NCAA Football Betting Odds: Week 9 Line Movements & Last-Minute News
Is Jim McElwain trying to get himself fired as Florida's football coach? How else to explain his weird death threat comments to the media but then basically refusing to go into detail even though the school naturally wanted to investigate and ensure his safety? McElwain also never spoke to the police.
The athletic department released a statement in the wake of all this: "The University Athletic Association takes the safety of our student-athletes, coaches, staff and families very seriously. Our administration met with Coach McElwain (Monday) afternoon and he offered no additional details."
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Doesn't that sound like the school is distancing itself a bit from its highest-paid employee? It sure does to me. McElwain said Wednesday he was wrong to bring up the death threats that "happened in the past." Uh, yeah. Most Florida fans want McElwain gone. Yes, the Gators have won the SEC East the past two seasons, but that's because the division was terrible. UF was summarily crushed both years by Florida State in the regular-season finale and Alabama in the SEC title game. Gators fans won't have to worry about an East Division title this year barring an upset of Georgia on Saturday and then a lot more help.
McElwain was supposed to be an offensive guru when Florida lured him from Colorado State to replace Will Muschamp, who was decidedly not an offensive guy. Alas, the Gators have been borderline unwatchable offensively at times and McElwain hasn't developed a quarterback. His best one? Will Grier, who is now lighting it up at West Virginia after transferring from Florida (he was also suspended a year). Gators fans are spoiled offensively from previously having Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer.
Presuming the Gators (3-3) do lose Saturday as two-touchdown underdogs to the No. 3 Dawgs in Jacksonville, they might not reach a bowl game. They should win at Missouri next week and vs. UAB on Nov. 18 but easily could lose at South Carolina (coached by Muschamp) on Nov. 11 and home vs. FSU on Nov. 25 (only 11 games as one vs. Northern Colorado was canceled due to Hurricane Irma). I still don't think the school fires McElwain as he has a contract through 2023 worth about $4.5 million a year. A buyout costs $2.5 million per year remaining on the deal. That's a lot of money to eat. Could UF remove any buyout another school might have to pay to hire McElwain and simply let him walk? Sure, but he's not getting a better job than he has. You hear some rumors of Oregon State as McElwain is from Montana and played at Eastern Washington, but OSU isn't in the same stratosphere at Florida.
Here are some notes and any major line moves for some of Saturday's games around the country, in no particular order.
Tennessee at Kentucky (-5): Another week, another Butch Jones rumor. Apparently, this game will be the deciding factor on whether Jones has a shot at keeping his job. UT was pondering a move before last week's Alabama game but didn't want to throw some interim coordinator to the wolves. Makes sense. A fourth loss in a row here and to a basketball school, and Jones is probably a goner on Sunday. Unfortunately, his best offensive player (really his only offensive player) won't be on the field. That would be running back John Kelly. He was suspended for a game due to a marijuana citation. That's huge because Kelly not only leads the Vols in rushing (625 yards, 6 TDs) but in receptions (26 for 255). Kelly has accounted for 42.9 percent of the Vols' yards from scrimmage, the highest rate in the SEC and third-highest in the FBS entering Week 9 behind Stanford's Bryce Love (44.0) and San Diego State's Rashaad Penny (43.1). Tennessee has won the past five in this series, but I'll be taking UK here.
Texas at Baylor (+7.5): The Horns opened at -10. Texas (3-4) probably needs this one to get a bowl bid (barring not enough six-win teams and a few 5-7 clubs getting one) as UT probably will lose next week at No. 4 TCU and then Nov. 18 at No. 22 West Virginia. The Horns will have a new/old starter under center against the winless Bears. Starter Sam Ehlinger, who threw that brutal overtime end-zone interception in last week's loss to Oklahoma State, is in the concussion protocol. After a big hit vs. OSU, he was motionless on the ground briefly but checked for a concussion and cleared to return. He still hasn't been cleared, so it will be Shane Buechele, who looked so good at times last year as a freshman. He started Week 1 in a loss to Maryland and then a Sept. 28 win at Iowa State, where he injured an ankle. Baylor coach Matt Rhule has said Zach Smith will return to the starting lineup despite being pulled from last week's West Virginia loss. Freshman Charlie Brewer nearly led a massive fourth-quarter comeback against WVU.
San Jose State at BYU (-12.5): The Cougars opened at -16. Why am I referencing this meaningless game between a 1-7 San Jose State club that is the only team in the Mountain West without a conference win and an independent BYU squad that is also 1-7? Because the Cougars have been the worst bet in the country this year at 0-8 ATS. It's now clear that BYU made a mistake going independent because it struggles each year to fill the schedule. How excited do the BYU players or fans get with games against Portland State, San Jose State, East Carolina or UMass? The Cougars' only win was Week 1 vs. Portland State, but that was a 20-6 slog. They haven't lost by fewer than 16 since a Sept. 9 19-13 defeat vs. Utah. Second-year coach Kalani Sitake is definitely in some trouble with the school on its longest skid since 1968 - although most fans are directing their anger toward offensive coordinator Ty Detmer, the former legendary BYU quarterback. Meanwhile, the Cougars could be without their leading rusher, freshman running back Ula Tolutau, for this one. It just got out this week that he was charged with possession or use of a controlled substance back on Oct. 8. He has played both games since, but now that it's in the public he could sit here. BYU is a private Mormon school, so it doesn't comment on things like player discipline. I do think it finally covers this week regardless.
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