After a 3-1 week that included taking 2 out of 3 from Georgia, the Gators (36-6, 13-5 SEC) regained the #1 position in the USA Today College Baseball Coaches Poll on Monday. The Gators received 29 of the 31 first place votes with second place Texas A&M (32-8, 12-6) getting the other two. Also in the top 25 from the SEC are #4 Mississippi State (27-13-1, 10-8 SEC), #5 South Carolina (33-8, 14-4 SEC), #7 Vanderbilt (30-10, 10-8 SEC), #12 Ole Miss (31-10, 10-8 SEC) and #13 LSU (27-13, 10-8 SEC). Last week’s #1 Miami (30-9) dropped to #3 after getting swept by Virginia while Florida State (28-11) moved up to #6 and Florida Atlantic (28-10) held at #17.
The Gators will travel to Columbia to face South Carolina in what will be the most highly watched and anticipated college baseball series in the country this week.
Florida’s Logan Shore was named SEC co-Pitcher of the Week after his 2-hit shutout of Georgia last Friday night. Shore faced the minimum 27 batters, walked one and struck out nine as he won a school record 13th straight game over the last two seasons and improved his 2016 record to 8-0.
OTHER UF SPRING SPORTS
Softball: The Gators (45-3, 15-3 SEC) are expected to easily hold onto the #1 spot when the rankings come out later today. Delanie Gourley was honored as SEC Pitcher of the Week and Amanda Lorenz was named SEC Freshman of the Week. Gourley threw a no-hitter against Mississippi State in game one of a 3-game weekend series, picked up a save in game two and then pitched 5 innings of 2-hit, shutout relief for the win as the Gators took the final game for a clean sweep. Lorenz hit a 2-out, 2-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to give Gourley her 15th win of the season. Gourley is 15-2 with an 0.68 ERA and 5 saves this season. The homer for Lorenz was her sixth of the season. She’s hitting .387 with 38 RBI.
Women’s Golf: The Gators moved up to #6 in the Golfweek.com rankings and were seeded #2 in the Baton Rouge Regional for the NCAA Division I Championships. Duke, ranked #5 by Golfweek.com, got the #1 seed for the regional. Other SEC teams in the same regional with the Gators are #6-seed South Carolina, and #12 seed LSU. North Florida of the Atlantic Sun Conference earned the #16 seed. Alabama is the host and #1 seed in the Shoal Creek Regional, which will include Tennessee and Vanderbilt from the SEC. Florida State is also in the Shoal Creek Regional. Georgia is the #2 seed in the Bryan, Texas Regional, hosted by Texas A&M, which is seeded #6. Miami is also in the Bryan Regional. Arkansas got the #2 seed in the Stanford Regional.
Men’s Golf: The Gators, who await their NCAA assignment, are ranked #9 by Golfweek.com. Also in the top 25 from the SEC are #8 LSU, #10 Vanderbilt, #11 Auburn, #12 Alabama, #14 South Carolina and #21 Arkansas. South Florida is ranked #13 and Florida State is ranked #15.
RANKING THE BEST FOOTBALL COACHING JOBS IN THE SEC
What is the best football job in the Southeastern Conference? Steve Spurrier said it’s between Georgia and LSU although he did give Nick Saban credit for what he’s doing at Alabama. This is the third day of an overall evaluation to rank the SEC’s best coaching jobs. So far we’ve evaluated winning (records since 1990) and championships (championships since 1990 count 2X championships prior to 1990). Today, we rate the coaches from top to bottom of the league, scoring it 14 for first place, 13 for second, 12 for third, etc. Still to be rated,
stadiums (size matters, but so do amenities and home field advantage); non-stadium football facilities (yes, we’re going to talk about the arms race); recruiting (who does the best job and why); and intangibles (weather, location and other advantages).
Since there are 14 teams in the SEC, we’ll score 14 points for first place in any category, 13 for second and all the way down to 1 point for finishing last. Save your choices and score along. When we’ve gone through all seven categories, we’ll compare scores.
1. Nick Saban, Alabama: In the nine years Nick Saban has been on the job, Alabama has gone 105-18, with 4 national championships, a final four appearance, 4 SEC championships and 6 SEC West titles. Since 1990 and prior to Saban, Alabama went through 5 head coaches including one (Mike Price) who never coached a game. Alabama won a national championship in 1992 under Gene Stallings. Bama has been sanctioned by the NCAA 3 times since 1990.
2. Les Miles, LSU: LSU has had five head coaches since 1990 with current coach Les Miles the longest tenured (11 years, 112-32 record). Miles has posted at least 10 wins in 7 of his 11 years on the job and has never failed to win at least 8. LSU has averaged 10 wins a season since 2000 and has won national championships in 2003 under Nick Saban and 2007 under Miles, who has won 2 SEC titles and 3 SEC West championships.
3. Hugh Freeze, Ole Miss: Freeze inherited a mess, but he’s improved his record in each of his four years on the job. He’s 34-18 in four years and is the only coach in the country with back-to-back wins over Nick Saban. When Freeze went 10-3 in 2015, it marked only the second time since the Johnny Vaught years (1947-73) that Ole Miss won 10 games. Since 1990 and prior to Freeze’s arrival, Ole Miss went through 6 coaches and posted 9 losing seasons.
4. Dan Mullen, Mississippi State: What Mullen has done at Mississippi State won’t qualify as miraculous, but it’s close. Since his arrival in 2009, Mississippi State is 55-35. Erase that 5-7 2009 and it’s 55-28 with 2 of the 3 9-win seasons in school history and 1 of the 3 10-win seasons. Plus, Mullen has taken Mississippi State to 6 straight bowl games, another school record. Since 1990 and before Mullen arrived, Mississippi State posted 11 losing seasons.
5. Jim McElwain, Florida: Jim McElwain (10-4 after one year on the job) took over a team that was predicted 6-6 or 7-5 at best and won the SEC East in his first year on the job. Although it’s too early to predict greatness for McElwain, it must be noted that the trend since 1960 at Florida is great coach, average coach, great coach, average coach, etc. If history holds true, then Florida is on a greatness trend. McElwain is Florida’s fifth coach since 1990.
6. Gus Malzahn, Auburn: Malzahn (27-13) is on the hot seat but every Auburn coach who can’t keep pace with Alabama is going to be on the hot season. Malzahn scores high for taking over a Gene Chizik team that went 3-9 in 2012, won the SEC and was within seconds of a national championship. Auburn has been trending in the wrong direction in the two years since but Malzahn has the offensive horses to score plenty if his juco QB proves to be the real deal in the fall. Chizik won a national championship with an unbeaten team in 2010 and Tommy Tuberville went 13-0 in 2004 and Terry Bowden 11-0 in 1993, so this is always going to score as one of the best jobs in the SEC.
7. Bret Bielema, Arkansas: People poke a lot of fun at Bielema because he looks like the human equivalent of a blocked punt (so how did he get that wife?), but he can coach football. Considering the state of the Arkansas program left by John L. Smith in 2012, Bielema’s 18-20 mark in three years is pretty impressive. The Hogs are on the verge of being that team nobody in the SEC ever wants to play. Bielema is the seventh Arkansas coach since the 1990 season. Since 1990, Arkansas has posted 10 losing seasons.
8. Butch Jones, Tennessee: Yes, the Vols are poised to have a big 2016 thanks to some monstrous recruiting classes, but there is trouble at Tennessee that goes deeper than the on-the-field product, so it’s very difficult to rank Butch any higher than eighth. Jones inherited a mess from Derek Dooley, who should have never been anyone’s head coach, but given Tennessee’s resources, 21-17 in three years is nothing to brag about.
9. Kevin Sumlin, Texas A&M: When you consider the amount of talent that he’s had to work with, you wonder why is it that Texas A&M is 36-18 and trending in the wrong direction? When all your quarterbacks can’t wait to get the hell out of Dodge, there is something seriously wrong. A lot of folks in Aggie-land are having buyer’s remorse. Previous coach Mike Sherman had the Aggies on the verge of big things when he was canned in favor of Sumlin.
10. Will Muschamp, South Carolina: A lot of folks will wonder why he’s rated this high, but if he can ever figure out how to take his thumb off the offensive coordinator he might turn into a pretty good football coach. It’s going to be very difficult at South Carolina where the talent cupboard is quite bare but he’s brought in a great staff of recruiters. He might be just the right guy to take over a program in distress and this is a program in distress.
11. Kirby Smart, Georgia: No, he’s never been a head coach, but he spent enough time with Nick Saban at Alabama that something should rub off and he inherits enough talent from the departed Mark Richt (145-51 in 15 years) that it will be difficult to win fewer than eight games in his first year on the job.
12. Mark Stoops, Kentucky: Memo to any up and coming coach with aspirations of being a head coach long into the future – Kentucky isn’t a graveyard, but it’s whatever is next. He’s 12-24 in three years on the job and has seen the Wildcats collapse with a bowl game within their grasp the last two seasons. One more collapse and he’ll be back to being someone’s DC. Kentucky ran through 5 coaches prior to Stoops’ arrival and not one of them had a career winning mark when canned.
13. Derek Mason, Vanderbilt: He’s basically fired his entire staff in just two years on the job. Vandy is 7-18 in the last two years and while the Commodores play great defense, the offense totally stinks. If he doesn’t get to a bowl game this year, he’s toast. Mason is the eighth coach since 1990 and only James Franklin (24-15 in 3 years) posted a winning record for his career.
14. Barry Odom, Missouri: He’s never been a head coach and has only been a full-time on the field coach at the college level since 2009. He’s also inheriting the worst offense in college football and fired the best D-line coach in the business when he took over.
Points through three categories so far:
1. Alabama, 42
2. LSU, 37.5
3. FLORIDA, 34.5
4. Ole Miss, 29
5. Auburn, 28
6. Tennessee, 24
7. Mississippi State, 23.5
8. Georgia, 23
9. (Tie) Texas A&M, 20.5
9. (Tie) Arkansas, 20.5
11. South Carolina, 12
12. Kentucky, 8.5
13. (Tie) Missouri, 8
13. (Tie) Vanderbilt 8
North Carolina basketball will skate thanks to a “revised” Notice of Allegations issued by the NCAA. Last May, UNC received a lengthy Notice of Allegations that detailed five very serious penalties against the men’s basketball team as well as football and women’s soccer. Included in the previous Notice of Allegations were the words “Impermissible benefits” which somehow, mysteriously disappeared. Women’s basketball, however, will get hammered. As Dana O’Neil of ESPN penned regarding the latest NCAA notice: “So gather ‘round the rulebook, all ye NCAA conspiracy theorists, we have found Jerry Tarkanian’s Holy Grail: The NCAA is so mad at the Carolina football and hoops teams that it’s going to penalize the bejesus out of women’s basketball.” Can you say sacred cow?
Federal Appeals Courts have reinstated Tom Brady’s 4-game suspension. I know he won’t do it because his ego could apply for statehood, but Roger Goodell needs to end this witchhunt.
With the Philadelphia Eagles poised to draft either Carson Wentz (North Dakota State) or Jared Goff (California) with the #2 pick, Sam Bradford wants to be traded. He’s lucky he even has a job.
If I’m the San Diego Chargers with the #3 pick in the draft, I take Laremy Tunsil of Ole Miss, sign him to a long term contract, and forget about left tackle for a few years. Are the Chargers bright enough to do that?
It’s looking more and more like Florida’s Vernon Hargreaves III will wind up either with the Tampa Bay Bucs at #9 or the Miami Dolphins at #11 although he could fall as low as #20 to the New York Jets if the Bucs and Dolphins participate in some pre-draft trades.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Roger Goodell proved his point by winning the appeal on the Tom Brady suspension. Should he enforce the suspension in 2016 or should he just drop the case and put a rather nasty two years behind him?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I’ve tried. Really I have, but the music of Sister Hazel has never resonated all that well with me. They’re great guys and those that follow the band really love them, which I think is great. Their music just never did it for me and still doesn’t. But Shelby has been asking for them so I will oblige. And since Shockdaddy mentioned it, this will be music that I don’t necessarily like but will post anyway … for a week.