Monday, April 20, 2009

Will the last player out please turn off the lights?

The news that Alex Tyus was leaving the Gator basketball program came out of nowhere Friday. Lots of theories have floated about why this happened, but after talking to people around the program the gist of it is that Tyus wants to play on the outside and Billy Donovan needs him as an interior player. Tyus in't talking to the press, but he appears to have confirmed that on his Facebook page. I understand Tyus being frustrated about playing out of position at the five spot, but this year he would have switched to the more natural four and I think been very successful there. I also think Billy's perfectly happy to see him go and will feel the same about Calathes whenever he officially acknowledges the obvious as well. The last two years he's had a team that has not consistently listened to him, and this year that's going to change. Good luck to Tyus - he's a nice kid and has enough game to help someone's team, but I don't think he's made a good choice here.

Donovan is expected to make more news today by hiring Richard Pitino as his latest assistant coach. This makes sense. Pitino's got a reputation as a talented recuiter, is well versed in UF's desired style of play, and Donovan's known him virtually his entire life so there shouldn't be any surprise chemistry issues. While Pitino's name came up for Boston U head coach opening this year, my guess is he will be on UF's staff for a few seasons and help give them some stability they've really needed. May not be a bad time to leave Louisville either, with his dad having gone to the FBI about an apparent extortion attempt. There's a lot of weird and ugly stuff being spread about this story. I'm curious to see where it goes.

Some people scoff at the idea of Matt Millen, architect of the 0-16 debacle in Detroit, serving as NFL analyst again. I have no problem with that unless they bill him as "Matt Millen, draft expert". Millen was good at explaining what was going on during a game in his previous work and I assume would be again. Just because he stunk as a personnel guy does not negate that skill - they're different jobs. What I do have a problem with is that ESPN is going to have Millen work college football games too. Millen has been an NFL guy for the last three decades. As his drafting showed, he knows nothing about college football. Lots of talented guys who follow this sport on a regular basis are available to be college analysts. Why have someone with no knowledge and credibility in the current sport do it instead?

I'm not a fan of college baseball for a lot of reasons, from the damage it does to pitchers through the ping of the bat. Whenever I can avoid watching it or talking about it in the course of my job, I do. Having said that, the stuff I saw Brad Wilkerson do at Florida was amazing. The guy could knock the cover off the ball then run in from the outfield and turn into a closer. There were people who complained about Andy Lopez not signing enough Florida kids, but getting Wilkerson out of Kentucky was the best thing he did. Now, at the age of 31, Wilkerson has decided to retire after losing the fire to keep playing. He was in the minors with Boston and had been a .247 career hitter in MLB. I'm not sure what happened with Brad in the bigs, but I've never seen a better college baseball player (and hopefully won't have to either).

UF is among three SEC schools to make the Playboy top 25 party school list(WARNING: Link is to Playboy, likely NSFW though it does not have any nudity) coming in at a conference best number 4 overall. This list is silly, although I'm sure Bernie Machen won't rest until UF fails to make the top 25. Any list that claims Miami is the biggest party school in the country while putting Arizona State 15th behind Lehigh needs some serious editing work.


Anonymous said...

I wonder out loud, Heath, if your comments about college baseball aren't somehow reflective of the fact that the University of Florida has never won the College World Series (despite a very nice run in '05). In fact, I would argue that UF has horrifically (yes, horrifically) underachieved in this sport given the level of talent in the state. Seriously: Texas, California and Arizona schools completely dominate this sport (Oregon State and LSU notwithstanding). What do they have that Florida doesn't? (Hint: absolutely nothing.) When Rice University and North Carolina have far more successful programs than Florida has ever had and those that champion the University of Florida are nonchalant about the sport, the B.S. needle gets pinned to the right (with smoke pouring out of the meter). It's not about metal bats or about pitchers' arms. Sorry, Heath; your followers know better...

Heath Cline said...

Well, you're welcome to believe that if you'd like. I certainly don't belittle those schools which are successful at college baseball. It's just not a sport I enjoy watching. I do agree with you that UF's program clearly should have performed at a higher level over the years given the talent resources in the state. I didn't go to the baseball games in Gainesville, and I don't here in Columbia either.