This has been the wildest week of football yet this season. Where do I start?
Steve Spurrier has retired. He announced his retirement from coaching at South Carolina this week effective immediately. It was clearly time. In fact, he probably should have stepped down at the end of last season. He ran into the same issues that made Bobby Bowden ineffective at FSU. It is very difficult to recruit when every prospect knows that it is unlikely that you will be there for their entire college career. And quite frankly, head football coach is an energy intensive position. Spurrier walks away as one of the greatest college coaches in the history of the game. His quips and quotes were beyond priceless. I think I speak for all of the Gator Nation when I say it will be great to have the Ole Ball Coach back at the Swamp on Saturdays watching his beloved Gators from a luxury box.
Speaking of coaches: The other USC, Southern California, has fired head coach Steve Sarkisian. Apparently, Sark has just a wee bit of a drinking problem. It got him into trouble a few months back when he got trashed and made some unfortunate comments at a public function. Rumor has it that he topped that by showing up a practices and maybe even the Arizona State game, shall we say, feeling no pain. I’m not real tolerant when college football players, who are not much more than kids, do stupid things that jeopardize a great opportunity they have been given. I’m even less tolerant when a grown man does something this stupid. I know, I know, sickness and all that. Even a drunk should be able to avoid the bottle for a few hours a day for a multi-million dollar contract. I have no sympathy here.
Speaking of coaches II: The fuse may have finally reached the bomb for Mark Richt at Georgia. Fans have come absolutely unglued after the Bulldogs dropped back to back games to Alabama and Tennessee to derail what many thought was going to be a championship season. I actually thought this was the most complete team I have seen at Georgia in the Richt era. The simple truth is that Bulldogs fans have finally faced the reality that if it has taken Mark Richt this many years to get them to a championship game even though four other SEC schools have been to multiple title games while he was at Georgia, it is highly unlikely that he is ever going to make it a habit in Athens. Georgia fans kept believing that one year everything would break their way and Richt would hoist that crystal football. Now, they realize that even if that were to happen, past history suggests it would likely be a decade before it happened again. As a Gator fan, I would love to see Mark Richt at UGA for two more decades. He’s good enough to make the Cocktail Party a great rivalry every year but bad enough to lose most of them. What more can you ask for? If I were a UGA fan, I would want new blood in that position immediately.
Speaking of the Gators, Florida has been cruising along looking like they might be one of the playoff contenders sitting at 6-0 and holding a two game lead in the SEC East. Then rising star and starting quarterback Will Grier makes a bonehead move and fails a test for an over the counter supplement that is banned by the NCAA. The initial penalty is a one year suspension. That will be appealed and I think it is likely that it will be reduced to just the remainder of this season. However, it is safe to say that Grier has taken his last snap for the Gator this season. Florida will now turn to sophomore Treon Harris who just one year ago was being hailed as the savior of the program. Then Treon struggled down the stretch in 2014 and most of the Gator Nation lost faith in the young quarterback. Personally, I think Treon’s struggles late last season had more to do with an injured throwing hand and a pathetic head coach than it did Treon’s ability to play the position. I think he will fare just fine taking snaps. However, Harris has had a history of bonehead off the field decision of his own and the Gators can ill afford another brain lapse now with no viable backup. I think Florida ends up the regular season at either 9-3 or 10-2 and barely holds onto their lead in the SEC East. The Gators have LSU, Georgia, Vanderbilt and South Carolina left on their SEC schedule. Vandy and South Carolina are bad football teams. And Georgia has enough of their own problems that seeing Treon at quarterback doesn’t really alieve their trepidation about the game in Jacksonville. Besides, Treon beat the Bulldogs last year with less playmakers on offense and no offensive identity at all and it has been the defense holding the torch for the Gators this year anyway.
Speaking of coaches III: Dan Quinn continues to roll along undefeated with the Atlanta Falcons. Just when it looked like the Washington Redskins were going to hand the Falcons their first defeat of the season, Quinn’s defense comes up with a Pick Six in overtime to steal the win. I don’t know how long they can keep that streak going but it sure is fun watching Falcons football this season. I reiterate what a spectacular hire Dan Quinn was for Atlanta. Give him another year to assemble the talent he wants and the Super Bowl is a real possibility.