While doing the barbeque and beer circuit (better known as Gator Clubs) in the spring before the 2006 football season, Urban Meyer made this comment: “Talent will win you seven or eight games; talent plus coaching will win you nine or ten; but if you want to win 11-12 games and maybe win a national championship you better have talent, coaching and leadership. When you add team chemistry to the great talent, great coaching and great leadership you’ve got something special.”
Meyer went on to win the 2006 national championship with a team that had just the right balance of talent and coaching infused with a strong measure of leadership and team chemistry. He had the best defensive line in the country, a headhunter of a middle linebacker in Brandon Siler, and a secondary that featured an All-America corner in Ryan Smith and the eraser at free safety in All-America Reggie Nelson. Over on the offensive side, he had a line made up of veterans, the most underrated wide receiver in the country in Dallas Baker, a quarterback who didn’t make mistakes in Chris Leak and an X-factor in freshman Tim Tebow, who ran the single wing power plays that converted better than 90% on third and fourth and short. With Siler and Leak there was no shortage of leadership.
The leadership and chemistry really showed up with that 21-20 win in Knoxville over Tennessee and when UF knocked off an LSU team that was arguably more talented. Then there was the SEC Championship Game where Meyer gambled and ran a reverse on a fake punt in the third quarter to put the brakes on Arkansas momentum. Meyer described it as “a play that was all about trust … you had a senior punter (Eric Wilbur) giving the ball to a senior wide receiver (Jamelle Cornelius) and nine other guys who had run that play a hundred times in practice and trusted each other completely. It was all about trust.”
And trust was all about team leadership and chemistry.
Whether you love or hate Meyer, you have to admit he does indeed know how to coach football. He’s as good as it gets when it comes to assembling talent and his record of sending 11 assistant coaches on to head coaching jobs speaks for the coaching element. Leadership and chemistry? You don’t win a national championship with your third string quarterback without a load of leadership and chemistry.
So let’s assume Meyer’s theory about football is on the money and apply it to the SEC for recruiting and on the field performance from 2011-14. If we go by the Meyer theory, only Alabama put it all together – talent, coaching, leadership and chemistry. We also see a number of schools that might have had talent but came up short either in coaching, leadership, chemistry or any combination of the three. We also see some teams that over-achieved such as South Carolina, Missouri and Vanderbilt.
(Rankings from Scout.com)
1. Alabama: 48-6 record; 35 top 100/24 5-star/56 4-star
Average record: 12-1.5
2. LSU: 41-12 record; 15 top 100/9 5-star/48 4-star
Average record: 10.25-3
3. South Carolina: 40-12 record; 4 top 100/3 5-star/23 4-star
Average record: 10-3
4. Georgia: 40-14 record; 16 top 100/8 5-star/42 4-star
Average record: 10-3.5
5. Missouri: 36-17 record; 1 top 100/2 5-star/12 4-star
Average record: 9-4.25
6. Texas A&M: 35-17 record; 11 top 100/5 5-star/35 4-star
Average record: 8.75-4.25
7. Mississippi State: 32-20 record; 2 top 100/3 5-star/14 4-star
Average record: 8-5
8. Auburn: 32-21 record; 13 top 100; 9 5-star/41 4-star
Average record: 8-5.25
9. Florida: 29-21 record; 16 top 100/6 5-star/40 4-star
Average record: 7.25-5.25
10. Vanderbilt: 27-24 record; 1 top 100/0 5-star/3 4-star
Average record: 6.75-6
11. Ole Miss: 26-25 record; 9 top 100; 5 5-star; 22 4-star
Average record: 6.5-6.25
12. Arkansas: 25-25 record; 3 top 100/2 5-star/18 4-star
Average record: 6.25-6.25
13. Tennessee: 22-27 record; 4 top 100/11 5-star/35 4-star
Average record: 5.5-6.75
14. Kentucky: 14-34 record; 0 top 100/0 5-star/11 4-star
Georgia 26, Florida 21; November 8, 1980
The 20th-ranked Gators were 1:03 and 93 yards away from upsetting eventual national champion Georgia, which got 238 yards from freshman Herschel Walker. The Gators came into the game 7-1 and still in the hunt for their first SEC championship while Georgia was 8-0 and ranked #2. Trailing 20-10, Florida rallied in the fourth quarter, scoring on an 11-yard run by James Jones and a 2-point conversion pass from Wayne Peace to Tyrone Young then taking the lead on a 40-yard field goal by Brian Clark with 6:52 to go. Florida got the ball back one more time and ate up four minutes on the clock before pinning the Bulldogs back at their 8-yard line on a Mark Dickert punt with 1:35 to go in the game. On first down, David Galloway almost had Buck Belue for a safety but he was picked off by Nat Hudson, allowing Belue to escape for a 1-yard loss at the seven. On second down, Belue threw incomplete to Charles Junior. Then came third and 11 and the play that lives forever in infamy in the minds of the Gator nation. Belue dropped to pass and was flushed out of the end zone by the Florida pass rush. Rolling right, Belue spotted Lindsay Scott at the UF 25 where four Florida defenders were bunched up. One Florida defender fell down and that was just the opening Scott needed. He headed straight to the sideline then turned upfield and outraced the entire Florida team to the end zone to give Georgia the miracle finish and keep their unbeaten dream alive. This was a crushing defeat for the Gators, who had gone 0-10-1 the year before. The hangover from this loss lasted the rest of November. The Gators barely beat a bad Kentucky team, 17-15, the next week then fell 31-7 to Miami and 17-13 to Florida State in the final two games of the regular season. Had the Gators beaten Georgia they would have finished in a 4-way tie for the SEC title with Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi State and could have very well finished 10-1 in the regular season. The Gators did go on to win the Tangerine Bowl by beating Maryland, but even with the remarkable turnaround, it was a season that left Gator fans thinking about what might have been. Charley Pell never beat the Bulldogs although it was the team he recruited that hosed Georgia, 27-0, in 1984.
Score another win for Nike in the ongoing shoe wars. Michigan, which signed what was at the time the most lucrative shoe and apparel deal in history with adidas in 2007, will move to the Nike camp in July of 2016. The deal with Nike runs through 2027 and Nike will have the option to extend it four more years. Under the new agreement, Michigan basketball will wear Nike’s Jordan Jump brand.
This is the third big blow to adidas in the last two years as Notre Dame (moved to Under Armour) and Tennessee (moved to Nike) have severed ties with the German-based company. Adidas did get Miami to switch but that’s small consolation for losing for losing two of the four top schools in licensed apparel sales in Notre Dame and Michigan.
Michigan fans are taking the move to Nike as a positive. In the seven years Michigan has worn adidas uniforms the football team has gone 46-42. In the previous seven years when Michigan was wearing Nike, the football team went 64-24.
Currently in the SEC, there are 10 Nike schools, two Under Armour (South Carolina and Auburn) and two adidas (Mississippi State and Texas A&M).
“We spent a lot of time debating this. We felt we were covered in the DH … We wanted to get Alex Rodriguez on there and couldn’t.” – Ned Yost, manager, American League All-Star Team.
A-Rod is hitting .284 to go with 16 homers, 47 RBI and an on base percentage of .390, which is pretty remarkable considering he’s (a) a few days shy of 40 years old and (b) he missed all last season suspended by Major League Baseball for using performance enhancing drugs. It wasn’t good enough to land a spot on the American League All-Star team, however. He was bypassed by the fans and wasn’t good enough to land a spot as one of five candidates for a final fan vote. There are those who think if nothing else A-Rod should have been named to the AL team because of lifetime achievement – more than 3,000 hits, third all-time in home runs and second only to Hank Aaron in RBI. There is precedent. Willie Mays and Hank Aaron come to mind immediately. When they were named to their final All-Star games neither one had put up anything close to the numbers A-Rod has put up this season.
Of course, neither Mays nor Aaron were ever accused of using performance enhancing drugs much less had to sit a year due to a suspension.
Yost can say it’s not about the suspension and use Yasmani Grandal, Nelson Cruz and Jhonny Peralta as exhibits 1, 2 and 3 since they were suspended a bunch of games for PED use, but does anyone really believe the explanation that there was just no room on the roster for A-Rod?
The Boston Celtics traded Gerald Wallace for former Gator David Lee. When Lee was injured last season at Golden State it opened the door for Draymond Green to become a permanent fixture at power forward, leaving Lee as a high priced guy off the bench. The Warriors did Lee a favor by trading him to an up and coming team where his experience will prove invaluable and at the same time saved $23 million over the next two years. As for the 32-year-old Lee, he should have at least two productive years remaining with the Boston.
The attorney for De’Andre Johnson, dismissed from FSU for punching a woman in a Tallahassee bar, is trying to paint Johnson as a victim. Jose Baez, who saved Casey Anthony from the needle, says his client was provoked. According to Baez, it was the woman’s fault and Johnson simply retaliated. That’s a rather poor excuse. Johnson’s brain was jammed in neutral. He lacked the presence to walk away.
Florida State landed its third 2016 basketball commitment when Jonathan Isaac (6-9, 190, Naples, FL/Bradenton, FL IMG Academy) chose the Seminoles over Florida, LSU, Louisville and Kentucky. Hamilton signed a terrific 2015 class, also. If it’s typical of what Lenny has done in the past at FSU, figure the Seminoles will lose at least 6-8 games they should have no business losing and go to the NIT.
Laremy Tunsil’s stepfather says he’s telling it all to the NCAA – about improper benefits while Ole Miss was recruiting the stud left tackle when he was at Columbia High in Lake City and from agents who have been tracking him since his freshman year in Oxford. Funny, but Tunsil’s stepdad had a zipped lip back when he thought he was going to cash in on Laremy, who figures to be a top-5 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Should Alex Rodriguez have made the AL All-Star team or is he being punished for fighting PED use and fighting his suspension for so long?
John Lennon and Paul McCartney got all the praise and adoration when The Beatles were churning out the music but maybe the most talented of the band was George Harrison, who seemed content to play his music and make his contributions while letting Lennon and McCartney grab the headlines. When The Beatles broke up, Harrison put together a marvelous solo career. His triple album “All Things Must Pass” came out in the fall of 1970 and became an instant classic that some publications consider one of the 100 best albums of all time.