No science to NFL's college evaluations
Published: Monday, January 9, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, January 8, 2006 at 11:19 p.m.
Last week college juniors got their evaluations from a handful of NFL general managers who look at video of games and come up with a subjective and meaningless bubble where the players will get drafted.
Not that it means a whole lot. Everyone knows that the NFL combine and/or the individual workouts determine where a player will be drafted. But each year, these kids get the information and believe it to be true.
For most of them, they only believe half of it to be true. They see "late first round to early on the second day" and they stop reading after "late first round."
I learned my lesson a long time ago about about being critical of players who leave early. I've said many times that these are their lives, not the fans' or the coaches' or the media's. But if it's not enough to have what Urban Meyer referred to last week - third-uncles chirping in their ears - they've got it in black and white, the high end of possibilities.
Actually, what they are getting is anybody's guess. I can sit here right now and say Marcus Thomas is going somewhere between the middle of the second round and late fourth and have a pretty good chance of being right.
Thomas is just an example, a player who should understand that his ailing back is going to be an issue with NFL teams, and he would be better off resting it than doing shuttle runs for NFL teams.
We'll see what he chooses. And what so many other college football players decide to do. Like Vince Young. His decision to turn pro seemed like a no-brainer after that sensational performance in the Rose Bowl. He'll make a lot of money, but the truth is he would have been better prepared to enter the NFL with another year of college football under his belt (see: Peyton Manning, Matt Leinart).
Leinart may have cost himself being the No. 1 pick in the draft by coming back, but his arm was bothering him after last season. Now, he's healthy and is actually a better draft pick for an NFL team than he was a year ago.
Not that I'm being critical.
Start it up
Enough with the preliminaries, it's great to get some SEC basketball going. Call me crazy, but I love those weekends when you get bludgeoned over the head by conference games.
Come on, honey, Arkansas and Ole Miss are 20-all late in the first half. We can take down the Christmas tree later.
Of course, all eyes here are on a Florida Gator team that has surprised everyone by going 14-0 to start the season. Any time you go into an SEC opponent's gym and put up 90 points, it's am impressive effort.
Remember in the beginning of the season when the big question was where Florida's points were going to come from this year? Now we know - from smart basketball.
Florida now leads the nation in assists and field-goal percentage, two statistics that are directly related. And I know it's early, but a team that was supposed to be offensively-challenged is averaging 83.9 points a game and is on pace to becoming the second-highest scoring team in Gator history behind the 1986-87 team (84.2 ppg).
One of the reasons for Florida's success is a non-conference schedule that hasn't wowed anybody. To be fair, a schedule that includes three ACC teams looses something in translation when two of them are in-state teams. And Morgan State and Savannah State are both late replacements for teams that begged off UF's schedule.
Still, by season's end Billy Donovan's troops will have played five teams which currently have RPIs lower than 261st in the country.
And the SEC isn't going to provide the RPI boost it has in the past.
But when you're unbeaten, strength of schedule doesn't mean a whole lot. Just to prove it's never too early for Bracketology, ESPN.com has Florida as one of the four No. 1 seeds right now.
I wonder if Alabama coach Mark Gottfried was talking about anybody in particular when he said this week, "Records are deceiving. You can schedule your way into a 10-1 or 11-0 record. I have learned that you're not going to trick the NCAA tournament selection committee."
Especially the way Alabama has been playing.
Last Thursday night's SEC women's opener for Florida against Alabama carried the promise of a $5,000 donation by a national clothing company to Coaches vs. Cancer if UF could draw 5,000 fans.
Instead, 1,373 showed up to see Carolyn Peck's team win. That's disappointing, but it's going to take more than just winning against an average schedule to attract fans for women's college basketball in this town.
The product has to be better.
Really, who wants to go see any level of basketball when the two teams combine for 63 turnovers as the Gators did with Rhode Island last week? UF and Alabama had 46 together Thursday night.
Winning is the first step for Peck. Beating really good teams is the second. Making the game fun to watch can be thrown in there at any time.
Vince Young had barely lifted the crystal national championship trophy into the air when web sites and newspaper pundits were spewing out their way-too-early preseason polls for 2006.
Many of them have Texas at No. 1 with the (if Young comes back) caveat. Well, he will not, and let's assume neither will Reggie Bush nor LenDale White nor Nick Lachey.
My top five would look like this - 1. LSU; 2. West Virginia; 3. Ohio State; 4. Notre Dame; 5. Texas.
The really interesting thing 'round these parts (I've been watching too much Andy Griffith) is where the mighty Gators will be in the preseason. They probably will be in everybody's top 10 because few who do the predicting bother to look at what will be a brutal schedule for Urban Meyer next season.
I know about the second-year-production thing with Meyer, but I think Florida's big year with the new coach is still a couple of years away.
I have seen Marcus Vick's stomp of Louisville's Elvis Dumervil in the Gator Bowl, compared to Christian Laettner's stomp of Kentucky's Aminu Timberlake in the 1992 East Regional final 13 years ago. Big difference - Laettner didn't have the track record of a thug. ... And I admire the administration at Virginia Tech for giving Vick the boot. ... Florida, at $77.4 million, was fourth in money earned by its athletic department for 2004-05, behind Ohio State, Texas and Michigan, although some of the UF money came from donations for specific projects. ... Florida finished the season (bowl game stats count now) ranked ninth in the country in total defense and 10th in rushing defense. ... USC was 48th in total defense, and after watching the Fresno State and Texas games, I'm surprised it's that good. ... To show you how silly passing-efficiency ratings can be, Texas' Young entered the Rose Bowl ranked first in the nation, went 30-of-40 for 267 yards and dropped to third behind Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter and Louisville's Brian Brohm. ... Be safe.
You can reach sports columnist Pat Dooley by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 374-5053.
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