time college football had something similar. Currently, football players face a mid-January deadline to make their decision to declare for the draft and once declared, there is no turning back.
If college football really cares about its athletes, it should allow players to get an evaluation that isn’t tainted by the opinion of family, friends or unscrupulous agents and their runners. For some kids, that would mean being able to participate in the NFL Combine in Indianapolis but to further facilitate the rule – and help itself – the NFL should consider the possibility of regional or statewide combines. This would allow scouts to see more players who have exhausted eligibility as well as underclassmen from some of the smaller schools as well.
College football could also lend a helping hand by moving back National Signing Day until March 1. If the NFL would agree to hold its national and regional (or statewide) combines prior to March 1, coaches would more likely have a better and more accurate reading about how many scholarships are available.
A 21-yard Ed Pritchett to Jerry Jones touchdown pass gave FSU a 17-16 lead with 2:10 left in the game, but that only left the door wide open for the legend of Steve Spurrier to grow to epic proportions. Spurrier needed only six plays and 58 seconds to take the Gators 71 yards to the go-ahead touchdown. After an incompletion on first down, Spurrier teamed up with Charlie Casey on an out pattern for 12 yards and that was followed by a brilliant catch for 18 yards by Jack Harper, who slipped and fell on his back, but managed to hold onto the ball. Spurrier ran for six yards and then connected with Casey on another out pattern for 12 yards to the FSU 24. The next play looked like that same out pattern but as Spurrier rolled out, he saw no safety in the middle of the field so he waved to Casey to alter the pattern. Casey cut back to the middle of the field and Spurrier made the perfect toss for the touchdown and a 22-17 lead with 1:12 to go. Ray Graves sent in Wayne Barfield to kick the extra point rather than go for two, so FSU fans saw enough time for a miracle finish of their own but Pritchett overthrew Max Wettstein in the middle of the field and Allen Trammell intercepted for the Gators. Following a convoy of blockers, Trammell raced to the end zone to seal a 30-17 win over the Seminoles that gave the Gators a 7-3 record and a bid to play Missouri in the Sugar Bowl. It was the first time the Gators ever played in a bowl game outside the state of Florida.
Herschel Walker thinks he can still play in the NFL. A week ago on WFAN’s Boomer and Carton Show, Herschel said he cold still play in the NFL even though he’s 53 years old and it’s been 18 years since he suited up for a game. Since then, Herschel has tried his hand at Olympic bobsledding, taekwondo (5th degree black belt), mixed martial arts (MMA) and ballet, all the kind of things that prep you for the NFL, right? Rather than lift weights he does 2,000 situps a day and anywhere from 750 to 1,500 pushups.
Herschel isn’t the first retired athlete to claim he’s still got what it takes years after giving up his game. Twenty years after he retired from football, Jim Brown declared that he could still play effectively in the league although no one took him up on it. When he was in his mid-50s, the late Wilt Chamberlain said not only could he play in the NBA but he could still haul in 12-15 rebounds a game. Wilt wasn’t willing to give up his – shall we say – lifestyle to see if he could actually do it, however.
Since hearing Herschel’s declaration, Atlanta coach (former Florida defensive coordinator) Dan Quinn called Herschel’s bluff and issued him an invitation to join the Falcons for their training camp.
Quinn said, “He’s one of my all-time favorite players. Yeah, we have room for him.”
Herschel says he has multiple personality disorder. You have to wonder if the personality that said he can play in the NFL takes Quinn up on the invitation or if there is a logical personality that will say, “Hey, Dan … just kidding, okay?”
David Boren has done the math and thinks if you’re going to be called the Big 12 Conference that you should have 12 teams instead of the 10 the league currently has. Give the league 12 teams and that’s enough for a conference championship game, which means avoiding the embarrassment of Baylor and TCU both being shut out of the College Football Playoff as they were last season.
So who would the league add?
SMU would love to rejoin its buddies from the old Southwest Conference but from a standpoint of money and facilities, SMU has very little to offer. Houston would make sense but the Big 12 already commands the Houston television market so that would be a big maybe. Although the Memphis television market isn’t huge, Memphis is deep in the heart of the Southeastern Conference and it would add a high profile basketball program to an already strong basketball league. The Big 12 would absolutely love Arkansas to bolt from the SEC but the Hogs love that SEC money so they aren’t going anywhere. Given the options, the move that would make the most sense would be to expand into the state of Florida. By adding UCF and USF the Big 12 would put its television brand in the nation’s third most populous state (more than 20 million; Florida now trails only California and Texas) and would add two of the larger schools in the country (UCF has more than 60,000 students while USF has more than 47,000). The Tampa/St. Petersburg television market is #13 nationally while Orlando is #19, which would make them the #3 and #4 TV markets in Big 12 country.
While expanding to 12 would make sense in many ways, there is opposition among the current Big 12 membership, which seems focused on having to split its share of the College Football Playoff money 12 ways instead of 10.
With the first pick of his first NBA draft ever, there were no surprises for Billy Donovan and the Oklahoma City Thunder, who took Murray State guard Cameron Payne. Every mock draft prior to Thursday had the Thunder picking Payne with the 14th overall pick in the first round so it was no surprise that Payne was available and the first round pick. Payne won’t have to be a star from day one because he will be backing up perennial all-star Russell Westbrook, but he’s a great guy to come off the bench because he can play in transition and he’s a strong decision maker off the bounce.
The New York Knicks got the guy the Orlando Magic had been targeting with the fourth overall pick, so when Latvia’s Kristap Porzingis was gone, the Magic went with Croatian shooter Mario Hezonja, a 20-year-old who averaged 6.1 points in 16.5 minutes per game for Barcelona in the Spanish league. The Magic wanted a shooter. Devin Booker was available.
The Miami Heat needed a small forward and got the best one in the first round of the draft in Justise Winslow. Winslow can defend four positions and doesn’t need the ball in his hands to get his points because he’s such a good garbage man and runs the floor so well in transition.
George O’Leary has been named interim athletic director at UCF. For the next year he will do double duty and coach football while overseeing the entire UCF athletic department. File this under fact that is stranger than fiction. It was on O’Leary’s watch that UCF was successfully sued and a jury awarded the family of the late Eric Plancher $10 million in a wrongful death case (later reduced to $200,000 by the Florida Supreme Court), claiming negligence on the part of O’Leary. A former player testified that Plancher died doing a drill that was “punishment.” And UCF wants O’Leary as the face of the entire athletic program?
It’s all bright and shiny in the Land of the Chickens. South Carolina is unveiling brand new football facilities. Due west of Williams-Brice Stadium is the indoor practice facility plus two 100-yard practice fields outdoors and the $66 million football operations building that houses the football offices, weight rooms and nutrition center.
Jamal Murray, a 6-5 guard who just wowed everybody at the NBA Players Development Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia, has reclassified to 2015 and will enroll at Kentucky. While the addition of Murray adds another 5-star talent to the Kentucky roster it does create somewhat of a logjam in the returning sophomore Tyler Ulis and incoming freshmen Isaiah Briscoe and Murray are all point guards.
Mike Hopkins, who played college basketball for Jim Boeheim and Syracuse and has been a Boeheim assistant since 1996, has been named coach-in-waiting. Boeheim, who will be 71 in November, has been suspended from the first nine ACC games next season by the NCAA. He is expected to retire after the 2018 season.
Maurice Clarett has turned his life around. He’s an in-demand motivational speaker who tells young people about how he went from can’t miss superstar to prison and how they have to avoid the pitfalls that cost him so dearly.
Freshman QB De’Andre Johnson has been suspended indefinitely at FSU for allegedly punching a female FSU student at a Tallahassee bar. Allegedly, the woman cut in front of Johnson while he was waiting in line to order drinks. Drinks? He’s 21? What are the odds the Tallahassee PD nails Johnson for under age drinking or fines the bar for selling drinks to underage athletes?
Do you think Herschel Walker takes Dan Quinn up on his invitation to join the Atlanta Falcons in training camp?
While Grace Slick recovered from surgery on her throat in 1969, the Jefferson Airplane’s Jormal Kaukonen, Jack Cassady and Paul Kantner began playing the club circuit in the San Francisco Bay area, sometimes joined by Marty Balin and Joey Covington, also from the Airplane. When Grace Slick was able to perform again Kanter, Balin and Covington returned to Airplane while Kaukonen and Cassady formed Hot Tuna. Hot Tuna was an opening act throughout the early 1970s but the band made a name for itself on the blues circuit. The band’s first album – “Hot Tuna” – debuted in 1970 and made it up to #30 on the Billboard album chart.