Ask Gary: Who are the top candidates at Florida?

by Gary Shelton on November 4, 2017 · 4 comments

in general

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Saturday, 4 a.m.

Who are your top 4 candidates in the UF head coach sweepstakes? Who will be the winner?

Larry Beller

I'm often amused by people who instantly gather the names of 1) small college success stories, 2) good coaches at traditionally weak schools and 3) familiar names who have been out of coaching for a while. There is usually no connection to the truth in any of those schools.

If I was Florida, I'd want to at least interview Scott Frost. He's had only two years as a college coach, which makes you wonder if Florida would pull the trigger. Besides, Frost may prefer his alma mater in Nebraska.

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I think the school will interview Dan Mullen, although he's said he doesn't want it. Still, Mullen has developed a lot of good quarterbacks. But he's 2-17 against top 25 teams.

I'd be interested in Mike Campbell from Iowa State, but you wonder if he can recruit in Florida. Still, he's won at places that aren't used to winning.

I'd give Jon Gruden a call. The word is that he's more serious about a return to coaching this time. I'd like to see if his personality would fit in the college game. I think it would.

Who else? I'd want to look into Memphis' Mike Norvell. I might kick the tires on Chip Kelly, but he failed so miserably in the NFL. And I really would give Randy Shannon a chance to get into the conversation.

Those guys would give you good mix of new ideas and old ones, of up-and-coming and proven. I don't know that any of them are going to be welcomed like say, Steve Spurrier would be. But what the heck? For the headline, why not interview Stevie?

When will the Washington Nationals and the Seattle Mariners appear in their 1st World Series?

Scott Myers

Would you believe 2024 for the Nationals and 2087 for the Mariners?

Seriously, the Nationals haven't been that faraway. They've won 90 or more games in four of their last six seasons. But someone always seems to be a little hotter, and a little smarter, when the post-season comes.

The Mariners won 116 game in 2001 but lost to the Yankees 4-1 in the ALCS.

Frankly, it's guesswork to predict what teams will make it when except for the current bunches. I can see Washington make it if they don't price themselves out beforehand. But organizations usually win titles, and I'm not sure the Nationals have the touch to pull it off.

I do know this. The year the Rays went to the World Series, no one saw it coming. The team had been awful the year before, and it caught fire, and it had the right young players.

Maybe Washington has a season like that. Maybe Seattle.

Maybe they play each other.

Maybe pigs fly.

I get such a kick at seeing World Series winning, millionaire players, like the Astros,​ run on the field and jump around like 10-year-old Little Leaguers, experiencing the pure joy of fulfilling dreams. But even more significant is the powerful and life-changing (in some cases) impact on the community and residents of Houston. You've made the point several times about how the benefits of having a sports team in our city really cannot be totally measured in economic terms--there is so much vicarious emotion involved, so many people hunger to be associated with a winner, or at least with a team that wins more than it loses. Do you still feel this way?  I hope my kids and grandkids will someday see their Tampa Bay Rays players enjoying the moment like the Astros did.

 Barry McDowell
Barry, I get a kick out of certain teams. There is nothing fake about joy, and I'm a sucker for it, too. I remember trying to interview Dan Johnson of the Rays in the clubhouse after the Rays came back from 7-0 to beat the Yankees 8-7 and advance to the playoffs one year. Johnny Damon walked up, saw us, and promptly poured a full bottle of cold champagne on my skull.
It didn't matter that those guys were millionaires (and I was not). They were kids sharing a memory. And if you don't think that's fun, you've never been outside.
 I remember the Bucs winning it all. I remember the Lightning winning it all. It's the same feeling. You know the cliche that "no one thought we could do it." That may or may not be true. But to a team that has just made the journey, it feels that way.

I think this is why we watch. By and large, we all love winners. We love that precious moment where you don't have to think about how many millions these guys make, or how distant some of them hold the fans. For that moment of celebration, with the familiar cavorting, it's special.

 I'll admit. I get jaded sometimes. I remember the Yankees winning a World Series once, and all the quotes were about courage and knowing how to win. And I thought "...and outspending the league by 100 million dollars."
But I remember Florida winning, and FSU, and Miami. In this state, we've seen a lot of winning. Still, there is something innocent and pure in those moments.
You know what else I remember? I remember my daughter knocking in a shootout goal to allow her team to win in districts one year. I remember her helping her doubles team to advance to the  regionals. This last week, I remember my youngest finishing third in district swimming.

Those are precious moments, too. I don't care if it's debate or band or speech. Accomplishment is fun, and it's fun to see. I daresay that if teams stopped enjoying winning, and if it turned into another day at the plant, we would stop watching.

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