Monday Notebook: Price Of The Vols Win And The Reality Of UF And FSU Losses

Alabama v Tennessee

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Some say it was $10M or maybe as high as $20M raised by their collectives and the whispers are out there about an incoming freshman quarterback getting as much as $8M to come to Knoxville. If you thought the Volunteers were already off to a skyrocketing start in the NIL space(or as we prefer to call it what is "Pay-for-Play") can you imagine the value of Saturday's win over Alabama?

The game was an instant classic and the noise from Neyland Stadium can still be heard across college football. And do you know what winning games like that does? It makes happy fans want to keep winning and have moments like that. So, if the goal was to raise $25M a year for the football team to keep current players happy and acquire talent in high school and transfer portal recruiting- what's that number now?

Tennessee's NIL program was already considered to be one of the biggest and most aggressive in the game. Spyre Sports Management is an agency representing players and it has partnered with Tennessee's main collective( all legal now within the NCAA rules) to showcase its biggest players to some of the biggest brands. Before the season, Spyre paraded Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker and receiver Cedric TIllman(an injured ankle kept him out of Saturday's win) all through Manhattan before the season to wheel and deal and send a message that it is for real in the "talent acquisition" world and a place where current stars can market their brand on the biggest stage. 

Spyre also oversees the Volunteer Club, a group of more than 1,000 people that make up one of the largest collectives in the country. The Volunteer Club handed out, and yes indeed they handed out,more than $4M to 130 Tennessee athletes the past year. The goal is to raise $25M per year to pay athletes in all sports, including football.

Saturday's win over Alabama is just the recipe to have more fans want to be a part of the action and "volunteer" to grow the pot. The "Huep" is real with former UCF coach Josh Heupel turning around a program in less than two seasons and now the Vols are ranked third and indeed playoff contenders. The money will flow and Tennessee is indeed a player in the transfer portal/high school recruiting game and a win over Alabama may be worth $5M-10M alone. That might just buy you, I mean, present tremendous NIL opportunities for some very talented football players...

I talk about the journey of a college football season and predicting a record before the season. Teams go through peaks and valleys so predicting an 8-4 season may be very different than the ride the team takes you to get to 8-4. That may be the case for both FSU and Florida.

Fans of both teams may have taken an 8-4 season back in July. FSU was coming off a 5-7 season and Florida went 6-7. 

The Seminoles started the year going 4-0 and some quickly adjusted pre-season expectations and felt maybe a nine or 10 win season was possible. But now Mike Norvell's team has lost three straight and here comes an improved Georgia Tech team that has won two straight. Then comes a road game at Syracuse, currently undefeated and ranked 14th. Then it's at Miami, who should be 5-3 on a three game win streak. FSU ends with home games against Louisiana and Florida. After a surprising 4-0 start and appearance back in the national polls, the Seminoles may find themselves looking at 6-6 instead of 10-2. A 6-6 campaign would put Mike Norvell's team in a bowl game but after the start, the journey to 6-6 would not be as satisfying. The recruiting has gone well for the third year coach and there are signs FSU has improved in many areas, but would a 6-7 season make a FSU fan believe major strides have been made or wonder if average is the new norm?...

Meanwhile, BIlly Napier deserves the chance to build his program and anyone thinking the build would be done in seven games is living in an alternate world. But here sits the Gators at 4-3 and what is one to make of this season. Florida played six of their first seven at home and now faces four of the final five away from home, including the Georgia game in Jacksonville in two weeks. There's still trips to College Station to face Texas A&M and end the season at FSU. The Gators play at Vanderbilt and get South Carolina at home. A 7-5 season might be realistic for Florida but 6-6 might be possible as well. The Gators season has almost become more about Anthony Richardson and his development. He was ok in the loss to LSU going 15-for-25 for 185 yards and a touchdown pass and ran 109, including an 81 yard run for a score. Aside from the long TD run, he ran for just 28 yards on eight attempts.

I stated last week that it's possible Richardson is not as good as the hype, which was off the chart before the season. Maybe he looks the part but can't play the part. It's also possible he will be a much better quarterback in 2023 and Napier knows that and is using this season to get his guy a ton of experience. But it's also possible he's not the ideal guy for what Napier wants to run. There are some who whisper that if Richardson does enough to keep NFL scouts interested, there are some in Gainesville hoping he turns pro and Napier can identify his guy to run his offense...

Nuggets: UCF sits 5-1 and 2-0 in the AAC. The Knights season is the next month where they face four teams with winning records and play three of those four on the road. UCF travels to East Carolina this week and then come home for Cincinnati before road games at Memphis and Tulane. If UCF survives and wins all four they are likely inside the top 20 and in position to make a run at the New Year's Six slot in the Cotton Bowl. With previously unbeaten Coastal Carolina losing, the AAC champion appears to be in position to secure the major slot. James Madison lost for the first time but is not eligible for a bowl because of the transition period to FBS level...Lost in all the attention to Alabama-Tennessee was the great double overtime win for TCU over Oklahoma State in the battle of unbeatens in the Big XII. After a 5-7 season in 2021, the Horned Frogs are 6-0 but there are challenges ahead on the schedule, including the only other unbeaten team in the league- Kansas St. The two play this week in Fort Worth...Since beating Notre Dame in South Bend, Marshall is 1-3 and could end the season at 4-8...One reason Auburn coach Bryan Harsin may not get fired is there appears to be no assistant powers at Auburn believe is a worthy interim candidate. Imagine a school wanting to fire its coach but feels its better to let him stay because no one thinks any of his assistants is worthy of being an interim coach. But then again, it's Auburn...

Final note: The average pumpkin takes 90-120 days to grow from the time its seed is planted. A pumpkin plan typically grows between two and five pumpkins.

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