Southeastern Conference coaches held their annual summer teleconference on Monday.
Unfortunately, Florida coach Billy Donovan missed the call due to a travel snafu. Associate coach Larry Shyatt subbed for BD and stressed the importance of UF finding a future point guard to replace the recently departed Nick Calathes.
I asked Shyatt on the teleconference how much Kenny Boynton could help at the point based on what he’s seen of the 6-foot-2 combo guard: “We are really setting our jets right now on Erving Walker being our point guard,” Shyatt said. “Kenny Boynton is a tenacious competitor and he’ll do whatever is asked, but Erving comes back with some experience for us at the position.”
Last week, Florida lost out on 2009 point guard prospect Lamont “MoMo” Jones to Arizona. Rumblings have Florida still trying to add another point guard to the 2009 roster to back up Walker and allow Boynton to focus more on shooting guard.
I also asked Shyatt, Florida’s defensive guru, whether the Gators could play more man defense next season given their personnel: “It will depend on the first four to six weeks of practices,” Shyatt said. “We plan on playing more man, pressing more. We definitely have to defend better and rebound better to have a chance because the conference is much improved.”
I asked a few league coaches their views on a Knight Commission proposal that would cap salaries for Division I football and basketball coaches. Given the current economic climate and athletic departments slashing budgets of non-revenue sports, big-time college coaches with bloated salaries have become an easy target.
Tennessee coach Bruce Pearl, who recently signed a contract extension that pays him $2.4 million annually, offered an interesting take.
“I would say if you want to do that, give me tenure,” Pearl said. “When you have eight coaches in our league that have been fired in the last three years, there’s very little job security in this day and age.
“I do think it’s difficult to justify the salary of a college coach but keep in mind, I’m in my 40s and I spent many years of my career very poor as an assistant and at a Division II school. I got into coaching for education and to help turn young people’s lives around. There were many wonderful people in the profession who were maybe making more money than I was at an earlier age. So maybe I’m making up for the years in my trade when I wasn’t as highly paid.”
Auburn coach Jeff Lebo said his salary was capped at $12,000 as a restricted earnings graduate assistant coach at both Vanderbilt and South Carolina.
“We sued and actually won,” Lebo said. “Do I think college coaches make too much money? Maybe, but you also have to deal with expectations and job security on a daily basis.”