VETTEL: Too Big A Target For Ole Ball Coach

You knew Steve Spurrier would have to find someone in the SEC to needle relentlessly. You knew it wasn't going to be Urban Meyer. You knew it wouldn't be any fun for it to be Mark Richt. It had to be Phil Fulmer. The round mound of coaching renown in Knoxville is an easy target… literally and figuratively. And the HBC cannot ignore an easy target.

Well now the two coaches are going back and forth… dueling critiques of the other's miscreant student-athletes. It got more interesting after the Gamecocks spring game when two more players were arrested, this time for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It evens the score between the schools - each has had eleven players with legal issues since last spring.

How much fun will the buildup for that game be? The one liners will be flying from every angle:

  • South Carolina quarterbacks have it easier finding their receivers now that they all wear monitoring devices
  • The Vols find it's easier to get your offensive line to play "as one" when they are shackled together at the ankles
  • South Carolina has a team "team building" activity. It's called community service hours
  • What do you say to a Vol in a three-piece suit? Will the defendant please rise?
  • Three Gamecocks players are cruising in the back seat of a car, who's the driver? The Sheriff
  • Tennessee has added a course for this summer session. Roadside cleanup technologies
  • Tennessee and South Carolina announced today that they have refused ESPN's request to play the game at night. Too many players have to be back in their cells by 10:00.

Okay, I'll stop not, but you get the point. It'll be a lot of fun… it just a shame we have to wait until October 29th for the game. For continued verbal jousting however, we won't have to wait long at all.

Now THAT'S a Bare Cupboard

Watching South Carolina's spring game, it made me think about all the debating about whether or not the cupboard was bare when Spurrier left UF in January of 2002. It was not, of course, despite claims to the contrary. If you really want to see what a bare cupboard looks like, glance at the team Steve Spurrier inherited. Two good safeties, one good defensive lineman and a pair of fine running backs. And that's about it! I know spring games can be somewhat deceptive, but individual athletes are usually pretty easy to pick out. I didn't see many of those. If this team goes 4-4 in the SEC the coach of the year trophy is a given.

Sheffield Screwed Up

While Yankees outfielder Gary Sheffield was understandably annoyed at the Red Sox fan to took a weak swipe at him last week, but his reaction was excessive and should be punished. You just can't get physical with a fan. Sheffield had to lean into the crowd to shove the guy who hit him and that's unacceptable. No, it's not ten-game worthy as some sanctimonious nitwits in the national media have suggested, but two or three games should be given. Players have to learn that this issue is not a gray area… it is black and white. You do not physically accost fans, ever. Had Sheffield gone into the stands, or followed up his shove with another shove or worse then you're talking about a major problem.

As for the idiot fans involved. There's no way the guy was going after the ball. The ball was rolling along the ground and his swipe looked more aimed at Sheffield's hat than anything else. The real weasel is the 40-something moron wearing a GAP sweatshirt who tossed beer at Sheffield and then hid behind the woman sitting next to him. Nice moves Alice!

NFL Draft Finally Draws Near

Baseball holds its draft in the middle of the season. The NBA draft is within two or three weeks of the last playoff game. Hell, even the WNBA conducts its draft in a timely manner. So why does the NFL need almost three months from the end of the season until the draft? It is an absurdly long period of time, considering the mountains of video available on every legit prospect. Still, it makes for a great Saturday… fire up a grill, tap a keg… and six hours later the first round just might be over!

Various reports are indicating the draft status of both Gator standouts is less than solid and both could slide quite a bit on draft day. Channing Crowder was once listed as a likely 20-30 pick in round one, but is no longer listed in most round one mock drafts. Ciatrick Fason is a guy I thought was a sure mid-second round choice. Yet some are now sending C-4 into round four which seems ludicrous. I guess we should expect a lot of diversity of opinion now since there are so many "experts" out there. My guess is Crowder in middle of round two, Fason about 20 picks later… we'll see.

Gators Halfway to SEC Title

At the midway point of the conference schedule, Pat McMahon's baseball team is alone in first place in the SEC race. It's not like the Gators have a lot of breathing room. Florida's 10-5 record is a half game better than Tennessee and a full game ahead of South Carolina and Alabama. Currently ten of the twelve teams in the league are within three games of first place, so the second half of the league race should be a wild ride.

SEC titles have been few and far between for the Gators. In the last 16 years Florida has one outright SEC title to its credit (1998) and one shared crown (1996). That's quite a drop off from the 1980's when Florida won four titles in eight years from 1981 through '88.

For this team to win an SEC Title another reliable arm has to be found in the Gator bullpen. Connor Falkenbach and Darren O'Day do a fine job but their side-winding styles are so similar it diminishes their effectiveness. Florida sent both out for each game of the Alabama series and paid for it with a six-run ninth inning costing UF a game.

A healthy Brian Ball might allow Florida to put Tommy Boss in the pen, but a better alternative would be more opportunities for lefties Mike Pete and Steven Porter. Porter has appeared in 13 games, but has faced only 21 batters. You can't get better with that kind of workload. Pete has seen slightly longer outings, but in nine outings he averages fewer than five batters each time out. Legit lefty balance to the Florida bullpen will be crucial down the stretch and into post-season play.

Keep those emails coming!

Don't forget to email me your questions and comments, but please do not include attachments! My email address is: vettel@gatorcountry.com .

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.


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