Take a moment and consider what the spring semester looks like at the University of Florida.
Baseball, which opens its season February 19, is ranked #1 nationally and general consensus is no one has a pitching staff like the Gators, headed up by A.J. Puk and Logan Shore.
Tim Walton’s softball team, which opens its season in Tampa Friday afternoon against Illinois State, is ranked #1 and going for a third straight national championship. The Gators have the best player in the country in Kelsey Stewart and if freshman Kelly Barnhill delivers Walton has a second hammer in the circle to go with Aleshia Ocasio, who made All-America as a freshman last year.
Gymnastics, which has been ranked #1 most of the season, is at #2 now, just .173 points behind Oklahoma. The Gators, who are looking for their fourth straight NCAA title, might have the greatest collegiate gymnast in history in Bridget Sloan.
J.C. Deacon’s men’s golf team moved up seven spots to the #5 ranking in this week’s Golf Week poll while Emily Glaser’s women’s golf team is ranked #12.
Florida’s indoor track team is #1 nationally while the women’s indoor team is ranked #4. When the season goes outdoors, the Gator men will likely be ranked #1 again while the women should be ranked top six.
Roland Thornqvist’s women’s tennis team is ranked #3 while the men’s team is ranked #22. Thornqvist has a great 1-2 punch in Brooke Austin and Kourtney Keegan. They are the #5 ranked doubles team in the country while in singles play, Austin is ranked #11 and Keegan ranked #25.
Then there is swimming where the Gator men are ranked #5 and the women are ranked #9. The Gators will go into the SEC championships in Columbia Missouri on February 16 looking to knock off both the Georgia women and men’s teams for the conference title.
Florida’s women’s lacrosse team holds down the #6 national ranking.
Amanda Butler has the Florida women ranked #16 nationally while Mike White has the Florida men in the hunt for the NCAA tournament. Butler has the UF women playing at such a frenetic pace that no one in the SEC wants to play them, while White needs only one more win to become the winningest first-year coach in UF history.
It’s entirely possible the Gators could score an unprecedented five or six national championships this year. You have to like the chances for baseball, softball, gymnastics and women’s tennis while Mike Holloway could score a repeat of 2011 when he brought home both the indoor and outdoor championships for the men’s teams. This might be the year the Gators end Stanford’s long run as the Director’s Cup champions.
Since 2010, the Gators have won 11 national championships, most of any Division I school, and they’ve won 27 SEC and 5 lacrosse conference titles.
SPURRIER SAYS “I SORT OF FIRED MYSELF”
Now retired Steve Spurrier has had a chance to reflect on his decision to leave the coaching profession a few games into the 2015 season at South Carolina. The time away has told him his sell-by date expired months earlier.
“We all have an expiration date, and I missed mine,” Spurrier told Paul Finebaum Monday afternoon. “Mine should have been after the Miami game [in 2014]. “We had won four bowl games in a row, never had a losing season. I just thought we had a team really, that, should have a winning season, but I was definitely wrong, it just didn’t work out.”
A few games into the season, Spurrier decided he needed to go now rather than wait until the end of the season.
“The circumstances of where I was I thought I did the right thing,” Spurrier said. “I didn’t think this team was listening very well to me, and I wasn’t doing a very good job. In a way, I sort of fired myself. I thought I probably should be fired.”
CLASSLESS OR SIMPLY BLAMING HIMSELF?
By walking out of the postgame press conference Sunday night after the Super Bowl, Cam Newton has opened himself up for what seems an endless barrage of criticism. General consensus is Cam acted like a sore loser and by walking out of the press conference showed that he is classless to the core.
I’ve spent a rather large portion of my life in postgame situations, whether in an organized press conference, in locker rooms where the party has just begun on one side of the stadium to the locker room on the other side of the stadium where they might need to hire ServicePro to handle the water damage from all the tears or chasing down athletes and coaches hoping to escape down a hallway or into a waiting car or bus. If there is a constant in these situations it is that winners tend to be more glib, giddy, insightful and gracious than the folks that lost.
The best I ever dealt with at handling adversity was Jack Nicklaus. The man was truly blessed by God with the ability to say something nice no matter what the circumstance.
John Wooden was like that, too. The day after UCLA’s streak of seven straight NCAA basketball titles was ended in a bitterly fought, double overtime loss to North Carolina State in the 1974 semifinals in Greensboro, Al McGuire congratulated Coach Wooden on his ability to stay gracious and humble in defeat. “If that was me, I woulda been obnoxious.” Al was my friend. I can assure you, he would have been beyond obnoxious.
Not everybody handles an adverse situation like Jack Nicklaus or John Wooden. I don’t agree with how Cam Newton handled things but I don’t think it deserves the amount of piling on he’s received either. I don’t look at what he did as classless but I do think he should have handled things better.
I believe Cam Newton tried to put everything on his shoulders heading into the Super Bowl and when he came up empty, he heaped all the blame for the loss on himself. Because he played so poorly in the game that mattered most, I think he went into that press conference feeling lower than a snake’s belly. From what I saw of the press conference live and then on replays, he looks like someone in a daze.
No doubt, it was an immature moment both in the way he handled the questions and in the fact that he heaped all the blame for the loss on himself. It’s a team game and there’s no question he would have performed better if his offensive line had elected to pass protect or run block. He didn’t point fingers at his O-line and blame them for not doing their part. That would have been a sore loser.
Based on his enormous talent, chances are we haven’t seen the last of Cam Newton at a Super Bowl. If he grows up a little bit, he’ll handle the next one better, win or lose.
Now, time to talk about the other quarterback and how he handled the postgame.
While it’s great that Peyton Manning got a win in his final game as a pro, I can’t exactly praise him for taking several opportunities to shill for Budweiser. The people who own Budweiser say Peyton wasn’t paid by them to talk up their beer, but they didn’t mention the fact that Peyton owns a sizeable interest in a couple of their beer distributorships in Louisiana.
If it’s classless for Cam Newton to react badly after losing the Super Bowl, isn’t it just as classless for Peyton to use the postgame for a platform to be a bad role model for kids while plugging one of his business ventures?
DEION SANDERS ON CAM NEWTON POSTGAME
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders was upset with the way Newton handled the postgame media deluge.
“You are the face of our brand right now,” Sanders said, according to Ross Jones of FoxSports.com. “You can’t do that. I understand the emotions of losing. You can’t do that. A Manning, a Brady, all of those guys who have been prototypical [guys] would never do that.”
Well, that’s not exactly true. Brady has stormed out of press conferences before.
Sanders later said, “You can’t be dabbin’, smiling, styling and profiling when you win, so this is how you go out when you lose?”
FROM FORBES MAGAZINE ON SUPER BOWL EARNINGS
This was written for Forbes Magazine by K. Sean Packard, CPA, prior to Super Bowl 50 in which he talks about how taxation rules work in the state of California and how they will affect Cam Newton, whose base salary is $13 million and whose income included a $7 million signing bonus and $71,000 in playoff bonuses. Packard explains:
“States tax a player based on their calendar-year income. They apply a duty day calculation which takes the ratio of duty days within the state over total duty days for the year. That ratio is then multiplied by the player’s salary to arrive at a state’s allocable income.”
Later on, Packard calculated:
“If the Panthers win the Super Bowl, Newton will earn another $102,000 in playoff bonuses, but if they lose he will only net another $51,000. The Panthers will have about 206 total duty days during 2016, including the playoffs, preseason, regular season and organized team activities (OTAs), which Newton must attend or lose $500,000. Seven of those duty days will be in California for the Super Bowl and another four will be in the Golden State for road games against St. Louis Los Angeles and Oakland next season.
“Win on Sunday, and Newton will pay California a total of $138,250 in taxes in 2016. Lose, and he will pay $137,900 based on an income reduction of $51,000.
“To determine what Newton will pay California on his Super Bowl winnings alone, we will ignore the four 2016 season duty days and pretend they are being played elsewhere. In looking at the seven days Newton will spend in California this week for Super Bowl 50, he will pay the state $88,000 on $102,000 of income should the Panthers be victorious or $87,800 on $51,000 should they lose.
“The result: Newton will pay California 86.3% of his Super Bowl earnings if the Panthers win. Losing means his effective tax rate will be a whopping 172.2%. Oh yeah, he will also pay the IRS 40.5% on his earnings.”
LET THE CALIPARI TO THE KNICKS RUMORS BEGIN
New York Knicks president Phil Jackson fired his coach (Derek Fisher) Monday. Kurt Rambis will serve as the interim coach, but unless the Knicks light it up under his direction and go fairly deep into the playoffs it’s doubtful he will be offered the permanent gig. That brings us to John Calipari. Kentucky’s not having a great season and you have to wonder how long Cal can handle Kentucky being just a cut above average. Kentucky has a very good recruiting class coming in for next season, but there’s nothing in this class to indicate the Wildcats will be anywhere close to what they were in 2015.
We don’t know if Cal could handle working for Jackson but you can bet the ranch he will be part of the conversation moving forward. And, if you think the Brooklyn Nets are going to just stand by idly, think again. They’ve had their eye on Cal for a long time and they need a decent coach. This is the kind of bidding war that could make it very attractive for Cal (makes almost $8 million a year) to get one of those offers he can’t refuse.
When he signed on for the 2016 season, Peyton Manning agreed to take a $4 million pay cut but there were incentives in his contract -- $2 million for winning the AFC championship game and another $2 million for winning the Super Bowl.
Mike DeCourcey of The Sporting News has a solution for volume cheaters in both football and basketball. He calls it “The Near Death Penalty.” It’s a two-part plan. Part 1, eliminate self-imposed sanctions, which would turn every offense immediately to the NCAA Committee on Infractions. Part 2, allow any player on any team hit by sanctions to transfer immediately with instant eligibility.
As bad as things are for Missouri basketball, they got worse over the weekend when forwards Jakeenan Gant and Russell Woods were suspended after they received citations for possession of drug paraphernalia.
Dennis Rodman wants to be the new coach of the New York Knicks. I do not have to make this up.
The Philadelphia Eagles released wide receiver Riley Cooper Monday in a cap-cutting maneuver. It’s likely that he’ll wind up in San Francisco playing for former Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Cooper’s career numbers are 123 receptions, 1,739 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s also a proven special teams commodity.
Miami Jackson has hired Lakatriona Brunson as its football coach. She will be the first female head coach in Florida high school football history. She’s brought on Luke Campbell, formerly of 2 Live Crew, as her defensive coordinator.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do you consider Cam Newton’s post Super Bowl actions classless or just a moment of immaturity by a player crushed emotionally by losing the biggest game of his pro football career?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Music lost another of its greats over the weekend when Maurice White, the founder of Earth, Wind and Fire passed away in his sleep from the effects of Parkinson’s disease. Today’s music is the band’s greatest hits live.