We are still a couple of months away from the drama of SEC football. And, that would include whether the Gators under new boss, Dan Mullen, can get their act together in 2018.
But this week there is word that one of the premier “talking heads” of SEC Football, and there are many, is having trouble getting his deal renewed with ESPN/SEC Network. And, there is definitely some fascinating drama around Paul Finebaum’s status.
Some quick background, Finebaum is former long time newspaper writer and columnist covering Alabama, Auburn and the SEC in that state. He hosted a successful state wide afternoon radio show for years in Alabama. And, as the popularity of SEC Football rocketed with both Bama and Auburn enjoying fantastic success in the 2000’s, Finebaum made the evolving transition to television.
So, when the SEC Network debuted three years ago, Finebaum was a natural to anchor the weekday lineup of “TV talk” and his television/radio simulcast is tremendously popular.
And that brings us to the current negotiations between Finebaum, his agent and ESPN.
First, in about two weeks hundreds of SEC media will gather in the new home of SEC Media Days (four of them) in it’s new home, Atlanta.
Coaches, players, former players, and prominent media from all 14 schools are there revving up everyone for September and the SEC.
And for the SEC Network this is known as, “offseason gold.”
And, don’t think for a second that Paul Finebaum and his representation aren’t looking to capitalize on that deadline in his contract talks.
That’s when, the first “warning shot” from Finebaum’s camp was leaked to fellow SEC national radio host and “talking TV head,” Clay Travis and he wrote about it last week:
— Brad Logan (@BradLoganCOTE) June 28, 2018
Now, there’s no doubt that Finebaum was/is exerting leverage on ESPN with that leaked threat.
Well, then things went five levels higher on the absurdity of the negotiations, when again, Finebaum and his agent, let it be known that he might be interested in ……. jumping to the Big Ten Network?!?
Yes, that’s the latest in the “rumor mill”from Sporting News earlier this week:
— Sporting News (@sportingnews) July 4, 2018
First, we at F.F.I. would love to know if Finebaum can name the 14 Big Ten Stadiums that the schools play in, much less, if he has even been in half of them to cover/watch a game.
And, we’d be further impressed, if without looking at anything, including Google on his phone, if Finebaum could name half of the Big Ten’s current football coaches, too.
So, the stratosphere level of silliness that he would seriously consider leaving the fan bases, teams, coaches, legacies, etc. of the SEC just doesn’t make any sense.
It again, wreaks of his trying to leverage ESPN anyway possible to get a better deal.
Now, for example, if Finebaum were to seriously talk to CBS and CBS Sports Network, which has been TV home to the SEC Game of the Week for over 20 years now, that would be logical and make some sense. Finebaum would bring serious credibility and audience to their cable channel, and more with his five day a week show.
And maybe, that is actually happening on a quieter level of discussion. We don’t know.
The best guess is that Finebaum re-ups with ESPN/SEC Network,
But if he doesn’t?
He’s not going to a conference/channel to broadcast, where he doesn’t know a Boilermaker from a salt shaker.
Big Ten Network.
UCF getting national TV attention tops College Primer
The third Saturday of football in November sees UCF take the main spotlight, but all five prominent programs are in action early and later.
Here’s what to watch:
Florida vs Idaho, Noon- Gainesville
Off a thrilling second-half 21-point rally to beat SEC East rival South Carolina last week, the Gators get to exhale with Idaho out of the Big Sky Conference Saturday in an early game.
Florida ran the ball effectively with LaMical Perine and Jordan Scarlett last week and when Feleipe Franks scored on the 4th and goal in the fourth quarter he put the finger up to the lips to “shush” the crowd. He has spent this week talking about how he was only playing around with the Gator fans that have been critical.
Florida should have no problem with the Vandals and get ready to go to Tallahassee for the arch rival Nolles next week
USF at Temple, Noon- Philadelphia
It was just three weekends ago that the Bulls were seven and oh and taking on Houston, but most including us at F.F.I., we’re doubting their 7-0 start to the season.
Unfortunately Charlie Strong’s team has borne that out by being lit up by the Cougars, then run all over at home by Tulane and last week being beaten at 9 – 1 Cincinnati.
USF was without quarterback Blake Barnett last week against the Bearcats with an injured shoulder, and he may not be playing in this game either. That means back up Chris Oladokun will have to suffice. USF better be ready to stop the run as Temple’s Ryquell Armstead is the American Conference Player of the Week and one of the top running backs that you haven’t heard a lot about
Florida State vs. Boston College 3:30 p.m.- Tallahassee
Speaking of running backs, A.J. Dillon and his B.C. teammates are ready to run all over a Florida State Defense that looks broken and demoralized. The Seminoles were lit up by Notre Dame last Saturday night and morale is low.
Our Matt Zemek wrote earlier this week that with FSU’s 41 straight winning seasons streak and 37 season bowl game streak on the line, that FSU has more concerns than both of those. However, they are sources of pride and let’s see ,if Florida State plays with some in this match-up.
Miami at Virginia Tech, 3:30 p.m.- Blacksburg, VA
As we wrote yesterday, coach Mark Richt may very well be coaching for his job in these last couple of games. The Hurricanes are on a four-game losing streak and have self-inflicted with bad turnovers penalties and poor quarterback play.
It’s a wounded Virginia Tech team, but they are playing at home in Blacksburg and would like nothing better than to put a win on the hurricanes. Hokies quarterback Ryan Willis has played effectively since become the starter earlier in September. He has 16 TDs to 4 INTs this season.
Will Miami play with toughness pride and some good defense and find a way to win or will Richt be explaining another loss, which would be their sixth of the season and jeopardize a bowl game?
UCF vs. Cincinnati 8 p.m.- Orlando
The Marquee game in the state is one of the Marquee games in the country. It’s one of only two games involving top 25 teams in the College Football Playoff rankings that are playing each other.
And, the Knights are being featured on ESPN College GameDay’s pregame show all morning long and leading up to the noon early kickoffs. This game will be in Prime time at 8 Eastern.
McKenzie Milton leads the spectacular Knights offense and they will need to put a bunch of points up on the board against the Cincinnati team that can also score. The Bearcats have only one overtime loss at Temple this season and still have hopes of winning the American Conference East Division, if they get the victory head-to-head with UCF in this one.
For UCF, their players, fans and everyone involved, they have been craving national attention, since last season.
They now have it in a huge setting in Orlando Saturday night.
Now, will the Knights come out with “guns a-blazing” and win impressively?
Time to find out
Our latest power rankings still have college flare
Another week has come and gone. And it was another week of several losses taking place in the state. With that being said, here is how this week’s rankings shape up:
5. FAU Owls- With almost every other team losing someone has to land at five. The Owls were spectacular in wiping out the FIU Panthers in their 49-14 win. Devin Singletary flashed his great abilities with 184 yards rushing and three touchdowns. Former FSU Qb De’Andre Johnson jump-started the offense with two touchdowns of his own. Lane Kiffin and FAU won’t get back to the C-USA Title game, but that was a quality showing against the local rival.
4. Florida Gators- It was a sad Saturday at the swamp. The Gators offense couldn’t get anything going. In fact, Kyle Trask came on in relief of Feleipe Franks and now the debate is who should be the QB? The Gators were on a nice run before dropping two games in a row now. Florida though still finds themselves 15th in the latest CFB Playoff polls. There’s still an outside shot at a good bowl game, too.
3. Miami Dolphins- Would you look at this?! Another team that actually, won a game last week. The Dolphins battled lousy field conditions in route to an ugly 13-6 win over the Jets. The defense forced four interceptions, one for a TD and Jason Sanders field goals got the victory. The win snapped a two-game losing streak for the Phins and gave them momentum into a clash with Green Bay Sunday.
2. FIU Panthers- The Panthers, did drop a game last week to FIU, but the body of work keeps them here. I know it sounds like the CFB committee right there, who I will get to later. At 5-1, coach Butch Davis and the Panthers can win out and still play for the C-USA title. So they do control their own destiny for that.
1. UCF Knights- The Knights were able to hold off the rally by Temple to keep the undefeated season intact. Four touchdowns from the returning Milton helped the Knights win 52-40. The problem was that the score was close. In the new CFB playoff rankings, the Knights sit at 12. LSU though is still in the top 10 after getting shutout at home. West Virginia had a great road win at Texas, but also hardly moved up.
As the weeks go by it seems more and more likely that UCF will not be a part of the CFB playoff or even sniff the top 6.
Shakeup in our power rankings this week
What a crazy week we had in Florida. All three pro teams lost (none have wining records), all three power five college programs in action, also lost. So where does that leave us with this week’s rankings?
5. Florida A&M Rattlers- Who? What? How? Why? All questions you probably have with this selection. FAMU is located in Tallahassee for those who don’t know. Yes, a team there is winning right now. They play in the MEAC of the FCS division. The Rattlers though deserve to be here thanks to their good play (five wins in a row) but also the lousy play of everyone else. The Rattlers are currently 1st in the MEAC and sit one win away from clinching their first conference title since 2001. They have an impressive last-second win over 17th ranked North Carolina A&T. While they might be a small school, we don’t forget anyone here at FFI, especially if you are winning.
4- USF Bulls- The Bulls finally suffered their first defeat of the season. We have discussed here at FFI that the Bulls had been playing with fire and the subpar play they showed at times might cost them. Houston did just that and ended the Bulls undefeated season for the second consecutive season. The Bulls still have their whole season in front of them though with games against Cincinnati, Temple, and UCF. The Bulls could win out, win the conference and compete in the New Year’s Six bowls.
3- Florida Gators- The Gators also come off a loss last week at the hands of the rival Georgia Bulldogs. Some costly turnovers hampered the Gators ability to win this one. The Gators though did come in at number 11 in the initial College Football Playoff committee rankings, in fact, one spot ahead of UCF. While the Gators probably won’t be playing for any championships this year if Dan Mullen can win out and beat FSU and get to a major bowl game this season would be a great success.
2- FIU Panthers- The Panthers and coach Butch Davis (above) are the only team from last week’s five to win. Every week I talk about QB James Morgan and every week he leads the team to victory. Morgan tossed three more touchdowns in a win over Western Kentucky. However, the run game was dominating as well. D’vonte Price had 119 yards and two touchdowns. Napoleon Maxwell had 80 yards of his own. The Panthers take on rival FAU this week looking to continue the streak they are on and remain the top team in Conference USA.
1-UCF Knights- The Knights were on their bye week, and the only focus was on the rankings. While they climbed in the AP poll, they debuted at onlyl #12 in the playoff rankings. While it is higher than where they initially were last year, I’m sure they don’t like it. The Knights being behind in-state Florida is what might hurt the most with the Gators having two loses. The Knights though have a few big games ahead of them to end the season, starting with Temple Thursday night, and it will be interesting to see how everything plays out.
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