Meyer won't be relaxing this summer


Published: Friday, May 4, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, May 4, 2007 at 1:52 a.m.

Now that the Gator Club season is upon us, the decision by Florida to cut back Urban Meyer's appearances at those clubs is again coming under scrutiny.

Tallahassee Democrat columnist Randy Beard wrote this week, “If Florida State coach Bobby Bowden can still maintain a schedule of 18 booster-club events, surely Meyer can carve out time to attend more booster-club events than seven ... Someone needs to lower the pedestal.”

Meyer's club visits have been reduced to seven from 16 last year and 20 in his first year as the Florida coach. His radio shows were also reduced.

The biggest complaint from booster club officers and fans is that it hurts their ability to raise funds for scholarships. Florida's spin when the move was announced last year was that the University Athletic Association didn't want to burn out its coaches.

Spin is what it is.

It's not like Meyer is relaxing at home or catching some rays instead of speaking at these clubs. He's working his rear off recruiting during a four-week stretch that began a week after the spring game. Believe me, if Meyer ever gets burned out, it will because of his demanding schedule. Remember that these booster club speeches are piled on top of everything else coaches are asked to do.

On the other hand, Gator fans were spoiled with so many appearances by the head ball coaches. Telling jokes to a group of fans has yet to help a coach win a football game. Spending extra time recruiting and evaluating players, on the other hand, can make a big difference.

I know everyone wants a piece of the national championship coach right now. But all that should really matter to the Gator Nation is whether or not your coach is doing everything he can to continue this dynamic run.

And please, don't compare the schedules of Meyer and Bowden. Different animals.

TIME OFF: It's not often you see a pair of SEC coaches take a trip together overseas to play some golf together, but it's happening this weekend.

Florida basketball coach Billy Donovan and Arkansas basketball coach John Pelphrey left this morning for a week in Ireland along with eight of Donovan's college buddies.

They've planned this trip for a year, but Donovan has already made sure he's going to have phone access over there.

“I've got a guy who owns a telecommunications company,” Donovan said. “So I should be all right. I don't know if I'll be able to get any calls, but I should be able to call out. He at least should be able to get me a land line.”

I'm guessing that some pints might be raised to salute the back-to-back national championships.

CAT FEVER: So this is what it's like to be the Kentucky basketball coach. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader's Jerry Tipton, UK Athletics Association Board of Directors member Bill Gatton made the following two statements at a board meeting last week.

“For a couple of years, we ought to give every bit of a helping hand to lowering expectations for men's basketball because the cupboard was kind of left bare.”

And then ...

“But let's don't get where we think we've accomplished something by getting in the NCAA (Tournament) in basketball. After a couple of years of honeymoon, just getting in the NCAA, you haven't done much. It's all right the first couple of years, but after a couple of years, people shouldn't get bonuses for just getting in the NCAA ... It shouldn't be a significant accomplishment to get into the NCAA if you're Kentucky.”

So basically, Billy Gillespie, if you get next season's crummy team into the tournament, we love ya. But it's a short honeymoon.

COMING OUT: Speaking of the Wildcats, an interesting name showed up on the list of 83 players who have declared early for the NBA Draft — former Wildcat Shagari Alleyne.

The 7-foot-3 Alleyne, who was a non-factor at Kentucky and often in academic trouble, transferred to Manhattan last season. Alleyne transferred to Manhattan and attended class for a semester, but withdrew from school in January.

First time I've ever heard of a player sitting out a year and then turning pro.

Another name on the list was another player who had academic issues last season. Point guard Tack Minor left LSU during the season and has also put his name in. I can't imagine either of them being drafted.

WISE MOVE: A tip of the visor to Florida volleyball coach Mary Wise, who not only lent her name to the Mary Wise Scramble, but also put in plenty of work to make sure the tournament was a rousing success.

The tournament, in its eighth year, benefits Alachua PACE, an organization that helps girls 12-to-18 who are having difficulty or conflict at school or at home.

This year's tournament raised almost $24,000 for the wonderful cause and was a delight for all of those who played at Ironwood.

BIG WEEKEND(S): Florida plays host to Alabama in a three-game baseball series and these last three weekends will decide whether the up-and-down Gator baseball team will be playing in the post-season.

Florida's mediocre 23-23 overall record is helped by a strong strength of schedule. As a result, the RPI for UF is 33rd in the country.

If the season ended today, Florida would be in the SEC Tournament and probably in the NCAA Tournament despite the .500 record. But it doesn't.

These are nine very important conference games for Pat McMahon.

LOOKING AHEAD: SEC Football Media Days in Hoover, Ala., is always the start of football season in late July and this one should be a doozy.

Let's see, you have four coaches with national championships to their credit. Two of those coaches are coaching against teams in their own division who are coached by the other two.

You have another coach (Les Miles of LSU) whose team lost four first-round draft picks and could be the unanimous pick to win the West.

And then you have the whole Houston Nutt saga.

Can't wait.

PAT-POURRI: With the 3-point line likely to be moved back a foot, Lee Humphrey's record should be secure for a long time. ... It'll be a rematch of the 2001 NCAA game when Florida's basketball team plays Temple at the Orange Bowl Tournament this year ... Cleveland passed on Dallas Baker even though he is the nephew of new receivers coach Wes Chandler. “He can't take me just because he's my uncle,” Baker said. ... They banned 14 fans from buying tickets at Talladega because they threw beer at Jeff Gordon? The penalty should be much more harsh for wasting all that beer. They should have banned them from buying beer. ... No matter how much they think Tennessee boosters or fans may have tampered with tight end Brandon Warren, FSU is simply wrong to deny him his release. This is still America, right? ... Be safe.

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