It's a great debate for those of us close to the program and was an intense debate inside the Gator sports program when the re-scheduling of the Middle Tennessee State game was decided. Basically you had one of those rare situations in which the interests of the football program were in opposition to the best interests of the football team.
WHY OCTOBER WAS THE BETTER CHOICE
Scheduling Florida State on Thanksgiving weekend with months of advance notice is no big deal. Fans are happy to arrange their holiday around one of the great rivalries in the nation. But a late-notice game with a humpty-dumpty opponent like Middle Tennessee is another matter. I agree with those who feel no-shows would have been in the tens of thousands for this one. And it would have been worse if the Gators had lost to FSU, worse if Florida already had several losses, worse if the weather were unpleasant. October 16th fits the schedule much more sensibly.
WHY NOVEMBER WAS THE BETTER CHOICE
There's a reason why all but three division one-A football teams have at least one off week. The grind on the student-athlete physically and mentally is grueling and they need a break, period. Besides that, October 16th for Middle Tennessee means the Gators have a four-game home stand… that's pretty boring stuff. Plus, plans have been made all over North Central Florida for that weekend. Charities love planning for the Gators off week, and various campus entities do the same. At least November 27th was wide open for hotels and other issues. Those who consider our national festival of gluttony more important than the game should just stay home.
It's easy to see how Mr. Foley and Mr. Zook staked out their positions on this issue and from each of their points of view, they're right.
But if it were up to me, the game would be played in November.
VOLS ROOKIE QB'S IMPRESSIVE
Everyone who thought it was a big break for the Gators that Tennessee dumped veterans C.J. Leak and Rick Clausen as quarterback candidates might need to re-think that position. Brent Shaeffer and Erik Ainge had impressive performances in the Vols season opening win. Granted it was against UNLV, pre-season pick for ninth-place in the ultra powerful Mountain West Conference, but still the rookies showed poise in front of 100-thousand plus at Neyland Stadium. Shaeffer is an electric athlete from Deerfield Beach and had a touchdown running and a TD pass. Ainge is a tall prototypical pocket passer who tossed a pair of TD's. Combined they were 17-for-27 240 yards and three touchdowns.
EASTERN MICHIGAN HAS AN OFFENSE
But apparently no defense. The Eagles put 37 points on the board in their season opener. And they needed just about every point in a 37-34 win over Buffalo. Keep in mind, The Sporting News ranks Buffalo LAST among 117 Division one-A football teams. Eastern Michigan is # 110, so this was a match up of epic proportions. Eastern Michigan led by tailback Anthony Sherrell who gained 151 yards. Their quarterback Matt Bohnet ran for 92 more and passed for 91 and a couple of touchdowns. Buffalo actually out-gained Eastern Michigan, 399 yards to 339. Saturday will be easy for UF.
VANDY, KENTUCKY SHAME THE SEC
Kentucky's blowout (28-zip) loss to Louisville was a dismal day for the folks in Lexington who have already begun counting the days until football practice. Fortunately for U-K, another SEC team was worse. The Vanderbilt Commodores by far regurgitated the most miserable SEC performance. They utilized 20 returning starters and a decent home crowd for a 31-6 humiliation at the hands of South Carolina. My profound apologies for indicating to you good people that Vandy was a team to watch. It will never happen again.
However, I get an " I-told-you-so" for Oregon State's near upset of LSU in Baton Rouge. The Beavers blew a late lead in the closing minute of regulation, and then blew it on the sidelines afterwards. First, LSU gets a gift touchdown in overtime, courtesy of a pair of borderline defensive holding calls. Oregon State matches the TD, but inexplicably sent out Alexis Serna, who had already missed two extra points, and he missed another. I have a theory on overtime. If an underdog matches a touchdown and needs one point to force another overtime, they should go for the win. Three yards for a victory.. you gotta go for it. NC State blew a chance to upset FSU last year by failing to go for it, and Oregon State blew it this time.
MIAMI, FSU AND THE FHSAA
When the Canes and Noles agreed to network television's request for a money-grabbing Friday night game, they made a mistake. High schools desperately need Friday night revenues. Not only will this decision kill high school attendance in South Florida where thousands will instead be in the Orange Bowl, it will also affect crowds throughout the state. FSU's Athletic Director exacerbated the problem. "Spanky" Hart thanked the Florida High School Athletic Association for its understanding… without consulting them at all! I don't think there will be any major fallout. But it would be a nice gesture for the schools to give $ 50-grand each from its TV take to the FHSAA which could then be distributed to the affected schools.
Or they could send me the money and I'd be sure it got into the right hands.
FROM THE E-MAIL BAG
I guess you can add the Sun Devils to the list of possibilities since Dirk Koetter has really struggled there but I don't see it. I am one who believes the Head Ball Coach will stalk the sidelines again, and I'm betting (your money, not mine) on North Carolina. It has all the resources to be great, but is a chronically underachieving program. (sound familiar?) John Bunting was 13-and-24 after three seasons, and opened 2004 with a come-from-behind win over William and Mary. That's right, the Tar Heels trailed 31-28 after three quarters. They have to make a change. It's a perfect fit.
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: email@example.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)