That schedule gives Florida the requisite six home games every year and the chance to play all manner of schools with the two non-conference opportunities. I don't advocate trying to schedule a pair of super-powers every year. Heaven knows the SEC plus FSU is a tough enough schedule as it is.
Last fall I wrote a column for Fightin' Gators Magazine endorsing the 12th game and in it I listed some schools I think would be worth scheduling home and home, as much for their name and their locale than for the competition itself. Here are some schools I think would be cool home-and-home trips for Florida. The key to my list is getting the heck out of the Southeastern United States since Florida has played just two games out of "region" in the last 15 years.
ARMY: Michie Stadium at West Point is a fabulous atmosphere and every football fan, shoot every American should experience the pageantry that is a football game at West Point. It's a two-hour train ride from New York City and an easy win to boot.
STANFORD: Just outside San Francisco and a short drive from the wine country, Silicon Valley. Great trip, big-name opponent that isn't very good.
BOSTON COLLEGE: Jeremy gets to bring the Gators to his city… and it is a GREAT city to visit. Game won't be easy, but that's okay, we don't have to take the field!
AIR FORCE: Colorado's Rocky Mountains, some more military pageantry… and the fly boys are always competitive
WASHINGTON: With Tyrone Willingham they are guaranteed to be good but not great. Husky Stadium with Puget Sound and Mt. Rainier in the background is an awesome place to just observe the planet
ARIZONA STATE: Would be nice for UF to have a better memory about playing in the desert Southwest and a side trip to Sedona and the Grand Canyon makes it a pretty cool trip.
UTAH: Not for a few years to Coach Meyer doesn't have to try and beat kids he recruited, but after that why not? Flying into Salt Lake City on a clear day is spectacular and you can drive into sky country pretty quickly.
I know others will focus on "natural" or special football match ups, but I'm more interested in the road trips to be honest with you. You notice I didn't put Miami on the list. I not opposed to a return with the 'Canes… but as the Wicked Witch told Dorothy, "All in good time, my dear".
Walsh Will Stay, Roberson Will Go
Nobody could be surprised or upset about the news both Matt Walsh and Anthony Roberson will investigate their draft status without closing the door on returning to UF for their senior year. Shoot, I think every good player ought to do it, but I would try and create a 30-day evaluation window in order to make a decision.
Walsh's fact-finding mission and work at the IMG Academy can only make him a better player next year as he works on the things the pros tell him he needs to work on. (Psst: Matt, physical strength and ball-handling)
Roberson wants to go pro, there is no doubt about that. My understanding is that those close to him want him to go as well and are encouraging him to do so. My guess is Peep will spend a year or two overseas, before getting his best shot at the NBA. Much like Matt Bonner and Udonis Haslem, it will be up to him to make the most of that time to improve his game for the ultimate level.
Florida's upcoming signing of Walter Hodge gives Billy Donovan a pair of young talented point guards to work with for the next three years. I have seen Hodge play the last two years, but not this year. He's a lot like Taurean Green in that he's a true point guard who can score. Florida's point guards will have more assists next year and they'll play better defense. They won't score as much, but the key for next season's Gators may well be how eager they are to make the play in crunch time. That's something Roberson was always eager to try and do.
Knoxvillians Look Out!
Coaches like to talk about their players being together on the field, eleven guys executing the play perfectly. Eleven guys thinking as one with one goal and one common purpose.
Well the number eleven has special significance in Knoxville because in the last 14 months, ELEVEN Tennessee players have either been arrested or cited for illegal activities. The incidents range from underage drinking to aggravated assault. The latest incident was actually caught in part on a campus dormitory security camera.
Look this stuff happens everywhere and Urban Meyer even mentioned in his post-spring press conference he shudders about the incidents he reads about on other campuses. It's just another reminder that the short term pain of establishing a firm policy against inappropriate behavior is well worth the long term gain. Sure, Taurean Charles could have been given another chance with a zero-tolerance provision. But the fact he didn't get one has to have registered in the minds of his former teammates. If you are ever torn as to whether or not to give someone one last chance…. More often than not, you shouldn't.
From The E-Mail Bag
Jim writes, "I see Urban Meyer and I see a young Steve Spurrier but with more horsepower"
Well Jim, I disagree. When I look at Florida's head coach I see the guy the Gators tried to get four years ago, Bob Stoops. Meyer is so much like Stoops is sorta eerie. While their coaching backgrounds are on opposite sides of the ball, their approach seems virtually identical. Tell assistants what you expect/demand of them and let them get the job done. Raise the bar for every player on and off the field. Show your wit and personality, but only in limited doses. And never let anyone doubt who's in charge.
Keep those emails coming!
Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org .
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)
Have a great week.