The Battle Ground State

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard | 12.14.2016

Charlie Strong, Lane Kiffin and Butch Davis. These are a few of the folks who will be new head coaches in college football next season in the state of Florida. Add in the three big schools in the state, Florida, Florida State and Miami, and you have a fierce recruiting battle in the Sunshine State.

Florida is a little different than most places when it comes to recruiting. According to a CBSSports.com article, one in 99 players in Florida sign to an FBS scholarship out of high school. That’s an extraordinarily high rate and one that shows that there is enough talent to go around between all of these FBS schools and then some. Year after year the likes of Ohio State, Michigan, Tennessee, Alabama, Nebraska and just about everyone else comes down south and snatches up players.

Lane Kiffin FAUNow the head coaches in state may, how are already great recruiters, just need to convince a 17 year old to stay closer to home. Jimbo Fisher at Florida State, Mark Richt at Miami and Jim McElwain at Florida are all top notch recruiters and coaches. Their skills will be put to the test as Strong, Kiffin and Davis recruit from the same talent pool.

These new guys have NFL experience, run Power 5 programs, developed players for the next level and have the rings to show for it. The question now becomes, who can recruit a one or two star player and coach him up. Gut feeling on that is Charlie Strong now at South Florida.

Charlie StrongWhile Kiffin, Davis, Fisher, Richt and McElwain all have selling points about their programs, Strong is the only African American FBS head coach in this state. Along with his strong moral character and strong ties to the state (he coached at Florida on three different occasions), I see him winning out in the long haul. It may take him a year or two but he’s the only one of the three new coaches who has some talent leftover from the previous regime to work with.

Every college football season is a good college football season but this stretch run recruiting season maybe the start of something crazy. Something so crazy that it will probably end up as series on Netflix. Fisher, McElwain, Richt, Kiffin, Davis and Strong competing for the state’s best talent, let the games begin!

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What To Watch – Fri. 10/30 – Sun. 11/1

All times are Pacific.

The best time of year because we have NFL, College Football, NBA, NHL, MLS Playoffs and World Series not to mention Nascar and F1.

Friday October 30

Dartmouth at Harvard – 4:30pm NBCSN: Both are 6-0 and tied for first place a top the Ivy League.

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 3 with the Royals up 2-0. This one is in NY though and that can make a huge difference.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets – 6:30pm ESPN: Defending champs go on the road to a team that is one of their main challengers this season.

 

Saturday October 31st

Chelsea vs Liverpool -5:45am NBCSN: Liverpool looks for it’s first win under the leadership of Jurgen Klopp. Chelsea looks to turn the season around.

2015 Rugby World Cup Final – 9am NBC: It’s Australia vs New Zealand.

Florida vs Georgia – 12:30pm CBS: We don’t care, it’s still ‘The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.’

Oklahoma State at Texas Tech – 12:30pm ESPN: Plenty of points and a tough place for the Pokes to get a win.

Nashville Predators at LA Kings – 1pm NHL Gamecenter: The Preds are the best in the West and LA isn’t far behind.

Pittsburgh Penguins at Toronto Maple Leafs – 4pm NHLN: Sidney Crosby heads to the heart of the hockey world.

Michigan at Minnesota – 4pm ESPN: Michigan is a hard nosed football team and Minnesota will be playing with a heavy heart as their head coach retired due to health reasons.

Notre Dame at Temple – 5pm ABC: Huge game for the undefeated Temple Owls. First visit by ESPN Gameday, they’ve never been undefeated this late in the season. The question becomes, can they handle it all?

KC Royals at NY Mets – 5pm FOX: Game 4.

Stanford at Washington State – 7:30pm ESPN: For the lead in the PAC-12 North believe it or not.

 

Sunday November 1st

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers – 10am CBS: Boy these two teams are good this year and the Steelers look like they might get Big Ben back under center.

goalDC United vs NY Red Bulls – Noon ESPN: One of the longest standing rivalries in MLS. NYRB took home the Supporters Shield again this year but will Jesse Marsch be able to lead them to an MLS Cup?

NY Jets at Oakland Raiders – 1pm CBS: No seriously, this game should be really good.

Portland Timbers vs Vancouver Whitecaps – 2pm ESPN: If you didn’t watch arguably the most exciting MLS Playoff game ever the other night then…well you missed out. Portland was able to survive and now they host Cascadia Cup foes Vancouver.

Green Bay Packers at Denver Broncos – 5:30pm NBC: Two undefeated teams square off in the Mile High City. Can the Broncos find their offense?

Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas – 6:30pm FS1: FC Dallas has arguably the toughest road to MLS Cup. Why? Your first playoff game is going to be in front of the largest crowd in typical Seattle wet and cold conditions.

 

If none of these do it for ya, Twitch is running a marathon of ‘The Joy of Painting.’

Downfall of the Gators

Urban Meyer FloridaA great article by Jeremy Fowler at ESPN (@jfowler). While we having nothing but respect for Urban Meyer and the job he has done, it’s clear by this article that things became so broken that they couldn’t be put back together. It also shows that it doesn’t matter how many high school kids you recruit with four or five stars by their name if they don’t come together as a team.

Great job Fowler.

Inside the Rise and Fall of Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators. 

Tebow’s Bright TV Future

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Tebow FloridaTim Tebow is arguably the greatest collegiate quarterback to ever play the game. He is at the very minimum in the top 5. Like many great collegiate quarterbacks, his pro career hasn’t panned out. There is hope for Mr. Tebow though, he does a hell of a job on TV.

tebow on espn homepage

 

Tebow was let go by the Philadelphia Eagles during the final round of cuts at the end of training camp. Less than a week later ESPN sent out a tweet stating that Tebow was back on SEC Nation. It is a role he thrived in last season. He has the credibility, the look and is articulate in his analysis.

Analysts are a dime a dozen. You can throw a rock and find someone with decent credentials. What’s different about Tebow is that his creds are better than everyone else’s when it comes to college football. He is still involved in the game of football by continuing to chase an NFL career. Let’s also not forget the fact that fans love’em.

tebow on cameraThe best part about him is that he doesn’t do anything at 50%. ESPN executives know that Tebow is going to work is tail off and in another season or two, he could be one of the better college football studio analysts out there.

Becoming a gameday color commentator is the next logical step for the former Heisman Trophy winner. It’s a big step for him too. It’s very, very different from being a studio guy. The college game has gotten even faster since he played and you have to be quick, concise, and tell people things they don’t already know. This will take him time but if it’s a place that he wants to go then you have to believe he’ll get there.

Tebow probably still wants to pursue his dream of being an NFL quarterback. We wish him well in his endeavor but when he realizes that that dream over and devotes all his efforts to being a great broadcaster, we all win then.

The Sunday: Scuffles, Farewells, and Finishing

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

The college football regular season is done for all intents and purposes. While nothing has truly been decided on the national scale, a lot has been decided on the state level. And sometimes it wasn’t all that pretty.

The Scuffle:

Rivalries are called that for a reason. While Kentucky vs Louisville in football isn’t always a ratings grabber it is an intense rivalry. This one got started before the game did and Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino was even involved. He appeared to push a Kentucky assistant coach during the second of two pre game confrontations.

Farewells: 

Nebraska Head Coach Bo Pellini was fired on Sunday after another 9-3 season. In fact, in all 7 years of Pellini’s tenure the Huskers have won 9 or more games and lost a minimum of 3. Worst part about this is that it probably means an end to the Faux Pellini twitter account.

Faux Pellini

 

Saturday also saw the probable end to the storied career of Thierry Henry. The Frenchman has played for the biggest clubs in the world, won every trophy the sport has to offer and as a parting gift left the media with four words, ‘Well done New England’. 

 

Finishing 

Several college football teams finished 500. Some of those teams will go to a bowl game. Some are happy to be 500 and going bowling while others see their season as a failure. Those who are excited are Tennessee, Illinois and Arkansas. Those who are not are Florida and South Carolina.

Tennessee, Illinois, and Arkansas had to scratch and claw with young teams to get to this point while South Carolina and Florida started the season with expectations of competing for a conference championship.

Two performances of note from rivalry weekend in college football. Arkansas QB Brandon Allen tweaked his back against LSU two weeks ago. By the end of the game against Missouri it was clear that it was effecting his throws. He continued to fight and while the Razorbacks fell to Missouri it was a gutty performance.

Brandon Allen

The other performance was that of freshman Deshaun Watson. The Clemson QB is something special to watch and this week he did it with a torn ACL. That’s right. He apparently tore his ACL in practice and played against arch rival South Carolina anyway.

The college football and MLS seasons are rapidly coming to a close. With it comes the end for some but a beginning for others. What is always means though is a time for the body to heal for yet another season.

 

The Sunday: Clemsoning And The Upset Fans

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Four weeks into the season and some fan bases are already calling for the head coach to be fired. Upsets continue to happen in games you do not expect and some teams ended up acting like they always do.

The Mighty Have Fallen

Michigan lost again and it wasn’t really close. Head Coach Brady Hoke is on the hot seat as more and more people are calling for a change. Florida couldn’t compete with Alabama despite four Bama turnovers. Head Coach Will Muschamp is on the hot seat but his QB Jeff Driskel was just dreadful.

Fans from both schools are about at their wits end with these once mighty teams. All is not lost though as Michigan has yet to play or lose a conference game and Florida has only lost one conference game but it was to a team in a different division.

Clemsoning

It’s not an official word but one that makes its way around college football circles after the Clemson did what they did against Florida State. Clemson was able to rip defeat from the jaws of victory as they failed to capitalize on the poor performance of the number one team in the country who was without their best player.

Clemsoning is not owned by Clemson. California did a West Coast version of it by blowing a 28-6 halftime lead to lose 49-45 to Arizona on a last second Hail Mary.

 

The Sunday: The Boom and One Proud Papa

By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard

Saturday was suppose to be a low key day of college football. No top 10 matchups and only a few conference games of interest which meant of course that it would be a wild day which it was. Despite the upsets and close games two moments really took the cake. One involved a veteran announcer and the other a former coach celebrating his child’s success.

75 year old Brent Musburger has been calling football for a long time. He is now announcing the SEC Networks primetime game which meant that this week he was in Gainesville calling the Kentucky at Florida game. During OT he dropped ‘boom goes the dynamite!’ on a touchdown run by Kentucky running back Stanley Williams. Yep, he said it and it was glorious.

Possibly the best moment was one that most people were not aware off until Sunday morning. It was of former UCLA QB and Head Coach Rick Neuheisel, who is now an analyst for the PAC-12 Network, cheering on his son Jerry during the UCLA at Texas game.

Neuheisel Watching Son

http://pac-12.com/videos/rick-neuheisel-watches-son-jerry-lead-ucla-victory

Neuheisel’s son came into the game because of an injury to Heisman Trophy candidate Brett Hundley and helped lead UCLA to a hard fought victory over Texas in Dallas. So this came pretty unexpectedly. You could see Rick Neuheisel trying to balance being a dad and being a coach. In the end, being a dad won out.

Credit to the PAC-12 Network for shooting this and getting it out too. It’s such a great moment and with all of the terrible news this week it’s refreshing to see a proud papa celebrating his son’s success. And as Musburger would say, ‘boom goes the dynamite!’

 

 

 

 

What to Watch 10/10-10/13

By Brad Hubbard @bradhubbard

Thursday Oct. 10th

4:30pm-ESPN: Rutgers @ Louisville (An important battle in the AAC. Both teams have a  short week but Rutgers went into 3 overtimes against SMU last weekend. That could be difference. It’s also a chance to check out Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater for yourself.)

5:00pm-TBS: Detroit Tigers @ Oakland A’s (Game 5 in the ALDS. Winner gets a date with the Boston Red Sox on Saturday. Let’s do this!)

5:25pm-NFL Network: NY Giants @ Chicago Bears (Can the Giants get a win this season or will they go 0-6? It will be funny for everyone outside of New York if they do.)

Friday Oct. 11th

6:00pm-ESPN3: BC Lions @ Calgary (West Coast rivals meet again. Calgary RB John Cornish looks to set another league record for rushing yards in a season.)

Saturday Oct. 12th

9:00am-ESPN: Missouri @ Georgia (Georgia’s D is not very good and they are missing just about everyone on offense due to injury. Missouri is a surprising 5-0. Upset alert!)

12:30pm-CBS: Florida @ LSU (How Florida lucked out and got at daytime kick off we’ll never know. Either way it’s a must win for both teams if they want to keep their SEC & National Title hopes alive.)

1:00pm-FS1: Oregon @ Washington (The Quack Attack gets its first true test against an old rival. Can UW bounce back and contain the Ducks high-powered O? Needless to say, it’s going to be very, very loud in Husky Stadium.)

5:30pm-ESPN: Texas A&M @ Ole Miss (It will be points galore in Oxford. Big point swings are liable to occur.)

7:00pm-Regional: Montreal Canadiens @ Vancouver Canucks (East meets West for the first time this season.)

Sunday Oct. 13th

1:25pm-FOX: New Orleans Saints @ NE Patriots (5-0 Saints head to Foxboro. Can Tom Brady find some WR’s in time?)

6:00pm-ESPN: Seattle Sounders @ Portland Timbers (Cascadia Cup match between two playoff teams. Only time Seattle visits the Rose City during the regular season. This is always something awesome to see.)