Recruiting rankings are overrated and more...

In today's edition, Larry gives his thoughts on recruiting rankings being over-rated, on how the Olympic basketball team isn't being assembled properly, and gives us his experienced eye on the scrimmage from last night.

RECRUITING RANKINGS OVER-RATED

I suppose that's a blasphemous headline from a guy writing on an internet site, but more and more it seems people are getting so caught up in the recruiting process and the arbitrary number someone assigns to that signing class that I had to speak up.

Lately it seems one of the most common arguments/discussions I read about on Gator Country surrounds Steve Spurrier's perceived indifference towards the recruiting process and how Florida thus often had inferior talent on game day. First, the notion the former HBC hated recruiting is absurd, although he unquestionably found the notion of "begging" some 18-year-old to come play for him more than a bit unseemly.

Spurrier and his staff had two recruiting classes considered extremely strong by all analysts and generated number one rankings in some corners. The first, the 1992 class lived up to expectations and provided the talent base for Florida's incredible championship run from 1993 thru 1996. The other, the class of 2000 came nowhere near projections and expectations despite the lofty ranking.

My point is, you can win big with recruiting classes not "ranked" highly as evidenced by the Gators not having top-five classes for most of the 90's, and you can have disappointing results with highly regarded classes.

I could spend pages going on and on about big name players who did not pan out and "afterthought" recruits who produced in a big way, but most of you know full well most of those stories. So just enjoy the process; get as excited as you want about commitments along the way. Just remember that championships are won in the fall, not in February. And make no mistake, recruiting IS important. Recruiting rankings AREN'T.

And what you do with them after you sign them is most important of all.

OLYMPIAN EMBARASSMENT REACTION

Most of us are still in a state of shock and dismay of the putrid display put on by the US Olympic Men's Basketball team ins its 19-point loss to Puerto Rico this weekend. The US should never lose to anyone by that sort of margin, but my bet is they will lose again and again before leaving Athens without a medal.

But what to do? Our top pros said no thank you, and USA Basketball kept going down the NBA scoring chart until they found eleven guys willing to go. Then, as some sort of sick joke we add Emeka Okefor who never moves off the bench. While the Dream Team of '92 may have been great for our collective ego, I think it has ruined USA basketball for Olympic and World Championship competition. You may not be aware we lost three at worlds and did not medal in 2002.

I don't support going back to a collegiate all-star group, because I think they would be overmatched in this day and age, but I do have a suggestion.

USA Basketball should ask EVERY NBA player at the start of the year if they would commit to the team. Asking them for their time from May 1 through the event (next up, 2006 World Championships). The team should be chosen after the FIRST ROUND of the NBA playoffs, which would leave plenty of talented players available.

Let's face it, the longer a team goes in the post-season, the less interested and more fatigued those players would be. Plus, by limiting the team to those guys… the team can begin practicing right away!

They should hire a coach for the year, choosing from former college/NBA coaches not currently working. Shoot, some top NBA assistants might take the job for a year. Surely we can afford to hire someone who could scout games and find the right role players. If we did that, more guys like Brent Barry, Anthony Peeler and Antonio Daniels might earn some consideration. Unless something changes, I don't see future gold for USA hoops.

SCRIMMAGE OBSERVATIONS

Well the Gators went scrimmaging Monday night and it looked like a typical first scrimmage of the fall. Gavin Dickey looked a whole lot better until he was picked on the final play of the night. He tossed a pair of TD's against the number one defense and seems to have progressed a lot in just a week.

Overall I thought the defense had a rough night with inconsistent coverage and pressure, although they did force a number of turnovers. Still, they have to improve their tackling big-time as all three runners ran through a number of would be tacklers during the evening. Not much disruption from the defensive line for most of the evening.

I wouldn't read much into this one. It was a start and watching post-practice video would certainly paint a much clearer picture. But nothing has happened in week one to change my perception that the biggest issues on this team defensively are consistent pressure without blitzing and putting together a cohesive secondary. Offensively, still unclear about the playmakers at receiver although the talent is obviously there. And I'm still withholding judgement on the o-line, particularly left tackle.

Unfortunately as bad as Middle Tennessee State and Eastern Michigan look to be, it might be mid-September before we get meaningful answers.

Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! Many emails this week had them and had to be left unopened. My email address is: vettel@gatorcountry.com.

Finally, I look forward to you joining me on the radio, Sunday nights from 6:00-to-8:00 on Gainesville's WSKY-FM 97.3 (877/975-9825 toll free)


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