Most of Saturday’s game featuring Florida versus Tennessee felt like a race to the bottom.
Turnovers. Missed assignments. Busted plays. Dropped passes. This was all par for the course for these two teams on Saturday. Remember those great Florida-Tennessee games of yesteryear?
Just a distant memory at this point.
But the Gators managed to look a little less ugly and overcame a season-ending injury to starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to beat the Vols, 31-17.
The sequence that led to Driskel’s injury turned out to be the high point for Tennessee. Devaun Swafford took a first-quarter Driskel pass 62 yards to the house and Driskel left the game after clutching his ankle.
Junior Tyler Murphy, who had never thrown a pass in his college career, replaced Driskel and actually provided a spark to the moribund Gators offense. He completed eight of 14 passes for 134 yards and one touchdown and also rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown on nine carries. Voila, with Driskel out for the year, we have a new quarterback in Gainesville.
Meanwhile, the talented Florida defense squashed the Volunteers like a bug. As long as the Gators continue to play like this on defense, it should be in every game, although it won’t be able to count on seeing such ineptitude on the other side of the ball each week, either. Tennessee’s offense mustered just 220 yards of total offense (much of it in garbage time) and 12 first downs while turning the ball over six times. Redshirt freshman Nathan Peterman made his first start and it was a forgettable one as he completed four of 11 for five yards and two interceptions. Former starter Justin Worley relieved Peterman and was more effective, but only by comparison. He completed 10 of 23 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown with two picks.
Make no mistake: These two teams are miles away from living up to their potential. There’s really not much to excuse the Gators, given that Will Muschamp is in his third season in Gainesville. When will the Florida offense figure things out? Meanwhile Tennesse at least can point to having to adjust to a new coach in Butch Jones. As bad as the Vols looked, their program can only get better. Florida? It looks to be going sideways these days.
Like most other power conferences, the ACC saw a boost in total revenue in the 2018 fiscal year. According to data acquired by USA Today, the ACC saw an increase of about 11% from the previous year, and each ACC member received a distribution of $29.5 million. The total amount of revenue reported by the ACC on its most recent tax filings came in just under $465 million, which is up from the $418.1 million reported a year ago.
Not that $29.5 million is chump change by any stretch of the imagination, but the ACC revenue share is more on par with the payments received by Pac-12 members than those received by members of the Big 12, Big Ten, and SEC. Notre Dame received $7.9 million from the ACC for their revenue share for being a partial member of the conference outside of football. Big Ten revenue totaled nearly $760 million with distribution shares of $54 million. SEC schools received payouts of $43.1 million from $627 million in revenue, and Big 12 schools received between $33.6 million and $36.6 million from the $373.9 million in revenue. The Pac-12 was the outlier with a decrease in revenue. With all of those figures in place, the 14-team ACC stands relatively low on the revenue ladder among power conferences.
It is worth a reminder the Big 12 is splitting its revenue distributions in uneven fashion among 10 members instead of 12 or 14 like the Pac-12 and ACC. The ACC could also be in for a bit of a windfall in the coming fiscal year with the recent national championship runs by Clemson’s football team and Virginia men’s basketball team. The upcoming launch of the ACC Network will eventually lead to some more potential revenue growth, although the impact of that will not be known for another two years once the tax return information for the 2019-2020 fiscal year are documented.
Naturally, revenue growth in a conference leads to salary growth for the commissioner. ACC commissioner John Swofford is no exception here with a compensation of $3.5 million for 2017, up from $3.3 million the previous year.
The First Responder Bowl has been calling historic Cotton Bowl Stadium home since its debut in 2011 as the TicketCity Bowl. But for one year, the First Responder Bowl will take up residence in another stadium to make way for some professional hockey.
The NHL Winter Classic between the Dallas Stars and Nashville Predators will be played in the Cotton Bowl on Jan. 1, 2020. Because the historic venue will be setup to host some outdoor hockey, the First Responder Bowl will be held on SMU’s campus in Ford Stadium. The bowl game will return to the Cotton Bowl the following season.
“We are looking forward to the new venue and date as part of the celebration of the 10th year of this bowl game’s history,” executive director of the First Responder Bowl Brant Ringler said in a released statement. “In addition to those changes, we hope to grow the number of first responders who attend the game and find new ways to say thank you to them for their service in our communities.”
SMU’s football stadium previously hosted a bowl game in 2010 and 2011. The Armed Forces Bowl, which is typically played in TCU’s Amon G. Carter Stadium in Fort Worth, was played in SMU’s stadium in those two seasons because of stadium renovations at TCU.
Last year’s First Responder Bowl ended shortly after it began. The bowl matchup between Boise State and Boston College was called off due to inclement weather with Boston College leading the Broncos 7-0 in the first quarter. The game had been in a lightning delay for over an hour before the game was ruled a no contest.
The Oregon Ducks appear to be in good hands under the leadership of head coach Mario Cristobal. After one nine-win season in 2018, Cristobal has Oregon gaining some offseason hype for the first time in a few years, and the school is reportedly looking to tack on some additional time to his current contract.
According to a report from The Oregonian, Oregon is working out a deal for a one-year contract extension for Cristobal. If worked out, the new contract would extend Cristobal’s contract with the Ducks through the end of the 2023 season. A one-year extension may not seem like a lot for a college football coach, but that would give Cristobal job security for the next few recruiting cycles, assuring incoming recruits Cristobal is under contract in Eugene for the foreseeable future. And if things continue to trend in the direction they could potentially are now, it will only be a matter of time before another long-term extension is on the table for discussion. But that can wait another few years at this point.
After taking over for a bowl game at the end of the 2017 season following the abrupt departure of Willie Taggart to Florida State, Cristobal returned to being a full-time head coach for the first time since 2012 at FIU by guiding the Ducks to a 9-4 record in 2018. Cristobal’s first season as head coach of Oregon resulted in a Redbox Bowl victory over Michigan State and saw the Ducks fly as high as No. 12 in the AP poll. The 2019 season is coming with some lofty expectations within the Pac-12 as Oregon is expected to compete for the conference championship with division foe Washington and other contenders such as Utah, Stanford, and Washington State.
Cristobal came to Oregon as an assistant coach under Taggart after previously being an assistant coach for Nick Saban at Alabama. Cristobal was the head coach of FIU from 2007 through 2012, accumulating a record of 27-47 that turned a 1-11 program into one with back-to-back winning seasons, but FIU moved on from Cristobal following a 3-9 season in 2012.
Rocky Long already knew that he’d be forced to replace his top two receivers, yardage-wise, entering the 2019 offseason. Now, the San Diego State head coach has seen that number bumped up to three.
According to the San Diego Union-Tribune, Tim Wilson Jr. has been forced to retire because of a lingering and persistent foot injury. The redshirt junior wide receiver underwent surgery earlier this offseason — it forced him to the sidelines for the whole of spring practice — but it wasn’t enough to keep him from having to take a medical retirement.
“He won’t be on the team anymore because his injuries will prevent him from continuing with us,” Long said according to the Union-Tribune. “He stays on scholarship for, I think he has two more years to graduate, as long as he keeps his grades up and all those sorts of things.
“But he can’t play because he never got over his injury.”
This past season, Wilson’s 362 yards receiving were third on the Aztecs, while his 19.1 yards per catch were good for second on the team. His three receiving touchdowns were tied for tops on the squad.