Illinois will name its home basketball court after the Lou Do – Lou Henson – who won 423 games in his 21 years as the head coach of the Fighting Illini. Henson also has the court named after him at New Mexico State, where he won more than 200 games before taking the Illinois job.
Henson is 83 years old and deserves to be honored by Illinois, but fact is the school should have named the court after him long ago.
Meanwhile, Billy Donovan is 50 years old and coaching the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA after turning Florida into a national power and becoming the school’s all-time leader in wins in 19 seasons. Donovan made it to four Final Fours, won two national championships and finished runner-up once, made it to the Elite Eight game eight times including four in a row from 2011-14, and won six SEC championships. At some point between 2010 and 2015, the court at the O-Dome should have borne Billy Donovan’s name but for some ridiculous reason it never happened. Billy doesn’t need to wait until he’s 83 to have the court named after him. In fact, he doesn’t need to wait until he’s 51.
Turnover margin almost defines Florida football from 2005-09 when the Gators turned in a 57-10 record with two national championships. During that 5-year stretch, the Gators were +57 in the turnover department, giving up the ball 81 times while forcing opponents to turn the ball over 138 times via interceptions and fumbles. In the second half of this decade the Gators were 37-26 including a 2012 season in which they posted the first losing record since 1979. During this 5-year stretch, the Gators were only +14 in turnover margin, giving up the ball 112 times while forcing a combined 121 fumbles and interceptions. The numbers don’t lie. Teams that consistently win the turnover battles win the most games.
2005: +18 (Gained 31: 16 INTs, 15 fumbles; Lost 13: 7 INTs, 6 fumbles)
2006: +5 (Gained 29: 21 INTs, 8 fumbles; Lost 24: 14 INTs, 10 fumbles)
2007: +5 (Gained 20: 11 INTs, 9 fumbles; Lost 15: 6 INTs, 9 fumbles
2008: +22 (Gained 35: 26 INTs, 9 fumbles; Lost 13: 5 INTs, 8 fumbles)
2009: +7 (Gained 23: 20 INTs, 3 fumbles; Lost 16: 5 INTs, 11 fumbles)
2010: +2 (Gained 29: 22 INTs, 7 fumbles; Lost 27: 12 INTs, 15 fumbles)
2011: -12 (Gained 14: 8 INTs, 6 fumbles; Lost 26: 13 INTs, 13 fumbles)
2012: +15 (Gained 30: 20 INTs, 10 fumbles; Lost 15: 5 INTs, 10 fumbles)
2013: -2 (Gained 18: 10 INTs, 8 fumbles; Lost 20: 9 INTs, 11 fumbles)
2014: +6 (Gained 30: 16 INTs, 14 fumbles; Lost 24: 14 INTs, 10 fumbles)
Florida 37, Florida State 13; November 17, 2001
This game is best remembered for the injury to Earnest Graham, who sprained his knee and was unable to play two weeks later against Tennessee in the game that decided the SEC East championship and cost the Gators a shot at a national championship. In the third quarter with the 4th-ranked Gators leading the Seminoles, 20-3, Graham was stopped for a 1-yard loss by two or three Seminoles including Darnell Dockett. Graham limped off the field with an injured knee. According to published newspaper reports the following Monday, Dockett was quoted telling teammates, “Did you guys see what I did to Earnest Graham?” Steve Spurrier showed slow motion film the following week that showed Dockett doing something to Graham although it wasn’t clear exactly what. Spurrier tried to drum up support in the media and kept trying all the way through Florida’s bowl game, but Bobby Bowden and FSU athletic director Dave Hart won the battle of the spin, claiming Spurrier was nothing but a whiner and crybaby. Meanwhile, Graham missed the Tennessee game two weeks later and the Gators lost not only their chance to win a second straight SEC title but a chance to play Miami for the national championship. Florida lost two games in 2001, both when Graham didn’t play. Six weeks later, Steve Spurrier retired as Florida’s head coach, privately complaining that he didn’t get a lot of support from his own administration. As for the game, the Gators racked up 453 yards and held FSU to 268. It could have been absolute carnage except the Gators dropped five interceptions.
Peyton Manning’s place in college and pro football history is set. There really isn’t much more he can accomplish. About the only thing another Super Bowl championship would do is massage his ego a bit more. It really is time to quit. Peyton has had multiple surgeries on his neck and back. He’s just one big hit away from something far more serious than the lack of feeling in the fingertips of his throwing hand that he says has been ongoing for the last four years. Manning recently told Peter King of Sports Illustrated that he hasn’t had any feeling in the fingertips in quite some time and that doctors tell him “don’t count on the feeling coming back.”
Football is a dangerous enough game for the fittest of the fit who are young and healthy. For a 40-year-old who has had spinal fusion and who had to completely re-learn how to throw a football after a 2011 surgery, it’s pure insanity.
Peyton doesn’t need the money – he’s so well invested that he probably can’t spend it all in this lifetime – and he doesn’t need to throw another touchdown pass or win another championship ring. What he does need to do is quit before one hit – whether legal or questionable – puts him in a wheelchair the rest of his life. For a guy who has always been concerned about his image, it’s time to set the right example to kids by proving he can walk away from the game.
Tom Fornelli of CBSSports.com rated the 14 football coaches of the Southeastern Conference. Who’s at #1 (Nick Saban, Alabama) and #14 (Derek Mason, Vanderbilt) should come as no surprise, but what’s in between might raise a few eyebrows.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama
2. Les Miles, LSU
3. Mark Richt, Georgia
4. Steve Spurrier, South Carolina
5. Gus Malzahn, Auburn
6. Gary Pinkel, Missouri
7. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M
8. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss
9. Butch Jones, Tennessee
10. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State
11. Bret Bielema, Arkansas
12. Jim McElwain, Florida
13. Mark Stoops, Kentucky
14. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt
Now that we’re in the final week of August camp, it’s time for the final preseason outlook for all 14 SEC teams and their schedules, rating by winnable games, losable games and tossup games to come up with a final preseason prediction.
Wins (9): Wisconsin, Middle Tennessee, Louisiana-Monroe, at Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, at Mississippi State, Charleston Southern
Tossups (3): Ole Miss, at Texas A&M, at Auburn
Assessment/prediction: Games with Wisconsin and Ole Miss in September will get Alabama ready for its roadie to Athens. Texas A&M might prove the toughest game of the season other than the season-ender with Auburn. 11-1.
Wins (6): UTEP, Toledo (in Little Rock), Texas Tech, Tennessee, Tennessee-Martin, Missouri
Losses (4): at Alabama, Auburn, at Ole Miss, at LSU,
Tossups (2): Texas A&M (in Arlington, TX), Mississippi State
Assessment/prediction: Playing Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU on the road isn’t conducive to a championship run but the Hogs could get to nine wins if they can spring an upset on the road plus win their two tossup games. 8-4.
Wins (9): Louisville (in Atlanta), Jacksonville State, Mississippi State, San Jose State, at Kentucky, at Arkansas, Ole Miss, Georgia, Idaho
Losses (1): at Texas A&M
Tossups (2): at LSU, Alabama
Assessment/prediction: The Tigers face LSU on the road in September. If they get past that one, it should be smooth sailing until November. Texas A&M the week before Georgia is a game to be circled for an upset. 11-1.
Wins (4): New Mexico State, East Carolina, Vanderbilt, Florida Atlantic
Losses (5): Ole Miss, at Missouri, at LSU, Georgia (in Jacksonville), Florida State
Tossups (3): at Kentucky, Tennessee, at South Carolina
Assessment/prediction: The Gators really need to get off to a 4-0 start since they get Ole Miss, (at) Missouri, (at) LSU and Georgia in October plus they finish the season with FSU. Circle Georgia as a potential upset. Anything from 7-5 to 9-3 is likely. 7-5.
Wins (7): Louisiana-Monroe, at Vanderbilt, Southern, at Tennessee, Florida (in Jacksonville), Kentucky, Georgia Southern
Losses (2): Alabama, at Auburn
Tossups (3): South Carolina, Missouri, at Georgia Tech
Assessment/prediction: Everybody is on the Georgia bandwagon, which is a good reason to figure the Bulldogs will lose 2-3 games. Even with Nick Chubb and all those runners, you have to throw sometime and throwing might be a big enough adventure to derail a big season. Circle South Carolina and Georgia Tech for potential upsets. 9-3.
Wins (3): Eastern Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Charlotte
Losses (5): at South Carolina, Missouri, Auburn, at Mississippi State, at Georgia
Tossups (4): Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida, Tennessee, Louisville
Assessment/prediction: Kentucky could be the most improved team in the league and still lose seven games. If the Wildcats lose the opener to Louisiana-Lafayette it will be a long year. Folks in Lexington have the Florida game circled as the night the 28-game losing streak to the Gators ends. 5-7.
Wins (8): McNeese State, at Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, South Carolina, Florida, Western Kentucky, Arkansas, Texas A&M
Losses (1): at Alabama
Tossups (3): at Mississippi State, Auburn, at Ole Miss
Assessment/prediction: Everything is in the hands of quarterbacks Brandon Harris and Anthony Jennings. If one of them can throw with any consistency LSU could win 10+ games. If QB play is subpar, the Tigers could go 8-4. 9-3.
Wins (5): at Southern Miss, Northwestern State, Troy, Louisiana Tech, Kentucky
Losses (3): at Auburn, at Texas A&M, Alabama
Tossups (4): LSU, at Missouri, at Arkansas, Ole Miss
Assessment/prediction: The Bulldogs have 6-6 or 7-5 written all over them, but with Dak Prescott running and throwing MSU will find itself in the hunt in almost every game. A school record sixth straight bowl trip will happen. 7-5.
Wins (9): Southeast Missouri, at Arkansas State, UConn, at Kentucky, South Carolina, Florida, at Vanderbilt, BYU, Tennessee
Losses (1): at Arkansas
Tossups (2): at Georgia, Mississippi State
Assessment/prediction: Rule #1: Don’t bet against Missouri. Rule #2: When in doubt, see Rule #1. This is a very favorable schedule. If the Tigers can beat either Arkansas or Georgia on the road they probably get to Atlanta for a third straight year. 10-2.
Wins (7): Tennessee-Martin, Fresno State, Vanderbilt, at Florida, New Mexico State, at Memphis, Arkansas
Losses (1): at Auburn
Tossups (4): at Alabama, Texas A&M, LSU, at Mississippi State
Assessment/prediction: If the quarterbacks protect the ball and the Rebels avoid injuries, they’re going to be the team nobody wants to play. Watch the Alabama game in September. If they make it white knuckles or possibly win then the Rebels are for real. 9-3.
Wins (4): North Carolina (in Charlotte), Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Citadel
Losses (3): Missouri, LSU, at Texas A&M
Tossups (5): at Georgia, UCF, at Tennessee, Florida, Clemson
Assessment/prediction: Watch the Georgia game. Steve Spurrier has beaten Georgia four of the last five years. If he makes it five of six, the Gamecocks are going to be better than anyone expects. 7-5.
Wins (4): Bowling Green (in Nashville), Western Carolina, North Texas, Vanderbilt
Losses (5): Oklahoma, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, at Missouri
Tossups (3): at Florida, at Kentucky, South Carolina
Assessment/prediction: If the Vols get their doors blown off by Oklahoma in game two and then lose for an 11th straight year to the Gators, it will be a very long season. Win those two games and they could shock the world. 6-6.
Wins (8): Arizona State (in Houston), Ball State, Nevada, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Auburn, Western Carolina, at Vanderbilt
Losses (1): at LSU
Tossups (3): Arkansas (in Arlington, TX), Alabama, at Ole Miss
Assessment/prediction: If the Aggies can actually get some three-and-outs, they’ll be bad news for the SEC West. Kyle Allen would start for every team in the league not named Mississippi State, but Kyler Murray could be the QB by midseason. Now that’s talent. 10-2.
Wins (1): Austin Peay
Losses (9): Georgia, at Ole Miss, at South Carolina, Missouri, at Houston, Florida, Kentucky, Texas A&M, at Tennessee
Tossups (2): Western Kentucky, at Middle Tennessee
Assessment/prediction: Derek Mason hired Andy Ludwig as his offensive coordinator. Nice hire, but it’s like putting lipstick on the pig. It’s still a pig. 2-10.
Southern Cal football coach Steve Sarkisian thoroughly embarrassed himself and the university when he told inappropriate jokes while allegedly drunk at a booster/donor event. Now, those quick thinking folks at Southern Cal have taken the extraordinary step of banning alcohol in the locker room. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that Sarkisian would drink in the locker room after games both at home and on the road and this dates back to his days as head coach at Washington. Sarkisian says he’s going to get some help and has promised not to drink during the season. Sounds like someone who really needs a month at the Betty Ford Center to me.
Martin Kaymer, who won the 2014 US Open, has lost his PGA Tour Card. He didn’t play enough events (15) and finished 139 in the FedEx Cup standings so he can only play 12 events on the PGA Tour in the US next year. He is a regular member on the PGA European Tour but he’ll have to re-obtain his US PGA Tour card for 2016-17.
How desperate are the Los Angeles Lakers these days? Desperate enough to be negotiating a one-year deal with 35-year-old retread Metta World Peace, who has been out of the NBA since he was waived in 2013 and spent last year playing in China and Italy.
Urban Meyer says Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett will split the reps 50-50 when Ohio State opens its season at Virginia Tech on September 7.
What do you remember most about the Darnell Dockett-Earnest Graham incident in 2001?
The musical roots of the Kings of Leon are definitely southern rock and roll, but the band has continually pushed its limits and expanded its audience. Brothers Caleb, Nathan and Jared Followill and first cousin Jared Followill became a terrific club band that really caught on after opening for Elvis Costello, U2, Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam. Since 2007, the band had produced four outstanding albums including multi-platinum “Come Around Sundown.” Kings of Leon live at the Paleo Nylon Festival in Switzerland back in July is our midweek selection for “Simply Southern Week.”