Those of you old enough to remember the 1980s probably recall those first Nike commercials for Michael Jordan that starred Jordan and Spike Lee as Mars Blackman where Mars coined the phrase, “It’s gotta be the shoes.”
When it comes to Wake Forest baseball and its prolific offense, you have to think, “It’s gotta be the park.” The Demon Deacons, Florida’s opponent for the Gainesville NCAA Super Regional, which begins Saturday at 3 p.m. at McKethan Stadium, play in a lovely on campus facility called David F. Couch Ballpark, a place where the ball flies out of the yard on a regular basis.
The Demon Deacons have hit an NCAA leading 100 home runs this season with five players teeing off for 12 or more dingers. The Couch ball park is 310 down the left field line, 300 in right field, 370 and 367 in the alleys and 400 to dead center. It’s not that much smaller than McKethan Stadium (329 and 325 down the lines, 365 and 375 in the alleys, 400 to dead center), but it plays a whole lot smaller. Head coach Tom Walter has a hitter’s ball park so finding hitters is the emphasis of his recruiting.
One college baseball coach speaking to Baseball America on the condition of anonymity, stated, “… but they play wiffle ball in a wiffle ball park and they’ve recruited right to it. But I wouldn’t want to pitch there.” Another coach told Baseball America, “Their park is so small … and they recruit guys who can hit. They’re not very good defensively (.977 fielding percentage) but they’re built for that ball park.”
At home, the Deacons (42-18) have hit 56 home runs. On the road, they’ve hit 44. Obviously, the Deacons hit very well whether home or away from Winston-Salem. Florida, on the other hand, has hit 47 homers total. Home and away.
Florida’s pitchers have proven they can keep the ball in the yard – only 27 homers allowed in 62 games – but can they keep the Deacons off base? When Wake Forest isn’t hitting home runs, their hitters are pounding the ball at a .311 clip (15th nationally) with an on base percentage of .405 (11th nationally), which is impressive. The Deacons are 15th nationally in walks (297) and 19th in doubles (126).
FAEDO, BYRNE HONORED BY BASEBALL AMERICA
A pair of University of Florida pitchers were selected to Baseball America’s All-America teams Thursday. Alex Faedo (7-2, 2.80 ERA) was named to the second team and Michael Byrne (2-4, 1.69 ERA, 16 saves), Florida’s single season save record holder, was selected to the third team.
Faedo was also named third team All-America by Collegiate Baseball.
GATORS THIRD AT NCAA TRACK CHAMPIONSHIPS
KeAndre Bates and Grant Holloway finished 1-2 in the long jump to give the Gators 18 points, which is good for third place at the NCAA Track and Field Championships in Eugene, Oregon. Texas A&M has the lead with 21.5 points while Virginia is in second with 20.
Bates, who won the NCAA Indoor long jump championship, had a winning leap of 26-5, while Holloway, a freshman and son of UF coach Mike Holloway, had a 26-3. They are just the second pair of teammates to ever finish 1-2 in the long jump in Division I men’s track and field history.
BEST FOOTBALL RECORDS IN THE SEC BY DECADES SINCE 1960
1. Alabama 90-16-4
2. Arkansas (Southwest Conference) 82-24-1
3. Missouri (Big Eight Conference) 77-22-6
4. Ole Miss 77-25-6
5. LSU 76-26-5
6. FLORIDA 70-31-4
7. Tennessee 67-32-6
8. Auburn 65-37-2
9. Georgia 59-38-8
10. Kentucky 37-58-3
11. South Carolina (ACC) 37-59-3
12. Mississippi State 31-63-5
13. Texas A&M (Southwest Conference) 31-64-6
14. Vanderbilt 24-70-6
1. Alabama 103-16-1
2. Arkansas (Southwest Conference) 79-31-5
3. LSU 76-38-3
4. Georgia 75-38-2
5. Tennessee 75-39-3
6. Auburn 72-38-3
7. Texas A&M (Southwest Conference) 65-49
8. Ole Miss 58-52
9. FLORIDA 58-53-3
10. Missouri (Big Eight Conference) 59-55
11. South Carolina (Independent) 56-55-2
12. Kentucky 49-60-2
13. Vanderbilt 37-71-3
14. Mississippi State 36-73-3
1. Georgia 89-27-4
2. Auburn 86-31-2
3. Arkansas (Southwest Conference) 85-33-2
3. Alabama 85-33-2
5. Tennessee 77-37-5
6. FLORIDA 76-38-3
7. LSU 70-41-5
8. Texas A&M (Southwest Conference) 71-44-1
9. South Carolina (Independent) 63-49-3
10. Ole Miss 50-59-4
11. Mississippi State 50-62
12. Kentucky 47-62-3
13. Missouri (Big Eight Conference) 45-64-4
14. Vanderbilt 33-77-1
1. FLORIDA 102-22-1
2. Tennessee 99-22-2
3. Texas A&M (SWC, Big 12 Conference) 94-28-2
4. Alabama 83-40 (Some wins vacated by NCAA)
5. Auburn 72-50-3
6. Georgia 72-43-1
7. Ole Miss 67-48
8. Mississippi State 63-50-3
9. Arkansas (Southwest Conference 1990-91) 55-58-2
10. LSU 54-58-1
11. South Carolina (Independent 1990-91) 42-66-3
12. Missouri (Big Eight, Big 12 Conference) 43-67-3
13. Kentucky 44-69
14. Vanderbilt 34-76
1. FLORIDA 100-30
2. LSU 99-31
3. Georgia 98-31
4. Auburn 88-39
5. Tennessee 83-44
6. Arkansas 71-54
7. Missouri (Big 12 Conference) 70-54
8. South Carolina 68-54
9. Ole Miss 63-58
10. Texas A&M (Big 12 Conference) 63-59
11. Alabama 58-48 (Some wins vacated by NCAA)
12. Kentucky 50-70
13. Mississippi State 42-76
14. Vanderbilt 34-83
1. Alabama 86-11
2. LSU 69-21
3. Georgia 72-34
4. Texas A&M (Big 12 Conference 2010-11) 60-31
5. Auburn 60-32
6. South Carolina 58-33
7. FLORIDA 56-34
8. Mississippi State 56-35
9. Missouri (Big 12 Conference 2010-11) 55-35
10. Arkansas 50-39
11. Tennessee 46-42
12. Ole Miss 46-43
13. Vanderbilt 39-49
14. Kentucky 32-54
All-time from 1960-2016
1. Alabama 505-164-7 (Some wins vacated by NCAA)
2. Georgia 465-211-15
3. Florida 462-208-11
4. Tennessee 447-216-16
5. LSU 444-215-14
6. Auburn 443-217-9
7. Arkansas (Southwest Conference until 1991) 422-239-10
8. Texas A&M (Southwest Conference, Big 12 until 2011) 384-275-3
9. Ole Miss 360-285-10
10. Missouri (Big Eight, Big 12 Confernce until 2011) 349-297-13
11. South Carolina 324-316-13
12. Mississippi State 278-359-3
13. Kentucky 259-373-10
14. Vanderbilt 201-426-10
SOME SEC BASKETBALL NEWS
Florida has offered 2019 point guard Dekeyvan Tandy (6-1, 160, Hopkinsville, KY University Heights Academy).
2018 point guard Jamie Lewis (6-3, 190, Atlanta, GA Westlake), who had an offer from Florida, has committed to North Carolina State.
South Carolina has signed graduate transfer Frank Booker (6-4, 190), who will be playing for his third school next season. Prior to South Carolina, Booker had stops at Oklahoma and Florida Atlantic. He averaged 5.7 points per game while shooting 29.4% from the 3-point line in 16.7 minutes per game last year at FAU.
David Carter, a former Nevada assistant for Mark Fox at Nevada and head coach when Fox took the Georgia job, has rejoined his former boss as an assistant at Georgia. Carter was Nevada’s head coach for six years before he was fired.
It turns out that #1 Oregon State’s lefthanded ace and statistically the nation’s best pitcher, Luke Heimlich (11-1, 0.76 ERA), is a convicted felon who took a guilty plea to a single charge of molesting a 6-year-old girl when he was 15 years old. Heimlich registered as a convicted sex offender in Barton County, Oregon, when he arrived on campus. The fact that he is a convicted sex offender only came to light when he missed an annual update in April of 2017. Oregon State athletic director Scott Barnes say when the school learned that Heimlich is a registered sex offender. The victim’s mother (unnamed) does not understand why Heimlich has been allowed to play baseball at OSU.
The University of Pittsburgh has finally given a release to Cameron Johnson, who will be eligible immediately to play basketball at North Carolina as a graduate transfer. Johnson redshirted as a freshman, graduated summa cum laude in three years and has two years of eligibility remaining.
At the NCAA track and field championships, Tennessee sprinter Christian Coleman ran the fastest 100 meters in American history at 9.82 seconds. The time is also the ninth fastest time in history.
A day after it was reported Creighton head coach Greg McDermott had been offered the vacant Ohio State job, McDermott tweeted out that he happy where he is and is planning to stay at Creighton.
Was Mark Richt taking a shot at Clemson when he said this?: “Even in recruiting we [Miami] can sell things that no one else can sell. They can build all they want. They can have all they want. I mean, there’s schools building slides and playgrounds in their building, just so they can have fun. I said, ‘we’ve got the beach. We don’t have to build some slide to have fun.’”
The U.S. Open will be played next week at Erin Hills in Wisconsin. The course will measure 7,693 yards, which will make it the second longest course in Open history.
Years ago, the late great Furman Bisher came up with the best definition I’ve ever heard about the final two minutes of an NBA game, describing it as “all hell breaks loose.” Did you see the final two minutes of Wednesday night’s Golden State-Cleveland game in the NBA Championship Finals? If that isn’t all hell breaking loose, then I’ve never seen it.
One big reason the Golden State Warriors have a 3-0 lead over Cleveland is the fact the Warriors have far too many weapons. As for Cleveland, even if LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are playing lights out (they were Wednesday night), they don’t have enough weapons to knock off the Warriors. I’ve watched a lot of basketball over the years. I’ve never seen a team with more superb jump shooters than the Warriors.
A domestic violence charge against former Alabama All-American running back Trent Richardson has been dismissed in Hoover, Alabama.
With the retirement of Bob Stoops at Oklahoma, Iowa’s Kirk Ferentz is the longest tenured coach in the country. He took the Iowa job in 1999. Second place is TCU coach Gary Patterson, who’s been on the job in Fort Worth since 2000. Only seven coaches have been gainfully employed at the same school prior to 2007.
Tennessee has hired former Arkansas assistant Tony Vitello as its baseball coach.
Former Alabama QB Greg McElroy says Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald will be the best quarterback in the Southeastern Conference this season.
South Carolina AD Ray Tanner is looking for a new baseball coach. There is some sentiment he will go after former Gamecock assistant Mark Calvi, who is now head coach at South Alabama. I think his target will be Virginia coach Brian O’Connor. It’s rumored that Tanner is willing to spend as much as $1.5 million to land his new coach. O’Connor, who has won a national title at UVa, makes something like $700,000.
QUESTION OF THE DAY
Let’s assume there are 10 elite college football programs in the country. Obviously, Alabama and Ohio State are 1-2. How would you rate the next eight elite programs?
MUSIC FOR TODAY
I recently re-discovered the music of Robben Ford, one of the most underrated guitar players of all time. I first learned about him while listening to the fusion band Tom Scott and the LA Express in the mid-1970s. That led me to listen to his 1976 album “Schizophrenic” in which he played both guitar and saxophone, which I listened to today for the first time in a long time. Ford has done more than 40 albums and performed on plenty of others with the likes of George Harrison, Kiss, The Yellowjackets, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Jimmy Witherspoon and David Sanbord. Today’s music is a 2007 show he did at Rockpalast in Germany.