It’s almost time for football…unfortunately for UF fans.

Going into the 2014 College Football season, Florida Gator pigskin coach Will Muschamp’s seat is hotter than a Dallas tin roof on an August afternoon. Most UF fans and alums acknowledge that Coach Muschump may be in way over his head, and this season could be his last in Gainesville. After a horrific 4-8 campaign in 2013 that saw a lack of discipline, focus, and injuries to the starting and 2nd-string QBs (just to name two of the more prominent ones in a season full of season-ending injuries), Will will be on a short leash this season.

With all of that baggage going in to this season, I thought it might be fun to gauge just exactly when Will Muschamp will be fired during the 2014 campaign. Feel free to weigh in on this topic in the FB comments.

A.) Week 1 (Aug. 30): at home vs. the Idaho Vandals – Good Lord, if Florida loses this game, I don’t think Muschamp will get out of the stadium alive. Ditto for the next week’s game against the Eastern Michigan Eagles. But, it could happen…

B.) Week 3 (Sept. 13): at home vs. the Kentucky Wildcats – Perennial SEC football doormat makes its biannual trip to The Swamp. Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida on the gridiron since Reagan was president. UF also had a million-year or so winning streak against Vanderbilt going into last year…not that it mattered after Vandy embarrassed UF in the Swamp. If UF were to lose this game, heads would roll…but I think it’s more likely that UF would lose one of the first two games than this one.

bama sign

C.) Week 4 (Sept. 20): at Bryant-Denny Stadium vs. Alabama – Honestly, even with a 50-point loss in this game, Will Muschamp wouldn’t get fired because expectations aren’t that high for this matchup. This might be the safest game on the schedule for Coach Muschamp’s “Keep My Job” campaign: if Florida can hang close, Muschamp can point at that as a positive sign…even if he’s helped by his old boss, Coach Saban. And if Florida were able to pull this one off…well, let’s not get carried away.

D.) Week 6 (Oct. 4): at Neyland Stadium vs. Tennessee – Tennessee hasn’t beaten Florida in Knoxville or Gainesville since Ron Zook was head coach. That’s 9 wins in a row over Tennessee. It’s really not even a rivalry anymore. Still, despite the recent dominance, this is a game that Muschamp cannot afford to lose, figuring that the team will be 3-1 at this point, with another game looming next week against LSU. Lose this one to go 3-2 before the tilt with the Tigers, and things will be grim indeed for Muschamp.

E.) Week 7 (Oct. 11): at home vs. the LSU Tigers – UF & LSU have had a very interesting series of games going back to the Zook years. Most have been very close affairs, won with smothering defense. The offenses have been so bad that it’s been like watching two mules fight over a turnip. Because of LSU’s reputation and penchant for playing very physical football, this game will be close. An LSU win wouldn’t seal Muschamp’s fate YET…but the clock would definitely start ticking.

F.) Week 8 (Oct. 18): at home vs. the Missouri Tigers – Based on the complete butt-whuppin’ that Mizzou put on UF last year in the SEC’s OTHER Columbia, and the fact that if UF loses this game, they would be sitting at 5-2 at best, but most likely 4-3, I really feel like this is a must-win for Coach Muschamp. This season’s version of Mizzou football will not be last year’s version, which was completely magical. I think Mizzou comes back down to earth this season, but they’ll still put up a fight in the Swamp. A 5-2 record with a win before the big UGA game will look and feel a lot better than 4-3 after a loss…especially with a bye week in between games.

G.) Week 10 (Nov. 1): in Jacksonville vs. the Georgia Bulldogs – Will Muschamp played safety for UGA in the early ’90s. There’s a lot of YouTube video showing him chasing Reidel Anthony and Ike Hilliard during the Spurrier years. Will couldn’t beat Florida when he played for UGA, and he sure as hell hasn’t figured out a way to beat UGA since he became UF’s head coach in 2011. He is 0-3, and has three agonizingly close losses to his alma mater. This is the game that he simply has to find a way to win. Before Muschamp took over as UF’s head ball coach, Florida was 18-3 against UGA from 1990 to 2010. Now we’ve lost 3 in a row. My kids always figured that beating Georgia was as sure a thing as Santa dropping off goodies on Dec. 24th…now their hope is gone. C’mon, Will, win this one for the kids! If Florida loses this one, especially to drop to 5-3 or (God forbid) 4-4, Will is gone.

H.) Week 11 (Nov. 8): in Nashville against the Vanderbilt Commodores – Will Muschamp could beat UGA by 30 the week before, but if Florida loses to Vandy two years in a row, he will not see the next game as head coach. Chances are that he will not be the head coach anymore going into this one, anyway. Still, miracles can happen, and if Florida can win this one after beating UGA to go 7-2, things will be looking pretty good for ol’ Coach Muschamp.

I.) Week 12 (Nov. 15): at home against the South Carolina Gamecocks – Florida’s favorite Gator, who just now happens to coach SC, would love to whoop his alma mater in order to force a firing if it hasn’t happened at this point. Spurrier’s ‘Cocks are 3-1 against Florida since 2010…but really, if Florida AD hasn’t pulled the trigger on Muschamp by this point, he won’t after this game…unless Florida gets beat by 40+. At home.

J.) Week 13 (Nov. 22): at home vs. Eastern Kentucky Colonels – Who? There may be so few fans at this game that even if UF did lose, no one would know.

K.) Week 14 (Nov. 29): in Tallahassee vs. Florida State – If Muschamp has survived to this point, I doubt that a loss, even by 30+, would end his job. The decision about 2015 will be made before this game. If UF shows some signs of life prior to this game, and can somehow: 1.) go at least 8-4, and; 2.) get a win against UGA (a must), LSU, and/or South Carolina, Muschamp will be back for a fifth season. A loss against UGA (combined with a loss against Kentucky, Tennessee, or Vandy) will end his job at Florida. By then, Texas may be looking for a good defensive coordinator.

I believe that going into the UGA game, UF will be 5-2. If UF wins, the Gators will ride that momentum into a positive end of the season and a January bowl game. If UGA wins, Coach Muschamp will be done and, even if it won’t be made public at that time, will be advised that he will not get a fifth season in Gainesville. If UGA wins by 20+, he may be released from his contract the next day.


Golf’s Youth Movement (“The Kids Are Alright”)

You wouldn’t often consider a 25-year-old to be washed up, but in the endless cycle of sports media hyperbole, Northern Ireland’s Rory McIlroy, golf’s current wunderkind, may as well have been written off going into last week’s (British) Open Championship at Royal Liverpool in Hoylake. After all, Rory hadn’t won a major championship since (*GASP!*) August 2012. Since then, he had experienced a slump, a change in coaches and management companies, broke off an engagement to a tennis star before recipients of the invitations had even opened them, and walked off a course during a PGA tournament because his wisdom teeth hurt. After two blowout major wins in 2011 & 2012, the vultures descended to pick the carcass…”too much too soon,” “petulant,” “immature,” etc. Even as his game started to round back into form, he was “distracted;” after all, he shot a first-round score of 63 in the Honda Classic in February, followed it up with a 66, and still didn’t win. In Jack Nicklaus’ Memorial Tournament last month, he opened with a 63, only to blow up during Friday’s 2nd round, shooting 78. This form continued in the first two rounds of the Scottish Open, considered a warm-up event for the Open Championship. Rory opened with a 64, only to once again follow it up with a 78.

…And then the Open started. Young McIlroy opened with a 6-under-par 66 to take the first round lead. Four years ago, the last time that the Open Championship was held at the home of golf, St. Andrews, Rory blistered the Old Course for a major-championship record-tying 63…only to fall back with an 8-over-par 80 the next day. Nine months later, he took a 4-shot lead into the final nine holes of The Masters, only to make a triple-bogey 7 on #10 and fall way back with a 43 on the back nine.


Would this year be any different? The talk going into Friday’s second round last week was whether or not Rory could get over his second-round issues…which grew louder when he bogeyed the first hole. Rory commenced to play the last 17 holes of the day in 7-under-par to take a four-shot lead into the weekend. After Rickie Fowler (another good young player that is figuring out how to manage his game during the really big tournaments) briefly tied him on the back nine of the third round, Rory put his foot on the gas, making eagles on #16 and #18 to finish with a six-shot lead.

Save for mercurial veteran Sergio Garcia applying some pressure with a superb round of 6-under 66, no one put any pressure on Rory during Sunday’s final round, which is appropriate since it seems that the only player capable of beating Rory when he is at his best is…well, Rory. He coasted in with a par on #18 for a 2-shot win, and (this is an important point to make for such a young player) absolutely seemed in awe of what he had accomplished. Not in an arrogant “I’m the greatest!” way, but in a completely overwhelmed, big-eyed, wondrous way, as in “Wow…I can’t believe that I just won the Open!” Seeing Rory scan the Claret Jug after the closing ceremony, finding all of the names of previous winners…legends of the game like Old & Young Tom Morris, Harry Vardon, Gene Sarazen, Ben Hogan, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus, Tom Watson, Seve Ballesteros, Nick Faldo, Tiger Woods…and now his showed, in my mind, that no matter how great he is and he becomes, he will always have an appreciation for where he came from, and a mindset that remembers that golf is fun!


So, how great can he become? He is the third-youngest player to capture three legs of the Grand Slam (behind Jack & Tiger): Rory now has a US Open title (won by eight shots), a PGA Championship (also won by eight shots), and a Claret Jug. He has shown that he can play Augusta National well, and he is only 25 years of age, so it’s not out-of-bounds to think that he could become one of the greatest of all time. Only five men have won the career Grand Slam, but if Rory’s dad is a betting man (which he is:, he might want to put a few pounds on whether or not his son can complete the career “impregnable quadrilateral,” as golf writer O.B. Keeler once described his friend Bobby Jones’ feat of winning golf’s four biggest tournaments in the same year (1930)…which will never happen again.

For now, move over and make room for the new kid on the block in championship golf, Tiger. As an aside, with Tiger Woods playing in his first major championship last week after a back injury that had sidelined him since March (and ending the week with a career-worst major championship finish), two things are obvious to me:

1.) Tiger Woods is not the same dominant force that he was a few years ago. No one trembles when they see his name near the leaderboard anymore; in fact, his name has been missing from leaderboards for so long that most players might not even recognize it now. His career has clearly gone off the tracks; he is talking about needing to make some swing changes…dude, how about just playing golf again? Playing tournament golf is NOT like riding a bike, no matter how good you think you still are. Missing several months of practice and tournament-quality competition week in and week out has caused your game to atrophy…and it’s OK to acknowledge it. To proclaim that you’re in West England to win the tournament after having played only one event since March comes across as bluster, and the height of competitive arrogance. I could hear the other players scoffing from across the pond. At this point, Tiger has not won a major title in over 6 years, and is his game is no longer even formidable. He is clearly not in a conversation about the best current American players; his inflated world ranking is based on his 2013 season results. Can he get back to that level? Sure he can…he’s come back from injury before (not from back surgery), but if he thinks he’s still one of the best players right now, he’s delusional. Ryder Cup captain Tom Watson needs to stick to his gut regarding his captain’s picks for the upcoming competition against Europe’s best players, despite Tiger’s lobbying for a spot on the team. Unless he can produce consistent results from now through August, Tom Watson needs to not treat a coveted spot on the team as a lifetime achievement award. Since 64-year-old Tom Watson actually finished five shots ahead of Tiger last week (T51st place vs 69th place), Tom Watson may be wiser in picking himself for the team come September. Besides, Tiger’s record in Ryder Cup matches is not earth-shaking (13-14-2)…I think he feels entitled because he’s Tiger Woods, and he WILL have his game back in shape by late September, and who are we mere mortals to doubt him? Realistically, the best thing for Tiger Woods’ career at this point might be for Tom Watson to pass him over, which would completely piss Tiger off and make him even more determined to show he is still the best going into next year. A wounded Tiger would be much more dangerous than a sated one.
2.) People (especially media types) constantly discuss how Tiger’s absence and subsequent decline has affected the game. Have they not watched any golf the last few months? Bubba Watson and Rory McIlroy hit the ball unfathomable distances, Martin Kaymer’s game has returned from a disappearance so long that it was seen on the side of a milk carton last summer, Rickie Fowler cut his hair and now has back-to-back 2nd-place finishes in majors, Adam Scott is becoming a constant leaderboard presence, and Jordan Spieth is a joy to watch…the kid can’t even order a drink or rent a car, and he is performing at a level that 99.9% of the pros that play this game wish that they could perform. So, yeah, I’d say that the game is in good shape right now. If you don’t agree, than take a look at this:


And, that, my friends, is why golf is in good shape right now.

To be right, or to love others where they’re at?

I subscribe to a daily Bible devotional called “The Upper Room.” This particular devotional series is a group effort by folks all over the world that contribute life experiences, and relate a scripture passage to it. Today’s message caused me to reflect, and genuflect, more than usual:

Matthew 7:1-5

7:1 “Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.
7:2 For with the judgment you make you will be judged, and the measure you give will be the measure you get.
7:3 Why do you see the speck in your neighbor’s eye, but do not notice the log in your own eye?
7:4 Or how can you say to your neighbor, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ while the log is in your own eye?
7:5 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your neighbor’s eye.

The Daily Message (by Sandra Ramirez from Ohio)

I work with a father-and-son maintenance team. The father is jovial and easygoing, always ready to carry out his maintenance duties with a smile. His son is the sullen, quiet, despondent type, and I admit that I have formed an unfavorable opinion of him. One day I was in the break room for lunch at the same time as his father. I asked how his son was doing. He said, “Well, he’s doing better.” I asked, “What do you mean by ‘better’?” He told me his son had lost his young wife to cancer about a year ago. They had been married only one year, and his son was having a hard time adjusting.

The father’s words made me realize how quickly and easily we can judge other people without knowing anything about them. We sometimes even pass these opinions on without an iota of information about what these people might be going through.

Everyone has a story, whether we know that story or not. Matthew 7:3 reminds me as a follower of Christ to look beyond outward appearances in my relationships with my family, my friends, and my acquaintances and to share God’s love with everyone.

It seems that in this day and age, when the quick sound bite and the 30-second news items win the day, our relationships suffer. We’re so used to the quick greeting that if a conversation actually begins, we sometimes long for the next distraction (words first uttered by Alanis Morrissette 20 years ago). If we actually find ourselves forming a relationship outside of our comfort zone, we may start to pull away. We may even start to build walls with the bricks of our own prejudices and attitudes. And then we move on, relieved that we’ve thwarted one more messy relationship. Believe me, I’m just as guilty as anyone else. That’s the log in my eye…

Jesus calls us to get involved before we begin to form opinions. I’ve never felt that this passage means to not evaluate another person’s actions or attitudes…only that before we do, we need to invest in the other person first. We should get to know them in a way that makes it clear that we care for them enough to offer help, even it means telling a hard truth, but by doing so, we welcome them to love us enough to do the same.

What would the world look like if, instead of shouting at each other about how right we are, and wrong they are, we just tried to love each other where we’re at? Instead of calling the 17-year-old girl walking into Planned Parenthood a “whore” or a “baby-killer,” maybe we should reach out and try to understand why she’s there…was she raped by an older relative? Does she suffer from endometriosis so badly that she has to go on birth control pills? Instead of labeling someone a sarcastic prick, maybe we should consider that person has been hurt so many times that the only way they can cope is by keeping everyone at arm’s length? Instead of dismissing an entire group’s feelings of hurt based on a team’s nickname because by-God that’s what that team’s always been named, maybe some understanding of the last few centuries of denigration, reservation-living, broken promises, and shattered hopes should be considered.

This isn’t to say that we should always acquiesce or agree with the actions and words of those we encounter in our daily walks; just that a healthy dose of empathy in our daily lives might go a long way towards healing those that we don’t even know are hurting.

Alright, soapbox moment done. Good night!