Ask Ack: June 21, 2004

In this week's edition of Ask Ack, I answer questions about Florida's football camps, where the big three sports can recruit, the status of Justin Hoyman and the rest of the baseball team, Howard Lingard's future and more!

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Ack, what advantage is it for schools like Florida to have possible recruits on campus for camps? Can they show them five star treatment? Do they get to check out academics? Thanks.

It is always an advantage when you can attract top recruits to your football camp. One reason is that June is primarily the time for camps, so everyone across the country is having a football camp. With recruiting services and so forth having camps, you are lucky if a top recruit can go to more than two to three camps. While on campus it is an advantage to have the kid meet your coaches, see how they coach and run drills and practice. You can also sell the strengths of your program on a face to face basis. You can show him more attention one on one maybe than an entire recruit weekend. If he has academic questions he can go on his own during free time to find the answers out or walk around campus. I think Ron Zook and his staff have used camp to nail down top recruits like Chris Leak, Justin Midgett, Eric Wilbur and Dee Webb. It is also a good chance for the coaches to "eyeball" kid on the hoof and see exactly what he can do in certain situations.

Do you think Justin Hoyman has any chance of coming back to Florida?

No, because he was drafted in the second round and by a team that is looking for young pitching. He was the Sec pitcher of the year and ended up on three All American teams including first team on the Louisville Slugger unit. I don't see how he could but I would not say I am 100% sure he is gone. History tells us second round picks usually go pro.

Hi Brady, thanks for you insightful answers regarding Gator sports. Now, let's turn the examination around a bit - this week's question concerns Gator "Fans". In the past couple of years, do you have any pet peeves about Gator fans you want improved/addressed? What can the Gator fan base do better - when it comes to football, baseball, basketball and other sports? What do you think of the gator fan - at the Mac, in the Swamp, at the O'Dome and on the message boards?

I don't have "pet peeves" about fans because fans are just that -- fans. I do have some with media and there ability to deliver the fans a story or image of the program and what goes on at the University of Florida. UF has the biggest and strongest fan base and booster support in the SEC and in the state of Florida and winning is very important to everyone. I think fans are suppose to be positive, negative, bandwagon or whatever for their team but the one constant should be that they support there University and the people that run it. I think most fans outlook at what is going on sports wise reflects their own personality in life. If some people see the glass as half full then they tend to be more positive and patient. As for message boards, they certainly send a strong message to coaches, athletic employees and fans. They are good forums for discussion and sometimes heated discussions. The thing is I don't believe that because 50 posters feel one way about a certain topic, that it is reflective completely of the Gator nation. There is a large base of fans in the Gator family that never have been to a message board. To that end one reason we have the relationship with Dave Stirt and FightinGators Magazine is to draw in more boosters, alumni and gator fans. Here are two things, if you will call them pet peeves, that I have with fans. Number one I don't think if UF wins eight games they will fire Ron Zook. Secondly, the Steve Spurrier offense that we saw at Florida is not being run anywhere else in football. Other college teams are putting up similar numbers (Oklahoma's etc) but that offense was one of a kind and his pressure that he put down the field is unmatched today. It was also reflective of his personality which was confident and risk taking and it worked tremendously. If another coach does end up at UF whether it's Stoops, Shanahan or Gary Pinkel their offense will look more like Zook's than Spurrier's. Coach was a legend and so was his offense. Finally, I have no problem with fans opinions, criticisms and debates, it is just when the media paints a certain picture all the time and it is conveyed to the fans is where I have a "pet peeve". Thanks for your question and to all the fans that read Gator Country.

Does UF have a policy as to WHERE we recruit for football, basketball and baseball? And is this policy set by Jeremy Foley? It seems like Billy Donovan is a "national recruiter". That is, the "primary" recruiting area is nationwide. Baseball, under McMahon, seems to be mostly Florida-directed. It seems that Zook is very intent on recruiting Florida, and secondarily, Georgia. Although, early offers for next year's class seemed to be predominately out of state. I'm just curious; I don't particularly have any problems what with what is done. For basketball, the "elite" programs are national recruiters, so it is not surprising that Billy would take that approach. I still think that Florida players should be a priority, and maybe they are. I fully endorse McMahon's concentration on Florida players; I think the state is loaded with quality baseball players. Thanks; I enjoy your column.

Thank you for the kind words. Jeremy Foley sets policies within the Athletic Department that enable the coaches to do their jobs properly. There are budgets set and money allocated for each program to go out and get the best prospects available. First of all, basketball has had to be a national recruiting job because of the talent that has been in Florida. Donovan has proven he can go out and get the best players in the country, but has also landed some of the best in the state (Dupay, Haslem, Wright, Richard). Hoops has camps and AAU tournaments so it is easier to get to one area in the summer and see the nation's best talent and decide who you are going after. Plus each year you sign only four to five guys at the most so you have to make sure you cover the country. Baseball is different. First I agree that the state is loaded with talent and some of it was starting to get away from UF prior to Pat McMahon's arrival. Baseball has a limited amount of scholarships as well so a lot of partial scholarships are given. It is easier to find guys eligible for state money and academic scholarships inside the state of Florida. If you can sign a kid from Jacksonville who will receive "X" amount of dollars for academics and you give him a certain amount of scholarship money the student athlete is basically a full ride but only costing you maybe 1/3rd of a scholarship. For example when I was at Valdosta State University we only had 36 full scholarships. We tried to get kids who received a state scholarship for grad so that it would cover 2/3rds of their expenses. We would then offer them the final one-third and they did not have to pay for anything. It allowed us the opportunity to have as many as 60 guys receiving some type of money instead of just 36 fulls. Florida should always be a priority for football and baseball and top hoops players will always consider UF because of Donovan..

What's next for Pat McMahon and the baseball staff?

The first thing was to meet with the team and set up the summer goals for returning players. He and his staff will be conducting four baseball camps (for information check out GatorZone) beginning July 4th and running until the end of the month. Recruiting and fall preparations will begin and also he will be looking to find out who is coming back.

Is Chris Dimarco the best Gator Golfer on the PGA Tour?
--Ufgrad 87

I think Dimarco is the best player at this time. He has a chance to make the Ryder Cup and plays well in the majors. Mark Calcavecchia has won a major and Dudley Hart has had a nice career but I think Dimarco is playing the best right now. Hart is a great story who was within one tournament of losing his status before making enough money to keep up. He missed most of last season with a injury. Camillo Villegas, Bubba Dickerson and Chris Couch will all make appearances on tour with Couch having his card this year and really needing to have a big second half of the season. Former Gator Brian Gay is having a good summer on tour as well.

Do you think Howard Lingard will be on the team in the fall? What's the story?

I do not think Howard will be on the field in the fall. From what I can tell he asked for his release from the team and is looking at other possibilities. He has mentioned publicly that he may be back with UF, but from my experience, usually when a coach finally agrees to let a player go that usually means it's over. Coaches don't come to those decisions very quickly and certainly Lingard is very talented. There has definitely been some unique situations at UF the last year or so with Lingard, Jimtavis Walker looking to go elsewhere and even the kid from North Marion Jermaine Thomas. The good thing for the program is these guys are young enough that you can go out and recruit possible replacements. This is much easier to overcome than a influx of underclassman going pro.

A lot of the magazines are giving high praise to Chris Leak. Would you have him on your pre-season Heisman list?

Yes I would. I think he is going to get a lot of attention but I also think he will throw for 3,000 yards. IF the Gators can get a win at Tennessee on National Television early in the season then I think his name will surface on the list. With all do respect to Jason White and Oklahoma he will not repeat and not put up the same numbers as last season. I would rank my preseason top five in this order. Matt Leinart (QB / USC), Cedric Benson (RB / Texas), Darren Sproles (RB / Kansas St.), Chris Leak (QB / Florida) and Brad Smith (QB / Missouri). My dark horses would include some defensive guys because this is the trend in college football -- David Pollack (DE / Georgia), Braylon Edwards (WR / Michigan), Corey Webster (DB / LSU) and Carnell Williams (RB / Auburn.

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