Monday, January 26, 2009

Some uplifting stories for a Monday

This was a tremendous weekend for the Florida basketball team. Not only did they destroy Vanderbilt, but their Washington win's value continues to improve thanks to the Huskies beating UCLA. The Gators should be able to cruise past Georgia to get to 5-1 Wednesday, meaning they'll be five wins away from likely securing a tourney spot. Chandler Parsons won't always have a big day like yesterday, so it would be helpful if Dan Werner started to figure things out at some point.

Tampa Bay continues to out together Raheem Morris's first staff. To me, the most important hire he will make is offensive coordinator. The Bucs have struggled to have consistent production on that side of the ball for the entire history of the franchise. Whenever they have won, the defense has always led the way. Morris has a defensive background, so he presumably will give a good amount of leeway to the person he hires as OC. I've got to admit, seeing that he's interviewing Titans QB coach Craig Johnson for the job does not thrill me. That's a very conservative team offensively, and he hasn't called plays in the NFL before. Doesn't mean the hire would be a bad one, of course. Still, comparing that to Atlanta's rookie head coach with a defensive background bringing in Mike Mularkey as OC last season, I know which choice makes me more comfortable.

Meanwhile, I'm sure the Bucs are deeply concerned that John Daly objects to the timing of their dismissal of Jon Gruden. How bizarre must it be for Gruden to have a trainwreck like Daly say "I'm here for you"? Gee, that's a relief.

Former UF center Mike Degory is now a member of Mike Locksley's New Mexico coaching staff, working alongside fellow former Gator Cheston Blackshear. I'd heard about Blackshear being hired after working at Columbia last season, but the Degory news is a surprise to me as I didn't realize he was a grad assistant at Illinois last year. Degory was a leader on a team that didn't have many in the late Zook/first Meyer year era. Remember, when Meyer arrived he was stunned to learn it was Degory rather than Chris Leak making the playcalls at the line. It's hard to imagine Mike being a recruiting "salesman", but I can definitely buy into him as a successful OL coach.

A minor note in this Miami Herald column absolutely astounded me. It deals with highly touted running back Bryce Brown, who's been a Miami "commitment" for quite a few months now...

"Brian Butler, mentor for UM oral commitment Bryce Brown (the nation's top high school running back) said Brown won't sign anywhere until at least March; he also is considering Tennessee, Kansas State, Auburn and Southern California; and he wants to learn about UM's new offensive coordinator. Butler said his website will charge $9.99 monthly for Brown updates."

And there you have it, everything that is wrong with the obsessive focus on recruiting in one neat package. You have the "mentor" (not a parent or high school coach) acknowledging he's looking to cash in on a kid. A supposed commitment means absolutely nothing. There's a perfectly good possibility that once the kid gets to school he'll turn out to be an unremarkable player. But during recruiting, the college football world is supposed to fall at the prospect's feet, wallets extended, praying he'll pick their school. It's absolutely pathetic.

Not much surprises me anymore, but every now and then there's still a story that does. An American business in the year 2009, in New York City of all places, selling "Drunken Negro Face" cookies in "honor of" our new president did the trick.

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