At the 2009 SEC Basketball Media Days, good friend Rachel Baribeau, who now has a great gig on XM Sirius College Nation, told me beware of Alabama quarterback Greg McElroy. “He’s not the talent that Tim Tebow is, but he makes the right decisions and puts Alabama in position to win every game,” she told me. “I know you don’t believe it but he can beat Florida.”
I didn’t believe it, but he did beat Florida and end Tebow’s hopes of an undefeated season and a second straight national championship. McElroy beat the Gators not because he was the more talented of the two quarterbacks, but because he didn’t make mistakes and always got the ball to the right player at the right time. Alabama went 14-0 and won the first of what has become four national championships for Nick Saban.
Saban’s offensive coordinator – the coach who turned McElroy from an obscure backup to a championship level QB – was Jim McElwain, whose job this year is to turn obscure career backup Luke Del Rio into a championship level QB. Can a quarterback who walked on at Alabama, transferred to Oregon State where he was a backup for one season and then transferred to Florida where he sat and watched transform into a championship QB?
First, compare the pedigrees, then some similarities in their playing resume’ prior to starting.
McElroy sat two years in high school before leading Southlake Carroll to a Texas state championship. Then he sat two years at Bama before being given a chance to lead the Crimson Tide to a national title.
Del Rio teamed up with Christian McCaffrey to lead Valor Christian to the Colorado 5A championship and now he’s sat three years although it must be noted the three years were spent either in McElwain’s offense or an offshoot.
The winning pedigree is there for both as is the time spent apprenticing and prepping to run the offense on Saturdays in the SEC. And there is the McElwain connection. It’s obvious the coach knows what he’s doing when it comes to developing a QB.
Talking to Mr. College Football, Tony Barnhart, who writes for Gridironnow.com and is a regular on the SEC Network, McElwain talked about why Del Rio is his starter.
“I like the intangibles he brings because he grew up around the game,” Barnhart said. “He is decisive in his decision-making because the preparation piece is there. He has a very quick release. He can do what you need a quarterback to do.”
Mac said almost the exact words about McElroy in 2009. McElroy threw all of 20 passes as a freshman and sophomore (sophomore season under Mac) at Alabama and the prevailing question was could he lead Alabama to a championship.
The answer was a resounding yes.
Will it be the same for Del Rio? It’s his turn to take the wheel and lead the Gators.
“I’m confident that I can lead this team,” Del Rio told Barnhart. “It’s nice to be given the keys to the car. Now I have to prove that I can drive it.”
ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25 POLL
The Gators debut at #25 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll, the same place they will start the Amway Coaches Poll. In the AP Poll, the Gators are one of six SEC teams with 2015 national champion Alabama at #1 and LSU at #5. Tennessee gives the SEC three top ten teams, starting the season at #9. The Pac-12 placed five teams in the AP poll while the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten each played four.
An interesting note from CBSSports.com: “For nine straight years, at least three preseason AP top 10 eams finished the season with four or more losses. Or to put it another way: 36 percent of the preseason top 10 teams since 2007 ended with four to eight losses.”
4. Florida State
6. Ohio State
10. Notre Dame
11. Ole Miss
12. Michigan State
21. Oklahoma State
22. North Carolina
SEC FOOTBALL NEWS
Alabama: During the open viewing period before Alabama’s Saturday scrimmage, redshirt junior Cooper Bateman was running with the #1 unit at QB with redshirt freshman Blake Barnett with the #2s and true freshman Jalen Hurts with the #3s. Per observers, Hurts was the top performer at the scrimmage. However, Nick Saban said the situation is far from settled. “The person that can play with the most consistency is the guy that’s going to have the best opportunity to lead us into the first game, and I can’t really say that one guy sticks out right now,” Saban said after the scrimmage.
Arkansas: Senior WR Keon Hatcher, freshman RB Devwah Whaley and junior TE Anthony Antwine were all in non-contact jerseys Saturday when the Razorbacks scrimmaged. Senior RB Kody Walker was held out for precautionary reasons. Senior WR Dominique Reed (ankle) will resume practicing sometime next week. Senior CB D.J. Dean is expected back rom his hamstring injury sooner, not later. Dean was seen running at practice on Friday and could be back on the practice field as early as Tuesday.
Auburn: Another week of practice and still no decision on a starting QB for Auburn coach Gus Malzahn, who said Saturday, “I’m not ready to name a starting quarterback yet. There’s still very good decision.” Last week it appeared that a decision between juco transfer John Franklin III, senior Jeremy Johnson and sophomore Sean White was imminent. Auburn opens up its season at home with #2 Clemson.
Georgia: Freshman running back Elijah Holyfield suffered an ankle injury during Georgia’s Saturday scrimmage. The extent of the injury won’t be known until Monday … HBC Kirby Smart wouldn’t name a staring QB although true freshman Jacob Eason continues to take all the first team snaps.
Kentucky: Starting wide receivers Blake Bone and Dorian Baker are dealing with troublesome hamstrings … TE Darryl Long, who was announced as leaving the team two weeks ago, has transferred to Arkon.
LSU: Les Miles named a starting offensive line after Saturday’s final preseason scrimmage: LT K.J. Malone (6-4, 300); LG Will Clapp (6-5, 303); C Ethan Pocic (6-7, 309); RG Josh Boutte (6-3, 342) and RT Toby Weathersby (6-5, 292). That lineup could change depending on the health of Maea Teuhema (6-3, 327).
Mississippi State: Through two preseason NFL games with the Dallas Cowboys, former MSU star and rookie Dak Prescott is 22-27 for 338 yards and four TDs plus he has run for two TDs. Prescott says, “The offense we ran at Mississippi State was nothing short of an NFL offense. The only thing different is that we didn’t go under center.”
Missouri: The starting O-line seems set with LT Tyler Howell, LG Kevin Pendleton, C Samson Bailey, RG Alec Abeln and RT Paul Adams … Former starting QB Maty Mauk is playing himself into a starting job at D1AA Eastern Kentucky.
Ole Miss: Redshirt freshman Willie Hibbler was buried on the depth chart at TE so he switched to MLB where he is listed as the #2 on the depth chart. The starting MLB will likely be Oregon State graduate transfer Rommel Mageo ... The Ole Miss administration has removed the song “Dixie” from the band’s repertoire.
South Carolina: Will Muschamp said on a Sunday teleconference that the Gamecocks probably won’t name a starting quarterback prior to the September 1 season opener at Vanderbilt. Competing for the job are senior Perry Orth and true freshmen Brandon McIlwain and Jake Bentley … The Gamecocks will be without linebacker Larenz Bryant and running backs Rico Dowdle and Mon Denson for the season opener.
Tennessee: With Chance Hall lost for 4-6 weeks after knee surgery, the Vols are giving RT reps to Coleman Thomas, who started 12 games at center for the Vols last year. The others taking RT reps are Drew Richmond and Brett Kendrick.
Texas A&M: Linebacker Josh Walker, who has started five games over the past two seasons, has been suspended indefinitely after his arrest for assault with bodily injury to a family member and interfering with an emergency request for assistance. Walker allegedly pushed his girlfriend into a rocking horse, causing bruising and swelling, then tried to stop the woman from calling 911 on her cell phone. Bond was set at $9,000 -- $5,000 on the assault charge and $4,000 on the interfering with a 911 charge.
Vanderbilt: In USA Today’s preseason rankings, Vanderbilt is predicted to finish dead last in the SEC and ranked 113 out of 128 teams. HBC Derek Mason said the rankings are “a slap in the face and a kick in the mouth.” Vandy did better in the CBSSports.com rankings – they’re #89.
Medal count top 5 countries
USA 121 (46 gold, 37 silver, 38 bronze)
China 70 (26 gold, 18 silver, 26 bronze)
Great Britain (27 gold, 23 silver, bronze 17)
Russia 56 (19 gold, 18 silver, 19)
Germany 42 (17 gold, 10 silver, 15 bronze)
Ryan Lochte did his best to appear contrite Saturday night in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer and blamed his troubles on being drunk and immature. However right he may be about the drunk and immature part, Lochte’s attempt to apologize and take responsibility for lying that he and three other swimmers were robbed at gunpoint in Rio only further embarrassed the former UF swimmer and the US Olympic team. Lochte says if given a second chance, he will redeem himself. Should he be given a second chance? Anita DeFranz of the IOC and US, said, “Who would have it hurt to tell the truth? No one. And who did it hurt not to tell the truth? It insulted a whole nation.”
Having been to Brazil and understanding the entire nation’s passion for soccer, I can only imagine the number of lives that were saved when Neymar’s penalty kick gave Brazil Olympic gold over Germany.
One of the most amazing – and for the most part overlooked – feats of the 2016 Rio games was Galen Rupp taking third in the marathon just 10 days after he finished fifth in the 10,000 meters. This was only the second marathon Rupp has ever run. The first was the US Olympic qualifier.
Gators Gino Hall and Tony McQuay came up big by running the first two legs of the US gold medal winning 4X400 relay.
Team USA took no prisoners Sunday afternoon in demolishing Serbia for the men’s basketball gold. If these guys had played defense like this their entire run to the gold, no one would have come any closer than Serbia’s 30-point deficit on Sunday.
Speaking of Olympic basketball, kudos to Carmelo Anthony. Other NBA studs have found one excuse after another to avoid the Olympics, but Melo played for four gold medals and there is something to be said about that. I also loved his heartfelt shout out to NBA broadcaster Craig Sager, who is battling cancer and couldn’t make it to Rio.
Maybe I’m just getting old and cranky, but I can no longer bear to watch the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics. Maybe I’m just not artsy-fartsy enough.
FSU is down to two scholarship quarterbacks after freshman Malik Henry was suspended indefinitely for breaking team rules. Redshirt freshman Deondre Francis is the starter and the backup is redshirt sophomore J.J. Consentino. The 4th-ranked Seminoles open their season in Orlando on September 3 against #11 Ole Miss.
Remember when Notre Dame was the gold standard for college football. The Irish NEVER broke NCAA rules, their players ALWAYS graduated and it was RARE that anyone got into any trouble. The NCAA slapped the Irish with a probation in 1999, most of the players graduate but it’s no longer 100% as it used to be, and just last week six players were arrested in two different incidents. From the arrests, starting safety Max Redfield was booted from the team and corner Devin Butler received an indefinite suspension.
Presbyterian College offers a 1-credit course called “The Religion of SEC Football.” Honest. I do not have to make this up.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Two part question: (1) Were you moved by Lochte’s interview and should he be given a chance to redeem himself?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t discover the band Aqueous until recently. I stumbled on them quite by accident and was blown away by their long jams. They’ve done three studio albums and a live recording called “Live Nugs V.4” which is just one long jam. I listen and I hear some Deep Purple back when Ritchie Blackmore was their front guy. Today’s music is a recent live performance at Peach Music Festival in Scranton, PA.