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9 posts from December 2007

December 31, 2007

Patrick Johnson disses The U? Think again

ORLANDO -- Perhaps the biggest college football news this week has nothing to do with a bowl game. It is instead the revelation by high school recruit Patrick Johnson (Pompano Beach Blanche Ely) that he is no longer considering a commitment to the University of Miami.

Johnson, the top-rated prep cornerback in the country, committed to Miami as a junior but has apparently changed his mind. He plans to choose between LSU, Florida State and Florida on Jan. 5 during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Florida coach Urban Meyer said earlier this week that the Gators' cornerback and defensive line positions need the most improvement this offseason. Signing Johnson in February certainly would help the cornerback situation.

You might be asking yourself, does Florida even want a kid who turned the recruiting process into a charade? The answer is yes. Patrick Johnson didn't create the ridiculousness of college football recruiting, he's just playing along.

Why do people think it is so important for kids to remain firm on their verbal commitments anyway? And don't give me another bogus argument about accountability. Could I think of a more hypocritical thought than major college football accountability? A vegetarian owning a slaughterhouse, maybe.

All football players are going to be ground into little patties, processed and packaged. What difference does it make which slaughterhouse does the honors?

-jo-

December 28, 2007

Back on the case: Comparing FAU's Smith and UF's Tebow

ORLANDO -- Well, Gator Clause is back in action after a too-long hiatus and in Orlando gearing up for the Capital One Bowl. See today's story on the Pouncey twins in the Miami Herald. Christmas vacation was ... eventful for the Goodman family and Gator Clause wishes everyone a happy holidays. A quick note before we catch up on the Gators...

While in New Orleans covering Florida Atlantic's win over Memphis, several fans and reporters asked me how FAU quarterback Rusty Smith compares to Florida's Tim Tebow. After watching both quarterbacks this season -- the New Orleans Bowl was my second time to see Smith at his best -- I feel confident in writing that Tebow and Smith are the state's two best quarterbacks. (So sorry, Matt Grothe of South Florida.)

There are several similarities between Tebow and Smith that go beyond both quarterbacks attending the same Jacksonville church. Both players have a non-traditional throwing motion. While accurate and competent throwers, Tebow and Smith could use the offseason to improve the efficiency of their throwing motions.

That's pretty much the only knock on both quarterbacks. Tebow, of course, won the Heisman and Smith was named the Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. Who's better? Tebow. Could Smith run Florida's offense with success? Yes.

-jo-

December 13, 2007

Rutledge done at UF

GAINESVILLE -- Florida fullback Eric Rutledge will not play with the Gators during their Jan.1 Capital One Bowl, according to Florida sports information director Steve McClain in the Tampa Tribune. A senior, Rutledge was recently suspended for violating team rules.

Rutledge did not log a single rush or reception this season but was considered an excellent blocker for the Gators' spread-option offense. Rutledge is the second Florida football player in recent weeks to find himself in trouble.

Defensive end Jermaine Cunningham was arrested for an incident that occurred in a Gainesville sandwich shop two weeks ago. Cunningham was charged with a misdemeanor for tossing empty soda cups at a deli clerk.

-jo-

December 07, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Tebow sees snow, and other reasons why I felt like a stalker today

Yeah, I get it...Tebow is Superman; Superman saved New York.

NEW YORK -- Sitting outside a hotel room waiting for Tim Tebow. Sitting Indian style. Like they the way they taught you in school. Be a good boy, Joseph, and Tim Tebow will come and visit you. If being a reporter isn't like being a professional stalker, then think again...

Myself and about two dozen other reporters talked with Tebow for about an hour today in the Hilton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. The press conference took place in your basic hotel suite, kind of like something you'd imagine a fireside chat would be. The suite was on the 42nd floor and overlooked Sixth Avenue. A pretty iconic scene considering what Tebow's place in history might one day be.

It snowed a bit before the press conference and Tebow jumped out of his chair and peered through the window. The kid is just soaking it all in. More on the lengthy interview in the newspaper. Tebow tours New York City tonight with the other Heisman finalists: Chase Daniel (Mizzou), Darren McFadden (Arkansas) and Colt Brennan (Hawaii).

-jo-   

December 06, 2007

Nutt to Broyles: 'It wasn't about the money.'

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- I had the pleasure of meeting Arkansas' legendary football coach and athletic director Frank Broyles on Thursday night at the college football awards ceremony. Broyles was presented with a college football lifetime achievement award and Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and former President Bill Clinton -- both famous Arkansas natives -- offered tributes to Broyles. After the ceremony, I asked Broyles about football coach Houston Nutt's recent move from Arkansas to Mississippi.

At first Broyles said he was on the outside looking in during the tumultuous season at Arkansas. Nutt, of course, was under scrutiny for off-the-field issues as well as beginning the Southeastern Conference schedule with a few losses. When pressed, Broyles said that he asked Nutt to stay and offered him more money. Nutt refused and told Broyles that "it wasn't about the money."

It must have been bad in Fayetteville if Broyles, as skilled and respected a negotiator as there is, couldn't even mediate a truce between Nutt and his severed fan base. Arkansas' current mess can in no way stain Broyles' legacy but the longtime Razorback sure can't like walking away from UA with his program in disarry.

-jo-

Tebow turns reporter at college football awards ceremony

LAKE BUENA VISTA -- Florida quarterback Tim Tebow won the Maxwell Award and the Davey O'Brien Award on Thursday night at Disney's Boardwalk Dance Hall. Pretty special night, right? My favorite highlight of the evening came before the awards ceremony even began, however, when Tebow spontaneously grabbed a microphone and played reporter. He interviewed Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon...

Tebow as reporter: “What do you think of this college football season?”
Dixon: “It’s had its ups and downs. I’ll tell you that, man. It’s been a blast in the process. I wouldn’t change anything. I’m not sure anybody else would, either.”
Tebow as reporter: “Do you think we should go to a playoff or stick to the BCS? What are your thoughts on that?”
Dixon: “Honestly, keep the BCS. Don’t let anything get to it. Let the polls take care of themselves. All you can do is play, right?”
Tebow as reporter: “That’s exactly right. So now that the season is done, what are your plans for getting ready for the [NFL] Draft?”
Dixon: “Just get ready. Rehab [torn anterior cruciate ligament]. I’ve got a lot of decisions to make — either the NFL or MLB. I’ll try to make a career of something.”
Tebow as reporter: “I hear you. Sounds good. What are your thoughts about tonight?
Dixon: “I’m having a blast. I’m actually flattered to have you in the stands. I’m looking forward to this night, and I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
Tebow: “Sounds good.”

-jo-

December 05, 2007

Busy day in Gatorland: Heisman, arrests, hoops, snubs

GAINESVILLE -- Sitting in the media room inside the O'Connell Center and thankful that this long day is finally over. Let's review...

We learned around mid-morning that Florida defensive end Jermaine Cunningham and former linebacker Jon Demps were arrested early Wednesday for raising cane inside a local sandwich shop. Cunningham threw some empty cups and Demps heaved a sandwich at an employee after being asked to pay for some chips. Most bizarre and yet another case of a Florida football player getting into trouble...

After talking with Florida coach Urban Meyer about the arrest -- he called it "ignorance" -- official word came that Tim Tebow was a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Tebow is in Orlando tonight. I probably should have gone but I chose to stay in Gainesville to cover the basketball game...which was a HUGE mistake.

The basketball game was over in 10 minutes after Florida went on a 24-0 run. The Gators beat Florida A&M 91-52 and freshman guard Nick Calathes had 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

During the game I learn that SEC coaches voted Arkansas running back Darren McFadden SEC player of the year over Tim Tebow. This seems a little fishy, considering Tebow rushed for more touchdowns than McFadden and Tebow isn't even a running back. At least sports writers got it right. The Associated Press named Tebow its SEC player of the year.

Well, off to Orlando on Thursday and then to New York on Friday...

-jo-   

December 04, 2007

All-SEC teams released...and they're garbage

Major beef with the All-SEC teams, people. Percy Harvin didn’t make first-team offense? What a rip...

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GAINESVILLE — Florida sophomores Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes earned first-team all-Southeastern Conference honors on Tuesday and six other Gators landed on all-SEC second teams.

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LSU, which is playing in the Bowl Championship Series national championship game on Jan. 7, landed a league-high 10 players throughout five all-SEC teams.

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OK, enough with the newsy reporter non-sense. All-Whatever teams are put together to create a little buzz and a get people talking. That’s what Gator Clause will do now and we hope our loyal readers chime in…

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TOP 10 BEEFS WITH THE ALL-SEC TEAMS…

Percy 1. How in the name of All-SEC headaches did Percy Harvin get relegated to second-team offense? The guy is the most electric player in the league, is he not? You can’t fault a kid for having a medical problem during the middle of the season, can you? Does anyone need reminding that Harvin finished the season two catches behind receptions leader Andre Caldwell (52) and that Harvin led Florida with 8.6 yards per carry out of the backfield. Harvin also became the only player in Florida history to rush and receive for more than 100 yards in a game (Vanderbilt). Name a more exciting player in the SEC than Harvin. I’m waiting…

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2. How did South Carolina safety Emanuel Cook (Palm Beach County) not make first-team defense? Bologna! Cook was the best defensive back in the SEC this season. 

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3. What were coaches thinking by putting Georgia freshman running back Knowshon Moreno on the first-team offense? Sure, Moreno is great but he’s no Jacob Hester (LSU, senior) —not this season anyway. Maybe you didn’t notice, but when LSU was trying its best to ruin its national championship hopes, Hester was the guy who resurrected the team. 

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Berry 4. The only freshman who should have landed on a first team did not. His name is Eric Berry (Tennessee) and he was the best cornerback in the league. Florida might remember him. Berry is the guy who returned Tebow’s interception 96 yards for a touchdown. Berry had five picks this season and returned them for an astounding 222 yards. 

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5. Birmingham, Ala., — OF ALL PLACES! — had more kids selected to All-SEC teams than any other city. The SEC is headquartered in Birmingham. Is this a problem to anyone other than me? The good ole’ boys win again. 

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Smurfs_pez_series_2 6. Andre Caldwell — Florida’s all-time receptions leader — didn’t even make second-team offense. I’ve seen Pez dispensers with more brains that Alabama receiver D.J. Hall (second-team offense). This is the same guy who was laughing on the sidelines while the Tide lost to La.-Monroe. Meanwhile, Caldwell finished his career with single-game reception totals of nine for 110 yards, Vandy; 11 for 148 yards, South Carolina; 13 for 164 yards, Florida Atlantic and the best send off in history of college football (tossing a touchdown against Florida State into the upper deck in The Swamp).   

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7. Not a single Florida offensive lineman on the first-team offense? Florida led the SEC in scoring offense (43.1 ppg) this season. Give the faties some credit.

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8. Auburn freshman kicker Wes Byrum didn’t make first-team special teams? Byrum didn’t even make second-team special teams? Byrum kicked game-winning field goals against Florida and Arkansas. That deserves something.

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9. The only player from Ole Miss that should have made an all-SEC team did not. Punter Justin Sparks had 51 kicks for 2,023 yards.

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10. Mississippi State’s defense beat Auburn, Alabama and Kentucky this season and didn’t place one person on the first team? Nonsense.

ALL-SEC

(*-Ties / #-Unanimous Selection)

(Coaches could not vote for their own players)

FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- OFFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

TE Jacob Tamme Kentucky 6-5 240 Sr. Danville, Ky.

OL Robert Felton Arkansas 6-4 320 Sr. Houston, Texas

OL Andre Smith Alabama 6-4 348 So. Birmingham, Ala.

OL Anthony Parker Tennessee 6-3 305 Jr. Jonesboro, Ga.

OL *Herman Johnson LSU 6-7 356 Jr. Olla, La.

OL *Michael Oher Ole Miss 6-5 325 Jr. Memphis, Tenn.

OL *Chris Williams Vanderbilt 6-6 320 Sr. Glynn, La.

C Jonathan Luigs Arkansas 6-4 315 Jr. Little Rock, Ark.

WR Kenny McKinley South Carolina 6-0 177 Jr. Mableton, Ga.

WR Earl Bennett Vanderbilt 6-1 202 Jr. Birmingham, Ala.

QB Tim Tebow Florida 6-3 235 So. Jacksonville, Fla.

RB # Darren McFadden Arkansas 6-2 215 Jr. Little Rock, Ark.

RB Knowshon Moreno Georgia 5-11 207 Fr. Belford, N.J.

SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- OFFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

TE Cornelius Ingram Florida 6-4 230 Jr. Hawthorne, Fla.

OL Carlton Medder Florida 6-5 319 Sr. Clermont, Fla.

OL Michael Brown Mississippi State 6-5 300 Jr. College Park, Ga.

OL *Ciron Black LSU 6-5 320 So. Tyler, Texas

OL *Antoine Caldwell Alabama 6-4 288 Jr. Montgomery, Ala.

OL *Nate Garner Arkansas 6-7 318 Sr. Roland, Ark.

OL *Mitch Petrus Arkansas 6-4 300 Jr. Carlisle, Ark.

OL *Jim Tartt Florida 6-3 316 Jr. Sopchoppy, Fla.

OL *Garry Williams Kentucky 6-4 325 Jr. Louisville, Ky.

C Fernando Velasco Georgia 6-4 318 Sr. Wrens, Ga.

WR Percy Harvin Florida 5-11 187 So. Virginia Beach, Va.

WR D.J. Hall Alabama 6-3 186 Sr. Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

QB Andre’ Woodson Kentucky 6-5 230 Sr. Radcliff, Ky.

RB Felix Jones Arkansas 6-0 207 Jr. Tulsa, Okla.

RB Jacob Hester LSU 6-0 228 Sr. Shreveport, La.

FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- DEFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

DL # Glenn Dorsey LSU 6-2 303 Sr. Gonzales, La.

DL Wallace Gilberry Alabama 6-4 264 Sr. Bay Minette, Ala.

DL *Quentin Groves Auburn 6-3 254 Sr. Greenville, Miss.

DL *Greg Hardy Ole Miss 6-5 255 So. Millington, Tenn.

DL *Eric Norwood South Carolina 6-0 258 So. Acworth, Ga.

LB # Ali Highsmith LSU 6-1 225 Sr. Miami, Fla.

LB # Wesley Woodyard Kentucky 6-1 212 Sr. LaGrange, Ga.

LB Jerod Mayo Tennessee 6-2 230 Jr. Hampton, Va.

LB Brandon Spikes Florida 6-3 243 So. Shelby, N.C.

DB # Craig Steltz LSU 6-2 209 Sr. New Orleans, La.

DB Chevis Jackson LSU 6-0 184 Sr. Mobile, Ala.

DB * Simeon Castille Alabama 6-1 189 Sr. Birmingham, Ala.

DB * Rashad Johnson Alabama 6-0 186 Jr. Sulligent, Ala.

DB * Jonathan Hefney Tennessee 5-9 185 Sr. Rock Hill, S.C.

DB * Captain Munnerlyn South Carolina 5-9 180 So. Mobile, Ala.

2007 ALL-SEC FOOTBALL TEAM

SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- DEFENSE

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

DL Titus Brown Mississippi State 6-3 250 Sr. Tuscaloosa, Ala.

DL Derrick Harvey Florida 6-4 262 Jr. Greenbelt, Md.

DL Jeremy Jarmon Kentucky 6-3 268 So. Collierville, Tenn.

LB Jonathan Goff Vanderbilt 6-4 235 Sr. Lynn, Mass.

LB Rico McCoy Tennessee 6-1 215 So. Washington, D.C.

LB Darry Beckwith LSU 6-1 230 Jr. Baton Rouge, La.

LB *Jamar Chaney Mississippi State 6-1 236 Jr. Fort Pierce, Fla.

LB *Dannell Ellerbe Georgia 6-1 232 Jr. Hamlet, N.C.

DB D.J. Moore Vanderbilt 5-10 180 So. Spartanburg, S.C.

DB Emanuel Cook South Carolina 5-11 211 So. Riviera Beach, Fla.

DB Michael Grant Arkansas 5-11 186 Sr. Stone Mountain, Ga.

DB *Eric Berry Tennessee 5-11 195 Fr. Fairburn, Ga.

DB *Derek Pegues Mississippi State 5-10 196 Jr. Batesville, Miss.

FIRST-TEAM ALL-SEC -- SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

PK Colt David LSU 5-9 173 Jr. Grapevine, Texas

P Patrick Fisher LSU 6-5 238 Sr. Hyattsville, Md.

RS Felix Jones Arkansas 6-0 207 Jr. Tulsa, Okla.

SECOND-TEAM ALL-SEC -- SPECIAL TEAMS

Pos. Name School Ht. Wt. Class Hometown

PK Daniel Lincoln Tennessee 6-0 204 Fr. Ocala, Fla.

P *Britton Colquitt Tennessee 6-3 205 Jr. Knoxville, Tenn.

P *Ryan Shoemaker Auburn 6-0 188 Fr. Birmingham, Ala.

RS Brandon James Florida 5-6 181 So. St. Augustine, Fla.

December 03, 2007

How the BCS missed its chance at Florida vs. Hawaii; and how college football is like a night on South Beach gone bad

June Jones badmouthed Tim Tebow on national television? Jones does realize his team opens the 2008 season at The Swamp, right?...But if the BCS had any sense, then Hawaii could be playing Florida in the Sugar Bowl...

GAINESVILLE -- Florida and Michigan in the Capital One Bowl ... just more evidence of a flawed system. Imagine what might have been if the folks in charge of the bowls actually cared about matching up the best teams...

First things first, get rid of the BCS rule that doesn't allow more than two teams from the same conference to compete in the BCS. The BCS is more ridiculous than pro wrestling. Instead of trying to appear fair and balanced, the BCS should just admit it's a fraud and offer college football fans the next best thing to a playoff. And that would be the best teams in the country playing against the best teams in the country.

Instead, we're left with Southern Cal vs. Illinois in the Rose Bowl. Bor-ing! The folks at the Rose Bowl should have selected Georgia. But the Rose Bowl actually thinks people care about seeing a Pac-10 team play a Big Ten team. Wrong. And no believes that's the real reason Illinois is in the Rose Bowl anyway. Smart people realize that the only reason the Rose Bowl selected Illinois was to keep the bowl payout in the Big Ten.

With Georgia in the Rose, the Sugar Bowl could then have selected Florida to play Hawaii. (Keep in mind we already abolished the idiotic no-more-than-two-teams rule.) What a match-up that would have been, especially after Hawaii coach June Jones went on ESPN Sunday night and said (paraphrasing here) that Florida quarterback Tim Tebow is just a lucky product of the Gators' spread offense. Jones went on to say that his quarterback, Colt Brennan, could run Florida's system but Tebow could not thrive in Hawaii's run-and-shoot offense.

Now, Gator Clause is a June Jones fan (the charity work he does in the islands is wonderful) and we're going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this one. We're going to assume Jones is a smart man and that he realized the ridiculous premise of such an argument before he even said it. Jones was just being loyal to his guy and lobbying for Heisman votes. Tebow, of course, IS a great quarterback and is probably a better passer as a sophomore than Brennan was at that stage in his career. (And never mind the fact that the run-and-shoot offense is every bit a system-specific offense as the Gators' spread attack.)

Still, Jones' comments made a few people pretty upset in this neck of the woods. (An attack on Tebow, after all, is an attack on everything good in this world, right?) Sure, Florida plays Hawaii to open the 2008 season, something Jones was well aware of when he denounced the Gators' Golden Boy, but wouldn't a Sugar Bowl match-up between Hawaii and Florida--Brennan vs. Tebow--have been a lot more exciting than Florida vs. Michigan in the Capital One Bowl. Michigan isn't even ranked and can't even beat Ohio State. Oh, that reminds me...

Buckeyes vs. LSU? I find it nauseating to even write that the winner of this game will be crowned the national champion.

The metaphor goes like this: You're partying all night on South Beach, having a helluva time, you're in control, on top of the world, the unexpected keeps happening and every time it does it makes the night even better. You met some nice friends, you found a Benjamin on the dance floor, you're introduced to some rich dude from the Bahamas who invites you and your new friends to his yacht. Just when it can't possibly get any better, you pass out in your own vomit and go to jail for public intox. That's what Ohio State vs. LSU is, an exquisitely disgusting climax to a delightful drunk college football season. (Kansas vs. Va. Tech in the Orange Bowl is an even worse ending. You get back to yacht only to sink and drowned.) 

Lastly, just want to send a thank you to Georgia coach Mark Richt for his honesty...When asked on national television if he was upset LSU leapfrogged his Bulldogs for a spot in the BCS national championship, Richt said yes. When asked if he thought a team that didn't win its conference should play for a national championship, Richt said no.

-jo-


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