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      Smack Zone — Football

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      The Gators are BACK! (Aren't they? They're back now, right?)

      [caption id="attachment_1230" align="aligncenter" width="474"]A 38-10 romp in the Swamp against Ole Miss means the Gators are back, baby. At least until Saturday. Lose at Mizzou and it'll be like Muschamp 2.0. Just. Like. That. Illustration: Steve Hill for Smack Zone. A 38-10 romp in the Swamp against Ole Miss means the Gators are back, baby. At least until Saturday. Lose at Mizzou and it'll be like Muschamp 2.0. Just. Like. That. Illustration: Steve Hill for Smack Zone.[/caption] The Gators are back. Aren’t they? It sure looks like it. A 38-10 shocker against Ole Miss at the Swamp on Saturday rocked the college football world. Coach Jim McIlwain, seemingly, can do no wrong. After a comeback victory against Tennessee vaulted the Gators back into the AP top 25, the follow-up romp against the No. 3-ranked vanquishers of the Crimson Tide jetted UF nearly into the top 10. They are close enough, at No. 11, to once again sniff a conference and national championship. Oh, and it’s a nice bonus for those who bleed orange and blue that the Gators tip-toed past undefeated Florida State in the rankings. They seem to have found a coach, a quarterback (redshirt freshman Will Grier) and an identity. Sure, they are ranked only 58th in total offense (a troubling 90th in rushing) and 37th in total defense, but they are ranked at the top of the SEC East at 3-0 in the conference and roll into this week’s road game against Missouri ready to consolidate their early gains. So, yes. At 5-0, the Gators appear to be back. Where do they go from here? First, they must avoid a road upset against Mizzou and true freshman quarterback Drew Lock. There are no guarantees, of course, and this could all come crashing down with a loss in Columbia. But … Get past that one, and things get real interesting. It starts with a huge matchup on Oct. 17 at LSU, which is currently the only remaining UF opponent that is ranked higher than the Gators. While a victory in Baton Rouge would be enormous, a loss would not necessarily end Florida’s title aspirations. That’s because the schedule falls favorably for Florida. After seeing them stuff Ole Miss Saturday, it’s completely realistic to envision Florida rolling against Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida Atlantic. Then there’s Florida State, which comes into Gainesville on Nov. 28 having won two in a row and four of five against UF. Even if they lose to LSU, the Gators could win out in the regular season and set themselves up for an SEC championship game matchup against the winner of the SEC West – Texas A&M, Alabama, LSU or Ole Miss. At that point, a victory would leave the Gators at 12-1 (assuming a loss at LSU and a victory against the Seminoles, remember), and it would almost certainly be enough to gain entry into the national championship playoff. Yes, it’s early. Yes, the Gators haven’t displayed the consistent and convincing dominance of the national championship teams under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer – yet. But in Gainesville, they are ready to party again. (By the way, we're not affiliated with Scooter Magruder in any way, but he rocks it on YouTube, Instagram, Snapchat and just about anywhere else you can post videos about sports and stuff. Follow him -- especially if you love the Gators and anything and everything Southeastern Conference. Scooter's entire Snap cast of his night in the Swamp's nosebleed seats is well worth watching, but here's a quick glimpse.)

         

      Only Time and Touches Can Stop Fournette (We Already Know EMU Can't)

      Week five of the college football season is shaping up to be the best so far. There are so many marquee matchups. More on that below, because one game stands head and shoulders above ANYTHING the rest of the country can conjure. Eastern Michigan at Louisiana State University. Wait. What? Let us explain: Earlier this week, Herschel Walker said that he thinks Leonard Fournette is a better running back in college than he was. Walker is regarded as one of the top college players of all time, and a winner of the Heisman trophy. For him to say Fournette is better makes us think HARD about it. And you know what? Walker might have a point.

        Fournette is averaging over 200 yards a game so far. He is so good, he has many people saying he should sit out next year to not hurt his draft stock *cough cough Marcus Lattimore*. There are a few worthy candidates for the Heisman this season, including RB Nick Chubb of Georgia, QB Jared Goff of Cal, and any given Ohio State Buckeye skill player. Fournette needs to keep his torrid pace to be the first non QB to win the award since Mark Ingram in 2009. We aren’t talking another 200-yard, 2 TD game here. No. We want to see Fournette go off for 400 yards and 6 TD. Just absolutely demolish that Eastern Michigan defense. Against weaker competition, he needs to be the dean of Ball-So-Hard University. Come Saturday night, we fully expect Fournette to run wild and take even more of strangle hold on the Heisman. Apparently, EMU's defense sucks. Like, really sucks. So, his biggest competition Saturday night could very well be his playing time and touches. Just give him the damn ball, LSU. Just let him do him. Oh, as we mentioned, there are a FEW other things to watch besides Fournette’s assault on the college football history book. Here’s a quick look at the games we’ll be watching: No. 23 West Virginia at No. 15 Oklahoma: They battle to see who will finish behind TCU and Baylor. No. 1 Ohio State at Indiana: This will be Cardele Jones’s first true road game, and if this was Indiana basketball, he might have to worry. IU football? Not so much. Probably. No. 3 Ole Miss at No. 25 Florida: The Rebs bring their championship hopes to Gainesville, where the Gators might have to rely on another fourth-quarter meltdown in order to win. No. 13 Alabama at No. 8 Georgia: This will be the first time Bama is an underdog (+1.5) in five years. Let the panic ensue! No. 6 Notre Dame at No. 12 Clemson: Hopefully no ND more players get injured before the game or they might have to forfeit. Feeling lucky? Want to prove your prognostication prowess? Play the Smack Apparel weekly picks contest. You could win Smack Apparel t-shirts and bragging rights.    

      The Parcells Effect

      [caption id="attachment_1209" align="alignright" width="300"]Parcells Little-known fact: In 1978, Bill Parcells helped shape young military minds as the head coach of the falconing team at the Air Force Academy.[/caption] By Erez Ladetzky, Smack Zone Contributor The Giants meet the Bills Sunday in Buffalo. Twenty-five years ago, these two teams squared off in Tampa for an epic Super Bowl XXV. We hear Scott Norwood still can’t find a house anywhere in Buffalo. With the game this weekend, we thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane and take a look at the career of Bill Parcells and his historical impact on pro football.

      1. The Big Tuna -- if this isn’t the best nickname in football, we don’t know what is. He received this name while he was on the staff with the Patriots, because, well ... he had the shape of a tuna. The nickname has stuck ever since, and has become a household name over the years.
      2. Gatorade bath -- when a team wins a big game, either a championship or a massive come from behind win, the players usually dump the Gatorade cooler all over their coach. Bill Parcells was the very first coach to have that happen (yes, we know some claim that Mike Ditka was first in 1984, but we choose to believe that Parcells got it first a few weeks before that. Besides, Harry Carson made it famous two years later, so Tuna owns it). Clearly, Parcells is the ultimate trend setter for coaches. [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtODeVwJ0XY] 3. Legendary coaching tree -- Parcells recruited so many great coaches under him, many are now head coaches in the NFL. The tree includes Bill Belichick, Tom Coughlin, Sean Payton, Todd Bowles and Mike Zimmer. Belichick, Coughlin and Payton have all won Super Bowls as head coaches. If it weren’t for Parcells, Belichick might not even know how to spy or oversee the proper deflation of footballs. [caption id="attachment_1213" align="alignleft" width="283"]Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV. Parcells celebrates victory in Tampa at Super Bowl XXV.[/caption] 4. Impact of a team he never coached -- we all know the effect he had on the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys. But what about the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? He had an agreement to become their coach in 1992, but then decided it wasn’t right for him. Although Tampa has won a Super Bowl since, this franchise has mostly been at the bottom of the league. Who knows where they would be right now if the Big Tuna decided to make landfall in the Bay area? (Oh, and bonus what if: Remember when Payton was suspended for that whole Saints season after Bountygate? Guess who he wanted to coach the team in his absence. Yep. Tuna.)

      NFL Coaching Hot Seat: Why Wait? Fire Them All NOW

      The Monday after the final regular season games in the NFL is known as “Black Monday.” It’s the day owners decide to fire coaches and go in a different direction. We are three weeks into the season, but we can already tell which coaches are on the hot seat and might face the dreaded Black Monday conversation unless they get their crap together soon. Here is our list:

      1. Joe Philbin, Miami Dolphins – the Dolphins made the biggest splash in free agency this year, signing Ndamukong Suh and had many believing they would get over the hump after back to back 8-8 seasons. Man we are so dumb! Miami has looked lackluster to say the least so far and are starring 1-3 in the face after they take on the Jets in London this Sunday. Miami is choking at the beginning of the season rather than the end but Philbin’s fate might already be sealed. If Miami continues to look so unprepared, there will be a change in South Beach.
      2. Mike McCoy, San Diego Chargers – San Diego hasn’t made the playoffs since 2009, which is a surprise because they have a roster that is capable of a playoff run, led by franchise QB Philip Rivers. The Chargers are off to another slow start at 1-2, and if they miss out on the playoffs in a weak AFC so far, McCoy could be on his way out.
      3. Chip Kelly, Philadelphia Eagles – Kelly requested full control of the roster and was granted that in the off-season. All he has done since he got to town is get rid of star players such as DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy and Trent Cole. What could possibly go wrong with that? Philly hasn’t looked good so far this season and if it doesn’t turn around quickly in a very winnable NFC East, this roster could be blown up and start from scratch without Kelly leading the way. Kelly is learning the hard way this is a player’s league, not a coach’s.
      4. Mike Pettine, Cleveland Browns – Pettine is only in his second year in Cleveland, but there have been numerous controversies surrounding the team since he took over. Most people know about “text gate” when front office executives were texting coaches what to do during games. Because if anyone knows what play to call it’s a Cleveland front office suit. Pettine has chosen to stick with Josh McCown at QB instead of fan favorite Johnny Football. Maybe he is taking a page out of Tampa’s book and starting McCown to get the No. 1 pick and select Jeff Goff? If Cleveland doesn’t show improvement this year, a new coaching staff could come in and try and right the ship.
      5. Gus Bradley, Jacksonville Jaguars – Bradley is in his third season in Jacksonville, and has won a combined eight games so far. That’s right, eight games including one this year in over two seasons! They have made solid FA signings and drafted very well, including franchise QB Blake Bortles and stud WR Allen Robinson. However, if they can’t win more than four games what good is that? Bradley might need to win at least seven games this year to save his job.

      Welcome to Cristiano World: the Most Ludicrous Place on Earth

      OK, it’s soccer. It’s the MLS. WHO CARES, right? Well, if Orlando City owner Flavio Augusto Da Silva has his way, a great many humans will care a great deal soon. A very great many humans. And a very great deal. Mr. Da Silva told the Spanish-language, Real Madrid-focused publication Marca that … (Hang on. Bear with us. This is tough to even think about, let alone write. It’s so damn ludicrous.) Da Silva, who already signed Brazilian semi-retiree Kaka this past season, now has his sights set on … (No, really. We thought this was from Onion Sports when we saw it. It’s THAT freaking ridiculous.) Cristiano Ronaldo. [caption id="attachment_1195" align="aligncenter" width="474"]I am Cristiano. Everybody who is not Cristiano sucks. That is right. You, too. Yes, you. You suck. Because you are not Cristiano. I am Cristiano. Everybody who is not Cristiano sucks. That is right. You, too. Yes, you. You suck. Because you are not Cristiano. Only I am Cristiano.[/caption] “Hopefully, we can sign him for this upcoming season,” Da Silva told Marca. “We’ve always heard that he’d like to come to the United States to play.” In other transfer news, we’re hearing the Laredo Lemurs, defending champions of the American Association of Independent Professional Baseball, are trying to work a deal for Mike Trout. [caption id="attachment_1196" align="alignleft" width="261"]Where else are you going to see a Laredo Lemurs logo today? And it's on a post about Cristiano Ronaldo. Life, man. You just never know. Where else are you going to see a Laredo Lemurs logo today? And it's on a post about Cristiano Ronaldo. Life, man. You just never know.[/caption] Also? The CFL’s Montreal Alouettes are all hot-n-bothered with Tom Brady and will submit a transfer bid to New England in January. Oh, and the Manchester Magic of the English Professional Basketball League? Yep. They want Lebron. All right. Let’s say Da Silva isn’t living in a dream world. After all, David Beckham came to America and blah blah blah. It’s SOCCER! WHO CARES?? WHY ARE WE EVEN WRITING THIS?? Still, though. What if Da Silva really believes what he’s saying and he’s not just having a go at the good people of Madrid? Let’s figure out what it might take to get the best soccer player of the 21st century into Orlando City purple next season. A cash bid would start – start – at $100 million. That’s just to buy the right to negotiate a contract with Ronaldo. That’s pocket change for Real Madrid, which splashed out far more than that for former Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale two years ago. But, as we say, $100 million is just a start. We’re thinking Da Silva will need to sweeten the deal. Let’s throw in, we don’t know … lifetime passes to Walt Disney World for every Real Madrid season ticket holder? Oh, and instead of Orlando City, the team will now be called Ronaldo City. In fact, the city of Orlando will now be called the city of Ronaldo. OK, that’s the transfer fee settled. Now, about Cristiano’s salary … NOPE. That’s all we’re writing about soccer for today. What time do Pittsburgh and Baltimore kick off?