The twitterverse blew up Saturday after former Gator quarterback Will Grier completed 12-20 passes for 202 yards in the West Virginia spring game. They are excited in West Virginia as they should be, but take a moment, please, and put things in proper perspective.
They are optimistic that Grier will be allowed to play starting game one in 2017, but that might be a lot of wishful thinking. The NCAA rules are fairly specific. Had Grier remained at UF, he would not have been able to play until the seventh game of 2016 due to his NCAA suspension for using a performance enhancing drug. Just because he transferred to WVU and had to sit last year doesn’t change the fact that his suspension for PEDs carries over to when he’s eligible to play again.
My guess – and it’s just a guess but I think an educated one based on years of following NCAA decisions closely – is that Grier will sit. Maybe if this suspension were for something other than performance enhancing drugs the NCAA would show lenience. I don’t see it here.
Why Grier left Florida is a matter of perspective. From the perspective of Grier and his dad, Jim McElwain wouldn’t give adequate guarantees for Grier’s post suspension playing days. They also say that Mac showed up a couple hours late for the meeting in which the future was discussed. I’m not at privy to all the facts but I do know this – McElwain wouldn’t offer the guarantees that Grier was seeking.
Nor should he have.
Had Grier stayed at Florida, we can speculate all day long that he would have taken over at midseason 2016 for Luke Del Rio, who struggled after he came back from a knee injury that kept him out of games four and five. Maybe Grier would have been the golden child arriving at just the right time to rev up a Florida offensive engine that seemed jammed in neutral.
Or he might have played poorly. We’ll never know. But just for the sake of argument, take a look at Grier at his best in 2015 (four games) and Del Rio at his best in 2016 (first three games):
Grier 2015: 62-99, 725 yards, 6 touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 138.1 QBR
Del Rio 2016: 62-101, 762 yards, 6 touchdowns, 2 interceptions, 140.4 QBR
There isn’t a lot of difference. About the only thing we can truly surmise is that had he stayed, Grier would have been in his second year in the McElwain offense (third year at UF) so there’s every good chance he would be improved. There is every good chance that Feleipe Franks would have stuck with his LSU commitment had Grier had opted to stay, but again, that’s something we’ll never know.
For now, I only know one thing. Will Grier is at West Virginia where I wish him well and Feleipe Franks, Kyle Trask, Luke Del Rip and Jake Allen will be battling it out for the starting quarterback job at Florida. To paraphrase the late, great Bo Schembechler, “I want a Florida guy.”
I wish Will Grier well at West Virginia, but I won’t be following him nor will I be wishing he were a Gator. The guys who want to be Gators will be here in Gainesville.
GATORS REMAIN #10 IN USA TODAY BASEBALL POLL
A win over Florida State and taking two out of three from Vanderbilt on the road kept the Gators (24-12, 8-7 SEC) at the #10 spot in the USA Today Baseball Poll. The Gators have a chance to move up the rankings a bit this week with a 4-game home stand that starts tonight with UNF on a non-conference matchup and #18 South Carolina (22-13, 8-7 SEC) coming to town for a three-game SEC set this weekend.
Freshman Austin Langworthy, who missed nearly a month with a broken hand, was named SEC Freshman of the Week after hewent 7-17 last week with five runs scored, five RBI and 2-2/3 innings of relief pitched against Florida State.
UF SOFTBALL SHOULD REGAIN #1 RANKING
With #1 Arizona dropping two out of three to unranked Utah and #2 Florida State losing to Florida and then unranked South Carolina in back-to-back games, the 3rd-ranked Gators (40-3, 15-2 SEC) are poised to regain the #1 ranking in the softball polls which will come out over the next 24 hours.
Kelly Barnhill (18-0) leads the nation in ERA at 0.19 and Florida has the top team ERA at 0.75. Barnhill gives up only 2.78 hits per game, which also leads the country. The Gators also lead the country in fielding (98.6%) with only 16 errors in 43 games.
The Gators will host UCF for a non-conference game tonight at Katie Seashole Presley Stadium and then host Ole Miss (30-13, 6-9 SEC) for three games this weekend.
EARLY SIGNING PERIOD AND OTHER NCAA STUFF
The good news is the NCAA will allow an early signing period in December and that will allow football players who are dead set on one school to go ahead and put their name on the dotted line of a letter of intent. That sounds like a great idea.
But … there’s always a but, isn’t there? Remember the coach before Jim McElwain? They called him “Flipper” because he was lethal in the days leading up until National Signing Day. Will Muschamp mastered the art of flipping players previously committed to some other SEC school to Florida. It’s a tradition that Jim McElwain has carried on.
Most of the early signees are going to be happy the recruiting process is over and done with. They won’t have to deal with high pressure recruiters who won’t take no for an answer. At the same time, some of these early signees will end up having some very serious regrets. Whereas most of the head coaching decisions will be made in the days before the December early signing period, coordinators and assistants will be on the move in the days immediately after the bowl games. It happens that way every single year and some early signees are going to see the coach who recruited them go somewhere else.
Do we need an early signing period? Yes. Is it going to solve a lot of problems? Maybe, but it may create a new problem for every one it solves.
A good rule is the one that will allow prospective players to take their official visits between April 1 and the last Wednesday in June as long as the official visit doesn’t coincide with attendance at a camp or clinic on a college campus. This rule will allow recruits to visit a campus when a coach isn’t consumed with all the game day/weekend activities. It offers the possibility of more face to face time between a recruit and the coaching staff so that’s a very good thing.
The new rule that forbids coaches of a player to be hired by a school that’s recruiting that player is flat out dumb. There are a lot of talented high school coaches who only need a break to get to the D1 coaching level and this rule basically torpedoes that.
Two-a-days have been eliminated which is probably a good thing. Satellite camps have also been nixed and that’s very good. Under the new rule, a camp has to take place on a school campus or facilities that are regularly used by the football program.
A tenth assistant coach can be added in January of 2018. That means 130 schools will be able to add another coach, which will probably eliminate that pool of “analysts” that Nick Saban keeps in Tuscaloosa.
SOME OTHER SEC FOOTBALL/BASKETBALL NEWS
Alabama: Freshman forward Braxton Key, who led Bama in scoring at 12 points per game while averaging 5.7 rebounds per game, has declared for the NBA Draft. Key has decided to not hire an agent giving him the option to change his mind by May 24.
Arkansas: A week after an embarrassing first scrimmage in which they gave up nearly 500 rushing yards, the Arkansas defense recorded 12 sacks and gave up only one big play on the ground.
Auburn: Juco transfer Malik Dunbar (6-6, 220), a hybrid wing guard/small forward, has signed with Auburn. Dunbar averaged 15.6 points and 6.4 rebounds per game last season at College of Central Florida.
Georgia: HBC Kirby Smart said he was “pleased” with the effort at Georgia’s scrimmage Saturday, noting “It was the first scrimmage since I’ve ben here that I thought both sides of the ball did some things well … It was a very competitive battle.”
Kentucky: Going to a bowl game in 2016 has the UK faithful excited. A crowd of 37,712 turned out for the spring game last Friday night.
LSU: Breiden Fehoko, a 6-3, 290-pound defensive tackle, will transfer from Texas Tech to LSU. Fehoko’s final choices were LSU and Georgia. He will sit out 2017 and have two years eligibility remaining.
Mississippi State: Corner Cedric Jiles, who played in nine games with 31 tackles and an interception last year, will be a graduate transfer to Wake Forest. The NCAA gave Jiles a sixth year of eligibility for injuries sustained during his time at MSU.
Missouri: New hoops coach Cuonzo Martin added the nation’s #1 player in Michael Porter Jr. and a stud point guard in Blake Harris. He’s got Mizzou very much in the running to land Tampa’s Kevin Knox, who has been offered $1.4 million to skip college altogether and sign to play 2017-18 in China.
Ole Miss: New offensive coordinator Phil Longo, a disciple of Mike Leach, thinks sophomore quarterback Shea Patterson will be a “perfect fit” in the re-tooled Ole Miss offense. “Shea is a great space football player,” Longo said. “He’s mobile. He can make any throw on the field. He can run the all and he can extend plays in the pass game with his legs.”
South Carolina: P.J. Dozier has decided after all to sign with an agent so he’s officially gone from the South Carolina basketball team. Dozier, who averaged 13.9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists to help the Gamecocks make it to their first Final Four in school history, is projected as a second rounder.
Tennessee: After a season in which the Vols ranked 95th nationally in total defense, coordinator Bob Shoop is optimistic there will be a turnaround this year, in part due to the additions of former Michigan head coach Brady Hoke and North Carolina assistant Charlton Warren. Hoke will coach the D-line and Warren will handle the defensive backs.
Texas A&M: Eight of the Aggies’ 21-man 2016 recruiting class saw the field with 13 taking a redshirt season. Freshman offensive lineman Colton Prater started 10 games and guard and two at right tackle.
Vanderbilt: Of Vanderbilt’s 21-man recruiting class for 2016, five played as true freshmen while the other 16 took a redshirt.
Former Gator Ray McDonald, who was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in December of 2014, saw the charges dismissed in California Monday. McDonald reached a civil settlement with the woman and paid her $100,000. The San Franciso 49ers released him after the rape accusations. He subsequently signed with the Chicago Bears but was released before he ever played a game with the team when he was arrested for domestic violence.
Jay Cutler remains a free agent quarterback. Why am I not surprised that nobody has bothered to hire him in the NFL?
Former Gator Aaron Hernandez got a not guilty verdict for a double murder. One of his defense attorneys was Jose Baez, the same lawyer who got a free pass for Casey Anthony in Orlando.
Former NFL agent Terry Watson plead guilty to giving three former North Carolina football players cash and improper benefits back during the Butch Davis days in Chapel Hill. Maybe I’m dense, but shouldn’t that scandal, which cost the UNC football team a tough probation, cause the NCAA Committee on Infractions to consider North Carolina a repeat offender when it makes its decisions about the academic scandal?
We are 14 games into the Major League Baseball season. Are you paying attention?
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Do we really need an early signing period? Is it going to solve problems or will it actually create just as many problems as it solves?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
Today while digging through some old music I haven’t listened to in awhile, I came across “You Must Believe in Spring,” a great album by the late Bill Evans, one of the two or three best jazz pianists of all time. Listening I realized again just how great he was. I know it’s a departure from the usual music but I hope you will indulge me. Oh, and the seventh track might sound familiar to those of us old enough to remember the TV show “M*A*S*H.”