The importance of the commitment of quarterback Jake Allen (6-3, 191, Fort Lauderdale, FL St. Thomas Aquinas) cannot be understated for Jim McElwain and the Florida Gators. In choosing the Gators, Allen gives McElwain an early anchor for the 2017 recruiting class and an important recruiting trail victory over the likes of Florida State, Miami, Notre Dame, Michigan and Stanford.
Scout.com currently has Allen rated four stars and ranks him the #1 quarterback in the state for 2017 and the #19 quarterback nationally. Given the kind of coaching he will receive at STA the next two seasons and the level of competition he will face it wouldn’t be surprising to see Allen make steady progress up the rankings. As his body fills out and he gains experience, he should project as an elite level quarterback by the time his high school days are over.
This is a very important recruiting victory for McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. Their track records with quarterbacks are outstanding so it was only a matter of time before they cashed in on the recruiting trail. By landing a quarterback of Allen’s caliber from a national high profile program such as STA, it gives Florida much needed momentum on both the state and national scene. Particularly important is a recruiting win over a quarterback that Jimbo Fisher wanted and Miami desperately needed.
As part of Florida’s takeover day on the SEC Network, the ESPN Classic replay of Florida’s 52-20 thrashing of Florida State for the 1996 national championship was shown last night. They say you never forget your first time and it’s true. Florida’s 2006 and 2008 national championships are to be savored and cherished, but neither those two nor any in the future will ever have the significance of the 1996 game when Florida avenged an earlier 21-17 loss to the Seminoles to win the Sugar Bowl and national title in such convincing fashion.
Not only did the win avenge the earlier loss in Tallahassee when the Gators played with a patchwork offensive line due to injuries, but it also erased the sour taste of a 62-24 beatdown at the hands of Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl that was the 1995 national championship game.
Two things that will always stand out from the 1996 Sugar Bowl game: (1) By going to the shotgun, Steve Spurrier gave Danny Wuerffel the split second he needed to pick the Seminoles apart; and (2) center Wyley Ritch, playing because of the injury to Jeff Mitchell, was the unsung hero, delivering flawless shotgun snaps that Wuerffel had no problems handling.
The outcome of the game might have been shaped by a marvelous psychological ploy by Steve Spurrier. Spurrier watched the beating and late hits the Seminoles put on Wuerffel in the 1994 Sugar Bowl and then saw numerous late hits on Wuerffel in the 1996 game in Tallahassee. When Spurrier complained, Bowden took offense and it became a national debate in which Spurrier was called a whiner and crybaby all the way up to game time. Spurrier never backed down and took all the heat, which took all the pressure off his team. It was absolutely brilliant and when the Seminoles got penalized for a few late hits in the Sugar Bowl game it validated Spurrier’s complaints.
As bad as it was for FSU, it could have been worse. Spurrier went conservative in the fourth quarter when the Gators pounded the Seminoles on the ground.
Georgia 10, Florida 7; November 8, 1975
The Southeastern Conference championship was there for the taking for the 11th-ranked Gators, who came into this game with unranked Georgia having won six consecutive games. After dropping an 8-7 heartbreaker to Lou Holtz and North Carolina State in Raleigh in the second game, the Florida wishbone offense got cranking. The defense, which allowed only 117 points all season, was one of the best in the country. Heading into the Georgia game, the Gators had the look of a championship team. But Georgia and Vince Dooley stood in the way and that was never a good thing for Florida. It was a chilly day in Jacksonville and the field was puddled up from a drizzling rain. The Gators ran up and down the field between the 20s, but the moment UF got to the UGA 20, Dickey’s brain went into a freeze and the play calls were predictable from the press box. Still, the Gators owned a 7-3 lead with less than four minutes to go in the game. Up until that time, Georgia quarterbacks Matt Robinson and Ray Goff had combined for 2-9 passing for 29 yards against UF’s stout defense. There was no way Georgia could mount a sustained drive on the ground so Dooley called a tight end around pass with Richard Appleby throwing the ball and Gene Washington running a streak pattern down the sideline. Washington was covered by Henry Davis, who hadn’t allowed a touchdown pass all season, but close to midfield Davis stepped in a puddle and broke stride, giving Washington the separation he needed. Washington caught Appleby’s pass on the Florida side of the 50 and the race to the end zone wasn’t even close. Stunned by the 80-yard completion that gave Georgia a 10-7 lead with 3:12 to go, the Gators still had time to win the game. Don Gaffney completed a 45-yard pass to Wes Chandler that got the ball to the Georgia 35 but on the next play, Gaffney fumbled and Georgia recovered. Florida’s defense did its part to get the ball back with 1:42 to go and Gaffney passed the Gators down the field, getting a first down at the UGA 22 on a 22-yard completion to Terry LeCount. There was 1:03 left on the clock, plenty of time to move the ball but two of the next three plays were incomplete passes to the end zone. David Posey was brought on to try a field goal that would have tied the game and given the Gators the SEC title but his foot slipped on the muddy field and the ball rolled harmlessly on the ground about three yards where Georgia recovered. This was Florida’s best chance to win an SEC title in the Doug Dickey era and in many ways, this was the beginning of the end for his career at UF. The Florida fan base never had the warm and fuzzies about Dickey and his support began to wane. Three years later he was fired.
Tiger Woods shot a 66 for a share of the first round lead at the Greenbrier Classic in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. It’s the best round he’s shot since 2014 thanks to hitting 10 of 14 fairways and 14 of 18 greens in regulation. It’s quite a departure from his last three rounds of 85, 80 and 76. Of course, he’s had great rounds in the last 16 months only to miss cuts or fall badly from contention.
Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley might have the two worst swings in the history of golf dating all the way back to the days many centuries ago when Scottish shepherds whacked petrified sheep poop with a crooked stick. Asked by ESPN about his game, Shaq replied, “Better than Barkley’s, but awful. I took him for $100,000 once.”
Braxton Miller is expected to make an official announcement that he is staying at Ohio State within the next few days. That means Ohio State will go into the 2015 season with the last three Big Ten players of the year (Miller, 2012-13, and J.T. Barrett, 2014) and the quarterback who won the three most important games last year – the Big Ten championship game, the national semifinal and the national championship game – in Cardale Jones. If you are one to wager, put your money on Jones to start and the other two to back him up. That is what is called and embarrassment of riches.
Dwayne Wade signed a one-year deal for $20 million to remain with the Miami Heat, the only team he’s ever played for in the NBA. Loyalty is refreshing, don’t you think?
With the injury (fractured wrist) to George Springer, former Gator Preston Tucker has a chance to become an every day outfielder with the Houston Astros. Tucker’s younger brother Kyle, who had signed with the Gators last fall, got a $4 million signing bonus from the Astros as their second pick in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Kentucky’s often loony basketball fans now have their own dating site – BBNMeetUp.com. I do not have to make this up.
The US Women’s National Team is a true soccer dynasty. The team will go for its third World Cup against Japan on Sunday and it’s the only team to play reach the semifinals in all seven World Cup competitions. For the record, the US Women have made the semifinals all seven of the Women’s World Cups, the championship game four times and with a win Sunday, three championships.
How would you rank Florida’s each of Florida’s three national championships in terms of importance?
Although Hall and Oates haven’t been cranking out the albums in years, their music stays relevant because of the “Live from Daryl’s House” show on Palladium TV. Hall has used this platform to introduce young new artists who always sing a few of their own songs along with a couple of old Hall and Oates tunes. Hall and Oates are on tour again this summer. Their next gig is Chastain Park in Atlanta next Friday night. Today’s music is a live concert from 2003.