The Florida Gators made a sensible, though difficult decision to postpone the Middle Tennessee game until mid-October. While there is no guarantee the storm will wreak much havoc in Gainesville, the number of Floridians on the highways looking for safe haven will be in the hundreds of thousands. Hotel rooms will be at a premium so playing games makes little sense.
This is of course a dramatically different situation than the postponement of the Tennessee game in the aftermath of September eleventh. Then, the debate was between those who felt the games could help built national unity and accelerate healing and those who felt it would be in very poor taste to play games five days after the attack which killed thousands of our countrymen. Most may not know this, but the single entity most responsible for the cancellation of the games that weekend was the National Football League Players Association. When the NFLPA made it clear they would not play, every other sports organization fell in line.
I vividly remember some very fiery on-air debate over the decision, but I was convinced it was the right thing to do. It might have cost Florida a national title opportunity. Tennessee was all banged up and doubtless would have had much more trouble winning in the Swamp that week than they did in the re-scheduled game in December. Odd that Steve Spurrier's final game in the Swamp turned out to be the 9/11 re-scheduled game with Tennessee
AGAIN, POSTPONEMENT NOT GOOD FOR U-F
I don't think there is any question that Thursday's decision to postpone the game is not in the Gator football team's best interests. First, Florida had a longer than usual fall camp, making the team extremely antsy to play someone else. They have another week of that pent-up aggression. Second, Middle Tennessee's strength is their passing offense. Florida's rebuilt secondary would have been pretty well tested by this group, led by Kerry Wright. That is experience they really need. Next week's opponent, Eastern Michigan is a tailback oriented offensive football team. That appears to play to Florida's strength. So the postponement deprives Florida's defensive backs of a live-game test prior to a crucial exam in Knoxville.
SO, WHAT'S ON TELEVISION?
With the Gator game and all that surrounds it off the schedule, let's see what games might be worth our time this weekend. Of course, the list starts with FSU/Miami Monday night although that could very well be scratched as well. The storm should be though Miami long before that, but the safety of fans travelling and other issues might take over.
Last week I told you 18 ½ was too many points to give Virginia Tech… and if you happen to wager, it paid off. Interestingly last year's other National Champ, LSU opens the season as an 18-½-point favorite. Oregon State is not a great team, but they have a stud QB in Derek Anderson although he is turnover prone. They also have much of their defense back that could cause problems for LSU's new quarterback Marcus Randall. Take the points.
Vanderbilt has a chance to have its best team in years. Granted, not a tough accomplishment, but still improvement. Vandy has 20 starters back; South Carolina seems to be rudderless. Vandy gets four points at home… take the points and watch the Commodores win outright.
Notre Dame faces Brigham Young Saturday in an attempt to try and get back on target to be an elite program. The Irish were miserable last season losing seven games including two shutout losses (Michigan, FSU) and two other humiliations (USC by 31, Syracuse by 26). Tyrone Willingham is 15-and-10 in two years and that won't keep him in South Bend for long. Meanwhile BYU Coach Gary Crowton has seen his Cougars post consecutive losing seasons (5-and-7, 4-and-8) which is a strange sight in Provo, Utah. The loser in this game could have a long, unpleasant season ahead of him.
FROM THE E-MAIL BAG
Gatortrader Writes: " Does it concern you at all that Coach Zook has such a close, personal relationship with the players on the team? I would almost think he wants to be at arms length so he can "press their buttons" down the stretch when needed"
Every coach has his or her own personality and his or her own way of relating to the student-athletes in their charge. Zooker is definitely a hands-on guy when it comes to his players. He was that way with his DB's and the same with his special teams players. It would concern me if he weren't that way as a Head Coach, because then he would be coaching against his own personality. There's no question the closer you are to players, the harder time you have with disciplinary situations, but that's part of it. I've often said coaching is a lot like parenting with a lot more input from outsiders.
Can it be tougher to be viewed as "The Boss" when you are very close with the players? I would think so. But you would also expect advantages coming form kids not wanting to disappoint a coach who so obviously cares about them. Bobby Bowden and Tom Osborne were more the nurturing type. Bear Bryant and Steve Spurrier not so much. All four won a huge percentage of their games.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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)