Freshman safety Jonathan Dowling being dismissed from Florida's program yesterday may be important or completely irrelevant in the broad scheme of things. I don't know, because I've never seen the kid play. Dowling was a big deal recruit, but that doesn't mean he can adjust to college life or play well once he does. What does stand out is that Dowling is the third member of the 2010 signing class to qualify, arrive at UF and be gone by Halloween. That's very unusual to see, and once again reflects the chaos that was going on during the month leading up to signing day earlier this year. The Gator staff was in a major transition, Urban Meyer's status was up in the air, and they were fighting to put together a recruiting haul that eventually was ranked as the supposed best in the nation. I believe some of the current issues Florida has stem from the staff being assembled too quickly to try and save that class. There's no way the coaches and kids could have the same understanding of each other's expectations a more established staff would have, given the circumstances. The "throw some guys together and get them recruiting" ploy appears to have been a short term success, but as this point it's looking very questionable if it was worth it.
A terribly sad story is unfolding at Mississippi State. Defensive end Nick Bell is in intensive care as a result of a cancer that has apparently spread throughout his body. A few weeks ago a cancerous mass had been removed from his brain, but it wasn't known that the problem was elsewhere too. This has been an unbelievable season for Dan Mullen and the Bulldogs, but having to deal with this has to impact them emotionally going forward. Hopefully doctors can get Bell's health back under control, but it sounds really bad right now.
Lots of people are calling for Wade Phillips to be cut loose as coach of the Dallas Cowboys right now because of how pathetic they've been playing. Maybe Jerry Jones will do it now or maybe he'll wait until the end of the year, but everyone knows it will happen. Without anyone on their staff being a legit option to take over (because Jason Garrett would be a ridiculous hire at this point), it really doesn't matter in the end. The Cowboys chances are done for this year. What I can't figure out is how Brad Childress has a job today. The man had to beg Brett Favre to come save him last year, and then got mad when it became clear Favre regarded him as an ineffectual nobody not worthy of any respect. Despite that, he went through the same process this season only now that Favre's played poorly Childress has gotten pissy about him publicly. Childress has just traded a third round pick for Randy Moss and cut him within the same month, while also being inept enough as a manger to notify Moss's teammates before speaking to him. The man has shown zero people skills, playcalling acumen, or game management instinct. I am at a loss to think of anything he is considered good at by NFL standards. Vikings defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier is well regarded as a possible head coach candidate around the league - why don't they give him a shot to pull this mess out of the ditch now while there's still some playoff hopes? There's not a chance Childress can win back that locker room after this fiasco.
The Big East is reportedly conducting meetings today about the possibility of adding new members. The idea is to keep the football schools happy enough that they won't go off on their own to form a new conference. TCU's been the highest profile name linked to this, but if they're smart the Big East would add UCF. The Knights would give them another good sized media market and a natural rivalry with USF. I have no idea how they think they're going to work this out with basketball, since the conference is absurdly oversized already at 16 for that sport, but at least teams could be scheduled on a "Florida swing" of back to back road games with the Knights and Bulls to reduce costs. For football, make sure every school plays UCF and USF on the road in different years as a way to tell Florida recruits they'll get to play a home game in their state each season. UCF's not a bad program either, and the Big East needs some of those to improve its current awful image as a football conference. The funniest part of the Big East's search for bodies is that they're talking about Temple - the same school they kicked out of the league a few years ago for being so awful.