Some people call that period of time from the end of the bowl games to National Signing Day “The Silly Season” because of all the attention we give to kids who lit it up against high school competition but have never proven themselves in college with thousands upon thousands of people hovering over them in these cathedrals we call stadiums or watching on TV in ultra-high def. It is silly to go ga-ga over these kids before they’ve ever played in a college football game, but the real silliness is from Mid-May until August 1. That’s the period of time when these 18-22-year-old kids are largely unsupervised and when arrests like the ones of Alabama offensive tackle Cam Robinson and corner Laurence “Hootie” Jones are more commonplace.
Robinson and Jones were arrested in their home town of Monroe, Louisiana on drugs and weapons charges. Complicating Robinson’s arrest is that the gun he was in possession of was reported stolen in Baldwin County, Alabama. Nick Saban says he’ll deal with Robinson and Jones internally and in an appropriate manner and there is little reason to doubt he won’t deal out justice fairly – that is if Robinson and Jones make it back to campus in Tuscaloosa.
Now, Robinson’s high school coach, Jerry Arledge, says, “Cam is not a bad person. He is not a thug. He just made a bad choice.”
I don’t know Robinson well enough to know if his coach’s portrayal is accurate, but I do know two things – (1) Whether it is simply a bad choice or ultimate stupidity, Robinson possibly cost himself several million dollars that could set his family free for a lifetime if invested properly and (2) every time a kid gets arrested the excuse is “he made a bad choice.”
First things first. Robinson was almost certainly a first or second round draft pick in 2017 and unless the charges against him are dropped or seriously reduced, he could very well discover his draft options are somewhere between no way and no how. The NFL has a history of turning a blind eye to future serial killers and axe murderers but to its credit, it has started making an effort to clean up its image starting with drugs and weapons.
Second, I’ve really had it with the “bad choice” excuse every time a college football player gets arrested. Of course, it’s a bad choice. Dumb also comes to mind and especially for a kid at a school like Alabama, which has essentially become a farm system for the NFL. Keep your nose clean, work hard for four years and the odds are good you’ll get a chance to play football on Sundays where minimum wage is more than $400,000 a year. We also can’t forget that if you keep your nose clean, go to class, read a few books and pass a few tests you can get a college degree in four years so even if you don’t get to play on Sunday you’ve got your ticket punched for opportunity in the future. Oh, and if you play at Alabama you get $4,000 a year in what’s called “cost of attendance” money and you could qualify for another $5,800 in Pell Grant money, so the “lack of money” excuse isn’t going to work, either.
You would think that kids would realize what’s at stake and adjust accordingly but far too many think they’re bulletproof and nothing will happen to them. I shake my head at the stupidity. When you consider you can graduate college with zero in the way of student debt and potentially have a chance to make the kind of money most people only dream of if you develop your football skills, there is no excuse for fooling around with drugs. And if you are 6-6 and 330 pounds like Robinson, why do you need a gun to protect yourself?
But, if you think this is the end of the stupidity, then think again. The silly season has only just begun. If you are a Gator fan, say your prayers that none of Jim McElwain’s troops brain fart and wind up on some police blotter between now and August.
SPURRIER SAID IT
At a golf tournament in Birmingham, Steve Spurrier was asked Wednesday whether or not he would like to be the commissioner of college football. “Probably not,” Spurrier said. “That sounds like a lot of work — traveling around the country and trying to keep up with Ole Miss and whoever else is under investigation right now.”
Later on The Paul Finebaum Show, Spurrier was asked what he thought about college football having a commissioner. Spurrier answered, “That might be something that would be good for college football to have one guy with some common sense make decisions.”
Now that would indeed be a rather novel concept – someone with common sense making decisions for college football.
GATORS GO TO LSU LOOKING TO BRING HOME SEC BASEBALL TITLE
There will be no shortage of Major League Baseball scouts on hand tonight in Baton Rouge when the #1-ranked Florida Gators (43-9, 18-8 SEC) take on #8 LSU (36-16, 17-10 SEC) at Alex Box Stadium. LSU will send out its ace Alex Lange (7-3, 3.76 ERA) against Florida righty Logan Shore (10-0, 2.29 ERA) in what shapes up on paper as a classic pitching matchup. Lange was a first team All-American last year as a freshman when he was 12-0 with a 1.97 ERA. Shore hasn’t been beaten this year and is currently working on a 15-game win streak that dates back to May 5, 2015 when he lost 2-0 to Vanderbilt.
Lefty A.J. Puk (2-3, 2.88 ERA) is scheduled to go Friday night for the Gators with Alex Faedo (10-1, 3.59 ERA) set for Saturday afternoon in the regular season finale for both teams.
At stake for the Gators is the regular season Southeastern Conference championship. Two Florida wins and a loss by Mississippi State (37-14-1, 18-9 SEC), Texas A&M (39-12, 18-9 SEC) and South Carolina (39-13, 17-9 SEC) gives Florida the title outright. Unless there is a rainout in Mississippi State’s weekend series with Arkansas or Texas A&M’s series with Ole Miss, there is no way MSU or A&M can tie UF for the title but either or both of the can win it outright if Florida goes 2-1 this weekend and they go 3-0. Florida can tie for championship with South Carolina if the Gators go 2-1 and South Carolina goes 3-0.
The Gators come into the series with LSU ranked #9 nationally in ERA (2.92) and #1 in fielding percentage (.986; UF has committed only 28 errors all season).
Men’s Golf: Florida’s 7-shot lead in the NCAA Kohler Regional dissipated in the final round Wednesday as the Gators shot their worst round of the tournament (4-over par, 292) to finish in a second place tie with Arkansas. Illinois, which is ranked #1 nationally, went unconscious Wednesday, shooting a 7-under par 281 for a final total of 853 (for three rounds) to win the tournament. The Gators and Arkansas (both finished at 857) finished one shot ahead of Baylor and Florida State with Idaho finishing sixth at even par (864). The top six teams all advance to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon from May 27-June 1.
Ajejandro Tosti shot a final round 72 to finish second for individual honors. Sam Horsfield shot an even-par 72 and finished in a tie for 12th at -1.
STEPH CURRY JUST WENT UNCONSCIOUS
When Stephen Curry goes unconscious as he did in the third quarter Wednesday night when he scored 15 straight points, there isn’t a whole lot that can be done to stop him. Curry had 17 points in the quarter, but it was that streak when the Golden State Warriors outscored the Oklahoma City Thunder, 15-2, with Curry scoring all 15 points that answered the question why this guy was the unanimous choice for NBA MVP. I’ve seen some really great shooters in my life going all the way back to Jerry West, George Gervin, Larry Bird and Reggie Miller, but Curry might just be the best ever.
SEC BASKETBALL NOTES
Charles Matthews, considered one of the top shooting guards in the country coming out of high school in 2015, has opted to transfer out of Kentucky after just one year in Lexington. He averaged only 1.7 points and 1.6 rebounds last year and looked to be buried on the depth chart by UK’s incoming freshman class.
Kentucky will find out today if it has out-recruited Coach K and Duke for Marques Bolden (6-11, 250, DeSoto, TX). Some NBA scouts say that Bolden is potentially the #1 choice overall for next year’s draft.
Billy Kennedy picked up a late recruit for the 2016 class in Deshawn Corprew, a 6-5, 190-pounder who chose Texas A&M over Kansas and LSU.
Avery Johnson and Alabama landed a potentially game-changing transfer in Daniel Giddens from Ohio State. A native of Marietta, Georgia, Giddens averaged 3.8 points and 3.6 rebounds as a freshman at Ohio State last year. Giddens has fine rebounding and defensive skills. If he can develop a better offensive game during his transfer season, he could be a difference-maker for Alabama in 2017-18.
Scotty Thurman, whose 3-pointer iced Arkansas’ win over Duke in the 1994 NCAA championship game, has returned to the school as an assistant coach. Thurman never played in the NBA but he played 20 years of pro basketball in foreign countries.
If I had the first choice in the NBA Draft my guy would be Buddy Hield of Oklahoma. Having watched Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson light up opponents from the 3-point line the last three years, I want a guy who is in range from what seems the moment he crosses midcourt and that’s Buddy Hield. I know everybody lathers at the thought of Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram, but they spent one year in college and I’ve seen enough holes in their games that I want someone with a more complete skill set not to mention more maturity and experience. My second choice would be Domantas Sabonis of Gonzaga. He’s got his dad’s hands and footwork and if you ever saw his dad (Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis) before the injuries, then you know how special he was.
The guy I wouldn’t take is Skal Labissiere. I keep hearing about the world of potential but how many guys who averaged just a handful of points each time out in the college game ever turn into dominators at the next level?
It’s entirely possible that the Big Ten is about to leave ABC/ESPN. The league sold half its media package to Fox Sports last month and it is entertaining offers from other networks. I could see Fox bidding and winning the other half to go with its Pac-12 package. The Big Ten and Pac-12 would be a powerful 1-2 punch.
North Carolina State signed a Turkish center who could be the #1 pick overall in the 2017 NBA Draft but 7-footer Omer Yurtseven may never play college basketball. Yurtseven has been playing in the Turkish League and while he claims he’s never taken a dime from the club, his coach, Zeljko Obradovich, says “He wants to go NCAA but our club paid him for the last three years, so he isn’t eligible to play in the NCAA.”
The Pac-12 Conference distributed $25.1 million to each of its member schools and paid commissioner Larry Scott $4.05 million in 2014-15 per tax returns obtained by CBSSports.com. That’s $7.6 million less than the Southeastern Conference distributed to its 14 members last year ($32.7 million per team), a figure that should increase substantially when the conference announces its financial state at the SEC spring meetings in Destin next week.
The New York Mets’ Double-A minor league affiliate in Binghamton announced Tuesday that it’s going to change its team name. Mets are too boring. One of the names suggested is Rumble Ponies. I do not have to make this stuff up.
I can’t wait until Illinois decides on a new team name now that the school has announced the Fighting Illini is out. How much do you want to bet the new team name will be something politically correct?
The Detroit Free Press says another alleged victim of sexual assault by former Michigan State basketball All-American Mateen Cleaves could be coming forward. Cleaves has been accused of sexual assault against a 24-year-old woman last September in Flint, Michigan.
Running back Jarvis Cooper, the second leading rusher for Memphis last season, got a tattoo of himself in a Memphis uniform running the football. Tuesday, Cooper was granted a release to transfer. This reminds me of former Clemson running back Don Testerman, who had his girfrlend’s name tattooed to his chest after being drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Testerman got cut by the Dolphins and by his girlfriend, too. When he got picked up by the Seattle Seahawks he a line drawn through the name of the old girlfriend and the name of a new girlfriend tattooed under the old one.
The Atlanta Braves fired manager Freddie Gonzalez Tuesday and they beat the Pittsburgh Pirates Wednesday. I’m not holding out hope that the Braves will finish anywhere but dead last in the NL.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
What are the three best team names in college and pro sports and what are the three worst?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
During the height of the Southern rock and roll era of the 1970s, one of the more underappreciated bands was Sea Level, which featured the incredible Chuck Leavell on keyboards. After the death of Duane Allman and Berry Oakley, Leavell and bassist Lamar Williams played with the Allman Brothers but in the mid-1970s they broke away and formed Sea Leavel, which had a 5-6 year run. After Sea Level broke up, Leavell was a much in demand keyboardist who toured regularly with Eric Clapton and did a lot of studio work with the Rolling Stones. Today’s music is “On the Edge,” Sea Level’s 1978 album.