The Silver Lining for Wednesday, July 30

By Adam Silverstein
July 30, 2014

Best- and worst-case scenarios

Between e-mails, messages on social media, comments here on the site, radio interview questions and text messages from friends, I seemingly get asked on a daily basis how good or bad I think the Florida Gators football team will be in 2014.

It’s simple, really.

No one knows. There are some analysts predicting Florida pieces together a shocking turnaround, while others believe the Gators will only be marginally better than they were a year ago. Consider how many variables there are in regards to any given team succeeding or failing, let alone a storied program coming off its worst season since 1979.

Therefore, let’s look at the absolute best- and worst-case scenarios for Florida in 2014…

Best-case scenario: Redshirt junior quarterback Jeff Driskel stays healthy and puts it all together with an offensive coordinator in Kurt Roper who finally allows him to utilize his full skill set… Florida’s shuffled offensive line solidifies under position coach Mike Summers… Head coach Will Muschamp finds a way to put forward a top-notch defense despite another batch of top talent leaving the program in the offseason… UF starts the season 4-1 with its lone loss to Alabama, finds a way to beat LSU at home, earns Muschamp his first victory ever in the Florida-Georgia game and takes the SEC East crown, putting it in the SEC Championship for the first time since 2008… Despite falling to its SEC West opponent in the league title game, UF earns the fourth spot in the first College Football Playoff as a two-loss team and is eliminated in its playoff game.


Worst-case scenario: Driskel continues to struggle with the mental aspects of the game and/or gets injured again as another porous, patchwork Gators offensive line fails to take pressure off him… Florida’s freshmen quarterbacks, Will Grier and Treon Harris, are as ill-prepared as Driskel and Jacoby Brissett were to play big games back in 2011… Junior Vernon Hargreaves III shines, but the massive secondary losses expose the back end of Florida’s defense… After being bludgeoned by Alabama, Florida sees its nine-year winning streak against Tennessee fall as UT wins its first game in the series since 2004… The loss sends UF into a tailspin as it drops four games in a span of five contests, including a home game against LSU and the neutral-site game against UGA… Florida State proves it has truly overtaken Florida by toppling its in-state rival for the second-straight year… Former Gators signal callers Brissett (N.C. State) and Tyler Murphy (Boston College) both stay healthy and/or play better than Driskel… Georgia wins the SEC East… Jameis Winston joins Archie Griffin as a two-time Heisman Trophy winner… FSU wins its second of back-to-back national championships by defeating Urban Meyer and Ohio State, which also advances to the national title game.


FOX Sports steps up for Erin Andrews

Erin Andrews has dealt with a lot of crap in her 15-year broadcasting career. She has been harassed by fans at games with cat calls and insults, disrespected by peers when she first entered the business (they claimed her looks were the only talent she brought to the table) and literally stalked in her private hotel rooms through peepholes.

Yet through all this, Andrews has maintained her poise, stuck with the business and come out on top. Now 36, Andrews is at the pinnacle of her career. She has moved on from being a college football sideline reporter (eventually also a College GameDay co-host) at ESPN to a much larger role with FOX Sports.

She is now the network’s top sideline reporter, replacing Pam Oliver with the No. 1 team for NFL games beginning this season, while also working the major sports events she has always dreamed including the World Series and Super Bowl. Andrews was even named a co-host of ABC’s Dancing with the Stars, a show she previously appeared – and succeeded – on as a contestant, this past year.

Used to being disrespected, Andrews likely thought she had moved past the bulk of it, at least from her industry colleagues. Every on-air personality gets their spots nit-picked from time-to-time, Andrews included, but no one, especially a woman, deserves the type of treatment she got earlier this month.

Responding to an on-the-spot dugout interview Andrews did with St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright during the MLB All-Star Game, here’s what Kirk Minihane (co-host of the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show on WEEI in Massachusetts) had to say about Andrews and her line of questioning for the hurler:

”What a bitch! I hate her! What a gutless bitch! Seriously, go away. Drop dead. I mean, seriously, what the hell is wrong with her? First of all, follow-up. Secondly, the guy admitted he did it. He admitted he told reporters he threw a couple of pipe bombs. How is that social media’s fault? Seriously, I hate her. I seriously hat her so much! … Shut up. Shut up. I shouldn’t call her a ‘bitch.’ I’m sure she’s a nice person, but she’s…she’s probably a bitch. I freaking hate her. … And this bimbo says, ‘Don’t you love social media?’ I’m going to get in trouble for this.”

Hours later, Minihane apologized in a written statement on WEEI’s website. It was an actual apology at its base level – not an “I’m sorry if I offended anyone” version – though it was not nearly enough to atone for his sexist, offensive and demeaning comments. He was then suspended for one week. When he returned to the air to discuss the controversial comments, he simply repeated his tirade without use of a couple of the more offensive words.

What was impressive was not Andrews’s continued poise (she stayed silent and did not address the issue publicly) but rather the stand FOX Sports took on her behalf. Andrews is not just an employee but a woman and one who has dealt with way too much crap in her career. FOX Sports needed to have her back with strong, unwavering support, and they delivered in a major way.

“Comments such as these are beyond inappropriate and inexcusable. It is unfortunate that one of the best sports talk radio stations in the country would allow and condone such low-class behavior from one of their on-air personalities,” said a company spokesman prior to Minihane’s apology.

The company’s next step? Pulling all of its advertising from WEEI and every other station owned by its parent company, Entercom. According to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch, Entercom is “one of the largest radio broadcasting companies in the U.S., with 100 stations in 23 markets.” FOX Sports took it one step further and decided not to allow its talent to continue to appear on WEEI. Boom.

From FOX Sports president Eric Shanks to Entercom:

By now you are no doubt aware of the incidents that occurred on-air at your Boston station WEEI on July 15 and again on July 22, I am referring to the obnoxious comments made by Kirk Minihane on the “Dennis and Callahan” show regarding one of our Fox on-air personalities, Erin Andrews.

As we have previously stated to various media outlets, the comments made by Mr. Minihane were boorish and sexist. Further, the “apology” made by Mr. Minihane was juvenile and insincere. To make matters worse, the “apology” was posted under a banner (allegedly approved by your Boston VP and Market Manager, Phil Zachary) hailing “The Triumphant Return of Kirk Minihane.”

I had hoped by this time we might hear a sincere apology from WEEI, or perhaps someone from your office might have reached out to Fox (which through our film and television businesses is a significant advertiser on Entercom stations). However, none of that has been forthcoming, and needless to say we are disappointed.

I have discussed this issue with our senior management and our various senior marketing executives. At their recommendation, I am writing to inform you that going forward Fox’s entertainment and sports businesses will not be advertising on your stations for the foreseeable future.

I regret that we need to take this action, but as one of our executives reminded me, “sometimes you need to vote with your feet.”

That is how a company takes a stand for an employee and lays the smack down.

Urban Meyer not the only one wondering about Tim Tebow

As is tradition these days, former Florida head coach Urban Meyer spent a portion of Big Ten Media Day discussing former Gators quarterback Tim Tebow and openly questioning why he does not currently have a job in the NFL.

Tebow is the “second-most efficient passer ever to play college football,” Meyer pointed out this year, noting that he still does not get why he is not in the league at this time.

Many are quick to note that while Tebow did complete 67.8 percent of his passes during his senior season – and 64.4 percent during Florida’s national championship run the year prior – his career completion percentage in the NFL is 47.9 percent. That’s not good. In fact, it’s really bad.

Without going into a long diatribe here, what many miss when discussing Tebow and his NFL potential is that his elongated throwing motion received so much attention and was criticized so heavily prior to his arrival in the league that he spent the entire time leading up to the draft changing it. A quarterback was told – not asked – to completely adjust the biggest part of his arsenal, something confined to muscle memory.

Tebow was told to change the motion that led him to those record passing rates in college. He listened and suffered, in part, because of that direction.

There have been other factors in Tebow’s way as well, such as the coach who took a chance on him being fired before Tebow could ever start a game for him, his replacement never believing in his abilities despite the fact that he led a down-in-the-dumps Denver team into the playoffs and threw a game-winning touchdown pass in a playoff victory over Pittsburgh, and the team he chose (New York) over his hometown (Jacksonville) having so little offensive intelligence that it could not find a way to utilize him on the field outside of having him run straight into the offensive line.

Offenses across the league are more creative ever, and Tebow remains a unique talent. Despite his struggles in the past, the fact that the guy cannot get a tryout to be a backup quarterback in San Francisco or Seattle, for example, is indeed ridiculous. There will be 96 quarterbacks in the NFL at the start of the 2014 season. Tebow is absolutely, positively more talented than one-third of that group, completion percentage be damned.

He continues to train. Tebow claims he is in the best shape of his life and throwing the ball better than ever, yet he is preparing to don a suit for the SEC Network rather than workout clothes for an NFL team. He may never play in the league again, a thought that is becoming more of a fact with each passing day. And that’s fine. But he at the very least deserves the opportunity to get back out on the field and tryout for the chance to rekindle his career.

Not Only Gators: Kevin Durant’s next (potentially) great move

Kevin Durant is the best the NBA has to offer. This statement is not based solely on what he does on the court, which makes him one of the two best players in the league, but rather everything else that surrounds his career, namely his community outreach and decision making.

It is tough to be drafted by a bad team, which Durant was when Seattle picked him No. 2 overall in the 2007 NBA Draft. He took on the challenge that year and did it again the following season when the team was relocated to Oklahoma City, making Durant not only the face of the franchise but the face of an entire sports market.

Since his career with the Thunder began, Durant has seemingly done everything right. He’s surprised fans by joining (and dominating) their flag football games, given up his summers to play for USA Basketball, quietly signed a contract extension in the summer of 2010 while stars were loudly posturing and changing teams, supported his teammate (Russell Westbrook) as a necessary part of his success, and even declared his mother “the real MVP” while accepting his first Most Valuable Player award (which he shared with his entire team in one of the most emotional award acceptance speeches in sports history).

Durant has another opportunity to be awesome staring him straight in the face, and I hope he takes advantage of it.

Two full years away from being a free agent, Durant is already being questioned about his motives once his contract expires. Will he stay true to Oklahoma City, a franchise that should have no doubts about his commitment, or return home to the nation’s capital (he is a Washington, D.C. native)? Speculation is already beginning, and the NBA media has a way of twisting players’ words around to fit the objective of their stories.

My advice? Nip it all in the bud.

Durant should take the time, at some point before the 2014-15 season, to hold a one-time-only press conference and answer every question the attending media have about his pending free agency. At the start of that press conference, he should matter-of-factly state that following the day’s proceedings, he will no longer address the issue.

Will it happen? Probably not. That is a lot to ask, even for Durant. But if there is one NBA superstar I could see ever trying such a move, it is him.

This Week’s Movie Trailer

The Judge:

The Top 5 List
From the home office in Wahoo, Nebraska…

Random things I’ve wasted too much money on in my life:
1. DVDs
2. Sunglasses from drug stores
3. Extended warranties for electronics
4. Pre-mixed bags of salad
5. Nike FuelBand (first edition)

Thanks for reading. Now leave your comments.

29 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    Even if the comments were correct and her looks were her only talent, that brings an awful lot of talent to the table! And way to go Fox to step up for your employee!

    Great rant on Tebow. He will be successful in whatever he pursues, but he has definitely been shafted to not even get tryouts.

  2. jimmyjohns says:

    Thanks for that worst-case write-up…I needed a good puke today.

  3. Gatorgrad79 says:

    Adam,
    Are you saying we go 10 and 2 or 4 and 8?? Is there any scenario for an in-between year that at least sees us Bowl eligible?? I gotta say, I have tickets for all the games, home and away, but I haven’t bought any plane tickets yet…

    • I did not say that at all. I was providing extreme scenarios…this is how good or how bad the team can be in 2014. I definitely think what happens falls somewhere in between.

      • Gatorgrad79 says:

        OK, I get it – just expressing the polar opposites of the possibilities. Looking at the schedule, I can see either of those occurring.

      • Ken (CA) says:

        I have to say, this is one of the times I hope you are proven wrong. I would like to believe there is a chance we could beat Bama on the road.

  4. Michael Jones says:

    In the short history of Silver Lining, every piece of which heretofore having been nice, this is by far your best effort. Loved every piece, loved every take, loved every analysis. Really REALLY good, thoughtful, insightful, well-reasoned analysis and writing, Adam. Really nice work. Couldn’t stop reading and was captivated by every section.

    Brilliant insight, by the way, regarding how changing Tebow’s throwing motion ended up hurting–not helping–him. No one mentions that. There were unfortunately other more sinister, cynical reasons for Tebow’s exit from the NFL than his throwing motion. Byron Leftwich, for one, had a throwing motion that was like winding up a medieval catapult and was arguably more elongated than Tebow’s, but no one harassed him out of the league.

    It was something that made my stomach sick watching, the way Tebow got run out of town once the tidal wave of popular/media opinion turned against him. And I will forever cheer against Rex Ryan for the way he handled it, never really giving Tebow a chance to demonstrate his widely-alleged improved throwing.

    • Thanks.

      Yes, Tebow got screwed. I definitely believe that.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I don’t think the tidal wave of public attention ever turned against him in NYC. They were calling for him game after game and to bench Garcia. then he was passed over and there was outrage, then he was released…

  5. SW FL Joe says:

    Actually the worst case scenario would be exactly what you wrote plus “And Jeremy Foley has once again publicly stated he his still 1000% behind Will Muchamp and believes that he has the program headed in the right direction. On a side note, Kurt Roper has accepted his first head coaching position and has taken Mike Summers with him.”

  6. Dave Massey says:

    Great piece of journalism Adam. Really looking forward to this every week..

    When I first saw Erin Andrews I thought she got the job for one reason, but the more I listened to her the more I realized how good she was at her job. Great of Fox to stand behind her and do what they did. WEEI and Entercom must feel really stupid. Seriously, drop dead, go away. Seriously, what the hell is wrong with them, lol. Dumb business.

    Great movie trailer too, looking forward to that one. Love RD and BBT.

    • Thanks.

      It is definitely the best trailer I’ve posted thus far. I’m trying not to post popular / widely-seen ones.

      • Gatorgrad79 says:

        Just watched the trailer after your comment – Wow what a cast. Love Duvall and Thornton and I think Robert Downey Jr is one of our generations geniuses (albeit formerly a troubled one) who hopefully will get the credit he deserves.

  7. sjkoepp says:

    That worst-case scenario write up made me want to go get a stiff drink. My gosh that is terrifying.

    I hope Durant doesn’t let it get into the same frenzy the Lebron situation had. That was unbearable. But if Durant goes to the Wizards, that would be pretty incredible.

    Erin Andrews is consistently a model of class and professionalism while being a total smokeshow. We’re pretty lucky to have her rep UF.

  8. skip says:

    Nervous………… de-commits and losses of expected commitments. Seems like we’re relegated to 3 star and below talent with the hopes that the coaching staff can make something of them. With our past history of 4 and 5 star recruits that have underachieved, Coach Boom and Roper have a tough row to hoe………………..

    • Dave Massey says:

      We lost some 3 stars and just gained a couple of 4 stars. It’s July man, worry about it in February. This season will determine a lot. Gators have a good season and we will have plenty of recruits by season’s end. Staff can shove all the negative recruiting other schools are doing against us down their throats. Will just make them look bad. And I’m not conceding anything to Alabama, they are the ones with the new QB. Let’s see how the offense plays.

  9. Tractorr says:

    Sorry but it is largely Tebow’s fault that Tebow won’t be playing in the NFL again. If he really wanted to play he would be playing in Canada or the arena league. There is a zero percent chance that an NFL team signs a QB who is not playing competitive football at all. Tebow needs to swallow his pride and head up to Canada if he wants to ever have a chance.

    • I do not disagree. He should absolutely be playing somewhere. He’s letting his pride get in the way.

    • Daniel M. says:

      Not to mention that he struggles reading defenses, is a wildly inconsistent passer wanting a job in a passing league, and brings a media circus with him. And oh, there’s that little thing about telegraphing his throws ( supposedly 47 QB mechanics have fixed )

    • kaput says:

      A touchy subject for some, but the fact that he’s constantly on about his religion has done him no favors professionally. He’s become a walking distraction, and much of that is his own doing.

      I think he can play NFL ball and am saddened that I don’t get to see it.

  10. Spike says:

    I agree Tebow should be playing somewhere. Do you think he should even try another position in the nfl just to get a shot?

    Regarding Andrews- what was said was completely unprofessional but I also think media/social media demanding and pushing for apologies is ridiculous. People are apologizing all over the place for their thoughts and opinions. You shouldn’t have too apologize. And we or people don’t have to like what they say or buy their products or in this case, listen to a radio show.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      And they do, and he didn’t really apologize. Of course they have the freedom to say anything they want, however they also have the responsibility to pay the consequences of whatever it is they choose to say.

  11. gatorboi352 says:

    I swear, not one person in here made a compliment towards Erin Andrews without also notating her physical looks.

  12. Michael J. says:

    Tebow was a great college quarterback, he is a horrible pro quarterback. You have to be accurate at the next level. You also can’t just run over people like Tebow was able to do in college.The receivers are not going to be wide open like they were in college. The fact is that Tebow can’t throw the ball a lick. If he could play, he’d be on a team. I’ve never seen a worse passer at the professional level than Tebow. No one has done him wrong, believe me, if he could play, he’d be on somebody’s roster right now.
    As for Driskel being able to display his “full skill set.” he doesn’t have any skills, he’s a horrible quarterback. He can’t even use his body. Unlike Tebow, Driskel is about the tiniest 6’5″ 240 lb guy you can ever imagine. He crumples to the ground when touched, with the added bonus of coughing up the ball very easily. Let’s recall the Miami game when The mighty Driskel was called upon to sneak for a couple of inches. He was about as tough as a wet noodle. Did you ever see Tebow fail so miserably? Driskel is a joke, and until he’s no longer the starter at UF, UF will continue to suck on offense the same way they have since Tebow left.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      How can you say he is terrible? your whole premise seems plausible except he breaks because he is unique. Statistically what you say may be true, and yet he had a winning record, a single season come from behind victory record, a playoff record and proved what a leader he is by taking a team in the cellar to the playoffs and even advanced in the playoff even when they traded away their top receivers before they even allowed him to start, and afterward barely let him throw to get into a rhythm of any kind. Everything he did says he is exceptional and a winner.

      • Dave Massey says:

        Ken, the idiot is a Nole troll, ignore him. All he ever says is negative. He nitpicks, twists facts, and lies. Don’t argue with an idiot or you become one.

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