There are truths and untruths in the world of sports. And there are also opinions that are worth discussing. You may agree or disagree. Just do it with decorum. So begins this occasional feature as Pat Dooley and Robbie Andreu of the Gainesville Sun embrace the debate:
Item No. 1
This is Todd Grantham’s last season as the Florida defensive coordinator.
Andreu: The NFL came after Grantham a year ago, but the Cincinnati Bengals were too late in their offer to make him their defensive coordinator. A month earlier, Grantham had received a considerable raise from UF that basically pays him an NFL salary. Granted, Grantham has moved around a great deal in his coaching career, but Florida is where he may end up staying for a while. He fits in well with coach Dan Mullen and the rest of the staff, he and his family like living here, and with the talent he has to work with every year, his defense has a chance to remain among the elite in college football. I have a feeling Grantham won’t make his next coaching move until it’s to become a head coach somewhere. FICTION.
Dooley: During a coaching career that began in 1990, Grantham has only been in one job longer than three years — four seasons at Georgia. He has turned down jobs at Florida and did not get the Mississippi State job last year which he coveted. On the other hand, he’s got a great gig here as one of the highest paid defensive coaches making $1.39 million a year in base salary. Certainly, there is a desire to be a head coach, but he’s smart (like Bob Stoops) in not just taking a head coaching job because it is a head coaching job. A lot has to do with how this season goes. If Florida is ultra-successful, it will be hard to hang on to him for another season. FACT.
Item No. 2
Jacob Copeland will be Florida’s top receiver in catches and yards this season.
Andreu: Copeland has the talent and showed enough flashes last season to indicate he can develop into a go-to guy and elite receiver in the SEC. Now that those four productive seniors — Van Jefferson, Freddie Swain, Tyrie Cleveland and Josh Hammond — have moved on to the NFL, Copeland’s opportunities are going to increase exponentially this season and he’s going to be a much bigger focal point in the offense. But he’s not the only potential go-to receiver for quarterback Kyle Trask. Kyle Pitts led the Gators in receptions last season and has emerged as one of the elite tight ends in the nation. He’s a matchup problem for opposing secondaries, so Trask is going to be calling on him often. Trevon Grimes has also made enough plays to fill a go-to role. Copeland is likely going to emerge as a very big weapon this season, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be the top guy. FICTION.
Dooley: Because Dan Mullen’s offense likes to spread the ball around and will have so many talented receivers, it could be Copeland, could be Trevon Grimes, could be Kyle Pitts. Heck, it could be someone who comes out of nowhere. I think it could be Copeland because of his talent, but it’s hard to say it won’t be Pitts. He led the team in catches last year and was second to Van Jefferson in yardage. You saw last year that team’s got tired of him catching so many passes and started moving their coverage to stop him during games. If they do that at the start of the games, it will open things up for other wide receivers. And that could open the door for Copeland, especially if he becomes Florida’s top deep threat. So, there’s a chance. FICTION.
Item No. 3
The SEC East will beat the West in head-to-head crossover games.
Andreu: Let’s take a look at this team by team in the East and break it down a little bit, starting with Florida. The Gators play at Ole Miss and have LSU at home. UF certainly is capable of sweeping those two teams. Ole Miss is starting over with Lane Kiffin and the Tigers will be in a major rebuilding mode after losing all that talent to the NFL. Georgia has a difficult crossover schedule: at Alabama and Auburn at home. The Bulldogs have shown they can play with the Tide and will have a chance in that game. UGA has owned Auburn recently. So, the worst-case scenario is a split. Kentucky has to go to Auburn, but gets Mississippi State at home, so a likely split there. Missouri goes to Ole Miss and has Arkansas at home. The Tigers could win both, but let’s just say they split. South Carolina has Texas A&M at home and goes to LSU. The Gamecocks could get swept, but also will have a chance to split. Tennessee gets Alabama at home and travels to Arkansas. The Vols showed last season they can play with the Tide, so that’s not a guaranteed loss. And they should win at Arkansas. Last but not least, Vanderbilt has Ole Miss at home and Texas A&M on the road. I see a split there. So, let’s add it up. The Gators sweep and everyone else splits and the East goes 8-6 against the West this season. FACT.
Dooley: The East won two years ago (in part because of UF’s 2-0 record) and tied last year. The key is the seven road games the East has to play against the West. And it doesn’t look good.
Georgia at Alabama.
Kentucky at Auburn.
South Carolina at LSU.
Florida at Ole Miss.
Vandy at Texas A&M.
Tennessee at Arkansas.
Mizzou at Mississippi State
I’m not sure there are more than two wins there. And then there are home games like LSU at Florida, Alabama at Tennessee and Auburn at Georgia to deal with. If the East can win three road games, I can see it winning at least four at home, so we’d have another tie. It feels like we are talking about the Ryder Cup. I think the road schedule will cost the East. FICTION