VETTEL: Zook made right choice to skip Growl

As a University of Florida alumnus it pains me to write this, but Ron Zook did the right thing by deciding to skip Gator Growl. There is little doubt in my mind there would have been significant booing had the outgoing coach been introduced to the well-lubricated crowd Friday night. That would have bothered the players more than Zook, and would have been an issue within the team all day Saturday.

This game will be difficult enough without creating yet another distraction for America's most distracted team. I don't know who will be introducing the seniors. Mick Hubert would be the best choice, although I'm afraid they'll have "Albert" do it.

One interesting note. The Gators list both Kenny Parker and Tavares Washington as the seniors scheduled to be introduced at growl. Parker has been granted a sixth year by the NCAA, but appears to have decided it's not worth it. Washington could use a redshirt season and be a fifth-year senior in '05. No word on whether Friday night's appearance is an indication that the 2005 season is not in his plans.

Gamecocks Provide Significant Challenge

South Carolina comes to Gainesville bowl eligible for the first time in three years and with a win could be in position to play in the Peach Bowl. What's unusual about this Carolina squad is they throw deep a lot. Normally Lou Holtz teams put a premium on the running game and ball control. While Carolina does run it reasonably well, Florida's biggest concern has to be the deep pass. Six different Gamecocks receivers have at least one reception of 40-plus yards. The most dangerous guy is Troy Williamson who leads the SEC in both yards per game (89.1) and yards per catch (20.6). Florida has been pretty good this year at avoiding big pass plays, but I bet South Carolina throws deep more than anyone Florida has faced to this point.

Offensively, the key is to saddle up Ciatrick Fason and ride him to a win. Fason had 190 against these guys last year and could easily match that. Carolina has allowed almost 500 yards on the ground in the last two games. A man to watch is freshman safety Ko Simpson who leads the SEC with five interceptions. South Carolina leads the SEC with 14 interceptions and 24 takeaways, so taking care of the ball is huge Saturday night. Florida 33-28.

Lou Holtz Ready To Retire?

Actually there was no question about it four days ago, but there is now. Holtz, in his sixth season with South Carolina had given indications that his 33rd season as a college head coach would be his last. But a funny thing happened on the way to the rest home. Holtz has been asked a boatload of questions about Steve Spurrier possibly coaching the Gamecocks next year.

At first Holtz handled the questions just fine, but he grew increasingly irritated by the conversation. The 67-year old coaching legend was ticked that he was presumed to be on his way out and it may have him re-thinking his master plan. Holtz is one win shy of 250 and you gotta believe if he doesn't get it this year he just may want one more go 'round.

As The Coaching Search Turns

Isn't already starting to feel like the move "Groundhog's Day" when it comes to the Gator coaching job. Each day it's the same thing. Spurrier, Stoops, Machen, Foley, Petrino, Meyer, Davis Tedford…. And we probably have three or four more weeks of it.

But it is fascinating because it is the first true search for a football coach at UF since 1960. Think about it, Dickey was anointed, Pell was chosen by two guys, Hall and Darnell were promoted from within. Spurrier was handpicked by interim UF President Bob Bryan while Jeremy Foley made the solo decision on Ron Zook.

I don't pretend to know how this will turn out, but have been steadfast that the four best candidates are current offensive-minded college coaches in their 40's. Urban Meyer, Jeff Tedford, Bob Petrino and Kirk Ferentz would be superb choices. However UF is finding with one or two of those guys and some other potential candidates there are some huge buy-out issues to deal with. While the Gators are not likely to write a $ 2-million check, Florida could promise a future home and home with one of the schools in question. That would be more valuable to the school and less expensive for UF… a win/win solution could be out there in order to get the right guy.

Auburn/Georgia SEC Game Of The Year

It'll be something at Jordan-Hare Stadium Saturday afternoon when Auburn and Georgia play their biggest game in a long time. With Auburn undefeated and Georgia # 8 in the BCS rankings, this one has huge national championship implications.

The two teams have a ton in common. They rely on two running backs to make life easier for their veteran quarterbacks. They commit very few turnovers and play excellent defense. I think Georgia is a little better, but not much. Auburn has the home field and there is no better crowd than an Auburn crowd for a huge game. The wining quarterback will almost certainly be the SEC Player of the Year and appropriately so. I'm pulling for Auburn because I want the BCS to look stupid but it should be a game that goes down to the final minute. Auburn 17-16.

Get Ready For Big Al Horford

After two exhibition games a couple of things are obvious about Gator basketball this season. Florida is a deeper, more athletic team and that should be fun. Florida junior guard Anthony Roberson is still a ways from truly understanding the job description a point guard must follow. The Gators jacked up an absurd 22 three-pointers in the first half of Tuesday's exhibition game. The second half, they went inside and took care of business.

One guy who obviously means business is freshman forward Al Horford. Al, whose father Tito played in the NBA has shot blocking and rebounding instincts the Gators need, and might outlet the ball on the break as well as anyone Florida has had in recent years. Look for "Big Al" to end up playing an important role for this team from opening day.

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Have a great week.

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