Buddy Martin Media's The Martin Chronicles

FSU’s Jimbo Fisher seems quite content where he is

May 23, 2016

Jimbo Fisher has grown a beard, albeit just light fuzz, but nonetheless, after about three weeks, quite well-groomed and not unattractive. If Las Vegas made odds on that beard not making it into the regular season, though, it would have to be a two-touchdown underdog.“A little something different every now and then,” Fisher said during a recent chat at a Florida State booster club outing in Ocala, Fla. “I just got lazy while I was at the NFL draft. I let it go a couple of days and it was kind of cold and windy, so I said, ‘I’m going to leave it on there.’ Then I found out it was just easier to make about five swipes (with the razor), so I just left it.”Actually, the beard is just one of several changes in the life of FSU’s coach, who turned 50 in October and apparently has turned down chances to leave Tallahassee. He’s also recently gone through a divorce after 22 years of marriage. But one change he apparently won’t make is a change of scenery.He certainly...

Jim McElwain’s disarming charm a big part of who he is

May 10, 2016

He had me at Clarabelle. Hardly an hour into his first news conference at Florida, Jim McElwain already was making absurd references to his poodle playing quarterback. I immediately tweeted that the new Gators coach “won the room in 30 minutes.”McElwain possessed something that the last coach lacked: a sense of humor. And in a world of sniping tweets, carping fans and nosey reporters, a football coach can find refuge in the whimsical and the absurd by deflecting the slings and arrows of criticism with goofy non-sequiturs and homespun homilies.49SHARES SHARE TWEET SHARE EMAIL COMMENTSHe had me at Clarabelle. Hardly an hour into his first news conference at Florida, Jim McElwain already was making absurd references to his poodle playing quarterback. I immediately tweeted that the new Gators coach “won the room in 30 minutes.”McElwain possessed something that the last coach lacked: a sense of humor. And in a world of sniping tweets, carping fans and nosey reporters, a football...

Tim Tebow as a politician? Seriously, why not?

April 23, 2016

About a month ago on a local talk show, in a discussion of how disappointed we all were with the current crop of presidential candidates and other politicians, we decided to ramp up the search for somebody new.Only slightly kidding, I said, “We need somebody like Tim Tebow to get involved in politics at some level.”OK, so Tebow and I don’t text each other or break bread together, and I’ve not really spoken to him in six years. But when he played for the Florida Gators, I saw him play every game, spoke privately to him several times, attended dozens of news conferences and was sitting six feet away when he made “The Promise.”To paraphrase the famous quote from Sen. Lloyd Bentsen when he was the running mate of presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, “I know Tim Tebow. Tim Tebow (is kind of) a friend of mine … and Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton are no Tim Tebow.”We need a fresh, new spirit in Congress and the White House, regardless of party. That same conclusion...

Why I’d Vote for Tim Tebow

April 18, 2016

We need a fresh new spirit in Congress and the White House, regardless of party. Tim Tebow would be the perfect guy to fill that role. About a month ago on a local talk show, in a discussion of how disappointed we all were with the current crop of presidential candidates and other politicians, we decided to ramp up the search for somebody new.Only slightly kidding, I said, “We need somebody like Tim Tebow to get involved in politics at some level.”OK, so Tim and I don’t text each other or break bread together and I’ve not really spoken to him in six years. But when he played for the Florida Gators I saw him play every game, spoke privately to him several times, attended dozens of press conferences and was sitting six feet away when he made “The Promise.”To paraphrase the famous quote from Democrat Michael Dukakis's vice-presidential running mate Senator Lloyd Bentsen , “I know Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow (is kind of) a friend of mine … and Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton...

Spurrier on Gator QB, Harbaugh, Augusta National

April 14, 2016

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — I knew that orange-and-blue checkered shirt looked familiar. I had seen it in in Steve Spurrier’s closet while conducting a book interview earlier this year. It was still in the wrapper, stacked on a pile of brand new ones, waiting to go into the wardrobe rotation at just the proper time.“One day when I can come back here and cheer for the Gators, maybe I’ll be able to wear this one,” he said, picking up the orange and blue button-down for cursory examination.Last Friday night, it was time.Spurrier, who resigned as South Carolina’s coach October 13, certainly has spent a lot of time in Florida recently, from Crescent Beach to Gainesville to Jupiter to Tampa, playing golf with friends and former players.Basically, one of the three statues at Quarterback U. came alive last Friday night when Spurrier showed up at the place he nicknamed “The Swamp.” He wore that orange and blue shirt on the familiar sideline of a field that, by all rights, one day...

Spurrier remembers man who gave him first college head-coaching job

April 4, 2016

Tom Butters, who made the ingenious moves of hiring Steve Spurrier and Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, has passed away at age 77.“Tom Butters was a big inspiration in my life,” Spurrier said Saturday. “I don’t know what I would have done without him hiring me twice at Duke University, 1980 and 1987, when I had no job. He’s one of the guys I owe my coaching career to. Good friend — wonderful friend.”Butters, who died Friday, was Duke’s AD from 1977-97. He arrived at the school in 1967 as director of special events and also served as baseball coach from 1968-70 before moving fulltime into athletics administration.“You didn’t have to be much of genius,” Butters said with a laugh when I asked him in an interview last fall how and why he hired Spurrier. Hired him twice, in fact: Spurrier was Duke’s offensive coordinator from 1980-82 under coach Red Wilson.Having watched his work as an OC, Butters was a huge Spurrier advocate and started almost a personal mini-campaign...

Longtime columnist Hubert Mizell wrote big, stood tall

March 7, 2016

The big man next to me in the press box, peered over the top of his binoculars and observed, “I just don’t see that many people here anymore that I know.” It was their loss.The press box just ain’t what it used to be. And it’s not going to be as much fun now without my friend Hubert Mizell, who at 76 succumbed after a long illness at his Gainesville home Thursday.At 6 feet 4 and 300 pounds, Hubert was a bigger-than-life sports columnist in more ways than one. He wrote big and stood tall, often shielding his smaller writer pals like Dave Kindred in the post-game locker room media push. In football parlance, Hubert was Dave’s pulling left tackle for the locker room media scrum.“I always joked that Hubert, a big man, led interference for me in crowded locker rooms,” the enormously gifted Kindred posted on Facebook upon the news of Mizell’s death. “True. The whole truth is I when we arrived, we’d be where the story was.”Which is why Mizell was a booming voice in...

The Mysterious Case of Jeff Driskel

February 29, 2016

In all my many moons of observing Florida football, I thought Jeff Driskel was the most promising Gator quarterback I’d ever seen who couldn’t, or didn’t, make it to his potential.At 6-4, 235-pound, fast, quick, highly elusive and gifted with one of the best arms ever to don the Gator orange and blue, Driskel was one of the nation’s hottest quarterback prospects. At Hagerty High School in Oviedo, Fla. he drove defenses batty, passing for 4,844 yards and 36 touchdowns and running for a bunch more.Ray Charles could have picked Driskel out of the lineup.Physically, Driskel was even more talented than The Great One, but lacking in Tim Tebow’s mental toughness. That presumption was recently confirmed former assistant coach at Florida during the Urban Meyer regime.Meyer’s staff was so ga-ga for Driskel to take over the spread/option offense that one coach told me, “If the only player we signed was Driskel it would still be an excellent class.” And by the way,  Driskel was...

The Truth About Peyton

February 22, 2016

I don't know Peyton Manning personally. Nor do I know the innermost workings of Manning's private life -- or even his public one. I know people who know people who know Peyton.I’ve seen him play a lot of football.I watched the ESPN TV movie The Book of Manning, enjoyed it immensely and came away admiring the Manning family even more.Like most of you, I am mildly amused by Manning’s  sense of humor that seems to endear him to those of us who watch his pizza-auto-insuance TV commercials. Which makes me about as much of an expert as 90 percent of those writing and talking about him with such pseudo-authority. I greatly appreciate and respect Peyton's competitive nature and the captivating story of his John Wayne walkoff after the Broncos' Super Bowl victory.Beyond that, I got nothing. Except common sense.And I do know something about the whole incident really stinks.I also know that we’ve been deceived many times by the public persona of celebrities only to find out later about...

The Hero of ‘Muck City’

February 15, 2016

The other day a friend of mine messaged me to complain that I was too blinded by my SEC bias as seen through my orange and blue glasses. He went on to point out that guys like me were missing the real story about something good coming about the NFL and college football.Good? The NFL? College football? Other Alabama’s dominance and  Peyton Manning’s John Wayne Super Bowl Walkoff, what could be so good?Besides, we in the media would prefer to sock our readers/listeners/viewers upside the head with stories like Cam Newton’s post-game petulance, John Manziel’s Bad Boy antics or maybe the grim news about the seeming epidemic of concussion-related CTE brain disease. Or talk about those sad stories of squandered youth and fortune.Or maybe we could harp on ESPN’s Outside the Lines expose’ about Florida and Florida State’s programs leading the nation in most athletes named as criminal suspects.Today, we media types are addicted to “hits” and “clicks” in the bizarre...

In defense of Treon Harris

February 8, 2016

The news popped up Friday on GridironNow.com that Florida quarterback Treon Harris was likely going to be switched to wide receiver and when the deafening cheers from Gator Nation finally subsided, I couldn’t wait to break it to my pal Randy.“Well, are you and your buddies all happy now?” I said to Randy, mockingly. “You finally got Treon Harris off the field as a quarterback!”Randy is an attorney, a long-time diehard Gator fan and normally a balanced, fair, keen observer who has often been willing to look the past sins of Florida football and basketball players and coaches.For a moment one night, Randy almost levitated with anxiety and frustration during one game when he called to say: “I can’t watch this anymore. Treon is giving me a massive migraine headache."Granted, it was a downgrade coming off the high of Will Grier’s winning performances against the likes of Tennessee and Ole Miss. Treon took over the wheel of that sleek sports car that had raced to a 6-0...

Steve Spurrier has seen Superman

January 30, 2016

When it comes to SEC quarterbacks, Steve Spurrier knows a thing or two. He won a Heisman Trophy playing the position. He started an offensive revolution in the SEC with his Fun’N Gun at Florida.He coached Danny Wuerffel to a Heisman Trophy winning/national championship season. And he produced another spate of quarterbacks who helped win conference titles, set passing records and establish school winning streaks.The Quarterback Whisperer, if you will.Over the past 50 years, Spurrier has seen the quarterback paradigm shift from third-down thrower, to wide-open flinger, back to zone read-runner. Talent comes in many sizes and shapes. And in the case of the two Super Bowl quarterbacks, of all ages.Without question, Spurrier respects the talent of both SEC quarterbacks in the Super Bowl, one waning and one waxing. And in one of them he also sees the new prototype. This week, as he was about to pack up his sticks and head to Florida to play in next Tuesday’s LPGA Coates Championship...

Meyer on Saban, NFL, Dabo

January 25, 2016

While the confetti is still falling on Alabama like the stars fell on the state in the classic song, we are still measuring the achievement of the man from West Virginia.The greatness of Nick Saban among current coaches is unquestioned, perhaps even for all time. But how deep and how wide and far has it grown? Deeper than the deepest coal mines where his father once labored? Perhaps wider than the swath once cut by Bear Bryant?Before Saban is canonized at the expense of his peers, let’s not be too quick to dismiss some other coaches who might be in striking distance of “greatest ever.” And given that Saban is 64, perhaps some of his accomplishments might still be at least equaled. Of course, Saban could also add another notch or two to his national championship belt.Remember Urban Meyer? A lot of SEC fans may be choosing not to. But Meyer was a few points away last season from a crack at his fourth national championship. If he’d somehow won his fourth, what would we have...

Spurrier skips the bright lights

January 11, 2016

Once upon a time in a world far away, he was on the national stage with his team, high stepping to national dominance. Now resigned, whistle in moth balls, Steve Spurrier is somewhere between a fork in the road and a place to be named later.He could have been in a ringside seat at University of Phoenix Stadium for the college football national championship game between Alabama and ClemsonMonday, leaning in on the ESPN set for the pre-game show. The network had extended an invite for the broadcast. Instead, Spurrier will be in San Antonio, sans team, speaking to many of his former colleagues at the American Football Coaches Association about his 30 years along the dusty coaching trail.Most guys would probably have blown off the convention in favor of the bright lights of the big stage. For Spurrier, the TV gig will still be there next fall if he choses that as a profession. Just like he has lived his whole life and navigated his coaching career, Spurrier is waiting for his “life...

Reasonable minds can differ on Heisman winner

December 11, 2015

I guess I’ll be mailing my letter of resignation to the Heisman Trophy committee next week after more than 30 years of voting for the nation’s most outstanding football player.Sorry, Trevor Matich, I guess I don’t measure up to your standards as a Heisman voter because I wasn’t able to watch every play made by Stanford’s amazing Christian McCaffrey. At least that’s what I heard you say on TV.It sort of reminded me of the people who try to tell me I shouldn’t talk about the NFL because I never played in it. Or that I can’t talk about war because I never fired a gun in combat.Most of the people I know who vote for the Heisman are extremely diligent about keeping up to speed on the progress of the best players. But I’m pretty confident that none of them watch much more college football that I do.My Saturdays usually start with ESPN’s College GameDay at 9 a.m. and last until just before midnight. And on those days or nights when I’m away, I listen to XM radio to...

Title game served as clarion call to Gators

December 8, 2015

Just as the horn blower was so deftly delivering “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” there was a pause, and then an intermittent, intrusive “Dah, tatah, dah daduh!”A clarion call to Florida football fans who know that sound as a prelude for their battle cry. Yet there was no “Go Gators!” that followed because the fans hadn’t yet gathered for the game. It’s a familiar tune in Atlanta.And then the trumpeter simply picked up with the rest of the melody for “…let nothing you dismay…”Gator fingerprints are everywhere in Atlanta. Even though they haven’t won an SEC championship game in seven years, the Gators’ orange and blue DNA is all over the place. If you dusted the Georgia Dome, you’d find traces of Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer. And now, maybe even a little Jim McElwain.McElwain is no stranger to Atlanta. It’s just that the last time before this, he was coaching under the Crimson flag.The Gators’ SEC championship game history was not lost on him,...

Hey, Alabama fans: Be careful what you wish for

November 20, 2015

You can hear them coming. Better yet, you can feel the ground shaking from the thunderous hoofbeats of the elephant herd. You’d think it was the Red Tide instead of the Crimson Tide. Alabama fans, like locusts, want to devour everything in their path.Quite frankly, the hardcore Tide fans are ticked off at the College Football Playoff selection committee for ranking the Fighting Sabans only No. 2 and not No. 1, instead of Clemson. After all, how can you elevate anybody above college football royalty?Callers to programs such as Paul Finebaum’s SEC Network show would brand me as an enemy of the state for saying this, but it is not the inalienable right of Alabama to play in — and win — all championships.“Legend” is there specifically to remind us idiots that if we don’t agree Alabama is going to run the table and gain its rightful revenge over Urban Meyer and Ohio State, then we are delusional and un-American.Every fan base has one like “Legend,” who doesn’t just...

The Ghost of Steve Spurrier Returns: 'My favorite win over Georgia'

November 2, 2015

Attila the Hun has hung up his sword and his whistle. Darth Vader doesn’t work here anymore. The Evil Genius has left the building. But you know he’ll keep popping up just to irritate Bulldog Nation.That’s not to say Steve Spurrier has forgotten and forgiven everything or lost his pride for conquering his rivals. Especially during Florida-Georgia week.On the contrary, the Former Head Ball Coach looks back at his accomplishment not unlike how Attila The Hun would as a 5th Century military genius and king who tormented the Roman Empire and devastated lands from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.OK, so the former HBC’s pillaged land was only between Gainesville, Jacksonville, Athens and Columbia, but his 16 wins over Georgia still is an all-time high for an opposing coach — and probably will remain so in this millennium. Spurrier still lights up with pride when you ask him about those 16 notches in his belt.“People ask me which one was my favorite,” Spurrier commented...

He’s still in his 1st season, but I’m all in on Jim McElwain

October 26, 2015

I understand I’m going to be accused of bandwagon-jumping after Florida’s surprisingly spectacular 6-1 start, but no matter: I’m now all in on Jim McElwain as the Gators’ coach.Yes, I understand Florida’s game against hated rival Georgia is eminently — and imminently — losable. But it really doesn’t matter because based on what I’ve already seen, McElwain is the right guy for the job. I also think it would be easy to get a quorum among fans to vote the same way.Having watched Gators coaches come and go for more than 50 years, I can usually tell.The fastest Gators coach to win my approval rating was Urban Meyer. After Meyer’s third game, a win over Tennessee, I went on my friend’s radio show and announced, “I’m all in on Urban Meyer.” My friend almost laughed me off the air.My first correct endorsement was that of Ray Graves. For those who suffered through the idiotic miscalculations of the Bob Woodruff era, when the punt was deployed at the No. 1...

Former Head Ball Coach. New TV Star?

October 15, 2015

I guess I wanted to hear it from him before I could fully grasp that Steve Spurrier was stepping down. And when my phone rang late Tuesday, it finally became official: The Head Ball Coach is moving on and is now a former head ball coach.He said in his presser that he wanted to be classified as “resigned” and not “retired.” He wasn’t kidding. As a matter of fact, those of you who thought he was out buying a rocking chair this week and sizing up a new pair of Crocs for beach walking, think again. He won’t miss a beat.I can give you this tip: Spurrier will be back on the job before you know it. Hint: Watch ESPN’s Game Day from Ann Arbor, Michigan Saturday morning.I  asked him if he was as exhausted as we were with the events of the day and he said, nah, he was OK.I did not find him in a state of mourning. Spurrier said he’d been out hitting golf balls after the press conference and came home for an early dinner. He even seemed like he was enjoying the new October...

Remembering Lindy Infante

October 13, 2015

We were both college boys back then. He was a running back going into his senior year for the Florida Gators, and I was a struggling young sports writer trying to get his degree at Florida who very much was in love with Joan Sharp of North Miami.But I could not afford a car that would get me 650 miles round-trip.Lindy Infante, who had been a star at Miami High, became my ticket to south Florida for my visits with Joan. Sometimes we would talk a little football, but mostly it was about life or pure college nonsense. He was a hell of a wheelman.Later, Infante would become semi-famous for a touchdown he scored in Florida’s upset of No. 10 Georgia Tech in 1960. And then he became my friend. For the next 30-plus years, we worked on opposite sides of the aisle: writer and coach. I got a lot more than I gave. He was, quite frankly, one of my all-time favorite people, and he just happened to be a coach with a boundless sense of humor.Oh, the storiesI was deeply saddened by the news that...

Are the Gators back? It sure looks that way

October 5, 2015

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Did somebody move the Magic Kingdom 100 miles to the north? Who’s coaching these brazen Florida Gators anyway, Walt Disney or Jim McElwain? And who were those guys in orange Saturday night?Whatever … the Florida Gators’ football program has come back from the living dead and is now college football’s newest version of Donald Trump: The brighter the lights, the better they seem to like it. And, like Trump, they ain’t doing bad in the polls, either.These Gators have just engaged in the Swamp’s two most magical back-to-back game nights in history. More than just a win over the No. 3 team, this was the other bookend in the eight-day reclamation project of their home turf and the “Reconstruction of the Gator Nation.”Once again, it’s the Swamp, where only Gators get out alive. The Ole Miss Rebels died there 38-10.I don’t ever recall a similar stretch when an underdog Florida team beat favored opponents with such fanfare and bravado on their home...

SEC Race Is Running Under Yellow

September 23, 2015

Right now, the SEC landscape looks like a NASCAR race track running under a caution flag, with a bit of carnage strewn about. And yet despite all the bumper-to-bumper drafting, spinouts and crashes, somehow a half dozen teams have still survived the top 25 standings.Most of us are mystified by the total collapse of Auburn and the inability of Alabama to defend its home turf. But there is a new world order coming to what was the modern day model of the once-proud Roman Empire. (And we know how that ended.)Obviously those pundits suggesting that the Tide's front seven were the best in America must have been smoking the same stuff Les Miles was last week when he said the entire Top 25 should be SEC teams. They weren't even the best front seven in Bryant-Denny Stadium. And the fact that Mississippi came in to Tuscaloosa and put a physical whipping on Alabama has to be of concern to Nick Saban.And perhaps it was appropriate that Auburn played in Death Valley, because by the time Leonard...

The Martin Chronicles: The McElChamp

September 14, 2015

I’ve witnessed some of the best and worst rants at Florida Field/Ben Hill Griffin over more than five decades, but none as volatile or lengthy as the one Saturday night by Florida coach Jim McElwain. It deserves its own name, so therefore I dub it The McElChamp. When running back Kelvin Taylor scored Saturday night to put Florida up two touchdowns over East Carolina, he followed it up with the worst kind of celebration in college football: The despicable, moronic, gangsta throat slash that in these times of racial unrest is also reprehensible and offensive. Taylor got more than just flagged for it. He got busted by his coach on national TV with one of the most vitriolic verbal assaults in NCAA history. I’ve witnessed some of the best and worst rants at Florida Field/Ben Hill Griffin over more than five decades, but none as volatile or lengthy as the one Saturday night by Florida coach Jim McElwain. Some of Will Muschamp’s best were a 9.3 on the Richter Scale. By...

Hey Tim Tebow: I'm sorry for 'crappy question'

September 14, 2015

Several years ago, I slapped a self-imposed moratorium on the use of the name Tim Tebow in my columns — despite that he was the most compelling figure in sports at the time and that the name “Tebow” was pure click bait for all search engines. This, by the way, was coming from one of the biggest admirers of Tim Tebow on the planet, a guy who considers No. 15 the greatest Gator and one of the three best college football players of all time. I saw him play every snap in college. Walked down Broadway in New York City with him and his coach as they celebrated winning the Heisman Trophy, arm around each other, like two fraternity boys proud of their date-night conquests. Wrote literally thousands of words about him, including a good chunk in my book “Urban’s Way.” But sometimes you just reach a saturation point where you get sick of yourself. So I just stopped cold turkey. For more than five years, I had been addicted to Tebow like golfer Bubba Watson is addicted to grilled...

Ole Sports Writer Defends The Ole Ball Coach

September 3, 2015

Ole Sports Writer Defends The Ole Ball Coach  By BUDDY MARTINOle Sports Writer If you’re too tall, too short, too fat, too skinny, too bald, too ugly, too young or too old, too outspoken or too shy, you’ll understand this column. You know what it’s like when friends or critics constantly hammer away at your vulnerabilities with that form of bullying.  I fit at least two of those categories and it offends me when I’m the butt of those disparaging jokes. I really don’t care for the self-imposed byline above, “Ole Sports Writer.” So please remove it now. I just put it there to prove a point, but I don’t like it — just as Steve Spurrier doesn’t care for the term “The Ole Ball Coach.” Oops, what’s that you say? I’m stuck with “Ole Sports Writer” because it has been in print? Well, I guess that disparaging nickname will no doubt surface every time I write a controversial column. Such as the one I’m unpacking now. First, full disclosure.  Admittedly,...

The Martin Chronicles: Football 2015

August 31, 2015

​Old Whitey Heads North for Another Football Campaign Repeating the migratory patterns of Septembers past, we return to the stadiums of our youth to reconnect with dreams broken and realized. It’s the college football reunion, version 2015. BUDDY MARTINIt is the same every year, but different. Repeating the migratory patterns of Septembers past, we return to the stadiums of our youth to reconnect with dreams broken and realized. It’s the college football reunion, version 2015.Opening day or night always reminds me how much I love the game.There was a time when mingling among your colleagues in the press box was like mixing with royalty. When you’re a cub sports writer and you roam among the lions of sports journalism, it is like walking through Cooperstown and hearing the statues speak.In those days you could hear the wind sweeping the cups along the aisles of then-Florida Field as dark fell on an empty stadium, accompanied by the lonely sound of the last two or three...

The Martin Chronicles: 15 for ‘15

August 24, 2015

After months of waiting, the start of the regular season is finally right around the corner. Clearing off the desk for the new fall awakening of spirits:1. For all the castigating of the SEC and its portrayal by some as a football factory combine, that image got shot down by one simple piece of legislation passed earlier this year. Last May when the league ruled that players previously disciplined by a different school due to “serious misconduct” could not transfer, the SEC moved light years ahead. Still, more needs to be done.2. The whole transfer conundrum is getting uglier by the moment, as evidenced by the spat between Baylor's Art Briles and Washington's Chris Petersen, formerly of Boise State, over the criminal past of Sam Ukwuachu. Somebody is either grossly uninformed or Briles is outright lying about the knowledge he had of Ukwuachu's sexual assault which led to the conviction and 180-day jail sentencing of him. Can you say "background check”?3. One last bit of...

The Martin Chronicles: Quarterback Whisperers

August 21, 2015

At least half the teams in the ACC and SEC are without a clearcut starting quarterback here in mid-August.Just as the personality of a coach permeates his football team, so the personality of the quarterback marinates through the flavors of his offense. And some head coaches make better chefs than others.What’s cooking this year and what’s for dinner is a bit in question for many college football teams these days, even for some of the best offensive minds in the game.Maybe they know and they’re not telling us, but the quarterback derbies are being prolonged by the coaches.I don’t ever recall this many SEC/ACC coaches scrambling through their depth charts for a leader in the clubhouse this late in fall practice. By my estimate at least half the teams in both leagues are without a clearcut starting quarterback here in mid-August.Sometimes this can be a good thing, because it means there’s depth and ample competition. It just doesn’t feel that way at Florida State,...

Martin helps Spurrier tells his story in forthcoming book

August 3, 2015

From The State. Columbia, S.C. July 30, 2015 Spurrier wants to tell his own story Florida sportswriter Buddy Martin to co-author Spurrier autobiography Spurrier unhappy with previous portrayals in biographies Martin and Spurrier have been talking about working together for 22 years By BOB GILLESPIE bgillespie@thestate.com In a career spanning nearly five decades, Buddy Martin has been sports editor of five newspapers, including the New York Daily News, Denver Post and the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times; won an Emmy as a contributor to CBS Sports’ “The NFL Today”; currently is host of a daily, three-hour radio show in Ocala, Fla., where he lives. He’s written seven books, including “The Boys of Old Florida” about the Gators’ 1996 national title, and “Urban’s Way” about former coach Urban Meyer. Two of his books were ghost-written autobiographies of his former CBS colleague Terry Bradshaw and ex-Kentucky basketball great Dan Issel. All of which, you...

Taking Shots at the HBC

July 15, 2015 Taking Shots at the HBC

When you’re the oldest coach in SEC history, and your team is coming off a lackluster 7-6 season, you become an easy target of the critics.HOOVER, Ala. — To paraphrase what they said about Caesar, some came to bury Spurrier, not to praise him. When you’re the oldest coach in SEC history, and your team is coming off a lackluster 7-6 season, you become an easy target of the critics. After 26 years as a head coach and 23 SEC Media Days, Steve Spurrier understands that all too well at age 70.“I know the critics are out there — and that’s why they’re called critics,” said The Head Ball Coach. “They criticize every chance they get and we gave them chances to criticize us last year, which is OK. That’s part of our sport.”He will take umbrage at somebody calling South Carolina’s 7-6 record “mediocre” as one national talk show host did. He’ll tell you, in fact, that beating Miami in the Duck Commander Bowl (AKA Independence Bowl) in Shreveport was such a...

Are the Vols for Real? Their coach thinks so.

July 15, 2015

http://www.southernpigskin.com/sec/tennessees-time/Tennessee’s TimeBy BJ BennettSouthernPigskin.comThe stars, along with the work of Butch Jones and his players, may be aligning for the Volunteers to get back to where they once were."Now the great thing for us is we expect to win. We just don't hope to win."~Butch Jones Tennessee is still in transition, though not the same one Butch Jones inherited. This fall, as the hype at SEC Media Days has officially validated, the hope is that potential will now result in performance. Perhaps the Volunteers are still a year away. Maybe this season they will contend. One thing, however, is certain; Tennessee is very much in the conversation.From five wins in 2013 to seven, including a bowl triumph, a year ago, many believe the Volunteers will be the top contender to likely pre-season favorite Georgia in the SEC East. Tennessee hasn't won the division since 2007 and hasn't won the league since 1998, also claiming the inaugural BCS National...

Did Spurrier Win SEC Media Days?

July 15, 2015

http://www.southernpigskin.com/sec/taking-shots-at-the-hbc/Taking Shots at the HBCBy Buddy MartinSouthernPigskin.comWhen you’re the oldest coach in SEC history, and your team is coming off a lackluster 7-6 season, you become an easy target of the critics.HOOVER, Ala. — To paraphrase what they said about Caesar, some came to bury Spurrier, not to praise him. When you’re the oldest coach in SEC history, and your team is coming off a lackluster 7-6 season, you become an easy target of the critics. After 26 years as a head coach and 23 SEC Media Days, Steve Spurrier understands that all too well at age 70.“I know the critics are out there — and that’s why they’re called critics,” said The Head Ball Coach. “They criticize every chance they get and we gave them chances to criticize us last year, which is OK. That’s part of our sport.”He will take umbrage at somebody calling South Carolina’s 7-6 record “mediocre” as one national talk show host did. He’ll tell...

Gators Turn the Page

July 14, 2015 Gators Turn the Page

Looking to put a forgetful two-year stretch behind them, the Florida Gators are ready to get started under the direction of Jim McElwain. HOOVER, Ala. — As the Alabama sun began its descent low in the mid-summer sky, Jim McElwain stopped to indulge about 50 autograph seekers in the lobby of the Hyatt Wynfrey hotel while making his getaway at the end of a long-but-meaningful day in his first official league function as Florida’s football coach.The McElwain Era had begun. Day One was over. The Florida Gator continent had acquitted itself sufficiently at SEC Media Days, although you can't really count these things in the victory column.Say this, though: Mac fought the Media Monster to a draw. He had worked his way down the epic Radio Row and in all the proper media rooms — through the semi-private press sessions with local media and then the national media, the ESPN one-on-one exclusives, a 30-minute stint in the Big Room of writers, then another 10 each in the smaller TV group...

The Martin Chronicles: Remembering The Skywriters

July 13, 2015 The Martin Chronicles: Remembering The Skywriters

SEC Media Days has come a long, long way from 1966, when 22 writers were dive-bombing campuses in a decrepit DC3 prop plane on what was known then as the SEC Skywriters Tour.Life under the Big Top returns next week when The Greatest College Football Show on Earth resumes in Hoover, Ala., sounding the horn that the official Southeastern Conference countdown is underway.This will be my fifth trip to Hoover. I still get buzzed.Coaches like Nick Saban or Steve Spurrier enter through the front door of the Wynfrey Hotel like they were country music stars before starting the four-day non-stop glut of interviews. Behold Radio Row, where the talking heads spin it back home with hype, hope and hurrah. The time for talking football is upon us again. The blogging and tweeting never stopsMy, my how times have changed since that first SEC Skywriters Tour in 1966.“The number of credentials is close to 1,100 at this point,” said SEC Associate Commissioner Herb Vincent. “A lot of that has to...

A Whirlwind With Terry Bradshaw

June 25, 2015 A Whirlwind With Terry Bradshaw

By Buddy Martin May 16, 2015 After a day and half with Terry Bradshaw on a whirlwind tour in Florida and a two-hour radio show, I remembered why I was so fond of this remarkable man. And it has nothing to do with Super Bowl rings or Emmys. I’m going to go ahead and admit that I love Terry Bradshaw like a brother. Have for 30 years, though we have often been separated by miles and agendas. We reconnected about a year ago and it felt like old times, just like when we had spent countless hours together writing a book and working at The NFL Today when Terry was on CBS.  And laughing – always laughing.Last year I attended the wedding of his daughter Rachel and then the funeral of her husband three months later. A happy/sad occasion. It had been more than a decade, but for both of us it felt like we never missed a day in between.He kept saying he wanted to be on my radio show – why, I have no earthly idea. Maybe start a show together. But we did begin in earnest with The...

Dante, Jimbo, Mac and the Runaway Train

June 25, 2015 Dante, Jimbo, Mac and the Runaway Train

By Buddy Martin May 09, 2015 The last eight days have been absolutely packed with breaking news from the world of sports. PONTE VEDRA BEACH, FL – Stop the Sports World, I want to get off. Or at least hit rewind. After a whirlwind of sports news and events here on Mother’s Day Week, my head is spinning. And it appears this otherwise erstwhile golf tournament which I hold in high esteem and always enjoy covering might wind up a footnote.I will henceforth dub it as That Crazy Sports Week.It’s been like a runaway train. We’ve had almost a season of news crammed into eight days. And so it’s going to take me a moment to gather my notes from the two interesting interviews I had this week with Jimbo Fisher of Florida State and Jim McElwain of Florida. Please hit the pause button for now.Grand as The Players Championship can be, it wasn’t even the biggest story to hit Jacksonville over the weekend. While the golf world pulled for a struggling Tiger Woods to make the cut...

The Martin Chronicles: Say it Aint so, Billy

June 25, 2015 The Martin Chronicles: Say it Aint so, Billy

By Buddy Martin May 02, 2015 Of all the coaches I’ve come to know at Florida over the past 50 years, Billy Donovan makes my short list of the three greatest. Dim the lights at the O’Connell Center. Stop traffic for a moment of silence at University and 13th. Lift your glasses and bid adieu to one of the finest coaches and finest people ever to grace the halls of dear Ol’ UF. There will be a little more gray than Gator blue in the sky tomorrow.It feels like Gator Nation has lost a chunk of its Century Tower.Billy Donovan is taking a piece of their hearts to Oklahoma City.While you’re at it, Jeremy Foley, reserve space for another statue next to Spurrier, Wuerffel and Tebow. If fact, reserve two. Both Billy Donovan and his former neighbor Urban Meyer brought more bling home to Florida over a four-year period than Tiffany has in its warehouse.Donovan and Meyer lived only a few houses apart in what I once nicknamed “The Cul de sac of Champions”: Basketball national...

The Martin Chronicles: The Odds on Tebow

June 25, 2015 The Martin Chronicles: The Odds on Tebow

By Buddy Martin April 25, 2015 I wouldn’t bet against Tebow this time. He’s been working so hard at improving his throwing motions that his consultant/coach Tom House says you’d think he was the No. 1 quarterback for an NFL club. Warning: This column contains material that may be offensive to some people. Read at your own risk.Let’s be honest here:  We know that Sandy Hook never happened and the massacre was faked by the anti-gun movement.That Rosie O’Donnell recently made the decision to get the ISIS flag tattooed on her lower back.And that people are currently signing a petition which would give Social Security benefits to illegal aliens.OK, then, so none of above is true.But how about this crazy rumor? Tim Tebow has signed a one-year deal with the Eagles to play quarterback in the NFL!I know, it sounds just about as wild. But check out the authenticity on Snopes.com in case you think it’s a hoax.In nearly a half century of covering sports, I’ve never covered a...

Steve Spurrier Looks at 70

June 25, 2015 Steve Spurrier Looks at 70

By Buddy Martin April 18, 2015 Here’s a little birthday gift for you Spurrier fans: The guy you think is arrogant, feisty, controversial and difficult is, in private, quite humble, gracious and appreciative of those who helped him get where he is now. Steve Spurrier is pretty much like he was at 60 and a lot like he was at 50. Older, wiser and just as motivated to win.We almost lost him last year. When South Carolina was beaten by Tennessee, the Gamecocks’ fourth defeat in five weeks, the confident, cocky one began to have doubts and considered retiring.Then he heard a Taylor Swift song, “Shake It Off,” and it inspired him to do just that. He announced that revelation to his staff and players. The Gamecocks won three of their last four, beating Miami in Shreveport and winding up with a 7-6 record, a winning season for the 10th time in Spurrier’s 10 years.After what he called “a pretty good year, but not a great year” last season, The Head Ball Coach now comes out...

The Newest Green Jacket

June 25, 2015 The Newest Green Jacket

By Buddy Martin April 12, 2015The Masters blends generations, celebrates its past champions, but always provides a stage for its future stars. And on the grandest stage in golf, a young Texan looked like the grandest star of all. The Masters is old and it is new. Bob Jones, meet Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus. Arnold and Jack, meet Ben Crenshaw. And Ben Crenshaw, meet Jordan Spieth. The Masters blends generations, celebrates its past champions, but always provides a stage for its future stars. And on the grandest stage in golf, a young Texan looked like the grandest star of all.Today the Masters feels new, even at age 79 -- brand new, with sparkling 21-year old cover boy champion Jordan Spieth. He is about to take the throne of golf vacated by Tiger Woods and inspire a whole generation of fans to follow a game which, frankly, has begun to slip into the anonymity section of sports pages. And none too soon for a sport with flagging popularity.Spieth is the freshest face to come...

The Martin Chronicles: Remembering Ray Graves

June 25, 2015 The Martin Chronicles: Remembering Ray Graves

By Buddy Martin April 11, 2015 Ray Graves, the legendary Florida coach who forever changed the Gator program, passed away Thursday at the age of 96. On my last trip to Tampa to visit Ray Graves more than 10 years ago, while walking through the garage of his Carrollwood townhouse, I couldn’t help but notice a famous picture, puzzled as to why something so epic didn’t occupy a more prominent spot in his home. The rare photo of his defining moment at Florida captured the historic decision that will always retain a place of honor in the hearts of older Gator fans.Graves saw that photo -- a black-and-white postcard from his past, and an epic passage in his coaching career -- almost every day as he got in his car before finally moving to assisted living with his wife Opal.I’m not sure where that photo is archived now, but upon the news of Graves' death this week, I thought back to it. And it got me to thinking about the game which I attended that day as a student reporter....

The Muschamp - McElwain Tiff

June 25, 2015 The Muschamp - McElwain Tiff

By Buddy Martin April 04, 2015 Current Florida coach Jim McElwain and ex-Gator coach Will Muschamp have traded a number of verbal barbs recently. I’ve always gotten a charge out of coaches indulging in what I call the “Blame It On The Last Guy Game.”If it’s not a cable guy or a plumber whining about having to clean up a mess left by the guy before him, then it’s a football coach. Seems this malady is a hereditary trait.The latest to fire a shot across the bow of his predecessor? Florida’s Jim McElwain.Well, that’s not really true, because Will Muschamp took the first shot last November at his post-firing press conference, tweaking whoever was going to be his successor.“Don’t let that new guy tell you he ain’t got no good players,” Muschamp said that day. “Tell you that right now. They got some good football players in that locker room.”Memo to Muschamp: You forgot to mention the shortage of offensive linemen. Of course, you didn’t know at the time...