The arrest of a trio of Tennessee football players on armed robbery charges was the story of the day Thursday, especially since two of them were prized "signing day steals" for Lane Kiffin NuKeese Richardson and Janzen Jackson. Jackson had just got done serving a one week suspension, reportedly for a positive drug test, but had learned his lesson according to Wednesday's Knoxville News-Sentinel. Of course he had. No matter where it happens, I hate seeing kids make stupid choices. Lane Kiffin just got a big serving of karma for incessantly beating his chest about how there were no arrests under him (as recently as Wednesday) while trying to throw mud on other programs. It doesn't matter what kind of coach you are or where you coach, eventually you will have a rash of football players getting in legal trouble. If you're foolish enough to believe it won't happen, you'll look stupid when it does. Par for the course with Lane, though.
My worlds collide this weekend as UF visits Columbia for their final road game of the season. People like Mike Bianchi and Gene Frenette are writing that Steve Spurrier should hang it up. They are wrong. They're wanting Spurrier to be the same guy he was in Gainesville, and since he's not they don't want him to be a coach at all. As someone who sees what's happening with the Gamecocks much closer than them but has zero rooting interest, I can honestly say that Spurrier is on his way to something good. The worst thing in the world that could have happened for him here was to have the immediate success that he did when he arrived - beating UT and UF in year one, nearly getting UF again and winning a bowl in year two, then rising to 6th in the BCS midway through 2007. It made Spurrier believe what he had always done was going to be good enough to change things in Columbia, but it wasn't. The last year and a half, everything came crashing down and forced him to reevaluate what needed to be done. He dumped a staff of cronies in favor of quality coaches who are also good recruiters. The Gamecocks have good young skill talent and an okay QB to build around for the next two years, but this isn't the NFL where they can go sign free agents to fix the offensive line. Until that mess is solved, it will continue to be a struggle for Spurrier to score a lot. His five year stretch is still the most successful SC's program - one that has NEVER been to three straight bowls - has ever been, so why should he quit?
As for the game itself, Florida should win as long as they are reasonably responsible with the ball. South Carolina has forced zero turnovers in the past three games and are seriously depleted on the defensive side of the ball due to injuries. This is their eleventh straight week with a game, which doesn't help things either. In some ways the teams mirror each other - able to move the ball on offense but not consistently producing in the red zone. The Gators are clearly better, and while the crowd could be a factor I expect a sizable UF fan contingent to mute that effect somewhat because tickets were on sale for anybody who wanted them for weeks. Florida hasn't been blowing anyone out this season, but if they play defense like they normally do the Gamecocks will not be able to run the ball and their passing isn't good enough on its own to seriously threaten UF.
SI's website reports The Who has been chosen as this year's Super Bowl halftime act. If this is true, it's a tough call for me. The Who is a terrific band, but it has not existed for a long time. Keith Moon and John Entwistle have been dead for years. Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey are the two main cogs of the band and are still here, but have recorded one album in the past 27 years. If they can somehow recapture the magic to give a performance as great as the one they did at the Concert for New York City in early 2002 before Entwistle's death, it'll be incredible to see. While I'm hopeful, I hate to imagine kids watching the Super Bowl and thinking some old guys are ripping off the CSI theme songs. Have a good weekend and I'll see you back here Monday.