Today is National Signing Day for college football recruits. UF apparently is signing the number one class, and South Carolina fans are rejoicing because running back Marcus Lattimore selected them yesterday. Inevitably some guy will pull a "shocking change of heart" and get far too much attention, while a higher quality player and kid who committed to his school 14 months ago and never looked around after that is completely ignored. Two years ago, Kansas linebacker Arthur Brown was a super bluechip prospect that everyone wanted before Miami won the battle for his services. Brown has made zero impact in two years and is now transferring. No one will notice today, of course. This year's kids can't miss!
Pat Dooley reports UF is considering creating statues of their three Heisman Trophy winners. It's interesting how much the UF athletic department's attitude has changed the past few years. Until very recently, there was no acknowledgement of the past at all in Gainesville beyond some words painted on the overhang of the South End Zone. Since the 2006 100th Anniversary celebration for the football program we've seen the creation of the Ring of Honor, actual signage rather than paint on a wall, and the new "front door of Florida football" that puts things like the Heismans and BCS trophies where people can actually see them. To me, those changes were all for the better. Statues, though? Other programs do stuff like naming streets (Hal Mumme Pass, anyone?) and building statues of people (Bobby Bowden, complete with ridiculous looking Garanimals FSU belt). This doesn't seem like UF to me. It feels like a copycat move.
Tennessee has their new defensive coordinator at last, and it's a curious choice. Boise State DC Justin Wilcox, a 32 year old with no SEC experience or ties, will take over the Vol D. He played at Oregon and has worked at Cal as a position coach and then Boise State as DC the last four years. None of that appears to prepare him well to continue the work Monte Kiffin did last season or to scheme against the speed of the conference. This seems to further reinforce the idea that Derek Dooley's throwing a staff together, because if this was a guy you wanted originally there's no reason you'd wait until the day before signing day to make the move. I'm not saying Wilcox is a bad coach, but I think he's a very puzzling hire.
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan flipped the bird at some Dolphin fans attending an MMA event in south Florida over the weekend. By most accounts the fans in question were being colossal jerks toward him, and eventually Ryan had heard enough and gave them the finger. He's been fined fifty thousand dollars for doing so by the team, which amazes me. Ryan was not there on behalf of the Jets, and I don't think anyone believes for a second that MMA fans were traumatized by getting flicked off. It's not a family crowd at those kind of events. If one of the fans doesn't get a cel phone picture of Ryan's gesture and send it all over the place to Miami area media, this doesn't lead to anything. Coaches and players do represent their teams when they're in public, but they're also human beings. A brief angry gesture in response to provocation is not something that merits this kind of punishment.
The Academy Award nominees are out, and there certainly doesn't seem to have been any need for ten Best Picture nominees this year. The Blind Side may be a pleasant enough movie, but we're talking about being up for the same honor that The Godfather once won. I see a difference in quality there. I don't generally care who wins acting awards, but if Vera Farmiga doesn't get Best Supporting Actress for Up In the Air something's seriously wrong with the voting process. Tragically it's too late for Alluda Majaka to be nominated for Best Picture, but as this scene shows it clearly should have been.