The only way Florida's game with South Carolina next Saturday isn't for the SEC East title is if the Gators trip up in Nashville tomorrow. Vanderbilt has won a conference game this season, but lacks a credible offense. Losing Warren Norman for the season this week only exacerbates that problem. We'll see how Florida's efforts at a hurry up offense look against an opponent who's spent time preparing for it. I'd anticipate the Commodores blitzing heavily in this game, especially when Brantley is taking the snap. If UF isn't minus two or more in turnovers, they shouldn't have to worry late in this one.
Auburn's got the easiest game on their schedule all year this weekend, which is a good thing when national stories suddenly call into question whether your Heisman front running quarterback was being offered for sale during his post JUCO recruitment process. The NCAA is investigating Cam Newton's recruitment, which puts both him and Auburn in an incredibly difficult position. Newton will now be viewed as potentially shady by most and outright dirty by some, even though he may have had no role in this even if it turns out money did change hands. There was a rumor six weeks or so ago that the price for Newton was 150 grand and that his father's church was involved in some way. Reading about the way the church has apparently gotten into compliance with area building codes recently makes that seem conceivable. The problem is with Newton potentially both a Heisman winner and BCS title game participant there's going to be quite a bit of pressure to get this investigation finished quickly, yet that might not be possible to do. I hope nothing happens that's unfair to the kid, yet Gene Chizik's out of his mind if he thinks saying Newton is eligible at Auburn - "end of story" - is actually the end of something that's just beginning.
Minnesota needs a new football coach. They've got the only BCS conference job known to be open right now, so they're getting a lot of attention as their search process gets started. The St. Paul Pioneer-Press claims their top three candidates to lead the Golden Gophers are: Boise State's Chris Petersen, Stanford's Jim Harbaugh, and TCU's Gary Patterson. I've done a little digging and come up with the next three names on the list:
4. Hayden Fox
5. Woody Hayes
You may think my list is stupid, but I promise you there's an equal chance of one of my three candidates taking the job as there is those three. This is at most the eighth best job in the new Big Ten, and likely lower than that. Harbaugh's getting NFL interest - other than Michigan he's not going to another college gig. The other two have had better opportunities than Minnesota ask them to leave and turned them down. Being honest with yourself about what you are is one of life's big challenges. Minnesota appears to be failing it at the moment.
I've heard lots of explanations from coaches over the years for why things aren't working out as planned for their teams. Some are legit (normally injuries) and others are really excuses. It takes a really special one to stand out as downright bizarre. I didn't think anyone could approach Ron Zook's "You don't know it was a close game" comment in response to a question after 2002's 21-17 UF win over Vandy. Zook explained "we could have scored more" (except for, you know, they didn't - hence the question about it being a close game). Randy Shannon has stepped up to challenge Zook with this doozy he gave to the Miami Herald...
"The hardest thing now -- unlike when I went to school -- is we have thunderstorms now. When I was playing, it was just rain storms. We counted up, we might have missed 12 to 14 days [of practice]. Not in August, I’m talking during the season."
These crazy kids today, with their IPods and Twitter accounts and thunderstorms! If only we could go back to the good times in the Eighties, when Miami had never heard of lightning. If the Canes lose to Maryland tomorrow, I look forward to hearing about the impact of the tides on their pass rush.
A man actually attempted to eat the entire Applebee's "2 for $20" menu last night. He came up about ten percent short of putting away the twelve pounds of food. Why someone would want to do that is a mystery to me, particularly the "provolone stuffed meatballs" they feature in their commercial which look like Cadbury Creme Eggs. I hope you have better plans for your weekend than that. I will be at Arkansas/South Carolina Saturday and New Orleans/Carolina in Charlotte Sunday, and will be sharing thoughts on Twitter along the way. Follow along at twitter.com/heathradio if you're interested. Have a great weekend, and I'll see you back here Monday.