“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics” – Mark Twain, who claimed he got the quote from British Prime Minister Disraeli.
Most of the stories in circulation regarding Will Grier’s announced transfer from the University of Florida probably fall in one of those three categories. I’ve heard stories that have a strong measure of plausibility and I’ve heard others that are best described as products of fertile imaginations. I know I don’t have the answers but somewhere out there we have truth. So, let’s take a moment and ask ourselves if it’s really important to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Does it matter why Will Grier is gone? Does it matter if he leaves by his own volition or if transferring out is just a polite way to allow him to save face and what’s left of his reputation?
We could beat our brains out searching for the 100% correct answer but whether we find the answer or not, that’s time we can’t get back spent looking. So instead of wasting that time, let’s simply agree with this one conclusion:
Will Grier is no longer a Gator and barring a change of mind(s) that might rival the Jesus walking on the water miracle, there is no way he’s coming back to the University of Florida.
Where he transfers to and whether or not he will be eligible to play before midseason 2017 if he goes to a Division I school is a problem Grier, his family and destination school and coaches are going to have to work out. Since it’s an NCAA rule and not a University of Florida rule that was broken, Grier’s future is plenty complicated. It would have been complicated had he stayed at Florida because there would have been no guarantees that he would see the field again because of the remaining 6 games of that NCAA suspension.
Meanwhile, at Florida, not all that much changes for Jim McElwain and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. They still have to get a quarterback not named Will Grier ready to go for Saturday, September 3, 2016 when the season opens against UMass in The Swamp. Currently, there are four choices – Treon Harris, Luke Del Rio, Feleipe Franks and Kyle Trask – but that could change. The Gators are still actively recruiting Dwayne Haskins Jr. (6-3, 204, Potomac, MD The Bullis School) and their phones have been active with calls from potential graduate transfer QBs who wish to chat about the possibility of spending their final year of college football eligibility at the University of Florida.
This is a far easier situation to deal with moving forward than the one Grier left the Gators with when he was declared ineligible days before the LSU game. McElwain and his staff have months to get a QB ready to go, not a matter of days and history tells us they’ll do just fine. As for Will Grier, wish him well wherever he goes.
ADJUSTING THE NUMBERS
The attrition since Friday puts the Gators at 72 players on scholarship. There are 10 seniors who have exhausted their eligibility. Vernon Hargreaves III gone to the NFL and it’s likely Marcus Maye, Keanu Neal and Kelvin Taylor will follow suit. Nobody should be surprised if Demarcus Robinson, Jeremi Powell and Austin Hardin are gone as well. That should put the Gators at 55 scholarship players returning for 2016. If it’s a typical year anywhere from 3-5 more will be gone for various reasons. McElwain already has 25 signed so if even with no more attrition, the Gators will have 80 on scholarship which means room for at least five more in the class that can count toward last year when UF signed only 19.
QUALITY WIN FOR MIKE WHITE
The Gators picked up a quality win over the weekend in Sunrise when they knocked off Oklahoma State, 72-70, in the Orange Bowl Classic. Once again the Gators shot poorly – 42.6% from the field, 30.8% from the 3-point stripe and 12-26 from the foul line – but they played exceptional defense, got 32 points off the bench and turned 14 Oklahoma State turnovers into 21 points. While the shooting numbers were very poor, Mike White had to be encouraged by the offense. The ball moved well enough that there was no lack of open shots and the Gators took it to the rack and got fouled. At some point you have to figure the shots will start going down and there will be some improvement from the foul line. A couple other encouraging signs were Alex Murphy contributing 4 points in 8 minutes in his first action of the year – Florida’s a better team when he’s able to contribute – and freshman KeVaughn Allen scored 11 points and looked very comfortable at both ends of the floor. Florida is 7-3 with two more non-conference games before the grind of the SEC schedule begins. The Gators play extraordinary defense. If the shooting comes around they are going to be a dangerous team down the SEC stretch.
JOB SECURITY IN THE SEC
Nick Saban, Alabama: Nick’s job is so safe that if he demanded a new school president, the words would hardly be out of his mouth before the moving vans pulled up in front of the house of Dr. Stuart Bell. He’s making almost $8 million a year. If he asks for $10 million, no problem.
Jim McElwain, Florida: He won 10 regular season games when few expected more than 6-7 and now he’s ripping and shredding on the recruiting trail where the Gators have the nation’s number one 2016 class according to Scout.com. He’s so good Florida football attendance rose by 5,000 fans per game in 2015.
Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: He’s 33-18 in four seasons and has the administration spending money like crazy on facilities and assistant coach salaries to make certain he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Hugh makes $4.5 million and he just got another $1 million to dole out to his assistant coaches.
Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: Every year Mullen’s name is at the top of some new school’s drool list. Every year the experts all say this is the year Mullen departs StarkVegas for a job where there are no billboards advertising last chance for chicken fried steak before you reach the end of the earth. Every year he stays put. They’re paying him $4.5 million, which is like $10 million in Atlanta, where the top men’s clothing store doesn’t sell designer overalls and lines don’t form at the John Deere dealer the day they unveil the latest tractor models.
STANDING ON SHAKY GROUND
Butch Jones, Tennessee: Vol fans will tell you they love Butch Jones. For now. He’s got the Vols on a 5-game winning streak and next year the creamsicle clad faithful will expect more, which might mean winning games against teams with winning records.
Gus Malzahn, Auburn: He’s gone from 12-2 and 13 seconds away from a national championship to 8-5 to 6-6. Along the way he’s gone through two defensive coordinators and is looking for a third and his offense, which requires a running quarterback, is run by a couple of drop back passers. So, yeah, you could say things need to improve in a hurry.
Bret Bielema, Arkansas: The fans will tolerate 4-overtime games and basketball-like scores only so long even if you resemble the giant razorback hog they keep in a cage in one of the end zones and your wife looks like Daisy Duke. Two straight 7-win seasons won’t cut it in Fayette Nam. A step backward and he’s gone. An 8-9 win season won’t satisfy the masses but will keep him from a date with the Extinct Species List on Countdown to Firing Day.
Les Miles, LSU: Things are so dysfunctional at LSU, who knows what’s going to happen next. Just when we thought Les was a step away from quicksand, the story comes out about how AD Joe Alleva altered the contract of former defensive coordinator John Chavis, whose lawyers can probably get many times the $445,000 they say is owed their client by LSU. Les could either be in deepest and darkest or else LSU could hire an AD who loves him. Either way it’s very shaky ground.
KEEP A FIRE EXTINGUISHER HANDY
Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: There are all these hot stories that the chancellor of A&M wants Sumlin gone and not just because he’s run off three straight stud quarterbacks. There are a lot of folks who say that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. It’s probably too late to fire him now unless they really have the goods on him and can avoid a $20 million buyout. Yes, I know the only one who has more money than the Aggies is God, but $20 million is still $20 million. There is another story circulating that Sumlin wins 10 games next year or he’s gone.
Mark Stoops, Kentucky: It was tough enough trying to explain away that six-game losing streak at the end of 2014. This year, Stoops is trying to explain away losing six of the last seven and offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson is the scapegoat. If Stoops had gotten Kentucky bowl eligible the last two years he wouldn’t be in the least bit of trouble, but after two close calls and no kewpie doll to show for his efforts, it will take at least seven wins in 2016, maybe eight.
Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt won one more game in 2015 and actually won two SEC contests. The defense got better and the offense got worse. Mason is doing this year what he did last year, which is firing a slew of coaches and bringing in some new guys. If you are an assistant coach and you’re looking for something more than a 1-year stop at an SEC school to go on your resume, the last place you should be looking is Vandy.
Kirby Smart, Georgia: He is being hailed as the hire of the century. We’ll take a wait and see on that. If he’s smart he hires an offensive coordinator who understands that while handing the ball off to Nick Chubb is a good thing, defenses will stack the box with eight guys if you don’t have a downfield throwing game.
Will Muschamp, South Carolina: At Florida he was run off for going 28-21 in four years. If he does that at South Carolina they will be drawing up new contracts designed to keep him on the job until he’s old and gray. Critical for his long term success will be his ability to make the offense exciting and productive. If it’s a ground and pound replay of his four years at Florida his career in Columbia will have a similar ending.
Barry Odom, Missouri: If his choices for OC and DC are a preview of things to come, this will be a short-lived experience as a head coach. Josh Heupel, who Bob Stoops fired at Oklahoma after the 2014 season, comes to Mizzou from Utah State where his QBs averaged a mediocre 6.8 yards per attempt. The new DC is Demontie Cross, whose TCU defenses were less than spectacular. And, he’s not keeping Craig Kugliowski, the D-line coach who turned out one All-American after another.
A LITTLE LOVE FOR JEFF DRISKEL
Jeff Driskel finished his college football career throwing for 458 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead Louisiana Tech to a 47-28 win over Arkansas State in the New Orleans Bowl. It was good to see Driskel finish his career with success in the same place that he had his lowest moment – the 2012 Sugar Bowl. Driskel finished the 2015 season with 4,033 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, single season numbers that exceed four years at Florida. The lack of success at Florida has more to do with three offensive coordinators in four years and a lack of coaching at the quarterback position than Driskel’s talent. He’s a good kid who is fortunate that he had a chance to go somewhere new to regain his confidence and show the world what he could do. Along the way he’s never bashed Florida and never trashed the people who kept shuffling the deck on him. That says plenty about him.
CLAY TRAVIS SAID THIS
On a Friday guest shot on The Paul Finebaum Show, Fox Sports football writer Clay Travis said, “Michigan State is going to get destroyed, wiped clean off the planet by Alabama. It’s a blood bank guarantee.”
Travis also offered up this stat: The last time the Big Ten produced a first round quarterback in the NFL Draft was 1995 when Penn State’s Kerry Collins was selected. Since 1995, 11 of the 14 SEC schools have produced a first round QB.
BOWLING FOR DOLLARS
So far: 4-1
Today’s attempt at predicting a winner:
Western Kentucky 49, South Florida 40: It’s a great storyline. Willie Taggart jilted Western Kentucky for South Florida and now, three years later, he’ll be across the sideline in a bowl game that will be watched by tens – and perhaps thousands of people. Perhaps. This is the Miami Beach Bowl but the game will be played miles from Miami Beach in Marlins Park. In a lot of ways it will be just like a Marlins game – not many people there to watch.
Robert Nkemdiche’s collegiate career is over. Ole Miss Hugh Freeze suspended him for the Sugar Bowl game with Oklahoma State after his arrest for marijuana possession. Nkemdiche has already announced he will enter the NFL Draft.
Former Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles wasted little time finding a transfer destination. He will be eligible immediately as a graduate transfer.
Austin Grandstaff is transferring out of Ohio State. Back when Billy Donovan was coaching the Gators, Grandstaff had Florida on his short list. The way he shoots – and the way Florida shoots – he would be a tremendous fit in Gainesville. But, he’s from Texas and you can almost bet the ranch he’ll wind up at Texas, Texas A&M or Baylor.
Oregon State defensive coordinator Kalani Sitake will take over as head football coach at BYU. Sitake played fullback for BUY and was an assistant at Utah from 2005-14.
Baylor will be without its best playmakers for its Russell Athletic Bowl game with North Carolina. Quarterbacks Seth Russell and Jarrett Stidham are both out along with running back Shock Linwood and Biletnikoff Award-winning receiver Corey Coleman.
The official “head count” at the Cure Bowl in Orlando was more than 18,000, which means at least 8,000 came cleverly disguised as empty chair back seats.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Should the Gators actively seek a graduate transfer to play QB next year or are you more comfortable with Mac and staff working with the guys they’ve already got?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
The Association came out with the song “Along Comes Mary” in 1966 during the time my family was exiled in Mississippi. Fortunately for me, my next door neighbor John Henegan explained that Mary was not some cool chick but the heathen devil weed. John said that there were people in McComb who smoked it. Imagine my shock. Anyway, The Association had a good run for a few years with several songs that were classics in the 1960s and early 1970s. Today’s music is the greatest hits of The Association.