Florida Gators

HOUSTON, TX - NOVEMBER 17: Offensive lineman Lukayus McNeil #72 comforts quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals after being sacked by the Houston Cougars in the third quarter at TDECU Stadium on November 17, 2016 in Houston, Texas. Houston Cougars won 36 to 10. (Photo by Thomas B. Shea/Getty Images)
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Louisville reportedly pulls O-line coach Mike Summers away from Florida

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After a white-hot start, Louisville belly flopped through the end of the 2016 season. After rising as high as No. 3 in the polls, finishing seven yards shy of knocking off eventual national champion Clemson at Clemson and winning nine of their first 10 games, the Cardinals stumbled through the finish line, falling 36-10 at Houston, losing to Kentucky for the first time since 2010, then losing 29-9 to LSU in the Citrus Bowl.

The offensive line had a lot to do with that.

Despite playing in front of the most elusive quarterback in college football, Louisville finished third-to-last in college football with 47 sacks allowed and 94th in FBS with 83 tackles for loss allowed. Houston got to Lamar Jackson 11 times, Kentucky got to him three times (one off their season-high) and LSU sacked Jackson eight times, two more than their next best mark of the season.

Clearly, something needed to be done and it appears Bobby Petrino has done it.

ESPN’s Brett McMurphy reported Saturday Louisville has hired Florida’s Mike Summers to coach the offensive line. FootballScoop reports Summers will receive a co-offensive coordinator title, and existing offensive line coach Chris Klenakis will transition to tight ends. (Full disclosure: I also write for FootballScoop.)

Florida finished the 2016 campaign tied for 71st in sacks allowed and tied for 49th in tackles for loss allowed but, with Jackson returning, merely moving from “terrible” to “average” would represent massive improvement for what is otherwise an explosive offense.

Alabama opens as Bovada’s early 2017 title favorite

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Quarterback Jalen Hurts #2 of the Alabama Crimson Tide celebrates after throwing a 68-yard touchdown pass during the third quarter against the Clemson Tigers in the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
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Alabama may have seen their dynasty temporarily derailed Monday night in Florida, but at least one wagering establishment expects Nick Saban to get it back on track post-haste.

Bovada.lv released its opening set of 2017 national championship odds very early Tuesday afternoon, with the bookmaker installing Bama as a 4/1 favorite coming off the loss to Clemson.  Last year at this time, coming off their fourth title in seven years, the same book had the Crimson Tide as a 7/1 favorite.

The team ‘Bama beat, Clemson, is at 16/1, tied with ACC Atlantic rival Louisville and behind six other teams besides the one they beat on the field last night — Florida State (7/1), Ohio State (15/2), Michigan (9/1), Oklahoma (9/1), USC (9/1) and LSU (12/1).  The other 2016 playoff team, Washington, is at 40/1, the same as 4-8 Notre Dame and behind the likes of Texas (28/1) and Miami (33/1).

Boise State, at 75/1, was the highest favorite amongst Group of Five programs.

Below are the complete list of 2018 title odds for the championship following the 2017 season, again courtesy on Bovada.lv:

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A Look Ahead: CFT’s Way-Too-Early 2017 Top 25

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 02:  Quarterback Sam Darnold #14 of the USC Trojans passes the ball against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the 2017 Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual at the Rose Bowl on January 2, 2017 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The last bit of confetti has barely settled onto the Raymond James Stadium turf and the carcass of the 2016 season isn’t even cold yet, and we’re already rolling out a way-too-early Top 25 for the 2017 season? Yep. Because that’s how we roll. Or something.

In our role as preseason Nostradumbass, the first 10 of CFT’s Top 25 consisted of No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Florida State, No. 4 Clemson, No. 5 LSU, No. 6 Notre Dame (ouch), No. 7 Washington (yeah us!), No. 8 TCU, No. 9 Michigan State (whoops) and No. 10 Tennessee. A little over 4½ months later?

Three of the four playoff participants were in our Top 10; the fourth, Ohio State, was just outside at No. 11. While not No. 1, Oklahoma came into the postseason ranked seventh in the College Football Playoff Top 25, and will likely move up thanks to the 16-point Sugar Bowl win over No. 14 Auburn (not in our preseason Top 25). Florida State (No. 11), LSU (No. 20) and Tennessee (No. 21) were all ranked at least eight spots lower when the postseason began, but all three won their respective bowl games.

On the flip side, TCU, at 6-6, earned a bowl bid… and subsequently lost to finish under .500. And then there was Notre Dame and Michigan State, which combined to win a total of seven games so let’s just forget about that and move on.

The point of this whole review-before-we-look-ahead exercise? Preseason polls are meaningless — but not nearly as meaningless as polls produced nearly eight months ahead of the start of a new season. With that in mind, enjoy this way-to-early Top 25 that will put the “mean” in meaningless. And the “less” in it, for that matter.

Oh, and as always, feel free to complain/whine/moan/bitch away in the comments section below.

NO. 1 USC
WHY? As a redshirt freshman, Sam Darnold emerged as one of the most electrifying playmakers at the quarterback position in college football, and should, to the chagrin of opponents, get even better with a full offseason as the man at the position.  Winning nine straight to close out the season doesn’t hurt either.
WHY NOT? There’s always at least one team that’s way overhyped — hello 2016 Notre Dame — and the hoopla and attention proves to be too much for the young Trojans to bear.

NO. 2 ALABAMA
WHY? Nick Saban + top-ranked recruiting classes year-in, year-out + a burning desire to be the greatest there ever was at this level = a permanent spot inside the Top 10 as long as The Nicktator resides in Tuscaloosa.
WHY NOT? An NFL team (finally) entices Saban to go back and finish what he started — and abruptly ended — in the big boy league of football.  It’s not going to happen, of course, but that’s about the only thing that could derail the Crimson Tide juggernaut — well, that and a Tiger named Deshaun.

Clemson v Florida StateNO. 3 FLORIDA STATE
WHY? The Seminoles are once again loaded with top-flight talent on both sides of the ball and at every positional unit, with Deondre Francois showing flashes in his first season as the starter of being one of the best young quarterbacks in the sport.
WHY NOT? They face Alabama on a (ahem) neutral field to open the season, then travel to Gainesville to face Florida in the regular-season finale.  In between, there’s a trip to Death Valley for their annual ACC Atlantic grudge match with Clemson.

NO. 4 OKLAHOMA
WHY? With Baker Mayfield returning, and the rest of the conference still trying to play catch-up, the Sooners are clearly the cream of the Big 12 crop.
WHY NOT? The twin backfield loses of Joe Mixon and Samaje Perine can’t be overcome and Mayfield has to shoulder too much of the offensive burden. Plus, the road trips to Ohio State, Baylor and Oklahoma State for Bedlam.

NO. 5 WASHINGTON
WHY? They have a talented arm in quarterback Jake Browning, a very staunch defense and a schedule that’s very favorable, with the toughest road game being the trip to Stanford.
WHY NOT? They are losing a significant amount of talent that helped get them to the College Football Playoffs.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v ClemsonNO. 6 OHIO STATE
WHY? Given the personnel losses after the 2015 season, 2016 was thought to be a rebuilding year but turned into another playoff appearance.  The target was always the 2017 season for this young Buckeyes team, and a squad loaded with this much talent will be a factor throughout.
WHY NOT? J.T Barrett continues to regress as a quarterback despite Urban Meyer shaking up the top of his offensive coaching staff, and none of the other young quarterbacks are quite ready for prime time.

NO. 7 CLEMSON
WHY? Despite losing a couple of pieces, Brent Venables‘ defense will once again be one of the best in the nation.  The Tigers won 10 or more games in each of the three seasons prior to Deshaun Watson‘s arrival, so it’s far from a one-man show that Dabo Swinney has built.
WHY NOT? Losing Watson, a three-year starter at quarterback, proves to be too much as his replacement simply can’t handle the burden.

NO. 8 MICHIGAN
WHY? For all of his well-publicized off-field antics, Jim Harbaugh is simply one of the best head coaches in the sport and will settle for nothing less than getting his beloved Wolverines back into the national title discussion on an annual basis.  Wilton Speight was a breakout star in 2016 and should flourish despite the loss of his quarterbacks coach, while Don Brown continues to be one of the best defensive minds in the game.
WHY NOT? Too much talent was lost to the NFL, and Harbaugh simply hasn’t gotten the requisite time to completely restock the cupboard in Ann Arbor to compete with the Ohio States of the college football world.

Oklahoma State v BaylorNO. 9 OKLAHOMA STATE
WHY? One of the best quarterback-wide receiver tandems in the country, Mason Rudolph and James Washington, eschewed an early shot at the NFL and returned for one more season in Stillwater.
WHY NOT? A defense that was 53rd in scoring as it was loses nearly half its starters, plus OSU will have to play at Pittsburgh, Texas and West Virginia.

NO. 10 PENN STATE
WHY? They return a bunch of talent from their Big Ten-winning squad, including Heisman contenders in quarterback Trace McSorley and Saquon Barkley, and get Michigan, Nebraska and Pittsburgh in Happy Valley.
WHY NOT? They lost a very talented wide receiver in Chris Godwin and have to play at Iowa, Michigan State and Ohio State.

NO. 11 STANFORD
NO. 12 AUBURN
NO. 13 TEXAS
NO. 14 LSU
NO. 15 WISCONSIN
NO. 16 LOUISVILLE
NO. 17 GEORGIA
NO. 18 WEST VIRGINIA
NO. 19 SOUTH FLORIDA
NO. 20 FLORIDA
NO. 21 KANSAS STATE
NO. 22 COLORADO
NO. 23 WASHINGTON STATE
NO. 24 SAN DIEGO STATE
NO. 25 OREGON

Final AP poll: Clemson No. 1; USC rockets to No. 3; Ohio State drops to No. 6

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The votes are in and — surprise!!! — Clemson’s the media’s king as well.

The Associated Press released its final 2016 rankings Tuesday morning, with Clemson, off their stirring win over the cyborg that is Alabama football, claiming the No. 1 spot in the last Top 25 of the 2016 season.  As expected, the Tigers claimed all 60 first-place votes, while the Crimson Tide earned all 60 second-place votes to finish No. 2 in the final AP poll.

Up next is the a team that will no doubt be the media darling throughout the offseason — I’m already guilty, as you’ll see shortly —  with USC moving from ninth to third on the strength of the epic Rose Bowl win over Penn State (fifth to seventh) as well as a nine-game winning streak to close out the season.  Ohio State, which was shutout by Clemson in a College Football Playoff semifinal, tumbled from second to sixth.

The remainder of the Top 10 is rounded out by Washington (No. 4), Oklahoma (No. 5), Florida State (No. 8), Wisconsin (No. 9) and Michigan (No. 10).

Three Group of Five teams managed to finish in the final Top 25, although none came in higher than 15th: Western Michigan (No. 15), South Florida (No. 19), San Diego State (No. 25).  Two of those teams will have new coaches in 2017, with Charlie Strong replacing Willie Taggart with the Bulls and a too-be-determined replacing P.J. Fleck with the Broncos.

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Report: Female student arrested for punching Florida DL Antonneous Clayton in the head

GAINESVILLE, FL - APRIL 9: The Florida Gators mascot celebrates with fans during the Orange and Blue spring football game April 9, 2011 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)
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At least in this instance, it’s a college football player on the receiving end of an alleged punch.

According to Florida’s student newspaper, The Alligator, 18-year-old Aisia Valmyr was arrested for punching Gator defensive lineman Antonneous Clayton in the head very early Sunday morning.  Valmyr was charged with misdemeanor battery.

From the paper’s report:

Clayton told police he was punched and felt pain on the right side of his temple, according to the report. Officers then found Valmyr and read her Miranda rights to her.

She told police she was in the Keys complex and had an argument with Clayton, according to the report.

No other details have been made available as to what led to the incident.

A four-star member of the Gators’ 2016 recruiting class, Clayton was rated as the No. 2 weakside defensive end in the country; the No. 4 player at any position in the state of Georgia; and the No. 26 player on 247Sports.com‘s composite board. He was the highest-rated prospect in UF’s class this past year.

As a true freshman, Clayton played in five games and was credited with three tackles. “Basically, for me, this season was like a wake-up call. I wasn’t ready to play as a freshman as much as I thought,” the lineman said after the end of the regular season.