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July 19, 2013
The Silver Lining comes to you at week's end during the summer to highlight some of the most important Florida Gators-related sports stories from the past week.
* LSU head coach Les Miles took the 2013 SEC Media Days as yet another opportunity to point out the inequality in the league's schedules on an annual basis. Miles's standard contention - that playing a top-tier program like Florida each year as a permanent opposite-division opponent puts his team at a disadvantage from a strength of schedule perspective - was repeated for the umpteenth time.
"We play Georgia and Florida [in the same season] for the seventh time this year," he pointed out in his opening press conference. "I'd have to say there's some other schools that have not played Georgia and Florida in the same year in my entire time here [at LSU] or since 2000. I'd have to say there's a repeated scheduling advantage and disadvantage for certain teams in this conference based on tradition and traditional match-ups."
Miles persistence and constant need to remind the media about this scheduling flaw makes him sound like a whiner and complainer. His words and actions bring forth a connotation that the Tigers are scared to play the Gators and are shying away from a fight, even though that is certainly not the case. The athletic department behind him, members of which have been quoted in media outlets over the last three or four years expressing similar sentiments, come across in a similar manner.
Florida, meanwhile, appears stronger and more confident than LSU by choosing to stay relatively quiet about the annual game. The Gators are brilliantly letting the Tigers do all the work while sitting back, catching some rays and smiling to themselves. Florida has adopted the stance that facing LSU each year is a fun rivalry game and a great annual match-up that is good for college football.
But there should be no doubt that the Gators feel the same way the Tigers do. Athletic director Jeremy Foley and head coach Will Muschamp have both said that a two-team opposite-division rotation is fairer than having a one-game rotation and a permanent opponent. The difference is that neither Foley nor Muschamp have gone so far as to say there is a problem with LSU being that permanent opponent.
They know that UF fans enjoy the game. And, truthfully, what real college football fan does not want to see their team play a night game in Tiger Stadium every other year?
Then again, why should the Gators have to scrap with one of the best teams in the SEC West every year while some of the teams they compete against for the SEC East division title have it easier? They shouldn't. And trust me, they don't want to.
LSU holds a 5-4 edge over Florida in the last nine meetings dating back to 2004. The Gators happen to be lucky that none of those losses (2004, 2005, 2007, 2010, 2011) mattered much in the grand scheme of those seasons while their wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) resulted in two national title game appearances and four total BCS bowls.
In the end, Miles and the Tigers are 100 percent right. Everyone knows that, including UF and the SEC. Florida has just decided to let LSU make the argument for both teams so its hands don't get dirty in the process.
* I've railed against preseason watch lists, polls and everything else for that matter on the message boards here over the last two weeks, but I will give credit where it is due and say that the SEC media voting for the 2013 Preseason All-SEC Teams got things pretty close to right as far as the Gators are concerned.
Junior punter Kyle Christy (2012 All-SEC First Team), senior defensive lineman Dominique Easley and junior cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy were each named to the First Team. Christy's nomination was obvious, Easley has the chance to put together a dominant campaign, and Purifoy is a likely first-round NFL Draft pick if he continues to improve his game.
Redshirt senior right guard Jon Halapio and junior CB Marcus Roberson, a pair of solid starters with the potential to be top-tier SEC players this year, earned Second Team nods. On the Third Team were sophomore running back Matt Jones (huge upside), redshirt senior center Jonotthan Harrison (consistency), redshirt junior linebacker Ronald Powell (First Team talent coming off an injury), redshirt senior kick returner Andre Debose (inconsistent but electric) and Purifoy (a second nod, as an all-purpose player).
One could make an argument that sophomores LB Antonio Morrison or BUCK Dante Fowler Jr. should have been on the teams but as second-year players they still have a lot to prove and will certainly have the chance to do so this season. Plus, 20 of these 240+ voters left South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney completely off their ballots, so it's not like these teams are close to perfect.
* Chicago Bulls rookie forward Erik Murphy is going to be remembered by some Florida fans for his terrible final game in a Gators uniform and by others as a deft three-point shooter. One characteristic some may forget to attribute to Murphy, however, is "toughness," which he not only demonstrated at Florida but continues to display now that he is a professional.
Murphy broke his nose during a NBA Summer League game in Las Vegas, NV, on Tuesday. What most fans that follow the Bulls don't know is that he was already playing with a broken nose as he injured it in practice just days earlier. And while he started the grueling NBA Draft workout process healthy this spring, he also got dinged up during one of those workouts but powered through a few more that he had already scheduled.
It will be interesting to see what level of success Murphy has in the league. Most compare him to another former Gators big man, Matt Bonner, and I would guess Murphy would be fine with having a similar career.
Bonner will be entering his 10th NBA season in 2013-14 and is approaching $30 million in career earnings but has never averaged more than 8.2 points or 4.8 rebounds in a single season.