Giving it up for Michigan

If you’re a Florida fan, you can’t say that Michigan didn’t deserve to win the game today. Other than turnovers, UM outplayed the Gators in every way. In fact, if it weren’t for the turnovers the game wouldn’t have been close.

The Gators young defensive line was handled by UM for most of the game, the Gators older offensive line was handled by UM for the whole game, and the UM quarterback was playing catch in the backyard with his receivers all day.

It’s a dispiriting loss for UF, but in a small way I do feel a little good for the UM coach. He won a lot of games there, had a tough time recently, and went out a winner. That was a heck of a game you called coach.

You can’t win them all

Auburn played a heck of a ball game. It’s just a shame they had to play it late at night, on a day when I was having a pretty good day. I’d like to say that Florida had some kind of moral victory… outplaying the Tigers, or being the better team… but it wouldn’t be true.

You get greedy when your team wins a lot of ball games. You want them to win them all. There’s always a night like this sometime, when you find out you can’t. I’ll tell you who I feel good for: Tommy Tuberville. He’s had a tough season so far, going 2-2, and loosing a tough game to South Florida at home. He coached up his guys pretty good this week. His quarterback looked like a different person; throwing with confidence and intelligence. Until the fourth quarter, his offensive and defensive lines owned the trenches. If it wasn’t for a heroic effort by Florida’s Tebow, it may not have been close.

I really wish I hadn’t been so invested in the outcome, otherwise it would have been a great game. Sadly, I’m not one of those people who can enjoy a good game when my team loses.

Now, somehow I’ve got to find a way to get some sleep. The kids will be up in seven hours, and I’m not terribly sleepy. It’s like I’m losing twice tonight.

Go Gators

There may come a day this season when Tennessee looks like a poor test, but going into this weekend I was a little worried. Partially, this is because I am a worrier by nature; but you’ve got to admit, the young Gator defense gave you a little bit of discomfort in the second half against Troy State, right?

There may come a day when I regret saying this, but the Gators looked like they picked up right where they left off in January on Saturday. The only cause for concern was the pass rush, but the run defense was pretty good, so they must have been doing something right in the trenches. Further, all I heard about going into the game was how big and athletic UT’s offensive line is/was. Well, if that’s how we stack up against a good offensive line, I’ll take my chances with the group we’ve got on the D line.

The extremely young secondary looked like they at least held their own. There were some mix-ups in coverage, but it looked like there were some pretty good tacklers in this mix.

And the offense? Even if UT is having a down year, it’s still an SEC defense – and if I recall, the product of some pretty good recruiting classes brought in by Coach Fulmer. Even in a down year, UT isn’t Troy State… and that was a world of hurt the UF offense put on UT.

Yep, Saturday’s game has me excited.

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Newsvine – NAACP Leaders Urge Fairness for Vick

Newsvine – NAACP Leaders Urge Fairness for Vick:

“R.L. White, president of the Atlanta chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, said the Atlanta Falcons quarterback has been vilified by animal rights groups, talk radio and the news media and prematurely punished by his team and corporate sponsors.”

I didn’t have anything to say about the Michael Vick story until I saw this headline. Most of the things said by the NAACP are correct, and I agree 99.9%. Vick hasn’t been convicted of anything, and we should withhold judgement until he is convicted of a crime by a jury of his peers… as far as the crimial charges go anyway.

But I don’t agree with everything, and I’m going to stray into unfamiliar territory here… and defend the corporate sponsors.

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There are a lot of reasons why I wouldn’t be a Peyton Manning fan. He played for the University of Tennessee, Florida’s biggest rival in the SEC in the 1990s. He plays for the Indianapolis Colts, arguably the Patriots’ biggest rival in the AFC over the last ten years. He doesn’t have a Hollywood, rags to riches story. You could argue that he’s never been the underdog in his life.

And yet, I have a hard time holding a grudge against the guy. He always seems to say the right things in public, and he’s far and away the funniest player/commercial pitchman in the NFL.

Sure, you could say he’s a product of the guys that write for him… but there are dozens of guys in the NFL who undoubtedly have the benefit of the same writing… and still perpetuate the stereotype of the dumb football player.

Then there’s Tony Dungy. In many ways it pains me to see how big a mistake the Bucs made these last five years or so. (Would you take five years of losing for a SuperBowl an a snarling coach who’s harder to like than Nick Saban? In hind sight, I’m not sure I would.)

It looks like the good guys won. There’s something to be said for that.

Upon further review

I’ve read a lot about OSU’s mistakes… particularly the characterization that those early personal fouls put them behind the eight ball. However, that first personal foul by the OSU kicker on UF’s Brandon James (on the kick-off return) was not a bad foul. The kicker is usually the last man to beat on a kick-off return. If the OSU kicker doesn’t bring James down by his face mask on that play… Brandon James is GONE… as in, he scores. James has had great returns all year, running with speed and strength… deceptively hard to bring down for his size. That kicker was not going to tackle Brandon James (a backup running back) without pulling on his facemask.

Giving the Gators the ball on your own 45 is better than giving up a touchdown. The Gators went on to score anyway… but if you ask me that particular personal foul was a non-factor.

The word according to Fox

Facts that will get air play later today (if Fox can be believed):

OSU: Less than 90 yards total offense for the game.
Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy winner: The lowest passer rating in BCS history (O.K. … so it’s not a very long history).
Jim Tressel: Worst loss in his career as a head coach (in points differential).

All year the Gators were know for their great defense… but I didn’t think they were THAT good.

Sure, OSU lost their best wide receiver early in the game. But was he THAT good… that he could turn around the WHOLE team by himself? Ninety yards of offense is not a lot of offense. If OSU had 190 without their best wide-out, you could make an argument that his absence was the difference. But OSU was totally dismantled. That kind of thumpin’ does not a single player overcome.

All is forgiven

I have no choice but to admit I was a Chris Leak doubter.

But this is not a night for remembering the past. Tonight, Chris Leak proved to everyone that his numbers are not a fluke. He proved to everyone that he’s got as much mental toughness as any player on the UF football team. On the first play of the game, OSU got away with a holding penalty… and got on the board first. It was a play that easily could have stunned the Gators. It took OSU about 12 minutes (game time) to go from stunning to stunned. Quarterbacks have thrown for more yards, but Leak drove the Gators to a nearly perfect half of football on their way to the national title yesterday. (Yes folks, it’s tomorrow.)

Despite holding several records at the University of Florida, Chris Leak played like he had something to prove… and it didn’t distract him one bit. Kudos to Chris.

It’s always great to be a Florida Gator, but this is something else entirely.

Quote of the night:

“I don’t want to call it lack of respect… but it was…. This team had 30 days to get motivated, with all the quotes in the world to do it.”
Urban Meyer, Head Football Coach, University of Florida (referring to the pre-game media coverage)

All right, so maybe I didn’t get the quote exactly right… but it’s close enough – and faithful to the original meaning.

Yelling at the tube

For the second time this NFL season I cheered out loud in response to a Bucs performance. In a play right out of the Gators’ national championship game, Ike Hilliard broke free for a long catch-and-run touchdown to complete the Bucs improbable comeback… and the walls erected around my cynicism fell down.

It lasted about thirty minutes.

About ten minutes into the overtime period, the Bears completed what initially looked like a controversial play… a long pass putting them in field goal range (and that much closer to the Bucs losing a game in sudden-death overtime). Immediately after the play, Tampa Twin Ronde jumped up wildly gesturing that the ball hit the ground, thus voiding the play. The officials on the field didn’t agree. The one replay shown by Fox at least gave the impression that it deserved another look, from another (TV) angle. It appeared that the Bucs only hope was that the NFL’s instant replay rule would come to the rescue. However, the crafty Bears ran up to the line to run the next play, giving the replay officials less time to look at the play and call time out (by rule, a play can not be stopped for a replay review once the ball is snapped on the ensuing play). As the Bears ran up to the line I was yelling at my TV (again)… “JON, CALL THE TIME OUT!!! YOU’VE GOT ONE LEFT!!! WHAT ARE YOU SAVING IT FOR!!! PLEASE GOD… CALL THE TIME OUT!!! GIVE THE REFS MORE TIME!!! IT’S OUR ONLY HOPE!!!”

As you can well imagine, he didn’t hear me. He didn’t call time out. The replay officials didn’t stop the game for a review. The Bears scored, the game ended, and the Bucs lost… again. I have no idea whether the replay officials would have taken another look if Gruden called time out… but it has happened. I think it might have happened in a Bucs game earlier this year (initiated by the other coach, of course).

Oh well, it looks like we may be two games away from clinching (at least) the number three pick in the next entry draft. There’s always next year. Maybe they’ll draft more bait for the backfield…

No particular pity for Coach Carr

Lloyd Carr, the head coach of the men’s football team at the University of Michigan, seemed to have a gripe against Coach Urban at UF. He seems to think that some of the things Mr Meyer had to say while he was “politicing” for his team the last couple of weeks were “inappropriate.”

Let’s break down what Urban Meyer has said. Here’s an excerpt from an interview with media a couple of weeks ago…

“I think that would be unfair to Ohio State, and I think it would be unfair to the country,” Meyer said of a possible rematch with Michigan. “I just don’t believe that’s the right thing to do. You’ve got to tell Ohio State to go beat the same team twice, which is extremely difficult . . .

“I think (the Wolverines) had their chance; someone else gets it (next). Ohio State is No. 1. Someone else has a chance to go get No. 1.”

Alright, those are some pretty strong words. But inappropriate? If you’re a Michigan fan, they’re pretty close to fighting words… but if you are a Michigan fan, and Lloyd Carr said something similar about the Gators, would you still think they were inappropriate? What about these circumstances make Meyer’s statements improper? If it is inappropriate, why? Is it wrong for a coach to give voice to his opinion that his team deserves a shot at a title game – perhaps more so than another team? If we didn’t have this crazy system of crowning a champion based largely on opinion, Meyer probably wouldn’t be talking at all – beyond saying he’s doing his best to prepare for the next game.

In fact, given that we have a championship by election, I think it’s inappropriate for Mr Carr NOT to voice his opinion… to campaign for his team. In my view, by not speaking up sooner he’s let his team down.

Then again, given his record against Ohio State (1-5 the last six years that Jim Tressel has coached OSU, and 6-6 over all), it’s not the first time he’s let Michigan down.

**Author’s note: in Mr Carr’s defense, Spurrier was a good coach at UF too, but he had a big problem beating coaches with the last name Bowden.

**Author’s second note: despite conventional wisdom, this year’s controversy will not bring about a playoff, or bring one any closer. If my suspicions are correct, Fox got some big fat ratings out of this year’s BCS show… meaning they probably got some premium ad-coin, and will be paying out correspondingly big bucks to college football for the rights. Instead of making a playoff more likely, I think it’s made it LESS likely.